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Best things to do in Yemen

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Where in the world: Asia  /  Yemen

Top 15 things to do in Yemen

1. Bab al-Yemen, Sanaa

See the former southern gate of the Sana fortress at Bab al-Yemen, which today represents a bustling part of the city popular mainly among shoppers. The first version of the gate was built over a thousand years ago, but today's incarnation was constructed by the Turks in the 17th century. While mingling with hundreds of locals and tourists, pay attention to the gate's architecture and design, characteristic of Yemen. You can find all kinds of goods sold at the small market here--from fruits, spices, and different grains, to clothes, handmade dishes, and jewelry.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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2. Qalansiyah Beach, Socotra Island

Surrounded by jagged limestone mountains, Qalansiyah Beach offers white sand and turquoise water. You can choose to hike here or arrive by a short boat ride. Enjoy a dip in the clear water or don a snorkeling mask to notice an array of tropical fish swimming just below the surface. Look for tourist amenities and a campsite near Detwah Lagoon.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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3. Dar al-Hajar, Sanaa

Climb to the top of an enormous rock to visit Dar al-Hajar, an ancient Yemeni royal palace. Admire the traditional architecture, with five floors made of carved stone more than 700 years ago, and pay attention to the towers made of burnt brick, featuring white gypsum ornaments. Take a walk around the summer palace, and enjoy the view of the natural landscape that surrounds you.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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4. Old City, Sanaa

Step back in time and explore the World Heritage Site of Old City, the historic district of Yemen’s capital city, known for its distinctive architectural style and marked by picturesque old tower-houses. Made out of rammed earth, all of the multiple-story houses, mosques, and bathhouses have stood for more than 1,000 years, and boast intricate carvings, detailed lacy decorations, and stained glass windows. Get lost in the lively narrow streets and verdant courtyards of the old city, fringed by partially preserved ancient walls, or roam the stalls of the bustling marketplace, which offers traditional handicrafts and aromatic spices.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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5. Al Saleh Mosque, Sanaa

See Qurani verses carved into the stone walls of Al Saleh Mosque. The fusion of architectural styles, which they call Himyarite architecture, highlights the massiveness of the mosque while the combination of black, red, and white limestone, represents its significance. The main dome with wooden ornate roof is 39 m (about 127 ft) tall, and its minarets stand over 100 m (328 ft). Inside you'll see chandeliers with floral motifs as well as classrooms and libraries where students can study. The place is completely secure; you may even witness bomb-sniffing dogs.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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6. Shoab beach, Socotra Island

Find seclusion and serenity at Shoab beach, where you can unwind among pristine nature, far from the city crowds. Go swimming in the ocean, soak up the sunlight on the white sand, and enjoy the views of the turquoise waters. Climb up the mountain next to the beach for a superb view of the lagoon. However you spend your time, bring food and water since there are no shops or restaurants. You can extend your stay by pitching your tent on the campsite.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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7. Diksam, Socotra Island

See the ancient dragon blood trees at Diksam. Walk among the huge trees, dating back thousands of years, and learn about this species of plant, which starts as a little shrub and grows for centuries. It gets its name after the sap that resembles blood, and makes a favorite for bonsais. Consider bringing a picnic to enjoy underneath the broad canopy.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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8. Tawilah Tanks Crater, Aden

Admire the engineering ingenuity at Tawilah Tanks Crater, a favorite historic site in Aden. See the remaining 13 of the ancient 53 cisterns built to store rain while protecting the city from floods. What makes these tanks unique is the technique and the materials they employ: volcanic rocks combined with natural cement consisting of volcanic ash. Today, centuries later, they remain functional and can hold about 72 million liters (19 million gallons) of water.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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9. Dihamri Marine Protected Area, Socotra Island

Go diving at Dihamri Marine Protected Area to see coral and rich underwater life. Whether you snorkel or dive, you will come across colorful fish, turtles, lobsters, and other marine life. The biggest attraction is small sharks. The crystal-clear water provides great visibility for diving and also for swimmers. Due to strong currents, steer clear of the area's rocky beach; visit the sandy one instead. You can rent gear on site and try freshly prepared seafood dishes.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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10. Sira Fortress, Aden

More than 1,000 years old, Sira Fortress stands as witness to the development and the history of the country. From its hilltop position, the citadel fulfilled its defensive purpose, keeping at bay even the great army of Ottoman Sultan Selim I. See the remains of the once-glorious castle, and learn more about its most prosperous period, rulers, and the daily life of its citizens.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. Cairo Castle, Taiz

An 11th-century World Heritage Site, Cairo Castle has had great historical and strategic significance. Originally the residence of the ruler, the defense fortress perches on the highest point over the city of Taiz. Airstrikes in 2015 destroyed up to 30 percent of the castle, once a favorite with visitors who came to tour and watch the sunset. From its significant vantage point you can see Taiz, numerous mosques, and the mountains beyond.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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12. Arher Beach, Socotra Island

Admire the dramatic sand dunes and limestone cliffs rising from Arher Beach. You can try climbing the sandy crests for some memorable views from the top, but be careful since the sand is very soft. For more adventure, sandboard or parasail. Head to the eastern part of the island to see where the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea merge. From the cliffs, you'll see tiny streams flowing into the ocean.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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13. Delisha Beach, Socotra Island

See the large white dunes at Delisha Beach, where the seemingly endless sea makes a great starting point for exploring the island. The secluded and often solitary beach offers a quiet getaway for relaxation. You can take a dip in the water, or just spend time on the sand, reading a book and soaking up the sunshine. Visit the small restaurant nearby to taste the local specialties. If you wish to extend your stay overnight, check out the bungalows on site.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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14. Wadi Dirhur Canyon, Socotra Island

Take in the pristine nature at Wadi Dirhur Canyon, a limestone gorge in the middle of the surrounding mountain. Take a dip in the crystal clear pool, but pay attention on the slippery rocks. Explore the wider area to see many other smaller lakes and natural pools dotting the canyon. The palms and dragon blood trees create an exotic atmosphere.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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15. Souk Al-Milh, Sanaa

Step back in time at Souk Al-Milh, where you can mingle with the local crowd and feel the traditional energy of the city. Explore the colorful booths and vendors, and take in the pleasant aromas wafting through the air. Here you'll find anything from clothes and jewelry to local handicrafts, souvenirs, and spices. Don't miss out on the local food, and try the numerous street delicacies complemented with all kinds of herbs and spices.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Souk Al-Milh