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Middle East – 10 Best Places To Visit in 2020

From the coast of Israel to the deserts of Saudi Arabia, the Middle East is filled with some of the most remarkable landscapes and cities in the world. From a stunning natural phenomenon to charming historic sites portraying each country’s culture and way of life, we list 10 of the most beautiful places in the Middle East that you should visit in 2020.

10. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Riyadh Middle East
Majeednm on Pexels

 

Riyadh is a complex mix of dualisms that will intrigue the intrepid traveler. A modern cutting-edge city that boldly strides towards the future, yet a city firmly rooted in the traditions of its historical past. Known as the “Queen of the Desert”, Riyadh will captivate every suitor with her desert landscapes and lush green oases, her ancient monuments, and the renowned Arabic hospitality of her denizens.

Must-see Attractions in Riyadh

Following are the some must-see attractions in Riyadh.

King Abdulaziz Historical Center (National Museum)

The National Museum of Saudi Arabia is a major national museum in Saudi Arabia. Established in 1999, it is part of the King Abdulaziz Historical Centre in Riyadh.

King Abdullah Park

Blooming flowerbeds, sparkling fountains, and playgrounds for kids await you in King Abdullah Park. Getaway from the hustle of the city and relax in the shadow beneath a palm tree. Not only during the daytime but also at night, this place is worth visiting as the fountains are creatively illuminated.

Murabba Historical Palace

The Murabba Palace is one of the historic buildings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The palace is the first building that was erected outside the walls of the old city. It was named after its square with the form of 400 by 400 meters. It is one of the museums in the city. 

9. Manama, Bahrain:

Manama, Bahrain Middle East
Bahrain World Trade Center, Manama, Bahrain Photo by Todd Gardner on Unsplash


Manama is the capital city of Bahrain, even though it is not quite so glamorous but still among some of the region’s other glittering metropolises. You’ll find a decent culinary and artistic circuit, partly buoyed by westerners living here. Manama is home to the local arts and entertainment scene, with many galleries to explore and perform the Bahrain National Theatre to take in. Expect plenty of craft markets and pottery workshops.

Why you should visit Manama?

Fascinating History

Learn about the history of this ancient area in the imp Bahrain National Museum, with its collection of artifacts from the ancient Dilmun civilization.

Souk Shopping

Try your hand at bargaining in one of the city’s many or markets, such as the Bab el-Bahrain Souk, where y find traditional fares like textiles, spices, pearls, and Jewelry.

Fabulous Dining

Influences that hail from the Middle East, Asia and the globe meet in Manama’s exciting dining scene, wi options at every price point, including a delectable str food scene.

Exciting Nightlife

Unlike many other destinations in the Middle East, liquor legally for sale in Manama, and the city has become for its livesly nightlife, including bars, nightclubs, and s cocktail lounges.


8. Doha, Qatar:

Doha Middle East

The hub of one of Asia’s most dynamic economies, slated to host soccer’s World Cup in 2022, and constantly adding new wonders to its impressive skyline, Doha is quickly becoming a magnetic tourist destination.

Must see attractions in Doha, Qatar

Some of the must-see attractions in Doha, Qatar:

Museum of Islamic Art

The Museum of Islamic Art is a museum on one end of the seven-kilometer-long Corniche in Doha, Qatar. As per the architect I. M. Pei’s specifications, the museum is built on an island off an artificial projecting peninsula near the traditional dhow harbor.

Souq Waqif

Souq Waqif is a marketplace in Doha, in the state of Qatar. The souq is noted for selling traditional garments, spices, handicrafts, and souvenirs. It is also home to dozens of restaurants and Shisha lounges. Although it dates back at least a hundred years, it was renovated in 2006 to conserve its traditional Qatari architectural style. 

 Doha Corniche

The Doha Corniche is a waterfront promenade extending for seven kilometers along Doha Bay in the capital city of Qatar, Doha. Annual celebrations of national holidays such as Qatar National Day and National Sports Day are centered on the Doha Corniche.

Aspire Park

Aspire Park is located in Aspire Zone, in the southern district of Baaya in Doha, Qatar. It covers an area of 88 hectares and it is Doha’s biggest park. It is a great place to have picnics and family outdoors while overlooking the Aspire Tower, especially at night. The park has different features such as beautiful fountains, playgrounds for children, and other fun features.

