Spring break is around the corner, with most private schools in the UAE scheduled to close from March 27 to April 10.
Pupils will have the two-week break at the beginning of Ramadan, which is expected to begin in the UAE on March 23 — although the official date will be determined by the country's moon-sighting committee closer to the time.
There are plenty of deals to be had for travellers looking to escape on a budget. From exploring ancient history in Egypt's Alexandria to sun-seeking in the Maldives, these last-minute getaways are still available.
1. Underrated Albania
Albania has been growing in popularity as travellers increasingly discover how diverse and affordable the European destination can be. Known for its Adriatic and Ionian coastlines, plus its mountain peaks, Albania can be reached via a six-hour flight from Dubai.
Holiday Factory’s Albanian winter deal is still valid for departures before the end of March. It includes flights to Tirana with flydubai and four nights accommodation, including a hotel stay in the bustling capital and a stint in Korce, the country's cultural and economic centre. Also included are transfers to and from the airport, and between the cities.
From Dh2,999; including flights and hotels; www.holiday-factory.com
2. Georgia in the spring
Georgia still ranks highly when it comes to budget getaways and since it is only a three-and-a-half-hour flight from the UAE, it is ideal for a short break. Air Arabia Holidays is offering a five-night visit to Tbilisi, Georgia’s picturesque capital, departing from Abu Dhabi.
Travellers can stay at the colourful three-star Boutique Hotel Mojo, which is 600 metres from a mall, 6km from Tbilisi Zoo and 9km from Tbilisi Opera and Freedom Square. Visit the sulphur baths of Old Tbilisi, go shopping in the Meidan Bazar, tuck into Georgian cuisine and enjoy the springtime weather in this underrated destination. Transfers to and from the airport are included.
From Dh2,373 per person; including flights and hotel; www.airarabiaholidays.com
3. Self-drive adventures in Oman
For those craving a change of scenery but who don’t fancy flying, Trekkup Dubai’s trip to Oman for spring break is well worth considering.
Departing on March 31, it’s a two-night venture at a time when the country is welcoming its spring blooms. A five-hour drive to Oman takes travellers to their hotel, where an early night is recommended in preparation for an early start the following day. Heading to Jebel Akhdar — Oman’s green mountain — there's a group hike into a wadi, where banana and papaya plantations lead the way to the famed black pools of Maraibis for the chance of a quick dip. Post-hike, the sunset from Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, the highest point on the mountain, is recommended.
A hike through rose plantations takes place the next day. From mid-March until May, farms in these highlands turn pink as rosebuds flourish. Trekking to the Omani village of Al Ain, guests can see the process of rosewater making first-hand, before starting the drive back to Dubai with a few stops along the way.
Dh980 including hotel, hiking and all meals; www.meetup.com
4. Exploring Egypt's Alexandria
Alexandria on the north coast of Egypt is a striking city surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. One of the great cities of the ancient world, there's plenty for travellers to see and do, and the weather in March is particularly pleasant.
Flydubai Holidays offers a three-night trip to Alexandria, departing from Dubai, with accommodation at the five-star Hilton Alexandria Green Plaza. This Art Deco-style hotel has a spa, two outdoor swimming pools and a well-equipped fitness centre, making it a good base.
Must-see sights include Pompey’s Pillar, the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, the Citadel of Qaitbay and a drive along the corniche to visit the Alexandria National Museum and Bibliotheca Alexandrina. And for anyone that's not yet visited Egypt’s Great Pyramid, the Giza Plateau is reachable via an easy day trip from Alexandria.
Dh1,979.65 per person; including flights and hotel; www.bookholidays.flydubai.com
5. The Maldives on a budget
Wizz Air's new direct flights from Abu Dhabi mean a budget holiday to the Maldives is now possible, and there's availability for the spring break. The Indian Ocean destination is a four-hour flight from the UAE and offers golden shorelines, overwater villas and some of the world’s best sunsets.
The Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives is arguably the most beautiful Holiday Inn in the world. Set on Kandooma Fushi South Male Atoll, it is reached by a 45-minute speedboat transfer. There’s a sprawling outdoor swimming pool, surrounded by palm trees, three on-site restaurants and several bars, a fully-equipped health and fitness suite and a garden spa. Little ones can enjoy playing in the Kandoo Kids Club and children up to the age of 12 stay and eat for free.
6. A city break in Amman
The Jordanian capital has plenty of sightseeing opportunities with the option to visit the Dead Sea for the day. Etihad Holidays is offering a three-day package, giving visitors enough time to familiarise themselves with the city.
The offer includes accommodation at the five-star Kempinski Hotel Amman, which is in the heart of the city and has a spa, swimming pool and entertainment centre. Rainbow Street, about a 10-minute drive from the hotel, is popular for having great places to eat, drink and people-watch. The city's myriad ancient monuments, including the Citadel and the Roman Amphitheatre, can be explored the Dead Sea is merely an hour from the capital.
Dh3,595 per person, including flights and hotel; www.etihadholidays.com