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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

Jordan is a surprisingly big country, full of wonders to see. My cultural immersion is what really defined the trip.

Jordan - Where it all Began

4.0 October 2016 Bestway Tours & Safaris Recommend: Yes Over the course of 10 days, I traveled up and down the country of Jordan, taking in such sights as Petra, Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea, as well as lesser known ones like Dana and Jerash. My guide Abdel was a wonderful host, knowledgeable and well spoken. I would highly recommend traveling to Jordan – it's one of the safest countries I have traveled in, and Bestway Tours helped me see it. Read more

Turquoise coast

Turquoise Coast Adventure

4.0 August 2016 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes Fabulous trip, a good variety of activities and lovely families made it a relaxing break.
Swimming with turtles, just gorgeous

Informative, helpful and fun

Be prepared for the heat

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Turquoise Coast Adventure

Turquoise Coast Adventure

5.0 August 2016 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes An excellent balance of activities and free time and the variety of activities was just right.
For us scuba diving as it is something I have wanted to try for a long time and very much out of my daughters comfort zone and we both loved it

Very friendly and knowledgable and great with the kids

Enjoy a fantastic holiday and recommend the optional village stay

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FET 1507202 Turquoise Coast Adventure

Turquoise Coast Adventure

4.0 August 2016 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes An excellent break with a very knowledgable group leader. As a family who get easily board by beach holidays once again Exodus deliver an action packed holiday but at a relaxing pace. This was our third Exodus holiday and we always find the mix of families has always worked well. Kas was a beautiful base although be prepared for that hill walk to the hotel. Hotel was basic but fine and staff were really friendly and helpful.
We enjoyed the tubing (but longer please), swimming with turtles and sea kayaking. Some of the scenary up in the mountains was breath taking

Maho was a star, he is enthusiastic and knowledgable about his country and has first hand experience of all the activities. He looked after us really well. Even when we fended for ourselves he recommended restaurants and phoned ahead getting us free starters!

You need to be aware that a number of the activities are extra and will need to be budgeted for. This can be a bit confusing as some prices were given in sterling, some in Euros and others in Turkish Lira. As feedback to Exodus we would expect to see more included in the price. The overnight in a mountain village with a local family where sleeping out under the stars was indicated (but did not transpire) was a bit disappointing and quite an extra given there was also an empty hotel room back in Kas that night!
Beach shoes are not adequate for the Canyoning, you really feel the stones through them, take old trainers or good sandals

Please do not let the issues with Turkish boarder and Syria put you off. This is along way a way. You don't feel threatened at all. The people are so friendly. We went to a local market one day, I normally hate being haseled but found this a thoroughly enjoyable and non pressurised experience. Oh and beer and G&T's are cheap!

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Claire B

Turquoise Coast Adventure

5.0 August 2016 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes A great holiday for adults and children alike, with lots of exciting activities such as sea kayaking, tubing and high ropes, but with enough free time to feel relaxed.
Sea kayaking across the bay to a lovely beach for lunch.
Lovely guy, very organised and had a brilliant rapport with all the party.
Go for it!
A great holiday for those who like to keep things active and action packed.
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