Get off the beaten track in the Middle East, and add Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Egypt to your bucket list.
The Middle East often gets a bad rap. However, laden with history, incredible architecture and beautiful people, Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Egypt have so much to offer to the intrepid traveller.
And who isn’t going to be looking for adventure when we can finally leave our shores?
Allow at least 15 days and get in touch with local tour agencies to help organise the intricacies of your trip such as transport, accommodation and tours to make the most of your time abroad. Flights can be booked in advance through a travel agent or independently.
There are a host of fabulous five star hotels to indulge in in this part of the world too including The Four Seasons, Hilton and Marriott hotels in selected areas.
Australians can purchase tourist visas on arrival for Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Egypt and it is important to check the Smart Traveller advice before booking as conditions are subject to change.
Turkey, A County Split Between Europe and Asia
Sometimes referred to as ‘middle Asia’ Turkey is known for its incredible mosques and beautiful architecture. Fly into Istanbul and visit the Hagia Sophia Holy Grand Mosque and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, which are just across the square from each other. Eat fresh Turkish delights and drink sweet red tea at the nearby Grand Bazaar whilst admiring the hanging technicoloured bouquets of Turkish lamps.
On the European side of Istanbul in Palazzo Corpi, the members only Soho House is a place for members to relax, eat, drink and meet. With a spa, bedrooms and a rooftop overlooking the Golden Horn, Soho House is the most exclusive place to stay in Instanbul.
Allow time to visit Cappadocia in central Anatolia. Fly into Kayseri Erkilet Airport and organise a shuttle bus to Cappadocia. Fly high in a hot air balloon over this iconic site at sunrise and explore the unique moon-like landscape, underground cities, cave churches and houses carved in the rocks during the day.
Israel, The Land of Milk and Honey
Turkish Airlines Flies from Istanbul to Tel Aviv in under 2 hours.
To call Israel’s relationship with its neighbouring countries complicated is an understatement. On arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, your passport will not be stamped. You will be asked to keep a slip of blue paper which is replaced with a pink “exit slip” when you leave the country. This protocol because having an Israel stamp in your passport could ban you from being allowed to travel to certain countries in the Middle East.
Visit the ancient port district Jaffa on Tel Aviv’s coast and eat shakshuka at any time of day. Reach Jeru
salem by train in less than 1 hour from Tel Aviv HaHagana station. Spend at least 2 days exploring the Old City of Jerusalem. Surrounded by ancient walls, and holy sites visit the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock Islamic shrine, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which dates to the 4th century.
Jordan, Home to Petra and The Dead Sea
There are several ways to travel to Jordan from Israel. It is best to check with local travel agencies and book before you go with border crossings closing and reopening from time to time.
Nicknamed the “Switzerland of the Middle East”, Jordan upholds peaceful relations with its bordering countries. Jordan is generally regarded as the safest county for tourists to visit in the middle east, with the government putting a lot of effort and money into making visitors feel safe through high-profile security and police presence in tourist regions and in hotels.
Visit the dead sea in the Jordan Rift Valley. 430 meters below sea level, floating in the dead sea is an out of this world experience. Containing almost 10x the amount of salt as the ocean, the highly saline waters and mud are said to have healing properties. Have a dead sea mud facial and eat smokey mouttabal (eggplant dip), falafels and pita at the Hilton.
Renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of New Seven Wonders of the World, exploring the archaeological city of Petra is a must. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Petra is half-built, half-carved into rose pink rock and can be accessed from nearby town Wadi Musa.
Egypt, More than Just the Pyramids
Most people travel to Egypt to see the Pyramids of Giza and cruise the Nile. Whist these expeditions come highly recommended for first time Egypt travellers, if you have been before or feel like something more low key visit resort Sharm el-Sheikh which is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
A popular holiday destination for Europeans, enjoy scuba diving and snorkelling in the red sea, eating baklava and walking along the palm tree-lined promenade of Naama Bay, which is filled with bars and restaurants.
Break your typical vacation routine and discover the middle east on your own terms next time you are booking for a holiday- you will not be disappointed.
Disclaimer: Travellers to Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Egypt should monitor and check the political situation on a regular basis through Smart Traveller.