Where to go when: spring 2015
Named the Islamic Capital of Culture for 2015, Nizwa, once the capital of Oman, is using this year to promote its lesser-known historical and cultural sites. With mountain safaris and the 17th-century Nizwa Fort, there’s plenty to keep a traveller engaged. And it’s all practically on your doorstep. Nizwa is a mere two hours' drive from Muscat, a city that Etihad, Emirates and FlyDubai fly to. Alternatively, visitors who do not wish to fly can drive there via Al Ain. Dubai-based Desert Adventures is offering day tours to Nizwa from Muscat, visiting the Jabreen Castle (45km from Nizwa) and Bahla fort. Prices start from $115 (Dh422; desertadventures.com). Sahab Hotel in Nizwa also offers guests day activities, including trekking. Prices start from 20 Omani riyals (Dh190), including taxes.
Double rooms at the Sahab Hotel start from 97 Omani riyals (Dh925), per night, including taxes (sahab-hotel.com). Return flights on Etihad start from Dh625 per person, including taxes
Japan’s famous cherry blossoms are in full bloom during this month, engulfing cities like Kyoto and Osaka in a sea of pink. April also marks the beginning of Japan’s “Golden Week”, a seven-day period spent celebrating nine holidays. Starting April 29 and ending May 5, the first holiday, Showa Day, celebrates with a number of festivities that can be viewed from Shiba Park and Tokyo Tower. Those looking for a luxurious experience can stay at the newly opened Aman Tokyo Resort. Prices start from 91,930 Japanese yen (Dh2,850) per night, including taxes (amanresorts.com). Black Tomato is offering an eight-night trip, with a primary focus on Kyoto. Travellers will spend three days in Tokyo before taking the bullet train to Kyoto. Once there, guests will visit a number of sites including Nijo Castle and Maruyama Park. The package includes accommodation, return flights from the UAE on Emirates, private transfers and tours, and some meals.
Prices start from Dh28,700, per person, including taxes (blacktomato.com)
April is the final month of the dry season in Nicaragua, making it the ideal time to head off for an outdoor adventure in the country’s rainforests and mountains. And while this Central American country’s newest canal project is promising much economically, travellers looking for a trip that is affordable and off the beaten path are urged to go now before it’s too late. Book the 15-day Discover Nicaragua tour with the US-based Adventure Life tour group, which starts in the capital city of Managua and covers a number of locations including San Carlos, El Castillo and Selva Negra. The package includes some meals, accommodation, guide service and international arrival/departure transfers. International flights and departure taxes are not included.
Prices start from $4,325 (Dh15,885) per person, including taxes (adventure-life.com). Emirates flies direct to Houston, with prices starting from Dh4,745. Onward direct flights on United Airlines to Managua start from Dh1,950 per person, including taxes (www.adventure-life.com)
Known for its flaming hillsides and ancient temples, Azerbaijan is a three-hour flight from Dubai, with return direct tickets with FlyDubai starting from Dh1,440, including taxes. While summer in Azerbaijan is both unpleasantly hot and humid, visitors will find the weather in May still pleasant, with maximum temperatures reaching 26°C. May 28 also marks the nation's Republic Day, with celebrations taking place throughout the country. Undiscovered Destinations is offering an eight-day Azerbaijan: Land of Fire package. Commencing on May 24, the itinerary starts in Baku and includes the Absheron Peninsula, Kish and Ganja. Travellers will explore a number of natural and cultural sites, including the Unesco World Heritage Site of Ateshgah and the mud volcanoes. The package includes accommodation, guides, meals and entrance fees. International flights, airport taxes, travel insurance and visas are not included.
Prices start from £1,285 (Dh7,155) per person, including taxes (undiscovered-destinations.com)
From the ancient sites of Persepolis to Amir Chakhmaq Square in Yazd, there’s plenty to keep a curious tourist busy in Iran. The second half of the month also marks the Festival of Rose Water, held in Kashan, the home of the Mohammadi Rose. There, tourists can watch the traditional process of making rose water. Persian Voyages is offering the 15-day Ancient Persia tour, commencing on May 15. Travelling from Tehran to Isfahan, the tour visits the Towers of Silence in Yazd, the Hafez and Saadi Tombs in Shiraz and more. The package includes accommodation (on a twin-sharing basis), airport transfers, breakfast, land transport, all excursions and sightseeing entrance fees, porterage and an English-speaking guide. International flights, visas, lunches, dinners and travel insurance are not included.
Prices start from £1,850 (Dh10,300), per person, including taxes (persianvoyages.com). Direct, return flights on Etihad from Abu Dhabi start from Dh2,535 per person, including taxes
May has been ranked as one of the best times to visit Milan due to mild temperatures and fewer tourists. But this May also marks the start of the Expo Milano 2015, situated in the centre of the city. Running until October and themed “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, the Expo will feature experts, artists, researchers and chefs from more than 140 countries, including the UAE. Each country will showcase its best inventions that aim to create healthy, safe and sufficient food for all. Etihad has also teamed up with Expo Milano 2015 and Alitalia, making it easier for visitors to book both tickets and get there. Those visiting the Italian city during the Expo can explore a variety of events, including a number of exhibitions focusing on foodstuffs like rice and coffee, and themed areas including Food: Rituals Since 1851.
Prices for Expo Milano 2015 tickets start from €32 (Dh133) per person, per day, including taxes (expo2015.org/it). Prices for direct return flights on Etihad start from Dh3,625 per person, including taxes
Updated: March 18, 2015 04:00 AM