I asked other travel bloggers their favorite places to visit in Africa. This is a four-part series including Southern, East, North, and West Africa. You can check out other posts here:
By Ian from Escaping Expectation
Since I was a little kid, I dreamed of one day visiting the Great Pyramids in Egypt. Fast forward 20+ years and that dream became a reality – and let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint. What I didn’t realize, though, is that there is so much more to Cairo than the last remaining wonder of the ancient world. Plan a stop at the Egyptian Museum, which is home to over 120,000 ancient antiquities – including the Gold Mask of King Tut! A felucca ride down the Nile is a must, and the local desserts are some of the best I’ve ever had! If you’re planning to spend more time in Egypt, I’d recommend looking into trips to nearby Alexandria or further south to Luxor.
Egypt hasn’t had the best rep lately, and we received a lot of, “is it safe?” questions. But the environment has improved significantly over the last few years. Tourism is on the rise once again, and there wasn’t one moment that I didn’t feel safe. The majority of locals we met were extremely kind and helpful; we would walk down the street and hear “welcome to Egypt!” (full disclosure though – a lot of people will try to sell you stuff!)
By Gabriela from Gabriela Here and There
Luxor is a city on the east bank of the Nile River in southern Egypt. It’s often called as the world’s largest open-air museum, and it’s true. You could spend weeks there if you want to see everything! Both east and west banks of the river offer many temples and grand monuments but especially the west bank is full of ancient sites to explore. Luxor is on the site of ancient Thebes, the pharaohs’ capital at the height of their power.
The most famous sites on the west bank include Valley of the Kings, Colossi of Memnon, Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Deir el-Bahari, Valley of the Queens, Medinet Habu and Ramesseum. A hot air balloon ride during the sunrise is also a must thing to do, and it gives you spectacular views of the Nile River and all the ancient monuments.
On the east bank, popular things to do see are Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple, Luxor Museum, Mummification Museum and Allée des Sphinx.
By Gabriela from Gabriela Here and There
Aswan is also a city on the Nile River, and it’s located even further south from Luxor. If you visit both of these cities, the best way to get from one city to another is by taking a Nile cruise. That way you can see all the sites between the cities too. Aswan feels a bit smaller than Luxor and walking around the city is more pleasant.
Popular things to see in Aswan are Elephantine Island, Nubian Museum, Philae’s ruins, Unfinished Obelisk and High Dam.
EGYPT: Abu Simbel
By Gabriela from Gabriela Here and There
If you’re already visiting Aswan, you should also visit Abu Simbel. It’s very easy to organize a tour there, and usually you can just ask your hotel to book it for you. The Abu Simbel temples are two massive rock temples near the border with Sudan. They are situated about 230 km southwest of Aswan, and the drive takes around 3 hours. What’s very interesting about these temples is that they were saved from the rising waters of Lake Nassar in the 1960s and relocated from Aswan to their current location.
By Liliane from My Toronto, My World
Alexandria is located about a 2.5-hour train ride north of Cairo and is the second largest city in Egypt after Cairo. It provides a nice break from the much louder Cairo and is beautifully located along the Mediterranean Sea. There’s more than enough to do to last you a couple of days but if you’re only able to go up for a day trip from Cairo, your highlights have to include the library which is rebuilt in honor of the very well known ancient library of Alexandria. Other must-dos include the Qaitbay Citadel which is open to the public (with an admission fee) that provides you stunning views of the skyline and the Mediterranean Sea. I also highly recommend finding a cafe/restaurant along the water if you’re there on a nice day. Besides that, you’ll find that Alexandria has a really nice and chill vibe in comparison to a lot of the rest of Egypt and you’ll be left alone for the most part so I’d take advantage of that by walking around as much as your legs can carry you!
By Nathan from Foodie Flashbacker
Chefchaouen, Morocco is the perfect place to visit in Africa. Not only is Morocco safe but the people are friendly, the food is amazing and it’s very affordable. Chefchaouen, in particular, is great to visit as it is a bit off of the main route that most travelers visit. The small city is able to be explored on foot or, if you enjoy hiking, the nearby mountain has great views.
