Under the relentless summer sun residents have left the country in droves, but if you don’t have sufficient annual leave for a long trip, check out these nearby destinations you can reach by plane in less than 4 hours.
- Cairo, Egypt
It might be a similar temperature to the UAE at present, but there’s more culture and historical places open in the day as well as night – when there are cooler temperatures. Fly there in just under four hours, and you can stay in the bustling city or venture over to the oldest of the seven wonders of the world – the Pyramids of Giza, with the nearby artefact museum steeped in ancient history. There’s also plenty of art galleries, the old Khan el Khalili Bazaar, or you can glide down the Nile like a Queen on a cruise. There’s also the Bent Pyramids in the south of the capital which are worth a look.
Where to Stay: we love the Four Seasons Nile Plaza, as it features stunning views across the Nile, the Great Pyramids, and ancient zoological gardens while being in the heart of the city. There’s also five dining outlets, shopping, and a deluxe spa, a landscaped pool area, and the iconic marble bathrooms in the rooms that are signature features of the Four Seasons worldwide. Some of the larger rooms and suites have private dining and reclining areas. There’s even an on site salon to get yourself glammed up before a night out in the city’s bustling nightlife scene. Stay from around AED 1,775 per night.
Getting There: Fly direct from DXB with Egypt Air in 3 hours and 30 mins, prices start at AED 1,650 return.
- Tbilisi, Georgia
Perfect for a short trip in summer and winter seasons – hello, Guadari ski resort – over the warmer months we suggest a trip around the capital city of Tbilisi with gothic ruins from centuries ago, lush botanical gardens, and endless winding cobbled streets. Temperatures are noticeably cooler here also, with the hottest part of the day reaching around 30-degrees Celsius. Visit the Meidan Square and take a cable over the glorious Turtle Lake for a relaxing afternoon, or if you’re with the kids Mtatsminda Park will keep them entertained – think a Georgian rival to the western Disneyland.
Where to Stay: Stay at the sleek and ultra modern Biltmore Tbilisi, just 300 metres from the Opera and Ballet Theatre, and featuring a sun terrace, spa, and full spa facilities. There are several on site restaurants and even a few cosy spots to enjoy a cup of tea while overlooking the river, or stay cosy and order room service. A deluxe double room here will set you back just AED 879 per night.
Getting There: Fly direct from Sharjah Airport in 3 hours and 30 minutes direct with Air Arabia or FlyDubai, prices start at AED 1,392.
- Muscat, Oman
The shortest of trips make a mini-break to Muscat perfect for UAE residents. You can cruise through the modern and marble-clad Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, or stretch your legs walking through the harbour to get to Al Jalali Fort. Looking for something more cultural, then pay a visit to the Royal Opera House, or if you’re craving raw untouched nature, the northern coast – and in particular Zale Beach Club at the Kempinski – has some truly stunning views, with pristine sandy beaches and sky blue ocean.
Where to Stay: Coming from the UAE we’d expect nothing less than 5-star service from neighbouring Oman, so we suggest The Chedi Muscat, which comes with beachfront views, full service spa, several swimming pools – one of which is huge – plus six restaurants to choose from. Dine on Arabic, Asian, International or fusion cuisine, and relax in the sumptuous rooms with flatscreen TVs, private espresso machine, or indulge in a spa treatment with Ayurveda and aromatherapy techniques. Catch our recent review for our staycation at The Chedi here. Stay for around AED 1,517 per night for a standard room.
Getting There: Fly Air Arabia from Sharjah from AED 670 or from DXB from AED 935 with FlyDubai in just an hour.
- Salalah, Oman
Second up in nearby Oman is beachside city Salalah, where you engage in some hiking activities with striking views of the rugged mountains, or recline on a scenic boat ride around the coast. July to September is the cooler Khareef season due to the tail end of the African monsoon blowing across the capital of the Dhofar province. This means gentle oceanic winds bringing a much cooler breeze, with a lush green landscape, waters teeming with marine life, waterfalls, and while you’re there you can visit the Al Mughsail or Al Fizayah beaches, or for some culture check out the Museum of Frankincense Land.
Where to Stay: The Alila Hinu Bay is a truly stunning hotel, recently opened (2021) with a stunning pool, flanked by cabanas with double beds, and overlooking the lagoon and sea, this beachfront property combines modern luxury with Arabic infused elegance. Props for the standalone bath tubs in the rooms, and some of the luxury rooms come with a private pool. There’s also some great places to eat onsite, plus a spa, room service, sun terrace and fitness centre. Stay in a standard room from AED 1,200 per night.
Getting There: Fly direct from Sharjah with Air Arabia for around AED 1,100 or from DXB with FlyDubai, with prices starting from AED 1,050, and the flight takes just over one hour.
- Dushanbe, Tajikistan
A little off the beaten path, Tajikistan features a truly otherworldly presence of mountains where more than 90% of the country is upland. In Dushanbe itself, expect fecund leafy boulevards and quaint pastel cottage-like buildings, which contrasts wildly with the rugged landscape further north, where human dwellings become sparse as you enter the wilderness. For more greenery visit the Rudaki Park with tons of fountains, statues, and monuments, or head over to the National Museum of Tajikistan or next door’s Ethnography Museum. Expect dining options to reflect a unique fusion of Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Arabic cuisine, and the Chaykhona Rokhat is worth a visit as the teahouse dates back to the 1950s when the country was under influence of the Soviet Union.
