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Middle East - Best Tours & Trips 2019

1,190 trips to Middle East tours from 187 tour companies. 3,064 reviews. 4.7/5 avg rating.
While the Middle East has been plagued by turmoil in Syria and Iraq, there are still many countries welcoming to visitors. Turkey -- most of which is located in Asia -- is by far the most visited destination, though Dubai and the United Arab Emirates are increasingly popular. Egypt, situated mostly on the African continent, is often included in the Middle East as well, and is rebounding in tourism. Israel and Jordan share a peacef ... Read More
All Middle East tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages.
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Travel Style Travel Style Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.

Trip Type Trip Type Group Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Tour Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ship Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Guided Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Self Guided / Independent Tour A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ship Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Itinerary Focus

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 0 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length

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Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

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Rivers & Seas

Cities & Attractions

Activities

Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.

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Flights & Transport

Continents & Regions

Stride Gives Back Stride Gives Back This trip visits a destination impacted by climate change. When you opt in to the Stride Gives Back program, we will donate 10% of our net revenue to organizations that help mitigate climate change in these destinations and across the globe. Learn more

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Jordan Experience Winter 2019 2020

Trafalgar
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
6 days
$ 266 / day
$ 1,595
From : $ 1,962
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : N/A
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • CITY TOUR in Amman
  • VISIT the Greco-Roman city at Jerash, the unique ancient city at Petra and the Crusader Fortress at Shobak and Wadi Rum
  • VIEW the Roman amphitheatre and Citadel in Amman, Moses' Promised Land on Mount Nebo and the mosaic map of the Holy Land at Madaba
Visits:
Amman, Petra, Jordan
View Trip

Cycle the High Atlas

World Expeditions
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 158 / day
$ 1,260
From : $ 1,764
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping. Basic - 2 star
Highlights
  • Cycle through the picturesque scenery of the High Atlas Mountains
  • Challenge yourself with 330 kms of exhilarating cycling down several mountain passes
  • Journey through local Berber villages
  • Enjoy the scenic coastal town of Agadir
  • Explore Marrakesh
Visits:
Morocco
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Wonders of Israel
Group Tour
Popular
Stride climate
This trip visits a destination that is affected by climate change

Wonders of Israel

SmarTours
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
11 days
$ 300 / day
$ 3,299
From : $ 4,454
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • The Western Wall (Jerusalem)
  • Church of Holy Sepulcher (Jerusalem)
  • Basilica of the Annunciation (Nazareth)
  • Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum)
  • Masada
  • Dead Sea
  • Mount of Olives (Jerusalem)
  • Vibrant Tel Aviv
  • Sea of Galilee
  • Golan Heights
  • Kibbutz Stay
  • Eilat Extension, with optional full day excursion to mystical Petra ($249, lunch included)
Visits:
Dead Sea, Galilee, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Tel Aviv, Israel
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Nile Discovery

Topdeck
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 138 / day
$ 1,104
From : $ 1,490
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Pyramids & Sphinx at Giza Plateau
  • Five-star cruise on the Nile
  • Egyptian Museum
  • Temples of Luxor & Karnak
  • Valley of the Kings & Temple of Hatshepsut
  • Nubian village visit
  • Saqqara Step Pyramid, Coptic Cairo & Khan el Khalili
  • Egyptology tours at major sites (entrance fees not included)
  • Temples of Abu Simbel, Kom Ombo & Edfu
  • Visit a Nubian village
  • Egyptology tours at major sites (entrance fees not included)
  • See the Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza Plateau
  • Visit the Egyptian Museum
  • Visit Coptic Cairo and Khan el-Khalili market
  • 5-star cruise on the Nile
  • Visit the Temples of Abu Simbel, Kom Ombo and Edfu
  • Visit the Temples of Luxor and Karnak
  • Visit the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Hatshepsut
Visits:
Abu Simbel, Cairo, Sphinx, Egypt
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Turkey Winter Discovery

