Where are the most exciting destinations you can fly to inexpensively from the UK? The growth of cheap flights has opened up countries and cities in Europe that many of us had never even heard of, allowing the travellers to visit places away from the maddening crowds and sky-high tourist prices. And as the airlines search for yet more routes they can tempt us with, new destination are appearing outside the borders of Continental Europe. What a chance to explore!
Flights to Morocco now depart to several cities in Morocco from several airports in the UK. Book early and you can be flying to Marrakech for less than £100. After the recent terrible earthquake the city will take time to recover but by visiting the city you are supporting them – the locals have suffered a terrible event but will rely on tourism once the initial response phase is complete to help the city get back on its feet.
You can get lost in its Medina or old town, a network of bazaars selling spices, fruit, souvenirs, cafes and restaurants and packed with locals. A campaign has been very successful in eradicating the amount of hassle you used to get as a visitor – locals pestering you to guide you to shops where they were on commission.
On a recent trip with my wife and two teenage daughters, we wandered the souks unmolested in a relaxed atmosphere. The Jem d’Efna – the large square at the heart of the old town was alive with its food and juice stalls, storytellers, whirling dervishes and acrobats, drums beating, fires burning. We sat in a rooftop café, the sun setting over the pink rooftops of the city with minarets poking up into the darkening sky and soaked up the atmosphere.
If you fancy a bit of beach time there are some great options on the cheap routes. In Morocco you can fly to Essaouira, once the port of Marrakech and now it’s a small, sleepy town surrounded by thick battlements onto which the Atlantic breakers crash. You can wander its harbour as its fleet of small fishing boats return to land their catch. Try the sardines sold freshly cooked to order by the stalls in the main square – delicious. Visit one of the local hammams for a bathing experience of a lifetime – you will come out exfoliated and cleaner than you thought you could ever get – bring your own flannel glove for the bathing assistants to use.
Another beach destination that is not reachable is Aqaba in Jordan. Situated on the northern tip of the Red Sea it’s a great place to relax and enjoying some water sports and snorkelling. If you want a little culture you can make a day trip to some of Jordan’s best attractions. Explore Wadi Rum, pretending to be Lawrence of Arabia. Visit the Rose city of Petra, with its incredible entrance canyon and Treasury. If you have more time walk to the monastery and look down as you climb on the ruined city of what was once a prosperous and important stopping place on ancient trading routes.
There are now flights from the UK to Amman, the capital of Jordan and the ideal base for someone who wants to visit the Classical sites of the country, such as the well preserved city of Jerash. You can also drive to the Dead Sea, about 1 hour from the city and bath in the salty water. The level of the Dead Sea is dropping dramatically year on year as water from the River Jordan, its main source, is diverted for irrigation. IF you are really into the classical world (and older) Egypt is now on the map of cheap flights – what could be more breath-taking than a long weekend at the pyramids? Or a break to Jerusalem, one of the most historic cities in the World? Or Turkey, home to the Hittite civilization, as well as Troy (and some rather fabulous beaches..).
So, there is no excuse not to travel to somewhere truly exotic in the next year. Break out from Europe and experience another culture on another continent.
Photo by Ahmad Qaisieh on Unsplash