11 Incredible new short breaks from Abu Dhabi

With the announcement this year of two new budget airlines to commence operating out of Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) – Wizz Air and Air Arabia Abu Dhabi – we’re taking a deeper look into what this means for family travellers out of the UAE – could it be true, return tickets to Eastern Europe & the Caucasus for under 300AED?

Short Breaks from Abu Dhabi with Wizz Air

One-way fares are advertised with Wizz Air as “starting from 129 AED ” and, as you may expect of budget airlines, timetables are not daily and carry-on luggage should be expected without additional fees.

We previously shared the launch dates of five new routes with WizzAir (Budapest, Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Katowice & Sofia). Subsidiary WizzAir Abu Dhabi has now announced a further six routes to complement this offering from the start of October 2020 – Alexandria, Athens, Kutaisi, Larnaca, Odessa & Yerevan.

OK, even we had to pull out Google Maps for some of these fabulous new destinations! We’ve called on our travel blogger friends to help us out why you should come and explore these new WizzAir routes from Abu Dhabi.

Let’s get set to fly again when borders open!

Alexandria, Egypt

Fly with WizzAir – from 2 October Mon, Wed & Fri

Why you’ll want to visit Alexandria: A short trip to Alexandria, Egypt, is a must-do for any history lover. The library of Alexandria is an incredible place to spend a day pouring over the endless tome of titles, exploring the museum of antiquities, and enjoying the family-friendly programs on offer there.

The following day could be filled with a tour of the breathtaking Pompey’s pillars that demonstrate the Roman influence in Egypt at the time, followed by a trip to the citadel of Qaitbay to marvel at the ancient fort overlooking the Mediterranean.

Speaking of the Mediterranean, no trip to Alexandria would be complete without a stroll along its picturesque seaside “corniche” walkway.

Where to stay in Alexandria

Stay at the Four Seasons for a high-end luxury experience or the Hilton Alexandria Corniche for a nice mid-range hotel. The Steigenberger Cecil hotel is a more budget-friendly option with a pool. 

With thanks to Thea from Zen Travellers for sharing these suggestions

You can see our complete guide on visiting Alexandria from Cairo – with detailed suggestions what to do with kids on a day in Alexandria.

Athens, Greece

Fly with WizzAir – from 2 October Mon, Wed & Fri

Why you’ll want to visit Athens: Athens is one of the top bucket list destinations anywhere in the world. A visit to the Parthenon is an experience everyone should have if they can. In just a few days, you can see some of the most famous historic sites in the world, enjoy delicious Greek cuisine, and even get a taste of the Greek island life with a quick trip to one of the closer islands. 

If you love visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there are six located either in the city or reachable as day trips, so you won’t be at a loss for what to do. In Athens proper, you can see the Acropolis of Athens and the Monastery of Daphni. You can also take day trips to Delphi, Mycenae, Epidaurus, and even Meteora.

Where to stay in Athens

For accommodations, you can choose to stay at the Fivos Hotel in Monastiraki. For luxury accommodations, check into the nearby Emporikon Athens Hotel

With thanks to Stephanie from History Fan Girl for sharing these suggestions.

Budapest, Hungary

Fly with WizzAir – from 3 June Wed & Sun (after 30 Sept will move to Mon, Wed & Fri)

Budapest city view

Why you’ll want to visit Budapest: The Hungarian capital Budapest is a true gem. For me it is a mix of Tel Aviv’s coolness with Berlin’s edginess. Above all, it is special. Budapest is divided into two parts – Buda and Pest. Whereas Buda is the rather touristy one, Pest is where you find the cool bars, restaurants and alleys to get lost in.

To get an overview of the city, taking the Cogwheel train from Városmajor up the Széchenyi mountain is the best you can do.

Also, it is definitely good fun for the kids as this old cog railway is a highlight in itself. Once you are on top of the mountain, get the typical Hungarian dessert Kürtöskalacs before you make your way to the children train Gyermekvasút. This whole train is operated by kids – from the train conductor over the ticket person to the ones lifting the cabinets. Apart from the fun of actually being on the train, you will also make your way through perfect nature before you take the chair lift down to the city again. 

Where to stay in Budapest

Try Barceló Budapest for something beautiful, or if you’re travelling on a budget try Hotel Memories.

With thanks to Clemens Sehi & Anne Steinbach from travellersarchive.de for these suggestions.

Bucharest, Romania

Fly with WizzAir – from 3 June Wed & Sun (after 30 Sept will move to Mon, Wed & Fri)

Why you’ll want to visit Bucharest: A beautiful Eastern European city with “Europe’s Newest Old Town” you will feel vibes from the Orient and the Baltic, along with plenty of touches from a bygone Soviet era. The laneways and wide boulevards, however, will leave you with a distinctly Parisienne feel too.

