As temperatures soar, why not bust out of Dubai and take a breather elsewhere?
1 Alexandria, Egypt From Dubai: Three hours 55 minutes. Prices from: Dhs545 one-way. Why go? For its laid-back Mediterranean feel, authentic Egyptian cafés and the Biliotheca Alexandria, which commemorates the library of its past – it was once the biggest in the world. Insider tip: Visit the Alexandria National Museum: it houses nearly 2,000 artefacts that narrate the story of Egypt. Stay: Sofitel Cecil Alexandria for a taste of history on the cheap (+20 3487 7173; www.sofitel.com).
2 Amman, Jordan From Dubai: Three hours 10 minutes. Prices from: Dhs415 one-way. Why go? For the spectacular ancient city of Petra with its pinkish-hued mountains, and the chariot racing in Jerash. Insider tip: Visiting Petra? Avoid touts who tell you it’s too far to walk from the main gate to Petra city – it’s only a 20-minute stroll. In the capital, eat superb street food at Reem Cafeteria (Jabal Amman, +962 6464 5725). Stay: Al Qasr Metropole Hotel for excellent city views from the restaurant (+962 6568 9671; www.alqasrmetropole.com).
3 Baku, Azerbaijan From Dubai: Two hours 55 minutes. Prices from: Dhs300 one-way. Why go? Several places here have been named UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Walled City of Baku, the Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower. Insider tip: Head to Fountain Square for the best clubs, and make sure you arrange your visa before arriving at the airport or you’ll be waiting in a queue for ages. Stay: Hotels are either pricey or terribly poky and cheap. See www.bakurealestate.net and try renting an apartment short-term.
4 Beirut, Lebanon From Dubai: Three hours 35 minutes. Prices from: Dhs650 one-way. Why go? Not only is Beirut’s lush mountainous landscape and architecture gorgeous, but the people are the world’s most professional partiers. Insider tip: Stay in Gemmayzeh and make an effort to get up in the morning to see the Jeita Grotto and Byblos. Where to stay: New hotel Le Gray Boutique for hip Lebanese glamour (+961 1 96 28 28; www.legray.com).
5 Colombo, Sri Lanka From Dubai: Four hours 30 minutes. Prices from: Dhs450 one-way. Why go? For vivid life and landscape – and great surf if you’re willing to travel further out of town. Insider tip: Head inland to the Pinawalla elephant orphanage (these animals are amazing). Also, tour the diverse coastal villages in the south. Stay: Mirissa Hills is a boutique hotel on a working cinnamon plantation (+94 773 290 999; www.mirissahills.com).
6 Damascus, Syria From Dubai: Three hours 20 minutes. Prices from: Dhs657 one-way. Why go? To step back in time. The Old Town is considered to be the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. Insider tip: Work in a trip to Craque de Chavalier. It’s a three-hour drive, but the scenery is amazing – you can even see Beirut. Stay: Get in touch with Dawn Group, which can organise accommodation, transfers, bespoke expeditions and entry fees. Visit www.dawnsyria.com.
7 Djibouti, Africa From Dubai: Three hours 15 minutes. Prices from: Dhs920 one-way. Why go? For superb beaches – those at Lake Assal are surrounded by black-lava cliffs and great underwater life in the Red Sea. Insider tip: Try Le Marché Central for shopping, followed by the Tropical Aquarium for exhibits direct from the Red Sea. Stay: The Residence de l’Europe for tradition and reasonable prices (+253 35 5060).
8 Istanbul, Turkey From Dubai: Four hours 55 minutes. Prices from: Dhs450 one-way. Why go? For a blast of cosmopolitan culture that will blow the summer cobwebs away.
The higgledy-piggledy architecture and beautiful Bosphorus are also fantastic. Insider’s tip: Artist Terrace restaurant is fabulous: a guitarist and singer play Turkish songs and by the end of the evening the whole restaurant is singing. It offers wonderful views over the city too (Cezayir Çıkmazı, +90 212 244 7018). Stay: The heavenly A’jia hotel – a refurbished Ottoman mansion located on the Asian side of the waters, although a speedboat will escort you across (+90 216 413 9300, www.ajiahotel.com).
9 Kabul, Afghanistan From Dubai: Two hours 55 minutes. Prices from: Dhs725 one-way. Why go? To support an economy recovering from war. You’ll obviously need to be cautious when travelling and do plenty of research beforehand, but it could be a very eye-opening experience. Insider’s tip: When we went to Kabul, we helped at a local orphanage with the Forgotten Victims of Afghanistan charity, founded by Dubai resident Natalie Carney. It was thoroughly rewarding. See www.afceco.org. Stay: Get in touch with Natalie on firstname.lastname@example.org for inside info on local options.
10 Kathmandu, Nepal From Dubai: Four hours 15 minutes. Prices from: Dhs350 one-way. Why go? This Himalayan valley amid the rugged terrain of Nepal is a key stop for any self-respecting traveller on the hippy trail: the landscape is unbeatable. Insider’s tip: To truly experience what the countryside has to offer, try a charter flight over the Himalayas. Each passenger is invited into the cockpit during the flight to check out mighty Mount Everest. Contact Buddha Air (www.buddhaair.com). Stay: The Dwarikas hotel boasts luxurious 15th-century antiquity (+977 147 0770; www.dwarikas.com).