Surprising Middle Eastern Destinations: 15 Must-Visit Places

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Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia

The Middle East is gorgeous, dreamlike and attracts all sorts of enthusiastic travelers. With a variety of breathtaking popular and unique travel destinations, the Middle East has begun to gain popularity. The natural beauty, paradise-like cities, and vibrant community and culture are considered to be factors in making the region a preferred vacation spot for many. If you are overwhelmed with its beauty and atmosphere and considering planning your vacation here, read our recommendations on destinations to explore in the Middle East before finalizing your itinerary. Discover these places and see which one captivates you the most.

Places To Visit In Middle East

15 Destinations To Explore In Middle East

Take a quick look at the destinations to explore in the Middle East that have been selected for you and will be helpful while you’re preparing your itinerary.

1. Petra (Jordan)2. Amadiya (Iraq)3. Dubai (UAE)4. Tel Aviv (Israel)5. Istanbul (Turkey)6. Doha (Qatar)7. Isfahan (Iran)8. Baalbek (Lebanon)9. Cairo (Egypt)10. Manama (Bahrain)11. Abu Dhabi (UAE)12. Damascus (Syria)13. Beirut (Lebanon)14. Erbil (Iraq)15. Al Balad (Saudi Arabia)

1. Petra

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Petra- the breathtaking archaeological city of Jordan entices travelers from around the globe and occupies the top spot on the list of finest destinations to explore in the Middle East. The former capital of the Nabatean Kingdom preserves remnants of ancient mosques, tombs, palaces, and temples, all made of pink sandstone. The local people are friendly and welcome every visitor coming to the ‘Rose City’.


Accessed through a stunning canyon called Al Siq, Petra appears unreal and stunning and has rightfully been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Recommended Duration: 1 DayBest Time To Visit: March to May and September to November Country: JordanMain attractions: Al-Deir Monastery, Al Khazneh temple with a Greek-style frontage and intricate details, Colonnaded Street, Qasr Al-Bint, and Royal Tombs.Places to stay: Petra Moon Hotel, Petra Marriott Hotel, and The Old Village Hotel and Resort

Essential Reading: 8 Most Outstanding Activities In Petra For A Thrilling Excursion In The Rose City!

2. Amadiya

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Situated 10 km from the Turkish boundary, Amadiya is a picturesque Kurdish village. Resting on the level-roofed mountain, Amadiya has a prosperous history as numerous antique civilizations and societies have entered this place.

According to myth, Amadiya is assumed to be the abode of three knowledgeable men, who walked to Bethlehem to witness Jesus Christ soon after his birth. A breathtaking and tranquil location to explore in the Middle East, Amadiya appeals to voyagers of all types.

Nation: IraqKey attractions: Relics from the Assyrian period, ruins of a synagogue and a tomb of Ezekiel, and a stunning church.Places to stay: Motel Kani and Amedi Motel

Recommended Reading: 20 Romantic Locations To Explore In Singapore For Honeymoon

3. Dubai

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Beautiful view of dubai

Impressive landmarks, lively beaches, sophisticated hotels and skyscrapers, and ultra-modern malls and souks give the skyline of Dubai a spectacular and appealing look. Visited by millions of tourists throughout the year, Dubai has every reason to be at the forefront of the list of places to visit in the Middle East.

Whether it’s entertainment and recreation, luxurious accommodation and shopping, or the finest global cuisine, Dubai is a popular choice among travelers of all types.

