The next public holiday is due to fall on Friday April 13, so seize the moment for a short break. Melanie Smith has 18 amazing options for a quick getaway
6 days, 5 nights Complete the “Golden Triangle” in India This trip from Al Rostamani Travel and Holidays offers the perfect way to take in the most impressive sights of India’s “Golden Triangle” of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. You’ll spend day one getting acquainted with the bustling metropolis that is Delhi, as well as visiting such monuments as the stunning India Gate, President House and Raj Ghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. You’ll then be driven to Agra where you’ll spend the night.
Day three will commence with a half-day tour of Agra, during which you’ll see the impressive Red Fort and take in the majestic beauty of the Taj Mahal, a mausoleum built as a symbol of Emperor Shah Jehan’s devotion to his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal. Day four will see you exploring the sights of Jaipur, or the “Pink City”, as it’s known, for its buildings made of pink sandstone. You’ll see the stunning Hawa Mahal and City palaces, as well as Albert Hall, modelled on London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. You’ll also experience an elephant ride at Amber Fort. On day five you’ll get to spend more time discovering Delhi at your leisure. Be sure to experience the city’s delicious cuisine and diversity of spices and flavours. Karim’s (+91 11 2250 6311) is one of the city’s most famous restaurants. It’s been serving since 1913, and dishes up renowned local favourites as mutton burra kebabs and tandoori chicken. On day six you’ll return home, belly full and culturally enriched. From Dhs1,360 per person (excluding flights). Ongoing. Three hours, 25 minutes to Delhi. Al Rostamani Travel and Holidays, www.alrostamanitravel.ae.
Marvel at the landscape of Azerbaijan The landscape of this mountainous country, with its rocky roads, mud volcanoes and waterfalls that seemingly appear out of nowhere, is magnificent. This all-encompassing trip features three nights in Baku and two nights in Gabala.
Day one is a free day, when you’ll be left to explore Azerbaijan’s bustling capital city. Gaze over the Caspian Sea with a stroll through Baku Boulevard and visit the Fountain Square.
Meet your tour guides on day two, who will take you to the famous, bubbling mud volcanoes of Gobustan, that feel otherworldly. You’ll get to take in the city’s modern architecture at the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre designed by the late Zaha Hadid, and you’ll visit the monuments of Ateshgah, which is more than five centuries old. This day will come to a dramatic end with you watching the natural phenomenon of Yanar Dagh, a natural gas fire that blazes continually and shoots three metres up into the air.
Day three will take you on a tour of Gabala, west of Baku. Sit by the tranquil turquoise waters of Nohur Lake, snap the views from Mount Tufandag, take your aim at Gabala Shooting Club and be mesmerised by the waterfall of Yeddi Gozel. You’ll get a free day in Gozel on day four and in Baku on day five. Do check out the capital city’s culinary scene. Sahil Restaurant (www.sahil-dining.az) serves up some authentic Azerbaijani food. From Dhs3,413 per person (excluding flights), Dhs4,348 (including flights). Ongoing. Three hours to Baku. Tajawal, www.tajawal.ae.
5 days, 4 nightsGo on safari in Kenya This adventure offered up by AFC Holidays will be your bucket list trip come true. You’ll begin your exploration of Kenya in its capital, Nairobi, where you’ll spend one night. Check out the city at your leisure and experience some fabulous cuisine – the traditional Nyama Choma (roast meat) should not be missed. For one of the most authentic experiences, try it at Kenyatta Market.
On day two, your adventure into the wild will begin, as you’re driven into the world-renowned Masai Mara. You’ll stop off at the Great Rift Valley Viewpoint to take a few snaps of the immense scenery, before arriving at your lodge. The afternoon will see you go on a short game drive to capture a snapshot of the animals in their natural habitat.
