The best holiday destinations in Northern Africa
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The best holiday destinations in Northern Africa

Keen to explore more of the diverse landscapes of Northern Africa? Whether you fancy wandering the medinas of Morocco or seeing the pyramids in Egypt, here’s my round up of the best holiday destinations in Northern Africa.

When it comes to planning an unforgettable holiday, Northern Africa offers diverse landscapes, rich history, and vibrant cultures. From the ancient wonders of Egypt to the enchanting medinas of Morocco, this region beckons adventurers seeking unique experiences. With its desert plains, huge metropolises and centuries-old culture, Northern Africa is one of the most exciting areas to visit in Africa. Not only is it home to some incredible countries, but it offers s a glimpse into a world that might be completely different to yours. 

There’s something for everyone in this beautiful region. Whether you’re craving a cultural retreat, a good few days’ shopping or a lazy holiday by the beach, Northern Africa has it all. Before you set off, however, make sure to check what is culturally appropriate and acceptable in the country you’re travelling to; some northern African countries implement strict rules concerning clothing and public behaviour.

In this article, I share some of the best holiday destinations in Northern Africa, each offering a distinctive blend of history, natural beauty, and hospitality.

Egypt

It’s hard to imagine Egypt without immediately thinking of the pyramids. Embark on a journey through time in Cairo, the bustling capital of Egypt. Home to the iconic pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, Cairo seamlessly blends ancient wonders with a modern metropolis. The pyramids of Giza are by far the country’s most visited tourist attraction, and for good reason! These royal tombs reach almost 140 metres in height and were built approximately 4,000 years ago, making them the longest-standing relics on Earth. Explore the Egyptian Museum, housing an extensive collection of artefacts, and wander through the vibrant Khan El Khalili market for a taste of local culture.

Other attractions include the Great Sphinx, Karnak, Tutankhamun and dozens of other ancient temples that belong to a time long ago. Through the city runs the Nile, one of the longest rivers in the world. Experience this dazzling city on an Egypt river cruise and stop off at all the major landmarks along the way, taking your own journey through rich history of both ancient and modern Egypt. You should also visit the historic Islamic Cairo district for an incredible mix of history and contemporary charm.

For history enthusiasts, Luxor is as an open-air museum, showcasing the grandeur of ancient Egypt. The Valley of the Kings, Karnak Temple, and Luxor Temple transport visitors back to the time of pharaohs and dynasties. A hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Queens offers an unforgettable aerial perspective of the sprawling archaeological sites. Luxor’s charming riverside setting, along the banks of the Nile, adds to the allure of this historical gem.

Morocco

Morocco is undoubtedly one of the best holiday destinations in Northern Africa. With bustling cities like Fes, Rabat, and Casablanca, you’ll find that each has its own unique story to tell. Marrakech is a must for any visitor to Morocco. Known as the ‘Red City’ for its terracotta coloured buildings, Marrakech is a sensory delight that will captivate you with its lively souks, aromatic spice markets, and beautiful architecture. There are all sorts of cultural influences here which make for a really interesting visit. The Jardin Majorelle was designed by French painter Jacques Majorelle and is a hothouse of hundreds of different cacti and bright architecture. And for a real taste of Moroccan architecture, you have to visit Bahia Palace and the Koutoubia Mosque.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Djemaa El Fna square, where street performers, traditional musicians, and market stalls create an unforgettable spectacle. Marrakech offers a unique blend of tradition and modern luxury, with its boutique riads and world-class resorts. Where the ancient world meets all the frenzy of the modern world, Marrakech holds a surprise around every corner. It’s home to some of the biggest and brightest bazaars in the world and has always been a must-do for fashionistas. Not only is it home to the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, but the capital boasts some world-class shopping. 

You can’t miss Chefchaouen, either. Tucked away in the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen is a picturesque town renowned for its blue-painted streets and buildings. A haven for photographers and artists, this tranquil destination has a relaxed atmosphere. Wander through the narrow alleys, discover local crafts in the medina, and hike to the Spanish Mosque for panoramic views of the town. Chefchaouen is a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle, making it an ideal retreat for those seeking somewhere to chill amidst beautiful natural surroundings.

Tunisia

Your answer to a dreamy beach holiday in Northern Africa, Tunisia has some of the most stunning coastline that borders the Mediterranean Sea. The ultimate destination to sprawl out on the sand and try your hand at some water sports, Tunisia is where travellers go for some sea and sun, especially in the winter months. Like any northern African country, it has so many unique spots to explore. The Archaeological Site of Catharge has been marked as having outstanding universal value from UNESCO, and is a relic of the Metropolis of Punic civilisation.

Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, is a treasure trove of history and culture and another reason why Tunisia’s one of the best holiday destinations in Northern Africa. Explore the Medina of Tunis, a maze of narrow alleys and bustling markets, and visit the Bardo Museum, home to an impressive collection of Roman mosaics. For a relaxing coastal experience, head to the nearby resort town of Sidi Bou Said, known for its blue and white architecture overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. You could easily be fooled into thinking you’re in Greece!

Northern Africa, with its blend of ancient wonders, vibrant cultures, and diverse landscapes, offers an array of incredible holiday destinations waiting to be explored. From the mystique of Cairo to the enchantment of Marrakech, these destinations promise a whole bunch of experiences that will leave a lasting imprint on your memory. Embrace the allure of Northern Africa and embark on a journey filled with history, beauty, and cultural richness.

