Best time to visit the Middle East

Visit in the springtime and you’ll be able to hike in the mountains and check out the ancient sites without the roasting temperatures or swarming crowds.
For optimum comfort it’s best to visit the Middle East in the spring or the autumn. The weather will be warm and dry and you’ll avoid the extreme heat, crowds and high prices of the summer months. The winter season varies from country to country but is generally chilly and rainy, and in Iran can be downright freezing, with icy streets and snow-blocked mountain roads. The main reason to visit at this time would be to see the spectacular Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, or to hit the ski slopes in Iran.

Egypt Weather Chart

 
MIN °C
MAX °C
RAIN (mm)
JAN
6
22
0
FEB
7
24
0
MAR
11
29
0
APR
16
34
0
MAY
20
38
1
JUN
22
40
0
JUL
23
40
0
AUG
23
39
0
SEP
21
38
0
OCT
17
34
1
NOV
11
28
0
DEC
7
24
0

Our top Middle East Holiday

Jordan highlights & camel safari, small group

Jordan highlights & camel safari, small group

Taste the real life of Bedouin at Mars on Earth, Wadi Rum!

From US $1915 10 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2019: 22 Mar, 31 Mar, 14 Apr
Helpdesk
Hello. If you'd like to chat about Middle East or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

The Middle East, month by month

March, April and May are a wonderful time to visit the region, with gorgeous temperatures for sightseeing and wildflowers blooming in many regions. In Iran this is high season, and late March/early April coincides with the ancient festival of Nowruz, which celebrates the Persian New Year and the coming of spring, when many places are closed for the celebrations. June, July and August are boiling, with temperatures getting up to the 40°Cs, which makes for pretty uncomfortable sightseeing around the historic and religious sites. This is doubly unpleasant as shorts and t-shirts are a no-no in many places and in Iran women must wear headscarves. Egypt and Israel’s Mediterranean beach resorts are packed out in June and July, with high prices to match. September and October are pleasant months to travel, with good hiking and biking conditions, though there are light rains in Israel and Palestine. If you want to see nesting sea turtles in Oman the best time to come is in August, September, October and November. This is also the best time for diving in Aqaba, Jordan, when the water is a warm 26°C and marine life is abundant, including eagle rays and turtles. Late November, December, January and February range from mild in Egypt, where you’ll need long sleeves by day and a jumper at night, to bitterly cold in Iran, especially in the mountains of the north and west. December can be busy in Egypt, Jordan and Oman due to Western holiday getaways, and Christmas in Bethlehem is extraordinary for Christians, with Midnight Mass held at St. Catherine’s and Manger Square packed with pilgrims. Ramadan is a month-long event in the Islamic calendar which shifts around slightly each year. In 2019 it begins on the 5th May and in 2020 on the 23rd of April. During Ramadan, it is forbidden to eat or drink in public between sunrise and sunset – although some restaurants may discreetly serve foreign tourists, and you can usually eat in private or in vehicles. After dark, be prepared for feasting. Be aware that Friday is the Islamic day of rest, and that Thursday and Friday are the weekend in Iran. Saturday and Sunday are normal working days.

What happens when in the Middle East

Danniell Saunders, from our supplier Encounters Travel, on visiting Egypt:
"What we often do, especially in the summer months if we’ve got a set itinerary and it’s really hot, is adapt the itinerary accordingly, so perhaps not visit the Valley of the Kings during the day when the temp peaks, but get everyone up two hours earlier and have them visit when it’s cooler and there’s no crowds. Things are subject to change, so be flexible."
Andrew Appleyard, from our supplier Exodus, shares his Jordan tips:
“Visiting Petra during the winter gives the sandstone a much more distinct colour variation whilst in the summer months of June, July and August it's virtually washed out. Also, different times of the day offer variations on light with the Treasury in shade during the morning and bathed in sunlight from around midday onwards. Getting up early, around 5am, is the best way to beat the crowds and the heat when visiting Petra.”
Anthony Horrobin, also from our supplier Encounters Travel shares his best time to go to Israel:
“Unless you particularly want to be in Israel for the religious festivities then I would avoid visiting during any of the main Islamic, Jewish or Christian holidays as certain sites may have limited opening hours and tourist numbers will be much higher.”

Festivals & events in the Middle East

‘Sham al-Naseem’ meaning ‘sniffing the breeze’ is celebrated by all Egyptians the day after Coptic Christian Easter, to mark the beginning of spring. People picnic on the banks of the Nile, there is music and dancing, shisha puffing and lots of shooting.

In late July and early August each year, Jordan’s ancient plazas, avenues and theatres provide an enchanting backdrop for the Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts, a major celebration of music, drama, dance, poetry, craftwork and fine art.

If you want to shake off any preconceptions that you have about Israel, head to the Midburn Festival in the Negev Desert. The country’s answer to the famous Burning Man Festival, it’s not a music festival, but a colourful, creative explosion that’s all about self-expression and community vibes.
Written by Nana Luckham
Photo credits: [Page banner: Marc Veraart] [Israel: John T] [Petra: Brian Kairuz]
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