1. Bucharest, Romania
Once referred to as the “Little Paris of the East” Romania’s capital is now known for its enchanting Belle Époque buildings, roaring party scene, and picturesque tree-lined boulevards. Its mix of facilities and stunning landmarks make it the place for architecture lovers, party animals, and history buffs.
Places of interest: If you’re into history then make a beeline for Piata Revolutiei (Revolution Square) and Palatul Regal (The Royal Palace).
Art enthusiasts should make their way to Arcul de Triumf (The Arch of Triumph) and Calea Victoriei (Victory Way). Party lovers looking for the hipster experience should opt for Club Control on 4th Constantin Mille Street while those looking to mix with other internationals should head to Eden on Calea Victoriei Avenue.
Flight time: 5hrs 20mins
Price: From AED2,009*
2. Baku, Azerbaijan
Although thousands of years old, Azerbaijan’s capital has been rebranding itself as a mini version of Dubai in recent years, with five-star hotels popping up, designer stores, modern shopping malls, and a skyline of futuristic architecture. Those looking to experience the nation’s rich history should head to Old Town Baku. The UNESCO World Heritage site is home to a number of traditional local businesses, you can find everything from butcheries to cafes to family-owned restaurants.
Places of interest: If you’re traveling with family, you should head to the Baku Ferris Wheel, Maiden Tower, and Fountain Square. Music fans should head to ABC music shop on Fountain Square for a left-field selection of Western music, as well as Azeri and Russian vinyl.
Flight time: 2hrs 30mins
3. Paphos, Cyprus
Split into two distinct sections, Paphos is perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in nature and history as well as those chasing a holiday with plenty of bars and retail therapy. The former can be done in Ktima, an old town located high in the mountains and inland. It is home to a number of colonial homes and several museums.
Kato Paphos, on the other hand, is located on the seaside and is home to a number of souvenir shops, British gastropubs, and modern, low-rise apartments.
Places of interest: Tombs of the Kings, Coral Bay, Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, and Petra tou Romiou.
Flight time: 4hr 15 mins from Dubai to Larnaca Airport.
Price: From AED2,064*
4. Muscat, Oman
Surrounded by brown and burnt orange mountains, Muscat is an impressive place to watch the sunset. As Oman’s capital city, you’ll find plenty of history blended with modern living. The beautiful coastline is scattered with five-star hotels, with fancy restaurants nearby. It’s also a great place for shopping, but if glitz and glam aren’t your things, you can check out the cultural sites.
Places of interest: The Qasr Al Alam Royal Palace is a must-see – even though visitors aren’t allowed inside, it’s a great photo opportunity. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world and is open to non-Muslim visitors. There are also plenty of museums that give a snapshot of Oman’s history.
Flight time: 1hr 30mins
Price: From AED486*
5. Zanzibar, Tanzania
This is one for both the adventurous traveler and those who just want to find a quiet beach to chill on. The Indian Ocean coastline is Pinterest-perfect, while the numerous safari options serve up wildlife worthy of a David Attenborough narration. We recommend Safari Blue, guests are taken to the middle of the crystal-clear Indian Ocean for snorkeling. Once finished, they are taken to a remote island where a traditional seafood BBQ awaits them.
Places of interest: Stone Town has markets and cultural sites, while no trip to Zanzibar is complete without a tour of the spice souk. Foodies, be sure to visit The Teahouse Restaurant, Emerson on Hurumzi – it’s got great views of the sea and has some of the best seafood and mixes in town.
Flight time: 5hrs 50mins
Price: From AED1,406*
6. Petra, Jordan
The edge has just been taken off the summer in Jordan, so the temperature is mild enough to enjoy the famous archaeological site. While you’re there, make some time to head to the Dead Sea which offers the requisite blend of landscape, luminosity, and luxury for which Jordan has become famed.
Places of interest: While the entire space is an archaeological site, be sure to see the Garden Temple, Palace Tomb, and the Ad Deir monastery.
Flight time: 2hrs 40mins
Price: From AED1,473 to Amman*