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North Africa

The ruins! The souks! The windsurfing! Take a breezy, aromatic, culturally rich escape to the top of the continent.


The Djemaa el-Fna night market in Marrakech.  


EGYPT
The dollar’s held relatively steady against the Egyptian pound, and everything’s cheap here anyway.

INDULGENCE INDEX
Alabaster vase: $20
Sunset felucca cruise: $12
Shisha water pipe: $2

Bottom-dollar Destination .......


Luxor
So mind-blowing are the royal tombs that stud Luxor’s dunes they transcend even the packed parking lots in the Valley of the Kings. Arrive at sunrise on the back of a donkey—a four-mile trip ($15) arranged by the owners at the friendly and unostentatious Hotel El Nakhil (from $25; 20-95-231-3922 or hotelsinluxor.com). Skip Tut’s tomb for the incredible colors of Ramses VI’s or the spectacular reliefs of Seti I’s. Let the fantastically grand Temple of Hatshepsut, set into the cliff just a dusty mile from the tombs, be your finale. Revert to the modern day for the ride home: Take a cab ($4; your donkey-tired butt will thank you), and sit on the hotel roof with a cool Sakara beer, watching the feluccas, with their sickle-shaped sails, float up the Nile.



Hotel Dar Dhiafa in Djerba  


TUNISIA
Its Roman ruins rival anything across the Mediterranean, and the dinar’s far kinder than the euro.

INDULGENCE INDEX
Round of golf: $62
Hand-painted pottery: $5
Bottle of Vieux Magon red wine: $8


Tabarka
From the Résidence Méhari (from $80; 216-78-670-184 or goldenyasmin.com), pinball between two of the country’s best-preserved Roman sites, Dougga and Bulla Regia, both located in the African Alps west of the capital. At Dougga, stroll the 2,000-year-old remnants of a theater and marketplace and stand in awe in front of the Corinthian-columned Capitoline Temple. Drive 90 minutes across the Teboursouk and Kroumirie ranges to Bulla Regia, renowned for its excavated underground living quarters, which let the Romans (and now you) beat the summer heat.

Djerba
You’ll probably miss the local Sephardic community’s post- Passover pilgrimage to El Ghriba Synagogue, but you can still admire the beautifully tiled and columned building. Less than a mile away, book one of the fourteen courtyard rooms at Hotel Dar Dhiafa (from $155; 216-75-671-166 or hoteldardhiafa.com). Day-trip it to nearby Guellala, famous for its colorful pottery. Or just borrow towels and hit any beach along the island’s glazingly sunny eastern coast.



MOROCCO
Granted, the dirham’s been creaming the dollar recently, but a more expensive souk is still just a souk.

INDULGENCE INDEX Antique metal lantern: $10
Seaweed wrap at a hammam: $16
Hour-long carriage ride: $10


Marrakech
Get happily lost in the mildly hallucinatory city’s labyrinthine alleyways, teeming with vendors selling colorful zellij tiles ($1), antique saddlebags ($50), and stacks of goat heads. The medina’s no quieter at nightfall, when snake charmers, acrobats, henna artists, and snail-soup sellers come down to the lantern-lit main square, Djemaa el-Fna. Five bucks buys you a break from the madness at the Seussian Majorelle Garden (now owned by Yves Saint Laurent; jardinmajorelle.com). Retire at the antique-filled Riad Malika (from $157; 212-24-38-5451 or riadmalika.com) in the heart of the medina.

Essaouira
Near-constant breezes off the Atlantic draw windsurfing aficionados from all over the world to Essaouira’s main, crescent-shaped bay. Club Mistral’s English- speaking instructors will gear you up ($190 for a six-hour lesson; clubmistral.com). Experts should point their sails 40 minutes south to the gustier Sidi Kaouki. Take the chill off by a log fire at the rustic Villa Maroc (rooms from $130; 212-24-47-3147 or villa-maroc.com), located just inside the town’s famous seawall.


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