If you like to travel, you probably have a bucket list of places you want to hit throughout your lifetime. If you've been under the impression that seeing them will have to wait until you’re flush with cash, we have good news: There are lots of unforgettable, exotic locales that are entirely doable on a budget — without slumming it.
The flights are the priciest part, but once you get there, you can find inexpensive lodging that will give you a home base from which to explore cities like Tel Aviv and Berlin and visit iconic sites like Machu Picchu and Siem Reap. Ahead, get the scoop on the must-see destinations, along with an under-$100-per-night hotel recommendation, and insider tips on what to do — and see — in each place. So, start saving your airline miles now, because before long, you'll be ticking things off your travel bucket list. Just remember to send us a postcard.
Photo: Courtesy of Tourism Vancouver and Clayton Perry.
Vancouver, Canada Vancity is a fantastic city getaway for those on a budget. For starters, the destination is home to an impressive amount of big-budget Hollywood productions (think Riverdale, 50 Shaders Of Grey), thanks to Canada's generous tax credits. Check the BC Film Commission's website to see where you can catch movie stars in their element. To wind down from all the stargazing action, take a two-hour hike on Grouse Grind, a 1.8 mile uphill trek through a lush forest. There's no better vantage point to take in the Vancouver skyline — and it is absolutely free.
Photo: Courtesy of Barclay Hotel.
Where To Stay: The recently renovated Barclay Hotel is a great place to stay to keep your lodging budget under control. The winter rates at this heritage hotel start at ust $49 per night. Insider Tip: Thanks to a growing population of Chinese immigrants, Vancouver is renowned for its delicious — and cheap — Chinese restaurants. You can't leave without having a dim sum session at New Town Bakery, an eatery reputed for serving the best steam buns in town.
London, U.K. The pound has been languishing for some time now, and you should be taking full advantage of the favorable exchange rates. An incredibly vast city, London is in no shortage of cheap and affordable attractions. Frolicking in the city's most beautiful parks and gardens won't cost you a dime, and you can pack your own picnic at Hampstead Heath. As for a cheap street feast, the weekend-only Maltby Street Market is lined with the trendiest food stalls and Saturday-only Broadway Market is where all the cool kids go grab a bite.
Where To Stay: ibis Hotel Whitechapel provides no-fuss rooms in a centrally-located area for just $57 a night. Insider Tip: For the best Indian food in town, get in line at Tayyabs, a beloved family-owned joint in Whitechapel. Be sure to round out your food pilgrimage with the nearby Lahore Kebab House, which is owned by the estranged brother of the family who established Tayyabs.
Barcelona, Spain The Catalan capital may seem like a glamorous tourist destination from the outside, but there are plenty of things you can enjoy without paying a huge fortune. Tickets to visit many of the site's most famous landmarks are under 10 Euros, and many of the museums are free to the public on regular open days. The incredible street art you'll see is also free: Sign up for a walking tour or bike tour with Barcelona Street Style Tour to have an authentic experience.
Photo: Courtesy of Booking.com
Where To Stay: Located in a quiet neighborhood of Barcelona, the sunny dormitory-style rooms at Garden House are available at $30 per night. Insider Tip: If you're planning on visiting one of the famous Gaudi attractions — namely La Sagrada Família, Park Güell, or La Pedrera at Casa Milà — it's essential to book your tickets online, as these sites are incredibly busy. Not only will you be able to skip the line, you'll also be able to prevent any potential disappointment when the tickets are sold out.
Udaipur, India India is the place to be if you want to be completely amazed by a destination — while sticking to an affordable budget. Udaipur, the gem of the Rajasthan state, impresses with its rich history and a stunning collection monuments and lakes. You'll obviously spend a lot of time exploring the expansive City Palace, a heritage site containing a myriad of palaces, shrine, and chambers. It costs only $3.80 to gain entry to this magnificent place, and another $3.80 to use your phone and camera. Other low-cost thrills not to miss? A local cooking class or the Bagore Ki Haveli Show, an evening extravaganza of song and dance taking place in an 18th-century palace.
Udaipur, India (Continued) Where To Stay: There are plenty of affordable options in town, but you'll get the most authentic experience staying in a haveli, a traditional Indian townhouse. Hotel Gangaur Palace is one such accommodation, and comes with a charming courtyard and rooftop bar. Insider Tip: Pack your most colorful wardrobe — locals love donning bright color clothing as a sign of prosperity.
Warsaw, Poland The off-beat trendiness of Poland's capital will take you by surprise. The vastly underrated city is bursting at the seams with street art that will make heads turn, from funky murals to the iconic rainbow sculpture by local artist Julita Wojcik. You'll spot many retro neon signs on the streets — they were immensely popular during the Cold War era — and there's even a museum dedicated solely to these signages. The biggest draw that makes Warsaw our new favorite destination is how affordable it is compared to other European capitals. The value of the zolty, the local currency, is about three-to-one against the dollar. Living it up feels a lot easier when your budget is stretched out.
Warsaw, Poland (Continued) Where To Stay: Aparthotel Stalowa52 offers trendy rooms with exposed brick and kitchenettes for $55 a night. Insider Tip: Warsaw is chock full of thriving musical venues, and you'll be missing out big time if you don't give the local indie music scene a chance. Try Plan B, the city's most well-known dive bar, or Pardon To Tu, an artsy bookstore that transforms into a live venue come nighttime.
