Juniperus phoenicea Petra - Creative Commons
Short holidays are a must if you live in crowded Cairo, and while the North Coast or Sinai are the obvious choices, why not consider these five more adventurous destinations for your next long weekend or Sham El-Nessim getaway. What’s more, Egyptian passport holders can pick up a visa upon arrival or apply for one online, which means less hassle before the trip. Bon voyage!
Georgia sits on the border between Europe and Asia, straddling the Black Sea and bound to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The natural scenery here is breathtaking, the giant mountains and lush valleys making a stunning backdrop for hiking, skiing or horseback riding. The flight to the capital, Tbilisi, takes about five hours but you won’t need to travel much outside the old part of town to see most of the city’s highlights. Visit Narikala Fortress which dates back to the fourth century, and check out the city’s ubiquitous sulfur bathhouses. Opting for a day trip to the northern part of Georgia will take you to Gergeti Trinity Church, which sits on the top of a hill, Mount Kazbek towering 5,000 meters behind it.
Mount Kazbak in Tblisi - Creative Commons
The Jordanian city of Aqaba can be reached by ferry from Nuweiba, and is perfect for diving and relaxing in one of the numerous beach resorts. After spending a day by the beach, take a day trip to Wadi Rum, where unique rock formations and tall sand dunes can be found. A traditional tourist site is the ancient home of Jordan’s Bedouins: carved from rose-colored stone, Petra is one of the seven wonders of the world, and the treasury and the amphitheatre are among the highlights. Spend a day exploring the ancient city, but be sure to come back to Petra at night for a magical experience, when the entrance and treasury are lit up by more than 1500 candles. Jordan is just over an hour’s flight from Cairo and a 30-day visa can be obtained upon arrival.
Seven Pillars of Wisdom Wadi Rum - Creative Commons
So we’re cheating a little putting Beirut on this list, because it is already hugely popular with Egyptians for its brand-name shopping and trendy nightlife scene. But that’s not all Beirut has to offer so next time you’re thinking of going make sure you have a couple of cultural stops on your itinerary. Just over an hour’s flight from Cairo, this city has a population of just 1.5 million but lots of culture offer. Head to the National Museum of Beirut to look at ancient archeological treasures, and visit the beautiful Mohammad Al-Amin mosque with its blue domes. This mosque is fairly new, but stands on the site of a 19th century zawya or prayer hall and is built in traditional Ottoman style. Instead of high-end boutique shops (Beirut Souks is located in the city’s central district and is home
to over 200 brand-name stores), head instead to the farmers market in downtown Beirut. Souk El-Tayeb offers local and often organic produce brought in by small producers from all over Lebanon. In addition to food and dairy products and sweets, you can browse the traditional handmade crafts stalls selling pottery items, local soaps and straw baskets. If you’ve got kids in tow there’s a section where children can enjoy a variety of educational and entertainment activities including storytelling, seed planting, arts and crafts. In the evening stroll down to Tawlet for a traditional Lebanese meal or book a table at Liza, housed in a renovated old villa in the Achrafieh district. After dinner, enjoy shows from both Lebanon and the rest of the world at Music Hall, or go dancing at White Beirut nightclub where international pop stars frequently perform.
Visitors can obtain a conditional visa on arrival.
National Museum of Beirut - Creative Commons
This little African country doesn’t really work for a short jaunt, being seven hours away from Cairo by plane, but it is an undiscovered pearl. The desert enclave on the Red Sea is ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving, and its many beaches are sandy with crystal clear water. One of the best beaches is Khor Ambado located west of the capital, Djibouti City. A 45-minute boat ride from there will take you to Moucha Island, the
largest in Djibouti and which is surrounded by several small coral islets. Another natural attraction is the salty Lake Assal. Sitting at 155 meters below sea level, Lake Assal is the lowest point on the African continent, and the concentration of salt in the lake is the second highest in the world, making for a surreal and completely white landscape.
A 30-day visa can be obtained upon arrival. Contact the Embassy of Djibouti in Cairo at (+20) 2 3336 6434/5/6 for more information.
Abe salt beach salt - Creative Commons
Start out your visit to the small island of Bahrain with visits to Al-Fatih Mosque and Bahrain National Museum, which are both located in Manama. On the southern half of the island the Al Areen Wildlife Reservation houses more than 120 different kinds of birds and mammals. If you are more into cars than carnivores, the Bahrain International Circuit is situated not far from the wildlife reservation. For visa: evisa.gov.bh
Al Areen Wildlife Park Artificial Pond - Creative Commons