Top 13 Middle East Travel Destinations according to Lonely Planet
13. Luxor, Egypt
12. Beirut, Lebanon
11. Istanbul, Turkey
10. Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra is known as Tadmor to the Syrians. Both mean the same thing - date palm. The name comes from the lush oasis adjacent to the city which is home to some million date palms. It is the only oasis in Syria and perhaps the only truly tourist town. Palmyra sits on the standard tourist trek around Syria and should be considered in this light.
9. Jerash, Jordan
Jerash, a city in northern Jordan, is famous for its Roman ruins. The archaeological site is popular for tourists, second only to Petra.
Located some 48 km north of the capital Amman, Jerash is known for the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa, also referred to as Antioch on the Golden River.
8. Baalbek, Lebanon
Baalbek is one of the most spectacular archaeological sites in Lebanon. Baalbeck or 'Heliopolis' as it was known is the site of great ancient temples built by the Phoenicians, the Romans, and other civilisations that have conquered the region and enjoyed the fertile soil of the Bekaa Valley. Some of the most celebrated temples are the ones of Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, and Jupiter, the Roman god of light, of the sky and weather.
7. Cappadocia, Turkey
Cappadocia is an area in Central Anatolia in Turkey best known for its unique moon-like landscape, underground cities, cave churches and houses carved in the rocks. The Cappadocian Region located in the center of the Anatolian Region of Turkey, with its valley, canyon, hills and unusual rock formation created as a result of the eroding rains and winds of thousands of years.
6. Wadi Rum, Jordan
Wadi Rum is a spectacularly scenic desert valley in southern Jordan. This area of Jordan is quite isolated and largely inhospitable to settled life. The only permanent inhabitants are several thousand Bedouin nomads and villagers. There is no real infrastructure, leaving the area quite unspoilt.
5. Cruising the Nile, Egypt
Perhaps the most popular activity in Luxor and Aswan is to do the Nile Cruise on a ship from Aswan to Luxor. It enables you to stop at each location along the Nile where you can see all the famous ancient monuments as well as experience being in the Nile River inside a five-star hotel boat.
4. Dome of the Rock, Israel
Dome of the Rock located in the middle of the sanctuary opposite of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is probably the most known landmark of Jerusalem with its golden dome and octagonal blue walls that are adorned with Arabic calligraphy of Koranic verses. The interior of both the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque are closed to non-Muslims, however, the plaza that they are situated in is open to the public.
3. Old City of Damascus, Syria
Established between 10,000 to 8,000BC, Damascus is credited with being the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. The old-walled city, in particular, feels very ancient and largely consists of a maze of narrow alleys, punctuated by enigmatic doors that lead into pleasing, verdant courtyards and blank-faced houses.
2. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
Giza is best known for the world-famous Pyramids of Giza, situated high on the desert plateau immediately to the west of the urban district. One of the premier attractions of Egypt, if not the world, the Pyramids of Giza represent the archetypal pyramid structures of ancient Egyptian civilisation and - together with the Sphinx at the base of the Giza plateau - are the iconic image of Egypt.
1. Petra, Jordan
Petra was the impressive capital of the Nabataean kingdom from around the 6th century BC. The kingdom was absorbed into the Roman Empire in AD 106 and the Romans continued to expand the city. An important center for trade and commerce, Petra continued to flourish until a catastrophic earthquake destroyed buildings and crippled vital water management systems around AD 663. After Saladin's conquest of the Middle East in 1189, Petra was abandoned and the memory of it was lost to the West.