Ten steps to choosing the right country to visit in North Africa and the Middle East
When to go
Though naturally there is a certain amount of overlap between the best times to visit, the time of year you would like to travel is important to keep in mind. Winter is often the best time for Oman and Egypt, while spring and autumn are better bets for North Africa and the Levant. And give yourself some months to plan the trip, so that you can make sure your preferred hotels are available.
How long to spend
If time is a factor in your plans, then there’s a wide variety of choice open to you. The flights to Tunisia and Morocco take less time than those to Athens, making as little as a long weekend a possibility, while visiting every nook and cranny of Egypt could take a month or more if you have the time and inclination.
Your previous travels in the Middle East
Have you been to the region before? To get a first taste of it, countries such as Tunisia and Jordan can be great first destinations to visit, with a more laid-back feel to them. If you want to experience the region in all its authentic and unaffected charm, Libya and Syria are excellent options.
So close are many of the countries in the region that it is worth considering whether to see two or more on a single trip. This is particularly true if you have a specific interest – someone interested in the Crusades, for example, might wish to visit Jordan and Syria in a single trip. Much depends on the time you have available and how much depth you wish to go into, but if your interest is piqued by a couple of places it can be an elegant solution.
If there is a specific reason you are keen to travel to North Africa and the Middle East, then tell us about it. From wanting to find a gravestone at El Alamein to a fascination for the Hijaz railway and everything in between, we can always give you advice and tailor a trip to your interests, thanks to our knowledge of the places and our extensive contacts overseas.
Give yourself time
It can seem like a sensible use of time to squeeze in as much as possible during your visit, but think carefully. Seeing these fantastic sights does not always equate to experiencing them. Cities like Petra and Palmyra can need a couple of days, rather than rushing quickly through and merely ‘ticking them off the list’.
The balance between sightseeing and leisure
This is something of an extension of the previous step. A holiday needs to be exactly that – a holiday. There are some wonderful places and possibilities for days of having nothing at all planned, or lounging on the coast at the end of an itinerary – we can build these into your plans.
Pick the right accommodation
Have a look at our guide to accommodation in North Africa and the Middle East. Overall, there can be quite a varied choice in the region, and a number of different styles. If you have a preference for a certain style, let us know – we can always try to incorporate it into your itineraries.
Going off the beaten track
How adventurous are you? For most places in the region there are well-trodden paths to follow with obvious highlights and must-sees. However, there’s always more to a country than these places. If you want to see something a little different, or altogether different, tell us, and be it hiking in the wilderness or visiting a charming temple where few tourists stop, we can make suggestions to enhance your trip.
Putting it all together
Once the ideas are in place, and you know what you want to do, the next thing is to put it in a logical order. As intriguing as the countryside can be in the region, nobody wants to spend the duration of their holiday in the car!