Jerusalem and Tel Aviv took top rankings in this year’s Travel+Leisure magazine ‘Best Cities’ list in the Middle East and Africa category. The New York magazine readers’ poll is a point of reference by which all things travel-related are judged.

Cape Town was rated the best city in the world for traveling. Jerusalem came in second and Tel Aviv locked in at third. Rounding out the Top Five were Cairo and Dubai, respectively.

Israel regularly tops travel destination surveys. In 2010, Lonely Planet named Tel Aviv third in a list of the world’s best cities.

In the Travel+Leisure poll, readers were asked to rate cities according to various criteria including sites, culture and art, food and restaurants, shopping, travel costs, etc.

The two-three ranking shows that Israel is both a country of great religious and historical significance (Jerusalem) and a place that takes leisure, entertainment and beach culture very seriously (Tel Aviv).

The Israeli Ministry of Tourism reported that during the first half of 2011, 1.6 million tourists visited the country. The month of June marked a new record, with 262,000 visitors to the country.