Life & Style

Travelling over the holidays: 5 destinations worth considering

Published December 1, 2023
Maraya, in Ashar Valley, is the world’s largest mirrored building, and hosts art exhibitions and concerts. Photo courtesy: Experience AlUla
Maraya, in Ashar Valley, is the world’s largest mirrored building, and hosts art exhibitions and concerts. Photo courtesy: Experience AlUla

As the winter holidays draw nearer, for those looking for a quick escape or a closer look at festive lights and Christmas decorations, there are plenty of destinations to consider.

Along with a fresh new crop of locales, there are of course, classic cities as well as some that serve as a quick nearby getaway.

Here is a selection of some on our radar.

AlUla, Saudi Arabia

 Photo courtesy: Our Habitas AlUla
Photo courtesy: Our Habitas AlUla

AlUla, an ancient oasis city located in Medina Province, Saudi Arabia, has quick become the newest desert attraction.

At the forefront of the Vision 2030 plan initiated by the Saudi government to modernise the country, the AlUla project is part of a series of major developments that also include Neom and The Red Sea Project. Popular with influencers and early adaptors, it has fast turned into a must-see destination.

It is also situated in the Hejaz, a region that features prominently in the history of Islam while also part of the historic incense route that used to link India and the Gulf to the Levant and Europe.

Hegra – the UNESCO-designated archaeological site – is one of its main attractions, offering plenty unfettered views of magnificent sandstone cliffs and palm groves, as well as Maraya, the world’s tallest mirrored building.

Among other events this season, AlJadidah Arts District in AlUla will host the Infinity Mirror Room by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama until December 31.

Habitas AlUla – one premier resort – offers luxury ‘glamping’, inviting one to tune out and enjoy the hospitality.

Airfare for a roundtrip ticket to Riyadh are approximately Rs100,000 from December 20-26, according to an online ticketing platform.

Paris, France

 A view of Galeries Lafayette at Christmas
A view of Galeries Lafayette at Christmas

A perennial classic, this veritable ‘city of lights’ is especially festive during the winter holiday season, with all the magnificent monuments lit up.

Find refuge in shopping at the historic Galeries Lafayette and the refurbished La Samaritaine, take in the Christmas market in Tuileries Garden next to the Louvre and dine at hotspots like L’Avenue. Also drop by Cédric Grolet for possibly the best patisserie in town.

Paris is also all set to host the Summer Olympics 2024 in July.

A roundtrip to Paris is coming in at approximately Rs230,000 from December 20-26 as noted on an online ticketing platform.

Fujairah, UAE

 A view of the Address Beach Resort, Fujairah. Picture courtesy: Address Hotels + Resorts
A view of the Address Beach Resort, Fujairah. Picture courtesy: Address Hotels + Resorts

This stunning seascaped locale is the seventh-largest city in UAE, located on the Gulf of Oman.

Popular for respite from its busy sister cities – Abu Dhabi and Dubai – its rugged mountains, valleys, waterfalls, oases and wide sandy beaches offer much to take in.

Also popular are the restored Fujairah Fort and the nearby Fujairah Museum as well as the Wadi Al Wurayah waterfalls and Ain Al Madhab Gardens.

The marble-inlayed Sheikh Zayed Mosque – the second largest in the UAE – is also not to be missed.

A roundtrip ticket to Fujairah is currently coming in at Rs95,000 from December 20-26, according to an online ticketing platform.

Seychelles, Republic of Seychelles

For those looking for an authentic island experience, this archipelago made up of over 100 islands in the Indian Ocean offer everything from sailing, snorkelling and fishing and sightings of the famous giant tortoises.

Try island-hopping, especially from the main island of Mahé, as well as take in the stunning beach pockets of Petite Anse, Anse Soleil, Anse a la Mouche and Port Launay.

More activities include waterfall-studded hikes, coral-lined waters and a stroll through Victoria, the capital city of Seychelles.

Airfare for a roundtrip ticket to Victoria is approximately Rs172,000 from December 20-26, according to an online ticketing platform.

Ras Al-Khaimah, UAE

Another picturesque emirate city, this coastal enclave boasts miles of white sandy beaches, the stunning Hajjar mountains and clear blue waters.

Try Jais Flight – the world’s longest zipline through mountain peaks, Dhaiya Fort, hiking, desert villages and 1484 by Puro - the highest restaurant in the UAE – located in the Jebel Jais Mountains.

A series of luxury resorts such as the Waldorf Astoria and the Ritz-Carlton offer year-round amenities as well as desert safaris. The UAE’s first casino is also set to open on Al Marjan island in 2026, in collaboration with Las Vegas’ famed Wynn Resorts.

The city is also a 40-minute drive from Dubai International Airport, for easy access.

Airfare for a roundtrip ticket to Dubai is approximately Rs76,000 from December 20-26 as per an online ticketing platform.

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