Horseback Riding in Europe: 10 Best Trails

Saddle up and head for the hills of Europe on 10 of the most popular horseback riding trails. With its varied landscape and long tradition of horsemanship, Europe is ideal for a horseback-riding holiday. Every country has its own distinctive history and natural wonders to be explored and horse riding offers a completely different perspective on popular European destinations. From the chateaus of France to the glaciers of Scandinavian, get ready for a ride of a lifetime.

10. France

With their centuries-old tradition of horseback riding, Renaissance chateaus from the 16th century, and vineyards of Bordeaux, France is an excellent place to experience the country by horseback. Like an aristocrat from the Victorian era, saddle up, English style, for an adventure into the ancient woodlands and castles of the Loire Valley. Another popular riding spot is Provence, an area known for its fine food and glorious landscapes that inspired Cezanne. Riders can also discover the rugged, remote Pyrenees of Pays Basque, the region that borders Spain, for a ride through the mountains and rolling hills. Get ready to gallop across sandy beaches of Landes and witness the castles and famous wine cellars of Bordeaux. Following the French riding tradition of Natural Horsemanship, riding experts encourage a non-violent approach to training, which is a horse whispering riding style that has been passed down through generations.

9. Portugal

With its natural diversity and pleasant weather, Portugal has excellent terrain for horseback riding. On a riding holiday of a lifetime, get ready for gallops on deserted sandy beaches, trail rides through mountain ranges, and breathtaking trails along windswept coastlines. In Lisbon and Porto, saddle up and discover the historic architecture of the medieval quarters. For more remote landscapes of the Portugal countryside, head to a romantic pousada, monastery, or manor house for an overnight stay in between trail rides. There are also beautiful rides in Alto Alentjo along the southwest coast and the farmlands and rolling hills of upper Alentjo. Portugal has a long dressage tradition, which is cultivated at the world-class training facility of Lusitano Riding Center. If you’re a novice rider, they offer beginner lessons on the Lusitano horse, a breed considered the best riding horse for its calm temperament and sturdiness.

8. Ireland

After a pint of Guinness and a hearty traditional Irish meal, saddle up on a Connemara pony and head out into the Irish countryside. Like most of Europe, Ireland has a rich history of horsemanship, making it easy to horseback ride across Emerald Isle. Horseback is a great way to explore the highlands of Kerry County or the dramatic coastal cliffs of the Atlantic coast. Ireland is also filled with vast grasslands and meadows, the perfect spot for an epic gallop. It’s also a chance for Americans to reconnect with their distant Irish heritage. Along the trails, you’ll find a rich Celtic heritage in the remote islands off the Atlantic with old stone ruins dotting the landscape. The countryside is also full of medieval castles, ancient monasteries, and famous landmarks. In between trail rides, pop in a historic pub that seems to be at the end of every path.

7. Iceland

Situated on the edge of the Arctic Circle is one of the most rugged and remote landscapes on earth. With its glaciers, dramatic fjords, waterfalls, and volcanoes, Iceland has some of the most scenic horseback riding trails. The region of the North Atlantic is so rough that extra horses are often brought along to prevent exhaustion along the trail. But the extra effort is worth it for an up close look at the country’s stunning natural wonders. But with the Icelandic horse leading the way, you can rely on the sturdy, even-tempered beast of burden to take you safely through the terrain. Often passing through the backcountry, the riding trails typically lead to rustic mountain huts amongst wild mountain backdrops. The landscape might be unyielding, but on horseback, it’s a thrilling ride through the world’s most dramatic natural scenery.

