When you have nine days off for Eid, you know that everybody and their mother is going to be scattered across the beaches of Sahel and Dahab save for those who avoid the masses by staying put amid the tumbleweeds in Cairotown. But, you do know there are alternatives, right? Ones where you're not paying a quarter million pounds to spend a week in beachside bliss only to be interrupted by the occasional sound of "fressssssssssska." You don't need to break the bank [too much] to get out of town and experience a stunning destination worth writing home about. And while these aren't the most budget-friendly destinations where the Egyptian pound goes a super long way, they're arguable still cheaper than Sahel – and a hell of a lot more exciting.
TENERIFE, CANARY ISLANDSvia rentacar.canaries
Just off the coast of Spain lies an archipelago of breathtaking isles known as the Canary Islands or the Canaries. Consisting of seven main islands, the Canaries are a favored summer destination, hosting millions of tourists, festivals, and cultural events every year. Being the main and biggest island of the seven, Tenerife stands out not only due to its cascading blue waters and its contrasting coastline – from rugged cliffs to seamless sandy beaches – but also due to it acting as a cultural hub that guarantees a diverse experience.
Santa Cruz De Tenerife is its shared capital with the whole of the Canary Islands municipality, a deep natural harbor that serves as one of the biggest and busiest harbors in all of Spain. The city hosts many festivals and carnivals, with the Romeria season at its peak (Romerias are religious festivals the towns of Tenerife celebrate, each honoring their own patron saint), with La Fiesta de la Virgen de Candelaria being the main event of the month, taking place August 14th.
The Playa de Las Teresitas, originally consisting of mostly rocks and a small strip of black sand, is the main beach on Santa Cruz De Tenerife, which is now a white sandy beach courtesy of white sand shipped from the Sahara Desert to replace the not so welcoming rocks. Looking for something a bit more lively? Playa de las Américas offers natural as well as man-made beaches, shops and restaurants, and a nightlife scene that will leave you begging for more.
Heading downtown to The Plaza de Espana and Plaza de Candelaria, the heart of the city, you’ll find shopping centers and a lively nightlife scene, with Calle de Castillo being the main shopping street. With free museums, amazing folklore scene, and plenty of day trips to neighboring towns, Tenerife never ceases to amaze.
If nature is what you're after, then look no further than Teide -- a volcano with gorgeous scenery surrounding it and hiking trails all over. Don't forget to get on the Teide Cable Car that takes you over the picturesque mountains amid some gorgeous scenery. You also have Siam Park, a water park with a Siamese theme who claims to be the coolest water attraction in Europe -- they have good claim to the title, though. Between the pools and the spectacular water rides, you and your family are sure to spend a day to remember.
For something a bit windier, head out to El Médano, famous for its windsurfing competition and strong breeze. It's considered to be one of the world's best kitesurfing locations, and when the wind nearly sweeps off your feet there, you'll understand why.
Architecture aficionados will find refuge in the breathtaking Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martín, an auditorium that has a peculiar design that has earned it fame across Europe and the world.
Average airfare during Eid: 13,200 EGP – 18,000 EGP
Average price for two people per night in a hotel: 400 EGP – 1,500 EGP
Average price per person per night in a hostel: 200 EGP– 800 EGP
Average daily expenditure for food: 100 EGP – 200 EGP
LAGUNA, PHILIPPINES via Goodfon
Officially known as the Province of Laguna, located in Lazun -- the largest island in the Philippines -- its landlocked nature is very diverse, although sandy beaches and coastlines are a rarity, but the abundance of vast water bodies, craggy mountains, sacred cathedrals, rain forests, and volcanoes are what makes this island a favored summer destination; the possibilities of summer adventures to have around there are endless.
Heading over to San Pablo city, you’ll find lakes are the main scene in the city, or it wouldn’t be deemed the “City of Seven Lakes.” Surrounded by the seven crater lakes of San Pablo, Lake Samploc comprises the largest crater; it’s a volcanic maar and is located behind the San Pablo city hall, with a series of floating restaurants and cafes scattered along its shoreline (they even have a waterfall themed restaurant with an ACTUAL waterfall!). Exploring the tranquil countryside through strolls and bike rides is a definite must, and swimming is also permitted in most lakes depending on the weather. Another volcano you need to check out is Mount Makiling, which has been dormant for some time now but offers some stunning scenery of the surrounding mountains and hills due to its 1,000-meter elevation.
