There are clear signs you may be in need of a holiday outside of Abu Dhabi this August – they include audible groans when you sit up from the sofa, panting at any stair climb of more than one flight and flying into a purple-faced rage when your colleagues’ Bali beach pout Instastory comes up for the seventh time in a day. So, couch potatoes, turn off Netflix, prepare to outshine Karen from accounts and book onto one of these brilliant breaks.
Your summer needs it.
Backstreet dining tour in New Delhi, India
The subcontinent’s reputation for exceptional street food is as strong as its (unfair if you ask us) reputation for dodgy dining. Thankfully, one of the best ways to avoid a bit of the ol’ Delhi belly is by signing up to a street food tour with a professional guide. Numerous companies have experts on hand to guide you through the buzzing markets, winding streets and hidden gem vendors that to the untrained eye look more like a week in bed than a meal you’ll remember forever. Delhi Food Walks is one of the most-popular and run tours all day, every day the suit every palette and interest. Oh, and a certain Taj Mahal is near enough for the daytrippers out there.
How much? Food tours from around Dhs150 (per person). Return flights approx. Dhs2,700. Visit etihad.com or goindigo.in.
How long? Flight time three hours 30 minutes.
Munch at a Michelin-starred venue for Dhs5 in Singapore
Welcome to the sizzling streets of Singapore’s Chinatown, where a humble hawker holds the honour of serving the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred food. Chan Hon Meng is not a typical award-winning chef. Where he works, there are no white tablecloths, no stuffy waiters and no liquid nitrogen in your one-mouthful starter. Instead, diners queue for hours and squeeze in elbow to elbow for a taste of his famous street food. His stall, where dishes cost less than a latte at just Dhs5, has been given one Michelin star by the acclaimed food judges. It sits in the heart of the city’s Chinatown, which is dotted with some of the best budget bites in the world. Eat here then put the money you’ve saved towards a fancier meal out around Marina Bay Sands or a classic mixed drink in the original Raffles Hotel.
How much? Return flights approx. Dhs3,200. Visit etihad.com or srilankan.com.
How long? Flight time seven hours 30 minutes.
The world’s best ice cream in Sicily, Italy
The Mediterranean island is famous for blood oranges, pistachios and ice cream, and, it just so happens that a small town just south of Catania serves the best gelato in the world (yes, we have verified this). Noto is rich in history, baroque architecture and velvety, creamy desserts. The 124-year-old Caffè Sicilia is a fourth-generation family run café with Corrado Assenza at the helm. It has long been declared as the ultimate place to indulge in ice cream – and even featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table as a result. Whether it’s the dreamy pistachio, moreish hazelnut or simply perfect vanilla you cannot miss a trip here. The whole island is a hit for true foodies, and you’d be Sicily to miss it.
How much? Return flights approx. Dhs2,700. Visit alitalia.com.
How long? Flight time nine hours 50 minutes, with one change.
Kids go free at this stunning resort in the Malvides
Yes, this idyllic chain of islands may have a reputation as a honeymoon hotspot, but it’s also a huge hit with families. Book into the four-star Kandima Maldives resort and kids up to 11 years old will stay and eat for free. You’ll get a private sky studio and bed and breakfast at the luxurious hotel. Kandima Maldives is a game-changer and is located on the largest island, Dhaalu Atoll. Not only does it have the longest outdoor pool in the Maldives, you’ll find an abundance of activities to keep everyone entertained including of watersports, a beach club, tennis and basketball courts, snorkelling, diving, a marine biology centre, art studio, cooking classes and more. A three-night stay starts from just Dhs4,735 per adult and includes return Emirates flights, taxes and surcharges. Emirates is also offering 20 percent bonus Skywards Miles.
How much? From Dhs4,580 (per adult). Visit etihad.com.
How long? Four hours 25 minues from Abu Dhabi.
Enjoy the really wild side of Istanbul, Turkey
Not only is Istanbul the gateway to Europe’s celebrated historical sites and world-famous nightlife, the Turkish city is also great for families. Just outside the city is the famous Bosphorus Zoo, which is worth the trip for its wide range of exotic birds and animals, gardens and kids’ playground. Plus, there’s a sealife centre, huge aquarium and dinosaur park. For adults, the city itself is always buzzing and simply beautiful. You’ll find plenty of places to shop, while its dining scene blends contemporary and classic dining.
How much? Return flights from approx. Dhs2,500. Visit flypgs.com.
How long? Flight time four hours 40 minutes.
Make theme park memories at Sentosa, Singapore
Take the kids on the holiday of a lifetime at the huge island resort Sentosa – which is home to theme park attractions, lush rainforests, golden sandy beaches, giant ziplines, outdoor adventures, Universal Studios, golf clubs and plenty more. Stay on the island for three nights at the five-star Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa Hotel from Dhs3,499 per person and enjoy free breakfast. Or, split the trip with a two-night stay on Sentosa and a two-night stay in Singapore for Dhs,4999 each. You’ll have to travel to Dubai for this deal, and prices include return flights.