6. Cyprus

Known as Aphrodite’s Isle, Cyprus is full of romantic notions, particularly the legend of the goddess of love rising out of the waves. With its sandy beaches, hillsides, and mountain ranges, the ancient isle has a variety of trails that are ideal for horseback riding. Along the way, you’ll get to explore relics of the ancient world, medieval castles, and Byzantine churches. In a landscape filled with historic wonders and romantic legends, it’s no surprise that Cyprus is a popular honeymoon destination and a vacation on horseback ups the ante in the art of romance. Another horse riding trail is in the countryside of Mesogi in the Paphos region where the Eagle Mountain Ranch offers

5. Greece

In the Cradle of the Ancient World, explore the backdrop to Greek mythology by horseback just like the early pioneers. Starting in Crete, saddle up for a ride through traditional farmlands, rolling hills, ancient olive groves along the rugged coast of the Mediterranean. Back on the mainland, the country is full of major archeological sites, including the ancient city of Athens and the ruins of the Partheneon and Acropolis, among others. The mild Mediterranean weather is also ideal for horseback riding year-round and a cool gallop down the coast at sunset is a favorite activity for Greek riders. From the ancient city of Athens to the rugged coast, Greece is full of unforgettable trail rides for the novice or the expert rider.

4. Norway

With its dramatic fjords, rugged mountain ranges, and ancient woodlands, Norway is full of horseback riding trails. Saddle up on a sturdy, sure-footed Icelandic horse and head out into the Scandinavian countryside for an unforgettable horseback-riding holiday. In the southwest, riders can explore the fjords under the midnight sun, a place where the sun never rises in the winter or sets in midsummer. Norway also contains Justedalsbreen, Europe’s largest glacier, which can be explored by horseback on a guided tour. Along the way, you’ll get the chance to see the Sognefjord and Nordfjord, which cut through each side of the glacier. Deep in the rural area, riders often stop off at rustic mountain cottages before heading out for another day of trailblazing against the backdrop of the Scandinavian heartland.

3. Romania

Deep in the heart of vampire country is the mysterious and ancient Transylvania, the jewel of Romania. Get ready to gallop through green fields, past steep snow-capped mountains, and old monasteries left by monks of antiquity. As the setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Romania is an land of intrigue, legends of the Old World, and natural wonders. Follow the trail through quaint folk villages that haven’t felt the passage of time and still plow the fields with horses. The region is also known for the mountains that were featured in the movie Cold Mountain and the medieval villages in the nearby Carpathian Mountains. For an unforgettable experience that will take you back to the 18th century, take a horse and carriage ride to Borgo Pass for a spooky overnight stay in Hotel Castle Dracula.

2. Spain

In a world of stunning natural landscapes, historic landmarks, and medieval villages, Spain is a great place for horseback riding adventures. Starting in Catalonia, head out to the trails leading to volcanoes and pristine sandy beaches. Spain also contains part of the Pyrenees Mountain Range, a rugged landscape ideal for cross-country horse riding. Outside Madrid, a popular trail takes riders to medieval villages that dot the countryside and finally to the Kingdom of Castile in the Gredos Mountains, an area known for its red-roofed Romanesque architecture that was popular in antiquity. The Spanish horse, known as the Andalusian, is the most ancient horse breed in the world. Although their exact origin is unknown, they are believed to be a distant relative of the mustang and quarter horse breeds that are popular in the US.

1. Turkey

At the crossroads of the East and West, Turkey has been a major center of trade and culture throughout the centuries, dating back to the ancient world. For horseback riders, the country has some unique trails the pass through ancient ruins scattered throughout Anatolia, the eastern part of Turkey. Further south on the coast of the Mediterranean, you’ll find a different landscape of dramatic coastal cliffs and sandy beaches for a spirited seaside gallop. Other trails will take you through the Anatolian Plateau, which is considered the heartland of Turkey with its tranquil countryside surround by woodlands. Further along the coast is the Turkish Riviera, also known as the Turquoise Coast. Here you’ll find deserted beaches, mountain scenery, and the famous Lycian tombs carved out of rocks jutting out from precarious cliffs, making the carvings a natural wonder of the ancient world.

10 Jaw Dropping European Beaches

Travelling to Europe this summer? When you’re there, make sure to travel outside of the city centres to explore the breathtaking coasts along the ocean. There are some incredible beaches for you to lounge on and explore the underwater wonders of these countries. Whether it’s a well known tourist destination, or a top secret location, these beaches will ignite your love for the ocean, warm sunshine and the wildlife that surrounds you.