Intrepid Travel
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
10 days
$ 141 / day
$ 975
From : $ 1,897
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Istanbul, arguably one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, comes alive in winter with Salep (creamy beverage made from the root of the wild orchid), mulled wine and steaming bowls of Corba. Visit the city minus the crowds: you wont have to queue and you may just get that perfect shot of the Blue Mosque.
  • Visit the otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia, and maybe, just maybe, the fairy chimneys will be covered in a dust of white, the rock cut churches will be empty and the testi kebab can take the chill from your bones.
  • Visit Lake Cildir, the second-largest lake in eastern Anatolia. It's frozen for 7 months of the year and is a winter wonderland like no other.
  • Jump on the Dogu Express, the overnight train from Ankara to Erzurum and squash your nose against the window as you pass through some of the most beautiful destinations in Turkey.
Visits:
Cappadocia, Istanbul, Turkey
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Rock Climbing & Adventure in Todra Gorge

6 days
$ 101 / day
$ 603
From : $ 814
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
Physical Level : Full day hiking or trekking over medium to long distances. Moderate expectation of physical fitness. Strenuous
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Climb in the stunning Todra, a gorge with walls over 300 metres high and more than 150 bolted routes.
  • Experience the Tizi N'Tichka, the highest mountain pass across the Atlas Mountain Range, and some of the most impressive roads on Northern Africa.
  • Mix with the locals and enjoy family-style dinners using local products.
  • Visit the fortified city of Ait Ben Haddou, a famous location for many films.
  • Discover the magic of Marrakech and wander through its narrow alleys and the unforgettable Jemaa el Fna market.
Visits:
Marrakech, Sahara Desert, Morocco
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Highlights of Egypt and Jordan

Indus Travels
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
11 days
$ 164 / day
$ 2,999
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Visit essential Egyptian sites like the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, the Egyptian Museum, and many more
  • Learn about Egypt’s history and artifacts from a certified Egyptologist
  • See the beautiful banks of the Nile River on a comfortable cruise
  • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site, the ‘rose red’ city of Petra
  • Enjoy a 4 x 4 ride through the spectacular desert at Wadi Rum
Visits:
Amman, Cairo, Petra, Egypt, Jordan
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Israel and Beyond
Small Group Tour
Stride climate
This trip visits a destination that is affected by climate change

Israel and Beyond

G Adventures
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 312 / day
$ 2,599
From : $ 3,074
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Wander the quarters of jerusalem's old city
  • Taste your way through a local market
  • Learn about israeli and palestinian cooking
  • Explore the stunning sites of the sea of galilee
  • Walk the ruins at ancient masada
  • Float in the dead sea
Visits:
Bethlehem, Dead Sea, Galilee, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jordan Valley, Israel
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Explore Jordan & Oman

Peregrine Adventures
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
14 days
$ 348 / day
$ 4,865
From : $ 6,568
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Be awed by the towering, wind-swept rock formations at wadi rum, and note how the colours change as the sun makes its way across the sky.
  • Journey through the desert to a traditional bedouin camp and get to know these friendly people before spending a night under a staggeringly beautiful starry sky our feature camp in jordan
  • You never forget your first glimpse of the treasury through narrow canyon walls in petra, often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world. spend a day taking in the majesty and mystery of this unforgettable place.
  • Experience the unique sensation of floating in the dead sea.
  • Immerse yourself in omani history as you wander among the relics of muscat's bait zubair museum
  • Muttrah's excellent bazaar, laced with the aromas of frankincense and myrrh, offers the perfect first taste of oman's ancient character get a glimpse of the 'real' oman in the charming fishing village of
  • Barka, a lovely spot to watch the day's catch being hauled in 
  • Treat yourself some some traditional omani hospitality with a onenight camping getaway under the stars in the wahiba sands our feature stay in oman
Visits:
Amman, Muscat, Petra, Wadi Rum, Jordan, Oman, Egypt
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Morocco Biking

Butterfield & Robinson
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 1,124 / day
$ 8,995
From : $ 21,090
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays. Luxury - 5 star
Highlights
  • View hidden Berber village0073
  • Visit Moulay Brahim
  • Fantastic views on the Lalla Takerkoust Lake
  • Explore the intricate city of Marrakech
Visits:
Atlas Mountains, Marrakech, Morocco
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Istanbul, Gallipoli, And The Aegean Coast

Evaneos
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
9 days
$ 96 / day
$ 700
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Visits:
Istanbul, Turkey
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Oman Desert Adventure