Optimal Duration: 2 Nights/3 DaysBest Time To Visit: November to MarchNation: UAEKey attractions: Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah Beach, Mall of Emirates, Dubai Mall, Wild Wadi, Desert Safari, Dubai Creek, Dubai Aquarium, Global Village, and Dubai Marina,Places to stay: Atlantis The Palm, Roda Al Murooj, Hyatt Regency By Dubai Creeks, and Sofitel Dubai Downtown.Essential Reading:

Recommended Reading: 12 Dubai Travel Tips To Assist You To Make The Most Of Your Perfect Holiday

4. Tel Aviv

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Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is picturesque, captivating and brimming with vitality. From natural allure, recreational activities to heart-stirring adventure and excitement; Tel Aviv possesses everything that makes the vacation delightful and unforgettable. Sun-drenched coastlines, museums, local markets, cafes, and nightlife will leave you entertained and compel you to revisit this destination in Israel time and time again. Do you not believe; Tel Aviv should be included in the list of top places to visit in the Middle East? Plan a vacation there to be absolutely certain.

Optimal Duration: 2 Nights/3 DaysBest Time To Visit: March to April and September to NovemberCountry: IsraelPrimary attractions: Hilton Beach, Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv Museum Of Art, Yarkon Park, Port of Jaffa and Carmel Market.

Accommodation options: Hotel Gilgal, Abraham Hostel and Little Tel Aviv Hostel

Recommended Reading: Tel Aviv In Summer: A Practical Guide For Planning A Relaxed Vacation

5. Istanbul

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Another popular choice when selecting the places to visit in the Middle East is none other than Istanbul. This radiant and vibrant Turkish city possesses a romantic charm and mystical vibe that spreads joy and entices every type of traveler. From honeymooning couples, history enthusiasts to solo explorers; Istanbul is the dream of everyone.

The traditional landmarks, breathtaking canal view with Asia and Europe on both sides, local cuisine, handicrafts, grand Turkish bathhouses, and lovely local people make the vacation truly unforgettable.

Optimal Duration: 5 Nights/6 DaysBest Time To Visit: March to May and September To NovemberCountry: TurkeyPrimary attractions: Hagia Sophia Museum, The Blue Mosque, Bosphorus Canal, Grand Bazaar and Topkapi Palace Museum.Accommodation options: Radisson Blu Hotel, Romance Istanbul Hotel, Istanbul Royal Hotel, and Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul.

Recommended Reading: Discover Istanbul With Kids: The Abundance Of Cultural Heritage

6. Doha

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Situated alongside the Persian Gulf, the capital city of Qatar is renowned for its impressive structures, landmarks, exquisite museums, cultural villages, and entertainment hubs. Progressing both economically and socio-culturally, Doha is rightfully acclaimed as one of the 7 new Wonder Cities of the World and a must-visit destination in the Middle East.

Optimal Duration: 1 Night/2 DaysBest Time to Explore: December to FebruaryNation: QatarPrimary attractions: Museum Of Islamic Art, Katara Cultural Village, The Pearl Qatar, National Museum, and Souq WaqifRecommended Accommodations: Warwick Doha Hotel, Grand Regal Hotel, and Chairmen Hotel Doha.

Recommended Reading: 11 Popular Destinations to Visit in Doha for an Unforgettable Gulf Vacation!

7. Isfahan

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Recognized as the magnificent capital of ancient Persia, Isfahan showcases the splendid essence of Persian art and architecture. Mosques, palaces, majestic domes, and even public squares are elegantly crafted with Persian art, sculptures, and calligraphy.

Even the interiors of these monuments and the ceilings exhibit breathtaking designs and geometric patterns that elevate the allure of this Iranian city. Undoubtedly, this is one of the most breathtaking destinations to explore in the Middle East that should not be overlooked.

Nation: IranPrimary attractions: Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Imam (Shah) Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace, and SheikhLotfollah Mosque.

Recommended Accommodations: Abbasi Hotel, Setareh Hotel, and Isfahan- The Traditional Hotel

Recommended Reading: Khaju Bridge: To Witness the Majestic Beauty of the Iconic Attraction in Iran


8. Baalbek

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Nestled beside the Litani River in the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, Baalbek is a sacred site since ancient times. According to historical evidence, the Phoenicians constructed colossal temples and shrines, dedicated to the Sky God in Baalbek dating back to 9000 BC.

