As National Day approaches, it’s the perfect time to plan a last-minute getaway
So you’ve ticked off Oman and Sri Lanka and you’re wondering where to go now we know it’s going to be a five-day weekend at the start of December. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. The great thing about living in Dubai is that we’re within a four-hour flight of a third of the world’s population. Why not make the most of it by visiting some lesser known – but still amazing – places?
Here are 10 interesting destinations to add to your travel bucket list…
1. Salalah, Oman
Flight time: 2 hours
Why visit? Muscat and Musandam are well-trodden paths for Dubai-based mini-breakers, but travel further down the coast and you’ll discover an emerald green paradise (with cooler temperatures, too – perfect for escaping the UAE heat). Although Salalah is surrounded by desert, white sand beaches and plantations of bananas and papaya give this holiday spot a tropical vibe.
2. Beirut, Lebanon
Flight time: 3 hours 50 mins
Why visit? If you’re looking for a party, Beirut is only too happy to play the host. Lebanon’s capital is home to some of the best nightlife in the Middle East, from nightclubs housed in former bomb shelters to train stations converted into cocktail bars. Spend a night bar-hopping your way around the hipster hotspots in the trendy suburbs of Badaro and Mar Mikhael.
3. Baku, Azerbaijan
Flight time: 3 hours
Why visit? Azerbaijan’s eccentric capital was once described by Lonely Planet as the “architectural love child” of Paris and Dubai. As well as its outlandish modern creations, you’ll find ancient wonders in Baku’s Old City, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are also plenty of quirky museums to get lost in, like the Museum of Miniature Books, and the Carpet Museum.
4. Yerevan, Armenia
Flight time: 3 hours
Why visit? Armenia’s capital is often referred to as the “pink city” thanks to the rose hue of the stone used in many of its buildings. It’s one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, so history buffs will love it here. You can also visit Swan Lake, where rapper Kanye West famously took a dip during an impromptu concert back in 2015.
5. Tbilisi, Georgia
Flight time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Why visit? Charming is a word that often pops up when describing Georgia’s capital – think cobbled streets, pastel-coloured houses and tree-lined avenues. This place is getting a serious reputation as a foodie destination, and the best way to discover it is by booking yourself on one of the many food tours on offer – don’t leave without trying khachapuri, the cheesy national delicacy.
6. Esfahan, Iran
Flight time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Why visit? If your Instagram feed has been looking a little drab recently, Esfahan’s pretty blue-tiled buildings and Persian gardens are sure to liven things up. The city is a treasure trove of mosques, including the Imam Mosque, which is considered one of the most beautiful mosques in Iran.
7. Amman, Jordan
Flight time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Why visit? Jordan might be best known for its ancient city of Petra, but you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained in the thriving capital. Rainbow Street is a popular hangout, with lots of great cafes, restaurants and shops. Or for more historical vibes, you can check out the striking Roman Theatre, which dates back to the second century.
8. Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Flight time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Why visit? Tajikistan is one of the smallest countries in Central Asia, but there’s still plenty to see and do. The capital boasts its fair share of parks, museums, and landmarks, including the world’s second-tallest flagpole. You can spend a couple of hours working on your haggling skills at Korvon Bazaar, or catch a game of the rather grim national sport, buzkashi – also known as “dead goat polo”.
9. Hyderabad, India
Flight time: 3 hours 40 minutes
Why visit? In recent times Hyderabad has emerged as a major tech hub, but tourists have long been charmed by its Old City, a walled city built in 1591. Hyderabad is also a great place to shop for jewels, and has earned itself the lovely nickname “City of Pearls”. Pick up some bling at the popular Laad Baazar market.
10. Larnaca, Cyprus
Flight time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Why visit? Ok, we hope you’ll forgive us the extra 15 minutes of travel time, because this destination is too good to leave off the list. The island is split into Turkish and Greek halves, which means you can dip into two separate cultures in the one trip. If you’re into diving, in Larnaca be sure to check out the Zenobia shipwreck – it’s said to be one of the best dive sites in the world.