Copenhagen, Denmark Scandinavian capitals are not exactly known for being affordable, but that doesn't mean you can't do Copenhagen on a budget. The city can be best seen from the back of the bike, and renting a (Danish for "city bike") only costs about $4.50 an hour. bycyklen No matter what your spending limit is, you'll find a plethora of restaurants, cafés and bars catering to your preferences. We love the hearty comfort food at Groed and the dirt-cheap Danish buffet at Cafe Dalle Valle. The coffee culture in the city is booming, and you'll get plenty of interior inspo on top of your caffeine fixes at Royal Smushi Cafe and Design Cafeen.
Copenhagen, Denmark Where To Stay: The City of Spires is home to many well-designed hostels that won't break the bank. Copenhagen Downtown Hostel is located in the city center and the room decor serves up some amazing Insta-opportunities. Insider Tip: The best time to visit is June through August, when the days are longest and temperatures are ideal.
Bologna, Italy This picturesque town in Northern Italy is a popular choice to study abroad for many American students, and the kids are definitely on to something. The birthplace of The University of Bologna, one of Europe's oldest institution of education, the collegiate hub charms with its down-to-earth atmosphere and relatively affordable living standards. Youth-friendly qualities aside, the biggest attraction of Bologna is definitely the gastronomy scene. Feast yourself on Nicola's Pizzeria, which allegedly serve the best slice in town, or achieve food euphoria with the tagliolini at the Michelin-starred Trattoria Battibecco. Make sure you arrive La Fra hungry.
Where To Stay: We_Bologna offers modern and well-lit dormitory-style rooms with showers for $22. Insider Tip: Avoid visiting during July and August, when the town is swarmed with tourist and students.
Hanoi, Vietnam Brace yourself for a complete food coma. Street food reigns supreme in the capital of Vietnam, and tasting these heavenly culinary delights won't cost you a pretty penny. Set your alarms at the crack of dawn to stand in line with a bowl of pho, which is the favored breakfast of champions for locals. We love the clear broths and fresh beef at Pho Gia Truyen, which taste nothing like what you can find in the U.S. Sampling egg coffee, an iconic Vietnamese drink invented by Hanoi's Giang Café, is also a must-do. Your time will be spent wandering in the city's historic Old Quarter, where each street specializes in selling one type of merchandise. The area's heart and soul is around the gorgeous Hoan Kiem Lake, where locals congregate to sing and chat over beers every night. Just remember to cross the streets with reckless abandon.
Where To Stay: Hotels in Hanoi are a total bargain. You'll be able to stay in the heart of the Old Quarter at Serenity Hotel for as cheap as $25. Insider Tip: A day cruise to Ha Long Bay is totally worth it. You'll be able to sail through many fascinating rock formations — and explore many hidden caves — that earned Ha Long Bay the title as one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of The World.
Photo: Getty Images.
Grand Canyon, AZ Easily America's most distinguishable natural landmark, this magnificent wonder deserves a spot on your travel bucket list. The national park boasts one of the most incredible sunrises in the world — an astonishing view that's worth the early morning hike. Majority of the tourist hoards congregate at the South Rim, but you'll be able to avoid them with just a bit of strategy and effort. Consider hiking further along the Bright Angel Trail, or skipping the area and driving to the North Rim instead, Restaurants here are often packed and overpriced for the mediocre food they are able to offer, so packing your own picnic is the smartest (and cheapest) way to go.
Photo: Getty Images.
Where To Stay: During high season, most parks and cabins are sold out early on, with most of them averaging at $200 or more a night. To cut costs, consider parking your RV or setting up a tent at one of the park's camping grounds. If commuting with nature is not really your thing, Maswik Lodge, which starts at $95 a night, is your best bet. Insider Tip: High season for the national park generally runs from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. To avoid the crowds, plan your trip around Fall or early Spring.
Photo: Getty Images.
Los Angeles, CA Welcome to Tinseltown. While the second biggest city of America is known as the stomping grounds of the rich and famous, it's got plenty of attractions for young travelers. For one, La La Land has proven that the city makes an equally charming and romantic film setting as New York and Paris. You'll be able to take in the City of Stars all its glory at Griffith Observatory, a cultural icon that thankfully does not charge for admission. If you're looking to eat healthier, L.A. is the place to be. The city is packed with tons of organic dining options that won't break the bank — from family-owned pizzeria Evo Kitchen to the macrobiotic cuisine at M Café — this might just be the only vacation where you don't pack on any holiday weight.
Photo: Getty Images.
Where To Stay: Since Chateau Marmont is obviously out of the question, the centrally located Banana Bungalows — with nightly rates starting at $65 — will do just fine. You'll be able to mingle with like-minded international travelers at the spacious atrium, which is all done up in classic cabana style. Insider Tip: Downtown L.A. has been getting a bad rep for quite some time, but the neighborhood is currently staging a major comeback. You'll be thoroughly impressed with Alchemy Works, a lifestyle emporium featuring clothing, shoes and jewelry made by local designers. Afterwards, swing by Poketo down the block to get your cute design goods and stationery fix.
Photo: Getty Images.
Sydney, Australia It's not the Australian capital, but it might as well be. With its harbor, beaches, museums, botanical gardens, and that opera house, the city has plenty sights for a traveler's sore eyes (and they likely will be somewhat sore, what with the 22-hour travel time from NYC, for example). This erstwhile British penal colony has blossomed over its 228 years — yep, it's just a few years younger than the U.S. — into a global destination for food, fashion, and that chill and kangaroo-filled Aussie life. Fair dinkum, mate.
