5 Tips for Nizwa and the Authenthic Goatmarket in Oman

The goat market in Nizwa is a spectacle you must not miss during your trip to Oman. Traders and buyers gather every Friday in Nizwa to buy or sell the best goats. The men and women all come dressed in traditional attire, and you can tell from the different colors of their robes which region of Oman they are from. The goat market is only held on Friday mornings, so you’ll need to plan your trip accordingly to be in Nizwa on a Friday. It might be a bit challenging, but it’s definitely worth it.

An Authentic Experience but at the Same Time Heart-Wrenching

At 06:45, it’s still peaceful and the atmosphere is relaxed, but as soon as the starting signal is given at 07:00, it turns into a bustling chaos. There are a few hundred people gathered around the circular platform, and the sellers walk around with their goats so that everyone can see them clearly. If someone shows interest, the goats are thoroughly inspected from head to toe, including a close examination of their teeth. Amidst the shouts and intense price negotiations, what you constantly hear is the bleating of the goats, who often seem reluctant to participate in this sort of fashion show around the platform.

The whole experience is incredibly impressive, and as a traveler, you find yourself right in the midst of it. However, it can be a bit distressing to witness the goats’ stress during the event. Nonetheless, it’s something you must experience because you won’t easily find a more authentic representation of Omani culture elsewhere.

Tip: The goat market in Nizwa now starts at 07:00 instead of 06:00, as some websites may still mention. Make sure to arrive a bit earlier so that you can secure a good spot on the plateau with a better view.

Other Fun Tips for in and Around Nizwa

If you have more time in Nizwa, there are even more enjoyable things to do both within the city itself and in the surrounding area.

Nizwa Fort

In almost all of Oman’s old cities, you’ll find a fort or a castle, and Nizwa is no exception. The fort in Nizwa is one of the oldest in Oman, dating back to 1650. It was ingeniously constructed with various clever tricks to keep enemies at bay and withstand attacks. The entrance fee is approximately $15, which we found a bit pricey since other places equally beautiful charge only $1.50 for admission. Unfortunately, unlike other forts, there are no information boards inside; you only receive a brochure about the fort. Nevertheless, it remains an incredibly impressive structure to explore.

Tip: Craving a delicious cup of coffee? Then, make sure to stop by Anat Cafe. This charming coffee shop is located in a beautiful spot and is well worth a visit.

Bahla Fort and Jibreen Castle

The Bahla Fort is nestled amidst date palms and is the largest fort in Oman, making it easy to get lost within its walls. It’s no wonder that it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for decades. The nearby Jibreen Castle is a historical residence of the sultan, which later served as a defensive fortress for the city, earning it the name Fort Jibreen.

Included in the entrance fee is an audio tour that guides you through various rooms in the castle, each with its own unique story. This allows you to learn a great deal about the castle’s history. You’ll also find artifacts from the time when the castle was in use, providing a fascinating glimpse into how people lived here. Remember to bring your own earphones so you can better understand the audio tour.

Tip: These two attractions are located close to each other, about a 40-minute drive from Nizwa. It’s important to note that they close earlier on Fridays, around 11:00 AM. They are situated on the route to or from Jebel Shams, so you can easily include them in your travel itinerary when visiting this area during your trip.

Visiting the Souks of Nizwa

Right next to the goat market, you’ll find the souks where various local products are for sale. There’s a souk specifically for dates, as well as for meat, vegetables, pets, and even decorative guns and daggers. After the goat market, you can walk straight through and grab some delicious fresh produce or find a souvenir.

Tip: Consider Staying at Either Antique Inn or Heritage Inn Nizwa

Because the goat market starts so early, it’s recommended to stay in Nizwa the night before. Most accommodations in Nizwa are guesthouses where you can sleep in a traditional room that is often beautifully decorated. One of the best places to stay is Antique Inn. This gorgeous hotel is located right in the heart of Nizwa, so the location couldn’t be better. It features a large swimming pool, perfect for a refreshing dip after visiting the goat market. In the morning, you’ll be treated to a delicious breakfast included in the price.

If Antique Inn is fully booked, then Nizwa Heritage Inn, located nearby, is also a great option. This charming hotel is designed entirely in a traditional style, providing an authentic and delightful experience during your stay. Although Nizwa is a sizable city, there are relatively few good accommodations available. Therefore, if you wish to stay at either of these two places, it’s advisable to book well in advance.