Best Places to Visit in Africa & The Middle East

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 not to 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.

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With numerous hiking trails, exotic wildlife and dramatic scenery, Cape Town caters to adventurous types. But that doesn't mean laid-back travelers can't delight in sunbathing along sugary-white beaches and sipping wine along rolling 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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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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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 adventure for you. You'll view spectacular 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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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, 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

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This playground of the Middle East beckons to those who prefer to go big or go home. 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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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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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 boasts a more laid-back, traditionally Arab vibe; its 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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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 lush rainforests and provides a peaceful home for giant tortoises. Whether it's relaxation or adventure you seek, Seychelles makes a dreamy (albeit costly) getaway. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Seychelles

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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 the infamous King Tut — are entombed.

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Marrakech may reign as Morocco's tourism capital, but Fez's imperial city 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.

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