places in middle east

43+ Best Places in The Middle East to Visit – Ultimate MENA List

Last Updated on June 11, 2023 by Molly Egan

places in middle east

Places in the Middle East are worth visiting for their rich history, diverse cultures, stunning landscapes, and the opportunity to explore ancient cities and breathtaking natural wonders.

Whether you are celebrating a life milestone or want to explore the ancient wonders – add a trip to the Middle East to your list.

What Countries are in the MENA – Middle East and North Africa?

The MENA countries include Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Skip to the list of the top 33 places in Middle East.

What Languages do Countries in the Middle East and North Africa Speak?

Languages include Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Berber, Kurdish, French, and English.


What is the Largest Age Demographic in the Middle East? 

In the Middle East, the majority (est. 60%) are under 25 years old.

What Religions Originated in the Middle East?   

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – the World’s three largest monotheistic and Abrahamic religions

How Many Wonders of the World are in the Middle East?

Three of the seven wonders – Great Pyramid of Giza, Lighthouse of Alexandria, and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. 

Valley of the Kings, Luxor Egypt, by molly egan

What is the Largest City in MENA?

With a population of approximately 16 million, Cairo, Egypt, is the largest in the Middle East.

Where was Coffee Houses Popularized? 

Istanbul, Turkey! In the sixteenth century, in the capital city of the Ottoman Empire. 

Which is a Safe Country to Visit? 

Always check local alerts and travel advisories by your government before visiting middle eastern countries—A good resource – The US Department of State

For the US government, there are 4 rating levels, with Red, level 4 being ‘Do Not Travel Countries.’ As of the publishing date, this includes Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Iran.

US Department of State Travel Ratings

Also, note the countries you should reconsider visiting include Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. Again this is based on the US Department of State, and we advise you to refer to your local government. 

What Places in Middle East are Worthwhile in the Future? 

These 11 places are worth a visit when it is safe to travel there: Tripoli, Libya; Sana’a, Yemen; Socotra Island, Yemen; Tehran, Iran; Tabriz, Iran; Baghdad, Iraq; Shiraz, Iran; Palmyra, Syria; Damascus, Syria, Isfahan, Iran, and Yazd, Iran.

What Bodies of Water are Worth Visiting in the Middle East?

The Persian Gulf, Dead Sea, Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Gulf of Aqaba are worth visiting! The Persian Gulf is between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.

The Dead Sea is between Jordan and Israel and offers a unique buoyancy and therapeutic mud. The Red Sea, between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, entices with vibrant coral reefs.

The Gulf of Oman, between Iran and Oman, offers beautiful beaches, rugged coastline, and warm waters. The Gulf of Aqaba, nestled between Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

Mediterranean Sea, Morocco, by molly egan

The Best Places in the Middle East and Northern Africa to Visit: 

These 33 are safe to travel per the US Department of State—the additional 11 for 43+ destinations are farther below.

  1. Petra, Jordan

  2. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

  3. Aswan, Egypt

  4. Abu Simbel, Egypt

  5. Istanbul, Turkey

  6. Luxor, Egypt

  7. Cairo, Egypt

  8. Ephesus, Turkey

  9. Cappadocia, Turkey

  10. Doha, Qatar

  11. Jerusalem, Israel

  12. Wadi Rum, Jordan

  13. Amman, Jordan

  14. Musandam Peninsula, Oman

  15. Muscat, Oman

  16. Beirut, Lebanon

  17. Aqaba, Jordan

  18. Bethlehem, West Bank (Palestine)

  19. Tel Aviv, Israel

  20. Mount Sinai, Egypt

  21. Fez, Morocco

  22. Marrakech, Morocco

  23. Chefchaouen, Morocco

  24. Essaouira, Morocco

  25. Tunis, Tunisia

  26. Algiers, Algeria

  27. Musandam Fjords, Oman

  28. Kuwait City, Kuwait

  29. Manama, Bahrain

  30. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

  31. Alexandria, Egypt

  32. Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia

  33. Al-Ahsa Oasis, Saudi Arabia

Petra, Jordan

Explore the ancient rock-cut city, including the famous Treasury and Monastery. Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcasing remarkable Nabatean architecture and history.

Pyramids of Giza, photo by Molly Egan

Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Marvel at the iconic ancient pyramids, including the Great Pyramid of Khufu and the Sphinx. This beautiful city offers ancient Egyptian civilization grandeur and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Insider’s Tip: See it on camel or horse rather than by car. Often a day trip on a several day trip through Egypt.