REGULATIONS AND DAILY LIFE


Yes, there are some rules and cultural behaviors that aren’t encouraged even for tourists (such as drinking on the streets and other places or wearing a bikini on public beaches.
Due to the high temperatures, the locals spend a lot of their time inside the shopping mall.

Regulations And Daily Life in Doha:


Yes, there are some rules and cultural behaviors that aren’t encouraged even for tourists (such as drinking on the streets and other places or wearing bikini on public beaches.Due to the high temperatures the locals spend a lot of their time inside the shopping mall.

You should also consider whether your visit will coincide with Ramadan. Qatar is an Islamic nation, and the majority of people observe the 30 days of fasting and prayer. Under Sharia Law, it is illegal to eat or drink in public in Doha during Ramadan. Most cafes and restaurants close during the day, while shops, museums, and the souq all observe restricted hours.

Doha Qatar Middle East
Photo by Mohammad Danish on Unsplash

7. Isfahan, Iran :

Photo by zahra khalili on Unsplash

The dazzling city of Isfahan, or Esfahan as it’s also called, is an important cultural hub in Iran with some of the most beautiful looking mosques in the country. It’s said that Isfahan is half the world. A world you won’t want to leave after spending only a few days there.

Things to do in Isfahan

There are plenty of things you can do in Isfahan whether you like to get lost in the Grand bazar, view fascinating architecture, or hike to the best views of town and there is no doubt why the city is on most traveler’s Iran itinerary. In Isfahan, you can experience some of the most authentic local gatherings if you just let yourself go with the flow and accept invitations from the friendly locals.

Transport in Isfahan:

The easiest and the cheapest way of traveling inside of Isfahan is buying an Isfahan card which is a multi-journey contactless card sold at certain bus stop booths. A single journey costs 5,000 rials when using an Isfahan card or 10,000 rials if paid directly to a bus driver (as of 2017). There are separate sections in a bus: front – for men and rear – for women.

Muse-see Attractions In Isfahan:

Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Naqsh-e Jahan Square, also known as Shah Square or Imam Square, is a square situated at the center of Isfahan, Iran. Constructed between 1598 and 1629, it is now an important historical site, and one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. It is 160 metres wide by 560 metres long. It is also referred to as Shah Square or Imam Square. The square is surrounded by buildings from the Safavid era. The Shah Mosque is situated on the south side of this square.

Aali Qapu Palace

Ali Qapu Palace or the Grand Ālī Qāpū is an imperial palace in Isfahan, Iran. It is located on the western side of the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, opposite to Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, and had been originally designed as a vast portal entrance to the grand palace which stretched from the Naqsh-e Jahan Square to the Chahar Baq Boulevard.

Si O Se Pol Bridge

The Allahverdi Khan Bridge, popularly known as Si-o-se-pol, is the largest of the eleven historical bridges on the Zayanderud, the largest river of the Iranian Plateau, in Isfahan, Iran. The bridge was built in the early 17th century to serve as both a bridge and a dam. 

Eshafan is famous for Esfahan carpets are world-famous, being the very finest of the Persian carpets. They are also often extremely expensive.

Photo by Dorsa Masghati on Unsplash


6. Dubai, UAE:

Photo by David Rodrigo on Unsplash


A true melting pot of cultures from around the world, the United Arab Emirates has established itself as a regional hub for financial services, retail, tourism, trade, commerce and scientific development. Its seven emirates are so diverse, that you’ll have countless activities to choose from and places to see here.
countless activities to choose from and places to see here. Multi-faceted Dubai is particularly attractive as a shopping and entertainment destination.

Must see Attractions in Dubai

Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa, known as the Burj Dubai prior to its inauguration in 2010, is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. With a total height of 829.8 m and a roof height of 828 m, the Burj Khalifa has been the tallest structure and building in the world since its topping out in 2009. Construction of the Burj Khalifa began in 2004, with the exterior completed five years later in 2009.

