Nizwa was the captial of Oman in the 6th and 7th century. In the 17th century an imposing fort was built by Sultan Bin Saif Al Ya'ribi. In the early 1950s the large round tower of the fort was bombed and the British Royal Air Force was requested to assist in the supression of the revolt. Since the 1970s, Nizwa has become a more modern city although maintaining strong traditional architecture. The tower was later restored and the Nizwa fort is now open for tourists.
The highway from Muscat to Nizwa is excellent and will take around 2 hours by car.
The fort in Nizwa is in good condition and worth a visit. The Fort openin hours are Sat to Thu 8am to 4pm and Friday 8am to 11am only.
Don't miss the Thursday and Friday morning goat market next to the souq. Be there at around 7:30 and you can enjoy the last hour of the goat market. It happens around a round structure where business is brisk with a lot of shouting, haggling and handslaps. Truly Arabian and wonderful.
The castle close by is also worth a visit, especially for the view of the town.
A stroll in the souq is always worth an hour or two. The old part of the souq houses the spices. Vanilla, safron, dried lemons and nuts of all types,
For Fast foods visit LULU hypermarket. it has PizzaHut , KFC and other outlets.
On the street next to the Nizwa Fort (behind the Souk) there is a tourist cafe with some good choices of international foods, pastas, NZ Beef burgers, Illy Coffee etc.
There seems to be not a single hotel in the actual town of Nizwa. Hotels are dotted a few kilometers from the town center along the main road leading south to Firq, and tend to fill up to capacity. Call and make a reservation a few days ahead!
Wahiba Sands is a desert located relatively close to Nizwa. It consists of sand dunes, up to 100 metres high and 170 km long, stretching south. There are several camps in Wahiba Sands where it is possible to camp and experience the desert, do some camel riding, dune bashing and relaxation. Seeing the sun setting in Wahiba Sands is truly wonderful!
Driving up to Jebel Shams is a worthwhile day trip from Nizwa - this spectacular mountain and massive canyon is quite spectacular.
Around 1.5+ hours from Nizwa by 4WD only up the partially sealed road - follow the signs to Jebel Shams Resort which sits atop the plateau. Lots of photo opportunities for car travelers along the plateau, but if you want to do some exhilarating hiking, continue past the resort to the tiny town (a few houses really) of Khateem.
This is where the famous Balcony Walk begins. The return walk is around 3 hours and snakes along the rim of massive cliffs over 1km high, with extraordinary views across the canyon. The route is clearly marked but you should be prepared for rock scrambling and good shoes are necessary. Definitely not a walk for the faint hearted or those with fear of heights.
There is a longer hiking route up to the southern summit of Jebel Shams which is a full day walk (9-12 hours).