Rustaq enjoyed a spell as Oman’s capital in the 17th century, and it remains an important regional centre. An imposing fort (one of the most impressive in Oman) dominates this friendly town, and some famous hot springs – Ain Al Kasfah – feed into neighbouring public baths. The town has a distinct older portion around the fort, and a newer part, linked by a giant decorative gateway.
Rustaq is an important access point to some mighty wadis, including Wadi Hoqain and Wadi Sahten. Threading along the base of the Hajar Mountains behind Rustaq, Wadi Sahten eventually connects with Wadi Bani Awf via an impressive rock arch. With Jebel Shams towering above the wadi, and impossibly lofty villages perched on high-altitude ledges, a 4WD drive through this region is an off-road highlight. Parts of all three wadis, however, are paved and accessible by saloon car.