Dear Mum and Dad, we got your invitation to come and see the new garden furniture. It sounds great. But as much as we’d like to take you up on the suggestion to sleep in our childhood bedrooms for two weeks and talk to the neighbours about the price of petrol, we can’t make it this year. We love you. But we need an adventure. The chance to see somewhere new. To explore backstreet markets, climb mountains, dive into oceans and dance until the sun rises in far-flung lands. We want to eat unusual foods, make new friends and smell the coffee from somebody else’s pot. We’ll send you a postcard. Take care, Time Out.
Adventures by bike
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the invention of the bike. What better time to have a cycling holiday?
A cycling holiday doesn’t have to mean powering your way up the Alps or traversing a country’s wilderness. For part-time cyclists, The Netherlands is one of the finest of places to take the bikes out and indulge your desire to discover a city on two wheels. There are 32,000km of cycle paths and almost as many bikes as people in the country, so it’s very easy for residents and tourists to cycle, with many villages and smaller towns being connected by dedicated bike routes as well as roads for cars. If seeing working windmills and picturesque canals is close to the top of your holiday wish list, there is no better holiday to take. When you’ve had your fill of quaint European countryside – all rural flower fields, pretty villages and cheese shops – you can cycle into the heart of the city. Amsterdam is one of the most bikeable cities in the world and hire bikes and cycling tours across the city are easy to find.
KLM flies direct from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam from Dhs3,150. Trip time approximately seven hours. www.klm.com.
Admittedly, it’s best to book this one in October (the start of Australia’s summer), though the weather is still perfectly fine in June. Cycling routes across Australia give hardcore riders the opportunity to test their endurance on extreme courses. The Munda Biddi Trail, Western Australia’s long-distance off-road cycle route, is designed for elite athletes. The 1,000km trail moves through the forests of Western Australia and into the bush. It requires a commitment and a lot of fitness. More accessible, and flexible, is the cycling of Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne. The 250km of coastline is home to an annual ride called Around the Bay in a Day, which has been labelled one of the best bike rides in the world. It takes place on Sunday October 8 this year. It’s made up of numerous routes and levels of ability, so you can try it whatever your cycling proficiency. You can expect mountains, the Bellarine peninsula, and a gorgeous seawater inlet lake. When you’re tired of the cycling there is Melbourne just waiting to be investigated and you’ll never get bored there.
Etihad Airways flies direct from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne from Dhs5,870. Trip time approximately 13 hours. www.etihad.com.
Holidays in the wild will give you an experience of a lifetime.
Not as established as Kenya or South Africa as a safari destination, you can still expect plenty of animal encounters on Zanzibar Island, off the coast of Tanzania. Prices also tend to be a little cheaper than the “big two” safari hotspots. Visit the mainland for a traditional safari experience, where you can see lions, cheetahs and leopards, as well as zebras and elephants. There’s also rich wildlife in the water. Dolphin tours or a lucky scuba diving trip will get you up close with a world of colourful fish and turtles. Meanwhile, in national parks and forest reserves there is a good chance you’ll see monkeys, rare birds, snakes, lizards and more.
Etihad Airways flies to Zanzibar from Dhs1,470. Trip time approximately 10 hours. www.etihad.com.
You don’t get the mass migration or “big five” of an African safari, or the same kind of adventure of tiger-spotting in India, but the Galápagos Islands are as rich in wildlife as anywhere as you’re likely to find on Earth. It is not easy to get to (visitors numbers are limited, it is expensive, you will travel for the best part of a day and a half to arrive from Abu Dhabi and there is a nagging feeling that this is one of those places that should perhaps stay untouched), but if you are able to make the trip it is a once-in-a-lifetime box checked and a journey you will never forget. You will see penguins, hammerhead sharks, the occasional albatross, tortoises (which the islands are named after), giant iguanas, seals, hawks, colourful crabs. The list is incredible and many of the species are unique to the island. At the end of your trip, make time for a few days in Quito, Ecuador to gather your thoughts and scroll through the thousands of pictures you are sure to take.
Sit on the sand, enjoy a book and soak up some summer rays.