The twin lakes of Pandin and Yambo are believed to be the most pristine of all the seven, think less countryside, more woodsy scenery. But a relatively easy, no guide needed, 15-minute trek is required to reach the lake. With cool water and picturesque views, even the most inactive of us all are guaranteed to be rewarded -- we’re not judging!
via Jerwin Lim
If you’re the wandering nomad type, chasing after waterfalls and rugged terrains, go no further than the Majayjay and Bukal Falls, or the “Enchanting Falls” as local myths claim, to satiate your appetite. Only a few hours from San Pablo through jeepneys and tricycles, beating the heat -- even the unshakable Cairene heatwaves -- is their specialty. Refreshingly cool waters, hidden caves, and spiritual vibes are all of abundance. The trail can be a bit tricky in the event of heavy rain, but it's otherwise a relatively easy hike.
Waterfalls are the magnum opus of Laguna, abundantly scattered along its towns’ nooks and crannies, with the likes of the Pagsanjan Falls and Hulugan Falls, the most famous in all of the Philippines, and many other smaller waterfalls and hidden springs.
San Pablo and the surrounding towns are also crawling with churches and cathedrals for the art buffs to savor. The Cathedral Parish of Saint Paul the First Hermit, also known as the San Pablo Cathedral -- the main cathedral of San Pablo -- dates back to the 16th century, and its statues are embellished with Spanish gold and baroque-inspired alter and arches.
Don't leave before you make a visit to the Enchanted Kingdom -- cool name right? It's a theme park with a lot of wonderful attractions and games that make it a perfect spot for a family trip. For a little bit of history in your trip, check out Rizal Shrine -- a reproduction of the original Spanish colonial style house in Calamba that has quite a rich history to it. You could also check out Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery, a historic landmark built a little under 200 years ago for Spanish friars and elite Catholic families as well as prominent members of the town members.
Water sports enthusiasts should check out Republic Wakepark which offers waterboarding in two lakes around the place, and is quite the fun experience for both beginners and professionals alike.
By having an extremely versatile nature such as this, Laguna stands out as one of the best travel destinations this summer.
Average airfare during Eid: 15,600 – 21,000
Average price for two people per night in a hotel: 600 –2100 EGP
Average price per person per night in a hostel: 300 – 1100 EGP
via Getty Images
When mentioning the big three S words — Sun, Sand and Sea — one can’t help but mention our fellow North-African neighbor Tunisia. A rather small country, yes, but Tunisia has a vast array of diversity and culture that withstood the test of time itself, and it has a lot to offer.
An ancient trading center and cultural powerhouse, history comes alive in Tunis — the main city and capital. Thinking of yellow sand-fringed Mediterranean coastlines, blue domes, and breezy beaches, Tunis and its suburbs instantly pop to mind. Medina is the quarter of Tunis that is a UNESCO world heritage walled town of alleyways and cobblestone streets famous for its colorful local shops and goodies, ancient palaces, mosques, and mausoleums. Rue Sidi Ben Arous certainly is a jaw-dropping beauty and a favored location for photography enthusiasts, with markets and shops offering everything you might desire.
For history and archeology fanatics, Carthage is a luring haven. The ancient capital of the Phoenician civilization is engulfed with archeological sites from both Roman and Phoenician origins, as the Romans rebuilt the city after conquering it in the Punic wars, but kept the previously-built sites intact. The city mingled with and welcomed most of its invaders and integrated their culture within its very own, resulting in a mishmash that will mesmerize you.
via Planet Ware
A short train ride from Tunis, Carthage’s sites are well maintained and preserved, with tourist-friendly access facilities. Roman and Punic sites include the Antonin Baths, considered to be the largest roman baths ever found outside of Rome, and the Carthage Amphitheater which was rebuilt by Julius Caesar. Also, the Carthage Museum is filled with artifacts and building remains from the city’s three millennia span.