Wild Frontiers Travel
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
11 days
$ 323 / day
$ 3,550
From : $ 4,367
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Explore Oman’s picturesque capita
  • Visit the immense Sultan Qaboos Mosque
  • Discover the contrasting landscapes of the Hajar Mountains and Wahiba Sands
  • The fantastic deserts of the Empty Quarter
  • The 17th century forts of Nizwa and Jabrin
Visits:
Oman
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Hiking Dana- Petra - Wadi Rum
Private Guided
Stride climate
This trip visits a destination that is affected by climate change

Hiking Dana- Petra - Wadi Rum

11 days
$ 192 / day
$ 2,115
Travel Style : For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Visit St. George Church
  • Visit immense Crusaders Castle
  • Hiking from Dana Nature Reserve to WadiFeynan.
  • Visit Petra Life Exhibition for Traditional Heritage
Visits:
Amman, Dead Sea, Petra, Wadi Rum, Jordan
View Trip

High Atlas Trek

World Expeditions
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
11 days
$ 100 / day
$ 1,095
From : $ 1,533
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
Physical Level : High intensity hiking, trekking, mountain climbing, cycling. May experience dramatic changes in altitude. Extreme activities included. Extreme
Lodging Level : You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping. Basic - 2 star
Highlights
  • Trek to the summit of Mount Toubkal (4167m)
  • Walk through traditional Berber villages in the High Atlas Mountains
  • Cross the impressive and remote Tizi n'Ougalzim (3700m)
  • Explore the gardens, mosques, palaces and souqs of Marrakesh
Visits:
Morocco
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Damavand Expedition Iran

World Expeditions
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 262 / day
$ 2,099
From : $ 2,939
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping. Basic - 2 star
Highlights
  • Trek to the summit of Damavand
  • Explore the surrounding hills of Tehran
  • Experience incredible trekking in the Alborz Mountain Range
  • Tour the dynamic capital of Iran, Tehran
  • Discover the fascinating, rich culture of Iran
Visits:
Tehran, Iran
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Top Middle East Experiences and Attractions

Top Middle East Experiences

Exploring the Pyramids of Giza and Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt.

Visiting the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace, both stunning examples of Ottoman architecture in Istanbul, Turkey.

Seeing the ancient city of Petra in Jordan.

Bargaining for exotic souvenirs like hand-painted tagines or leather handicrafts in the souks of Marrakech, Morocco

Taking a Nile River Cruise and exploring the surrounding areas.

Riding a camel and camping in a Bedouin tent in the Sahara Desert of Tunisia.

Hiking North Africa’s highest peak, Jebel Toubkal, Morocco’s High Atlas, and along the way meeting the Berber people along the way.

Scuba diving in Ras Mohammed National Park off the coast of Egypt.

Touring the Old City of Jerusalem, where multiple histories, religions, and cultures intersect

Visiting Shiraz, the City of Roses, known for its poetry and vineyards, and the close by ancient city ruins of Persepolis in Iran.



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Middle East Trip Reviews

3,064 Middle East Tour Reviews - Summary 99% Recommend

4.7 out of 5
Excellent 2,303
Great 643
Average 96
Disappointing 10
Terrible 12
Value
4.7
Guide
4.7
Activities
4.7
Lodging
4.7
Transportation
4.7
Meals
4.7

Tour Reviews Write a Review

Luggage Handling and follow up

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

First cruise, ever! We did a land & sea journey to Alaska through Holland America Line. This is not a review of the trip (which was great!) so much as how HAL handled our complaints of damaged luggage. My sister's luggage arrived at our Yukon hotel with the latch broken, her clothes spilling out. She filed a report. We discovered damage to a corner of my husband's luggage at the departing airport. Too late to do a report...but HAL's property claims were wonderful, in particular, Mr. Scott Gerstl, who even called me to clarify details. He was empathetic and kind. We were reimbursed for both pieces of luggage.