1. Oludeniz Beach, Turkey

Oludeniz, translated to “Dead Sea” is a national nature reserve blue lagoon that will stun you the moment you set eyes on it. It is listed as one of the top five beaches in the entire world due to it’s location and the aquamarine color of the water. Paragliding is a frequent activity surrounding this beach, so if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, this beach fits the bill.

 

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

2. Navagio Beach, Zakynthos Island, Greece

In 1980, a freightliner ship sailed too far inland due to stormy weather and poor visibility. It was left there to rest and is now the reason for the nickname “Shipwreck Beach”. Navagio Beach is only accessible by boat and is visited by thousands of tourists each year.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

3. Benagil Cave, Portugal

Yes, it’s really this incredible to look at in person. Technically you can swim to this location but it is strongly discouraged due to the unpredictability of the waters. Take a boat ride to this beautiful cave for some amazing photos and to check it off your bucket list.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

4. Cala Macarella, Mallorca, Spain

This beautiful inlet of calm waters in the perfect location to go and relax on a Sunday afternoon, especially with a Sushi Bar on site selling group sized tapas. A short walk away is a nudist beach for those tourists who want the full nude beach experience.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

5. Zlatni Rat Beach, Brac-Dalmatia, Croatia

This beach is translated to “Golden Horn”. It is truly one of the most stunning beaches in Croatia and is surrounded by the Vidova Gora Mountain Range. Swim in the sea and stare up at the mountains with this beautiful tourist destination.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

6. Calo Des Moro, Mallorca, Spain

Looking for a free activity while in Spain? This beautiful beach is accessible by the road and is privately owned by owners who care deeply about the well being of this location. They prevented a hotel from being built here and are very conscious of the wildlife and plants being well maintained. Sounds like a pretty picture we want to be apart of!

Photos By: Shutterstock

7. Durdle Door Beach, Dorset, England

Looking for a stroll on the beach without the swimming? This beach is so picturesque you could fill up your camera’s memory card with just shots of this location. Known for it’s beautiful arch in the ocean, your eyes will feast on all the greenery and textures on this beach.

Photos By: Shutterstock

8. Nissi Beach, Cyprus

Ready to party? Nissi Beach is known for it’s foam parties, shockingly clean and clear waters and the nightlife. This beach is great for those enthusiastically social travellers looking to make a few friends along the way.

Photos By: Photostock

 

9. Vik Beach, Iceland

Go see the most impressive and memorable black sand beach in Iceland. Vik Beach is filled with icy water and dark sand that will be a completely different beach experience from any other beach in Europe. Car rentals are cheap in this area so you can hop on the road and go see the beach first hand quite easily.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

10. Chia, Sardinia, Italy

You would think you had gotten lost in the tropics when you arrive at Chia Beach. Other than the crystal clear water, peachy sand and stunning views, there is a flamingo breeding ground in the lagoon behind the beach. If you are visiting in July or August, be sure to arrive very early as the beach can get crowded. In June and September, you’ll be able to find a peaceful beach waiting your arrival.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

The Best Places to Travel in January

It’s January. The holiday season has passed. The snow is piling ever higher and a wicked wind blows out of the north, bringing with it polar vortexes and wind chill factors enough to freeze your face in a matter of minutes. The nights are long and the days are frigid, even if they are sunny. You need to escape…but where? Try one of these 8 locations on for size, traveler, and get your bags packed for some nicer weather.

8. Belize

Mexico is the giant of Central American tourism, offering both cheap resort tourism for snowbirds and spring breakers, offering up opportunities to explore jungles, ancient Aztec ruins and contemporary Mayan culture, but Belize has many of the same qualities, but with fewer tourists. Lying along the Caribbean Sea, Belize is quite a bit smaller than the neighboring countries of Mexico and Guatemala, both in terms of area and population. In recent years, Belize has become a popular alternative for those looking to escape the droves of tourists in Mexico. Although Belize can cost a little more, it offers opportunities for travelers to explore extensive coral reefs, jungle and wildlife reserves and Mayan ruins. Belize is home to the largest cave system in Central America, if you’re up for some subterranean adventure. January averages temperatures of 24°C (75°F) and is part of the dry season, meaning you can expect sunshine.

