Solo Travel in the Middle East
- Star rating – 3 out of 5 stars
- Budget – $60 to $100+ a day
- Best Middle East country on a budget – Jordan
- Most expensive – Bahrain
- Languages spoken – Arabic, English, Persian.
Did you know? Some countries may not allow you to enter if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport. If you visit Israel, ask for your arrival stamp on a separate piece of paper.
If you're planning on solo travelling to the Middle East but are unsure where to travel in the Middle East or how to travel the Middle East, below is a summary of each country including how to get around to help you choose the right destination for you. Click on the images at the end for the full solo destination guides.
Solo Travel in The Middle East
The Middle East is made up of: Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Emirates, Afghanistan and Yemen.
Solo travel in the Middle East may not appeal to everyone and you may feel intrepid about travelling alone to the Middle East but many countries in this region of the world are incredibly safe and comfortable.
The Middle East is a destination like no other. From the boom of the Emirates, with modern skyscrapers and perfect beaches, to the stunning desert landscape of Wadi Rum and the Sahara, this region offers Arabian nights, desert safaris and sleeping under the stars in Bedouin camps.
The Middle East is where modern meets heritage. From Iran, one of the oldest countries in the world, to one of the holiest, Jerusalem, in Israel, there are plenty of gems unique to this Arab land. And being warm all year round, the region is ideal for a winter break.
Although the Middle East does get a bad press with war-torn countries, antiquated laws and women as second-class citizens, if you dress modestly and respect the culture, you’ll have a really comfortable time.
When you solo travel Middle East, you’ll see many women wearing headscarves in some of these countries, with the contrast of short skirts in some of the cities. As a general rule, if you dress similar to the locals, you won’t get much attention as a solo female. I chose to cover my head in both Kuwait and Bahrain which I didn’t need to, but it helped me to feel more invisible.
If you are travelling independently safe places to visit in the Middle East are Iran, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the UAE. Iranians are among the friendliest and it’s not uncommon for them to invite you into their homes. Israel is also one of the best countries to visit in Middle East for women travelling alone but keep updated with the Foreign Office advice as they are often in conflict with Palestine. Jordan is a stunning country to explore but you may feel more comfortable in Jordan on a tour.
Syria and Yemen are unfortunately not accessible due to ongoing conflict. And Afghanistan is to be avoided since being ruled by the Taliban. But for those wishing to see the desert sites of the ‘Empty Quarter’ you can now enter Saudi Arabia on an e-Visa and you no longer have to wear an abaya as a tourist.
If you choose to travel within Ramadan, be aware that you are not permitted to eat or drink after dawn. In 2023, Ramadan takes place between 22nd March and 21st April. Travel the Middle East and you'll enjoy endless souks, arid deserts and Persian cuisine as you discover a land full of Middle Eastern promise.
Solo Travel Bahrain
Bahrain is really easy for solos and it’s a surprising country to visit. It’s safe and although it does have a bit of a sleazy party scene, there are plenty of sites to see here. Bahrain is the Gulf’s only island nation with 33 islands and stunning turquoise waters with the Hawar Islands among the most exotic. It has some of the best beaches in the Middle East.
Not every country can boast of an ancient civilisation, grand forts and Pearling sites along with a waterpark with state-of-the-art facilities, a race track and indoor skydiving.
Bahrain is visited for its World Heritage sites, the Dilmun burial mounds and its stunning fort. There is also the chance to take a 4×4 in the desert but don’t expect the desert to be golden sand dunes like the Emirates. This is the country to see traditional pottery making, visit the International Race Circuit of Formula One and see the fascinating Tree of Life that is surprisingly flourishing in the desert.
Bahrain is expensive though especially if you’re solo. Taxis are costly and hotels are pricey but this Gulf country is definitely worth a visit.
Getting Around Bahrain
There are plenty of taxis in Bahrain to get from A to B but expect to pay a surcharge if you order a taxi from your hotel. It’s easy to hail a cab from the road side or you can use the Bahrain Taxi app. Try and agree the fare before you get in.
Although I walked nearly everywhere, it wasn’t that easy to navigate on foot with the roads so you may prefer to hire a car especially if you’re visiting during the hot summer months when it’s too hot to venture outside. There are also air-conditioned buses to get around.
