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Top Middle East Experiences

Visiting the Pyramid of Giza

Walking through the ancient city of Petra

Scuba diving in Ras Mohammed National Park

Exploring the city of Shiraz

Taking a small cruise on the Nile River

Shopping along the souks in Marrakech

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Top Middle East Attractions

Pyramid of Giza

Sahara Desert

Shiraz

Jerusalem

Petra

Nile River


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Middle East Attractions And 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 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 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.

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.

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 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.

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 trekking tour in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, stopping along the way to visit tiny local villages hidden within the slopes.

The Dead Sea in Israel 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.

Related Guides

Countries:

Iran, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia

Attractions:

Petra, Jordan; Dead Sea, Jordan; Istanbul, Tukey; Karnak, Egypt; Pyramids of Giza, Egypt; Burj Khalifa, U.A.E; and Many More

Top Activities:   

Exploring Ruins & Archaelogy, River Cruises and History Sightseeing

Middle East Tour Reviews - Summary

4.8 out of 5

100%

recommend

1,177 Reviews

Excellent 907 Great 259 Average 11 Disappointing 0 Terrible 0

Rating Details

Value
4.8 Guide
4.8 Activities
4.8 Lodging
4.8 Transportation
4.8 Meals
4.8

Excellent fun with stunning and varied scenery ever day

Trekking in Oman

5.0 August 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes I wasn't sure what to expect on this trip and I was completely bowled over
with the beauty and culture of Oman. If you enjoy breathtaking scenery and
different trekking every day as well as climbing over boulders and being at
one with nature, then this is the trip for you!
Finding out more about the Islamic faith and how much peace and kindness it
represents as well as the beauty of the country.


Rob was one of the best leaders I have had on a trip. He made us feel safe
and secure at all times and prepared us well for the long trek towards the
end of the trip. In my opinion, he struck the ideal balance between being 'in
charge' and having a laugh with us.


In March/April, the days were hot and it was essential to wear a hat and
drink lots of water (ideally with rehydration salts). It would be easy to get
sun stroke and dehydrated if not careful and with very basic camping, this
would be miserable. Also, walking poles were not so useful on this trip as
there was a lot of climbing over boulders with some scrambling - brilliant
fun!!


One of the best trekking holidays I have been on. Every day was different -
the balcony walk was like looking at the Grand Canyon and the last couple of
days saw stunning coastal views.


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Petra & Wadi Rum by bike

Petra & Wadi Rum by Bike

4.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes A fast paced trip but combining the cycling with sightseeing was fantastic.
Of course Petra, but I have to say that I was surprised with how much I loved
the Dead Sea. Having two full days in Petra and Little Petra was perfect.
They were long days of walking in the hot sun so expect to walk around 20k
but it is so worth it. I couldn't imagine only seeing Petra in 1 day, that's
not enough time for such a spectacular place.


Issa was amazing. He made me wish that I had taken some history courses
prior to the trip as his knowledge is so immense and he made every stop so
interesting. He is an archeologist, but also somewhat of a historian, so of
course the two go hand in hand. He was very concerned for our safety on the
bikes and made us all feel very well taken care of.


Definitely take water shoes for the Dead Sea, the sand is quite hot. Expect
to use more money than the trip notes mention as the prices are higher there
than the trip notes indicate. It is very hilly for cycling so make sure you
have some fitness going into this trip to make it more enjoyable for
yourself.


It would have been nice if on Day 1 for those people in Amman already to have
organized a half day tour for them. I tried in advance but to no avail and
the hotel staff didn't really speak English to have helped me with that.


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Petra & Wadi Rum By Bike (and Minibus)

Petra & Wadi Rum by Bike

5.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes We enjoyed the tour and all of the historical sites that we visited; we also
enjoyed the recreational trips to swim or see the desert. I enjoyed the
cycling and, as a regular rider in the UK, I did not find any of it
difficult. We did not find the heat a problem but we have had regular
holidays in Greece.
All of the Jordani people we met were friendly and helpful; some enthusiastic
marketing of goods and services but nothing aggressive.
Realising the scale of Petra when I saw the vista from the steps above the
Royal tombs.


Our group leader was excellent; energetic, knowledgeable and willing to adapt
plans to the group's requirements.


The bicycles provided are basic hybrid or tourer style with general purpose
saddles and rim brakes. Most male cyclists will find them too wide so taking
a saddle would be a good idea. Luckily for me, one of the bike guides lent
me his narrow saddle for the longer rides.
If you have any special interests about buildings or aspects of Petra, do
some research to determine your "must-see" items. Let the guide know your
interests and he will discuss a plan with you. In the time available you
will not be able to see everything within Petra.


The tour title could mislead those who fail to read the trip notes about the
amount of cycling.


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A busy and interesting trip

Petra & Wadi Rum by Bike

4.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes You'll be on the go for much of the time, as this trip packs a lot into a
week. It's a great introduction to the country, which feels a million miles
away from the troubles of its neighbours.
It has to be Petra. It is so much more then The Treasury, which of course is
fabulous by itself.
However sleeping under the stars in the Wadi Rum and waking up to an amazing
sunset was pretty fantastic too.


