The birthplace of Christianity and Judaism, of the Baha'i faith and Islam, home of the mighty Persian empire, the Byzantines, and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Middle East bursts at the sand dunes with history, culture, and human stories. Ranging from the bazaars of Istanbul to the steppes of Central Asia, it's got spice-scented cities that'll have you bartering for pashmina rugs and frankincense sticks, along with sweeping backcountry where mountains dip to shifting seas of dunes. Cheap flights to the Middle East could be into a whole host of major cities. Hubs like Dubai and Doha are particular favorites for low-cost ticket hunters.
The historic capital of the Nabatean Kingdom, Petra is carved into red-rock canyons in the midst of the Jordanian desert.
Held holy by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike, Jerusalem is the place to see totemic religious sites like the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock.
Float your days away under cloudless skies in one of the world's saltiest bodies of water, straddling the Judean Mountains between Israel and Jordan.