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Find your balance: Bustling cities meet serene retreats

Offering the best of both worlds, these destinations blend the dynamic energy of big cities with the serenity of tranquil escapes

What is your idea of a perfect vacation? Is it a secluded retreat where you can disconnect entirely or do you thrive on the energy of a bustling city? Whether you're craving a bit of both or looking for a destination that appeals to every family member, look no further. From vibrant neighbourhoods that offer everything from shopping to world-class museums to serene getaways immersed in nature, these destinations tick all the boxes.

Abu Dhabi

Museums... check

Theme parks... check

Nature... check

The UAE capital truly has it all! On Saadiyat Island, explore the world's single largest concentration of cultural venues, including the renowned Louvre Abu Dhabi and Manarat Al Saadiyat. With Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi set to open soon, there will be even more to explore. Meanwhile, Yas Island hosts renowned theme parks and family entertainment venues, including Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld, Warner Bros. World and Seaworld Abu Dhabi, offering everything from record-breaking roller coasters to amusement rides and immersive showcases.

With such a vibrant offering, it's hard to imagine that the emirate's tranquil mangroves are only a stone's throw away from the city centre. A kayaking journey through Abu Dhabi's mangrove forest is the ideal opportunity to leave the bustle behind, with only birdsong and the gentle rush of water as your soundtrack.


Discover Riyadh's home of all things creative at the newly-opened JAX District. Prestigious galleries and acclaimed artists have made some of the 100 renovated warehouses here their permanent address in the kingdom. It presents the chance to explore the first contemporary art museum in the country alongside groundbreaking exhibitions and events, most notably the Contemporary Arts Biennale. Adding to the unparalleled cultural experience is its vibrant programme of live events and pop-up markets.

From the art world to the Edge of the World, this famous natural wonder on the outskirts of Riyadh features a one-kilometre cliff that sits at the end of the 800-kilometre-long Tuwair Mountain range. It is ideal for hikers and climbers, who will be rewarded with glorious views of the deep valley drop below and the endless expanse of the desert beyond.


Strolling along Batumi's charming corniche is one of the best ways to experience the vibrant spirit of this dynamic city. Whether you're marvelling at the modern architecture lining the coast or taking a detour to explore the historic sights of the Old Town, the city's energy is irresistible.

For a peaceful piece of paradise, embark on a scenic two-hour drive to the town of Martvili, where you'll discover the picturesque countryside leading to one of Georgia's most stunning canyons. Whether by boat or along well-marked hiking trails, the beauty of this natural wonder is truly captivating.


A trip to Marrakesh wouldn't be complete without a visit to the famed Jemaa el-Fnaa. It represents a coming together of Morocco's storied culture, traditions and people, with live performances taking place throughout the day and market stalls offering everything from fortune-telling to artisan souvenirs. An enduring symbol of the city, it encapsulates the very pulse of Morocco, captivating all who wander its lively streets.

Then, for a breath of fresh mountain air, head to the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and trek to a local Berber village, where the residents will welcome you with refreshing mint tea. Venture further to discover the famous cascades of Setti Fadma (Seven Waterfalls) and lose yourself in its staggering beauty.

Dar es Salaam

While Dar es Salaam was once a quiet fishing village on the East coast of Africa, it has now grown into a thriving metropolis home to over four million people. Spending time in its city centre provides a window into the local way of life, especially in its vibrant markets.

Just off the city's northern coast lies the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserve System, comprising four uninhabited islands. Among these, Bongoyo is most preferred as a quick getaway, thanks to its scenic beaches and excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities. As you immerse yourself in its spectacularly serene settings, you may encounter fascinating creatures such as coconut crabs, while playful dolphins may sometimes be spotted.


The buzzing city of Beirut appears on almost every list of the world's most beautiful cities. Strolling along its famed seaside promenade, lined with palm trees, it's easy to see why. Not only does this vantage point offer amazing views of the Mediterranean Sea and iconic landmarks like Pigeon Rock (also known as the Rock of Raouché), but it also reveals how the locals enjoy their leisure time, indulging in evening jogs, cycling, skating and pole fishing.

To delve further into the country's history, take a trip to the Baalbek Ruins northeast of Beirut. Here, you can lose yourself in this atmospheric Roman temple complex, which is one of the region's major archaeological highlights. The site features the monumental Temple of Jupiter and the well-preserved Temple of Bacchus, sure to take you back in time.


The mere mention of Dubai immediately conjures images of a fast-paced city with tall towers piercing the skies. To soak up the vibe, there's no place quite like Downtown Dubai, home to the emirate's most iconic attractions, including Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and The Dubai Fountain. Whether you choose to pursue as many photo opportunities as you can among these towering structures or shop until you drop at one of the world's largest malls, few cities match the glitz and glamour of Dubai.

Yet, if you're chasing a more serene side to the emirate, Dubai's inland exclave of Hatta is a striking contrast to life in the city. Nestled amid the rust-hued Hajar Mountains, this picture-perfect town appeals to nature lovers and adventure seekers alike, thanks to activities such as serene hikes through its rugged terrain dotted with natural pools, mountain biking expeditions or kayaking through the turquoise waters of Hatta Dam.


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