The Middle East is a fascinating mix of cultures, sights, smells, and sounds. Unfortunately it’s often shrouded in negative media coverage, which can certainly give solo travelers pause. From the scents of spices coming from food stalls in Israel, to the majesty and mystery of the pyramids of Egypt, to standing at the crossroads of ancient religions in Jerusalem, the Middle East is a treasure trove of experiences that are worth getting out of your comfort zone for. Here are six countries to consider for your next solo trip:
Iran: The protests and demonstrations that took place in Iran in December 2017 were largely ceased as of mid-January of this year and many travelers, including travel blogger Anna Everywhere, describe it as one of the ‘safest countries I’ve ever been to’. Culture Trip has a stellar solo Iran travel guide outlining recommendations for accommodations, site-seeing, and apps that make getting around easier, while Travel Girls contributor Alessia Ramponi shares her experience spending 13 days in Iran here. With travel to Iran on the rise, there’s no shortage of inspiration and resources to get your solo trip mapped out and on the calendar.
What we love: Tehran’s modern metropolis and charming people
Afghanistan: Although travel to Afghanistan has declined in recent years, a well-planned trip can provide a safe and amazing experience for travelers looking to take a trip off the well-travelled road. From the ruins of the 11th-century fortress of Bost in Lashkar Gah in Helmand, to the 80-feet-high murals of pastel palm trees and kitschy crescent moons at the Eid Gah Mosque in Kandahar, Afghanistan is home to plenty of Instagram-worthy locales that just might expand your horizons a bit in the process.
What we love: The amazing Afghani hospitality
Egypt: According to popular travel blog Escape Here, “From the un-crowded pyramids of Giza to the tourist empty Valley of The Kings; travelling along the Nile is a safe and plentiful option for travel right now. We do recommend sticking to cities such as Luxor and Aswan if you are going to travel alone without a guided tour. If you are going to see the Pyramids of Giza a cruise of the Nile with a guide is our best suggestion. Look, sometimes to get where you want to go you have to add a cruise to your itinerary, life can be hard that like.
What we love: The lack of tourists at World Heritage Sites
Israel: If you have any interest in major world religions, a trip to Israel is a must. Northern Israel is home to Nazareth—the famed birthplace of Jesus as well as several historic churches, and Galilee, a mountainous region in the north that is famous for its wine country and national parks. While Israel has seen its fair share of conflict, the Northern part of the country remains a safe travel destination and is worth exploring for any history or religion buff.
What we love: Sunsets on Tel Aviv Beach, and the #foodporn
Oman: White sand beaches. Warm waters. Mountains in the backdrop. World Heritage Sites. What else do you need to know, really? Oman is a desert destination brimming with natural beauty and nary a crowd to fight (when was the last time you saw an Instagram travel trend with an Oman geotag? That’s what we thought).
What we love: Hiking and swimming in Wadi Shab
Lebanon: Every region has its party places, and Beirut is the party capital of the Middle East. In an area ruled by traditional religious and cultural customs, Beirut stands out as a lively club scene that regularly hosts top DJs and all the necessary ingredients to make some moderately bad decisions in the name of making memories. #YOLO
What we love: Showing off our dance moves in former detention center, B018