The city of Nizwa has played a key role in the history of Oman for over a thousand years, serving as the capital of the hilly interior and the former seat of the country’s ruling imams, the religious leaders who controlled the hills and operated quite separately from the sultans of Muscat on the coast. Today it provides visitors with a somewhat romantic glimpse into traditional Arabia, maintaining a delightful old town with sandstone buildings, an impressive fort and a network of traditional souqs to potter around. If visiting on a Friday, one can witness the weekly goat market where locals come to trade livestock by auction.
Nizwa is a great base from which to explore the Al Hajar Mountain region. Easy day trips from Nizwa include the famous mountain peaks of Jebel Akhdar (80km away) and Jebel Shams (100km), Al Hamra with its well-preserved old town (40km), the small towns of Bahla and Jabrin to the east (40km) and Birkat Al Mouz to the west (25km) with their picture-perfect forts and remote villages like Bilad Sayt (90km).