Just a couple of hours outside the city, in El Djem, lies a significantly larger roman amphitheater than its Carthage counterpart, the gladiatorial arena of Tunisia. The Amphitheatre of El Djem is a free-standing monument, built entirely from stone blocks without foundations and was featured in some Major films like Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
History buffs would also enjoy a visit to Bardo National Museum, in Le Bardo, which is one of the most important museums in the Mediterranean region and the second biggest one in terms of richness of collection after the Egyptian Museum of Tahrir. It houses one of the largest collections of Roman mosaics in the world, as well as several significant other pieces. Al-Zaytuna Mosque would also appeal to both history and architecture lovers, for this one is one of the oldest in the country and covers a whopping space of 5,000 square meters and is decorated by 160 columns brought in from the ruins of the old city of Carthage.
Other historic locations include Byrsa, a walled citadel in Carthage above the Phoenician harbor that has a history going back to the found of the city itself.
For a slice of beachy Grecian vibes, head over to Sidi Bou Said, a high cliff town overlooking the Mediterranean characterized be its excessive use of blues and whites, marking every door and alley with colorful flowers and corner street cafes, located only 20-minutes away from Tunis. For a luxurious stay, main touristic parts of the city are your destination, but for a more quiet local experience, most of the island is inhabited by its locals going about their normal lives, so this part of the town is much quieter and more convenient for a laid back vacation.
To hit unforgettable beaches, Hammamet is a popular swimming, water sports, and outdoor activities beacon, with a distinctive nightlife scene. If you're after a more low-key beach destination, Djerba is an off the coast island known for its crystal-clear waters, white sand beaches, and synagogues, and it possesses an entangled heritage of Berber, Arab, Jewish, and African origins. The Ghriba synagogue is an ancient Jewish temple and pilgrimage site, with Hamout Souk being the main city, though it might be a a bit of a hassle waiting for the ferry to get there, but it definitely is worth the wait.
Tunis is an alluring blend of cultures, a once in a lifetime experience bound to happen if you accept the inevitable.
Average airfare during Eid: 8500 – 15000
Average price for two people per night in a hotel: 550 – 1500 EGP
Average price per person per night in a hostel: 230 – 700 EGP
Average daily expenditure for food: 50 – 90 EGP
ZANZIBAR, TANZANIAvia Rough Guides
A study in blue, that's how you would describe Zanzibar. An Indian ocean archipelago comprised of many small islands and two large ones — the Unguja and Pemba Islands, with Unguja being the main one — the island is informally called Zanzibar and its capital is Zanzibar City. You have also Mnemba -- a private resort island -- which is known for its scuba diving, snorkeling, and water activities that it offers its guests.
Stepping into Zanzibar, its turquoise waters, cloud-white sand beaches, and authentic fishing villages will transport you through time and place. The narrow alleyways of the historic UNESCO world heritage site Stone Town in Zanzibar city will manage to send you off to an enchanting, mystical world of ancient buildings and decorated balconies and gigantic wooden doors, a world you wouldn’t want to step out of.
The streets of Stone Town might be magical, but its Anglican Cathedral trumps them all, in its yellow-grey glory and large stained glasses, taking a somewhat gothic form of style much similar to churches around Europe. The cathedral also celebrates the history of the people, through its moving alter and crucifix, made from the tree used to whip slaves to honor their blood and sacrifice.
Stone Town’s crown jewel though, is the House of Wonders, a 16th century landmark with a carved door said to be the largest door in all of Africa. It’s home to the Museum of History and Culture of Zanzibar and the Swahili coast. You could also swing by the 17th-century-old Old Fort of Zanzibar, one of the oldest buildings in the city and one that currently offers souvenirs, nightlife, and occasional festivals. Speaking of souvenirs, shopping lovers should definitely head out to Darajani Market, the main bazaar in town, which offers a variety of products from consumer electronics to clothes, but they're especially known for their food products -- seafood, spices, grains, meat, and so on. A visit to the Old Dispensary also offers a ride through one of the oldest buildings in town, which now has a museum about the history of Zanzibar.
Zanzibar offers a unique scene; from loud cool beach parties, local fishing boats setting sail, and countryside farms and plantations to historical and archaeological sites scattered around the islands, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
If you are into island hopping and day trips, Zanzibar’s islets will massively suffice. Most of those small islets are either inhabited by the locals living a simple life unchanged over the years, or completely off-the-grid uninhabited ones that not many tourists know of, all easily accessible by ferry. On the off chance that you end up on one of those, all your worries and Cairo-inflicted wounds will heal, but you’ll need to gather some instinctual surviving skills and return to the old ways, because the majority of these islets are primitive, even the inhabited ones.
