Celebrations UNBOUND

Step away from the usual and visit an exciting new destination as you celebrate the upcoming holiday with your loved ones.

With Eid al-Fitr around the corner, one of the best ways to celebrate and make the most of the extended weekend is to plan a quick trip to a destination not too far away and spend quality time with your family and friends in exciting new settings. Your choices could range from relaxing on a sunny beach, an awe-inspiring break exploring nature or taking in a novel cultural experience.

Here are some of our picks for a quick break during the Eid holidays to make this festive season a memorable one.

AMMAN, JORDAN

Jordan’s vibrant capital Amman is a great choice; from its breathtaking natural landscapes to world-renowned historical and religious sites, this destination is a part of the Middle East waiting to be uncovered. Discover stories of the past as you visit museums and explore ancient Roman ruins, such as the Amman Citadel, on a historic site that dates back to the Bronze Age. It is surrounded by a 1,700m-long wall and the site includes the iconic Temple of Hercules and the Umayyad Palace. Within the citadel are also the ruins of a sixth-century Byzantine Church and the Jordan Archaeological Museum.

Another famous landmark of the city is the Roman Theatre which was built in the second century AD. The modern-day restored version of the theatre is cut into the side of a hill, has a seating capacity of 6,000 people, and hosts many important cultural events and concerts. Travellers can also visit the famous Al-Husseini Mosque, Amman’s oldest mosque and the first major architectural landmark of the Jordanian Kingdom.

On the other hand, Amman has several wonderful souqs spread throughout the city where visitors can find traditional clothes, art pieces, decorations and all kinds of colourful trinkets. Some of the best are Souq Jara, Souq el-Sagha and Souq Mango. Rainbow Street is another famous city hot spot where tourists can experience a great time, be it nightlife, entertainment or delicious meals at various cafes and restaurants with plenty of hip coffee places and charming restaurants with amazing views. Amman is one of the best places to indulge in traditional Arab dishes like falafel, mansaf, baklawa and kunafa (a sweet cheese pastry), amongst many others.

GOA, INDIA

The tropical climate, beautiful beaches and incredible food of Goa are some of the many reasons that make this smallest Indian state a wonderful place for a quick escape. The capital city is Panaji; however, the state is so small that it is treated like one big city.

Travellers can kick off their vacation by checking out sites that embody the history and culture of Goa. Among the best ways to do so is by visiting the many churches, forts and museums spread across this charming region. One of the most famous is the Basilica of Bom Jesus; the church was built in 1605 and is located in Old Goa. It showcases a remarkable architectural style and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The main draw to this destination is its 103km coastline, studded with more than 30 golden-sand beaches. From the lively and bustling shore lines like Candolim, Baga, Ashwem and others in the north to the serene and more relaxed spots such as Palolem, Colva and more in the south, there’s a fit for the most discerning beach lovers. Fort Aguada is a beautiful spot to watch the sunset and is one of many historical forts. The numerous sandy shores also offer some of the most fun and exciting water sports activities for adventurous visitors, from parasailing, jet skiing and banana boat rides to even surfing at selected spots.

Food is undeniably enjoyed and celebrated fully, from tantalising seafood offerings to savoury meat and vegetarian options in local and global preparations (the Indo-Portuguese influence is a treat for the taste buds) – there’s something for everyone. Goa also has an old Latin Quarter in Panaji – Fontainhas. This gorgeous neighbourhood resembles an olden-days European town with its quaint houses built in a Portuguese architectural style. Other major draws to this area are its buzzing nightlife, amazing flea markets and night bazaars. Some of India’s best luxury resorts and wellness spas are located in Goa.

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN

Azerbaijan’s capital and largest city, Baku, is positioned on the shores of the Caspian Sea. This beautiful city is an authentic blend of the old and new which is witnessed in its concurrent historical and modern architecture.

Situated in the heart of Baku is the ancient Old City or the Walled City of Baku. Located inside is the Maiden Tower, an iconic structure built in the 12th century which, on summiting, provides an incredible view of the surrounding areas. Another unique site is the stunning Shirvanshahs’ Palace, built in the 15th century by the Shirvanshah kingdom. These three locations have been recognised as Azerbaijan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The city also includes the remarkable Bibi-Heybat Mosque. These sites are amongst the focal points of tradition, culture and history and attract travellers from around the world.

On the modern side of things are the Baku Flame Towers, a captivating addition to the skyline that’s been inspired by Azerbaijan’s long history of fire worshipping.

The popular Azerbaijan Carpet Museum showcases one of the most exquisite carpet and rug collections in the world. And the Heydar Aliyev Center is a fantastic representation of modern architecture and engineering with its distinctive fluid and curved design. The building was designed by the prestigious architect Zaha Hadid and hosts frequent cultural events and exhibitions.

Visitors can also stroll along the Baku Boulevard, a breezy promenade built along the city’s seafront, that’s popular with both tourists and locals as it includes attractions such as shopping malls, restaurants, cafes, tea houses, a Ferris wheel and much more. The capital also has streets brimming with exciting markets and food stalls, along with restaurants offering some of the country’s best culinary experiences.

Gobustan National Park, where you find the unique mud volcanoes (around 67km southwest of the centre of Baku), makes for an ideal trip out of the capital to explore the anthropological sites and the singular landscape of the area.

LIMASSOL, CYPRUS

Located on the southern coast of Cyprus, Limassol is the second-largest city in the country. It is home to more than 10 Blue Flag-awarded beaches, ancient history, an exciting nightlife scene and amazing cuisine, making it one of the most attractive destinations on the island.

The spectacular Limassol Marina is considered one of the best and most modern marinas in the Mediterranean area. It provides for the mooring of yachts at sea and onshore. The project also includes luxury residences, commercial units and restaurants, making it a major attraction for visitors. Limassol boasts must-visit beaches such as Kourion and Governor’s. For those travelling with kids, Fasouri Watermania Waterpark is among the area’s most fun things to do. For history buffs, Limassol has a lot to offer including the famous Kolossi Castle, built in the 13th century and one of most important fortresses from the Frankish period in Cyprus. The archaeological remains of Kourion, a significant ancient city, are perched atop a hill with fantastic sea views. Visitors can also indulge in tasty traditional Cypriot food with elements from Greek, Turkish and other cuisines but mainly based on the very healthy and nourishing Mediterranean diet.

The region is also well known for being surrounded by some of the best grape villages with breathtaking scenery where travellers can enjoy excellent choices of local grapes. If you are looking for a lesser-visited gem, Pissouri is worth a stopover. Located around 37km from Limassol, the tranquil beach is the perfect spot for sunbathing and swimming. It consists of golden sand with a mixture of pebbles and stones. Pissouri is an idyllic place with many lovely taverns, coffee shops, pretty chapels and a historic Gothic church.

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