We’ve travelled a lot over the past few years and amassed quite a bit of knowledge. Based on our experience, here are our top choices for your next trip.
Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands, is by far one of the friendlier European cities one could choose to visit. Known for its charming infrastructure and canals, its historically rich culture, and friendly locals, Amsterdam caters to a variety of traveling tastes. And despite the negative stereotypes associated with the city’s attitude towards marijuana and prostitution (stereotypes that are largely true), the cosy city – as it could invariably be described – maintains a deep-rooted past and history and equally breathes a fresh, modern, and easy way of life – one that is most contagious.
If you’re interested in art and architecture, check out the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Musuem, and the Anne Frank House. When the weather allows for it, choosing to walk through the city center is in itself an enjoyable activity. The streets are narrow and bustling, sometimes resembling an extensive market. Bike through the city, stop by the flower market, and enjoy some beer or coffee by the canal.
Roman legions, Muslim princes and Christian kings have all left indelible marks across Andalucia that are definitely worth exploring to capture the color, excitement and variety of Spain’s vibrant southernmost region. We recommend visiting Cordoba and Granada, which combine the best of the region’s culture and beauty. The region, not quite European, not quite Middle Eastern, has acquired its own distinct identity over the centuries. Nowhere else can you watch a Flamenco show and then sit in a teahouse in an ancient quarter.
The capital of Hungary, the city of romanticism and amazing architecture, is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The often-overlooked destination holds remnants of every nation that’s occupied it, the Romans, the Huns, Tartars, Ottomans, Germans, Austrians, and Soviet and Romanian troops. The city is therefore filled with culture and World Heritage Sites such as the Hungarian Parliament. The parliament is one of the biggest in the world, and it is said that Freddie Mercury once tried to buy it.
Budapest, which is made up of the two cities of Buda and Pest with the Danube River running between them, is cheaper than its Western European counterparts. Hungary is a member of the European Union, but has not adopted the Euro, maintaining its relatively weak Hungarian Forint.
Going on vacation to Malta is not on many people’s mind. That tiny spot on the map is rarely mentioned in conversations or in the media, but for Egyptians, the tiny country breeds a sense of familiarity as well as awe. The uphill streets, old buildings with wooden doors and people strolling on the Corniche remind you of Alexandria. People are warm and friendly, and if you concentrate enough when listening to the Maltese language, you will find many Arabic words such as tifl (boy), dar (house) and triq (road).
You will also notice a permanent vibe that’s distinctly Mediterranean: a relaxed friendliness. Nearly all of the benches on the waterfront were occupied by old couples relaxing, smiling, and quite often holding hands. Make your way around the island to see the sites, but don’t forget to hop on a ferry or one of the boat cruises to the surrounding islands. You could also dive with dolphins at the Mediterranean Bio Park.
Prague is relatively a small city, and most places can be reached on foot. Although small, Prague gives the impression of being grand mainly because of its historic monuments and baroque treasures. Even its most popular and highly visited monuments, such as the famous Prague Castle, are only 10 minutes away from downtown. The city is also packed with nightlife outings, from authentic Czech restaurants to bohemian bars and smoky jazz joints.
As beautiful as Prague looks covered in a layer of snow (think thousands of gingerbread houses), the weather drops to freezing, so think long and hard before booking your trip in mid-winter.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
The country of Bosnia and Herzegovina isn’t many people’s first choice for a travel destination. The country declared its independence after the war against Serbia, which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.
The country, however, is full of beauty and culture. It is known as “the land of bridges and waterfalls”. Sarajevo, the capital, is full of bridges that are considered works of art, some of which have been there since before the city was established. The majority of the country is covered in forests, with lakes and rivers that include gorgeous waterfalls. Activities you could do include white-water rafting.
Although Egyptian travelers often go west for their travels, there are countless must-see gems in the region, and one of them is nearby Jordan. Less than an hour away by plane, Jordan offers visitors hospitality, history, and a young, vibrant spirit all in one.
There’s no better place to start than at the lowest point on Earth – 429 meters below sea level. Grab some of its mud, smear your whole body with it, and then relax in the saltiest water in the world for 20 minutes as your body soaks up the minerals. Amman is a small city with a big spirit, where you can jump from music concerts to art exhibitions to house parties in one night.
Don’t miss the Baptism Site at the Jordan River, the Citadel in Amman, and the ancient site of Petra.
The easternmost point of the Middle East and North Africa is so rich in history, culture, beauty, and delicious food that you could spend a month in each of its gorgeous cities. Our recommendation is to plan a trip to four of these cities, Casablanca, Marrakech, Rabat, and Fes.
Casablanca is the biggest city in the country and worth a trip to look into the history of it, all the city has gone through from Portugese conquest to the Second World War. Marrakech is colorful and beautiful, holding a fortified medina with marketplaces within its walls, where food vendors, merchants, storytellers, and musicians compete for your attention. Rabat, the capital, has many charms to offer including the various monuments looking right into the Atlantic Ocean. Getting lost anywhere might be annoying, except in the twisted alleys of the Moroccan city of Fes – the biggest intact medieval city in the world where you literally relive the Middle Ages, known as the Labyrinthine City.