On day three, you’ll go on a full day’s game drive, where you’ll get to see the “big five” – lions, leopards, rhinoceros’ elephants and buffalos – as well as wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, cheetahs, spotted hyenas and more. You also have the option on this day to spend some time in a local Masai village to experience authentic food, dance and to learn about the people’s way of life. On day four, the trip will take you out to Lake Naivasha, a freshwater lake and the highest in the Rift Valley at 1,884 metres above sea level. Pink flamingos and hippos can be spotted here, against a stunning mountainous backdrop. Lastly, on day five, you’ll visit the spectacular Thompson’s Falls. This is a fascinating trip where you’ll get to truly appreciate nature in all its natural glory. From Dhs3,199 per person (including flights). Until Sep 25. Five hours, ten minutes to Nairobi. AFC Holidays, www.afcholidays.com.
Have a wildlife adventure in Sri Lanka If you still haven’t made the short hop over to Sri Lanka yet, this package from Tajawal could be just the ticket. The tour operator offers a four-night, five-day package that includes hotel accommodation and breakfast, airport transfers, two nights in Kandy, one night in Nuwara Ellya and one night in Colombo, with transfers between each place also included. And you can also book the package with, or without flights included.
You’ll also get to visit the elephant orphanage. Watch them be bottle-fed and lark around in the water at bath time. Check into your chosen hotel and enjoy a cultural show featuring traditional Sri Lankan dance in the evening. On day two, you’ll get to see the Unesco World Heritage Site that is Kandy. You’ll visit the lush and colourful Peradeniya Botanical Garden, drive around Kandy Lake, shop at the bazaar for arts and crafts and visit a gemstone museum. You’ll get a potted history of this impressive tourist haven from your guides, while you explore, too.
On day three, in Nuwara Eliya, you’ll visit a tea plantation and get to enjoy a fresh cup of pure Ceylon. Day four comprises a city tour of the capital, Colombo, where you’ll get to haggle in the souks and take in some impressive monuments, before departing on day five. The perfect introduction to the beautiful island. From Dhs2,739 per person (excluding flights), from Dhs4,661 (including flights). Ongoing. Four hours, 30 minutes to Colombo. Tajawal, www.tajawal.ae.
Island-hop in Greece Indulge your high school fascination with Greek Mythology on a trip to the ancient city of Athens.Your five-day trip with AFC Holidays will begin here and first take you through the ancient ruins of the 3,000 year old city. Marvel at the Panathenaic Stadium, where the first-ever Olympic Games were held. You’ll also visit the monumental Acropolis. This first day will take you to The National Garden, Hadrian’s Arc and the New Museum, too. Old Parliament and Constitution Square are also on the agenda. Athens offers a great chance to sample some of the country’s delightful cuisine. Stop off at Spondi (www.spondi.gr), near the Panathenaic Stadium, to enjoy two Michelin-starred Greek classics.
Day two will be the start of your three days of island-hopping. Your first stop will be the magical Mykonos. Visit the island’s traditional, white-washed villages, bask in its laid-back vibe on the white sandy beaches by day and revel in its buzzing St-Tropez-meets-Ibiza nightlife scene later on. Paradise Beach is one of the most famous spots and home to the ever-popular Cavo Paradiso (www.cavoparadiso.gr). It’s a top spot for a party, or for more chilled vibes, try Caprice (www.capriceofmykonos.com), set in Little Venice, one of Mykonos Town’s most picturesque spots.
Day three will take you to the Turkish territory of Kusadasi and Patmos, both filled with ancient monuments that you can take an optional tour to explore. Day four will take you to Greece’s largest island, Crete, where you’ll get to bathe on the stunning beaches, wander through the Cretan countryside and explore the history of the island’s ancient civilisation. After Crete, you stop off in the legendary Santorini, famous for its multi-coloured cliffs, stunning panoramas, romantic sunsets and volcanic sand beaches. Take it all in before your cruise leaves to take you back to Athens for your flight home. Prices include flights, hotel stay, cruise, airport transfers, four breakfasts, three lunches and three dinners.
A real bargain, if you ask us. From Dhs5,699 per person (including flights). Ongoing. Five hours, five minutes to Athens. AFC Holidays, www.afcholidays.com.
