Looking to make the most of your annual leave this year?
We’ve got you covered with our guide to 2017’s hottest destinations – and when you should visit. Happy travel-planning!
Ease into the year by treating yourself to a long weekend in this cheap and cheerful gem, often described as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Despite its compact size, the teardrop-shaped island packs in pristine golden beaches, lush tea plantations, and ancient cities – as well as eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Flight time: 4 hours, 30 minutes (to Colombo)
Price: From Dhs1,014
If you need to impress someone special this Valentine’s Day, look no further than the breathtaking islands of the Maldives. There are many reasons why this blissful nation is a honeymooners’ haven – sparkling white-sand beaches, turquoise lagoons, and romantic bungalows – but we think it would also make a perfect girls’ getaway destination.
Flight time: 4 hours, 30 minutes (to Male)
Price: From Dhs2,249
Spring break on South Beach… need we say more? This Florida hotspot is the party destination of choice for American college students, but it’s now more accessible than ever for spring breakers in the Middle East, with Emirates having launched a daily service between Dubai and Fort Lauderdale at the end of last year.
Flight time: 16 hours, 25 minutes (to Fort Lauderdale)
Price: From Dhs3,430
Springtime is when you can enjoy Japan’s unofficial national flower, the cherry blossom. A popular custom is to have a picnic beneath the blooming trees, with plenty of delicious food and sake. With its ancient temples, shrines and traditional gardens, Kyoto is one of the best places for cherry blossom viewing – try Maruyama Park next to Yasaka Shrine.
Flight time: 8 hours, 50 minutes (to Osaka)
Price: From Dhs3,880
Often overlooked in favour of Spain’s coastal cities, there’s so much to do in the capital you won’t even miss the beach. Art lovers can get lost in the ‘Golden Triangle’ of museums, featuring master painters like Goya, Velazquez and Picasso, while foodies can take on the city’s countless tapas bars – we recommend taking a Devour Madrid food tour for some help with finding the best ones!
Flight time: 8 hours, 10 minutes
Price: From Dhs2,600
Nothing gets us more excited than a new Emirates destination, and we’re already in luck in 2017 – the airline has just announced it will introduce a daily flight from Dubai to the capital of Croatia in June. You’ll find museums and galleries galore, but we’re keen to check out the delightfully zany Museum of Broken Relationships, which displays more than 100 ‘artefacts’ from unlucky in love donators.
Flight time: 7 hours, 5 minutes
Price: From Dhs2,410
New Zealand’s ski season is in full swing at this time of year, so don’t let the long flight put you off – you can release all of that pent-up energy on the slopes. Queenstown is a great place to base yourself, with easy access to popular ski fields like Coronet Peak, Cardrona and The Remarkables. If you really need to get the adrenaline pumping, the ‘adventure capital’ is also famous for jet boating and bungee jumping.
Flight time: 25 hours, 20 minutes (via Sydney)
Airline: Emirates, Jetstar
Price: From Dhs6,135
Beloved by Aussies and Kiwis, this Indonesian island paradise is a year-round destination, but this time of year is when the weather is the most pleasant. Bali has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a flop ‘n’ drop vacation at a luxury resort, or after something a little more adventurous – there’s great surfing, diving, and even white water rafting.
Flight time: 9 hours, 5 minutes
Price: From Dhs2,140
With its grand squares, centuries-old buildings and stunning palaces, the Bavarian capital is as much of a feast for the eyes as it is for the stomach – and there’s plenty of delicious dishes to try, from freshly baked pretzels to sweet apple strudels. If you go in September you’ll also be able to check out Oktoberfest, the world-famous festival.
Flight time: 6 hours, 45 minutes
Price: From Dhs2,790
Celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in this colourful city in northern India. Located on the banks of the sacred River Ganges, Varanasi is considered one of the most spiritual places on Earth. During Diwali, the ghats – the big steps leading down to the river – come alive with thousands of glowing diyas, or earthen lamps, while the water is lit up with floating candles. It’s an experience you won’t forget.
Flight time: 3 hours, 40 minutes (to Delhi)
Price: From Dhs785
Held on the first Tuesday in November, the Emirates Melbourne Cup is Australia’s biggest racing event of the year – so it’s the perfect excuse to dust off your most statement-making fascinator and head Down Under. More obsessed with frocks than thoroughbreds? Melbourne is a fashionista’s paradise, with everything from luxury department stores to outlet malls to cute laneway boutiques.
Flight time: 13 hours, 20 minutes
Price: From Dhs3,860
December is the most magical month for visiting Austria’s capital, when the fragrance of gingerbread wafts from the Christmas markets. The largest market is Christkindlmarkt on the Rathausplatz, which attracts more than three million visitors a year. Around 200 stalls offer a tantalising array of festive treats like pastries, sausage, roast chestnuts, and some of the best hot chocolate you’ll ever taste.
Flight time: 6 hours, 15 minutes
Price: From Dhs2,520