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Best Places to Visit in Africa and The Middle East

Africa and the Middle East do not always register on the average traveler's radar. Those who visit have the chance to experience a duet of ancient and modern, of wild and urban, of East and West. To help you start your exploration, U.S. News has ranked the most popular places in Africa and the Middle East based on each destination's accessibility, affordability and variety of things to do, as well as user votes and expert opinions. Help us discover next year's top spots by voting for your favorite destinations below. 

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Why go: With numerous hiking trails, plenty of exotic wildlife and miles of dramatic scenery, Cape Town caters to adventurous types. But that doesn't mean laid-back travelers can't delight in sunbathing along beaches and sipping wine along vineyards. Getting here won't be cheap, but it is possible to find convenient, budget-friendly lodging. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Cape Town

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Why go: Jerusalem's wonders are steeped in biblical history. This city houses some incredible pilgrimage spots: Jews visit to pray at the Western Wall; Christians flock to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; and Muslims pay homage to Muhammad at the Dome of the Rock. Simply wandering through the Old City's streets can be an ethereal experience. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Jerusalem

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Why go: If you're smitten with the prospect of coming face to face with elephants, giraffes and lions, then a safari through Serengeti National Park is the adventure for you. You'll view sites like the Ngorongoro Crater and witness the world's largest migration. The price will be steep, but a trip here affords an unforgettable experience. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Serengeti National Park

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Why go: This playground of the Middle East beckons to those who prefer grand luxury. After all, this city hosts the world's tallest building, the world's largest shopping mall and a man-made set of islands shaped like a palm tree. You can even hit the beach in the morning and the ski slopes in the afternoon without ever leaving the city. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Dubai

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Why go: Cairo houses one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World — the Giza Pyramids. Take time to explore Cairo's other historic structures, including the pyramids of Dahshur and Saqqara, and learn about Ancient Egypt at the Egyptian Antiquities Museum. But stay vigilant: The atmosphere has remained tense since the 2011 political uprisings. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Cairo

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Why go: Marrakech is an ideal place to immerse yourself in Middle Eastern culture. This city buzzes with life: Performers vie for your attention in the Djemaa el Fna marketplace, while vendors hawk colorful carpets and aromatic spices along the alleyways. For a little peace and quiet, spend an evening at a hookah bar listening to the striking tones of the mosques' call to prayer. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Marrakech

#7
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Luxor

Why go: Cairo's pyramids may steal most of the spotlight, but ancient Egypt aficionados know not to overlook Luxor. This modest town has earned a reputation for its trove of early Egyptian monuments. But perhaps the most pressing reason to visit Luxor is to tour the Valley of the Kings, where 62 ancient pharaohs — including King Tut — are entombed.

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Why go: While it's not as modern and flashy as its Emirati sibling, Dubai, Abu Dhabi offers a more authentic taste of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi's ornate palaces and mosques are flanked by leafy palm trees rather than skyscrapers. But of course, Abu Dhabi features dreamy beaches and malls, too. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Abu Dhabi

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Why go: Golden sands protect these verdant islands from the lapping waves of the Indian Ocean, but more importantly, they provide idyllic sunbathing spots. This collection of 115 islands also supports rainforests and provides a home for giant tortoises.  Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Seychelles

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