Read more
Operator Holland America Line

Pleasure

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Noura is a fantastic tour guid she knows alot and is very nice , you cant go wrong with her i highly recommend, thank you for a wonderful time, hope to see you soon again, oh and whatever you want she will do her best to organize it :), thank you for everything

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Operator Morocco private expert

They gave us truly memorable days i

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Best tour operator ever! Mohammad and his team were so nice to us, considerate, flexible and always welcoming. They gave us truly memorable days in Jordan! Every day of our journey was planned to perfection and carefully adapted to our needs and wishes.
Thanks to the entire team and huge thanks to our driver Saleh!

Read more
Operator Why Jordan Tours

Memorable Trip to Egypt -- Thank to Travelish Tours!!

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Egypt is one of those countries one should visit at least once in their lifetime. I was there in December 2018 and loved every moment of my presence in the land of river Nile, pharaohs, pyramids and much more. Thanks to Travelish Tours and their passionate CEO, Mahmoud Salah for making our trip so enjoyable and seamless. The entire trip was very well organized and we covered pretty much 75-80% of Egypt in 10 days from Cairo, Saqqara, Memphis, Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simble, Alexandria and Nile cruise, visiting all the key attractions with the guides who explained the history so coherently that we felt as if we went back in time to thousands of years ago. Thanks to Sam, Khalif and Sara, our guides in Cairo, Nile Cruise, and Alexandria respectively for sharing their passion, knowledge and welcoming us so warm heartedly.

I would highly recommend Travelish Tour to anyone planning to visit Egypt as the service the company provides is top class from airport pick up, best hotel accommodation, perfect Nile cruise, customized tours to knowledgeable guides. Mahmoud Salah, more popularly called as Momo, is a very humble individual who understands your needs and ensures your stay in his loving country becomes the most memorable trip of your life. His passion for his motherland’s rich cultural history and heritage and inherently caring attitude demonstrated through excellent organization of the trip and customized tours is indeed contagious.

We felt very safe in Egypt. If you want to explore it like locals contact Travelish Tour and forget about all other logistics as Travelish Tours will take care of all your needs. It would be the best decision you will make and I can vouch through my personal experience as Travelish Tours will ensure your visit to Egypt leaves an indelible mark in your travel memory.

Thank you Travelish tours and Momo for making our trip memorable and in the bargain we found a good friend in Momo!! :)

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Operator Travelish Tours

Fantastic small tour

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Fantastic small tour with Max. The desing of the tour as well as the care for the participant is great and Max the guide did really go the extra mile for us. Really recommended!!!!

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Operator SpiceRoads Cycling

Great tours

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Great tours and travels services thanks you

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Operator Advantage Travel

Middle East Tours and Travel Guide

Middle East Attractions & Landmarks Guide

While the Middle East has been plagued by turmoil in Syria and Iraq, there are still many countries welcoming to visitors. Turkey -- most of which is located in Asia -- is by far the most visited destination, though Dubai and the United Arab Emirates are increasingly popular.

Egypt, situated mostly on the African continent, is often included in the Middle East as well, and is rebounding in tourism. Israel and Jordan share a peaceful border and offer unforgettable attractions. A good Middle East tour operator can take you safely to this fascinating region, so filled with history and architectural wonders. 

Though the news focuses on the conflicts surrounding the Middle East, many of these countries are safe and welcoming to visitors, though always make sure you have the right precautions in place.

These countries are home to hidden treasures from ancient archaeological ruins to culinary gems, to enrapturing landscapes. While countries like Turkey, Egypt, and Israel have been top destinations for travelers for years, others have not gotten the attention they deserve. These less visited destinations, like Iran, for example, are great for getting off the beaten path exploring away from the tourist crowds.

History and Ancient Ruins

The Middle East is known to hold the Cradle of Civilization, the fertile strip of land between the Tigris and Euphrates river in modern day Iraq in which some of the most ancient and powerful civilizations were born.

Though these ancient civilizations like Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, and Persia have collapsed, the entire region is dotted with their impressive legacies.

Of course, you have the legendary Egyptian pyramids, still standing proudly over the desert where they have existed for thousands of years. In Iran, you can explore the elaborately carved tombs and palaces of the ancient city of Persepolis, whose earliest remains of date back to 515 BCE. Israel is also home to hundreds of ancient sites, many in the holy city of Jerusalem.

Top 7 Archeological Sites in the Middle East

Remnants of the ancient world, from ruins to landscapes to architectural wonders, dot the Middle East and are seen as cultural treasures.

