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Best Places to Visit in Africa and The Middle East

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Africa and the Middle East may not always register on the average traveler's radar, but those who visit have the chance to experience the perfect blend of ancient and modern, of wild and urban, of East and West. To help you start planning your exploration, U.S. News ranked the best places in Africa and the Middle East based on accessibility, affordability and variety of things to do, as well as user votes. Help us choose next year's top spots by voting for your favorite destinations below.

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Africa & The Middle East Rankings

Gold Badge #1 Cairo

Gold Badge #1 in Best Places to Visit in Africa and The Middle East

Cairo can be overwhelming, as there's so much to see and do everywhere you turn. From street vendors and ancient pyramids to the Nile River and nightclubs, you'll be immersed in this Egyptian city's history and culture before long. For lower room rates, more comfortable weather and thinner crowds, plan a visit during the spring or fall. Read More »

Sunset at the Pyramids of Giza View 18 photos
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Gold Badge #2 Cape Town

Gold Badge #2 in Best Places to Visit in Africa and The Middle East

With numerous hiking trails, miles of dramatic scenery and stunning beaches, Cape Town caters to both adventurous types and laid-back travelers. Getting here won't be cheap, but it is possible to find convenient, budget-friendly lodging. Make sure you take the aerial cableway up Table Mountain, visit Nelson Mandela's jail cell on Robben Island, explore the eclectic food scene and attend one of the city's many festivals. Read More »

Ascending Table Mountain View 20 photos
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Gold Badge #3 Marrakech

Gold Badge #3 in Best Places to Visit in Africa and The Middle East

This city buzzes with life: Performers vie for your attention in the Jemaa El Fna marketplace while vendors hawk aromatic spices along the alleyways. For a little peace and quiet, unwind at a hammam or head to a hookah bar and listen to the striking tones of the nearby mosques' calls to prayer. Read More »

The Red City View 35 photos
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Gold Badge #4 Serengeti National Park

Gold Badge #4 in Best Places to Visit in Africa and The Middle East

If you're enamored with the prospect of coming face to face with elephants, giraffes and lions, then a safari through Tanzania's Serengeti National Park is the adventure for you. The price will be steep, but a journey here affords an unforgettable experience. Time your visit between January and March or June and October for the best game-viewing conditions. Read More »

Serengeti Plains View 19 photos
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#5 Kruger National Park

#5 in Best Places to Visit in Africa and The Middle East

You'll certainly spot plenty of wildlife in South Africa's massive game preserve, ranging from lions and rhinos to elephants and giraffes. Plus, the park's network of paved roads makes it easier to navigate than Serengeti, but its popularity means you're more likely to rub elbows with other visitors. To ensure lodgomg, flight and tour availability, finalize your trip plans at least a year in advance.  Read More »

Elephants View 18 photos
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#6 Dubai

#6 in Best Places to Visit in Africa and The Middle East

This playground of the Middle East beckons to those seeking grand luxury. After all, the city hosts the world's tallest building and one of the world's largest shopping malls, plus a man-made island. You can hit the beach and the ski slopes without ever leaving the city. Try to book as soon as possible for the lowest flight and hotel rates. Read More »

Dubai View 39 photos
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#7 Seychelles

#7 in Best Places to Visit in Africa and The Middle East

A grouping of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles have long attracted those looking for a truly relaxing getaway. Spend your days lounging on pristine beaches (many of which are crowd-free) and exploring the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve. Keep in mind that lodging here is expensive (especially at the luxury resorts), so it's best to book in advance. Read More »

Photo Opportunity View 21 photos
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#8 Abu Dhabi

#8 in Best Places to Visit in Africa and The Middle East

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. 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. Book your trip for the spring or fall for fewer crowds and better accommodation prices. Read More »

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Walkway View 24 photos
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#9 Masai Mara National Reserve

#9 in Best Places to Visit in Africa and The Middle East

Home to cheetahs, elephants, lions, wildebeest, hippos and more, Masai Mara is one of Kenya's premier spots to see wildlife. Sign up for a safari to explore this protected area's 580 square miles of rolling grasslands. For an extra dose of adventure, opt for a horseback or hot air balloon safari.

Masai Mara
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#10 Jerusalem

#10 in Best Places to Visit in Africa and The Middle East

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. Take a look at your calendar before planning a trip, as worshippers head to the city in droves during its many religious holidays. Read More »

Sunset over Jerusalem View 17 photos
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#11 Luxor

#11 in Best Places to Visit in Africa and The Middle East

Cairo's pyramids may steal most of the spotlight, but ancient Egypt aficionados know not to overlook Luxor. Perhaps the most pressing reason to visit this UNESCO World Heritage city is to tour the Valley of the Kings, where 62 ancient pharaohs – including King Tut – are entombed. Many monuments and tombs found here date back to the 14th century B.C. Read More »

Obelisk at Karnak Temple Complex View 19 photos
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#12 Madagascar

#12 in Best Places to Visit in Africa and The Middle East

The habitat on the island of Madagascar is unlike any other in the world. Best of all, most of the landscape is unspoiled, giving visitors a chance to see animals in their natural environment. Make sure to grab a shot of the signature animal: the lemur. Madagascar is home to 97 species of these creatures, as well as nearly 14,000 kinds of plants. Read More »

Lemurs View 20 photos
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