Solo Travel Iran
Iran attracts solos with an interest in history and culture. Being part an important part of the ancient Silk Road makes it one of the best countries to visit in the Middle East for history. Iranians are incredibly friendly and are some of the most hospitable people you will encounter. You’ll receive so many dinner invitations, you won’t know which ones to choose.
Iran is a country where you feel very welcomed and safe, but it can be uncommon for women to travel alone here, so expect curious locals. Because it is a religious country, wear a scarf to keep covered and blend in.
Travelling Around Iran
If you are lucky enough to be granted a visa to Iran without having to be on a tour, expect to travel around by bus, whether it’s an old one or a more luxurious model. Citizens from certain countries are allowed to travel independently but on a British passport, you need to either be part of an organised tour or have a sponsor in Iran.
You’ll find minibuses on shorter routes, but they don’t run to a schedule. There are trains here but the routes are limited, although you can get from Tabriz to Tehran or Ahwaz on a cheap train ticket. Taxis are available for long or short journeys and flights operate to all the major towns.
Solo Travel in Israel
Israel is a fantastic country to visit especially for history solos. More solo women are now travelling to the country, making up half of the travellers who visit. Contrary to what you read in the press, this cosmopolitan country can be safe (when not in conflict with Palestine).
Israel is more Western than some of the other Arab states and thanks to the obligatory army service, the country is full of strong, independent women. Most areas can be freely explored, but the more religious areas, such as Bethlehem, can be a little daunting, with strict check-points as you enter Palestine.
People are generally friendly and you can backpack, camp or travel around in style with no problems. Visit here for Jerusalem (both old and new), the Dead Sea, Eilat and Tel Aviv. Before you solo travel to Israel, always check the foreign advice before you go.
Travelling Around Israel
Travelling overland between Israel and Jordan is possible, but expect to be kept in immigration a while as Israel has one of the strictest immigration security. Women generally find it easier than men, with hardly any questions asked.
Getting around Israel is relatively easy. Buses are reasonable and travel between the main cities and towns. The towns also have a great inner-city bus network, although trains also run some of the routes and can be quicker in the heavy rush hours. Minibuses also run between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Travelling to other places such as Masada can be difficult on public transport.
If you choose to hire a car, you must be over 24 years old with an international driver’s licence and credit card (reserve one before you go to guarantee it). There is an extensive road network and signs are in English, as well as Hebrew and Arabic. Getting into the West Bank can be tricky, as there are several checkpoints, so you need to be on a tour to visit Bethlehem.
Solo Travel Jordan
Bordered by war-torn Syria and Iraq, Jordan’s Red Rose city of Petra and the mineral-rich Dead Sea attract masses of visitors each year, but head north and you’ll find evidence of Roman ruins all within a Mediterranean setting.
If you are not comfortable with leering men, then you may not feel comfortable in Jordan. People will stare, especially if you are alone, and it definitely isn’t the place for a first timer. It is a very male-dominated country and the women that you encounter on the streets cover their head with a scarf or a veil. In the cities and the main tourist sites, Jordanians are used to seeing solo female travellers and the facilities are generally set up with tourists in mind.
Venture off the beaten track and you’ll encounter restaurants with separate areas for women to dine, as well as a separation on public transport. If you dress modestly and avoid the stares, this challenging country is an experience you won’t forget.
Travelling Around Jordan
It can be difficult to get around Jordan unless you have a private car and driver, as many places are off the beaten track. The roads are easy to navigate, as signs are in Arabic and English, and hiring a car is a cheaper option. If you take a taxi, agree the price beforehand; white-painted service taxis take fixed routes, which you can share with other passengers or you can use the private yellow taxis.
JETT operates buses from Amman to Irbrid, Petra and Aqaba and Wadi Mjusa, and you can also fly between Amman and Aqaba. There are buses from Petra to Jordan, but it’s much easier to get taxis from Aqaba to Wadi Rum, for example.