Tehran is a city of contradictions. It avoids simplistic definitions and combines contrasting nuances into a charming but unsettling environment. Tehran is to be discovered day by day, and to be dug deep into its surface.
It is a special and unique place. One day, you sprinkle holy ash on your forehead to benefit from the firepower in a Zoroastrian temple. The next, you recoil in disgust in the Ebrat Museum, where the acts of torture committed by the last Shah of Iran are put on display. On most days, you can see mosque after mosque, in awe of the astounding detail that went into its design.
Laos is a mountainous, landlocked country between Vietnam and Thailand that has long been isolated from the outside world. So isolated that a lot of people think that Laos (pronounced Lao) is part of Vietnam or Cambodia.
Officially, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is ruled by a Marxist and communist government, and a single-party dominated by military regime. Yet, unlike what was previously perceived of communism, Lao is open to foreign investment and its amazing tourist attractions are becoming more and more accessible to tourists.
Vientiane, the capital city, is a relaxed riverfront town, its architecture dominantly French style, contrasting pleasantly with the old Buddhist temples dotted all around. You will never run out of temples to see, but you could also take time to see the UNESCO World Heritage City of Luang Prabang, take a boat ride to two caves that house thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues, and picnic by the shallow pools at the top of a three-tiered waterfall.
With perfect tropical climate all year round, and over 7000 islands to choose from, the Philippines is a popular destination for foreigners seeking adventure, history and culture amongst the white sand beaches.
Experience the crowded streets (almost similar to our very own busy streets) and the skyscrapers of Manila in the most thriving part of the Philippines, where there is a lot to see and visit. Board a two-hour flight from Manila to Palawan to unwind on the divine beaches and visit one of the new seven natural wonders of the world – The Underground River in Puerto Princessa.
While Uzbekistan may not rank first in our minds as a tourist destination, it is a country bleeding with history. You might have an idea about the Silk Road, but to visit actual towns that were on the crossroad of the caravans from East to West is something different. You can still see these caravans, where the traders used to take a rest.
The country is full of greenery that gives you the feeling of serenity and tranquility. It is also a clean country, the streets, markets, train stations and parks are all very well kept. A dominantly Muslim country, the mosques are beautiful, both similar and starkly different in style to the ones we know.
The Uzbek people are famous for carpet manufacturing; there are different designs each indicating the style of one part of the country. So make sure to pick one up, or at least go carpet-window shopping.
As one of the seventeen and a half thousand islands that belong to the Republic of Indonesia, Bali stands apart from the rest having sustained a distinct identity of its own. The island attracts gushes of travelers from all over the world every year; whether its magnetism comes as a result of unique culture, ideal weather or friendly locals, once there, it is easy to see that Bali possesses an intrinsic charm found irresistible to most.
The aesthetic value of Bali is tremendously high. The expanse of the sky and sea; the thick gloomy clouds that loom in stark contrast to the sunny beaches create truly picturesque scenes. Vibrant flowers bloom on every street corner and fresh green trees bend and sway over hot sands; the colour and taste of life are more pronounced and the energy is ultimately contagious.
A small group of islands, Japan lies half way across the globe from Egypt and often doesn’t come to mind when thinking of a holiday destination. But the experience can change your life, sometimes forever.
Listening to the news, one would imagine Japan to be bankrupt but it produces two of the most expensive drinking water in the world (US$ 400 and US$ 200 for a 750 ml bottle), and its cities Tokyo and Osaka are more high-tech than any other. In between these two, lie verdant countryside, delicious food, action-packed nights and a glimpse into intriguing tradition.
Strangers hold doors for you even when they are in tearing hurry, courtesy to the elderly is practiced with amazing discipline and people bow in greeting all the time. As a tourist you are not expected to understand these nuances, but a polite bow every now and then brings some amusement.
Landlocked on the southern slopes of the mid-Himalayas between China and India, Nepal is renowned for being the home of Mount Everest, the mountain that has been luring and challenging mountaineers for decades from all over the world.
It should come as no surprise that Nepal is among the most popular trekking destinations, with some of the finest trekking trails anywhere on earth. Eighty-three percent of country’s landscape is high mountains and rolling hills, and with the heavenly, snow capped Himalayas as a backdrop, rivers, flora and fauna at the forefront, Nepal is blessed with the some of the most breathtaking scenes nature has to render. Additionally, trekking trails weave through villages, farmlands and homes, giving visitors a unique glimpse of the Himalayan cultural life, making this a truly out-of-the-ordinary experience.
The above is a synthesis of contributions by Najla Riad, Tanya El-Kashef, Ola El-Soueni, Deena Al-Dahmashawi, Moguib Roushdy, Mostafa Ismail, Ahmed Kafafi, Eleanora Vio, Hanna El-Amrawi, Hoda Hamed, Tamara El-Kashef, Anjana Das, and Basmah Osman.