Wael is an extremely knowledgeable guy, and has a huge amount of information
in his head that he is only too happy to impart. It's a busy schedule and he
made sure we were all where we should be when needed!


It was warmer than I'd expected for November, but it's still worth having
layers (maybe arm warmers) as one or two mornings/descents were a little
cool. A 3 season sleeping bag was perfectly ok for sleeping under the stars
at Wadi Rum, although there were a few mozzies, so take some repellant (you
won't need it anywhere else).
Petra covers a much bigger area than I'd expected, take comfy trainers for
walking as the footpaths and steps have gravel and sand in places. You'll be
walking further than you expect. Petra by Night (candlelight and music) was
very atmospheric if you like that kind of thing - and it gave us the chance
to walk the Siq in the dark (the candles light it up just enough). The Cave
Bar by the entrance to Petra offers beer and cocktails and a chance to sit
down after all the walking, it's part of the Crowne Plaza hotel so not cheap.
Take a warm jacket to the Cave Dinner, it got quite chilly after a while.
Try the Jordanian ice cream, ours were multi-flavour/colour and served up as
a flower with petal-like shapes.
Have a drink on the rooftop bar of the Doubletree Hilton in Aqaba, great
views over the port to the Red Sea. It also has a bar area that serves food
at lunchtimes with an open air hot tub. In fact, their room prices were
pretty much the same as the hotel we were in so I wonder if Exodus could swap
to provide a little more luxury for that night!
The Wadi Rum camp has a fridge, as does the bus, if you want to have chilled
drinks. And the main tent has electricity for charging gadgets.


The cycling was over relatively short distances, although there are one or
two fairly steep climbs (depending on your fitness) thrown in for good
measure. That said there were stretches requiring no pedalling whatsoever.
The descents were great, we were fortunate that one steep part had recently
been repaired and so benefited from lovely smooth tarmac. In fact the bike
leader rode his road bike the whole time, as the surfaces were so good. It's
perfectly acceptable to wear lycra shorts each day, despite what the trip
notes say; by day two most of us were, as was the bike leader.
It's a decent sized bus and possible to leave cycle helmets, shoes and even
sleeping bags on there most of the time.
You can hire lockers and a towel at the Dead Sea.
Jordan is a little more expensive than I was expecting, the suggested amount
in the trip notes isn't quite enough - not helped with sterling dropping.


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Wonderful week on Lycian Adventure in Kas!

Lycian Activity Week

5.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes This was my first Exodus trip and I don't think I could have made a better
choice about what to do. As others have mentioned, there is a new activity
every day to keep your excitement levels high, but also enough down time to
relax, enjoy the hotel pool and get to know the other people from the group a
bit better. I didn't really want to leave!
The paragliding, which most would imagine would be the scariest activity,
was, in my opinion, was one of the most chilled and serene. I wouldn't
hesitate to do it again. I hadn't dived before so also really enjoyed the
discovery dive and snorkelling around for most of the afternoon after my
dive. The canyoning was the day that most people were nervous about (and it
was great) but the mountain biking on the last day was probably the most
challenging for many, but in a really enjoyable way when confidence had been
built up. We stopped for lunch at a woman's house (pre-planned obviously!),
which was a lovely experience. Our group decided to take a boat trip together
on the last night for dinner and some swimming and music, and that was
another great experience. The visit to the Turkish Bath brought much
hysterical laughter at first but we eased into it and relaxed and enjoyed the
experience ;)
The thing that made this a fantastic trip for me was the combination of fun
activities and great people full of character, charm and craic with whom I
experienced everything.


Maho (Easy tiger!) ensured that we were safe and supported during all
activities and endeavoured to accommodate all requests and tastes. He was a
great ambassador for Turkey and was keen to communicate some of its culture
and history. He also had a great time of supporting staff working with him
who were also enthusiastic and friendly.


I doubt there would be a single participant who would ever regret going on
this trip. It has been a real highlight for me and the new experiences and
like-minded people I met made it completely unforgettable. If you love the
water, excitement, heat, and the company of great people, this trip is for
you. As Martyn mentioned, I would take gloves for some of the activities -
maybe to protect your knuckles on the kayaking (maybe that was just me!),
some of the abseiling on the canyoning, and the mountain biking (definitely).
Maybe a few energy snacks to share after some of the water activities or on
the canyoning day when you need a wee boost. Our group ate together in the
evenings, twice at the hotel (by the pool - lovely) and at different
restsurants in the centre (all a short walk away snd often with our trip
leader Maho) and then some stayed out for a drink or a dance and others
headed back to the hotel - no pressure to conform. I took a fan which brought
a bit of wafty relief to me and some others in the August heat. I didn't have
hiking boots for the canyoning and just wore some old trainers with
half-decent grip and they were fine. Maho is, understandably, keen for
people to have boots ss they will protect against twists etc. much better,
but there were no foot injuries in our group. Plenty of water is always
needed, but you can refill bottles at the hotel by contributing 1 Turkish
Lira to the cash box. There are also safety deposit boxes in the hotel
reception to keep valuables in (10 Turkish Lira for the week). The trip is
well thought-through. Don't hesitate to sign up and have a wonderful time!


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