Many of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites lay in this part of the world and that’s because historically, the Middle East was home to some of the greatest ancient civilizations and the hub of trade, the Silk Road and architectural feats.

Here are some of the most amazing archeological sites to visit in the Middle East. 

1. Petra, Jordan 

The Prehistoric Jordanian city of Petra, built in 213 BC, was the capital of the Nabateans before the Romans came. This architectural wonder was lost to the western world until the 1800s and is probably on any globetrotter’s bucket list today.

To fully explore Petra, we recommend 2 full days by sleeping overnight in Wadi Musa to catch all the sunsets and sunrises that hit the sandstones which are now considered one of the seven wonders of the world.
  
2. The Dead Sea

If you’re visiting Israel, the Dead Sea is something you can’t miss. It’s an hour away from the capital and fun fact, it’s actually a lake and a pretty salty one at that. At 430 m below sea level, it is the lowest place on earth.

Visit to float in the lake and absorb its concentration of minerals that are thought to have healing powers. Archaeology buffs will probably be familiar with the “Dead Sea Scrolls” which were discovered not far away.

 3. Ephesus, Turkey

This Ancient Greek city built in the 10th century BC is filled with lots of historical attractions that make the trip one for the books. Back in the Roman era, this city was the hub of trade and pilgrimages with the Temple of Artemis and the library still in tact.

4. Troy, Turkey

Take a day trip from Istanbul to visit the famous city of Troy, home to Homer’s epic of the Trojan Wars. With many archaeological excavations happening in Troy today, this historical site is worth the drive.

5. Baalbek, Lebanon

For any history buff, seeing the Temple of Jupiter, a 2,000 year old structure from the Roman Empire, the largest of all the Roman temples, should be first on your to do list.

It is one of Lebanon’s prized historical treasures and is recommended to visit with a tour company since it is close to the syrian border and would need an experienced driver of the terrain and a knowledgeable guide. 

6. Crac des Chevaliers, Syria

One of the most striking and preserved medieval castles in the world. Legends claim that it can shelter up to 2000 knights at once and overlooks the Valley of Christians atop a hill. 

7. The White Desert, Egypt

Just a few hours from Cairo, many travelers come to the white desert to gaze at astounding rock formations, erosions, shift in colors, and starry night skies if you choose to camp. This is a true off the beaten path experience.

Love archaeology? Browse archaeolgical tours around the world »

Arts and Culture

This region is also home to cities and caravansaries through which the Silk Road passed, circulating ideas and cultures from the Far East. Some cities are among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

From the 8th to the 13th century, this area was a goldmine for Islamic arts and culture. While Europe was in its dark ages, the Middle East was experiencing a vibrant Golden Age, where academic pursuits, art, and music flourished.

With cultures that created such lush fabrics, intricate embroidery, tempting spices, and strong fragrances, you can easily see how the European Orientalist movement of the 19th century was inspired by the region’s beauty and mystery.

This rich cultural heritage is still thriving in cosmopolitan cities like Tel Aviv, Tehran, and Istanbul, where history and modern culture merge. You can kick off your shoes and sit down on Turkish rug to smoke a nargile (water pipe) and listen to a musician perform long musical improvisations influenced by melodies from Greek, Persian, Arabic and Romany music.

Top 9 Markets and Bazaars in the Middle East 

Visiting bazaars in the Middle East is a unique experience like no other. In Arabic, markets are called "souqs" and most of the one’s on this list are at least 200 years old. Souqs are usually very old neighborhoods bedecked with stalls where you can find gold, spices, meat, clothing, art and more gold. 

  1. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul - This is one of the largest and oldest markets in the world with over 4,000 stalls. It is on almost every Middle East tour itinerary, for a good reason.

  1. Misir Carsisi (Spice Bazaar), Istanbul  - If you’re looking for a food and spice mecca, the Spice Bazaar wins. It is filled with color, history, fragrances and more. 

  1. Al - Hamidiyah Souq, Syria - This is the largest souq in Syria and sits next to the old walls of Damascus while the Roman Temple of Jupiter stands eloquently in the entrance. The architecture, diversity and goods make it extremely popular for both locals and tourists. 