Photo: Getty Images.
Where To Stay: Sydney ain't cheap, but the weather is great — so why not make the most of it by camping oceanside? The pleasant organized campsite at Cockatoo Island starts at just $45 per night, and there's also a " glamping" option for those of you with more champagne tent taste. Insider Tip: For no money at all, you can enjoy Sydney's (self-proclaimed) " best coastal walk" from Bondi to Coogee, with sea cliffs aplenty. It's 3.7 miles, but you can do it! Just pack snacks — Vegemite, anyone?
Photo: Getty Images.
Cape Town, South Africa If you're not into beaches or mountains or lush vegetation or lagoons or wineries or city life — well, what are you into? The South African capital of Cape Town has all of the above in spades, and usually with perfect weather to boot. The southern tip of Africa is where multiple different ecosystems come together, so you'll basically have a variety of worlds at your fingertips. Plus, there's a stellar fashion scene — and also penguins. How can you say no to penguins? Of course, flying there is no small undertaking, but it's worth it. Just keep in mind that the seasons in South Africa are opposite North America's, and pack accordingly.
Photo: Getty Images.
Where To Stay: The modern-design Mojo Hotel bills itself as "a pod or capsule hotel concept of small compact designer rooms at affordable prices – Cape Town style," and you can snag a room for as low as $40 per night. But you won't have to stay in your tiny digs: There's also a rooftop deck overlooking the Atlantic, and you'll have easy access to the waterfront, beaches, Table Mountain, Sea Point Promenade, Green Point Stadium, and other Cape Town landmarks. Mojo won the Trip Advisor 2017 Traveler's Choice Award in the "Bargain" category. Insider Tip: Once a mere parking lot, Cape Town's Greenmarket Square is now host to one of the best flea markets in the world. The prices of wares varies, so you can stop by for a souvenir you can actually afford — while also ogling the more expensive artwork, batiks, and tribal items.
Paris, France The old saying goes: When a man tires of London, he tires of life — but the same could be said of Paris. Some might argue that a trip to the French capital is basic, but they would be jerks. The city of lights is magical, even if you do the most tourist-y activities imaginable. Climb to the top of Eiffel Tower, tour the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay, stroll down the Champs-Élysées. Of course, there are a million other off-the-beaten-path shops and restaurants and tiny patisseries with the best croissants you've even eaten. Embrace all this gorgeous city has to offer — it's truly one of the most romantic places you'll ever visit.
Where To Stay: Hotel Les Dames du Panthéon is a four-star hotel that recently opened in Saint-Germain. The funky rooms start around €119 a night, and the hotel is located within walking distance of the Jardin du Luxembourg and Sainte Chapelle, as well as a few metro stops. Plus, it has one of the sweetest breakfast rooms in all of Paris. Insider Tip: The best thing about Paris is the tourist attractions are top-notch and not at all cheesy (though you will see about a million and one Eiffel Tower figurines). But if you're looking for a little adventure, take a tour of the Paris Catacombs. These incredible underground tunnels hold the remains of the millions of Parisians. It's creepy and fascinating and unlike anything you've ever seen.
Photo: Getty Images.
Tokyo, Japan This bustling metropolis is famous for being extremely expensive, what with all those Michelin-starred restaurants and sky-scraping hotels. You can do the city on a budget — and have an incredible experience. Maybe you won't have the views Bill Murray enjoyed in Lost In Translation, but the experience will be thrilling regardless. Eat ramen you ordered from a vending machine, admire the fashion scene in Harajuku, get caught up in the crowds at Shibuya Crossing. It's a magical city with a surprise at every turn and more good food than you can eat in a single trip.
Photo: Getty Images.
Where To Stay: The APA Hotel Hanzomon is a business-style hotel with teeny-tiny rooms, but the location is central (walking distance to the gorgeous Imperial Gardens) and close to the subway. With singles from around $100 a night, it's the perfect place to stash your stuff as you'll be spending most of the time exploring a city that really never sleeps. Insider Tip: Don't miss the tiny bars along Piss Alley in Shinjuku (and don't be ashamed to rely on Google translate in order to talk to the local bar flies). Spend an evening in Shimokitazawa with the Tokyo cool kids — the hipster neighborhood has great bars, restaurants, and vintage stores.
Photo: Stefano Armaroli/ Travel and Editorial/ Getty Images.
Aix-en-Provence, France Most people think of Paris as the go-to city in France, but if you’re interested in exploring the best of the country’s wine, food, and culture, Aix-en-Provence is a worthwhile visit. It’s an easy train ride from Paris or Marseille, and has lots of museums, cafes, and historical sites sans the heavy tourism. If you’re feeling ambitious, it’s also a quick drive to massive ancient Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard, the medieval walled city of Avignon, and wine mecca Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The latter will feel like a bucket list achievement in itself when the iconic wine cellars offer you free tastings, or "degustations" in French.
Photo: Hemis / Alamy.
Where To Stay: Hotel du Globe offers rooms for around $75 per night ($48 if you’re willing to take a “student” room with a communal bathroom). It’s close to the center of Aix, which is key, since everything in town is fairly walkable. Insider Tip: Visit the daily farmers' market in the Place Richelme, where you can buy French cheese, fruits and vegetables, and, most importantly, macarons. After, stop by the Musée Granet, an art and sculpture museum that houses several works by the famous 19th century artist Paul Cézanne, who was born here.
