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Tunis, Istanbul top Middle East city rankings for 'mindful travelers'

Nine cities from the broader Middle East and North Africa region, including four in Turkey, made it into a ranking of the world's top cities for “mindful travelers."
wimmers enter the water in the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul's Bebek district on July 29, 2022. - Istanbul, a historic megalopolis of 16 million people resting between two continents and two sea, does not bring to mind immediate images of a beach resort. But just like the locals of New York, Beirut and a handful of other global cities, Istanbulites can swim all summer long and return home on the metro with salt layering their skin, sand trapped under their sandals. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP) (Photo by OZAN K

There are only a few cities that appeal to “mindful travelers” in the Middle East and North Africa region, according to a recent index. Tunis, Istanbul and Tel Aviv are the top three.

Travel website released its “2023 City Index for Mindful Travelers” last week. It ranks 167 cities worldwide based on 28 diverse factors linked to sustainability, including the destination's popularity, accommodation and transportation availabilities, air quality and cost.

In the Middle East and North Africa region, only a handful of cities have managed to qualify for the list and Tunis stands as the top for mindful travelers, the index shows. 

“Tunis, Tunisia, landed a very attractive first place in our rankings for this region, and for many good reasons,” the website reads, citing various factors including relatively cheap flights depending on the season and a wealth of local markets. 

Tel Aviv follows Tunis "primarily because it's making strides on the transport front,” it reads, adding that in addition to plenty of charging stations for electric vehicles, the city is also “bike friendly.”

Dubai, the third top city in the region, “offers a good number of cultural attractions and local markets to visit,” according to the index. 

Abu Dhabi and Cairo are the other MENA cities that made their way into the rankings. 

Turkey, which is listed under the Europe category, has four of its cities in the index, albeit with poor rankings in comparison to their many European peers. Istanbul seems to be its most “travel-friendly city” ranking 63rd in the region, just below the Romanian capital Bucharest and above the Bulgarian capital Sofia. 

Turkey’s Aegean coastal city of Izmir and Mediterranean resort of Antalya follow Sofia. The country's much less touristic capital Ankara also placed in the rankings. However, it stands out as the last European city for mindful travelers, with its regional ranking standing at 70.      

The cities’ rankings from highest to lowest with their global placements are as follows:

Tunis: 101st

Istanbul: 107th

Tel Aviv: 113rd

Dubai: 124th

Izmir: 129th

Abu Dhabi: 131st

Antalya: 133rd

Cairo: 151st

Ankara: 158th

Worldwide, the Netherlands have the first two spots with Rotterdam first and Amsterdam following. The Austrian city of Graz is number three. 

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