Sudan's only major industrial port is the base for some of the world's most spectacular and undeveloped diving. Above the waves, sights are scarce – don't expect masses of historical buildings or sweeping beaches and translucent waters lapping your toes – but there's a laid-back atmosphere that's supremely enjoyable.
Wadi Halfa is the gateway to Aswan (Egypt) and a vital pit stop on the long road north. With the recent reopening of Sudan's land border with Egypt, business is thriving again between the two countries, and Wadi Halfa is now a booming town – far from than the backwater it used to be. Good news: it has kept its very relaxed, unhurried pace of life.
A Shangri-la for culture vultures, Kerma is one of the oldest inhabited towns in Africa and a place of immense historical importance. The area around Kerma has been occupied for at least 8000 to 10,000 years, but the town reached its peak around 1800 BC to 1600 BC, when it was capital of the Kingdom of Kush and an important trade centre during Egypt's Middle Kingdom.
This dusty Nile-side Nubian town boasts an extraordinary collection of ancient sites, which together have given the whole area Unesco World Heritage status. The majesty of Karima's past will probably remain with you for a long time. Its setting, too, is unforgettable, with the impressive Jebel Barkal lording over the town.
North of the Nuba Mountains, and still open to foreigners, is El-Obeid, a prosperous market centre. There are a couple of attractions, including a museum and a Roman Catholic cathedral, but the town is mostly a stop-off point between Khartoum and the Nuba Mountains (which are still off-limits to travellers).
One word: awesome. The one sight that is seen by almost all of Sudan's few visitors are the deeply romantic pyramids of Begrawiya (Meroe). Although they were declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2011, these splendid ancient structures have been largely overshadowed by their better-publicised Egyptian counterparts and remain so far a hidden treasure.