Great escapes

Jet away for a cool escape, without a seven-hour flight. Here's where to try

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Paphos, Cyprus

Average August temperature: 34°C

Flying time to Larnaca: 3h40m

Flights: from Dhs2,400 with www.travelcity.com

Why go there: Far closer than the other Greek islands, southern Cyprus is so family friendly it’d be rude not to take advantage of the short flying time. Paphos is packed with hotels offering kids’ clubs and big swimming pools, but we recommend hiring a car so you can explore the island on your own terms, leaving the madding crowds in the dust. The dramatic, rugged coastline boasts myriad beaches, but there’s also more culture here than you can shake a buggy at. Venture into the Troodos Hills and you’ll find dusty white villages housing little cafés, shops and churches aplenty – the pure foreignness can’t fail to wow the whole family. Plus the fresh, delicious grub features familiar dishes like houmous and kebabs that little ones (hopefully) won’t be phased by.


Cairo, Egypt

Average August temperature: 27°C

Flying time to Cairo: 3h45m

Flights: from Dhs2,500 per person with www.ebookers.com

Why go there: Fantastic for families who want something a little more active than a week on the beach with a bucket and spade, Cairo is positively bursting with things to do and sights to see. It’s an incredibly lively city, and the hustle and bustle could be intimidating to tots, but slightly older, more adventurous kids will love the atmosphere – there’s nowhere else like it. Of course, a holiday here wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Pyramids, which are close to the city itself. Once you’ve whetted the kids’ appetites with that, you can while away a good half-day at the Egyptian Museum, which houses 27 royal mummies.


Beirut, Lebanon

Average August temperature: 32°C

Flying time to Beirut: 2h15m

Flights: From Dhs1,500 per person with www.ebookers.com

Why go there: Even the most determined child will be unable to bemoan their boredom here, in the ‘Paris of the Middle East’ – there are tons of parks, squares and museums to visit. Further afield, why not check out the stunning Jeita Grotto, which has a river running through its crystallised limestone caves. Beirut also provides a good opportunity to educate your kids about war – bombsites still abound – but within an incredibly warm, welcoming and, most importantly, peaceful atmosphere.


Jordan

Average August temperature: 32°C

Flying time to Amman: 2h40m

Flights: From Dhs1,400 per person with www.airarabia.com

Why go there: Jordan is a small country, so getting around is easy. There are several draws: fairytale-pretty Petra, the ancient city carved into the cliffs, is one of the new wonders of the world. Water babies can snorkel in the Red Sea at Aqaba or bob around in the Dead Sea where, at 1,371m below sea level, the water’s so salty that everyone floats. Elsewhere, the spectacular landscape of Wadi Rum is perfect for camping, horse riding or trekking. Jordan will not disappoint.


Salalah, Oman

Average August temperature: 28°C

Flying time to Salalah: 1h30m

Flights: From Dhs1,600 per person with www.airarabia.com

Why go there: It’s blissfully small – so bid farewell to that most horrific of questions, ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ Cultural sites to explore include Al Baleed Archaeological Park, which dates back to 2,000BCE, and the striking waterfall at Wadi Darbat. Head into the mountains during the summer and you can even experience the novelty of monsoon rain. Really, though, the bonus of Salalah is the combination of proximity to the UAE and a delicious temperature drop – simply heavenly.

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