Renowned for worshiping a multitude of Gods and Goddesses, the city currently exhibits magnificent remnants of temples, mosques, and other structures that belong to the Greek and Roman era and proudly maintains its status as a unique destination to visit in the Middle East.

Country: LebanonMain attractions: Stone Of The Expectant Woman, Baalbek Roman Ruins, Temple of Bacchus, and Temple of Jupiter.Places to stay: Palmyra Hotel, Kanaan Group Hotel, and Hotel Shouman

Suggested Read: 11 Things To Do In Beirut In January To Celebrate The Most Unforgettable New Year

View of Cairo

9. Cairo

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Boasting numerous mosques, palaces, pyramids, and minarets; Cairo, the capital of Egypt, is rightfully hailed as The City Of The Thousand Minarets. Welcoming thousands of tourists each year for its grand and stunning architecture, bustling markets, cafes, restaurants, and nightlife; Cairo, situated on the banks of the River Nile, is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after destinations to explore in the Middle East.

Ideal Duration: 2 Nights/3 DaysBest Time To Visit: October to AprilCountry: EgyptMain attractions: Giza Necropolis, Khan-el-Khalili, Pyramid of Djoser, and Egyptian MuseumPlaces to stay: Grand Royal Hotel, Valencia Hotel, and Cairo Paradise Hotel

Suggested Read: 8 Places For Shopping In Cairo: Street Stores To Luxurious Malls

10. Manama


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Situated along the Persian Gulf, Manama is the capital of Bahrain and boasts beautiful monuments and a rich culture and heritage. Historically, the city has served as the capital of the Arabian Gulf and the center of many major trade routes. The mosques, museums, public squares, and local markets add sparkle to the city, attracting a multitude of tourists who are eager to explore heritage destinations.

Ideal Duration: 1 Night/2 DaysBest Time To Visit: November to FebruaryCountry: BahrainMain attractions: Bahrain National Museum, Al Fateh Grand Mosque, Bab Al Bahrain, and The Lost Paradise of Dilmun Water ParkPlaces to stay: Taj Plaza Hotel, Downtown Rotana, and Gulf Hotel Bahrain

Recommended Reading: 8 Greatest Activities To Experience In Ajman That Are Ideal For an Unconventional Vacation in the Heart of UAE!

Abu Dhabi

11. Abu Dhabi

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Abu Dhabi requires no introduction. Located on the island of the Persian Gulf, Abu Dhabi is all about buzzing coastlines, nightlife, landmarks, and adventure. Offering the perfect fusion of traditional charm and the most advanced urbanization; Abu Dhabi offers an abundance of leisure, entertainment, adventure, and excitement for people of all age groups.

Whether it’s safaris, visits to the heritage village, beach enjoyment, desert camps, or exploring malls; the place has it all, and that’s why it is one of the popular choices among the destinations to explore in the Middle East.

Recommended Length of Stay: 2 Nights/3 DaysBest Time To Visit: Late October to AprilCountry: UAEKey attractions: Saadiyat Public Beach, Marina Mall, Dalma Mall, Mushrif Central Park, Heritage Village, Ferrari World, Emirates Palace, Louvre Museum and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre.Places to stay: City Seasons Al Hamra Hotel, Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana and Jumeirah at Etihaad Towers.

Recommended Reading: Kayaking In Dubai & Abu Dhabi: 4 Finest Locations To Enjoy The Thrills


12. Damascus

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We all know that ‘old is valuable’ and this is once again proven by the beauty and allure of the historic city of Damascus in Syria. Damascus is one of the ancient cities to explore in the Middle East as well as the World. However, its historic nature has not diminished its allure in the slightest. Renowned for its beautiful mosques, traditional markets, and public squares, Damascus should be your preferred destination if you have a fondness for history and heritage.

