Best African and Middle Eastern Vacations
Africa and the Middle East do not always register on the average traveler's radar. Yes, a negative stigma surrounds this part of the world, but only timid travelers use that as an excuse to not visit. Those who look beyond the misconceptions perceive the enchanting duet of ancient and modern, of wild and urban, of East and West. To help you start your exploration, U.S. News Travel has developed a list of the most popular places in Africa and the Middle East based on each destination's accessibility, affordability, and variety of things to do.
Israel's seaside metropolis boasts the perfect blend of beautiful beaches, historic attractions, and trendy nightlife venues. Spend your days wandering through Old Jaffa or lounging along the cream-colored sands of Gordon Beach. This laid-back city's variety of hotels and accommodations make it ideal for any travel budget. And should you be itching for a taste of Biblical Israel, Jerusalem is only an hour's drive away. Read More»
Read On: Top Things to Do in Tel Aviv
Featuring numerous hiking trails, exotic wildlife, and dramatic scenery, Cape Town caters to adventurous travelers. But that doesn't mean laid-back travelers won't enjoy themselves here. South Africa's capital is flanked by sugary-white beaches and miles of rolling vineyards, making it easy to spend your days sunbathing and your evenings sipping wine. 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
If you're smitten with the prospect of coming face-to-face with belching hippos, towering giraffes, and roaring lions, then a safari through Serengeti National Park is the once-in-a-lifetime adventure for you. You'll get up close and personal with the African Savannah, come across views of spectacular sites like the Ngorongoro Crater, and witness the largest migration on the planet. Although this vacation will cost a good amount, you'll be awarded with an unforgettable experience. Read More»
Jerusalem's wonders are steeped in Biblical history. This storied city houses the most important pilgrimage spots for all three Abrahamaic religions: Jews come to pray at the Western Wall; Christians flock to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to visit Jesus Christ's tomb; and Muslims pay homage to Muhammad at the Dome of the Rock. Simply wandering through the Old City's narrow streets can be an ethereal experience—one that everyone can afford thanks to Jerusalem's diverse accommodations. Read More»
Read On: Top Things to Do in Jerusalem
Marrakech is the perfect place to immerse yourself in Middle-Eastern culture. This city constantly teems with life: Street performers vie for your attention in the Djemaa el Fna, while vendors hawk colorful carpets and aromatic spices along the winding alleyways. When you're in need of some peace and quiet, spend an evening at a hookah bar listening to the striking tones of the mosques' call to prayer before heading back to one of the many affordable hotels found here. Read More»
Read On: Top Things to Do in Marrakech
One word: Pyramids. Cairo houses one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World—the Giza Pyramids. But these aren't the only geometric attractions worth noting. Take time to explore Cairo's other historic structures, including the pyramids of Dahshur and Saqqara, and gain further insight into Ancient Egypt at the Egyptian Antiquities Museum. But a word of caution: The atmosphere has remained tense since the 2011 political uprisings, so you'll need to be extra vigilant and avoid any large gatherings. Read More»
Read On: Top Things to Do in Cairo
The playground of the Middle East beckons to those who prefer to go big or go home. After all, this is the city with 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. But like all things in the UAE, a trip to Dubai doesn't come cheap: Even the extreme summertime heat doesn't drive hotel rates down. Read More»
Read On: Top Things to Do in Dubai
Golden sands protect these verdant islands from the lapping waves of the Indian Ocean, but more importantly, they provide spectacular sunbathing real estate. This collection of 115 islands also supports verdant rainforests and provides a peaceful home for giant tortoises. So whether you're looking to kick back and relax or embark on an adventure, Seychelles is the destination for you. But be warned: While the islands' remoteness may sound romantic, it also makes getting here complicated and expensive.
Lions, tigers, bears… OK, no tigers or bears, but you'll certainly see lions in South Africa's massive game preserve, not to mention rhinos, elephants, and giraffes. Occupying a chunk of land roughly the size of Israel, Kruger delights animal-and nature-lovers alike. The park's extensive network of paved roads make it easier to navigate on your own than Serengeti, but its popularity means you're more likely to run into fellow humans.
Marrakech may hold the title of Morocco's tourism capital, but the imperial city of Fez remains the head of the country. It has been shaped over the centuries by each ruling dynasty. Acting as the nation's cultural hub, Fez hosts both European and Arabian transplants who spend their days in the winding streets of the old Medina. Fez visitors are in for an additional treat: Fewer crowds, meaning lower hotel rates and a more authentic experience.