Belize 2

7. Costa Rica

Costa Rica has been something of an anomaly in Central America; it has been democratically stable whereas other countries have faced upheaval and dictatorships, and Costa Rica has been pushing a green agenda to take care of its natural resources. The country aims to become carbon-neutral by 2021 and has even been named the greenest country in the world. For that reason, Costa Rica has become Latin America’s go-to for ecotourism, with a special focus on green tourism. Costa Rica’s most famous natural landscape is the cloud forests, tropical rainforests formed in the heights of the Cordillera mountains that traverse the country, and it’s marine ecosystems as the country is bordered by both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The country comprises less than 1% of the world’s landmass, but contains 5% of its biodiversity. January is dry season and average temperatures are about 27°C.

Costa Rica

6. Aruba

Just 29 kilometers north of the coast of Venezuela, in the Caribbean Sea, lies the island-nation of Aruba. Aruba is an interesting island: it forms part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and its citizens are Dutch. Aruba’s climate has helped its tourism industry as the island lies outside Hurricane Alley and experiences a dry climate, producing reliably warm, sunny weather year-round. The interior of the island features hilly terrain and desert-like scrublands dotted with cacti, while the south and western shores have white, sandy beaches that are relatively sheltered from the ocean. Although Aruba doesn’t celebrate its National Day until March, January 25 is the celebration of the birthday of Betico Croes, a proponent of Aruban independence and considered by some to be the “father” of Aruba as an independent state.

Aruba

5. Cyprus

Want to get further afield and go trans-Atlantic for January? Check out Cyprus. Located south of Turkey, Cyprus has the warmest winters—and indeed, the warmest climate—in the Mediterranean European Union. Snow is only possible in the Troodos mountains, while most coastal locations experience pleasant 16–17°C weather throughout January. It may not be beach weather, exactly, but it is certainly warmer than some climates—and with almost 200 sunshine hours for the month on average, Cyprus can be a reprieve from the long, dark nights of more northern locations. Cyprus has a rich history, stretching from Greek to Byzantine to Ottoman empires, and many traditions to explore. Music, art and cuisine are all integral experiences for visitors. Not looking to escape winter? The Troodos mountains provide a great skiing experience, an excellent alternative to the busy Alps of western Europe.

Cyprus

4. Grenada

The island of Grenada and six smaller islands, located at the southern end of the chain known as the Grenadines, form the country of Grenada. Another southern Caribbean destination, Grenada is known as the “Island of Spice,” because it is one of the world’s largest exporters of nutmeg and mace. The island is cooled by the trade winds during the dry season. Beach tourism is centered on the capital of St. George in the southwest, while Saint David and Saint John parishes have witnessed the growth of eco-conscious tourism in recent years. Grenada has many idyllic beaches along its coasts, the Grand Anse Beach in St. George, a 3-kilometer long strip of white, sandy beach, is considered one of the finest in the world. Another major natural attraction is the island’s abundance of waterfalls, including the Annandale Falls, Mt. Carmel and Seven Sisters.
Grand Anse Beach

3. Canary Islands

Although part of Spain, the Canary Islands have a much different climate than most of the country. Temperatures average about 20°C on most of the islands in the chain, and January generally sees relatively little precipitation. Santa Cruz is the wettest island at this time of year, receiving, on average, about 1.25 inches of rainfall. The Canary Islands have plenty to recommend them aside from sunshine and warm temperatures. La Palma is home to cloud forests, similar to the forests of Costa Rica. Most of the islands, including Tenerife and Gran Canaria, feature black sand beaches. Tenerife’s nightlife at Playa de las Americas is legendary. Tourism is a well-developed industry and the island’s function almost like a Caribbean getaway for most of Europe. Perhaps the best part is that getting here won’t cost much more than flying to some Caribbean destinations.

