For a city break with breath-taking landscapes, fantastic food, and vibrant culture, I look to the Middle East where each unique city promises eclectic energy and distinct beauty. From seaside spots and cities perched on mountains to oases in the desert, there are so many locations to discover. Here are my top five picks for your next Middle Eastern break:
A city of rolling hills, Roman ruins, and leafy residential districts, Jordan’s Capital, Amman, is amazing. It’s best to take in this wonderful place by gazing out from one of the city’s many hilltop lookouts.
For a deeper dive into history, head to the Jordan Museum and marvel at this grand and beautiful building, as well as its impressive artefacts.
There are plenty of restaurants and cafes to try in Amman, and if you are a fan of falafel, this city is known for serving up the finest in the Middle East! Head to Hashem Restaurant, where you’ll find vibrant vegetarian dishes, and of course, fabulous falafel. For something special, book a table at Sufra Restaurant, serving top-tier Jordanian food in the unique location of an old heritage home.
With a growing nightlife scene Amman has plenty of options after-hours. Head to Sekrab and enjoy rooftop views, and delicious cocktails, or try the old-school Amigo Pub where deep red interiors will warm you up for an evening of fun.
Stay at The House where boutique suites, a rooftop pool and views over downtown Amman will make for the perfect stay.
For a fast-paced city break with an intoxicating atmosphere, and so much soul, Beirut is best. Buzzing with a friendly and diverse population, chic fashion and style, and a booming food and night-time scene; Beirut’s character is addictive, and a visit here won’t be your last.
Beirut can best be explored by a stroll down the waterfront and a detour into the city’s different districts. Shopping in Beirut is not to be skipped and there are plenty of luxury and boutique shops to browse!
Admire spectacular sunset views at Pigeon Rocks, where the limestone arches glow orange in the fading light, and the sea shimmers a deep blue beneath them. Smoke a shisha or sip excellent Lebanese wines in one of the ocean-side cafes after sunset.
Beirut has a thriving food scene, and restaurants range from casual cafes to high-end restaurants. For a buffet-style fair showcasing original Lebanese recipes by female chefs, try Tawlet, one of Beirut’s most popular lunch-time eateries. Fine-dining spots in the city are plenty. Book a table at Liza where the crowd is as fashionable as the restaurant.
Sometimes known as the Middle East’s original party capital, Beirut’s nightlife is sure to dazzle, for any after dinner affair. Dance the night away at B018, and if you’re out until morning, watch the sunrise from their rooftop.
Book a room at the Hotel Albergo and experience old world charm and five-star service in this elegant accommodation.
Splendid scenery, cultural diversity, and a modern energy are all part of what makes Cairo such a fabulous city.
Cairo is a cacophony of sounds that elevate the buzz of the city. From the roar of the muezzins’ call to donkey carts and car horns, this city is more animated than tranquil. Despite the chaos and noise, it doesn’t take long to tap into the energy of Cairo and understand why the Egyptians call it Umm Ad Dunya – the Mother of the World.
Explore the city’s many markets and take your pick of beautiful trinkets, spices, pottery, and fabrics.
When the pace of the city leaves you hungry, Cairo’s dining scene has so much on offer from global cuisines to local favourites. Abou El Sid is best for exquisite Egyptian dishes served in a stylish setting. For something special, dine at Pier 88 overlooking the Nile, and enjoy sumptuous cocktails and a sophisticated menu. Dining turns to dancing here on weekends, so you don’t have to go far after dinner.
Stay at the St Regis on The Nile Corniche and indulge in the extravagant luxury of this fabulous hotel. Featuring original designs and excellent facilities, your stay will only be enhanced here.
With brilliant beaches, stunning sand dunes, and the most exquisite shopping centres in the world, Dubai is a dazzling Middle Eastern city.
The Dubai Mall is an unmissable attraction where you can fit luxury shopping, a visit to the cinema and even scuba-diving in the world’s largest aquarium all into one day’s trip! Away from the skyscrapers is the Al Fahidi Historical District where you can shop for spices in the souks and visit the Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fort.
Take in panoramic views atop the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa or head out to the desert for a safari ride on the dunes. Relax on the beach and enjoy a dip in the ocean when the heat of the day gets too much or stroll along The Walk and enjoy the views.
If you’re in the mood for something special, dine on Michelin-Starred dishes at Jason Atherton’s Marina Social.
Drink cocktails after dinner at one of Dubai’s luxury rooftop bars. The Rooftop at Foley offers signature cocktails, and excellent DJs, or head to the Siddartha Lounge by Buddha Bar where chilled beats pulse through this classy spot.
Book a room at the cool and creative XVA Art Hotel where modern Arabian flair meets elegance and style, and shop for local crafts in the hotel’s store.
Safely anchored between the sea and mountains, Muscat’s scenery is magnificent. With traditional architecture, amazing museums, and ocean views, there is so much to discover and enjoy in this fascinating place.
While the city is conservative, there is an atmosphere of warm Omani hospitality, offering an opportunity to connect with the country’s rich heritage.
Marvel at modern Islamic architecture at the Grand Mosque or visit the Bait Al Zubair museum and see thematic displays of traditional handicrafts and furniture.
For a break from the city, head out to the sea where you can dive with sea turtles and swim to nearby sandy beaches.
Muscat has a growing food scene and seafood is the star of the show. Enjoy dinner at Ubhar where you’ll find regal Omani design that lives up to the menu. Try the camel biryani, if you dare. The Beach is best for delicious seafood dishes served al fresco, with internationally influenced flavours and a breezy beach atmosphere.
Stay at the Chedi, one of the most exquisite resorts in the world, for impeccable service and a chance to really relax.
These Middle Eastern Cities are magical destinations for your next city break. From shopping and exploring, to feasting and partying, there is so much to see and do in every one of these fabulous locations. I recommend you visit them all for a true taste of the diversity offered by the Middle East. Whichever you visit next, I am sure you will be blown away.