The city is famous for being awash in varying shades of blue. Chefchaouen is actually known as The Blue Pearl of Morocco. During your visit make sure to try you hand haggling for some of the custom leather goods that shop owners have for sell. Also, it seems as if the entire town can be found in the medina nightly as the sun sets. It’s the perfect place to sit, order some of the amazing local food and people watch. To learn more about the city including average prices and where to stay read here.
By Jenny from TraveLynnFamily
Situated on Morocco’s windswept coast, lies the compact and relatively quiet port-city of Essaouira. Spend your days wandering the vibrant souqs in the medina (where cars are banned!) and checking out the views from the ramparts, before buying fish fresh from the port to have cooked for you in one of the local restaurants. The city also boasts a silky crescent of sand, with waves crashing in from the Atlantic. Follow the shoreline along to the other end, away from the city, and you’ll meet some camels and quad bikes waiting for you to explore the dunes. The highlight each day for us though, was finding a rooftop to watch the sun set as the call to prayer drifted over the city.
By Julianna from The Discoveries Of
Fes is a charming city – a maze of traditional architecture and twisting alleys that dates back to 859. I was intrigued to visit a city that I’d heard so much about – fiercely proud of its cultural heritage and unique identity.
My first moments in the medina, working my way through the car-free lanes skirted with shops, restaurants and traders, were overwhelming – a feeling that I never quite shook off for the whole of my visit.
It’s a heady mix of old meets almost new: where tanneries operate in the same way they have done for centuries, tangled with newly-restored buildings and independent shops and cafes selling contemporary wares and foods. In short, it’s a must-visit for any trip to Morocco.
By Amanda from MarocMama
Marrakech is the most visited city by tourists in Morocco for a good reason. The city has long been a crossroads of trade and culture plus it boasts hundreds of days of sunshine a year. I call Marrakech home but think it’s really an ideal spot for visitors who want something very different and yet still has some of the similarities and comforts they are used to. When you come, you should stay in a riad, a traditional Moroccan home. Today these houses have become boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts with just a handful of rooms for guests. I would also encourage you to get lost, because you’re going to anyway! The medina of Marrakech is a maze, it’s best just to embrace that and accept you’ll get lost – but found eventually. Most of all come with a light heart and sense of adventure, and you’ll be rewarded with a touch of Marrakech’s magic.
By Yashy Murphy from Baby & Life
I grew up in the deserts of the Middle East, but Morocco captured my heart like no other country had. Everyone talks about the Sahara desert, the charm of Chefchaouen and the energy of the medinas but no one told us about the magnificent drive into the desert and what can be discovered as one weaves through the Atlas Mountains stopping for mint tea and tajine along the way. We gave ourselves an entire day to drive into the town of Ouarzazate in the Atlas Mountains and beyond the nerve-wracking drive through the Tizi N’tichka and the marvelous hues of the Moroccan geology awaits Kasbahs, movie studios, markets and fossil shops frequented by museum curators from all over the world. For those looking for old world charm oozing with culture and off the beaten track, hiring a private driver to make your trek into the Sahara Desert is well work the effort. For us, Ouarzazate and the drive into the desert was a bigger highlight than the actual night in the desert!
By Nate from Travel Lemming
Sure, Marrakesh and Fez get all the attention but don’t ignore Morocco’s capital city. On the surface, Rabat appears quiet, clean, and orderly – perhaps even out of place with the rest of the country. But look under the surface, and you’ll find a city bursting with character and just waiting to be explored. Best of all, you may feel like you are the only visitor in town!
In Rabat, you can still find an authentic medina free of the tourist trappings. And right next door is the historic Kasbah of the Udayas, a fortress whose interior is filled with enrapturing blue and white walls (minus the lines to snap photos!). This kasbah is so unassuming and modest that it won’t tell you what I will: its gorgeous exterior was the setting for a famous chase scene in Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible series.
If you aren’t convinced yet, there’s one last reason you must visit Rabat: the beach! The city maintains a clean and welcoming beach that’s easy to access. And the surf isn’t bad either. Visit during the early summer months for the best temperatures.
