The reinvention of Marrakesh as a global style hub continues, thanks to the recent opening of the Museé Yves Saint Laurent, a space dedicated to the French designer, who once made his home in the city. “The museum and garden are outstanding,” wrote in one reader. Still, much of what makes the city so enchanting are the sights and sounds of local life: the bustling souks, the small, artisanal boutiques where you can buy everything from elaborate Berber carpets to rose-scented perfumes. “Love the little shops,” said one reader, while another added: “Incredible shopping.” No wonder then, that the city was voted No. 5 in the entire region.
Israel also performed well on this year’s list, with Jerusalem ranking at No. 3 and Tel Aviv at No. 4. It’s a reflection of the fact that tourism is booming; hotels in both cities report record occupancy rates. In and around Tel Aviv’s historic Jaffa neighborhood, the Setai Tel Aviv, the Jaffa hotel, and the Drisco hotel are breathing new life into the scene. “Tel Aviv has everything a visitor should want and more — open-air markets, clubs, walkable areas with bars, and the beach,” wrote in one respondent.
Beirut made an appearance at No. 2 on the list — a vote of confidence for the popular Lebanese capital, which has in recent years suffered from political instability and uncertainty. Still, our readers said they were drawn to the city despite these challenges. “Beirut’s food is unsurpassed,” said one fan, while another added: “The nightlife is the experience of a lifetime.”
Read on for the full list of winning cities in the region.
Cape Town continued to dominate the list of our readers’ favorite cities in Africa and the Middle East, coming in at No. 1 for the 17th year. A favorable exchange rate and high-profile openings like the Zeitz MOCAA, a spectacular site for contemporary art, continue to draw in visitors. There is also an array of fantastic hotels — including Cape Grace, which has placed 19 times in World’s Best history, and Table Bay, voted No. 8 in the region this year. Add to that Cape Town’s status as a regional hub and an entry point for many coming to Africa on vacation or for business, and you get a sense of why it remained our readers’ favorite city in Africa and the Middle East. “Cape Town is a lovable melting pot,” said one reader. “There is something for everybody.”