The long weekend is almost upon us, and if you’ve put off your Eid vacation planning to the very end, there’s still no need to panic. Have a read of our comprehensive travel guide, offering a plan for all tastes and budgets for your four-day getaway, starting June 14. Plus, a few tips and tricks at each destination as an added bonus.
For: The wildlife enthusiasts
With Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi just giving it their stamp of approval last week with their breathtaking encounters with gorillas in the mist, Rwanda is the hottest new destination that’s opened for tourism.
The lush green landscapes of the Virunga Mountains serve as a perfect hideaway for mountain gorillas, with only 880 of the endangered species still surviving in the wild. A gorilla trek suggests a humbling experience, while adventurers will also encounter three other species of primates including wild chimpanzees, black-and-white colobus monkeys and the endangered golden monkey.
The Central-East African nation has also recently launched packages for Middle East travellers with its ‘Bucket List Rwanda’ getaways. The highlights includes a two-night stay in a luxury mountain lodge with a mountain gorilla trekking tour, helicopter transfers, with a couple of nights in capital city Kigali. A second package is a three-night long weekend getaway — perfect for Eid — which includes a night’s stay in the Nyungwe Forest, with a canopy walk and a primate encounter.
Flights: RwandAir Express flies direct from Dubai Terminal 2 to Kigali. Eid airfare starts at Dh2,035.
Hotels: From Dh331 for a two-night stay at the Nyungwe Forest. From Dh250 for four-star hotels.
Weather: Average temperatures hover around 25°C. June is also the start of the dry season and the best time to visit.
For: The right blend of city life and history
Don’t be surprised if an aerial view from your flight over gives you a sense of deja vu. Baku looks remarkably similar to Dubai with its beachfront sprawling mansions. But that’s also where the similarity ends. The historical city is the perfect marriage of old culture and modern architecture, making it an absolute delight to stroll through its alleyways.
While at one end you can explore the Old City, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2000, taking in the Juma Mosque and the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, at the other end lies the Zaha Hadid-designed Heydar Aliyev Centre, an architectural marvel that defines Azerbaijan’s independence from the Soviet rule.
Azeri cuisine is also renowned for its unique taste. Spend an evening walking down Nizami Street, and not just for the shopping, but to tuck into some delicious cheap, local fare. Azeri-style kebabs, lavash flatbreads and shashliks of beef, lamb and vegetables are a must try.
Flights: Azal Air flies direct from Sharjah to Baku. Dh1,245 for round-trip flights. Flydubai also offers two options on Eid weekend, with airfare starting at Dh1,885.
Hotels: Five-star hotels from Dh860 for three nights.
Weather: The fluctuating temperatures can go to lows of 18°C and highs of 28°C.
Ayia Napa and Paphos, Cyprus
What: For the island party getaway
Right, so we lie. While Larnaca is exceptionally beautiful, we do recommend hopping into a rental and driving down to explore the beaches and the summer parties at Ayia Napa.
Spend the day lazing at Nissi Beach, or jump on board for a bungee swing, ride a bucking bronco or dive into the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea. For those looking for some nightlife, you will have the pick of the best: pool parties, beach bonfires, foam raves, bar crawls… the list is endless.
If all this seems overwhelming by day three, highly recommend driving over to Cape Greco, the stunning national forest that’s a popular spot for hikers and nature lovers.
Find time to visit Paphos as well, said to be the birthplace of the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. The city is on the Unesco heritage list and was selected as a European Capital of Culture in 2017.
For swimming, head to Coral Bay, a sandy beach well provisioned with umbrellas and loungers along with restaurants, cafes and water sports, to keep the entire family busy for the afternoon.
Don’t miss the Paphos Archaelogical Park where four large Roman villas have been excavated with well-preserved mosaic floors, and the ancient underground burial chambers known as the Tomb of the Kings, carved out of solid rock, feature Doric columns and frescoed walls.
PS: Don’t forget to pack that sunscreen. Temperatures do hit mid-30s Celsius in June.
Flights: Fly direct to Larnaca, with return airfare approximately Dh3,045 for Eid weekend. Ayia Napa is a 50-minute drive, while Paphos is one and a half hours by road.
Weather: Highs of around 35°C
Hotels: From Dh580 onwards in three-star hotels for three nights (two adults).
For: The island life
For centuries, this Indian Ocean island off the coast of East Africa has lured explorers, traders, adventurers, and romantics of all kinds. The ultimate destination for foodies, Arabic and Indian influence (the latter from immigrants and traders who arrived on the coast) bear the strongest influence on Swahili food. The destination is also great for visitors who love beaches, azure waters and seafood.
Flights: Flydubai flies direct with Eid weekend prices hitting Dh2,948 per person over Eid.
Weather: Highs of around 28°C.
Hotels: From Dh450 onwards in three-star hotels for three nights (two adults).
For: Old-world charm
Tunis is the largest city in Tunisia, an off-the-beaten path destination in the Middle East and a treasure trove of culture and historic charm. It is a perfect mix of Mediterranean, European and Middle Eastern. No matter where you’re in this history-steeped city, you’re never far from the beach. Its old medina is a Unesco World Heritage site that you can’t miss; not to mention the Bardo museum and the ruins of ancient Carthage.
