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Oman

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Reached by a relatively short flight, by long haul standards at least, and offering almost guaranteed blue skies, Oman is perfect for some winter sun and, in recent years, it has emerged as a hip holiday destination. This Arab state offers you so much more than just the perfect beach break. Seek out utterly beautiful mountain and desert landscapes; experience the genuine pride that the Omanis have in their country; and see an entirely different side of Arabia than you will find in the flashier neighbouring United Arab Emirates.

There are over 500 forts, castles and towers in Oman – all very much needed in days gone by to protect the expansive coastline from invasion! Jalali and Mirani are amongst Oman’s most famous forts, standing at the entrance to Muscat Bay, whilst Rustaq Fort, dating back to the 13th Century, is the oldest and tallest. Bahla Castle with its 7-mile long walls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Al Hazm Castle, in the middle of a large oasis, stands out due to its magnificent shape and size.

Immerse yourself in traditional Islamic culture in Oman, a land unspoilt by time or commercialism. Ancient history and colourful traditions ensure every inch of this nation bears witness to its immortal heritage with some incredible cultural experiences, including the Grand Mosque with its stunning Arabic architecture. There are also several UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore, including the Bat Tombs, which date back to the third millennium BC and the Frankincense Route, a group of locations that contributed to the flourishing frankincense trade during the Middle Ages.

Oman is one of the best kept secrets in the diving world! There are numerous coral reefs surrounding the Sultanate with dramatic wall drop-offs to tempt the experienced diver and scenic coral lined fjords, ranging in depth from 6-40m. Kayaking is another widely available watery pursuit or head to the desert for a 4×4 safari or spot of wadi bashing! Oman is also one of the best places on earth to spot dolphins, so take a boat trip off the coast of Muscat and enjoy!

Thanks to Oman’s sub-tropical location, it can get a tad on the warm side; for instance, in the summer time (Jun-Sep), temperatures can rise to over 40°C. However, don’t despair, if you’re considering a visit during the autumn (Sep-Nov), or spring (Feb-Mar), then you’ll be treated to a mostly dry country with pleasant temperatures in the mid-to-late twenties. December and January can be a lot cooler, as can autumn and spring evenings, so bring some warm clothes and, if you’re visiting in the winter, you may be well advised to pack a brolly as this is considered the rainy season.