  1. Al - Madina Souq, Syria - This market in the heart of Aleppo is the largest covered market in the world. This souq got hit pretty bad during the war, however, what is left is still worth immersing yourself in. Filled with history, culture, crafts and luxury goods, this is an experience worth seeking.

  1. Khan el - khalili, Egypt - One of Cairo’s main attractions, this souq is extremely beautiful, colorful, and riddled with ornaments, good, spices and the hustle and bustle of trade. As one of the most vibrant bazaars, take a stroll around this outdoors market and find some gems to take back home. 

  1. Medina of Fez, Morocco - Ancient, intricate and cultural, this souq is a labyrinth of food, pottery, copper, gold, jewelry and endless alleys and fragrances at every turn. Yes, it might be a little overwhelming but a load of fun, so be prepared! 

  1. Tabriz Bazaar, Iran - Located historically on the Silk Road, this souq is a part of the UNESCO inventory. It is one of the oldest bazaars in the Middle East and is notable for their trade of rugs and tea. 

  1. Gold Souq, Dubai - A trip to the Gold Souq is just pure fascination. There is glittering bars of gold and jewelry for miles to see on every single alley. 

  1. Jaffa Flea Market, Israel - Persian goods, rugs, rings and more jewelry are to be found in the stalls that line the stone pathways. At night, the market transforms into a vibrant hotspot with music, drinks and restaurants.

Culinary Traditions

Wandering the souks of Marrakech or other cities, the fragrances slow roasting meats and spiced dishes will stop you in your tracks. Middle Eastern food often shares the same ingredients as Mediterranean food, one of the world’s most healthy diets, and not to mention, most delicious.

Culinary traditions in the Middle East vary from country to country, but you can savor dishes made with pomegranates, dates, pistachios, olive oil, honey, mint, and a wide array of fresh vegetables and meats.

Try the thick coffee and syrup-sweet baklava in Turkey, the halawa, a sesame paste sweet in Egypt, and an aromatic tagine in Tunisia.

See all Food Tours in the Middle East »

Top 14 Mouth Watering Middle Eastern Dishes

Middle Eastern cuisine is a culmination of history. It is thousands of years old and is mixed with Roman influences, the Ottoman empire, the Levantine period, the different trades of the silk road and more.

Beside the classic shawarma and falafel that everybody knows, here are some authentic dishes not to miss.

If you’re a foodie, these are the top 12 must try foods in the Middle East: 

  1. Baba Ghanoush: If you thought hummus was the best dip, try again. Made of grilled eggplant, garlic, lemon and tahini, this is best served with fresh pita. 

  1. Manousheh: This Middle Eastern pizza, eaten usually for a heart breakfast, is a favorite amongst locals everywhere and especially popular in Dubai. This baked food can be topped with a diverse of things from cheese, herbs, falafel, sweet jam, minced lamb or labneh.

  1. Shish Tawook: Marinated chicken shish kebab is so good and something you can’t go wrong with. It’s widely eaten in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Israel and more. 

  1. Mansaf: This is a traditional Palestinian dish and also the national dish of Jordan. It’s usually lamb shanks cooked in fermented yogurt and served with rice.

  1. Persian Kuku Sabzi: Think vegetarian frittata. This has loads of greens, herbs and flavor and is usually served during New Years where the herbs symbolize rebirth and eggs symbolize fertility. 

  1. Chicken Liver: Fried crispy in a skillet, chicken liver sounds daunting but is so tasty and a punch full of flavors. This meze-style dish, or appetizer, is hugely popular and a must try. 

  1. Mulukhiyah: This Egyptian dish is a green stew that is usually cooked with chicken and served with lemon and white rice. It’s super popular across the middle east and the perfect comfort food for locals. 

  1. Fesenjoon: Easily one of the most tasty persian dishes, this stew is pact full of flavors such as pomegranate sauce, walnuts and poultry served with rice. 

  1. Baklava: This dessert is delicious, filling and an easy crowd pleaser anywhere in the world. It’s rich and sweet, made up of dough baked with honey, nuts, lemon zest, syrup, cinnamon and more. 

