When looking for the best family holiday destinations abroad, the Middle East is often overlooked. A shame because the Middle East offers some lovely kid-friendly holiday destinations. From kids’ paradise Dubai with all its fun attractions to the great beaches and playgrounds in family-friendly Tel Aviv, and from the natural beauty of Oman to the amazing underwater life in the Red Sea. When researching the best places to go on holiday with kids, these lovely holiday destinations in the Middle East are great options to add to your list.
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Apart from a visit to Dubai pre-kids and having lots of fun in Dahab, Egypt, we don’t have a lot of experience with holiday destinations in the Middle East. So, we asked some of our fellow family travel bloggers to help us compile this list of the best Middle East holiday destinations with kids. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the diversity this region has to offer. I’m definitely adding a few of these places to our own travel bucket list!
Dubai with kids
Dubai is an absolute child’s paradise! A city thriving to entertain tourists, the choices for family entertainment are seemingly endless. Most kids immediately fall for the amazing beachfront resorts, but take a dig around you will find there’s so much more to see and do! Our kids are big fans of the theme parks; Dubai Parks and Resort includes Legoland and Legoland WaterPark, plus there is a Motiongate (Hollywood style theme park) and a Bollywood theme park here, all interconnected by entertainment and restaurant zone, Riverland.
If you’re visiting in the hot summer months there’s the entirely indoor IMG Worlds of Adventure theme park – or retreat to one of the many sensational waterparks. The big ones are Aquaventure at Atlantis (yes you can slide through a shark tank!) as well as Wild Wadi and the new Laguna Waterpark at Le Mer Beach, you will find plenty of smaller splash parks too for smaller kids. If you prefer to stroll along the beach and shops then JBR is the place with The Walk and The Beach entertainment zones, or the new Palm Jumeirah Boardwalk that stretches all the way along the outer crescent of the famous man-made palm tree-shaped island.
Winter is the best time to visit though when many of the seasonal spectacular attractions are open; Dubai Global Village takes you on a journey around the world with over 70 countries represented at this fun fair style park. Dubai Miracle Garden is where you can find the world’s largest flower garden by total number of blooms, or our kiddy favorite is in the cool evenings at Zabeel Park – the Dinosaur Park & Dubai Garden Glow, a spectacular illumination show.
Despite accusations that the city is bereft of any real “culture”, it’s there too if you want to seek it out; you can try the traditional souks in Deira, cross the Dubai Creek in a traditional dhow, and stroll the Al Fahidi neighborhood. The biggest spectacle most families don’t want to miss though is the Dubai Fountains, a sound and light spectacular held nightly between the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa. And what kids doesn’t want the claim to fame they’ve been up the top of the tallest building in the world?
If you’ve still got some energy left after all of that – the most unique and unmissable part of visiting Dubai and the UAE has to be taking a desert safari. Here you will get to try your hand at everything from camel rides to belly dancing, henna painting to sandboarding and a traditional Bedouin feed. under the stars.
Recommended by Keri from Family Travel Middle East. Also check out her recommendations for the best winter activities in the UAE.
Tel Aviv with kids
One of our family’s favorite places to visit is Tel Aviv Most families don’t think of visiting Israel, but there are so many great activities for kids of all ages. The city has world-class beaches – many with playgrounds right there – and great opportunities for learning about history and culture.
Some of our kids’ favorite activities during our month in Tel Aviv (apart from splashing in the warm waters of the Mediterranean) were visiting the Nahlat Binyamin craft fair, perusing the stalls at Shuk haCarmel and wandering the galleries in the winding streets of Yafo. When you’re ready to explore further, there are tons of wonderful day trips throughout the region that aren’t even an hour away.
Israel as a whole is a fabulous place to visit with kids because the country’s culture is so family-oriented. Kids are welcome absolutely everywhere and family-time is viewed as a priority. The culture is relaxed and no one will look askance at a young kid having a meltdown – they’ve all been there too, and the community-minded spirit means that another parent is more likely to offer help than to wonder why you didn’t leave your kids at home.
Recommended by Melissa from The Family Voyage.