MOROCCO: Sahara Desert
By Allison from Eternal Arrival
The Sahara Desert was the highlight of my time traveling mostly solo through Morocco. I went with a tour and it took us almost two full days to reach the desert from Marrakech, but it was well worth the long ride. We rode on camels into the sunset, dug into vegetable tagine and couscous prepared by Berber nomads, and slept under the most star-filled sky I’ve ever seen in my life. In the morning, I woke to see the sunrise over the dunes, changing color and casting new shadows with every minute. It was a beautiful experience and one I’ll never forget. It’s an absolute must when you visit Morocco!
By Natasha and Cameron from The World Pursuit
Tangier, Morocco is one of the best places to visit in North Africa. Located in northwest Morocco, Tangier is set along the beautiful Maghreb Coast and only a two hour drive away from the Instagrams Chefchaouen.
If you are interested in culture, a stop in Tangier is a must. There are plenty of things to do here that make you feel that you are truly in Morocco. One of my favorites is to wander through the Kasbah walls and see daily life come alive. Another great local experience is to head to the Cinema Rif and catch a flick. Bring one of the gateways to Africa the city of Tangier provides a whole lot of excitement for any traveler.
If you need more help planning your holiday in Morocco, check out this post for a 3 week Morocco itinerary!
By Patrick from German Backpacker
Sudan is an incredible destination that not many travelers visit, but those who do get rewarded by a beautiful landscape and the most welcoming and hospitable people in the world. On my overland journey from Egypt to Ethiopia, I passed through Sudan and had a stop in Karima, a place I highly recommend visiting. Karima is located close to the Nile, and you’ll find the holy mountain Jebel Barkal with its pyramids. In the late afternoon, climb up to the top of the rock for some incredible sunset views of the Nile area and the Sahara Desert. If you got some extra time, take a bus or tuk-tuk to the Nuri pyramids just on the other side of the Nile. As most sights in Sudan, you’ll have them all to yourself to explore!
By Manouk from Bunch of Backpackers
The town of Kassala lies at the foot of the odd-shaped Taka mountains in northeastern Sudan. Its lively, exotic souk is a perfect place to wander around for a few hours, meet the Beja and Rashaida tribes and browse traditional jewelry, make-up and weapons. Don’t miss the impressive Khatmiya mosque, an important place for Sufi muslims. From the Khatmiya mosque, you can easily hike up the mountains and enjoy the views over Kassala. Kassala is relatively little visited by western tourists, but this adds to its charm.
SUDAN: Meroe Pyramids
By Nina from Safari Junkie
If there is only one place in all Sudan that you can visit, make it be the Royal Cemetery of Meroe. The Meroe pyramids are located near the “village” of Begrawiya, three hours out of Khartoum by private car and are by far the most known touristic site in Sudan. Meroe is a complex of dozens of Nubian pyramids made out of black, iron-rich stone in the red and yellow sand of the eastern Sahara. The pyramids themselves are impressive and otherworldly, even though most had their tips demolished by 19th-century grave robbers. In many of them, you can see reliefs and inscriptions in Meroitic hieroglyphs. In my experience, the best thing about the Meroe pyramids was, that I was absolutely alone while visiting them: no other tourists – just me, the wind, the sand and the silent pyramids. You can simply walk around the pyramids and almost feel like an intrepid explorer in the 18th century stumbling upon a remarkable find. Best time to visit is between November and December.
By Mike from 197 Travel Stamps
During the Phoenician rule around 600 BC, Carthage was one of the most influential cities in the world. At that time, the city was already home to around half a million people. Later, during Roman rule, the city was destroyed almost completely and then rebuilt as the Roman North African capital.
Carthage is located just 20 minutes outside of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. Nowadays, the ruins of Carthage’s rich history form part of the UNESCO World Heritage. The most famous sights in Carthage are the Antoninus baths, the amphitheater, the Punic military harbor and the Roman villas. The sites are all relatively close to each other so you can easily walk between them. A multi-site ticket makes it easy to visit several sights in one day.
Even if you are not into ancient history, you will enjoy a walk through the ruins while overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean Ocean. And, apart from a few tour groups, there aren’t that many tourists around so you can feel like you were just about to discover some of these ruins yourself.
