6 Eid vacations on your doorstep

Flight time: 2.40 hours
Holiday type: Resort, adventure
Head straight for: “Petra” would be the obvious answer here, and it can’t be recommended enough outside the high months of summer, but for a short break in July the half-hour drive from Amman, where your flight will arrive, down to the Dead Sea offers the requisite blend of landscape, luminosity and luxury for which Jordan has become famed. Pick any of the ribbon of five-star hotels on the north-eastern shore of the Dead Sea and you will have an ideal
base for lounging in the uniquely buoyant waters of the lowest point on Earth, all with unbeatable views of the hills of Palestine beyond.
If you have time: Take an excursion to Wadi Mujib, a few kilometres down the coast. It’s a staggering, fast-flowing fresh-water canyon that can be clambered up and abseiled down. Incredible.
Hotel: The Mövenpick Dead Sea is a pleasing and architecturally sensitive village-like property that tumbles down to the water’s edge.
Prices: From AED765 per night.

Salalah (Oman)
Flight time: 1.50 hours
Holiday type: Relaxation, history
Head straight for: The beach – and it doesn’t matter whether that’s the enormous Mughsayl Beach, a seven kilometre stretch of wild, unspoilt sand with ample bird life, or the nearby Fazayeh Beach, with azure waters that rush up the shoreline. The coast here is spectacular, with rock formations, caves and blowholes making it ideal for exploration as much as extended lounging. There is plenty of history in the vicinity, too, with the region’s associations with frankincense found in the markets of the town centre, the ruins of the ancient port of Sumhuram and in the trees in the hills above. Best of all, though, the temperatures in the monsoonal khareef season are just 26 degrees.
If you have time: Head for Wadi Darbat, a natural park of verdant forest, gushing waterfalls and lakes for swimming. You might have much of it to yourself, too.
Hotel: Salalah Rotana Resort. The UAE-based chain opened this sprawling beachside resort in 2014, and it offers excellent value for the full range of modern amenities.
Prices: From AED600 per night.

Baku (Azerbaijan)
Flight time: 2.30 hours
Holiday type: City break
Head straight to: Baku city centre. Although thousands of years old, it has been busy rebranding itself as a mini version of Dubai in recent years, with five-star hotels popping up (530 in total), designer stores, modern shopping malls and a skyline of futuristic architecture. Take a walking tour through the old town’s maze of narrow crumbling lanes via the Maiden Tower (Giz Galasi) built in the 12th century and Baku’s Mini Book Museum, which houses a private collection of 3,600 miniature tomes in languages from Russian to Vietnamese – you can feel big and clever all at the same time. The Nizami Museum of Literature offers a walk-through history via the works of local poets and scribes.
If you have time: 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.
Hotel: The Four Seasons Hotel Baku overlooks both the Caspian Sea and Baku Old Town district and offers all the five-star features and amenities you’d expect.
Prices: From AED950 per night.

Flight time: 2.40 hours
Holiday type: Cultural cityscape
Head straight to: The Gateway of India. Built in 1924, this structure is now synonymous with Mumbai and overlooks the harbour. If you fly overnight, try to get to the Sassoon docks at 7am for sunrise and you’ll see local fishermen haul in their catch of the day. Take a boat trip to Elephanta Island from the Gateway’s wharf and wander around the ancient archaeological remains and Indian rock art that make up the islands famous “city of caves”. The five-star Taj Mahal Palace hotel is near the Gateway, too, so pop in to window shop atits designer boutiques on the way to Colaba Causeway’s bustling rumpus of street vendors, pavement stalls and men serving masala tea from big roadside urns.If you have time: Catch the latest Bollywood film at the art deco Regal Cinema at the end of Colaba Causeway, which opened in 1933 and has hardly changed since. Don’t forget to stand up for the Indian national anthem at the start.
Hotel: The Gordon House Hotel in Colaba is a beautiful four-star boutique hotel with real character and in the centre of all the action behind the Taj Mahal Hotel.
Prices: From AED313 per night.

Flight time: 4.50 hours
Holiday type: City break
Head straight to: Hipster haven Karaköy. Along with its car-park cafés and stripped-back bars, the art, fashion and food in this corner of Turkey’s main city will keep you wide-eyed and full-bellied. The area is also home to the The Istanbul Museum of Modern Art; a massive whitewashed warehouse that edges onto the Bosphorus and has earned a rep to rival New York’s MoMA and London’s Tate Modern since it opened in 2004. Walk through the low book ceiling in the entrance hall right up to the Bosphorus-facing restaurant. The exhibition “People Attract People” is on in July; a selection of Istanbul Modern’s photography collection across a large number of Turkish photographers and spanning a period of more than 80 years.
If you have time: Seek out the turret-topped Galata Tower in the north of the city. It offers fairy-tale quaintness surrounded by a steep network of alleys lined with vintage shops, cafés and pretty design details. The upper balcony has 360-degree views of the city.
Hotel: The House Hotel Bosphorus is a boutique hotel in a superb location and with an incredible restaurant and friendly staff.
Prices: From AED476 per night.

Flight Time: 3.55 hours
Holiday type: City break
Head straight to: Madame Bleu,
a simple, but luxe city central pool area overlooking the ocean with a great menu of light bites and a chilled but fun atmosphere – with the requisite collection of Beirut socialites. After a day lounging, book Liza Beirut on Doumani Street, Achrafieh, for dinner. It’s another old Lebanese house that’s been converted into a restaurant to add to the list – joining the likes of Frida, Enab, Seze, Julia’s – but this place strikes a beautiful balance between grand and quirky and you’ll enjoy Lebanese dishes under high ceilings and surrounded by candles and plants. Make sure you order the off-the-menu apple tabbouleh. Afterwards, stroll up Mar Mikhaël and dip in and out of its hotchpotch of venues (you’ll get a big haired smiley welcome from the guys in Vivian’s) until the early hours.
If you have time: Book a Beirut Bites tour, a day-long meander through the city to all the non-touristy foodie spots and eateries led by in-the-know locals.
Hotel: Le Grey Hotel is a modern luxury spa hotel in the centre of Beirut overlooking the city’s perennially buzzing Gemmayze neighbourhood.
Prices: From AED1,079 a night.

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