Travel + Leisure Readers’ 10 Favorite Cities in Africa and the Middle East of 2024

Readers’ favorite cities in Africa and the Middle East in the “World’s Best Awards” survey for 2024 range from modern metropolises to ancient cities that have stood the test of time.

<p>Balate Dorin/Getty Images</p>

Balate Dorin/Getty Images

Representing a huge swath of the globe, it’s no surprise that the favorite cities of T+L readers in Africa and the Middle East display a varied array of urban life. The honorees range from modern, gleaming metropolises to some of the oldest religious pilgrimage sites in the world to hubs for culture and creativity.

How Voting Works

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Over 186,000 T+L readers completed the 2024 survey. A total of more than 700,000 votes were cast across over 8,700 properties (hotels, cities, cruise lines, etc.).

Cities were specifically rated on the criteria below:

  • Sights/landmarks

  • Culture

  • Food

  • Friendliness

  • Shopping

  • Value

For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are averages of these responses.

What Readers Loved

This year’s winners feature a diverse assortment of cities spread throughout the African continent and Middle East. While North Africa has a large presence, two sub-Saharan cities made the list of honorees this year. One is a perennial winner: Cape Town, South Africa, which locked in the No. 2 slot this year. As one voter shared, “Cape Town should be on everyone's bucket list. The things to do range from local safaris, to land and ocean animals, history, and some of the best wine vineyards in the world. The people are friendly and the city is safe.”

The second sub-Saharan winning city has shown a steady climb since first appearing on the list three years ago. The evolving capital of Kigali, Rwanda, moved up to the fifth position this year. Voters describe it as a beautiful hub with friendly, helpful residents. “Amazingly clean and progressive city! I felt safe walking all over,” wrote a voter. “There is a wide variety of cuisine available and amazing coffee.”

And yet, North Africa continues to dominate the list, with two entries from Egypt and three from Morocco this year. Fez nabbed sixth place, thanks to being what one respondent described as “a treasure trove of culture and history! A must see if you are in Morocco.” The much smaller Essaouira secured No. 7, in its first reappearance on the list since 2021.

The third Moroccan city on the 2024 list managed to claim the top spot. Keep reading to find out which one, and to see the entire list of readers’ favorite cities in Africa and the Middle East.

The Winner

Marrakesh, Morocco

<p>Thomas Barwick/Getty Images</p>

Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

For the second year in a row, this enchanting city has scored the first position, although it’s nearly always on the list somewhere. Nestled in the scenic foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh is one of Morocco’s most popular destinations for tourists. “OMG Marrakesh, it’s a hidden pearl!” exclaimed one reader. “Every place is an explosion of senses…all these secret places, unexpected discoveries, glamorous on one side but modest on the other.” The country’s fifth largest city combines the old and new in a gorgeous way, and it has become a destination for art and design lovers thanks to recent openings including boutique hotels Riad Dar Dada and Izza, and its dynamic roster of museums and galleries. Still, travelers also can’t get enough of the narrow medina streets, historic hammams, and impressive riads. Voters especially love the souk, with one of them writing, “Souks and spices. Camels and donkeys. At the main souk, if you can't find what you're looking for, it's not made.”

"Every place is an explosion of senses…all these secret places, unexpected discoveries, glamorous on one side but modest on the other."

T+L Reader

The Full List

1. Marrakesh, Morocco

Reader Score: 89.17

2. Cape Town, South Africa

Reader Score: 88.87

3. Jerusalem, Israel

Reader Score: 87.25

4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Reader Score: 86.14

5. Kigali, Rwanda

Reader Score: 85.93

6. Fez, Morocco

Reader Score: 84.37

7. Essaouira, Morocco

Reader Score: 83.97

8. Tel Aviv, Israel

Reader Score: 82.46

9. Luxor, Egypt

Reader Score: 82.04

10. Cairo, Egypt

Reader Score: 81.40

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