Photo: Getty Images.
Seville, Spain Western Europe on a budget can sound like a joke, but in Seville, it's possible to do it without even trying. Some of the city's most popular attractions like the Alcázar, a palace originally built for the ruling Muslim kings, are free or low cost. It's also free to wander Seville's winding, picturesque streets. Barrio Santa Cruz, originally the city's Jewish quarter, is the perfect place to get lost for a few hours. When you're hungry, grab tapas from Bodega Santa Cruz, a meeting place for locals and visitors alike. Prices start at €2 a dish, and what they lack in size they'll make up for in flavor.
Where To Stay: With prices starting at just €40 a night, you'll be feel transported back in time at the Hotel Alcantara. The building itself is old, but the rooms were renovated in 2002, making them modern and inviting. From there, you'll be able to explore much of the city on foot. The hotel is also home to daily flamenco shows with discounted tickets for guests. Insider Tip: Located in the southern tip of Spain, Seville is hot most of the year. Spring, with its various festivals and milder weather, can get busy. If you can stand the heat, late summer can be a good way to miss the tourist rush. Otherwise, October and November are great months to visit.
Photo: Getty Images.
Denali National Park, Alaska Home to the highest mountain peak in North America, Denali National Park provides miles of stunning, pristine wilderness for you to explore. In the winter, visitors can ski, hike, and even dogsled. While the nights will be long, you may be rewarded with views of the Northern Lights. In the summer, when it's light for nearly 20 hours, you'll have even more to do. Buy a ticket for the park's shuttle bus and hop on and off to hike, bike, or look at wildlife There may only be one road, but at 92 miles long, you won't have to worry about running out of things to see.
Photo: Courtesy of Denali Perch Cabins.
Where To Stay: Not up for camping? Several options outside of the park offer accommodations between four walls. While many of them are bonafide five-star resorts, there are budget options as well. Denali Perch Resort's cabins start at just $89 a night and sleep four. While you'll still have to rough it a bit (the economy options have shared bathrooms), you'll also have the chance to see a visiting moose over breakfast. Insider Tip: The park is open year-round, though many hotels and restaurants are seasonal. In the summer, several spots inside the park sell snacks and sandwiches to visitors. In the winter, however, you'll have to plan on packing your meals.
Photo: Getty Images.
Cinque Terra, Italy Literally translated to "Five Lands," this stretch of the Italian coast is home to five fishing villages with roots in the medieval era. Today, they are linked by rail as well as by trails. Hikers typically tackle all or most of the trail in a day, though you'd do well to spend a few days exploring the each of the pastel-hued villages and their neighboring beaches. It's easily accessible by train from Florence, making it a good addition to a longer trip to Italy as well as a dedicated destination in its own right
Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Gianna Franzi.
Where To Stay: Hotel Gianni Franzi is located in Vernazza, the fourth of the five towns heading north. Just a short walk from the train station, it's ideal for those without their own set of wheels. Single rooms with a shared bath start at just €45. Breakfast will cost you an extra €10, which can be enjoyed on the hotel's rooftop deck. Insider Tip: A secret "clothing optional" beach between Vernazza and Corniglia can be reached one of two ways. Hike just south of Vernazza and you can find a steep side trail marked "Freebeach." Alternatively, you can head out of Corniglia and through an abandoned railway tunnel. Both methods aren't for the faint of heart and ensure that Guvano Beach remains a relatively secluded hideaway.
Photo: Getty Images.
Puebla City, Mexico Before you book a trip to one of Mexico's stunning beaches, take a chance on the country's interior. Puebla City is a charming university town in the Puebla province north of Oaxaca. The city features classic colonial era architecture — be sure to explore the historic churches and cathedrals. The crowning achievement of these sites is the Cathedral of Puebla, which took at least 100 years to build. It's also something of a foodie destination, and you won't have to wander far to find places to buy tacos, amazing tortas, and even sushi.
Photo: Courtesy of La Purificadora.
Where to Stay: La Purificadora will situate you in the historic center of the city. The hotel lives in a tricked-out former water purification factory. Insider Tip: Bookworms will love the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, which is the oldest library in the Americas. Built in 1646, UNESCO declared the library part of Memory of the World.
Photo: Getty Images.
Sedona, Arizona The red rock formations in the American Southwest are among the wonders of the natural world. A true bucket list must-have, these rouge beauties decorate New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California. Sedona is conveniently located near the Oak Creek Canyon, considered the Grand Canyon's smaller cousin. The town, a favorite of artists and retirees, is a cozy retreat for lovers of the outdoors.
Photo: Courtesy of Canyon Villa.
Where to Stay: The Canyon Villa Bed and Breakfast in Sedona looks out onto Bell Rock butte, an iconic rock formation. From the B&B, you can venture to Bell Rock for a quick hike up the landmark's impressive ridges. Courthouse Butte is also nearby — a hike around both buttes will be a strenuous (but totally doable) 4.5 miles. Insider Tip: Visit apple farm-turned state park Slide Rock State Park. If you make your visit in fall, you might just get fresh-pressed apple cider for your troubles.
Photo: Franz Pritz/Getty Images.