Relax in Zanzibar If you’re in desperate need of some real rest and relaxation, away from the hustle and bustle of the UAE, this package holiday to Zanzibar from Al Rostamani Travel and Holidays could be just the ticket. The Tanzanian island will feel like a tropical retreat as you relax and take stock in your secluded lodgings. Lounge in the sun and swim in the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.
When you’re ready to start moving, be sure to visit the Unesco World Heritage Site of Site that is Stone Town in the old city, which you can do as a guided tour as part of this package. It’s more than 200 years old and is the cultural hub of the island. Explore the narrow alleyways and labyrinthine streets and get a snapshot of Zanzibar’s history with a visit to Livingstone’s House, where British explorer Dr David Livingstone lived before commencing his last journey into the interior of Africa. The Peace Memorial Museum has sections on archaeology, early trade, slavery, palaces, mosques, sultans and explorers, plus traditional crafts and household items. The package is half-board and also includes flights and airport transfers. It’s perfect for a lazy sojourn if all you need is to recharge and feel refreshed. From Dhs4,125. Ongoing. Five hours, 50 minutes to Zanzibar. Al Rostamani Travel and Holidays, www.alrostamanitravel.ae.
Snorkel in the Seychelles Al Rostamani Travel and Holidays offers a number of options for trips to the Seychelles, but the fun-packed, reasonably priced five-day, four-night option sounds good to us, since you get to kick back, chill and see the beauty that the island has to offer. You’ll spend the first two days in Mahe at your leisure and then embark upon a full day’s tour of the island, with trekking, beach time, lunch and snorkelling all included – and this is one of the most idyllic spots for the sport.
Day four is again spent at your leisure, when you can check out the Seychelles’ capital city Victoria. Visit the covered market, where you’ll be able to pick up colourful sarongs, local herbs and spices and see a huge variety of fresh fish from parrotfish to barracuda. This deal is half-board, with four night’s accommodation in an Ocean View Chalet, flights and airport transfers, as well as your full-day excursion all included.
Leave the stress of your normal life behind or just let the Indian Ocean wash it away. From Dhs3,499 per person (including flights). Ongoing. Four hours, 36 minutes to Mahe. Al Rostamani Travel and Holidays, www.alrostamanitravel.ae.
See the majestic Himalayas On this inspiring five-day adventure in the Himalayas with Al Rostamani Travel and Holidays, your head will literally be in the clouds. Day one will be spent in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city, where your guide will meet you at the airport with welcome drinks for your arrival. On day two, you’ll make the ascent by car to the magnificent Pokhara, a place of incredible natural beauty, 900 metres above sea level. Take in the stunning panorama of the beautiful Phewa Lake and the Himalayan peaks including Machapuchare, the “fish tail” mountain.
You’ll spend the night in Pokhara, and on day three, you’ll head out before dawn to see the sun rise over Sarangkot hill, the most popular viewing point in region. It offers magnificent views over Mount Machapuchare, Dhaulagiri and the rest of the Annapurna Massif.
Later, the excursion will take you to Pokhara’s traditional old, Devi’s Fall and finally on a boat trip in Phewa Lake, before returning you to Kathmandu in the morning. Spend this final day exploring the city, including a number of Unesco World Heritage Sites and classical monuments. This package offers a great introduction to the Himalayas. It might even inspire you to scale Mount Everest yourself. You never know. From Dhs1,100 per person (excluding flights). Ongoing. Four hours, ten minutes to Kathmandu. Al Rostamani Travel and Holidays, www.alrostamanitravel.ae.
4 days, 3 nightsCheck out the monuments of Armenia Delight in authentic cuisine and visit the country’s many monuments, ancient buildings and fortresses. The trip begins in the “pink city” of Yerevan, known as such because of its buildings made of volcanic rocks naturally coloured pink. The morning you’ll spend at leisure exploring the historic city and monuments designated a Unesco World Heritage Site.
There’s the History Museum of Armenia to explore, as well as the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial – a powerful monument paying tribute to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Then head to Republic Square and the Opera House for spot of culture. Dinner is included on this day, and you’ll get to sample some seriously tasty traditional dishes.
