Redeeming sights in the world's 'worst cities'

Redeeming sights in the world's 'worst cities'

These cities may have been ranked among the least liveable in the world, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing there worth seeing

Silver linings are to clouds what tourism is to bad cities.

Sure, there are some places that you probably wouldn't want to live. But that doesn't mean they're not worth visiting.

For every reason a government bureaucrat finds for issuing a travel advisory, a local will find another imploring you to book that ticket.

That doesn't mean travel warnings shouldn't be heeded. In the story below, we've included links to advisories where relevant.

But few places are ever as bad as they tell you it's going to be.

Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey for 2012 ranked these cities among the worst in the world, based on factors such as political stablity, law enforcement, education and natural environment.

We've come up with a few redeeming features for each, just in case you happen to be passing through.

Khartoum, Sudan

(217th most liveable out of 222)

Nile in KhartoumThis Nile isn't in Egypt, but Sudan.

Luxor and Aswan host a constant stream of travelers hoping to sail on a felucca or watch a Nile sunset.

For a different backdrop to your travel snaps, al-Mogran at Khartoum is where the White and Blue Niles converge before they snake through Egypt as one.

A boatyard offshore of Omdurman, on the western side of the Nile, lets you explore how traditional boats were made.

Getting there: You'll need a visa and at least US$500 to get into Sudan. Khartoum Airport is served by several main airlines and air hubs, in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Note: The U.S. Department of State warns of the risks of traveling to Sudan.

Sana’a, Yemen

(216th out of 222)

Sana'a old townSana'a means "fortified place" in Arabic -- some of the buildings here are nine floors high.

Of all UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, the old city of Sana’a is probably the least likely to be full of tourists. Just as well as it’s densely packed enough with narrow, multi-story residences and mosques.

Populated for more than 2,500 years, this part of the Arabian Peninsula also has some of the world's oldest Islamic architecture.

Getting there: Visas are hard to come by and are best arranged through a local travel agency, such as Arabian Voyages. Travel within Yemen is highly restrictive however. 

Various government authorities advise against any travel to Yemen.

Nouakchott, Mauritania

(joint 213th out of 222)

Fishermen with nets at NouakchottYou'll appreciate what it takes to get your fish to your plate when you watch these guys at work in Nouakchott.

In West Africa, Nouakchott’s coastal location makes it a good spot to see locals toiling away at one of Mauritania’s main industries -- fishing.

The boardwalks and wharves at vibrant Port de Peche late in the afternoon see fisherman come ashore, hauling in their nets.

The area doubles as a market.

Getting there: From Paris and Las Palmas (Spain) in Europe oyou can sly to Nouakchott. You ca also fly African cities Algiers (Algeria), Casablanca (Morocco), Bamako (Mali) and Tunis (Tunisia).

Note: The U.S. Department of State warns of the risks of traveling to Mauritania.

Tbilisi, Georgia

(joint 213th out of 222)

Tbilisi Abanotubani view up to Narikala Fortress From the domes of the Abanotubani's bath houses up to Narikala Fortress, there's your day in Tbilisi sorted.

A dip in the hot springs of Abanotubani is a popular pastime in the capital of this former Soviet state.

Bath houses offer public and private spaces and a vigorous scrub down from one of the stern-faced workers will revive you if the sulfur scent knocks you out.

The bath district is near the base of Narikala Fortress. The aerial tramway to the fortress can make for a more impressive ride than the destination, especially in the twinkling lights of the evening.

Getting there: Various European and Asian air hubs (London, Rome, Dubai and Doha, Qatar) offer direct flights to Tbilisi International Airport.

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

(212th out of 222)

Surrogate mother with bonobo in Lolo ya Bonobo park near KinshasaCalling fans of cute, cuddly creatures to stop by the Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary in Kinshasa.

Just across the river from Brazzaville in the other Congo -- which also ranks on the list as the seventh least liveable city -- Kinshasa has several unique features.

It’s the third largest city on the African continent and one of the biggest French-speaking cities anywhere.

Can you tell bonobos and chimpanzees apart? The Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary just outside Kinshasa is home to this breed of ape found nowhere else.

Getting there: Airports in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Addis Ababa and Casablanca serve Kinshasha from Africa, while flights from Europe can be booked from Paris, Brussels and Istanbul.

Note: The U.S. Department of State warns of the risk of traveling to the DRC.

Conakry, Guinea

(210th out of 222)

Suitcases for sale in ConakrySuitcases for sale: a sign that Conakry is keen to cater to travelers?

A short ferry ride off the coast of Guinea, the ring-shaped island chain of Iles de Los serves up green forest flanked by white sand beaches.

No surprise then that Roume Island in what’s known as Guinea’s "tropical paradise" is thought to have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, "Treasure Island."

These days, the archipelago shelters the port of Conakry and makes a quaint getaway from the city. In the 1800s, however, Roume was a point on the thriving slave route.

Getting there: Conakry has an international airport, served by various African airlines including Air Ivoire, Benin Golf Air and Royal Air Maroc and also European airlines Air France and Brussels Airlines.

Note: The U.S. Department of State warns of the risk of traveling to Guinea.

Lagos, Nigeria

(202nd out of 222)

Nigerian film titles in a Lagos storeNo Hollywood blockbusters in the pile, but plenty of Nigerian alternatives.

India's Bollywood film industry often gratifies tourists with bit parts, but we're not sure if Nigeria’s film industry -- "Nollywood" -- offers the same chance for fleeting fame.

Nevertheless the Festac area of Lagos is where lots of films are shot. Respite from Lagos's traffic can be found at Lekki Conservation Centre.

Crocodiles, monkeys and birds slink between walkable boardwalks over wetlands.

Getting there: Flights to Lagos can be booked from many international hubs, including Atlanta and Houston in the United States; London, Paris and Rome in Europe; and Doha, South Africa and Kenya elsewhere.

Note: The U.S. Department of State warns of the risk of traveling to Nigeria.

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