Edinburgh, Scotland Cross this impressive location off your ye olde bucket list — it'll be worth your while. Edinburgh is known as a hotbed of culture, especially because it houses the largest theater festivals in the world: the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Theater lovers should head to the Scottish capital in August for the fest, which featured over 3,000 shows in 2015. If you can't make it in August, the city still has plenty to offer year-round, with many cheap to free museums, like the National Museum of Scotland and the Museum of Childhood. A short walk from the downtown, Holyrood Park will allow you to live your Outlander fantasies just steps from a bustling urban center.
Photo: Courtesy of The Balmoral Edinburgh.
Where to Stay: The Balmoral Edinburgh in downtown Edinburgh is a vision in Victorian architecture. Just a 13-minute walk from the Edinburgh castle, the hotel makes an effort to represent Scottish culture — the doormen all wear tartan kilts! At roughly $190, A night at the Balmoral is pricier than most, but the optimal location and luxury is worth it. Insider Tip: Taste the finest of Scottish ales and whiskeys at The Doric, Edinburgh's oldest gastropub. It's been serving brews since the 17th century and features live folk music on Fridays and Saturdays.
Photo: Getty Images.
Saint Petersburg, Russia The largest country (in landmass) in the world is calling your name. Russia's capital city belies the country's cold reputation. Riddled with canals that recall the layout of Venice, it's a city teeming with culture. And it's not that expensive! An expansive metro system will help you gain access to the 221 museums that the city features. Delicious street food will keep you going as you explore the historic sites of the second most populous city in Russia.
Photo: Courtesy of Guest House 455 Kotor.
Where to Stay: For your stay, settle in Kotor, a historic town off the Adriatic coast of Montenegro. The Guest House 455 can cost as little as $56 a night. For that low cost, you'll have the Bay of Kotor and the city's impressive architecture just outside your door. Insider Tip: Lovers of the great outdoors should head to Lovćen, a national park in the southwestern part of Montenegro. The main attraction? The mausoleum that houses Petar Petrović Njegoš, a revered poet and philosopher of Monenegro.
Photo: Getty Images.
Tara River Canyon The picturesque canyon between the countries of Bosnia and Herzegovina will give you ample opportunity to experience once-in-a-lifetime outdoor travel. Stretches of the river are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can enjoy the stunning views via a scenic rafting route that includes 3 hours of unadulterated beauty.
Photo: Courtesy of The Friends Loft.
Where to Stay: For just 2900 rubles per night (or about $45) your stay at The Friends Loft will afford you a private bathroom and space all to yourself. Located near the Fontonka river, the hostel is in walking distance to most of the city's amenities. A metro station nearby can whisk you to the more far-flung parts of the city. Insider Tip: Once you've explored all of St. Peterburg's rich history, check out the contemporary art scene at Loft Project Etagi, a vertical mall in the center of the city. A self-proclaimed "mulifunctional art space," the project, which lives in a refurbished bakery, hosts 2 contemporary art galleries, 3 exhibition areas, and one cafe that takes a "philosophical approach to dining."
Photo: Getty Images.
Tofo Beach, Mozambique If you're looking for a truly unforgettable beach vacation, consider looking no further than the ice-blue oceans and sandy shores of Tofo Beach, Mozambique. Fly into nearby Inhambane (you'll have to connect at Johannesburg) and take a 30-minute bus ride to the relatively undisturbed shoreline of Tofo. Enjoy fresh seafood from local fisherman and, if you're daring, go ahead and get a scuba certification at one of Tofo Beach's multiple diving spots. Getting to the beach will be a bit of a trek, but it will be worth it for its relatively undeveloped appeal.
Photo: Courtesy of Baia Sonambula
Where to Stay: Baia Sonambula guest house is only $90 a night during the low season, and that price includes breakfast in the morning and a direct view of the Indian ocean. Insider Tip: Diving in the clear blue water is one thing — but diving with whales?! That's another matter. Humpback whales migrate along the coastline during the winter season (that's May to October). If you miss the whales, that's okay. Whale sharks, those gentler versions of the great whites, frequent Tofo's shores.
Photo: Chine Nouvelle/REX Shutterstock.
Cappadocia, Turkey The Cappadocia region of Turkey looks like something created for a fantasy movie, with towering, psychedelic rock formations. The quintessential experience is floating over the landscape in a hot air balloon, and they generally take off in the early morning hours to see the sunrise. Most of the activities are for the outdoorsy — hiking to various rock formations and exploring caves in Ala Dağlar National Park. You can also visit the underground cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, which are carved out below the ground (and not for those with claustrophobia), and head to volcanic rock outcropping Uçhisar Castle.
Photo: Courtesy of Phocas Cave Suites.
Where To Stay: Have you ever wanted to sleep in an ancient rock cave? You can, at the Phocas Cave Suites in the village of Cavusin, where rooms will set you back around $80 per night. The old town ruins are walking distance from the hotel and there are several restaurants and cafés nearby. Insider Tip: If you want to try the local cuisine, indulge in a "pottery kebab," which is a style of kebab that involves slow-cooking meat inside a sealed clay pot. Once it’s cooked, the waiter will break the pot open in front of you. There's some debate over which restaurant does them best, but try Somine Café & Restaurant or Cappadocian Cuisine.
Photo: Bart Pro / Alamy.
Marrakech, Morocco Morocco's third-largest city offers a dizzying array of souks (markets), mosques, and restaurants. The Medina district in particular boasts a labyrinth of souks, where you can haggle for crafts, carpets, spices, and more. It’s a mix of European, Middle Eastern, and African cultures, a confluence that will make the experience even more interesting, especially when it comes to the food. You can also use the city as a starting point to travel around the rest of the country.