Aswan boat to temple, photo by molly egan

Aswan, Egypt

Visit the majestic Abu Simbel and Philae temples, historic places showcasing ancient Egyptian art and religious significance. These sites are impressive cultural monuments and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

abu simbel temples, photo by molly egan

Abu Simbel, Egypt

Admire the monumental temples of Ramses II and Nefertari, renowned UNESCO World Heritage Sites – that took 20 years to build. The detail of these temples is well-preserved thanks to being buried in the sand for many decades! 

abu simbel temples, photo by molly egan

Istanbul, Turkey

Discover a captivating blend of cultures in this transcontinental city. Explore architectural wonders like the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, showcasing Istanbul’s rich history.

karnak luxor temple, photo by molly egan

Luxor, Egypt

Immerse yourself in the open-air museum of ancient Egypt and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit the temples of Karnak, Luxor, and Hatshepsut and explore the Valley of the Kings. 

Egypt museum, Cairo, photo by molly egan

Cairo, Egypt

Experience the bustling capital with its iconic landmarks. Visit the Egyptian Museum, home to ancient artifacts, and explore the vibrant Khan El Khalili bazaar.

Ride on the Nile in a Feluccas – a traditional wooden sailing boat with a distinctive triangular lateen sail for a lovely breeze! Make sure to explore the city and indulge in the food scene! 

Ephesus, Turkey

Step back in time while exploring the well-preserved ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus—Marvel at the Library of Celsus and the Great Theater, testaments to the city’s former grandeur.

Cappadocia, Turkey

Be enchanted by the otherworldly landscapes of fairy chimneys and cave dwellings. At sunrise, take a hot air balloon ride and explore the ancient underground cities for a unique experience.

Doha, Qatar, photo by molly egan

Doha, Qatar

Experience the modern and traditional charm of Doha. Visit the stunning Museum of Islamic Art and Museum of Qatar, explore the vibrant Souq Waqif, dune bashing in the desert, and enjoy the city’s dynamic culinary scene.

Find the best things to do in Doha, Qatar. If you are an art enthusiast, then check out the best museums in Qatar.

Jerusalem, Israel

Embark on a spiritual journey through the religious sites of Jerusalem. Visit the Western Wall, Dome of the Rock, and Church of the Holy Sepulchre, each holding great significance for different faiths.

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring desert landscapes of Wadi Rum. Explore the dramatic sandstone cliffs, go on a camel ride, and stargaze under the clear desert skies.

Amman, Jordan

Discover the vibrant capital city of Jordan. Explore ancient ruins like the Citadel and the Roman Theater, stroll through lively markets, and indulge in delicious Middle Eastern cuisine.

Musandam Peninsula, Oman

Experience the natural beauty of Musandam Peninsula’s fjords and rugged mountains. Go on a dhow cruise, snorkel in crystal-clear waters, and spot dolphins in their natural habitat.

Muscat, Oman

Visit the capital of Oman, known for its stunning architecture and cultural heritage. Explore the magnificent Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, wander through the historic Mutrah Souq, and relax on beautiful beaches.

Beirut, Lebanon

Experience the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Beirut. Discover its fascinating history, visit historical sites like the Roman Baths and the National Museum, and indulge in its vibrant nightlife and culinary scene.

Aqaba, Jordan

Relax on the beaches of the Red Sea in Aqaba. Explore the vibrant coral reefs by diving or snorkeling, and explore nearby islands by boat. 

Bethlehem, West Bank (Palestinian Territories)

Pilgrimage to the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Visit the Church of the Nativity, the nearby Shepherd’s Field, and Manger Square – all significant and sacred to Christians.

Tel Aviv, Israel

Experience the modern and cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv. Enjoy stunning Mediterranean beaches, explore the vibrant arts scene, and savor the city’s renowned culinary delights.

Mount Sinai, Egypt

Embark on a spiritual journey to Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Hike to the summit at sunrise or visit St. Catherine’s Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Fez, Morocco

Step into the medieval World of Fez’s UNESCO-listed Medina. Explore its labyrinthine streets, visit the ancient Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque, and experience the vibrant atmosphere of the tanneries.

Marrakech, Morocco

Immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and bustling markets of Marrakech. Visit the historic Bahia Palace, explore the iconic Jardin Majorelle, and witness the lively spectacle of Djemaa el-Fna Square.