The best holiday destinations in Northern Africa: FAQs

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about the best holiday destinations in Northern Africa:

What is the safest country to visit in North Africa?

Tunisia is generally considered one of the safest countries to visit in North Africa. Tunisia has a well-established tourism industry, and its government has taken measures to enhance security and ensure the safety of visitors. While it’s always essential to stay informed about the current situation and check travel advisories before planning any trip, Tunisia has been successful in maintaining stability compared to some other countries in the region. Tunisia offers a diverse range of attractions, including historical sites like the ancient ruins of Carthage and the Medina of Tunis, as well as beautiful coastal areas such as Sidi Bou Said. The country has made efforts to promote tourism, and many visitors find it to be a welcoming and hospitable destination. Personally, however, I recommend that you stay updated on the current geopolitical situation and travel advisories, as circumstances can change. Additionally, individual experiences may vary, so it’s advisable to exercise standard safety precautions, such as being aware of your surroundings, following local guidelines, and staying informed about any potential risks.

Which North African country has the best beaches?

When it comes to seeking out the best beaches in North Africa, Tunisia and Morocco are known for their stunning coastal areas that attract beach lovers from around the world. Here are a few notable destinations with beautiful beaches in each of these countries:

Tunisia:

  • Djerba: known as the ‘Island of Dreams’, Djerba is the largest island in North Africa and offers pristine beaches with golden sands and crystal-clear waters. It’s a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts and those seeking a relaxing seaside escape.
  • Hammamet: located on the northeastern coast of Tunisia, Hammamet is famous for its picturesque beaches, lined with white sand and framed by azure waters. The town itself has a charming medina and a vibrant cultural scene.
  • Sidi Bou Said: while not a traditional beach destination, Sidi Bou Said near Tunis offers stunning coastal views with its blue-and-white architecture overlooking the Mediterranean. It’s a great spot for a leisurely stroll along the cliffs.

Morocco:

  • Agadir: situated along the Atlantic coast, Agadir is known for its long, wide beaches and warm climate. The city has a modern beachfront promenade, and the beaches are well-equipped for various water activities.
  • Essaouira: this coastal town, with its UNESCO-listed medina, boasts scenic beaches with strong winds, making it a popular destination for wind and kite surfers. The laid-back atmosphere and historic charm add to its appeal.
  • Asilah: located on the northwest coast of Morocco, Asilah is known for its artistic flair and beautiful beaches. The town hosts an annual arts festival, and its beaches provide a relaxing backdrop for visitors.

Both Tunisia and Morocco offer a mix of beach destinations catering to different preferences, whether you’re looking for water sports, cultural experiences, or simply a relaxing seaside retreat. When planning a beach holiday, consider the specific activities and atmosphere you’re looking for to choose the destination that best suits your preferences.

Which country is the best tourist destination in Africa?

Determining the ‘best’ tourist destination in Africa is incredibly subjective, as different travellers have different preferences and interests. In my opinion, however, here are some of the best African countries that are well known for their diverse attractions, culture, and natural beauty:

  • South Africa: South Africa has it all, starting with stunning landscapes, including iconic Table Mountain and the scenic Garden Route. It offers diverse wildlife experiences in Kruger National Park and other reserves. The vibrant city of Cape Town, the historic Robben Island, and the renowned Winelands contribute to the country’s appeal.
  • Morocco: Morocco, at the crossroads of Africa and Europe, entices visitors with its enchanting medinas, vibrant souks, and architectural wonders, including the ancient city of Marrakech and the blue streets of Chefchaouen. The Sahara Desert and the Atlas Mountains add to the country’s diverse attractions.
  • Kenya: Kenya is a top destination for wildlife enthusiasts, particularly those interested in witnessing the Great Migration in the Maasai Mara. The country offers a mix of national parks, such as Amboseli and Tsavo, as well as stunning landscapes like the Rift Valley.
  • Egypt: Egypt is a treasure trove of ancient history, with iconic landmarks like the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, and the temples of Luxor and Karnak. The Nile River cruises, the bustling markets of Cairo, and the historic city of Alexandria add to Egypt’s allure.
  • Tanzania: Tanzania is known for its diverse landscapes, including the Serengeti National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the tropical paradise of Zanzibar. The annual migration in the Serengeti and the wildlife-rich Ngorongoro Crater make Tanzania a favourite among safari enthusiasts.
  • Namibia: Namibia captivates travellers with its otherworldly landscapes, including the towering dunes of Sossusvlei, the eerie Deadvlei, and the wildlife-rich Etosha National Park. The country’s vast and sparsely populated deserts offer a unique and breathtaking experience.

Does North Africa have nice beaches?

100%! North Africa is graced with picturesque beaches along its Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts, making it the perfect destination for beach enthusiasts. From the golden sands and crystal-clear waters of Djerba in Tunisia to the windswept beauty of Essaouira’s beaches in Morocco, there’s a really diverse range of coastal experiences in this part of the world. The idyllic shores of Agadir, the lively resort atmosphere of Hammamet, and the coral reefs of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt also showcase the variety of beach destinations available. I honestly can’t recommend North Africa enough as a destination for both cultural heritage and beautiful beaches.


That’s my guide to the best holiday destinations in Northern Africa. Is there anywhere else you’d add to my list? Let me know in the comments below.

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