The Middle East isn’t exactly the first place that springs to mind when you start thinking about top holiday destinations. However, with more than 40 countries in the region to choose from, there are plenty of options available if you want to add the Middle East to your list of vacation destinations. From shopping opportunities in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to historical sites in Iran and Iraq, this is one region that you’ll never get bored of visiting – no matter how many times you return!
1) Dubai, United Arab Emirates
With its glitzy skyscrapers, year-round sunshine and luxury hotels, Dubai has become a top tourist destination—and it’s not just because of its hot spots. The city offers a wide range of activities for both tourists and residents alike: from camel racing to surfing, diving to shopping, and comedy clubs to concerts. If you’re looking for a memorable trip that’s as diverse as it is luxurious, look no further than Dubai.
2) Marrakech, Morocco
Considered by many one of most exotic and romantic destinations on earth, Marrakech is a city steeped in culture. Join a cooking class with Moroccans, or go shopping for rugs and textiles; there are markets all over Morocco to find just what you’re looking for. After dinner, visit a local bar for some traditional tea; these bars also double as hookah lounges.
3) Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul, Turkey is one of those top places that make you stop and wonder why you have been missing out on such a place for so long. Istanbul has seen major increases in tourists over the last few years as people travel from around Europe, Asia, and North America to explore Istanbul’s culture and history. With over 2000 years of history, there is no shortage of things to see and do when visiting Istanbul. You could easily spend weeks exploring all that Constantinople has to offer!
4) Muscat, Oman
Muscat is one of Oman’s two major cities, along with Salalah. It’s a great option for travelers who want a beach destination but aren’t interested in a typical package holiday. Book a tour, rent a car and go out exploring on your own schedule. Take advantage of Oman Air’s direct flights from London Heathrow or Manchester—if you get tired, just sleep off your jet lag by relaxing poolside at one of the many boutique hotels around town.
5) Basra, Iraq
One of Iraq’s most important cities, Basra is home to a mix of Shi’ite Arabs and Sunni Muslims. The city has been occupied by various empires over time and was ruled by Ottoman Turks for more than 200 years. Today, cultural elements from these eras are reflected in Basra’s architecture as well as in its art and cuisine. What better way to get a taste of these flavors than through a tour that combines strolling along ancient streets with sampling regional delicacies?
6) Khor Fakkan, UAE
The first time I went to Khor Fakkan, which is located in Sharjah, one of seven emirates that make up United Arab Emirates, it felt as if I was stepping into a different world. And although there are many popular places to visit throughout UAE—the capital city of Abu Dhabi boasts hotels such as The Emirates Palace and The Rosewood Abu Dhabi—I would highly recommend you visit less-visited areas like Khor Fakkan.
7) Beirut, Lebanon
Known as the Paris of the East, Beirut is a hotspot for partygoers. Its coastal location and beautiful Mediterranean beaches make it an ideal tourist destination for those who want to hit up bars and clubs along with relaxing on pristine beaches. The food scene is also fantastic. Visitors can try traditional Lebanese cuisine, as well as Mediterranean dishes from Greece, Italy, and France.
8) Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Often called Jeddah City, Jeddah is considered one of Saudi Arabia’s most cosmopolitan cities. In addition to being home to Islam’s second holiest site, it features a popular shopping area and is also considered a fishing hotspot. From water activities like snorkeling and sailing to exploring religious historical sites such as Hamman al-Shami and Umm al-Jimal there are many ways for visitors and residents alike to enjoy their time in Jeddah.
9) Alexandria, Egypt
This ancient Mediterranean city has been around for thousands of years and continues to be a cosmopolitan hub—but it is also steeped in history. Tourists visit Alexandria’s iconic landmarks, like St. Mark’s Cathedral and Pompey’s Pillar; they also attend events such as Ahlan! Alexandrian Theater Festival. For those with an appreciation for history, Alexandria is a must-see destination on your trip through Africa and Asia Minor.
10) Sana’a, Yemen
Surrounded by a medieval wall, Sana’a is an ancient city with over 2,500 years of history and culture. The historic Old City has hundreds of mosques and mausoleums, as well as several ancient castles. Sana’a is also home to many museums and archaeological sites.