Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 26 / Trend /
First budget airways - flydubai offers top 3 interesting, unforgettable and affordable destinations for Azerbaijan tourists to spend their winter holidays.
A place to... catch some winter sun
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Did you know? Voted the number one country you can't afford to miss in 2013 by Lonely Planet.
Things to do: Spend a couple of days in Colombo before heading south to relax on the unspoilt beach. Wander through the sprawling collection of ancient artefacts and colonial-era relics at the must-see National Museum or take a quiet walk through nearby Viharamahadevi Park. If you're looking to bag a few last-minute holiday gifts for friends and loved ones, make your way through the mazes of Pettah Market before relaxing at sunset with a cold drink at the Galle Face Hotel's vintage seaside patio. Craving relaxation? Then escape the city and take an overnight train to Sri Lanka's exotic south coast. Head for the serene Goyambokka Beach in Tangalla, the backpacker's paradise of Mirissa, or to Unawatuna, which is set back from the main road making for a less hectic resort. It'll be tempting to never leave the beach, but give yourself enough time to visit Galle. Wander through the Galle Fort area, and enjoy the rich legacy of the 16th Century walls while shopping for jewellery and handicrafts.
Where to stay: Located in the city centre and overlooking the Indian Ocean, the Hilton Colombo Hotel transforms itself into Santa's grotto with fabulous festive feasts and stunning seasonal décor. For travellers on a limited budget there are more low-key, affordable alternatives. If you're heading down to the coast, stay in one of the hundreds of huts that adorn the country's beaches.
Where to eat: Sri Lankan food is all about fresh herbs and spices, coconut and sesame oil, the national staple of "rice and curry", seafood and hoppers - fried pancakes served with sweet syrup from the Kitul palm. Colombo has a wide selection of small restaurants serving local hawker-style favourites such as meat patties, fish buns, egg rolls, lamprais, koththu roti and biryani. Meanwhile, when in Galle stop for lunch at the colonial Galle Fort Hotel.
Top tip: Book somewhere to stay as early as possible. During the Christmas to New Year holiday season, in particular, accommodation on the island can be tight due to the huge influx of visitors.
Flight frequency: Daily
Prices: Return flights start from 303 USD
A place to... shop until you drop
Did you know? Irish author Bram Stoker based his horror novel Dracula, on Bran Castle in Transylvania, which is a three-hour train journey from Bucharest.
Things to do: If you're in need of some festive cheer then head to Bucharest's Old Town and surrounding area to explore its Christmas markets that run throughout the holiday season. Oozing atmosphere and sparkling with lights, the markets are crammed with stalls vying to put on the biggest, brightest and prettiest displays. Choose from carved wooden toys, handmade candles, wooden and enamel music boxes and Christmas tree angels. Not festive enough? Visit the huge Christmas tree in Piața Universității (University Square) in downtown Bucharest.
Where to stay: If you're looking to stay in the lap of luxury, then the Grand Hotel Continental, located a short journey from the Palace of the Parliament, the world's largest civilian building. If you're travelling as a large group then book your very own luxury apartment in downtown Bucharest. They are affordable and come with self-catering facilities if you're craving a home-cooked Christmas lunch.
Where to eat: Indulge in roasted chestnuts or spicy gingerbread and warm cold fingers around a hot drink while browsing the festive markets. Alternatively, experience the hustle and bustle of the Romanian social scene at any of the restaurants and cafés that line the streets of Smârdan, Franceză, Şelari, Sfântul Dumitru, Gabroveni and Covaci in the Historic Quarter.
Top tip: With average temperatures hovering around 3°C, make sure to pack plenty of warm clothing.
Flight frequency: Four times a week
Prices: Return flights start from 582 USD
A place to... have an Arabian adventure
Did you know? Oman boasts 2,700km of beautiful, sandy beaches.
Things to do: With its open deserts, vast coastline, steep and remote rocky canyons and large sand dunes, Oman is an off-roading enthusiast's dream. Once in Muscat, rent a 4x4 vehicle, stock up on the essentials and head off to discover the Sultanate's many wadis (river beds) which are located in the mountains and lower spots in the desert. The most scenic wadis are in the mountains and many are just an hour or two's drive from Muscat. Located south of the capital, Wadi Tiwi is one of the steepest and narrowest driving experiences in the country leading to the picturesque village of Mibam set among a grove of date palm trees. If it's a classic desert encounter you're after, make for Wahiba Sand where you can arrange an overnight stop in the mountains at a desert camp through one of the many local tour companies.
Where to stay: Set amid the sprawling Omani desert, the Al Raha Camp in Wahiba Sands is the perfect location for an Arabian adventure. The resort has 77 "barasti" style huts with attached bathrooms in addition to nine suites all decorated in traditional Bedouin style. The camp also provides accommodation in 15 luxurious tents. Secluded, and regally appointed in traditional weaves and colours of the desert, these tents have a small Majlis and balcony and can accommodate up to four people.
Where to eat: From lavish BBQ dinners to traditional Bedouin food served under the stars, resorts such as the Al Raha Camp cater all tastes and travellers. Traditional delicacies include goat meat marinated in cinnamon, cloves, pepper and cumin, served on a platter of cardamom-scented rice.
Top tips: While tour companies provide most of the necessary camping equipment, a head torch is a handy extra to take for getting around the camp after dark.
Flight frequencies: Daily
Prices: Return flights start from 142 USD