On day two, you’ll embark upon a day of serenity, with an excursion to the picturesque Lake Sevan. Elevated 1,900 metres above sea level, it’s one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world (though, we’re not sure that means you should sit and gulp from it). You’ll be served lunch here, before you head on to the “Little Switzerland” of Armenia, Dilijan, a spa town. It’s the ultimate place for relaxed pampering. From Dhs1,399 per person (including flights). Until Aug 10. Three hours, 30 minutes to Yerevan. AFC Holidays, www.afcholidays.com.
Explore Istanbul in Turkey On this city break you’ll stay in at the four-star Hilton Garden Inn Istanbul Golden Horn Turkey, with breakfast included every day. This deal with dnata travel features one free night, too. Be sure to take in the city’s sights while you’re here including the iconic Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the “blue mosque”) and the Ottoman Topkapı Palace. Dine at Khorasani (hamdi.com.tr) for some of the city’s most authentic kebabs, or head to the trendy Beyoğlu district for an livelier experience at Krependeki Imroz (+90 212 249 9073). You’ll get fresh mezze, fish and grills as part of a fixed menu, which includes beverages. Dhs1,725 per person (based on two adults sharing, including flights). Until Sep 30. Four hours, 55 minutes to Istanbul. dnata travel, www.dnatatravel.com.
Lap up luxury in Amman Dnata travel has a spectacular offer on the table if you want to experience the vibrancy and overall coolness of Jordan’s capital city. For just Dhs2,160 you’ll get to stay at the impressive five-star Grand Hyatt Amman. The price reflects a 15 percent discount on the usual room rate and includes a free upgrade to a Club Room. While here, check out the city’s ancient sights, including the Citadel and Roman amphitheatre, and stop off in the shops and market stalls nearby to snap up some great souvenirs as well as silver jewellery and semi-precious stones. There are some great bars and restaurants to check out along Rainbow Street, as well as in Downtown. Hashem (+962 6463 6440) boasts some authentic Jordanian cuisine. Be sure to try the falafel, hummus and foul, which the locals come here for in droves. Dhs2,160 per person (based on two adults sharing, including flights). Until Sep 30. Three hours, 20 minutes to Amman. dnata travel, www.dnatatravel.com.
Meander through the streets of Moscow A visit to Russia’s majestic capital city will fill you with awe. From the colourful, ornate buildings to the food served in its restaurants, Moscow is a truly dazzling city to discover. On this four-day adventure with AFC Holidays, you’ll get to see many of the famous buildings, including Red Square and The Kremlin. There are also optional tours on days two and three, which will introduce you to many of the city’s older monuments as well as the Matryoshka Doll Museum to discover the artistry that’s a symbol of Russia (and great for souvenirs). You’ll also get to wander around the completely underground, three-storey, Okhotny Ryad mall. The package includes return flights, three breakfasts, airport transfers and all taxis, however, there is an additional supplement for the optional tours. From Dhs2,199 per person (including flights). Until Oct 19. Five hours, 25 minutes to Moscow. AFC Holidays, www.afcholidays.com.
Revive in the Maldives The all-inclusive short break in the Maldives from dnata travel will see you stay in the four-star Eriyadu Island Resort on a full-board basis, so you can enjoy all the resort has to offer, worry-free. The picturesque setting, in the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, is the perfect backdrop to just drift away. Snorkelling is highly recommended here, too, in the crystal clear waters. The price includes a 20 percent discount, so you’ll be quids-in with this one. Dhs3,350 per person (based on two adults sharing, including flights). Until May 31. Four hours, 37 minutes to Male. dnata travel, www.dnatatravel.com.
Try watersports in Jordan Discover the coastal city of Aqaba in Jordan with this package from Musafir, with flights, airport transfers, breakfast and city tours all included.
On day one, you’ll get to relax. On day two, your tour guide will drive you into the city to explore the markets. Since there are plenty of resorts offering watersports here, you can also try your hand at windsurfing, snorkelling or evening diving at the stunning Yamanieh coral reef. A trip to the Aqaba Fort and archaeology museum is also encouraged on your own.