Photo: Robert Harding World Imagery / Alamy.
Where To Stay: Marrakech boasts a lot of nice, inexpensive hotels. Check out the Riad Al Badia, a small four-star guesthouse that’s only a 10-minute walk from the Royal, Bahia, and El Badi Palaces. Rooms will set you back about $80 per night and include an airport transfer. Insider Tip: It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the souks, so download the Marrakech-Riad app, which will help you find your way. Once you find something you want to buy, be sure to barter. Travel blog On The Luce suggests comparing prices for any item you’re interested in at a few different market stalls, then offering half the quoted price. If you get overwhelmed, take a break at a café, like the Café Glacier or the Café du Grand Balcon.
Photo: Anna Stowe Travel / Alamy.
Machu Picchu, Peru The 15th century Incan city of Machu Picchu is one of the most iconic locales in the world, and it’s not as difficult to reach as you might assume. If you’re really ambitious, you can travel by foot along the Inca Trail. But, if that's not your style, take a quick flight from Lima to Cusco and hop a train to the small town of Aguas Calientes, located at the base of Machu Picchu. From there, you either hike or take a short bus ride to the ruins. All entrance tickets to the ancient city must be booked in advance, because the government limits the number of people who can visit each day, so be sure to plan ahead.
Photo: Ramona Settle / Alamy.
Where To Stay: Most travelers bunk up in Aguas Calientes when visiting Machu Picchu. The hotels there are relatively low-key and sparse. For a clean, safe bet, try Hotel Flower’s House, which has rooms for around $70 per night, including breakfast. It’s located near the train station and walking distance from all the restaurants in town. Insider Tip: On your way back, stop to see Cusco, a UNESCO World Heritage city located 11,000 feet above sea level. For dinner, head to Cicciolina, a Peruvian tapas restaurant located in one of the city’s old colonial houses.
Photo: Courtesy of Emily Zemler.
Budapest Budapest is a lesser-discussed Eastern European city, but it’s one worth checking off your list. The city is divided into two parts (Buda and Pest) by the Danube River, and has a massive and beautiful Parliament building you can tour. There’s a young, hip nightlife scene and tons of cool, new restaurants, including ones that serve vegetarian and vegan fare. You can check out history in the hilltop Castle District before heading to A38 Hajó, a nightclub and concert venue set on a reconstructed Ukrainian ship. Just outside of town is Memento Park, which houses all the communist statues that populated the city before the fall of the regime.
Photo: Matthew Fletcher / Alamy.
Where To Stay: The Mirage Fashion Hotel will run you about $70 per night (including breakfast) and is adjacent to City Park, where you can find the iconic Szechenyi Thermal Baths, Heroes Square, and the Museum of Fine Arts. Insider Tip: It’s hard to describe Budapest’s infamous ruin pubs without a visit. The eclectic bars — set in old buildings and courtyards, and decorated with mismatched, collected furniture and objects — are all completely different. Szimpla Kert is the original, and is located in the Jewish Quarter. It hosts a weekend farmers' market (look for the homemade peanut and almond butter), live music, and screenings. Also worth checking out is Racskert, which is housed in an abandoned carpark.
Photo: Iuliia Mashkova / Alamy.
Havana, Cuba The Spanish colonial city of Havana, Cuba’s capital, is becoming increasingly accessible to American travelers. Old Havana has architecture and history to check out, but visiting Cuba is more about experiencing its culture and music. You can visit a cigar factory, hang out at local cafés, check out a cabaret show at the Tropicana theater, or go dancing at one of the many salsa clubs. Those looking to better understand the history of the country should visit The Museum of the Revolution, located in the former presidential palace, and the Plaza de Armas, where the city began.
Photo: Alex Segre / REX Shutterstock.
Where To Stay: There are a lot of good options in Havana, but if you’re into literary history check out Hotel Ambos Mundos in Old Havana, which is where Ernest Hemingway famously wrote in room 511. It’s sparse, but the location is central and rooms will only set you back $85 per night. Insider Tip: Head to El Floridita, a bar and restaurant famous for its daiquiris (and for being one of Hemingway’s favorite haunts). The bar first opened back in 1817 and is still a happening spot. The food is pricey, but go for a cocktail, which you can drink next to a bronze statue of Hemingway that rests in his favorite seat.
Photo: Paul Brown / REX Shutterstock.
Chiang Mai, Thailand Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand and is home to more than 30 temples, the two most famous being Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang. You can check out the shopping at the Night Bazaar, visit various gardens, and (of course) get your fill of Thai food. The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre is located near the city and accessible via bus. There, you can observe the elephants up close and learn about the conservation of the animals.
Photo: Courtesy of the De Lanna Hotel.
Where To Stay: Chiang Mai has a lot of options to suit all budgets. Try the De Lanna Hotel, located in the historic old town district of the city. It’s close to the temples and historic sites, as well as the old town square and Three Kings Monument. Rooms go for as low as $65 per night, including breakfast, and there's also a swimming pool. Insider Tip: Serious Eats recommends chowing down on Northern Thailand’s signature egg noodle dish khao soi at Lamduon Fahrm Kaosoi. The restaurant, which has been around for more than 70 years, has two locations (the original is near the old town center).
Photo: Cultura / REX Shutterstock.