  1. Kibbeh: This Lebanese dish are crispy balls mixed with cracked wheat, ground beef or lamb, onions, olive oil, nutmeg, cinnamon and more. 

  1. Masgouf: Originating from Iraq, this is made of butterflied carp and cooked traditionally by grilling it sideways and topped with lemon, pomegranate and sumac spices. 

  1. Sayadieh: From the Syrian coast, the rice is filled with spices, herbs, caramelized onions topped with a fried fish fillet served with tahini on the side.

Outdoors

Each country in the Middle East offers unique outdoor experiences. For many, the grandest experience of all is camping in the Sahara desert. In Jordan, take a tour with a Bedouin tribe, riding a camel through the desert that stretches for miles all around you. In the evening, share a meal and mint tea with your hosts under the stars in a traditional tent.

You can also go on a Morocco trekking tour in the High Atlas Mountains, stopping along the way to visit tiny local villages hidden within the slopes.

The Dead Sea is a great place to heal your tired feet. Because of the high level of salt, you float effortlessly, while your body is healed through sea salt and nourishing minerals. 

In Turkey, you will find the most bizarre natural landscapes of Cappadochia. Comprised of many valleys you can navigate, this region is dominated by “fairy chimneys”-soft stone tower formations that jut out from the ground.

For hundreds of years, locals have been carving them out and using them for everything from a house to a hotel, a church, and even an entire monastery. Wander the valleys and explore ancient cave churches from the 9th century, with vivid frescoes of biblical scenes.

Top Adventure Travel Activities in the Middle East 

  1. Snorkeling and DivingThe Red Sea and the Gulf of Oman are some of the most vibrant diving spots in the world. There is an abundance of sea life, coral reefs, shipwrecks and more to discover. 

  1. Sky DivingThe UAE is especially popular for skydiving given the breathtaking view over the deserts or the Palm Jumeirah islands. If you are an adrenaline junkie, this activity is for you. 

  1. Hot Air BalloonGet a bird’s eye view of the gorgeous deserts that span for miles into the horizon at sunset through a hot air balloon flight in Morocco, Dubai and Israel amongst many. 

  1. Rock ClimbingSome of the best and most challenging climbs are found in the Middle East. Rock climb in the beautiful wilderness and sites of Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon and more. 

  1. Desert Activities - There are a bunch of desert adventure activities available in the Middle East, and one of the most fun and certainly an extreme adventure activity are desert survival tours. Learn how to ride horses, camels, build a shelter and find food and water in one of the world’s harshest of climates in either the deserts of Jordan, Egypt and more.

  1. CampingThis is extremely popular and definitely recommended for any traveler looking for a unique adventure. A tent experience amongst calm, clear deserts and valleys will easily be one for the books!

Visiting the Middle East on a Budget

These are some tips and tricks to save money when traveling around the Middle East.

  1. Budget accomodations: although the Middle East is known for some extremely luxurious hotels and lifestyles readily available, there are a lot of hostels, guesthouses, hotels and cheap resorts to choose from. We advise booking ahead of time to create a hassle free experience and sometimes, during the winter, prices tend to drop.

  1. Know what city you are going to. How much you spend is definitely dependent on where you are going. For example, you can expect food and hotels to be much cheaper in Turkey, Iran or Jordan as opposed to Israel or the UAE. 

  1. Try out street food. It's an excellent way to save money and an incredible opportunity to try out the most delicious and authentic dishes that locals enjoy. 

  1. Don’t be afraid to bargain at Souqs. Save your souvenir purchases from the airport or traveler stalls and venture into the many mesmerizing bazaars that the Middle East has to offer. Usually already at a decent price, you can bargain goods such as spices or art for an even cheaper deal. These are also great places to pick up cheap meals and snacks. 

  1.  Make sure when using licensed cabs that you agree on a fare beforehand. Uber is also used in the Middle East and very reliable.

Top Middle East Travel Companies

Things to Know Before You Go

What Countries are in the Middle East?