On day three, there’s an optional tour to Petra. The “Red-Rose City” is magnificent, so taking this option is highly recommended. You’ll learn about the ancient Nabatean civilisation that carved this stunning city into the red rocks and you’ll get to snap the recognisable Al Khazneh or The Treasury – famously the portrayed in Indian Jones and the Last Crusade – and the 3,000 seat amphitheatre among other sites in this spectacular, must-see location. Flights, transfers, hotel accommodation of your choice, breakfast and tours are all included. We’ll see you there. From Dhs999 per person (including flights). Until May 31. Three hours, 20 minutes to Amman. Musafir, www.musafir.com.
Walk the stunning beaches of Tangalle in Sri Lanka This is one for if you really want to experience tropical beach perfection at the fraction of the cost. With this offer from dnata travel, you’ll get to spend three nights in sheer luxury at the five-star Anantara Peace Haven.
While here, visit Tangalle beach, with its turquoise waters, palm trees and expansive stretch of white sand. Experience the most breathtaking sunset (or even sunrise) imaginable here. It’s picture-perfect and the memories will last you a lifetime. Dhs2,112 per person (based on two adults sharing, including flights). Until Jun 30. Four hours, 15 minutes to Colombo. dnata travel, www.dnatatravel.com.
3 days, 2 nightsDiscover history in Tbilisi, Georgia Georgia is a cultural wonder and nowhere is this more true than of its capital city Tbilisi. It offers a charming mix of the old and the new, and with Tajawal’s two-night, three-day package, you’ll get to pack in an exploration of its rich history.
Day one is a free day, where you’ll get to roam around and take in the stunning architecture, exquisite cuisine and lush landscapes at your leisure.
On day two, you’ll meet with your guide who will take you around the Old Town of Tbilisi, home to many ancient buildings and monuments. Then make the ascent to Narikala Fortress, a fourth century Persian citadel, where you’ll get to enjoy the breathtaking, panoramic views of the city from up high and the Kura River, as it winds through. You’ll meander through Freedom Square – where Georgia gained its independence – eat at some top restaurants in the area and visit the huge park that lies on the other side of the Mtkvari River.
This tour will give you a great overview of the old city and whet your appetite for what more Georgia has to offer. Breakfast and hotel transfers are included, so make the most of your three-day trip here. From Dhs951 per person (excluding flights), from Dhs1,895 (including flights). Ongoing. Three hours, 30 minutes to Tbilisi. Tajawal, www.tajawal.ae.
Go all out and splash outBe enchanted by Egypt The 14-night Enchanting Egypt package with Discover Egypt is a full-board package that offers great value for money if you want to immerse yourself in the ancient sites of Egypt, for a full two weeks. You’ll also get a tour guide who’ll talk you through all the ancient sites you’ll be seeing.
The trip begins in the vibrant and bustling city of Cairo, with a three-night stay in Giza, in a hotel overlooking the Pyramids, of which you’ll get a guided tour of, finishing off at the Sphinx of Giza. As part of this portion of the trip, your guide will also take you out bar car to the even older pyramids of Sakkara, which have some of the most well-preserved inscriptions of hieroglyphics.
You’ll also go on an excursion to the Egyptian Museum, where you’ll see the famous burial mask of Tutankhamun, which is made of solid gold and lapis lazuli. It also houses a room full of other treasures buried with the Pharaoh.
Next, visit Cairo’s famous Khan El Khalili market and sip tea in El Fishawy – a café that’s more than two centuries old, and Cairo’s oldest. The tour will then take you on a seven-night cruise of the Nile, with a stop-off at Aswan and a trip to see the sun rise over Abu Simbel and to marvel at the incredible colossal statues of Ramses II.
Following the cruise you’ll get to take in the ancient monuments of Luxor, which is like an open-air museum, and the Valley of the Kings and Queens, before finally heading to the Red Sea resort of Hurghada for four nights to relax and let it all sink in. This is a truly mesmerising trip that will stay with you forever. From Dhs7,100 per person (including flights). Three hours, 55 minutes to Cairo. Discover Egypt, www.discoveregypt.co.uk.