A combination of demanding work schedules and the notion that holiday days are akin to gold dust makes the idea of taking two weeks off work a frightening and impossible task. Unfortunately, it sometimes can be a near-impossible task, but that shouldn’t stop you travelling the world, it simply means you need to find a way around this predicament, and we’ve got just the answer, say hello to the weekend break. Gone are the days of long breaks on the beach and in comes the era of weekend getaways, leaving work on Friday evening and returning Monday morning has never been so simple, affordable and achievable thanks to the regular flight routes out of the UAE. Both Dubai International Airport and Abu Dhabi run a whole host of flights to nearby destinations you may never have realised were so close to home. Below we’ve listed ten countries that are easy to visit over a long weekend from the UAE so sit back, read on and enjoy.
Home to the Wahiba Sands, rolling dunes and Bedouin tents galore the nation of Oman sits on the Arabian Peninsula and is only an hours flight from Abu Dhabi. Fly into Muscat International Airport and spend a few days in the port capital exploring its 16th-century forts before heading south into the Hajar Mountains on a 4×4 safari. Alternatively, fly into Salalah in the south and head to the Empty Quarter for a real Lawrence of Arabia desert adventure.
Sri Lanka sits just a five hour flight from the UAE, and the country is home to rolling rice fields in Kandy, golden beaches in Galle and the leopard filled Yala National Park. Fly into Colombo and hire a car to explore the cultural triangle, located in the heart of the country, where you can hop from tea plantation, to world heritage site, to Buddhist temples, dining on kottu roti, a national stir fry dish, as you go.
Located a little further afield the historically rich country of Georgia sits an eight hour flight from the UAE which includes a stop over in Istanbul. Fly into the capital of Tbilisi and wander amidst the old town past colourful houses and ancient churches. Alternatively, head to the seaside town of Batumi and enjoy the waterfront boulevard, Gonio Fortress and botanical gardens.
With a total travel time of five hours, a weekend in the Maldives is a must do for any busy body looking for a break. For those on a strict budget, a lay over in Sri Lanka would up the travel time to eight hours but significantly reduce the cost. Arrive into Male Atoll where you’ll transfer to a small seaplane and jet off to an island of your choice. From here, spend the weekend lounging poolside with a cocktail in hand, head off on a deep sea scuba diving excursion or enjoy a sunset snorkel amidst sea turtles.
Romania is also easily accessible from the UAE with a travel time of just eight hours including a short lay over. Spend the weekend in the capital of Bucharest on a history tour around the National Museum of Romanian History or get your culture fix at the Museum of Art. The city is also home to quirky cafes, vast green parks and the second largest building on the planet; the Palace of Parliament.
Bulgaria is a country brimming with lush mountainous terrain, winding rivers, including the famous Danube, and a vast stretch of rolling coastline that tightly hugs the Black Sea. Located just under a five hour flight from the UAE the 5th-century country provides the perfect weekend break for friends and families alike. For a beach getaway head to Varna on the east coast or for a culture filled weekend head to Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia.
Lebanon sits just over a three hour direct flight from both Dubai and Abu Dhabi International airports and provides a culture filled break bustling with activities. Head straight to the capital of Beirut to spend a weekend revelling in the glamour of downtown and partying in the bar populated neighbourhood of Mar Mikhael. Alternatively, time can be wiled away shopping in the many souks and flea markets or head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Byblos, the very first Phoenician city and the perfect spot for a history lesson.
Home to iconic mosques, a Roman-era Hippodrome and the Byzantine Hagia Sophia Church, the cosmopolitan city of Istanbul is just under a five hour flight from Dubai. Spend the weekend exploring the Ottoman and Turkish influenced architecture as you hop from attraction to attraction. Make sure you explore the local eateries too to dine on some of the cities signature dishes including fresh kebabs, delicious mezes and locally caught fish.
Azerbaijan’s capital city of Baku sits just a three hour flight from the UAE and has a lot to offer for every kind of traveller. Spend the weekend exploring the UNESCO listed Old City and its ancient fortress walls, wander down the tree-lined streets in the central district for a spot of shopping and head down the Baku promenade, a bustling area filled with beachfront tea houses.
The Arab nation of Jordon is also just under a three hour direct flight from the UAE and is home to many famous landmarks including the archaeological site of Petra, the protected desert of Wadi Rum and the salt heavy Dead Sea. Adventure seekers can enjoy a hot air balloon ride over the desert; nature lovers can explore the marine life found in the Gulf of Aqaba and those after a little rest and relaxation can float in the Dead Sea before retiring to a local spa for a Dead Sea mud mask treatment.