Eid Al Adha holidays: 10 short breaks less than five hours from the UAE

From Sri Lanka to Oman, India to Georgia, here's the travel inspiration you need for your 2024 getaway

Taksim Square is a popular stop for tourists visiting Istanbul. AP
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Still thinking about going away for the upcoming Eid Al Adha break, but haven't decided where to go?

Luckily, the UAE, sitting between Europe and Asia, is a great base for travel, conveniently located for many holiday destinations.

Whether you fancy hopping across to neighbouring Oman or are OK to spend a few more hours travelling to reach the magic of Istanbul, there's plenty on offer for a short break this Eid Al Adha.

Here are 10 places to consider, all of which are within a five-hour flight of the UAE.

Muscat, Oman

How long is the flight? One hour

Which airlines fly direct to Muscat? Etihad Airways, Wizz Air, Emirates, Air Arabia, Oman Air, Salam Air

For a super-quick escape, Muscat is a good choice and a well-worn favourite with UAE residents. Visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, head to the harbour to check out the imposing structure of Al Jalali Fort or book tickets for a tour of the Royal Opera House along with its music exhibition.

For ocean vibes, make for the coast to spend the day at Zale Beach Club at Kempinski Hotel Muscat, unwind at The Chedi, or take a trip to the old town to soak up the vibe at Mutrah Souq.

Baku, Azerbaijan

How long is the flight? Three hours

Which airlines fly direct to Baku? Emirates, flydubai, Wizz Air, Air Arabia

Expect Parisian-style boulevards and Caspian coastlines with fantastic seafood plus amazing architecture such as the Heydar Aliyev Centre, one of the last projects from the late architect Zaha Hadid. Baku’s centre is a Unesco World Heritage Site with a fascinating history; sights include the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and the 12-century Maiden Tower. Elsewhere, discover mud volcanoes in Gobustan National Park – it's worth the hour-long bumpy ride to see these unique natural phenomena.

Dushanbe, Tajikistan

How long is the flight? Three hours

Which airlines fly direct to Dushanbe? Emirates, flydubai, Somon Air

Leafy boulevards, manicured parks and pastel-coloured buildings await in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, which is quite a contrast to the rest of the country’s wilderness. Visit Rudaki Park to see its animated fountains, statues and monuments. Or head to the National Museum of Tajikistan that gets rave reviews, and don't miss the Ethnography Museum next door. Cuisine here tends to be a fusion of Arabic, Middle Eastern, Chinese and international influences. Highly recommended is Chaykhona Rokhat, a tea house built in 1958 that has elaborate decor.

Tbilisi, Georgia

How long is the flight? About three and a half hours

Which airlines fly direct to Tbilisi? Emirates, Air Arabia, flydubai

Georgia sits at the ancient crossroads between Asia and Europe on the Silk Road. Capital city Tbilisi has something for everyone with centuries-old ruins, beautiful botanical gardens and bustling street life. The Caucasus country has a summer average temperature of 30ºC, so not too hot for sightseeing. Take a wander around Meidan Square, hop on a cable car to Turtle Lake or keep little ones happy with a trip to Mtatsminda Park, the Georgian equivalent of Disneyland.

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

How long is the flight? Four hours

Which airlines fly direct to Bishkek? Wizz Air, flydubai, Air Arabia

Bishkek is laid out in a grid, with wide boulevards and plenty of green space. Soviet-era apartment complexes are next to marble-fronted buildings and orchards are flanked by irrigation canals. Ala-Too, Bishkek’s largest square, is its cultural epicentre. Visit the State Historical Museum, formerly known as the Lenin Museum, for a walk through history. Or explore the thriving arts scene by going to Gallery M, founded by local creatives Momunbek Akmatkulov and Zhyldyz Oruzbayeva, which specialises in contemporary art, including painting, graphics, sculpture and photography.

Kathmandu, Nepal

How long is the flight? Just over four hours

Which airlines fly direct to Kathmandu: Emirates, flydubai, Air Arabia, Himalaya Airlines

This valley-steeped capital city is one of the world's most sensory places, where colour, chaos and congestion combine. Expect endless traffic-filled alleyways, crowded streets and persistent traders at every turn. But stay a while, and you'll discover a fondness for its people, the delicious momos, ancient temples and perhaps even the chaos of Thamel, as well as the sprawling Chandragiri Hills that offer amazing views of Mount Everest on a clear day.

Colombo, Sri Lanka

How long is the flight? Just over four hours

Which airlines fly direct to Colombo? Etihad Airways, Emirates, flydubai, Air Arabia, Sri Lankan Airlines

Sri Lanka is a long-time favourite for those seeking a quick getaway from the UAE. The teardrop island has everything from beaches and lakes to jungles and mountains. And capital city Colombo is a buzzy spot that's a fascinating mix of cultures and religions, lined with churches, temples and mosques. There's a rich arts scene with countless galleries and markets, and urban renewal has created new hotspots such as the Dutch Hospital, a 400-year-old building converted into a shopping and dining complex; and the warehouses of Park Street Mews, which are now the place to go for retail therapy and dining out.

Chennai, India

How long is the flight? About four and a half hours

Which airlines fly direct to Chennai? Etihad Airways, Emirates, Air Arabia, Air India, IndiGo

The vibrant city by the sea has a rich blend of cultural, historic and modern attractions. This includes Marina Beach, a stretch of shoreline along the Bay of Bengal that's the world’s second-longest urban beach, and is ideal for a morning stroll or some evening relaxation. Visit Fort St George, a colonial relic on the edge of the city that houses a museum and the majestic St Mary's Church, or head for Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Mylapore that showcases Dravidian architecture and intricate carvings.

Larnaca, Cyprus

How long is the flight? About four and a half hours

Which airlines fly direct to Larnaca? Emirates, Wizz Air

Larnaca offers fabulous beaches thanks to a 75km coastline with plentiful sandy spots, ideal for activities such as kitesurfing, windsurfing and jet-skiing. The city is also conveniently compact, which is great for sightseeing. Head to Larnaca Castle and stop at the Church of Saint Lazarus. Or visit the Hala Sultan Tekke, an ancient mosque on Larnaca Salt Lake. There are great hiking opportunities with amazing vistas, and sea temperatures are pleasant and offer excellent diving opportunities. Enjoy traditional cuisine, inspired by Arabic, Greek, Mediterranean and Turkish fare.

Istanbul, Turkey

How long is the flight? About five hours

Which airlines fly direct to Istanbul? Emirates, Etihad Airways, flydubai, Air Arabia, Pegasus, Turkish Airlines

Istanbul lies at the crossheads of two continents. There is more than 2,500 years of history, culture, and traditions ripe for exploring in this fascinating city. Expect fantastic food, amazing landmarks and views that are well worth travelling for. Visit Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and go shopping at the Grand Bazaar. A cruise on the Bosphorus is one of the most interesting ways to soak in the vibes.

Updated: June 06, 2024, 1:52 PM