Reykjavik, Iceland Iceland’s capital city is a good starting point for seeing the small island country. Visiting Iceland is mostly about seeing its natural majesty, which is best experienced by renting a car to drive through the mountains, near the seaside, and past glaciers and volcanoes. The Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa, is a hugely popular tourist destination (and recommended on your way to the airport), and Reykjavik also boasts a lot of interesting museums and restaurants. You can even find somewhere to try the country’s national dish, Hákarl, shark that’s been cured for several months.
Photo: Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy.
Where To Stay: Hotel Cabin has small but functional rooms for about $100 per night. The hotel is next to the ocean and within two miles of all the sites in central Reykjavik. It’s a five-minute walk to geothermal swimming pool Laugardalslaug and 10 minutes to the Reykjavik Zoo. Insider Tip: If you want to see the Northern Lights, head to Iceland between mid-September and April, when there are fully dark nights. Travel site Northern Lights Iceland notes that it’s hard to know when the Aurora Borealis will appear, but you can attempt to predict their appearance by factoring in time of year and weather. It is recommended that you leave the main city for the best views.
Photo: Paul Brown / REX Shutterstock.
Siem Reap, Cambodia Angkor Wat temple and its surrounding complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site that will earn you a lot of likes on Instagram. It’s best to travel here during the dry/hot season and head in early to see the sunrise over the ancient temple architecture. You can hire a guide or explore on your own. There are several other worthwhile sites to see around Siem Reap, too, including Angkor Archeological Park and Ta Prohm Temple.
Photo: Courtesy of Golden Temple Residence.
Where To Stay: A little goes a long way in Siem Reap. Check out Golden Temple Residence, which you can book for as little as $79 per night. It’s walking distance from the Angkor Night Market, Pub Street, and Psar Chaa Market, and a good homebase for your visit to Angkor Wat. The picturesque swimming pool alone should convince you. Insider Tip: Take a break from the temples and check out Siem Reap restaurant Marum, which is part of an alliance called TREE that trains local at-risk and homeless youth to be chefs. It serves affordable, local Cambodian cuisine, and you'll be supporting a good cause.
Photo: Ian Dagnall / Alamy.
New Orleans, Louisiana There are a lot of reasons to tick New Orleans off your bucket list, although for many it’s due to the city’s infamous Bourbon Street. There, it’s a raucous party every night of the year, and you can carry your booze on the streets, hopping from bar to bar. It’s at its height during Mardi Gras, of course, but if partying isn’t your scene, there’s plenty of other things to do around town, especially if you’re into food. Plus, the Southern architecture is beautiful and — depending on what you believe — possibly haunted.
Photo: Ian Dagnall Commercial Collection / Alamy.
Where To Stay: Hotel Villa Convento, located centrally in the French Quarter, is a small, charming guesthouse that offers rooms for $89 per night. The hotel is near the river and close enough to Bourbon Street to be convenient to the action. There are many rumors about the hotel, including that it’s a former (and haunted) brothel, and that Jimmy Buffett once lived there. Insider Tip: Café du Monde is the most famous place to grab a coffee and beignet, but if you’re looking for the best drip to cure your hangover, head to Spitfire Coffee in the French Quarter.
Photo: Chameleons Eye / REX Shutterstock.
Queenstown, New Zealand Seeing virtually every part of New Zealand should be on your bucket list, but Queenstown, on the end of the south island, is one of the most beautiful and exciting places to visit in the country. It’s an easy flight from Auckland and close to Milford Sound, which has been called the Eighth Wonder of the World. Depending on what time of year you visit, you can ski or partake in adventure tourism activities like whitewater rafting and bungee jumping. If you’re a Lord of the Rings enthusiast, the nearby town of Glenorchy was used as a stand-in for Middle Earth in several of the films.
Photo: Courtesy of Rydges Lakeland Resort Queenstown.
Where To Stay: Rydges Lakeland Resort Queenstown is a big chain hotel located lakeside, a short walk form downtown Queenstown. There are a variety of room prices depending on your budget, but you can score a lakeview room for as little as $100 per night. If that's too steep, there are budget twin rooms available for $75 per night. Insider Tip: There’s a lot to do in Queenstown and its surrounding areas, but your most important stop is Fergberger, a hip burger joint downtown that boasts menu selections with names like the Chief Wiggum and Sweet Bambi. Start with the Little Lamby, made with New Zealand lamb, and then make your way through the rest of the burgers. Afterwards, stop by Mrs. Ferg next door for gelato.
Photo: Courtesy of Emily Zemler.
Berlin, Germany If you’re into art and history, Berlin is where it's at. The city houses more than 175 museums, including the must-visit Jewish Museum and the sprawling Hamburger Bahnhof, which features modern and contemporary art. You can see a lot for free, too, like the East Gallery, a lengthy section of the Berlin Wall covered in graffiti, and the Berlin Wall Memorial to learn about the history of communism in Germany. The city also has great shopping, good food, and cool bars, as well as outdoor markets like the Mauerpark Flea Market.
Photo: Agencja Fotograficzna Caro / Alamy.
Where To Stay: The Michelberger Hotel is a hip place to rest your head near the East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain. You can score a "cozy" room for $90 dollars a night. Make sure to hang out in the lobby, which is a coffee shop by day and lounge by night. Insider Tip: This might sound unappealing, but order a currywurst — chopped-up sausage covered in ketchup and curry powder. The best one comes from one of Curry 36’s two locations. You’ll eat it outside the restaurant window while standing at tables. It’s cheap, too.