Alexander Tihonov / Shutterstock.com
Alexander Tihonov / Shutterstock.com

2. Barbados

This island in the Lesser Antilles has earned itself a reputation as a more exclusive and chi-chi getaway in the southern Caribbean. This is somewhat true: trips to Barbados are usually more pricey compared to places like Mexico and Dominican Republic. The dry season runs from December to May, and gentle breezes keep the island’s temperatures more moderate than some of its neighbors. The western and south shores are popular for beach tourism, while surfers would do well to visit the Atlantic coast, where tumbling waves make for ideal surfing conditions. The country’s coral reefs provide ample opportunity for diving and snorkeling. Another popular activity is shopping, as there are several shopping districts in the south of the island, many of them offering duty-free shopping. Golf and helicopter rides are also popular tourist activities.

Bridgetown Barbados

1. Curacao

About 65 kilometers north of the Venezuelan coast, you’ll find the island of Curacao. Along with Saint Maarten and Aruba, the island is part of the Dutch Caribbean and forms a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Until 2010, it was known as the “island territory of Curacao,” one of five such territories in the former Netherlands Antilles. The island has a tropical Savannah climate and January marks the start of the dry season. The temperature hovers around 25°C and less than two inches of rain falls during the month. Curacao has been less reliant on tourism than other Caribbean islands, although it is popular with divers and snorkelers. Many coral reefs can be reached without a boat and the island’s southern coast features calm waters and numerous small beaches. If you’re looking for a less-frequented getaway, skip Aruba and spring for Curacao.

Curacao

 

8 Awesome Waterparks In Europe

While Europe may be better known for rich history, numerous landmarks and noteworthy food and drink, there are other, slightly more slippery attractions to lure the tourists. So if you’re touring Europe this summer, and care to stop off for a sliding, splashing good time, here are some of Europe’s best waterparks.

8. Siam Park, Spain

This huge waterpark located in Adeje, in the Tenerife region of the Canary Islands. Siam Park has  a Thai flavor, complete with dragon-themed rides, a children’s splash park called “Sawasdee” (Thai for ‘welcome’), a “Lost City” water fortress, Mai Thai Lazy River and a raft ride that simulates being in an erupting volcano. There are a couple of highlights: they claim that their wave pool spins the biggest wave in the world, reaching 3 meters high, providing opportunity for surfing and wave riding. The Tower of Power, a high-speed waterslide jets out over an 85-foot drop that includes a ride in a tube through an aquarium that is home to a variety of marine life- including sharks.

slava296 / Shutterstock.com
slava296 / Shutterstock.com

7. Costa Caribe Aquatic Park, Spain

Located about an hour from Barcelona, this park spans about 50,000 square meters, and is lush with nearly 4,300 tropical plants that landscape the area. There is a Caribbean vibe, with palm trees, grass huts and Reggae music. You can race your friends down a multi-laned water toboggan on the Rapid River. Kids (big and small) will have fun living out pirate adventures on the Pirate Galleon, with water cannons and abundant slides. Anchoring the park is the Bermuda Triangle (the wave pool).

Photo by: PortAventura Costa Caribe Aquatic Park
Photo by: PortAventura Costa Caribe Aquatic Park

6. Aquapalace, Prague

This indoor waterpark combines a “waterworld” as well as sauna, fitness and spa facilities. It is known as the biggest aquapark in Central Europe. Three steep water slides, children’s wading pool, as well as a number of other twisty-turny rides provide all kinds of year-round water fun. There is also an outdoor component, with the “wild river” that connects through a large outdoor pool complex.

Photo by: Aquapalace Prague
Photo by: Aquapalace Prague

5. Aquapark Biscarrosse, France

Located outdoors on Lac Biscarrose in Port Maguide, France, this fun-filled, inflatable aquatic adventure is open seasonally, from June through September. Attractions include huge inflatable slides, jumping pillows, obstacle courses, water trampolines, and balancing challenges, climbing walls and aquatic body zorbs. Recently, they’ve even opened a giant catapult, which flings guests through the air, landing in the lake below.

