Visiting the pyramids, living in a glass tent in the desert and going to the top of the world’s tallest building are all things that should be on your bucket list. One thing they have in common? They are all located in the Middle East. (ICYDK: The Middle East consists of 18 countries in the countries around the Mediterranean.)
In recent years, visits to the Middle East have skyrocketed, with hotspots such as Dubai and Tel Aviv leading the way. But did you know that there are tons of great places in the Middle East that are quickly gaining traction? Places like Cairo, Istanbul, and Petra are filled with tons of history, cool experiences, and delicious food options, which is what makes them Middle Eastern hotspots.
Whether you’re looking to enjoy the nightlife in Tel Aviv or seek out one of the Seven Wonders of the World in Petra, these Middle Eastern hotspots are definitely worth a visit in 2023…and beyond. Oh, and if you’re looking for an escape to a warmer climate in the middle of this frigid winter, all the more reason to book a flight to one of these regions, which are usually warm and dry in temperature. Check out the bucket list below for all the travel information.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
It seems impossible to mention the Middle East’s hotspots without bringing up Dubai. The bustling city is loved for its luxury hotels, unique tourist attractions and historic past. “An exciting mix of old and new, Dubai is a hot spot in the Middle East,” explains Zara Skehavati, editor at Lonely Planet. “The Burj Khalifa is a must-see – standing as the tallest building in the world at 828 metres.” Choose to stay at the Burj Al Arab, named after the world’s first seven-star hotel, or at Atlantis the Palm, a place loved by Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Tel Aviv, Israel
“As one of the most popular cities in the Middle East, Tel Aviv has it all – beaches, culture, nightlife, restaurants and more,” says Zach Griff, senior reporter at The Points Guy. Spend the day relaxing on one of the city’s pristine beaches, enjoying local Israeli cuisine or heading out to enjoy the bustling nightlife as the sun sets. Griff recommends staying at the David Kempinski Tel Aviv, the city’s new beachfront crown jewel.
Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is a city loved for its world-famous archaeological sites. “Enjoy a Petra by Night show, and head to the treasury, where over 1,500 lights illuminate the place,” advises Skehavati. After a few days in the historic city, sneak off to the Wadi Rum desert to the TikTok viral Aicha Luxury Camp – where visitors stay in luxurious glass tents – to enjoy the amazing stargazing. During your time there, choose to take a jeep tour, walk on the cliff bridges and watch the amazing sunset and sunrise.
Located at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, Istanbul is a melting pot of cultures, which is precisely why it is worth a visit. “With a history, eye-catching scenery and gorgeous structures along the Bosphorus, you definitely don’t want to miss it,” says Griff. Spend some time perusing the 3,000+ stalls in the Grand Bazaar, enjoy local Turkish cuisine while strolling the Beyoğlu district, and visit the top of the Galata Tower during your tour. Griff recommends staying at the Four Seasons Istanbul At The Bosphorus for an opulent experience and the JW Marriott Istanbul Bosphorus as another luxury option.
Cairo has a lot of history, cool experiences and tasty local food, and is a city that is often overlooked by tourists. It is close to the Giza Pyramids and offers you a great city to retreat to after a long day admiring the ancient sites in the sun. Explore the labyrinth of Khan el-Khalili, a bazaar dating back to 1400 AD, and buy Arabic coffee and tea at Fishawis, the most famous coffee shop in town, or enjoy the largest collection of Egyptian artefacts in the Egyptian Museum. Spend your leisure time at The Nile Ritz-Carlton, a luxurious property located in the middle of all the food, shopping and culture, with spectacular views of the famous river.
According to Skehavati, Muscat is a charming city with many attractions, so it’s only fitting that this hidden gem is next on your list. “Be sure to explore the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which features arched walkways, vibrant mosaic tiles, a Swarovski crystal chandelier and the world’s second largest hand-woven Persian carpet,” she says. Other activities to consider include seeing a show at the opera house or spending some time in retail therapy. The Chedi Muscat is a stunning hotel that offers a range of stunning views from colorful gardens to the beautiful Gulf of Oman.
“As one of the holiest cities for three monotheistic religions, Jerusalem offers a mix of cultural experiences for all,” explains Griff. While you can easily spend your time visiting the holy sites, be sure to enjoy dining, shopping and a wide range of cultural activities in the city itself as well. To round off your stay, add a day trip to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth and said to have healing powers in its mud, or to Masada, an archaeological ruin and viewpoint. Also, make sure you book a stay at The Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem or Villa Brown Jerusalem to maximize your time in the city.