Country: SyriaKey attractions: Umayyad mosque, Azm Palace, Al Hamra Street, The National Museum, Damascus Opera House and Souq al-HamidiyyehPlaces to stay: Belt Al Wali Hotel, Hotel Art House, Sheraton Hotel and Four Seasons Hotel

Recommended Reading: Israel In January: Here’s Everything You Should Know Before You Plan A Holiday


13. Beirut

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The capital city of Lebanon; Beirut is a center of ancient culture and heritage. Boasting of stunning architecture, cuisine, handicrafts, and remarkable monuments, Beirut proudly stands as one of the most stylish cities to visit in the Middle East, located by the Mediterranean Sea.

Recommended Duration: 4 Nights/5 DaysBest Time To Visit: April to NovemberCountry: LebanonMain attractions: Beirut markets, Martyrs’ Square, Njjmeh Square, Hamra Street, and Zaitunay BayPlaces to stay: Saifi Urban Gardens, Le Commodore Hotels, The Grand Meshmosh Hotel, and Radisson Blu Martinez.

Suggested Read: These Beautiful Beaches in Beirut Are Perfect For An Exotic Mediterranean Vacation


14. Erbil

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The Middle East has many ancient cities of the world which have maintained their magnificence for ages. Among the historic places to see in the Middle East, Erbil is a popular choice. Erbil is the most populous city of Iraq and the commercial capital of the Kurdistani Region of Iraq. With remains of ancient palaces, museums and public squares, Erbil looks appealing and stunning.

Recommended Duration: 2 Nights/3 DaysBest Time To Visit: March to AprilCountry: IraqMain attractions: Erbil Citadel, Kurdish Textile Museum, Family Mall, Sami Abdulrahman Park, and Shanadar Park.Places to stay: Madera Hotel, Divan Erbil Hotel, and Erbil Rotana

Suggested Read: Luxembourg In Winter: 9 Best Places To Explore This Winter Wonderland

Al Balad

15. Al Balad

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The list of top places to visit in the Middle East is never complete without Al Balad. The picturesque old city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is 1300 years old and was the gateway for Muslims to Mecca. Presently, it is a vibrant and bustling city and its heritage and display of old-world charm made UNESCO list Al Balad as one of the World Heritage Sites.

Country: Saudi ArabiaMain attractions: Naseef House, Makkah Gate, and Old JeddahPlaces to stay: Burj Al Balad Hotel and Red Sea Palace Hotel

Further Read: 8 Best Places To Visit In Haifa For A Perfect Middle Eastern Trip!

If the mesmerizing beauty and atmosphere of these places to visit in the Middle East have captivated you, plan a trip and create memories of your lifetime. Your Middle East vacation will truly be worthwhile if you incorporate most of the above-listed tourist places in your itinerary!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Places To Visit In Middle East

What to purchase from Istanbul?

One can purchase blue ceramics, boutique outfits, pieces of jewelry, antiques, Turkish tea, The Blue Evil Eye of Turkey, Nargil Pipes, and Turkish mosaic lamps.

What to experience in Cairo?

The popular activities to engage in Cairo are a visit to the Egyptian Museum, shopping at Khan el Khalili Bazaar, exploring Pyramids of Giza, partying at Cairo Jazz Club, and leisurely strolling at Al Azhar Park.

How many days are necessary for a Doha trip?

2 days are ample for a satisfying Doha trip.

Which is the optimal time to visit Dubai?

The best time to plan a Dubai holiday is during the winter months. November to March is the ideal time with pleasant weather, perfect for sightseeing and outdoor activities.

Why is Lebanon renowned?

Lebanon is renowned for its delectable cuisine, breathtaking monuments, and rich culture. It is often called the Paris of the Middle East.

What to do in Iran?

One can relish hiking, try authentic Iranian cuisine, visit specialized museums, try couch surfing, and stay in a traditional hotel.

Name some famous restaurants in Beirut.

Some of the famous restaurants in Beirut are Em Sherif Restaurant, Babel Bay, Tawlet, Mayrig, and Liza.

Category: Places To Visit

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