The Middle East is often thought to be arid, unsafe, and bereft of places to visit, but only those who have been there once will know about the true beauty that this region holds. From panoramic mountain ranges to azure blue waters, ancient relics, and opulent modern monuments, the Middle East is a treasure trove of hidden gems. You can find some of the most spectacular places to visit on Far and Wild Travel too. So, let’s unearth the most well-preserved Islamic architecture, bustling souks, lavish hotels & resorts, ancient historical relics and gastronomical delights in this land of jewels.
1. Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is the only city in the world that lies on two continents with an amalgamation of the modern and traditional. Coined as the European capital of culture, Istanbul is a beautiful Mediterranean city in many ways and a completely Arabic city in others. It blends in both the worlds well with open-air bistros and cafes, as seen in Europe along with traditional Arabic souks and architecture. Some of the must-visit places in this vibrant city are the iconic Blue Mosque, the vibrant Grand Bazaar, the Hagia Sophia Museum and the Topkapi Palace Museum depicting the history and culture of Turkey. So, get ready to be enthralled by the sights and sounds of this enchanting city.
2. Petra, Jordan
Petra, the archaeological city of Jordan, allures tourists from all across the world for its intricate architecture, the novel network of water and transport, and a look at a developed civilization from ancient times. It was also the former capital of Nabatean Kingdom more than 2000 years ago that was later abandoned, hence it is also called the “Lost City.” Today, it is known as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and is one of the most popular tourist places in the Middle East, with people flocking to this ancient town to see the remnants of ancient tombs, mosques, temples and palaces. So include Petra in your travel bucket list to get a peek into the beginning of civilization.
3. Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
Often dubbed as the Egyptian resort town, Sharm el-Sheikh is a haven for water lovers. With warm sunshine and clear blue waters all year round, Sharm el-Sheikh is the closest place to Europe to soak up the sun, indulge in adrenaline-pumping water sports, and see beautiful coral reefs. Ras Mohammed National Park is what has put this beach town on the tourist map. Surrounded by some of the most incredible dive-sites, it is home to glorious beaches. You can enjoy some hardcore diving and snorkeling or simply spend time sunbathing and relishing the gastronomical delights of Egypt. Old Quay Beach and Aqaba Beach are a must-visit while here. For history buffs, a trip to St. Catherine’s Monastery is a must. One of the oldest monasteries in the world, it is the place Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments.
4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Waltz into the glitzy and modern capital of United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai to experience the sun, the sand, and also the modern high-rises, unending shopping malls, and a lot of family fun. This city also has many cultural highlights along with its modern add-ons. Spend a day at the Bastakia district to discover the old Dubai, admiring the distinct Arabian architecture and the culture of a bygone era. Then take a cruise along Dubai Creek in a traditional dhow, and also pack in some adventure sand boarding, camel riding, kayaking and snorkeling. While you are sight-seeing, don’t miss out on some of the magnificent works of art – the Jumeirah Mosque, Dubai Frame and Burj Al-Arab.
5. Jerusalem, Israel
A city steeped in history, religion and tradition, Jerusalem is one of the most sacred places for Jews. The heart of the Holy Land, Jerusalem is where the Jews raised the first temple to keep the Ark of the Covenant safe. It was Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified and rose again and also where Prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven to receive God’s gift. With two of the keepers of religion associated with this place, there are innumerable tourist attractions that you can visit. Some of the must-dos are Haram Al-Sharif, Dome of the Rock, the most iconic landmark in Jordan, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in the world.
6. Manama, Bahrain
In the middle of all the large Middle Eastern countries lies the island of Bahrain, with its modern capital city of Manama. Known for its quaint lifestyle, it retains the charm of a traditional Arab culture juxtaposed with a progressive environment. People flock to this beautiful town to see the famous Bahrain Fort dating back to 2300 BC. With 5000 years of history, every lane around this area is steeped in history. Apart from this, the Bahrain National Museum and the bustling souks with their vibrant colors and aromatic smells are worth a visit.
7. Tel Aviv, Israel
Visit the youthful, modern, hip, and secular town in Israel, Tel Aviv, for its long stretches of golden sand and azure blue waters. It has varied attractions to lure tourists including, the Haaretz Museum, Yemenite quarter, and plenty of art galleries exhibiting the culture and traditions of Israel. Nicknamed as the “The White City”, the town was awarded the UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2003 due to the beautiful Bauhaus architecture, an early 20th-century modernist style of building. So get ready to soak up the sun, shop-till-you-drop, and taste some local delicacies as you explore this beautiful beach town.
8. Muscat, Oman
The capital city of Oman, Muscat has been an integral trading link between the west and the east and is still a significant hotspot for trade vessels and cruises. Muscat has retained its old charm through its old monuments that are preserved well. The Grand Mosque, old forts, and Sultan’s Palace are the pride of Muscat. Naturally wedged between the ocean and mountains, the city has a distinct character from its neighboring capitals. Travelers visit this place to enjoy the tranquility of the natural surroundings and the warm Omani hospitality that connects them with the country’s glorious heritage.
The Middle East is steeped in history and is often dubbed as the cradle of civilization. It is home to some of the most spectacular natural and man-made wonders that beautifully weave the rich culture and traditions of the people and places. So, click here to buy some sturdy travel accessories for your trip and get packing to explore the mystical Middle East.