Jordan with kids
Jordan is a fantastic place to take kids of any age – there’s so much to see and do that everyone will be happy. A huge positive about visiting Jordan is its friendly, welcoming people. Everyone was helpful and kind to us, and the kids drew quite a bit of attention as Jordanians are very family-oriented.
The scenery in Jordan is stunning and much more varied than you might think. The northern part of the country is almost Mediterranean as it’s covered in olive groves and vegetation. In the middle of Jordan you can explore incredible, vast desert scenery. The dry valleys, or wadis, are immense too. The Red Sea in the south has lovely sandy beaches for kids to play on.
Top attractions for kids include exploring the castles along the Kings Highway, playing on the beaches (older kids will enjoy snorkeling here too), floating in the Dead Sea and of course exploring the lost city of Petra. However, Wadi Rum is my personal highlight. We trekked across the desert in a jeep, rode camels, and slept in a Bedouin tent under the stars – a fantastic adventure.
Recommended by Emily from Kids and Compass. Check out Emily’s itinerary for Jordan with kids.
Oman with kids
Oman is one of the very few countries in the Middle East, which sticks to its Arabian heritage and cultural values. Muscat, the capital of city of Oman is home to some of the best scenic landscapes, natural parks, forts, museums and an iconic corniche, which makes it the most family-friendly destination in the region. Unlike its ‘more happening’ neighbor Dubai, Muscat offers a more peaceful and a laid-back vibe, which is apt to relax and rejuvenate within the calm surroundings of the city. The vast natural parks such as Al-Qurm Garden and Sahwah Park offer a great spot for an outdoor picnic or a late night stroll. Kids can enjoy their time visiting the many museums and forts; most of them having an interactive learning center for the children. The weather of Muscat offers the ideal conditions to spend an afternoon by the sea; swimming at one of the public beaches in Muscat is definitely a must-do activity while in the city.
Recommended by Rahma from The Sane Adventurer. Also check out her recommendations for the best day trips from Muscat.
Jebel Akhdar, Oman
If you are in Oman and you get bored of beautiful beaches or you are just too hot, rent a 4×4 and go to Jebel Akhdar. It is about 150 km from Muscat at an elevation of about 2,000m. It is a great place to visit in the hot summer months with temperatures at least 10 deg C (18 deg F) lower than in Muscat. Jebel Akhdar translates as Green Mountain, and it is green, as green as the Middle East can be. You can walk between tiny villages along terraces cut in the sides of precipitous valleys. In May these terraces bloom with roses and they also harbor grapevines, pomegranates and walnut trees. All provided with an ancient irrigation system (falaj) delivering water to each field if you can call a meter or two of rock shelf a field. Here you can see life before we learned to associate food with supermarket and plastic packages.
If you don’t feel like exploring, though I think its a must, you can spend time in the hotel pool surrounded by some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen
Recommended by Ania from The Travelling Twins
Dahab, Egypt with kids
Dahab is our home away from home. We felt very welcome from the first time we visited about 13 years ago. We have our own Airbnb holiday home in Dahab and try to visit at least once a year, more if we can make it work. We haven’t visited many other places in Egypt besides Dahab and Cairo, but judging by reports from other families Dahab really is one of the best places to visit in Egypt, with kids or without.
You can choose to spend your days relaxing in the little restaurants on the boulevard, while occasionally taking a dip to cool off or go for a bit of snorkeling. But Dahab also has a much more active side. Go on a one-day or overnight safari to Abu Galum, riding camels the last part of the trek and stay with the Bedouins or have a lovely Bedouin lunch or dinner in the mountains. You can also go mountain climbing, freediving, wind or kite surfing or ride a quad in the desert. Kids will love the fact that they can roam free and discover nature, whether it be in the water or on shore.
Dahab is an excellent place for scuba diving, with over 30 dive sites to choose from. Dahab is a great choice for both advanced and novice divers. And Dahab is one of the cheapest places to learn scuba diving worldwide. It’s a great destination for diving holidays with kids. Most dives are shore dives and it’s very easy for one parent to play with the kids in the water, while the other goes diving.
Recommended by Lisa from Scuba Around The World.