The Dubai Mall

Photo by Philipp Katzenberger on Unsplash

The Dubai Mall is a shopping mall in Dubai. It is the largest mall in the world by total land area, and the 26th-largest shopping mall in the world by gross leasable area, tying with West Edmonton Mall and Fashion Island —both of which are older than it. It has a total retail floor area of 502,000 square metres. Located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, it is part of the 20-billion-dollar Downtown complex, and includes over 1,200 shops. 

The Dubai Fountain

The Dubai Fountain is a choreographed fountain system located on the 12 hectare manmade Burj Khalifa Lake, at the center of the Downtown Dubai development in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Ski Dubai

Ski Dubai is an indoor ski resort with 22,500 square meters of indoor ski area. The park maintains a temperature of -1 degree to 2 degrees Celsius throughout the year. It is a part of the Mall of the Emirates, one of the largest shopping malls in the world, located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Dubai is unique because within one day you can go skiing at Ski Dubai, climb the worlds tallest building – Burj Khalifa, go shopping in the worlds largest mall – Dubai mall, and skydive over the man-made Palm Jumeirah Island. Ok, if we are realistic, you would struggle to do all of this in 1 day. But these attractions and many more are available in Dubai.

Photo by Christoph Schulz on Unsplash#

5. Cairo, Egypt

Photo by Dario Morandotti on Unsplash

A complicated but fascinating country with some of the most enduring historical monuments on Earth, Egypt stands as an unforgettable travel destination. It’s had to deal with its fair share of turmoil in recent times, but this North African nation remains proud, welcoming and accessible. And with treasures as timeless as the temples and pyramids of the Nile to shout about, it’s not somewhere that’s going to slip from public consciousness any time soon. A trip here still very much has the potential to thrill.
Most visitors flock to Egypt’s capital to explore the wonders of the ancient world, following the footsteps of the pharaohs. But there are two sides to Cairo; the city’s residents embrace their history and rejoice in their progress.

Must-see Attractions in Cairo, Egypt

Giza Necropolis

The Giza Pyramid Complex, also called the Giza Necropolis, is the site on the Giza Plateau in Greater Cairo, Egypt that includes the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure, along with their associated pyramid complexes and the Great Sphinx of Giza. 

The Egyptian Museum

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, known commonly as the Egyptian Museum or Museum of Cairo, in Cairo, Egypt, is home to an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities. It has 120,000 items, with a representative amount on display, the remainder in storerooms. 

Khan el-Khalili

Khan el-Khalili is a famous bazaar and souq in the historic center of Cairo, Egypt. Established as a center of trade in the Mamluk era and named for one of its several historic caravanserais, the bazaar district has since become one of Cairo’s main attractions for tourists and Egyptians alike.

Cairo Tower

The Cairo Tower – commonly known to locals as “Nasser’s Pineapple” – is a free-standing concrete tower in Cairo, Egypt. At 187 m, it has been the tallest structure in Egypt and North Africa for about 50 years. It was the tallest structure in Africa for ten years until 1971, when it was surpassed by Hillbrow Tower in South Africa.

Sunset in Cairo by Photo by Thais Cordeiro on Unsplash

4. Beirut, Lebanon

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash


Nevertheless, while Beirut might have suffered more than most, it remains one of the most vibrant cities in the Middle East – and one of the most beautiful.

The roads of Lebanon are filled with many checkpoints, where you are likely to be asked for your passport. They will not cause you any problem but just want to check your identity.

Lebanon is one of those countries where you must travel with insurance, as it is a wild place where people drive crazily.
Its streets are a rabbit warren of shops and bars, many decorated with street vendors and nearly all choked with traffic – among them the speeding cabs manned by frantically chain-smoking drivers who have conspired to turn crossing the street into something of an extreme sport.
But despite the darkness, Beirut remains a symbol of hope in the frequently troubled Middle East as a place where people have managed to put their differences aside – however grudgingly – and make compromise possible.

Must see attractions in Beirut, Lebanon:

National Museum of Beirut

The National Museum of Beirut is the principal museum of archaeology in Lebanon. The collection begun after World War I, and the museum was officially opened in 1942. The museum has collections totaling about 100,000 objects, most of which are antiquities and medieval finds from excavations undertaken by the Directorate General of Antiquities. 

Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque

Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque Middle East
The Mohammad al-Amin mosque in Beirut Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

The Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, also referred to as the Blue Mosque, is a Sunni Muslim mosque located in downtown Beirut, Lebanon. In the 19th century, a Zawiya was built on this site. Decades of preparation to obtain sufficient land adjacent to the old Zawiya led finally to the building of the new mosque. 

Grand Serail (Government Palace)

The Grand Serail is the headquarters of the Prime Minister of Lebanon. It is situated atop a hill in downtown Beirut a few blocks away from the Lebanese Parliament building. The Grand Serail is a historic building, the most important of three Ottoman monuments on the Serail hill. 

Doha Qatar
Evening in Beirut, Lebanon by Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

3. Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan Middle East
Petra, Jordan Photo by Alex Vasey on Unsplash


The ruins of Petra is Jordan’s most-visited tourist attraction and also one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in the world. Though it’s not known exactly when the city was built, it’s thought to have prospered around the 1st century B.C. when Petra was known to the Nabataeans as “Raqmu”. The city was a major trading hub for frankincense, myrrh, and spices in the region, and was later annexed to the Roman Empire and continued to thrive until a large earthquake destroyed much of the city in the 4th century A.D.

As most people are lured here solely by captivating images of the Treasury, they’re understandably mistaken for thinking that’s all there is to see during a trip to Petra…and boy, are they ever in for a surprise. Turns out the ancient city’s footprint is so vast that it takes days to properly explore all of its landmarks, hike through the miles of surrounding trails and visit its scaled-down sister site Little Petra.

Places to visit in Petra, Jordan:

Some of the must see attractions in Petra are:

  1. The Siq
2. The Treasury
3. The Tombs
4. The Street of Facades
5. Khubtha Trail

Another one of the incredible places to see in Jordan is Little Petra, which is very similar to Petra but a fraction of the size and with way fewer crowds. Officially known as Siq al-Barid, the site is just a 15-minute drive from Petra near Wadi Musa, and boasts the same high gorges and carved facades.

Seeing Petra By Night:

Petra in night
Photo by Sylvain Gllm on Unsplash

Seeing one of the world’s most awe-inspiring sites lit up only by the magical glow of 1,500 candles is the very definition of enchanting, which is why the Petra Night Show is an absolute must for photographers.

2. Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul Middle East
Photo by Anna on Unsplash


No other city in the world spread over two continents; nowhere else has been the capital of two empires. This energetic metropolis of 15 million people, swimming across the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus Strait, is unique. Founded by the Greeks, later capital of the Christian Byzantine Empire, Istanbul blossomed anew at the heart of the Moslem Ottoman Empire following its capture by the Turks in 1453.

Must-see destinations in Istanbul

Topkapı Palace

Topkapı Palace Middle East

The Topkapı Palace, or the Seraglio, is a large museum in the east of the Fatih district of Istanbul in Turkey. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans.

Turkey travel money:

You’ll need Turkish Liras (TL) in smaller denominations (5, 10, 20) to pay for the transportation services. You can withdraw TL from an ATM or exchange a small amount of foreign currency at either airport.

Must-do things in Istanbul:

  1. Visit Sultanahmet’s Top Tourist Attractions
  2. Shop like a Sultan at the Grand and Egyptian Spice Bazaars
  3. Walk Across Galata Bridge and Explore Beyoğlu and Dolmabahce Palace
  4. Take a Cruise on the Bosphorus with Şehir Hatları
  5. Marvel at the Mosaics in Chora Church
  6. Ride a Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia
  7. Explore the Ancient City of Ephesus

1. Tel Aviv, Israel:

Tel Aviv Port
Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

Tel Aviv is the liberal heart of Israel, where every night out lasts until dawn and life revolve around the beach. Progressive and secular with a strong artistic spirit, the city has become a magnet for creatives and partygoers.

For locals, beaches are at the centre of social life – no Tel Aviv trip is complete without a stroll along the promenade. For some highbrow, indoor culture, head to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to see its extensive collection of Israeli art, from Reuven Rubin paintings to sculpture by Rudi Lehmann, and works by the likes of Pollock, Picasso, and Van Gogh.
Three popular beaches Gordon, Frishman and Borashov cover the central stretch and this is where locals and tourists hang out sometimes playing matkot (paddleball).