You can’t go to Africa without visiting wildlife parks. The Zala Park is one of the biggest, most preserved parks in Zanzibar, accessible through bikes, kayaks, and even van-friendly routes. You also have Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park which is known for its exotic species and gorgeous scenery. You can find 50 different species of butterflies alone and 40 of birds, which makes this quite the place for some bird watching -- and butterflies!
Since Zanzibar is considered the jewel of the Indian ocean, its beaches rate amongst the best in the world, with coral gardens popping out of the water and dolphins swimming about and a variety of hotels and huts stretched on the shoreline, promising an unrepeatable journey.
A crystal blue gem, Zanzibar is a top-of-the-bucket-list paradise.
Average airfare during Eid: 13,800 – 24,900
Average price for two people per night in a hotel: 300 – 1100 EGP
Average price per person per night in a hostel: 80 – 200 EGP
Average daily expenditure for food: 100 – 200 EGP
TBILISI, GEORGIA via Lonely Planet
From green vineyards to majestic mountain scenery, medieval watchtowers, and mountain-top monasteries, Georgia comes across as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. In the heart of the Balkans, Georgia lies right in the intersection between Europe and Asia, with the Caucasus mountains and vast fields extending through it, stretched between the Black and Caspian seas.
Tbilisi is the infamous capital — with cobblestone narrow streets and eastern European and gothic architecture engulfing it in a gorgeous aura. Tbilisi is an art hub, famed for bohemian art and photo galleries taking the scene. Rich in culture and history and wearing the scars of its tumultuous history with pride, the city certainly screams culture. From turning old, crumbling soviet factories into hipster hotels and hidden cafes in its chaotic streets to buzzing new luxury boutiques and shops, Tbilisi will certainly be a feast for your eyes, ears, and taste buds, as it’s also big on food and wine. Georgians claim the country to be the birthplace of wine, so tasting tours are a major attraction. Day trips to vineyards just outside the city are hosted by many local tour groups and even by some hotels.
Tbilisi is packed with much to do, so a lifetime in the city wouldn’t be enough to satiate your appetites. It’s a city to be savored, walking through it’s Kala or the old town will take you on a gothic fairy tail. Then you have the Holy Trinity Cathedral, certainly a beauty; the ruins of the Church of the Red Gospel and the Narikala Fortress overlooking the city also offer a once in a lifetime experience. For some old school fun, head over to the Mtatsminda Theme Park at the top of Mount Mtatsminda, and snatch a ride on its massive Ferris Wheel. If you’re a party animal, you are in for a crazy ride, as the nightlife scene in Tbilisi is considered to be the best in Eastern Europe. Also drop a visit to the Museum of Georgia and the Clock Tower for a trip through time to ages past.
Just 20 minutes outside the city, you’ll stumble upon the small city of Mtskheta, the old capital of the ancient Georgian kingdom. Most of the city sites date back to the 6th and 7th centuries, and everything in all Mtskheta is a medieval delight, with Shakespearean vibes to accompany you throughout your time there.
via Getty Images
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is the second-largest cathedral in the country, and arguably the most famous one. It was a religious center for years and was kept undisturbed by ongoing conflicts throughout history. One of Georgia’s most iconic landmarks is the picture-perfect Jvari Monastery, the mountain top small eccentric church giving off Arthurian legend vibes, which is a major attraction in Mtskheta.
You can also spend a day away from the hustle and bustle of chaotic Tbilisi by taking a tour to the nearby Kazbegi; with off-the-beaten track hikes and mountain trails and its national free-camping park, Kazbegi is a sight for sore eyes.
One might fancy a train ride to Batumi, the port city lined with 19th architecture marvels. Originally a seaside resort, dubbed Las Vegas of The Black Sea, it has a wide range of casinos, shopping centers, and local markets.
Georgia is a feast for the senses, so make sure you don’t deny yourself the pleasure and indulge in the wonderful experiences it can provide you
Average airfare during Eid: 9,500 – 14,800 ROUNDTRIP
Average price for two people per night in a hotel: 380 – 1425 EGP
Average price per person per night in a hostel: 100 – 200 EGP
Average daily expenditure for food: 50 – 80 EGP