Flights: From Dh1370 per person (Round-trip flights with a stopover).
Weather: Highs of around 30°C.
Hotels: From Dh350 onwards in three-star hotels for two nights with breakfast (two adults).
Hong Kong, China
For: The family city escape
Those looking for a cityscape with the family in tow can’t go wrong with Hong Kong. Amazing sights, shopping and Disneyland promise for a packed itinerary during your stay.
Start the trip with a visit to The Peak, the highest point on the island, which promises to give you a bird’s-eye view of the city. The Peak Tram takes you 1,300 feet above sea level, with a ride that the kids are sure to love. Visit the Temple Street Night Market or head over to Ocean’s Park to get a look at the cuddly giant pandas.
Flights: Emirates and Cathay Pacific fly direct from Dubai, with airfares starting at Dh2,845. Considering it’s an eight-hour commute, we do recommend an extended stay.
Weather: Averaging 28°C in June.
Hotels: Prices start at Dh300 for a three-night stay.
For: Sun, surf and sightseeing
Greece brings to mind a myriad of peaceful whites and blues. From island hopping to getting a history and culture fix, Athens is a great short trip to take from the UAE. Make sure you plan your island trips on boats and buses in the country well ahead of your arrival to avoid any delays. While booking hotels, make sure they’re accessible easily as there are a very limited number of taxis you can hail — a novel thing for UAE residents, we know. That being said, the food, the sun, the parties and the sea are worth all the planning in advance.
Flights: From Dh1856 per person (Round-trip flights with a stopover).
Weather: Highs of around 30°C.
Hotels: From Dh400 onwards in three-star hotels for two nights (two adults).
For: The free spirits
Kathmandu is a great place to go, not just because it’s incredibly affordable, the country is a riot of colours with great weather, and just a short flight away. From the solo backpacker to the family broods, there is something for everyone in Nepal’s largest city. From yoga and meditation to sampling momos and visiting temples, this trip will leave you wanting to go back for more.
This place could also offer you a chance to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life with yoga and meditation sessions by renowned experts. Make sure you sample fried or steamed momos, which are the local delicacies of the region.
Flights: From Dh1,106 per person (Round-trip flights with a stopover).
Weather: Highs of around 28°C Hotels.
From: Dh220 onwards in three-star hotels for two nights with breakfast (two adults).
For: The history buffs
Seeped in a millennia of history, Sofia is best explored on foot. The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral stands at the very centre of this culturally rich city, built in Neo-Byzantine style that can take your breath away at first sight. Many walking tours and bus sightseeing trips take off from the square, urging you to explore
A few steps away is the famous Roman Rotunda, hidden away in a courtyard of the Sheraton Hotel. The red-brick building is one of the remains of the ancient town of Serdica and is the oldest preserved structure in Sofia today.
Day trips to the Rila Monastery and the Boyana Church is a popular getaway. And if you are really adventurous, then a trek to the Seven Rila Lakes is a nature lover’s dream.
Although, a personal favourite is a visit to the Prohodna Cave, lying 112km from Sofia. The cave is home to the Eyes of the God, a natural formation in the ceiling that forms almond-shaped holes that bear a striking resemblance to giant eyes. Bungee jumps are also organised from the big entrance.
Flights: Flydubai and Wizz Air fly direct from Dubai. Airfares with the former start at Dh1,410 return, but day restrictions apply.
Weather: Averaging 25°C in June.
Hotels: For three nights start at Dh400.
For: The Paris of the East (and Count Dracula of course)
Okay, we admit that Bucharest has carved its own identity that is separate from its ‘Paris of the East’ tag, but even you can’t deny that standing at the very centre of this historical city is its very own Triumphal Arch, akin to its French counterpart. This monument, which dates back to 1922, was a mark of celebration of Romania victory in the First World War.
Spend a day touring the cobblestone streets of Old Town, take up one of the free walking tours, or spend a lazy afternoon admiring the peace and quiet of the Stavropoleos Monastery.
Naturally, no trip to Romania is ever complete without a hunt for Count Dracula. Take a day trip to Transylvania and discover the place that inspired Bram Stoker to pen his gruesome tale about Romania’s most famous vampire, with Bran Castle — perched high atop a 200-foot-high rock — becoming is inspiration for Casa Dracula.
Flights: Flydubai and Wizz Air fly direct to Bucharest. Prices start at Dh1,445.
Weather: Averaging 24°C in June.
Hotels: For three nights start at Dh350.
A popular weekend destination from the UAE owing to low costs of travel and a complete change of scenery, Tbilisi is slightly more expensive in the summer. Scale the Caucasian mountains, visit the Black-Sea coast or explore the alleys all over the city. There are also plenty of affordable and delicious local food to be sampled. If you fly out of Georgia on Sunday or Monday, direct flights are harder to come by based on Wego search results, so plan your departure date carefully.
Flights: From Dh1700 per person (Round-trip flights with a stopover).
Weather: Highs of around 27°C.
Hotels: From Dh200 onwards in three-star hotels for two nights (two adults).