Where to go when: summer 2015
Portland, Maine, US
While Boston is usually the most popular New England city for tourists, Portland offers a more laid-back experience. Those visiting during the month of June will find that the crowds are still manageable as peak season doesn’t kick off until July. And with cooler temperatures than Boston, June makes for a great time to take advantage of the many outdoor activities. This month also marks lobster season, making it the ideal time to try one of Maine’s best-known dishes: the lobster roll. Portland Discovery (portlanddiscovery.com) offers a number of day tours, including the Portland City and Lighthouse Tour. The 105-minute tour leaves four times daily and visits several historical sites. The Press Hotel opened in the former Portland Press Herald newspaper building this month, and features a newspaper-inspired theme. Double rooms cost from US $299 (Dh1,098) per night, including taxes (thepresshotel.com).
• Return flights on Emirates and Etihad, from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to Portland, via New York, start from Dh5,405 per person, including taxes (emirates.com). Tickets for the tour with Portland Discovery are priced at $24 (Dh88) per adult, and $17 (Dh62) per child, including taxes
Art lovers will want to add Malaga to their summer travel plans. Paris’s Centre Pompidou, known to some as one of the greatest homes of 20th-century art, officially opened in Malaga in March. The collection, dubbed the “Pop-up Pompidou”, is on loan from the Paris museum and housed in a giant glass cube conspicuously named “the cube” (centrepompidou.es). A Louise Bourgeois exhibition will also kick off on June 10 at the city’s Picasso museum, featuring more than 100 pieces of art produced over seven decades. Tickets for the exhibition are priced at €5.50 (Dh21.6) per person (museopicassomalaga.org). Visitors travelling from the UAE will find it even easier to visit Malaga. Adding to the already existing direct flight from Dubai to Madrid on Emirates, Etihad also launched a direct flight to Madrid in March. From there, travellers can either opt for a one-hour-and-10-minute onward flight on Iberia from €80 (Dh314) per person, return, including taxes, or a two-hour-and-40-minute train ride, from €127 (Dh500) per person, return, including taxes.
• Return flights from Abu Dhabi to Madrid on Etihad (etihad.com) start from Dh3,155 per person, including taxes
The German city of Leipzig marks its millennial anniversary this year. To celebrate, the city will host a number of activities for tourists and residents alike. Included among the festivities will be the annual Bach Festival (bachfestleipzig.de/en), a celebration of the city’s most notable son. Taking place from June 12 to 21, classical concerts – featuring several pieces by the composer – will be performed throughout the city. Those looking to visit will also find that June is ideal sightseeing weather, as the temperatures typically reach no higher than 23°C. The city’s thriving art scene has also earned Leipzig the tag of “new Berlin”, with a multitude of museums to frequent. One of the more prominent art spaces is the Baumwollspinnerei, a former cotton mill now home to more than 120 artists’ studios, ranging from dance to theatre; design to production; and print to graphic. Guided tours are available to visitors every Tuesday to Friday, running for approximately two hours or every Saturday, between 11am and 6pm, running for an hour (spinnerei.de).
• Return flights from Dubai to Leipzig on Turkish Airlines, via Istanbul, from Dh2,762 per person, including taxes
Wellington, New Zealand
Wellington will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a number of activities taking place in the New Zealand capital. This includes a weekend-long celebration at the end of July with an anniversary party and talks on the capital’s history at Victoria University, Pipitea Campus (eventfinder.co.nz). As the weather is particularly mild this time of year – reaching no higher than 12°C – consider taking advantage of the desirable cooler climes with outdoor activities or a tour. Take the Wellington cable car to the Botanic Garden, which showcases local flora and a sculpture trail featuring works by Henry Moore and Regan Gentry. Local tour group Wellington Guided Tours (wellingtonguidedtours.co.nz) offers a number of guided tours, including the Wellington City and South Coast half-day package, priced at 55 New Zealand dollars (Dh155) per person, including taxes. The itinerary starts by tracing the original 1820 shoreline, moves into the Golden Mile of the city centre, on to the Cook Strait and, on a clear day, there are views over to the South Island.
• Return flights on Etihad from Abu Dhabi to Wellington, via Sydney, start from Dh7,525 per person, including taxes
Naadam, or the Manly Games, is held during July in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. Centuries ago, the festival allowed Mongolians to celebrate community, honour the mountain gods and perform sacrifices. Today, the three-day festival begins with an opening ceremony – starting at 9am – followed by three days of The Three Games of Men (though women can take part as well). The activities include wrestling (men only), horse racing and archery. US-based tour group Blue Silk Travel (bluesilktravel.com) is offering a 13-day itinerary, with the three-day festival included, from July 5 to 17. Guests will also visit Unesco World Heritage Orkhon Valley, the Gobi Desert and Ulaanbaatar. For those exploring the city on their own, the Shangri-La Hotel Ulaanbaatar is now open, with rooms starting from Dh910, per night, including taxes (shangri-la.com).
• Return flights with Korean Air, from Abu Dhabi to Ulaanbaatar, via Seoul, start from Dh5,228 per person, including taxes. The Nomadic Scenes and Naadam package with Blue Silk Travel starts from US$3,775 (Dh13,866) per person, based on double occupancy, including accommodation and taxes
Those looking to get away from the heat of the summer will find reprieve in Newfoundland. Tourists will find that the icebergs that arrived in April stick around until July, making for excellent photo ops. But the real draw is the wildlife, with whale- and birdwatching in peak season during July. For those looking to experience both, tour group Gatherall’s offers its Puffin and Whale Watching tour (gatheralls.com). The 90-minute cruise features the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, an ideal location for whale watching. Tickets start from 57 Canadian dollars (Dh170) per person, including taxes. There are also a variety of free arts performances at Elizabeth Swan Park in Clarenville, part of the Arts Under the Stars festival. An hour’s drive from the province’s capital of St John’s, the festival is free to attend and runs from July 2 to 15 (clarenville.net). Day tours of St John’s are also available with local tour group McCarthy’s Party (mccarthysparty.com).