Its coast attracts a mixed bag. Millionaires from Eastern Europe are rather fond of parking super-yachts in Tivat’s newly completed multimillion-dollar marina and backpackers have found it an alternative to overcrowded Greek and Spanish resorts. Flydubai will launch twice-weekly flights between Dubai and Tivat airport from the end of June until the end of September, making it a bit easier (and lighter on the wallet) to get there from the UAE. Some time at the marina is advisable (it’s a former naval base given a bling upgrade), but be certain to explore the coast further for lower cost, high charm alternatives. Two standout options are highly recommended. Budva is known as the “Miami of Montenegro” and has a thriving beach and nightlife scene, but also look in at medieval village Kotor. Its maze of winding cobbled streets at the foot of mountains with a hushed harbour make it a picture-postcard spot.
Etihad Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to Tivat, Montenegro from Dhs4,090. Trip time approximately nine hours. www.etihad.com.
Mexico’s answer to Magaluf? Parties of the Caribbean? An Americas Ibiza? Cancun has a reputation for being a party resort and, to be fair, much of it is deserved. There are the glitzy high-rise hotels, late-night clubs and buzzing nightspot-filled streets. There is, however, so much more. Consider it a gateway to “proper Mexico”, and, as well as indulging in the legendary nightlife, Cancun has more than 20km of beach, with stretches ranging from tranquil to lively.
Etihad Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to Cancun from Dhs5,920. Trip time approximately 20 hours. www.etihad.com.
Cool capital cities
A city break in one of the world’s great capitals is a chance to enjoy the art and history of another nation.
This city has more people in it than in the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain put together. There would still be enough space to invite over all of Kuwait and a couple of smaller countries before the numbers started to tally up. But despite how busy and congested it can feel, it remains a fascinating, attraction-packed hub, with a different feel to the rest of India. Sights include the stunning Red Fort, countless ornate buildings and beautiful parks. Let it also be your base to visit (relatively) nearby Agra and Jaipur to complete the tourist-friendly Golden Triangle.
Jet Airways flies direct from Abu Dhabi to Delhi from Dhs1,548. Trip time approximately 3.5 hours. www.jetairways.com.
Nothing can prepare you for Moscow. Staggering opulence and Soviet era monuments stand side-by-side in one of the world’s most mind-boggling cities. The Kremlin and Red Square should be up at the top of any traveller’s global must-see list. Spend days walking among the living museum and seeing sights such as the remarkable Saint Basil’s Cathedral and Gorky Park. It’s by night, however, that Moscow is best experienced. Muscovites party hard, but not predictably. Modern nightclubs playing house music and theatres and venues showcasing ballets and classical music sit just blocks apart.
Etihad Airways flies direct to Moscow from Dhs3,020. Trip time approximately five hours. www.etihad.com.
Learn or see something utterly beautiful, moving, or just plain funny on your next holiday.
The world’s largest arts festival, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, takes place every August, and, for a few marvellous weeks, the Scottish city is the centre of the world for comedy, cabaret, circus, theatre and performing arts. Last year saw more than 50,000 performances in around 300 venues across 25 days and it will be similar this year. But visit the castle city at any time over the summer to take in the picturesque scenes while basking in the glorious sunshine. It’s one of the most photogenic old towns you’ll ever visit.
Etihad Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to Edinburgh from Dhs4,010. Trip time approximately 11 hours. www.etihad.com.
For great food, beautiful scenery, vibrant nightlife and superior surfing, Bali is the ultimate holiday destination. What’s not to like? Up in the mountain town of Ubud, however, is where you’ll find the island’s cultural quarter. The artistic community feel is enhanced by the presence of many poets, painters, performance artists and musicians, who can all be found creating something unique in the streets. Pop-up galleries and boutiques sell paintings by local artists and the market stalls burst with regional handicrafts. Balinese folk music and dance performances are common and the laid-back, almost hippy vibe is a world away from the raucous resorts on the coast. It’s not a strictly cultural attraction and no visit to Bali is complete without a walk through the Monkey Forest (spoiler: there are lots of monkeys).
Etihad Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to Bali from Dhs2,960. Trip time approximately 12 hours. www.etihad.com.
When you spend all year stuffing your face at local restaurants you might want to diet come annual holiday time. Not!