Chefchaouen, Morocco

Get lost in the blue-hued streets of Chefchaouen. Discover its charming Medina, wander through the picturesque alleyways, and take the breathtaking mountain views.

Morocco, photo by molly egan

Essaouira, Morocco 

Experience the picturesque coastal charm of Essaouira. Stroll along the historical port full of blue wooden fishing boats, explore Medina’s narrow streets, and relax on the beautiful beaches. It is more manageable than Fex and Marrakesh

Tunis, Tunisia

Discover the capital of Tunisia with its mix of ancient and modern influences. Explore the Medina of Tunis, visit the Bardo Museum, and immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant culture.

Algiers, Algeria

Experience the bustling metropolis of Algiers. Admire the architecture of the historic Casbah, visit the National Museum of Fine Arts, and enjoy panoramic views from the Notre Dame d’Afrique.

Musandam Fjords, Oman

Cruise through the stunning Musandam Fjords, known as the “Norway of Arabia.” Admire the dramatic cliffs, swim in crystal-clear waters, and spot dolphins and other marine life.

Kuwait City, Kuwait

Discover the modern capital of Kuwait. Visit the iconic Kuwait Towers, explore the grand Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre, and indulge in the city’s thriving dining and shopping scene.

Manama, Bahrain

Experience the vibrant city of Manama. Explore the historic Bahrain Fort, visit the stunning Al-Fateh Mosque, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of the Bab Al Bahrain market.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Explore the capital city of Saudi Arabia. Visit the Kingdom Centre Tower, explore the historic Diriyah area, and discover the vibrant local culture and traditional markets.

Alexandria, Egypt

Alexandria, Egypt, boasts ancient wonders like the iconic Pharos Lighthouse and Library of Alexandria. Its coastal charm, cultural festivals, and delectable seafood make it a must-visit destination.

Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia

Experience the coastal city of Al-Khobar. Enjoy the beautiful Corniche, visit Half Moon Bay for relaxation, and explore the city’s modern shopping malls and entertainment venues.

Al-Ahsa Oasis, Saudi Arabia

Discover the lush oasis of Al-Ahsa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the expansive palm groves, visit historical mud-brick forts, and experience traditional date farming.

egypt temple, photo by molly egan

Places in Middle East Conclusion:

There are a lot of neat places in middle east to visit. Several holy sites, stunning places, and ancient historical significance destinations – some of the most beautiful places to visit!

The 11 places listed below are worthwhile when it is safe to travel. These include some ancient wonders of the world, religious significance, islamic world history, or natural phenomenon.

Tripoli, Libya, offers a rich history with the old town, Roman ruins, and the Arch of Marcus Aurelius. The city also boasts UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the ancient city of Sabratha.

Sana’a, Yemen, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its unique architecture, ancient souks, and impressive Great Mosque. The city holds religious significance as a center of Islamic culture and features stunning traditional Yemeni buildings.

Socotra Island, Yemen, stands out for its otherworldly landscapes, rare flora and fauna, and pristine beaches. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a biodiversity hotspot, showcasing a unique natural ecosystem.

Tehran, Iran, offers cultural treasures such as the Golestan Palace and National Museum. The city also has religious sites like the Shah Mosque and is surrounded by picturesque mountains.

Tabriz, Iran, entices visitors with its UNESCO-listed Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex and the impressive Tabriz Citadel. The city is renowned for its traditional architecture and vibrant cultural scene.

Baghdad, Iraq, is home to important historical sites like the Abbasid Palace and the National Museum of Iraq. Despite its challenges, the city holds religious significance for Muslims and showcases a rich heritage.

Shiraz, Iran, beckons with its poetic charm, epitomized by the splendid Nasir al-Mulk Mosque and the ancient ruins of Persepolis. The city is known for its gardens, exquisite Persian poetry, and warm hospitality.

Palmyra, Syria, presents ancient ruins such as the Temple of Bel and the Roman Theater. Although the region has faced conflict, Palmyra remains a UNESCO World Heritage Site of immense archaeological value.

Damascus, Syria, captivates with its historic Old City, Umayyad Mosque, and the vibrant Souq Al-Hamidiyya. The city holds great religious importance and preserves the essence of Syrian culture.

Isfahan, Iran, showcases architectural marvels like the Imam Square, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, and Jameh Mosque. The city boasts UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is known for its Persian art and culture.

Yazd, Iran, is a UNESCO-listed historic city of Yazd. The town offers a glimpse into the ancient Zoroastrian culture and desert landscapes.

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