This cosmopolitan metropolis offers a unique contrast of ancient and modern cultures — from gold and spice souks to high-end shopping and thrilling nightlife. Of course, you can step outside the city for a desert trek, dune ride, or sandboarding. Or treat yourself to a spa day at one of the premium resorts on the dunes.

Gateway city: Dubai

Best time to travel: November through March

Highlights: Seawings Dubai, Wild Wadi Water Park, Burj Khalifa, Dubai Museum, The Dubai Mall