The Dubai to London Heathrow trip can be as regular for some UAE residents as it is driving between Abu Dhabi and Dubai on the Sheikh Zayed Road. But for travellers who want a change or would prefer to land elsewhere in the vicinity of the UK capital, a new option is opening up as Emirates is to start flying direct to London Stansted Airport from June 8.
The airport is connected to London via several train and coach services, taking about 45 minutes to reach the city centre. Located to the north east of London, it provides access to a host of attractions in the east of England which may have been overlooked by travellers landing at Heathrow.
So, here's a number of things to see and do if you're landing at London Stansted and don't fancy heading into central London:
Imperial War Museum Duxford
A must-see for aviation enthusiasts, the Imperial War Museum Duxford is home to some of the most famous aircraft from years gone by, including the Spitfire, Tiger Moth and Concorde, and from more modern times, the Typhoon and Blackbird spy plane. There are plenty of historical stories on display and there's the Battle of Britain Air Show, which brings to life Duxford's finest hour as an important Second World War fighter station, taking place on September 22-23. Tickets for general admission to Duxford start from £15.55 for adults and £7.75 for children aged between five and 15.
No, you don't have to be a student or member of staff to go to the university, and yes, it is far more than just a bunch of youngsters reading books and sitting in lectures. The University has nine museums and collections which are open to the public throughout the year. The earliest record of the university dates as far back as 1209 and while parts of it have been modernised, there is plenty of stunning historical architecture still present, including King's College Chapel. Visitors may also like to go punting on the River Cam. Punting? That would be traversing the waterway in a boat generally made of wood, where the vessel is propelled by a person standing on the end with a long pole which is used to push off the river bed.
This isn't your average area of gently rolling countryside - this is what is known as "Constable Country" after the lauded artist John Constable (1776-1837) who used the scenery in many of his famous paintings. Located on the Essex-Suffolk border, it is a designated area of outstanding natural beauty and offers the opportunity to walk in Constable's footsteps along the many trails through the landscape. The site of his most famous painting, The Hay Wain, can be found at Flatford.
If you are seeking uncomplicated fun and maybe some fish and chips for dinner, then head to the world's longest pleasure pier, which stretches 1.34 miles out to sea. If you don't have the energy to walk the entire length, a train is available and at the end you can visit the pier museum and breathe in fresh sea air. The pier was built in 1830 and is the focal point of what is a traditional seaside town. All day tickets including the train journey cost £7.20 for adults and £3.60 for children.
Warner Bros Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter
Even if you're not keen on the Harry Potter series, there must be a tingling of intrigue over how the films were made. The studio tour lets you take in some of the sets, including the Great Hall and Platform 9 and 3/4 where the Hogwarts Locomotive departs from. It's a must visit for families, though be aware that tickets are not cheap - a saver ticket for two adults and two children costs £124 (Dh605).
History buffs should know that Colchester is Britain's oldest recorded town - the earliest record of its existence is a reference by the Roman writer, Pliny the Elder, in 77AD when he referred to it as "Camulodunum". What they may not know is that Pliny died two years later as a victim of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius which buried Pompeii. Camulodunum became the capital of Roman Britain in 43AD but in 61AD Boudica of the Celtic Iceni tribe, burned the town down. Today, there remains Colchester Castle, which is open to visitors and has the largest Norman Keep in Europe. Parts of the Roman wall are also still standing along with Balkerne Gate - the original entrance to the town. For those preferring something more current, the town has an impressive zoo containing more than 260 species. Entry to the castle costs £9.95 for adults and £4.95 for children aged 4-16.
Bury St Edmunds
Another historic town, Bury is smaller and quieter than Colchester but has plenty to offer such as the St Edmundsbury Cathedral and the ruins of the 11th Century Abbey of St Edmund. For those who can't put their phones down, there is the opportunity of a picture on the world's first internet bench which was installed by Microsoft in 2001 in the town's Abbey Gardens. The town also has the only surviving Regency playhouse in Britain, and, at 15ft by 7ft, what was until a few years ago the smallest public house in Britain - called The Nutshell.