• Return flights with Etihad and Emirates, from Abu Dhabi and Dubai to New York start from Dh7,905 per person, including taxes. Return flights on Air Canada (aircanada.com) to St John’s start from Canadian dollars 636 (Dh1,902)
The island country of Singapore marks its 50th anniversary of independence from Malaysia this year. To celebrate, a number of festivities will take place, many falling during August. Part of the celebrations are the Jubilee Weekend programmes, which will take place from August 7 to 10. The festival will include a floral depiction of the Singapore Story (the events that led to Singapore’s independence) at Gardens by the Bay, fun runs and walks, dance and music performances and a fireworks display. The National Day Parade will also take place on August 9 and will start from the Marina Bay area and finish at Padang (singapore50.sg). The American tour company Remote Lands (remotelands.com) also offers a four-day package around Singapore, which includes a tour of ancient and modern architecture, a bumboat river cruise, a trip to Sentosa island and a night safari.
• Return flights from Dubai to Singapore on Emirates start from Dh2,675 per person, including taxes. The Classic Singapore package with Remote Islands starts from US$3,240 (Dh11,900) per person, based on double room occupancy and includes meals and taxes
August in the Scottish capital means one thing: festivals. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe – said to be the largest arts festival in the world – runs from August 7 to 31 and features a plethora of comedians, dancers, musicians, and poets. Performances will be held in venues across the city with ticket prices varying from show to show, though some are free (edfringe.com). Visitors can also attend the Edinburgh Art Festival, the United Kingdom’s largest annual celebration of visual art, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. For the travellers who want to experience something a bit different, the 2015 Scottish Highland Games also take place throughout the summer months. Running from May to September, these ancient games acted (and still do today) as a test of strength between clans. Those hoping to attend can book in with local tour group Highland Explorer Tours (highlandexplorertours.com) for a day tour of the games.
• Return direct flights from Abu Dhabi to Edinburgh on Etihad start from Dh4,835 per person, including taxes. Prices of tickets for the Highland Games itinerary are US $109 (Dh400) per adult, including taxes
While the weather begins to cool down during September, the Dutch capital is still buzzing with entertainment. The Amsterdam Fringe Festival, running from September 3 to 13, showcases the talents of home-grown and international artists. Ticket prices for the festival, held at more than 25 venues across the city, start at €7 (Dh27) per person, including taxes (amsterdamfringefestival.nl). For the runners visiting Amsterdam, The Dam tot Damloop (Dam to Dam Run) will also take place during this month. The 16.1km loop, spanning from Amsterdam to the heart of Zaandam, brings more than 35,000 runners each year. The race includes shorter distances for kids and a walking and running option for non-runners. Taking place on September 19 and 20, the event also includes live performances (iamsterdam.com). The once England-based Hoxton hotel is also expanding into mainland Europe, including a new location recently opened in Amsterdam. Visitors can book into a room for the starting price of €89 (Dh350) per night, including taxes (thehoxton.com).
• Return flights from Dubai to Amsterdam on Emirates start from Dh3,925 per person, including taxes
With Etihad now flying direct four times a week from Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong, it’s easier for UAE residents to reach the island country. This year, the Mid Autumn Festival – a harvest festival – falls on September 27 and with it brings traditional moon cakes and the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance performance. The performances will run from September 26 to 28 (discoverhongkong.com). Carnivals are also held across Hong Kong as part of the celebrations and include shows, game stalls and lantern riddle quizzes. One of the better-known carnivals is held in Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island. September also marks the best summer month to visit Hong Kong with temperatures typically not exceeding 30°C. It is suggested, however, to bring an umbrella as rain is always a possibility. Visitors looking for a place to stay off Hong Kong Island should consider the newly opened Hotel Sáv. Launched early this year, the hotel is located in Kowloon and offers rooms starting from Hong Kong dollars 1,155 (Dh547) per night, including taxes (hotelsav.com).
• Return direct flights from Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong on Etihad start from Dh3,105 per person, including taxes
Marking the start of spring, September in the Australian city of Brisbane means pleasant weather and a variety of outdoor activities. With whale-watching season falling this month, a number of tour companies are offering day packages. Local tour group Brisbane Whale Watching runs a day cruise out on Moreton Bay. Leaving seven days a week from the Redcliffe Jetty, the tour takes approximately five hours. Prices are 135 Australian dollars per adult (Dh387), including lunch and taxes (brisbanewhalewatching.com.au). The Brisbane Festival runs this month, featuring a wide range of cultural performances. The festival will be held from September 5 to 26 in venues across the city (brisbanefestival.com.au). The Capri by Fraser hotel apartments are available for bookings, having opened its doors earlier this year. Located in the heart of the city and within walking distance from the Queen Street Mall and City Botanical Gardens, rooms start from AUD199 (Dh570) per night, including taxes.
• Return direct flights from Abu Dhabi to Brisbane on Etihad start from Dh6,705 per person, including taxes
Updated: May 21, 2015 04:00 AM