North Africa is the northern part of the African continent and made of six countries sharing their borders with the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

Starting from the west you have Western Sahara, followed by Morocco and Algeria. Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt are on the eastern side of the continent.

Top Cities

  • Alexandria — Egypt’s major Mediterranean city is a pale shadow of its former glorious self but remains a major tourism site
  • Algiers — the capital of Algeria with a notable medieval casbah
  • Cairo — the largest city in Africa with major monuments of Ancient Egypt nearby
  • Casablanca — the largest city in Morocco is of sparse interest to the traveler but is a major transit point
  • Marrakech — this historic Moroccan city close to the foothills of the Atlas Mountains is an extraordinary meeting of the ancient and modern
  • Tripoli — Libya’s capital was long off-limits to most travelers but is experiencing a real resurgence of interest
  • Tunis — the capital of Tunisia is a relatively small and sleepy city but is the gateway to the remains of Carthage and other very notable historical sites
  • El Aaiún — the capital city of the disputed territory of Western Sahara


Besides the biggest cities listed above, the other tourist-friendly destinations are:

  • Canary Islands (Spain)
  • Madeira Islands (Portugal)
  • Madera Islands
  • Melilla
  • Ceuta
  • Bi’r Tawīl — a small piece of land between Egypt and Sudan; one of few territories on Earth not claimed by any country

Things To Do & See

Among all the North African countries, Algeria is the largest of them all. It is followed by Libya and Egypt.

Cities like Marrakech are popular attractions in Northern Africa. Marrakech is an old town filled with the architecture of the Berber period. Fes screams of the old-school culture of the fourteenth century.

Enjoy the busy marketplace called “ Souks” here. The metropolitan capital of Tunisia, called Tunis, is a change from the medieval atmosphere.

There are many opportunities for the active traveler. You can trek up to Toubkal, the highest peak in the Atlas mountains. You can dive into the waters of the Red Sea, home to the best scuba diving spots found in the area.

Witness the oldest wonders of architecture – the Pyramids. Rest in Egypt’s peaceful Siwa Oasis.

Egypt is visited for its ancient Egyptian heritage and monuments. The most famous of these monuments are the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. Cairo is deemed as the biggest city in Africa (in terms of size). You can find many iconic Egyptian landmarks here.

Tripoli was an unsafe destination, but as of late, it has become an interesting spot for travelers. Tunisia does not hold much interest for an international traveler, but the capital, Tunis, has many historical spots around the city.

Algiers is the capital city of Algeria. It is brimming with culture and it still holds on to its heritage. The old Casbah in the city is evidence of the faded glory of the capital.

Tourists visiting North Africa love Morocco. Morocco’s capital Casablanca (doesn’t have much to do but) provides a base for traveling around the country.

Marrakech, a former imperial city in western Morocco, is another popular destination in Morrocco. This is a city with a major economic center and home to mosques, palaces, and beautiful gardens. The perfect definition of sustainable development is reflected here.

The Atlas Mountains provide the scenic backdrop required to elevate the magic of the city. Though North Africa is notorious for its heat, Mount Atlas offers you skiing and hiking options in the winter.

In Tunisia, Carthage has a museum, which can be of interest history buffs. It has collections of the Roman era. 

Ghat may be an adventurous destination in Libya. It has dense golden sands, which are hard to hike on. These sands will lead you to rock caves which are thousands of years old. Abu Simbel is a quaint town with Egyptian temples of the medieval era.

Must Visit Destinations

  • Abu Simbel — a very remote area in far south Egypt, with some beautiful ancient temples
  • Carthage — a Phoenician colony in Tunisia and the biggest trade metropolis of the antique world; famously razed by the Romans and the remnants are now encased in a museum
  • El-Oued El Oued — in Algeria with its domed architecture & nearby Grand Erg Oriental — the Sahara’s second largest dune field
  • Ghat — an ancient settlement in southwest Libya with prehistoric rock paintings and very challenging desert trekking
  • High Atlas — hiking, skiing and Berber culture amongst these peaks and valleys in Morocco
  • Leptis Magna — extensive Roman ruins in Libya
  • Matmata — the desert village in Tunisia of cave abodes, where Star Wars’ Tatooine was filmed
  • Merzouga and M’Hamid — from either of these two settlements in Morocco at the edge of the Sahara, ride a camel or 4×4 into the desert for a night (or a week) among the dunes and under the stars
  • Valley of the Kings — the great site of Ancient Egypt


Arabic is spoken in North African countries. The second language of most countries is either French or English.

Many people in North Africa, especially in Algeria and Morocco, speak Berber as their first language.

Culture of North Africa

North Africa, as a region is very different from the countries to the South. The people and culture are Arabic, the food is different, and Islam is the dominant religion.

Many organizations now group North Africa and the Middle East together as MENA (the Middle East North Africa) because North Africa has much more in common with countries like Syria or Jordan than countries like Mali or Ivory Coast.

Safety Tips

Avoid drinking untreated ground water.

Avoid Libya, southern Algeria, the Sahrawi areas of Western Sahara, and southern Tunisia due to the risk of armed conflict or insurgent violence.

March 8, 2017 4:44 pm Published by

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