Where to Stay: The imposing 5-star Hyatt Regency has an unrivalled location on the shores of Lake Komsomol and is right in the centre of Dushanbe, and only 10-minutes from the airport. Expect views of the mountains, lake, and city from any of the rooms, and dine in the Focaccia Grill Restaurant with Mediterranean and international cuisine, or pop by their cute pastry shop. There’s also the Sayohat Spa which includes a steam, sauna, hot tub, plunge pool, plus a variety of beauty and wellness treatments. If you’re feeling boujee you can arrange a limousine service through the hotel concierge. Stay in a standard room for AED 909 per night.
Getting There: Fly from Dubai with FlyDubai direct in three hours and fifteen minutes, with prices starting at AED 1,083.
6. Yerevan, Armenia
Nicknamed the Pink City, with Mount Ararat providing a gorgeous backdrop for the capital city of Armenia, and it’s easy to visit with a flight time of just over three hours from Dubai. The focus point of the city is Republic Square, steeped in culture and history, or pop by the National Gallery, home to the world’s largest collection of Armenian art, or visit their History Museum. The views at the top of the giant limestone stairway known as the Great Cascade are truly worth the walk! Yerevan is also wallet-friendly, meaning you can splash out and indulge yourself without worrying about your dirhams.
Where to Stay: Stay in the centre of Yerevan at the Paris Hotel – just 100m from Republic Square. They cater to international visitors here and you can get a surprisingly good American breakfast in the restaurant/cocktail bar on the rooftop of the hotel, which is also perfect for sundowners. There’s also a terrace adjacent to the restaurant with gorgeous views of Mount Ararat. The hotel decor is quirky with plush purple velvet banquettes and hanging foliage, which gives it a special charm, while the rooms are stylish and comfortable. Prices start at around AED 624 for a standard room or get a suite for around AED 1,347.
Getting There: Fly direct from Dubai with FlyDubai for AED 763 or direct with Emirates for AED 1,171, and flights take three hours and fifteen minutes.
7. Mahé (Félicité), Seychelles
An ultra boujee island escape in a lush tropical paradise with low rocky mountains and superb pristine white sandy beaches – no wonder the Seychelles is one of the most popular wedding destinations for guests from the UAE, and the rest of the world. With fascinating marine life, virgin jungles untouched by human hands, Mahe is developed enough in certain spots to feature 5-star hotels and some glittering nightlife. You can also head to the more remote part of the island, called Praslin, which features incredible sunsets, and is just another 20-minute plane ride from the international airport.
Where to Stay: Nestled on its own private island, the Six Senses Zil Payson is picture perfect and beyond impressive. The tropical island resort is accessible by speedboat (or helicopter!) and features 30 pool villas and several residences, which promise luxury and privacy in equal measure. The villas each have their own sundeck and outdoor dining, or you can visit the resort’s six restaurants inspired by flavours of the Seychellois spice route, and there’s a personal dining touch in the wine vault and chef’s table. There is (of course) also a spa, including an open-air saltwater pool and yoga and meditation pavilion, or you can head down to the private beach for water sports, or sail to neighbouring islands for golf, cycling, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site. A stay at the Six Senses will certainly spoil you and your loved ones, and perfectly blends the raw nature of the tropics with the decadence of fine dining and luxury stays. Prices start at a whopping AED 8,348 per night for a one-bedroom villa.
Getting There: Fly direct from Dubai with Emirates from AED 2,831 in four and a half hours, or fly indirect with Gulf Air from AED 1,465 and takes up to nine and a half hours.
8. Malé, Maldives
Widely credited with being one of the world’s absolute dream holidays, a Maldives visit is perfect for a proposal, wedding, or anniversary, as it’s steeped in romantic tradition and impeccable service. Famous also for ist over-water villas, diving, and vibrant marine life, the hotels and resorts around the islands are definitely among some of the best globally. While the vibes are laid back, and you can spend your days on the pure white beaches soaking up the sun with a cocktail, the cuisine, service, and accommodation is absolutely top notch. You’ll have to leave the mainland of Malé and visit the islands to get the best experience. Most resorts include an array of water sports, cycling, yoga and sound healing activities, plus boat trips to other islands. It’s virtually impossible to travel here on a budget, so save this location for when you’re in the mood to splurge – and have the social media content to prove it.
Where to Stay: The Amilla Maldives is an island located in the Baa Atoll where guests can choose from several island homes that hover over clear waters, against a backdrop of lush palm trees and the pristine white sand, that cannot be confused with sand from anywhere else in the world. There’s a spa, tennis course, and wellness centre, but if you book the Sunset Water Pool Villa, you get your own sun terrace and private pool overlooking the glorious lagoon, and probably won’t want to leave your room. When you venture out to eat, there are eight restaurants to choose from, including their signature Japanese, plus several bars serving craft cocktails, immunity shots, and fine wines. For the private water villa prices start at around AED 4,381 per night.
Getting There: Fly direct from DXB with FlyDubai in four hours and fifteen minutes for AED 2,019 or fly with Emirates for AED 2,919.