10 short-haul flights to take from the GCC for a summer escape

You’ll find yourself lounging by the beach or at a cultural retreat in less than five hours.

Summers in the UAE can be seriously scorching and many people plan to escape to cooler destinations during these oven-hot months. If you haven’t gotten your summer travel plans sorted, fret not. FACT’s got your back. We’ve compiled a list of 10 cities that you can jet off to from the GCC without having to sacrifice too many precious days of your leave. 

Baku, Azerbaijan

This city is less than three hours away from the GCC but it has a lot to offer. With temperatures averaging up to 26 degrees, Baku is pleasantly warm and breezy at this time of the year. As a city rich in history and culture, you can explore the Old City, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or the Maiden Tower which is a 12th-century fortress. Stroll along the Caspian Sea or visit the Flame Towers and grab a traditional Azerbaijani meal at a local restaurant for a truly authentic experience. And with Emirates offering daily flights to Baku, you will be able to find one that fits your schedule easily.

short-haul flights

Colombo, Sri Lanka

A little less than five hours away by air, Colombo offers plenty to do during the summer months. In fact, the monsoon season is perfect for exploring the many parks and festivals that are ongoing in Sri Lanka. Some of the landmarks that are a must-visit include the Gangaramaya Temple, which is a Buddhist temple known for its beautiful architecture and collection of religious artefacts. It also has the Bodhi tree, which is said to be a descendant of the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. Don’t forget to make your way to the Viharamahadevi Park which houses several statues and monuments, including that of King Dutugemunu – one of Sri Lanka’s most famous kings. Plus with daily direct short-haul flights from Emirates, you’ll find a perfect seat in no time. 

short-haul flights

Goa, India

If you’ve watched a ton of Bollywood, you already know what Goa offers. But if not, we’re here to tell you all about the location. About three and a half hours away from the GCC, this Indian city is where the party’s at. With a vibrant nightlife scene and beautiful beaches, this is the perfect summer escape. And while you’re at it, make sure to try some Goan food – it’s one of the best cuisines in the region, and you can try your hand at cooking a Goan meal too. Apart from being a hub of energy, Goa also offers wellness facilities, giving you a chance to unwind, relax and make full use of the numerous Ayurveda centres providing traditional treatments to heal your body and your soul. Air India offers daily flights which means you can snag tickets easily.


Islamabad, Pakistan

Just a three-hour flight from the GCC, you’ll land in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. Summer temperatures range from 25 to 35 degrees, but the cool mountain winds keep it breezy. Don’t miss the Pakistan Monument, perched on a hill, offering stunning city views. The iconic Faisal Mosque is a must-visit with its breathtaking architecture, especially at sunset. Head to Daman e Koh for breathtaking skyline vistas from a hilltop garden. Immerse yourself in Pakistani culture at the Lok Virsa Museum. Nature lovers can explore the city’s hiking trails, unveiling picturesque landscapes at every turn. Islamabad promises an unforgettable adventure. Emirates flies to Islamabad with short-haul flights six times a week.

short-haul flights

Istanbul, Türkiye

Following a five-hour flight, you’ll find yourself in the enchanting city of Istanbul. With an average temperature of 26 degrees, it’s the perfect time to explore because the crowds are not overwhelming, which means shorter queues to visit those must-see historical sites. The first stop is the Hagia Sophia Mosque, a true marvel with a rich history that intertwines both Christian and Muslim traditions. Don’t miss the iconic Topkapi Palace, where you can wander through opulent halls and imagine yourself living in grandeur. And of course, a visit to Istanbul wouldn’t be complete without strolling along Istiklal Street, a bustling hub of shops, cafes and street performers. With daily direct flights from the UAE, getting to Istanbul is easy.

short-haul flights

Kathmandu, Nepal

Kathmandu in Nepal is a four hour flight from the GCC, with an average temperature hovering around a comfortable 27 degrees. Sure, it’s the rainy season due to the monsoon, but don’t let that dampen your spirits. In fact, it’s the best time to visit because the city is less crowded, allowing you to roam around with ease. Kathmandu is a treasure trove of stunning temples such as the Pashupatinath Temple, the Swayambhunath Stupa, also known as the Monkey Temple, and the magnificent Boudhanath Stupa, a symbol of peace and serenity. And with daily direct short-haul flights via FlyDubai, you’ll be there in no time.

short-haul flights

Larnaca, Cyprus

Larnaca offers a lot of sun, sea, and sand – perfect for a summer getaway. Four hours away from the GCC, you can start your day by soaking up the sun on the famous Agia Napa Bay Beaches, including the picturesque Nissi Beach. Explore the historical Agios Lazaros Church and the Turkish Quarter’s pottery shops. If you ask us the one thing you should do in Larnaca, it’s got to be diving the Zenobia wreck. While temperatures cross off a little over 30 degrees in the afternoons, evenings and mornings are usually cooler, giving you the best of both worlds. To get from Dubai to Larnaca, Emirates offers direct daily short-haul flights.

short-haul flights

Mahe, Seychelles

With an average temperature of 24 degrees, Mahe is accessible with short-haul flights that take slightly over four hours with Emirates. Here, you’ll find bliss at Anse Royale Beach, offering crystal-clear waters, abundant marine life and a perfect mix of relaxation and adventure. If you’re a snorkeler or a diver, you’ll be in heaven, exploring the diverse marine ecosystem with colourful fish and vibrant coral reefs. And while you’re there, don’t miss the hidden gem of Ros Sodyer, a natural tidal pool on the rocky coast. Immerse yourself in the island’s rich history at the National Museum of History, where traditional Seychellois artefacts and historical documents tell the story of Seychelles’ cultural heritage. And you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make your Instagram feed envy-inducing. 


Male, Maldives

Hop on a quick four-and-a-half-hour flight and head to Male in the Maldives. With daily direct flights via Emirates, Etihad and Wizz Air, you can start your trip by visiting the Grand Friday Mosque, the biggest and most important mosque in the country. Its simple yet striking architecture, built with white marble and adorned with a majestic golden dome, offers a splendid view of the sea. Next, immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting the bustling Fish Market, where you can interact with the locals and witness an array of fresh fish, including yellow-fin tunas and giant octopuses. Take a moment of tranquillity at the Tsunami Monument near the Artificial Beach, reflecting on the power of nature. Or dive 100 feet into the Indian Ocean and marvel at the vibrant coral reefs and colourful marine life, making for a relaxing vacation.


Tbilisi, Georgia

Just three and a half hours flight from Dubai with FlyDubai, you can experience gorgeous Tbilisi. Relax in the sulphur baths in Old Tbilisi and capture picturesque photos of the domes and Orbeliani Bathhouse. Discover unique Georgian handicrafts and wine in an underground tunnel bazaar, and immerse yourself in the local art scene at Gallery 27. Marvel at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the largest Orthodox Cathedral in Georgia, with its striking golden dome. And don’t forget to indulge in the incredible cuisine that blends European and Asian flavours, making Georgian food truly unforgettable. 

short-haul flights

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