Solo Travel in Kuwait
Kuwait is a surprising country. Known for its scuba diving, desert safaris and the famous Kuwait towers, Kuwait has stunning coastlines and this country in the Middle East is interesting to visit. It is a dry country so no alcohol is served here and it’s recommended to dress modestly with a skirt or dress below your knees. You don’t need to cover your head here. The country is comfortable for solo female travellers and you will see other tourists, especially at the Kuwait Towers.
Travelling Around Kuwait
There is a good road system in Kuwait, but driving here can be a challenge, with crazy drivers and a lack of indicating. I walked around the city but people here don’t really walk and tend to take taxis. The buses are good here but be mindful as you may need to sit at the front which is for women.
You can flag taxis down on the roadside but be aware that you may get overcharged if you jump into an unlicensed taxi so ask your accommodation to order one for you. If you plan to visit Failaka Island, you can take a ferry from the mainland.
Solo Travel in Lebanon
Lebanon is a fascinating country but there is currently unrest so check your Foreign Office advice before you travel. The country has great ski resorts making it one of the best places to travel in the Middle East for those wanting to ski on a budget. The capital has rebuilt itself from the days of the Lebanon War.
Visit the souks and you’ll find expensive jewellery shops and an opulent-looking mall which wouldn’t look out of place in Beverly Hills. Beirut has a nightlife that would rival that of any European city. Beirut is the most liberal place in Lebanon and the people here are open-minded compared to the rest of the country. Solo travel Lebanon for beaches, history and a gorgeous marina.
Travelling Around Lebanon
Lebanon has short distances with easy-to-use buses to get around. Taxis here are shared, so expect the driver to pick up others en route. Buses are a cheap way of getting around the country and you can also hire a taxi to take you on a tour.
Solo Travel in Oman
Oman is a fantastic country for solo female travellers especially nature lovers. The country is bursting with heritage and welcoming hospitality. It really feels as though you have stepped back in time to a mystical place. Known for its architecture, history and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Oman also offers beaches, mountains and stunning wadis.
Most of this country is covered by desert, making it an interesting country to visit and in my opinion, it has some of the most beautiful places in the Middle East. Some of the most popular sites to see here are Wadi Bani Khalid, Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Nizwa Fort, Jebel Shams, Wadi Shab, and the Bimmah Sinkhole. The Muscat corniche is stunning too.
As one of the safe places to travel in the Middle East, expect to see other tourists here but you may not encounter many other solo females. The country is very safe and I felt extremely comfortable during my 2 weeks here. But as in all Muslim countries, dress conservatively and cover up at religious sites, especially the Grand Mosque.
Travelling Around Oman
There are buses in Oman from Muscat to Sur for example but it can be difficult to get around the country if you don’t have a car. There are buses from Muscat to Sur for example but to explore the sites of the country you either need a tour or to hire a car.
Rental prices are reasonably priced and come with a GPS system to navigate your way around. There are long distances between attractions, so if you’re not comfortable driving, consider taking a tour instead.
Solo Travel in Qatar
If you haven’t heard of Qatar before, you probably have this year due to the FIFA World Cup. Qatar has a sandy coastline, Souq Waqif to shop in and the Museum of Islamic Art. See the Al Zubarah Fort or walk along the Corniche (the coast) and spot the dhows.
Western women may get some attention in Qatar but it’s usually just curious stares. Aside from museums, beaches and desert safaris, you don’t need that long in Qatar but it is a good stopover for a few nights if you are flying with Qatar Airlines.
Travelling Around Qatar
Getting around Doha, the capital of Qatar, is easy on foot. There are buses, which will take you around the country as far north as Al Shamal. Taxis here are good and there are also limousines for those who want to travel in style.
Dhow boats are ancient Arabic boats found in the Red Sea and the Middle East. Traditionally used for fishing and other commercial activities, many are now used for tourism and dinner cruises along the river instead. In Qatar you can book a daytime or evening dhow cruise where you can also take a dip in the water or try your hand at fishing.
Solo Travel in Saudi Arabia
The oil-rich country of Saudi Arabia is a Mecca for pilgrims and those that come to see its vast desert plains. It's one of the best places to visit in the Middle East for Muslims who come for their annual pilgrimage. Saudi Arabia has now made visiting the country much easier with the application of an eVisa to enter. For women visiting, you no longer have to hire an abaya to completely cover yourself but it is still Saudi Arabia so you do need to follow their laws.