Must- see attractions in Tel Aviv:

Must-see attractions in Tel Aviv are:

Jaffa Port

jafa Port
Photo by Faruk Kaymak on Unsplash

Jaffa Port is an ancient port on the Mediterranean Sea, located in Old Jaffa, Israel. It serves as a fishing harbor, a yacht harbor, and a tourism destination. It offers a variety of culture and food options, including restaurants where fresh fish and seafood is served.

Tel Aviv Museum of Art

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art was established in 1932 in a building that was the home of Tel Aviv’s first mayor, Meir Dizengoff. In 2018, the museum set an all-time attendance record with 1,018,323 visitors, ranking 70th on the list of most visited art museums.[4] In 2019, the museum’s ranking rose to 49th with 1,322,439 visitors.

The Clock Tower

The clock tower in Jaffa is a tower dating back to the Ottoman era in Palestine. It is located in the city center of Jaffa, and it is one of the 7 towers erected in the cities of Palestine in the year 1901 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Sultan Abdul Hamid II ascending the Ottoman throne. 

Masada National Park

Masada is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel situated on top of an isolated rock plateau, akin to a mesa. It is located on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea 20 km east of Arad. Herod the Great built two palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE.

Shuk Machane Yehuda

Mahane Yehuda Market, often referred to as “The Shuk”, is a marketplace in Jerusalem. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the market’s more than 250 vendors sell fresh fruits and vegetables; baked goods; fish, meat and cheeses; nuts, seeds, and spices; wines and liquors; clothing and shoes; and housewares, textiles, and Judaica.

Dolphin Reef Beach

Dolphin Reef is a horseshoe-shaped sea-pen where bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf of Eilat in the northern-eastern Red Sea near the city of Eilat in southern Israel swim in and out of. It is a major tourist attraction in this area. 

Photo by Avi Werde on Unsplash

Honorable Mention

Jerusalem

Jerusalem Israel
Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

Jerusalem is a magical city for so many reasons. It’s historic, it’s full of culture, it’s surprising to most, and what we like about it from our most recent visit is that Jerusalem has lots of personalities.

At the mention of “Jerusalem,” you may think of the Western Wall, lots of religions in one spot, and a city from your history book, but maybe that’s because you haven’t seen the murals of the Mahane Yehuda Shuk during its nightlife hours, the hidden speakeasies that only locals know and the best spots for hummus.

Must-see Attractions in Jerusalem

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem
Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

Whether this is the true site of Calvary is moot. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has been recognized as the site of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion since the early Byzantine period and today is one of Jerusalem’s most visited tourist attractions and a place of deep religious significance. Within the basilica are the last stations of the Via Dolorosa – Jerusalem’s famous pilgrimage walk. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre can seem surprisingly small compared with the great cathedrals of ItalySpain, and France, but this modest size belies its deep significance.

Temple Mount

The Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram esh-Sharif and the Al Aqsa Compound, is a hill located in the Old City of Jerusalem that for thousands of years has been venerated as a holy site in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam alike. The present site is a flat plaza surrounded by retaining walls which was built during the reign of Herod the Great for an expansion of the temple. 

Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock is an Islamic shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock is in its core one of the oldest extant works of Islamic architecture. Its architecture and mosaics were patterned after nearby Byzantine churches and palaces, although its outside appearance has been significantly changed in the Ottoman period and again in the modern period, notably with the addition of the gold-plated roof, in 1959–61 and again in 1993.

Tower of David

The Tower of David, also known as the Citadel, is an ancient citadel located near the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. The citadel that stands today dates to the Mamluk and Ottoman periods. It was built on the site of a series of earlier ancient fortifications of the Hasmonean, Herodian, Byzantine and Early Muslim periods, after being destroyed repeatedly during the last decades of Crusader presence in the Holy Land by their Muslim enemies

Old City of Jerusalem

Characterized by narrow, winding streets and alleyways, this ancient part of the city is filled with shrines and attractions holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims including the Western Wall, Temple Mount and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Old City of Jerusalem
Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

Is there anything you would like to add? Let us know in the comments below.

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