There’s certainly a shortage of images in the mainstream media that depict beautiful places in the Middle East. I’m not here to go over all of the ugliness that is constantly on the news; I think we all have plenty of that in front of us as it is.
I do, however, want to show you some of the top places to visit in the Middle East. Yes, there are some remarkable tourist destinations in this area. These historical places will take you back to some of humanities most significant “moments.”
We recently had the chance to explore two of the best countries to visit in the Middle East: Israel and Jordan. These countries offer some of the most famous cities in the area. Places that are even mentioned in the Bible! Talk about “social proof” dating back thousands of years!
Are you ready to be blown away by these incredible photos of Middle East tourist destinations? Warning: You may end up adding some of these spots to your bucket list!
Table of Contents
Israel’s Top Places To Visit
Don’t miss these amazing places in Israel!
Jerusalem Old City
Undoubtedly one of the most famous historical places in the entire Middle East, if not the world, Jerusalem’s Old City is a fascinating site. Filled with history, infused with stories from several cultures and religions, built, destroyed, rebuilt and reshaped over and over throughout time, this place is quite riveting to visit.
You may need several days just to cover the entire walled city that is no more than one square kilometer in size. Though not a very large area, there is much to see within the Old City.
The narrow streets and alleys will guide you through the labyrinth of this magical place containing holy structures significant to three of the Worlds biggest religions.
City Of David
Older than the Old City of Jerusalem, the city of David dates back to the Early Bronze Age, nearly 4000 years ago!
Located outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem it is an 11-acre ridge situated between the Old City to the north and the Hinnom valley to the south with the Kidron Valley to the east, and Mount Zion to the west.
Excavation has been going on here for 150 years, making it the most excavated site in Israel!
The Dead Sea
The lowest point on earth where one can float like a cork bobbing around in the water. Nothing can live in these waters due to the high salt content – no wonder they call it the Dead Sea!
Here’s where you can give yourself an excellent spa treatment. After drifting aimlessly in the water, you’ll definitely feel relaxed. To rejuvenate your skin, all you have to do is cover yourself in the nutrient-rich mud that is abundant here. Your skin will feel extremely soft and smooth afterward!
Situated on top of a rock plateau this “Fortress,” Called Masada in Hebrew, has mind-blowing views of the Judean desert and the Dead Sea.
The ruins of what was once King Herod’s palace, an outstanding example of Roman architecture, also include a sophisticated water system and bathhouse with mosaic floors.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Acre (sometimes called Akko) is walled port-city in Northern Israel dating back to the early part of the 12th century. Beneath the present Ottoman style fortified town exists remains of the original Medieval Crusader buildings.
The Ottoman architecture that constitutes this fortified city includes The Citadel, Mosque, Khans, and Baths. Tourist attractions in Akko that are a must see are Khan al-Ummdan, Crusader Tunnel, and the Old Town Souk (marketplace or bazaar). You also don’t want to miss checking out the Mediterranean Harbour right outside the city walls.
A short distance from Old City Akko lies the Baha’i Gardens of Bahji. These exquisite gardens provide a place of tranquility and calm. Just strolling through will give one a most meditative experience.
Famous Middle East Landmarks In Jordan
Jordan is filled with some amazing landmarks!
The Graeco-Roman ruins of Jaresh (Gerasa), sometimes even referred to as the “Pompeii of the East,” are a must see in Jordan. Second in touristic appeal only to Petra, Jaresh covers a vast area and is very well preserved.
Some of the most impressive structures here include Hadrians Arch, the Oval Plaza, Temple Of Zeus, The Cardo (“Colonnaded Street”), the Temple of Artemis and an amphitheater with amazing amplification abilities.
Petra (Wadi Musa)
The “Lost City” of Petra needs no introductions. This historical jewel in Jordan is one of the Seven Wonders Of The World, and rightfully so! It’s once of the most beautiful places in the Middle East.
While it was the Edomites that originally occupied Petra, it was the Nabateans who designed and hand-carved the incredible facades and structures on the sandstone rock. Living in the desert, they managed to excel in their skills of water conservation and development of irrigation systems. You can still see evidence of their dams, canals, and reservoirs.
The Nabateans prospered here thanks to their location in the trade routes of that time, and they put Patra on the map for being one of the most historical places in the Middle East.
An incredible archaeological wonder, Petra is well-hidden thanks to the natural rugged mountains. From afar, it’s almost impossible to know it even exists. No wonder, that after being abandoned, it lay under the sand, lost for centuries!
You might recognize some of the areas in Petra from the Movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Petra should be on everybody’s bucket list of famous cities in the Middle East to visit.
Speaking of famous places in the Middle East, Wadi Rum happens to be one of the locations that the Matt Damon movie “The Martian” was filmed. The stunning, vast stretch of sandy desert has some incredible rock formations that may make you feel like you might be on another planet!
One of the most breathtaking Middle East landmarks and home to the Bedouins who herd sheep and goats here, Wadi Rum’s astonishing beauty comes from millions of years of erosion and geological formation.
The best way to see this incredible place in the Middle East is by riding a 4X4 Jeep through it. Alternatively, there is sometimes an option of experiencing a camel ride through a short distance in this desert.
If you want an even more authentic desert experience, spend a night under the stars in a Yurt style tent and wake up to a wonderful Jordanian breakfast in the morning!