There are many people out there in the world that think the Middle East is just a big, huge, dry desert. And while they are not completely wrong; the Middle East does have its fair share of desert lands, they still need to rethink their preconceived notions about this enchanting land which is so much more than just sun, sand and shriveled land.
The Middle Eastern nations have enigmatic historical ruins, impressive archaeological finds, beautiful beaches, humongous man-made marvels, spectacular architectures and gastronomical delights that pamper the soul! And if you are in search of the best countries to visit in the Middle East, hope this list comes in handy.
1. Cappadocia, Turkey
Leading the list is Cappadocia – a place where natural beauty merges stunningly with historical sophistication and modern technological advancements. Located in central Anatolia, this unique region is known for its fairy chimneys that were formed millions of years ago due to active volcanoes. A look at the photos of Cappadocia will prove that Mother Nature went all creative while forming this region… And if you want to see the extent to which nature was artistic in this area, hop on an early morning hot air balloon ride and see for yourself!
2. Paphos, Cyprus
Step right into ancient Greece at the deeply romantic harbour town of Cyprus – Paphos which is said to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty. One of the best places to travel in the Middle East, tourist attractions that you can explore in this coastal city include the archaeological finds of House of Dionysus, the Roman remnants of the Odeon theatre and the adjoining Agora court,the serene Alykes Beach, the quaint Paphos fort and the Agia Paraskevi church that is full of vibrant frescos and murals.
Also read: 6 Reasons To Holiday In Cyprus!
3. Dubai, UAE
To say that the skyline of Dubai looks like it belongs in the future (probably the year 2100!) would be an understatement! This emirate in the UAE manages to find the perfect balance between futuristic elegance and historical grace; the perfect balance between culture and modernism. And, if you are a budget traveller in search of pocket friendly places to explore in Dubai, click here to get all the frugal details!
4. Aswan, Egypt
No list of enchanting Middle East holiday destinations is complete without Egypt. And after you are done admiring the glorious pyramids near Cairo, head straight over to the magnificent city of Aswan, where a beautiful Nile riverfront and intriguing archaeological sites await you. The Temple of Abu Simbel, the Philae Temple, the Elephantine island and the Nubia museum are just some of the many places you should see while in Aswan.
5. Petra, Jordan
Jordanian sojourns as well as Middle East vacations are probably incomplete without a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Petra. An ancient city that used to play a crucial role in trade and commerce, what remains of Petra today still manages to impress visitors with its surreal beauty. Places that you must visit while exploring Petra include Al-Khazneh (the Treasury), El Deir (the Monastery), Siq (the narrow gorge that doubles up as the entrance) and the Royal tombs.
6. Kuwait City, Kuwait
Arguably one of the best cities in the Middle East, this capital city of Kuwait is as charming as it is vibrant. Having a turbulent past peppered with wars and destruction, Kuwait has stood the test of time in a resilient way and has overpowered its stormy past with a tranquil present and future. Tourist attractions in Kuwait City include the Grand Mosque, the Kuwait Towers, the Seif Palace, the House of Mirrors and the Kuwait Zoo. An experience you must have while visiting this Middle Eastern country is to catch a performance/ show of the renowned Arabic theatre format.
7. Beirut, Lebanon
A Middle Eastern city with a pulsating vibe, Beirut is the last place you should visit if you are in search of a peaceful vacation! Fast paced and fun, this city is for the young and the young at heart. And once you are done hitting the party circuit, you can maybe check out some tourist attractions like the Sursock Museum, the National Museum of Beirut, the Martyr’s Square and the Mohammed Al Amin Mosque located in this square, that the city has to offer. You can also catch a gorgeous sunset at the picturesque Raouche Rocks. Just refer to this Beirut travel guide to help you with all the trip planning.
8. Nizwa, Oman
Located in the heart of Oman, Nizwa has till this date, amidst all the modernization, managed to preserve its culturally rich architecture and traditions. Surrounded by mountains and oasis, this quaint historical city looks like it belongs to a fairytale where flying carpets, bustling souks selling handicrafts and magicians are a reality! And if you decide to visit this city for your vacation, the places you just have to see include the stunning Nizwa Fort, the vivacious Nizwa souq and the Falaj Daris Park.
9. Riffa, Bahrain
An unconventional destination, the radiant Riffa should definitely feature on your ‘places to visit in the Middle East’ itinerary. This second largest city in Bahrain is home to several attractions that’ll appease tourists and travellers alike. Some places of interest include the Riffa Fort (Sheikh Salman Bin Ahmad Al Fateh Fort), the Clock Tower of Riffa, Riffa Views, and the two main bustling shopping streets of Riffa Bazaar and Bukuwara Bazaar.
10. Al’Ula, Saudi Arabia
The governorate of Al’Ula in Saudi Arabia is a land full of mystery, history and prehistoric landmarks. A thriving civilization dating back to the 1st century BC, this place used to be an important trade and commerce center (just like Petra) before the hands of time took over. Amongst the many relics one can see at Al’Ula, the most famous one is the Mada’in Saleh, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for being the second largest historical Nabatean capital (the largest one being Petra).
Now that you know that the Middle East is more than just sands and deserts, are you ready to explore it and get enchanted by its beauty? We wish you a happy journey 😊