A sightseeing weekend to Bucharest will likely see you visit the People’s Palace (which includes the Museum of Contemporary Art) and a walking tour through many of the city’s beautiful parks – Herastrau Park and Cismigiu Park are a must.

You can spend hours wandering the streets of the Old Town; hidden laneways, bars and restaurants, and beautiful churches, and seek out the giant bookstore Carturesti Carusel. Check out the night vibes from Pura Vida Sky Bar on an adult’s trip.

Bucharest is also a great place to fly into for a road trip around Transylvania. Children will delight in the legend of Dracula and some of the most utterly stunning medieval villages, fortified churches and dramatic castles.

Where to stay in Bucharest

Try the Athenee Palace Hilton Bucharest with large suites, close to the heart of the action, or our value pick Ramada Bucharest Majestic Hotel

With thanks to Keri Hedrick from Our Globetrotters for these suggestions.

Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Fly with Wizz Air – from 16 September Wed & Sun

Why you’ll want to visit Cluj-Napoca: Cluj Napoca is the second-largest city in Romania and the unofficial capital of Transylvania. It has a long history, as a Roman colony by the name of Napoca was here 2000 years ago and it changed rulers a few times throughout the centuries. The legacy from its Austro-Hungarian Empire is visible everywhere, in the beautiful architecture and impressive churches.

But beyond all that history, Cluj is now a vibrant university city. People in Cluj are relaxed and welcoming.

Visit Saint Michael Church, a Gothic Catholic Cathedral in the center of the city and The Assumption Orthodox Cathedral in Avram Iancu Plaza. Discover the beautiful Botanical Garden in Cluj and rest in one of the many cafés in Museum Plaza. The city has a busy events calendar, music, sports, and all types of international fairs.

Where to stay in Cluj-Napoca

A great accommodation option is Hotel Beyfin, perfectly situated across the Orthodox Cathedral which has a stunning rooftop terrace. A more budget-friendly option is Hotel Fullton, also situated close to everything in the city center.

With thanks to for Anda from Travel For A While these suggestions.

Katowice, Poland

Fly with Wizz Air – from 15 September Tue & Sat (from 24 October Mon & Fri)

Why you’ll want to visit Katowice: As a mid-size city in Poland and a growing tourist destination, Katowice has become an attractive and family-friendly city to visit when traveling to Poland.  Known as a miner’s town throughout the 19th century, Katowice has grown rapidly and includes museums, theaters, parks and a variety of entertainment venues as some of its must-see places in the city.

The Spodek arena will likely have an event for families as there are dozens of recreational attractions throughout the year.  Kosciuszko Park, located in the heart of the city, has beautiful flower gardens and a lot of green space for families to picnic or simply stroll around and take in the beauty.

If your family is up for it, spend a day at Poland’s largest permanent amusement park, Legendia.  With nearly 40 attractions and 26 hectares of land, the theme park is family-friendly and regularly boasts new attractions opening up.

Katowice also has smaller attractions for families such as a trampoline park and play places for smaller children.

Where to stay when visiting Katowice

Be sure to take a look at Hotel Vienna House Easy Katowice which has won certificates for being family-friendly or Hotel Monopol which has an indoor pool, always a hit with kids.

With thanks to Diana from Travels in Poland for these suggestions

Kutaisi, Georgia

Fly with WizzAir – from 1 October Thu & Sun

Kutaisi - Bagrati Cathedral

Why you’ll want to visit Kutaisi: Though it is the third-largest city in Georgia and home to one of the country’s busiest airports, Kutaisi is often overlooked as a tourist destination with visitors flocking instead to the cosmopolitan vibes of Tbilisi, the Black Sea coast of Batumi or the splendours of the High Caucasus. However, Kutaisi has a lot to offer travellers, and it is well-worth spending a couple of days in Kutaisi when visiting Georgia.

The city of Kutaisi itself is well worth exploring — make sure to take in sites like the fantastic Green Bazaar, one of the most dynamic marketplaces in the country, wander through the lovely botanical garden and visit the historic Bagrati Cathedral. There are also a number of great day trips from Kutaisi that are worth doing, including to the incredible Prometheus Cave, the gorgeous Motsameta Monastery and the UNESCO-list Gelati Monastery, located only a few kilometres outside of Kutaisi’s city centre.

Where to stay in Kutaisi

As for accommodation, one of the best ways to get to know the famous Georgian hospitality is to stay at a family-run guesthouse — and this happens to be a fantastic budget option, as well. Pospolita Guesthouse, located close to the white bridge within walking distance of the city centre, is an excellent choice. If you’re looking for something with a bit more luxury, the Best Western Kutaisi is a good option, as well.

With thanks to Maggie from The World was Here First for sharing these suggestions

Larnaca, Cyprus

Fly with WizzAir – from 3 October Tue & Sat

Why you’ll want to visit Larnaca:

Larnaca is one of the largest cities in Cyprus, and when I say that, I don’t mean it’s a large city at all. Anyway, the place has a bit of everything, and you could easily spend a long weekend in Larnaca.

The obvious attraction is the sandy beach lined with palm trees. The water is clear and shallow, which makes it perfect to spend time with the family there. Just, don’t forget the sunscreen.

When you’re tired of the beach, visit St. Lazarus Church in the square with the same name. The stone church is a beautiful example of Byzantine architecture and it hosts the remains of Saint Lazarus, the man resurrected by Jesus. The square around the church is very pleasant, lined with nice restaurants and coffee shops.

Another place you should visit is Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque, about 3 km from Larnaca, just by the Salt Lake. This is also the place to see pink flamingoes if you visit Cyprus in winter.

Where to stay in Larnaca

You can stay just by the sea at Radisson Blu Hotel or choose a budget-friendly option, Alkisti City Hotel located in St. Lazarus Church square.

With thanks to Anda from Travel for a While for these suggestions

Odesa, Ukraine

Fly with WizzAir – from 1 October Thu & Sun

Why you’ll want to visit Odesa: Odesa, the main seaside destination in Ukraine, is such a great place to visit. Located on the shore of the Black Sea, the city offers many attractions for each taste. The old part of the city is a jigsaw of charming streets, lined with old trees, beautiful houses, and interesting courtyards that are easy to miss.

The heart of the city is the pedestrian Deribasovskaya street, with a vibrant atmosphere until late night hours. Odessa is also home to one of the most beautiful opera houses, where you can attend the show for a very affordable price.

Those who want to relax at the beach can do it in Odessa too – there are numerous sandy beaches you can enjoy, some of them are very close to the center. You can even use the old, rusty Soviet cable-car to get to the beach, it will be a thrilling experience for sure but the views along the way are stunning.

Odessa is a great place to visit, and also a great value for the price; you will spend significantly less here than in Western Europe and will have a great holiday for sure!

Where to stay in Odessa

There are plenty of accommodation options to choose from for each taste, from budget like Hostel51 to luxury like Duke Hotel.

With thanks to Kami form My Wanderlust for these suggestions.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Fly with WizzAir – from 15 September Tue & Sat

Sofia Bulgaria

Why you’ll want to visit Sofia: If you’re looking for a quick getaway for a few days, spending a long weekend in Sofia is a great way to escape. The city is compact, and most of the important historic sites are within a small walkable core, so you can cover many of the best parts of the city in two or three days.

Make sure to visit the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and Vitosha Boulevard. If you want to escape to the country, you can visit two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Boyana Church is on the foot of Vitosha Mountain, and from there you can also hike to the Boyana Waterfall. Or you can visit Rila Monastery, which is about two hours away in the beautiful Rila Mountains.

Where to stay in Sofia

If you want to stay in a lovely hotel, Sense Hotel has the best views in the city. If you want a more budget-friendly place to stay, hit up Sense’s Rooftop Bar but stay at R34 Boutique Hotel nearby. 

With thanks to Stephanie Craig from Sofia Adventures for these suggestions.

Yerevan, Armenia

Fly with WizzAir – from 3 October Tues & Sat

Why you’ll want to visit Yerevan: Yerevan is ideal for a short break. The city is small and easy to see by foot. Start your trip in Republic square and marvel at the incredible stonework that gives Yerevan its nickname, the Pink City.

Look for art in the Cafesjian Center for the Arts, visit the religious site of the Holy Mother of God Kathoghike Church and the Saint Gregory The Illuminator Cathedral, shop in Vernissage and Gum markets, learn about the most recent war in the museum inside the statue of Mother Armenia, and about the country’s tragic past in the Genocide museum. In the latter, you’ll also get amazing views of the city and of Mount Ararat in the background.

If you want to squeeze in a day trip, go to Khor Virap, Geghard or Sevanavank; they’re incredibly picturesque monasteries and absolutely among the best of Armenia.

Where to stay in Yerevan

As for accommodation, for a high-end stay book the Tufenkian Historic Yerevan Hotel. If you’re travelling with a budget but still want comfort and the feel of luxury, go for the Boutique Living Hotel.

With thanks to Coni from Experience the Globe for these suggestions

Further travel inspiration from the Middle East

Looking for more family travel ideas in the Middle East?

For our UAE readers, we recommend you start with our UAE Staycations home page. This is absolutely packed with ideas across the Emirates, from camping to luxury resorts, and nature to indoor retreats.

Elsewhere across the Middle East, why not try:

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Destinations you can fly to on budget airline Wizz Air from UAE Capital Abu Dhabi

Disclosures: This post is not sponsored by Wizz Air and views represent those of the individual contributors. This post contains affiliate links which may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Our full website terms of use and privacy policy can be found here

Family Travel Middle East
Family Travel Middle East

The Family Travel in the Middle East team of travel writers are all parents based in the Middle East, sharing first hand experiences and reviews from across the region to help you plan your next family adventure.

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