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Home to the legendary Sinbad the Sailor and with a long and complex history, Sohar is a major international port and Oman’s largest city. Book a flight to Sohar with Qatar Airways and explore one of the Middle East's hidden gems. This is a bold, vibrant, and colourful destination with deep roots in history.
One of the biggest attractions is Sohar Castle, which sits proudly above the city and was built in the 13th and 14th centuries by the ‘Emirs of Hormuz’. The Portuguese used the castle as one of their main fortifications during their occupation of the region, but today it houses a museum that charts the history of the city. You’ll also find a 10km tunnel that was supposed to be used as an escape route if the fort ever came under siege, and the tomb of one of the 19th century’s rulers, Sayyid Thuwaini bin Sultan al Busiad.
Sohar has always had a strong connection to the sea, and one of its most famous sons was the sailor Ahmed bin Majid. Today, the seafront at Sohar is pretty and well-kept, making it a popular place to take a lazy stroll during the afternoon, especially given the cooling sea breeze. It is also the city’s main development area, with glittering 5-star hotels and huge shopping malls.
Next to Sohar’s beautiful beach (an unexpected pleasure in the heart of such a busy city), is the Municipal park. This elegant park also has a serious ecological side, as its habitat is home to the Minotaur beetle, the largest in Arabia.
Close to the city is Sawadi Island, one of the main tourist spots on the North Shore. The extensive beach is covered with colourful shells, which often find their way into local handicrafts. This is one of the top spots in Oman for snorkelling, diving and kite boarding, making it particularly popular with water sports enthusiasts. Pick up a boat out to the Damaniyat islands, widely regarded as the best diving spot in the country.
If you fancy a day out with the family during your travels to Sohar, then hire a car, pack a picnic, and travel to the village of Heebi, some 63km away. Here you’ll find Wadi Heebi, a tranquil spot and perfect for a picnic. Close by you can explore the ancient dwellings of Heebi village itself, or take a 15-minute detour to the ancient village of Al Ghudafary with its fields of papaya and date palms.
Food lovers will find a wide range of cuisine on offer that ranges from falafel carts through to cordon bleu restaurants offering the very best in Arabian/European fusion dishes. The proximity of the harbour means that fish and shellfish feature highly on the menu, and you’ll find a number of influences from India, China and around the world. If you want authentic local food then look for the Omani coffee shops that serve local dishes such as Shawarma, delicious, slow cooked meats often served with taboon bread, tomatoes and cucumbers, and flavoured with hummus or tahini sauce.
Despite its location in a modern complex, the traditional handicraft souq is a great spot to head to for local crafts such as mat weaving; there is even a traditional apothecary selling ‘bukhorr hassad’ said to ward off “the evil eye.”
From luxury goods to everyday essentials, Sohar’s malls have it all. The malls are modern and extensive, with plenty to offer shoppers looking for good-quality products at a reasonable price. For high-end brands and designer accessories, check out the Safeer Mall.
Essential facts about Sohar
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip