11 Iconic Places in the Middle East You Should Add to Your Travel Bucket List

The Middle East, though once a barren land, has developed a lot. The Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf lie around it. Now, visiting this historic area will give you a unique perspective on history.

The Middle East has been a cradle of civilization and innovation. It is a dynamic and evolving region offering tons of amazing attractions for people from around the globe.

Here, you will also discover cheap Middle Eastern countries with picturesque beaches, cutting-edge architecture, and local markets that won’t break your bank. Read this Middle East travel guide to discover dreamy places in the region for all kinds of travelers.

Top 11 Iconic Places in The Middle East You Should Visit

So, here's the list of iconic places in the Middle East you should add to your travel bucket list!

1. Al Ula, Saudi Arabia

Al Ula, Saudi Arabia
Source: Unsplash.

Saudi Arabia is one of the undiscovered places in the Middle East. But with the launch of a Saudi tourist visa in 2019, it has become more accessible than ever before. Its places are straight out of a postcard!

If you are frustrated by a modern cityscape, you can head to nature’s paradise, Al Ula. This place is a historical treasure flaunting the largest mirrored buildings, remarkable rock formations, and elevated sandstone cliffs. Dating back centuries, it was a crucial crossroads for trade and culture. Today, these past tales echo in the surroundings, offering awe-inspiring landscapes.

Located in the northwest of the country, this place can be reached by flight or car at your convenience. One of the most preferred routes is Dubai to Saudia Arabia. So, you can easily apply for a Saudi Arabia tourist visa from Dubai and enjoy a long vacation.

2. Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan.
Source: Unsplash.

Petra, the stunning archaeological city of Jordan, enthralls millions of visitors globally as it heads the list of best places to visit in the Middle East.

They comprise ancient mosques, tombs, palaces, and temples carved from pink sandstone, and they are among the ruins of the former capital of the Nabataean Kingdom.

Al Siq, a spectacular canyon, is the way into Petra, which rightly deserves its listing as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as it seems surreal. Some fun things to do in Petra include hiking trails and camel rides.

3. Dubai, UAE

Dubai marina in the United Arab Emirates.
Source: Unsplash.

The megacity of Dubai is known for its lavish cities, architectural developments, beautiful beaches, and top-class restaurants.

Every festival is celebrated here with great excitement. People say it is the most beautiful place to visit in the Middle East. Places to visit and things you can do here are:

Burj Khalifa

It is one of the highest buildings in the world. Many important and celebratory events occur in and around here. The observation decks allow you to witness panoramic views of the city like never before.

Dhow Cruise

The Dhow cruise Dubai takes you over Marina Bay and Deira Creek, from which you can witness the wonderful cityscape while sailing on the waters sipping a drink or eating a fulfilling dinner.

4. Amadiya, Iraq

Amedi, Iraq.
Source: Unsplash.

Amadiya is only 10 kilometers from the Turkish border.

The cultural town of Amadiya in Iraq has been influenced by several civilizations and rulers from ancient times. It is among the most cheap Middle Eastern countries to visit. Some activities that can be done in Amadiya include:

Ezekiel’s Tomb

The Jews and Muslims believe that this tomb is of the prophet Ezekiel. Recently, it has been included as a section of the Al-Nukhailah complex. It is also the oldest Jewish cultural site in Iraq.

5. Tel Aviv, Israel

Tel Aviv, the capital city of Israel.
Source: Unsplash.

Tel Aviv is a scenic, captivating, and lively city. All the things that make a vacation perfect, from the natural charm to leisure activities to adrenaline-pumping adventure and thrill, Tel Aviv has everything. You will have a great time visiting this place in Israel, such as sun-kissed beaches, museums, local markets, cafes, and nightlife.

Tel Aviv Museum of Art

It was built to display modern contemporary art masterpieces made by local artists as well as global artists.

Port of Jaffa

It is the oldest port in the world and is mythologically important as it is believed that it was the same place where Jonah was released after being trapped in the Whale’s mouth.

6. Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey.
Source: Unsplash.

Istanbul is also another favorite spot when shortlisting places to visit in the Middle East. It is the dream of honeymoon couples, history explorers, and solo travelers to Istanbul.

The vacation becomes truly unforgettable thanks to the traditional monuments, the splendid canal view with Asia and Europe on the sides, local food, handicrafts, grand Turkish hammams, and friendly local people.

The top attractions in Istanbul include The Grand Bazaar and Bosphorus Canal. The world’s oldest grand shopping area and the connecting canal – both are amazing.

7. Doha, Qatar

The Museum of Islamic Arts in Doha, Qatar.
Source: Unsplash.

Situated by the Persian Gulf, Qatar is known for its remarkable structures, memorials, stunning museums, heritage marketplaces, and entertainment centers.

Doha has rightfully earned the reputation of being one of the 7 new Wonder Cities of the World and one of the “must-see” attractions in the Middle East.