The Middle East sits in between the east of Europe and the west of Asia and is considered a transcontinental region instead of a continent on its own. This part of the world is vast and rich in a diversity of countries, culture, religion, ethnic groups and languages. In total, there are 17 countries that are a part of the Middle East:

  • Bahrain
  • Cyprus 
  • Egypt
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Oman
  • Palestine
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Syria
  • Turkey
  • The United Arab Emirates
  • Yemen 

Do’s and Don’ts for traveling in the Middle East

The truth is that the Middle East is so vast that etiquettes differ from country to country. Things you can do in Dubai can greatly differ to things you can do in Iran or Saudi Arabia. That being said, however, this is a basic do’s and don'ts to follow when visiting the Middle East on a tour.

It is a very friendly, vibrant and culturally enriching destination and you should encounter few problems on your trip so long as you are respectful of the rules.

Do’s

  • Dress Conservatively
  • Learn Arabic! It is probably one of the most beautiful languages to exist with a mammoth of history behind almost every word. 
  • Make an effort to learn about the human-rights situation, issues and current affairs in the different countries you venture to. 
  • Definitely learn some basic greetings – this is highly encouraged and it would make for a great first impression amongst locals. In Arabic, hello is salamu alaykum.
  • Try the street food! Much like visiting Asia, the best tasters of the cuisine lays in the hidden stalls and hole in the wall restaurants on the streets. 
  • Visit the mosques. Some of them are considered the holiest places on earth, and the most beautiful ones are spread across the countries of the Middle East. Being in the presence of one, along with the mecca of devoted locals, is  one of the most unique and spiritual experiences you can have while traveling to this part of the world.
  • Always drink bottled water, never tap.

Don’ts

  • Handle food with your left hand
  • Kiss in public. Public displays of physical affection are usually looked down upon.
  • Drink in public. Make sure if you do that it is discreet, otherwise it is against the rules and pretty taboo.
  • If you’re a man, don’t initiate a handshake with a woman. It is almost always going to be interpreted wrong 
  • Be cautious about taking pictures and filming in public. Some locals may be sensitive to it. Be sure to be respectful and ask locals if you can take pictures of them. 
  • If you’re traveling during Ramadan, be aware of the rules of this religious festival.  
  • Definitely do not talk about your opinion on religion or interfere with the political situation in the respective country. It’s good to brush up on national affairs but bringing it up in conversations with locals can easily be a sensitive subject.  

Safety Tips for Traveling in the Middle East

While it is a privilege to be a visitor in the Middle East, there are some safety tips that every traveler should know. As in every foreign country, you need to keep your valuables close. Pickpocketing is common, especially in market places or bus stops, so be cautious about what you put in your bags and how secure they are.

Another thing specific to the Middle East is to dress respectfully. Cover your shoulders and legs when walking around, especially at mosques, to be respectful of cultural values. Look around and see what other local men and women are wearing and try to be as conservative.

Along the same lines, be aware of the social norms in each country to avoid any trouble. Whether that is showing public affection, drinking in public, conversation etiquette or abiding by gendered seating rules in restaurants or transportation. Speaking of transportation, Uber is one of the safest ways to travel around most of the countries in the Middle East. If you get into local cabs, make sure you decide on a fair before riding. 

It is also advisable to travel in pairs, especially if you’re a woman. It is usually very safe to travel solo in most Middle Eastern countries, just make sure that if you ever feel lost or confused ask locals for help. In the rare cases that you feel like you’re being followed or unsafe, seek out local tourist police or head to the nearest hotel or shop with authorities that can help you out.

What to Pack for the Middle East

Knowing what to pack for the Middle East can be tricky. With specific religious and cultural customs, it is essential to know what to stuff in your bags and what to leave behind. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a general guide on what to bring along!

You can definitely expect very strong sun in this region so bring enough sunscreen, sunglasses and make sure you stay hydrated throughout every activity in the day. Heat stroke is common and easily avoidable with enough water.

For clothing, if you’re going to the UAE or Lebanon, shorts are totally okay. However, if you visit other countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, that’s a different story. Depending on what country you’re flying to, be sure to brush up on what’s okay to wear amongst locals and what is illegal. 

Don’t forget your swimsuit because the Middle East is home to some of the most gorgeous beaches, namely in Oman, Cyprus, Turkey and Lebanon, amongst many. Take flip flops but make sure beachwear only stays in the beach. Pack collared shirts or a long dress when going out to anything fancy or simple trousers and a T-shirt when traveling around.

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