Photo by: AquaPark Biscarrosse
Photo by: AquaPark Biscarrosse

4. Serena Waterpark, Finland

This indoor/outdoor waterpark is the largest in Scandinavia. Indoors, guests can try their hand at the whirling Tornado ride, which circles them around the bowl before dropping through a chute to the pool below- and you can compete with your friends as to who completes the most laps. There are also several other slides of varying lengths, heights and pitch, offering a lot of variety, according to your thrill level. There is also a ski jump (this park is adjacent to a ski hill, after all) that lets you ride straight into the pool. Outside, again with the ski/snowboard theme, is the half-pipe, which lets riders swish side-to-side along a wide open halfpipe. For the truly daring there is the free fall- which is exactly as it sounds- a nearly vertical free fall down a swiftly moving slides.

Photo by: Serena Waterpark
Photo by: Serena Waterpark

3. Fasouri Watermania, Cyprus

Designed with a Polynesian theme, this laid-back waterpark has a wide variety of family friendly attractions, making it appealing to those with younger kids. Some highlights include paddle boats, baby bungee swings (which is a cool water play experience for kids up to three years old) and a Tarzan swing that lets you gather speed and then swing yourself out across the water, letting go for a big splash. There are your traditional waterslides, that let rider pit themselves against rider in a toboggan race to the bottom, and shriek-worthy raft rides. Guests can pretend they are human cannonballs, letting themselves be propelled through the air by 1000 liters of water a minute on the Black Cannons. You can try your balancing skill climbing to the top of “Wet Bubble, Big Orange”, using a rope, which is easier than it looks.

Photo by: Fasouri Watermania
Photo by: Fasouri Watermania

2. Aqualandia, Italy

This park promotes itself as “a Caribbean isle, just a few steps from Venice”. In addition to a wide selection of waterslides, Aqualandia offers Latin Dance lessons, a watergym, water spinning and aquatic entertainment. The architecture is done in homage to the Caribbean influences seen in Key West, Florida, beginning with the entrance, fashioned after Port Hemingway. Highlights from this park include the only wave pool in the world with a sandy bottom and a sandy beach. Riders can pitch themselves in rafts down a 60 degree slope on Captain Spacemaker. There are numerous steep and swift slides to choose from. There is also a Mayan-inspired pyramid, through which riders can race their friends on the Apocalypse. Other attractions include bungee jumping and rock climbing.

Photo by: Aqualandia
Photo by: Aqualandia

1. Tropical Islands, Germany

This huge entertainment complex, located in Brandenburg, Germany, houses a tropical rainforest, stage shows and mini-golf in addition to a sizable waterpark. Love a day at the beach, but concerned about the weather? The Tropical Sea is the size of three Olympic swimming pools and has a sandy beach (which they say is the largest indoor beach in the world). The air is maintained at 28 degrees Celsius, which means a perfect beach day, every day. A lagoon with waterfalls, lush vegetation, and a network of water slides make for an interesting swimming locale. Waterslide towers throughout offer a series of tube waterslides of varying lengths and speeds, upping the thrill factor for ride enthusiasts.

Photo by: Tropical Islands
Photo by: Tropical Islands

The 7 Safest Places to Travel in the Middle East

Beautiful mountain ranges, untouched beauty, warm waters and some of the oldest history in the world makes the Middle East a perfect place to visit. Unfortunately finding a safe place to explore here is often compared to finding a needle in a haystack. With political unrest, terrorism and travel advisories; travelers are often avoiding this beautiful part of the world but as you will soon discover; you don’t have to stay away. We have dug deep to find you the seven safest places to visit in the Middle East. From temples to tombs, from The Dead Sea to lush mountain tops to the tallest structure in the world; these Middle Eastern destinations have something for everyone to enjoy. Although these destinations are safe at the time of writing, we highly suggest doing your research and keeping up to date with the information on any place you are planning to visit.