By Corinne Vail from Reflections Enroute
Dougga, a UNESCO World Heritage site of Roman ruins, is a historical wonder in central Tunisia. Only a couple of hours drive from the capital of Tunis, Dougga will enchant you with its temples of Saturn and Juno, as well as an amphitheater and forum, and of course Roman baths. Wandering around the ancient Roman ruins awakens your imagination about what life in Northern Africa was centuries ago. The best time to visit is in winter or spring as the temperatures are moderate and the flowers are blooming. Getting there is not to difficult. You can either rent a car and drive yourself, which we did, or you can hire a private car to take you on this easy day trip. Get your history on at Dougga!
By Veronika from Veronika’s Adventure
Most visitors head to Tunisia to enjoy a holiday on the beach. With its sandy beaches and numerous resorts, Hammamet offers all the comfort and some of the best parts of more than thousand kilometers long Tunisia’s coastline. The area has a very quiet atmosphere, with many resorts featuring their own parks.
Hammamet once used to be a fishing town, and later it was rebuilt to be more convenient for the tourist. It’s always nice to have a walk in the center as there is a lot of greenery around. There are amazing gardens with citrus trees, lemons, and olive grove.
There are six various airports in Tunisia. The best way to get to Hammamet is to fly to Monastir or Tunis and then to get a private taxi. Both cities feature great historical sights, so you can combine your Hammamet visit with either of them.
TUNISIA: Sidi Bou Said
By Claudia from My Adventures Across the World
I visited Sidi Bou Said, in Tunisia, in May 2016. It was part of a larger trip to Djerba, where due to the flight schedule I had a free day in Tunis that I could use to go wherever I wanted. Since Sidi Bou Said is really close to Tunis, that’s where I decided to go. I knew nothing about it, my visit was completely improvised, and I found it to be a wonderful place, where I am keen to go again. I hopped on a taxi after negotiating the price, got off at the entrance of the city centre, and was taken away by the beautiful sights: blue doors and windows stood against the whitest walls, on narrow cobbled alleys where colorful bougainvillea flowers pour over the walls and peep into the streets. Beautiful coffee shops have balconies and rooftops to admire the sunset view of the Mediterranean Sea – right at that time, the temperatures finally go down, and the marine breeze starts blowing. It turns simply magic. I can’t wait to go again.
By Stephanie from HistoryFangirl
Sousse is best known by many Europeans as a place for Brits to flee the cold and get in some sunny beach days, but it’s so much more than a fly-and-flop destination! Its gorgeous medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Sousse is a great spot to base yourself if you want to take day trips to El Jem, Kairouan, or Monastir, three important historic sites that are all easily accessible from Sousse by louage (minibus). Make sure to set aside time to visit the fabulous archeological museum, walk around the old city walls, and visit the city’s ancient mosque.
TUNISIA: Tozeur, Star Wars Set
By Chris from One Weird Globe
One of the Phantom Menace sets was left standing and open to the public – thanks to Indiegogo and a squadron of volunteers, it’s still here.
Say what you will about the film – so much movie-making wizardry happens behind closed doors or distant places that the average mere mortal never gets to see or touch a piece of history for themselves. While Tozeur, Tunisia definitely qualifies as ‘distant’, it’s doable by a train ride and a guided tour.
The standard tour takes you past a grand waterfall (with plentiful souvenirs for sale, naturally), and you’ll also stop at Ong Jemel, AKA the distinctive ‘camel’s neck’ also seen in English Patient. The drive to the Mos Espa set is some 50 kilometers worth of slippery salt flats, so settle in for a bumpy ride.
Once there, meander and enjoy! Aim to watch the movie before you arrive so you can re-enact some scenes. If you have a few days, several other Star Wars sites are around, but weather conditions and distance can make them difficult to access.
Starting from Tunis, Tunisia, take a train to Tozeur. This is an 8-9 hour ride on a second-world train systems, so bring snacks and drinks, and expect delays. Once in Tozeur, make your way to your hotel and inquire about tours that are available.