Book yourself on a journey packed with hectic nightlife and lots of ornate architecture, as well as markets for travellers who leave the confines of their hotel. It also means some of the world’s best street food is within your grasp. Start familiar, with a steaming bowl of pad Thai or a satay skewer, then follow your nose and your instinct into the hawker-crowded streets to be taken on a culinary adventure. Be prepared for spice and be prepared to not really know what it is you’re eating and you won’t go far wrong. Etihad Airways flies from Abu Dhabi directly to Bangkok from Dhs2,230. Trip time approximately 6.5 hours. www.etihad.com.
At almost 15,000km away, Lima in Peru is about as far as you can get from Abu Dhabi. That might seem like a long way to go to eat raw fish. A true foodie, however, would think nothing of the journey to eat authentic ceviche in the fashionable foodie haven. A number of top Peruvian restaurants can be found in the UAE, including COYA in the capital. Find out what the foodie fuss is all about for yourself in the most authentic way possible. Then push on a little further to see the ancient wonder of Machu Picchu, before experiencing modern Peru and its vibrant art and nightlife scenes.
American Airlines flies from Abu Dhabi to Lima from Dhs5,909. Trip time approximately 28 hours. www.aa.com.
Nobody likes a road trip more than Time Out. This summer, switch a local drive for an international tour.
Former Top Gear presenters, you would hope, know a thing or two about great places to drive. Romanians cling to the claim once made Jeremy Clarkson, that the Transfagarasan is the best road for driving in the world. Tunnels, hairpin bends, lakes and villages abound, while breathtaking Carpathian mountain views are a permanent fixture. If you derive pleasure from actual driving, there are few better places to be behind the wheel and, unlike better known road trips such as Route 66 in America or South Africa’s Garden Route, it’s relatively traffic free. The stunning mountain road can be driven in a day, leaving you more time to see Transylvanian cities of Sibiu and Brasov as well as an obligatory stop in Romania’s capital, Bucharest.
Qatar Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to Bucharest from Dhs2,360. Trip time approximately five hours. www.qatarairways.com.
You have to love an island where many residents believe in elves. Visitors will be charmed by trendy capital city Reykjavik. To see the entire island, however, you need to take the 1,330km Route 1, which circles the outskirts. You’ll need ten to 14 days to make it around the full circuit, but if you venture beyond the capital (something fewer than one in ten visitors do), there is enough scenery to make your Instagram explode. Waterfalls, volcanoes, mountains, fjords, lagoons, desolate valleys, glaciers and golden beaches.
Etihad Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to Reykjavik from Dhs3,230. Trip flight time approximately 14 hours. www.etihad.com.
If you have done all the obvious holiday hotspots already try for somewhere away from the well-trodden travel path.
Despite being the third-largest island in the world, and the largest in Asia, Borneo has managed to fly under the radar relative to its neighbours. It’s divided between territories of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia and that makes it something of a melting pot of cultures with influences from each, as well as significant Chinese communities across the island. It makes for interesting sights, sounds and tastes, too. It’s the rainforests and jungle canopies that make Borneo a memorable stamp in even the most well-travelled passports. Orangutan encounters are especially popular with tourists and if your travels have already taken you to great mountains, dive sites, beaches and deserts, the flora and fauna of Borneo will give a new environment for your collection of holiday snaps and stories for decades to come.
Etihad Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to Borneo from Dhs3,070. Trip time approximately13 hours. www.etihad.com.
This island probably hasn’t made it onto your holiday hit list before. That’s likely to change in coming years. Influenced by Senegal (500km to the east) and former colonial ruler Portugal, it’s emerging as a hotspot largely because of its stunning beaches. As with the over-developed and Spanish-owned Canary Islands to the north, the Cape Verde islands are volcanic landmasses rising from the Atlantic. It has miles of beautiful white sandy beaches and different nightlife. Instead of merely blasting out global pop and dance music, you can experience the sounds of morna. This musical genre is a blend of Portuguese, West African and Latin American sounds, and popular across the islands, which could become the next alternative to the Seychelles, Maldives and Mauritius for discerning globetrotters.
Etihad Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to Cape Verde from Dhs6,680. Trip time approximately 19 hours. www.etihad.com.
*Flight prices based on quoted fares from airlines’ websites in the first week of June.