How much? Return flights from approx. Dhs1,950. Visit emirates.com
How long? Flight time seven hours 35 minutes from Dubai International Airport.
National park exploring in Finland
Given its close proximity to the Arctic Circle, Finland’s icy grounds are not easy to cover during large periods of the year. However, as the spring thaw ends and summer sets in, the nation’s parks thrive. They’re largely undisturbed by civilisation due to the harsh winters, leading to mesmerising scenery in parts. It’s a top trip for adventurers, with a visit to east Finland’s Koli National Park a must. There you’ll find the spectacular Lake Pielinen. Pack your walking boots and flasks, this is one for the hikers.
How much? Return flights approx. Dhs3,200. Visit etihad.com and finnair.com.
How long? Flight time 10 hours 20 minutes with one change.
Surfing and safaris in Sri Lanka
Land in Colombo and make a beeline straight out of the capital towards the spectacular south-coast beaches. The island is dotted with countless beach villages – some more developed than others. Our favourite is Mirissa, an all-rounder that’s a hit with tourists from around the world thanks to its sheltered beach, brilliant bars and easy going personality. The waves are excellent for surfing – beginner or not. Then, head east and book a safari to go leopard spotting in Yala National Park. However, take note that the main section of the park closes from September 1 onwards. You can still enter but the leopard’s main stomping grounds are in the section that’s closed off.
How much? Return flights approx. Dhs2,100. Visit etihad.com.
How long? Flight time four hours 40 minutes.
Go on temple adventures in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat continues to top polls around the world as the No. 1 tourist destination on the planet and with good reason, a 3am wake-up call to catch the sun rising over the ancient temple is simply beautiful. However, little praise is reserved for the surrounding network of temples and structures that surround the big one including Kouk Chak, Pre Rup, Bakong and Banteay Samre. Book onto a tour with a local guide for an in-depth experience and just watch out for the monsoon-like showers in the afternoon. It’s like stepping into a scene straight out of The Jungle Book – swinging and dancing monkeys included.
How much? Return flights approx. Dhs2,800. Visit bangkokair.com.
How long? Quickest connecting flight time around eight hours 45 minutes.
Couples’ city breaks
Uncover loads of roman history in Rome, Italy
Beauty can be found on almost every corner of the ancient city – from the crumbling Collosseum remains to the Spanish steps, the picturesque piazzas to the crispiest pizzas (now that’s proper beauty), the sacred Vatican City to the velvety vintage grapes. There really is so much to see, do, eat and drink. You’ll need three nights minimum to squeeze in the highlights of the city and be prepared to get to the Vatican City early in the morning – or else face a day spent in queues. Rome has a quality unlike many other European cities, it’s bustling on one street but immediately serene down the next. It’s scorching hot during the day but by night there can be a cooling storm blowing in. And, it’s bursting with activities for all appetites.
How much? Return flights approx. Dhs3,900. Visit alitalia.com
How long? Flight time six hours.
Fall in love with Barcelona, Spain
Eating a picnic in Park Guell, enjoying the breeze on a bench on Las Ramblas, sharing seaside tapas in the Fisherman’s Quarter, seeking out suburbs sprawled with street art, brushing up on Picasso, gawping at Gaudí’s genius, topping up your tan on the beach and spending the night weaving through traditional hop houses in the Gothic Quarter. They’re the ingredients that make this postcard-pretty city one of Europe’s hottest destinations year in, year out. It has everything for a last-minute break, but be sure to check out all accommodation possibilities (from hotel websites to Airbnb) as prices can fluctuate during peak months.
How much? Return flights approx. Dhs4,600. Visit etihad.com.
How long? Flight time six hours 40 minutes.
Embracing colonial Mumbai, India
Brace yourself for chaos – these are the world’s craziest streets. Expect to share a walkway with commuters, tourists, street vendors, cows, goats, tuk tuks, bicycles, kids, dogs, cats and everything in between as you navigate the bustling Mumbai. It is a former jewel in the British empire’s crown and retains a strong legacy. Stunning architectural sights include the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Gateway of India, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, the BMC Building and David Sassoon Library. Book into a budget hotel in the Churchgate, Fort or Colaba areas and get ready to explore on foot. The atmosphere carries on well into the early hours as Mumbai’s nightlife scene kicks off. Don’t miss the sunset at Girgaum Chowpatty while munching on pani puri.
How much? Return flights approx. Dhs2,000. Visit etihad.com or goindigo.in.
How long? Flight time around three hours.