Pearl Island

Pearl Island is adorned with posh housing localities and resorts. You will be amazed by the innovative designs and architecture.

Katara Cultural Village

This cultural hub has a lot of tourist hotspots like the Katara mosque, Al Thuraya Planetarium, art galleries, and where you can enjoy beach activities.

8. Beirut, Lebanon

The Monument of Martyrs in Beirut, Lebanon.
Source: Unsplash.

It is a cultural town of ancient Lebanon’s capital city, Beirut. Beautifully developed with lofty architecture and excellent monuments, Beirut, located by the Mediterranean Sea, is one of the best cities to visit in the Middle East.

It also offers some of the most mouth-watering dishes in the region. As you depart, don't forget to buy local souvenirs for your personal mementos in this historic city!

9. Erbil, Iraq

Erbil green bazaar in Iraq.
Source: Unsplash.

There are many ancient cities of the world located in the Middle East whose shine has not faded away, Erbil is one of them.

It is Iraq’s largest town and the trade center of the Kurdistan Region. Erbil appears attractive with its ancient relics of former palaces, public squares, and museums.

Erbil Citadel

Known for holding traditional houses on a raised mound or citadel. It is also listed in the World Heritage sites.

Shanadar Park

Community park that holds green lawns, cable car tours, and bicycle and walking paths. Perfect place to relax and spend time with your family.

10.  Cairo, Egypt

Cairo in Egypt
Source: Unsplash.

The City Of The Thousand Minarets is just a name for Cairo, the capital of Egypt, which showcases mosques, palaces, pyramids, palaces and minarets.

Cairo is situated close to the River Nile, and it welcomes thousands of tourists every year due to its grand and gorgeous architecture, buzzing markets, cafes, restaurants, and nightlife.

Some of the major attractions in the Middle East you will find here, and it's worth spending extra days to explore places in Egypt outside Cairo too. You can check this comprehensive 7-day itinerary in Egypt to plan your trip to Cairo and its surroundings.

Giza Necropolis

Visit the architectural marvels of pyramids like the Pyramid of Giza and the Great Sphinx. It is only 20 minutes from Cairo. Get to explore the astonishing history, mummified bodies, and scientific mindset of that time.

The Egyptian Museum

Treasures inside include various tombs, jewelry, precious ornaments, and funerary art of ancient times.

11. Manama, Bahrain

Bahrain World Trade Center in Manama, Bahrain.
Source: Unsplash.

Manama is the capital of Bahrain, located in the Persian Gulf. It is famous for its beautiful monuments and culture.

The city has always been the capital center of major trade routes. The mosques, museums, street corners, public squares, and local markets make the city shine, inviting groups of travelers who prefer to visit heritage destinations.

Lost Paradise of Dilmun Water Park

The waterpark revamps the Dilmun ruins, making it a gateway to another forgotten civilization. There are more than 20 slides and attractions in a mixture to create a desert oasis and a paradise garden for the entire family and everyone.

FAQ About Traveling to the Middle East

Desert safari in the Middle East.
Source: Unsplash.

What can you buy from Istanbul, Turkey?

One can buy blue pottery, Turkish tea, The Blue Evil Eye, And Turkish mosaic lamps. Some other popular things to buy from Istanbul are also Turkish desserts, including baklava, lokum (Turkish delights), and pismaniye

What are some cheap Middle East countries that you can visit?

It's important to note that the Middle East can be pretty expensive, especially if you're traveling to countries with strong currencies like Bahrain, Kuwait, or Oman

However, if you're looking for some cheap Middle Eastern countries to visit, you may want to consider destinations like Egypt, Lebanon, or Iran. 

Name some famous restaurants in Beirut.

Ans-Em Sherif restaurant, Babel Bay, and Tawlet are some famous restaurants in Beirut.

Can one visit Saudi Arabia directly after Dubai?

Depending on your nationality, you can enter Saudi Arabia directly from Dubai as long as you have a proper Saudi visa. Typically, you can apply for a Saudi visa from Dubai to ensure you have a legitimate permit to enter the country. 

How many days are needed for a vacation to Doha?

A 2-day 3-night package should be enough for a vacation to Doha. In fact, Qatar allows over citizens from over 100 countries to enter the country with a free visa so you may as well take a short tour during your transit in Doha if you fly with Qatar Airways


The places to visit in the Middle East include beautiful architectural designs made through thoughtful processes and efforts. Be it the Pyramid of Giza or the Burj Khalifa, the architecture is on point.

The oceans surrounding the Middle East allow for lavish and chill cruise or boat tours like the Dhow Cruise Dubai, or kayaking in Abu Dhabi.

Adventure enthusiasts can try dune bashing, scuba diving, and whatnot. The kids also have separate play zones on the beaches and malls. This Middle Eastern guide shows that it is welcoming for everyone.


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