Locals are welcoming and the country is safe but just check the cultural norms before you go. The rock formations of Al Ula is the most visited and tourist destination in the country.
Getting Around Saudi Arabia
There doesn’t seem to be much of a public transportation system in the country except for a train system which links the capital, Riyadh, and Jeddah to religious and UNESCO sites. If you do take the train, expect to be sitting in a women-only area. Taxis are the best way of getting around. There are apps such as Bolt and Careem and you may be able to choose a woman driver.
Solo Travel in The United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven states. These include: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al Quwain.
Dubai is the most popular of the states and visiting here is super easy. Travel to Dubai and you'll discover gorgeous beaches, futuristic skyscrapers and year-round sunshine. This millionaires’ playground has everything and is scattered with pyramids, giant aquariums, a palm island and the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East.
More than 80 nationalities live in Dubai, making it the most cosmopolitan destination in the Emirates but you still need to remember it’s the Middle East and respect the laws such as no drinking alcohol in the streets (bars, clubs and restaurants are fine). All of the Emirates are extremely safe but Dubai is the most comfortable. Visit neighbouring Sharjah which is oozing with heritage and museums (you have to see the Rain Room here) and you will encounter some stares.
Abu Dhabi has a lot of interesting things to do, such as kayaking in the Eastern Mangroves, visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Falcon Museum, and a number of forts and palaces in its second city of Al Ain. In Al Ain, there’s also a camel souq and the Jebel Hafeet mountains are a short drive away.
Ras Al Khaimah is a great place to visit for those who like nature, mountains, hot springs and trekking, especially in the cooler months. Even in Fujairah, the landscape is rugged, with the bordering Hajjar mountains and many wadis to explore. Fujairah is also home to beaches, where you can go snorkelling and diving, and see the marine life in the UAE.
Both Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah are also interesting from a historical point of view, because there are old forts, mosques and museums. Umm Al Quwain is home to many beach resorts, with plenty of watersports and activities for the adventure and ocean solo.
Travelling Around The Emirates
Getting around the Emirates is relatively easy if you hire a car. If you prefer not to drive, you can hire taxis or use the Careem app to order a cheaper taxi. There are express coaches between Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al Ain, and ferries from Jebel Al Dhanna port to Delma Island in Abu Dhabi, as well as from Dubai Marina.
In Dubai, buses run frequently from the airport to Deira bus station. The hop on/hop off bus takes you to the old town and back to the new, or take a metered taxi for convenience. Palm Jumeriah also has a monorail that takes you to the Atlantis Palm. You can also arrange private cars to pick you up from the airport and it may even be a limousine!
Syria & Yemen
Both Syria and Yemen are unfortunately out of bounds at this current time due to the ongoing wars and humanitarian crises. For solo travel Middle East, I suggest different countries within the region.
N.b. Due to conflicts in some countries in the Middle East not every country is safe to travel to especially at the present time (August 2022). Check Foreign Advice before you travel. If I've inspired you to travel to the Middle East, click on the images at the end for the solo destination guides.
Best Places To Visit in The Middle East
- The Wahiba Sands in Oman
- Shopping in the souqs at Doha, Oman
- Visit the West Bank, Palestine
- Explore Petra, Jordan
- Float in the Dead Sea, Jordan/Israel
- Go clubbing in Beirut, Lebanon
- See the giant aquarium at Atlantis Palm, Dubai
- Stay in a Bedouin camp, Dubai
- Visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi
- Meander the lost streets of Old Jerusalem, Israel.
Seven Wonders of the World
- Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Iraq
- Petra in Jordan.
Middle East Itineraries
One Week Middle East Itinerary
- Israel – Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Eilat.
- Jordan – Amman, Jerash, Dead Sea.
- Lebanon – Beirut, Baalbeck.
- Emirates – Dubai.
2 Week Middle East Itinerary
- Israel – Tel Aviv, Golan Heights, Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, Masada, Dead Sea, Jerusalem.
- Jordan – Amman, Jerash, Dead Sea, Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba.
- Iran – Tehran, Yazd, Esfahan, Shiraz/Persepolis.
- UAE – Dubai, Abu Dhabi.