7. The Nile, Egypt

With all the political unrest in Egypt over the past year it was just as surprising to us that Egypt has made our list! When we dove deeper into the safety of Egypt we discovered that there are not only safe places to visit; but now may be the best time to go. 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.

Dan Breckwoldt / Shutterstock.com
Dan Breckwoldt / Shutterstock.com

6. Northern Israel

Please take note that we mention NORTHERN Israel above, not Southern Israel. With all the conflict happening in this country one might be surprised to find it on our list but we are confident in telling you that the Northern part of this region is still a safe Middle Eastern Destination. We recommend visiting regions such as Galilee; a mountainous region in the north that is famous for its wine country, national parks and Jewish and Christian Holy Sites. Set some time aside to explore the city of Nazareth. From the historic churches to the local market to the ancient bath houses; this city is filled with amazing things to discover. As with all of these destinations, do your research beforehand and understand local customs and dress codes.

Nazareth

5. Cyprus

Home to more than two million visitors a year, Cyprus is known as a relatively safe place to travel; and therefore puts this island on the list. Couple those facts with the sizzling sun, spectacular coastlines and top quality mountain treks and you have your next vacation destination. We suggest going out of your “comfort zone” and exploring this island rather than sticking to the popular tourist towns such as Pafos and Agia Napa. The north coast boasts some of the best golden beaches around as well as ruins of medieval castles that will bring forth the fairytale daydream in all of us. A bathing suit, a pair of hiking boots and some sunscreen will go a long way in helping you explore this beautiful land.

Cyprus

4. Qatar

Scheduled to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup; Qatar is slowly but surely becoming noticeable as a tourist destination. Surrounded by the sea and being a safe Middle Eastern Country to visit makes this country number four on our list. For a western approach on water sports make sure to try kite-surfing, or take a page from the locals and jet-ski right next to the beaches. Visit the Museum of Islamic Art, the cultural village of Katara and Souq Waqif; the traditional marketplace of Qatar. Don’t miss the chance to watch the traditional sport of the sheiks, known to us as camel racing. Head over to Qatar’s popular camel racetrack where this expensive sport continues even today.

Qatar at night

3. Oman

Up until recently Oman has been virtually unknown in the tourist world. In recent years however Oman has invested heavily in tourism and it shows. An absolute must is watching the hundreds of green sea turtles come up to nest on one of Oman’s beaches (the best time for this is September to November). The Historic village of Nizwa is home to one of Oman’s mightiest forts and here you will find plenty of Souks selling everything you desire. A visit to Oman would not be complete without a cruise through Khor Ash Sham; a 16km inlet where you are treated to remote hamlets along the shoreline and pods of dolphins throughout. Explore the towering mountain range, sleep in the dessert and enjoy the remote country of Oman.

Muscat, Oman

2. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

It should be no surprise that Dubai makes this list due to its modernity, richness and high security.  For those looking for a modern Dubai experience don’t miss out on the world’s tallest structure; Burj Khalifa which stands 828 metres and 160 floors tall. The dancing Dubai Fountain will knock your socks off in their nightly show, which can accessed through the Dubai Mall; just in case you have some shopping to do first. For the history buff; Dubai Museum is a great place to start where modern technology meets history in an underground fort that shows the fascinating transition from village to modern empire that the Emirate is today. The Markets or Souks as they are called are worth a visit and can be found on both sides of the Dubai Creek.

Sophie James / Shutterstock.com
Sophie James / Shutterstock.com

1. Jordan

Our number one pick for the safest place to visit in the Middle East is Jordan. Despite its close proximity to places with recent war; Jordan’s security is first class. Avoiding the area closest to Syria and Iraq (3km within both borders) is recommended but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Jordan. Make sure to visit Petra, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World where the breathtaking ruins will have you in awe. Float in the Dead Sea, dive in the warm waters at Aqaba or relax in the natural hot springs underneath a waterfall. To make you feel even more at ease in this wonderful country; most people in Jordan speak English. Don’t be afraid; be enthralled.

Petra Jordan