Photo: Maria Grazia Casella / Alamy.
Tel Aviv, Israel The seaside city of Tel Aviv was founded around the ancient port city of Jaffa, and is famous for its lively, 24-hour nightlife and beach culture. It has numerous museums, including the Eretz Israel Museum and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. You can sprawl out on the beaches and spend your evenings at one of the city's many hot spots, or spend your time soaking up culture and history instead of sunlight. If you want to see more of the country, Jerusalem is a quick flight away.
Photo: Courtesy of The Dancing Camel.
Where To Stay: The hotels in Tel Aviv, especially the beachfront ones, are on the pricier side, but if you want to be close to the water on a budget try Hayarkon 48 Hostel, where you can book a private room for $60. It has a rooftop bar and is only a two-minute walk from the beach. It's also close to much of the nightlife and live music venues. Insider Tip: The Dancing Camel is Tel Aviv’s first microbrewery, and its pub serves beer every night — except Friday — "till last customer." They have 13 signature brews and you can get a taste of multiple draughts with beer flights. If you need more excitement, October Bar is a recent addition to the city’s nightlife that offers happy hour until 9 p.m.
Photo: Courtesy of Emily Zemler.
Prague, Czech Republic Prague is an ideal European city in that it’s less hyped than Paris and London, but still offers all the culture, nightlife, and historical significance of its counterparts. It’s extremely walkable, filled with museums and historical sites, and is well-known for its beer. A lot of tourists now make it their New Year’s Eve destination, with massive crowds gathering on the Charles Bridge to ring in the New Year with unofficial firework displays and endless Champagne. If you like clubs, the five-floor Karlovy Lázně is the largest in Central Europe.
Photo: Getty Images.
Where To Stay: The Golden Star is located just below Prague Castle in the Mala Strana area, and offers a view of the city and the Charles Bridge. Prices vary depending on the time of year, but if you dig around you can find a room for around $100 per night, which includes breakfast. It’s an easy walk to the Castle, the Franz Kafka Museum, and Museum Kampa, which houses modern and contemporary art. Insider Tip: Head uphill in Mala Strana toward Petrin Hill to the Strahov Monastic Brewery, a brew pub and restaurant that features beers crafted by monks. You can also order traditional Czech dishes like pork knuckle, sausages, and wild boar (get the pork knuckle).
Photo: Image Source / REX Shutterstock.
Montreal, Canada If you can't afford to fly to Europe, Montreal will make a good stand-in, both in terms of architecture and culture. The majority of its inhabitants speak French, and it's filled with museums and festivals that celebrate Québécois life. The Parc du Mont-Royal is a good place to be outdoors and walk around, and if you visit during the warmer months, it's easy to walk or bike around the city. If you have time, taking the long, but scenic, train ride from New York City is worthwhile (and cheap).
Photo: Hemis / Alamy.
Where To Stay: Try the affordable and quaint Auberge le Jardin d'Antoine in the Latin Quarter. It runs around $100 per night, and is located close to the St. Denis Theatre, Notre Dame Basilica, and Vieux-Port de Montreal. Insider Tip: There's a lot of good food in Montreal, but none of it better than the city's famous bagels. They're smaller and sweeter than traditional American bagels, and you'll want to eat several at once. The best ones come from St-Viateur Bagel in Mile End, where you should order a dozen sesame bagels — all for yourself.
Photo: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming America's first national park, there's a reason a steady stream of tourists have been flocking here since the 1800s. Situated on top of a volcanic hot spot, the park is home to geothermal activity, like the Grand Prismatic Spring, that can make you feel like you're on another planet. A wide range of animals call Yellowstone home as well, from buffalo and bears to mountain goats and moose. Whether you choose to explore the park by foot or by car is up to you — much of the park's most notable sights are easily accessible by either. And it's all free after you pay $30 for a seven day pass.
Photo: Courtesy of Headwaters Lodge.
Where To Stay: Camping is by far the cheapest way to do Yellowstone, especially since hotels inside the park are generally very expensive. But if you're not into sleeping on the ground, Headwaters Lodge offers visitors a bed starting at $75 a night for two guests. Located south of the park, its camper cabins are the definition of bare bones: you'll have to bring your own bedding and use a communal bathroom, but at least you'll have a roof over your head. Insider Tip: Headwaters Lodge is situated between Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, another national park renown for its pristine beauty. Be sure to plan a day or two to explore the Grand Tetons as well.
Photo: Getty Images.
São Paulo, Brazil Rio may have gotten the spotlight as the venue of the Summer Olympics, but São Paulo is the underrated sister that charms with world-class gastronomy, buzzing nightlife, and vibrant street art. Blessed with diverse cultural influences and a panoply of contemporary museums, experiential theatres and lively galleries, the destination is an absolute dream for artsy types looking for a city adventure. Though notorious for its income disparity, the city does offer plenty of options for things to do, wherever your spending levels may fall on the spectrum. For those hoping to keep a modest budget, strolling along the graffiti-covered Batman Alley and people watching at Vila Madalena — a rainbow-colored hub for with local painters and filmmakers — are thrills that won't cost you a dime.
Where To Stay: There's no shortage of affordable hostels in São Paulo, but if you want to crash somewhere that feels a little more special, book early for a private room at Hostel Califórnia. Tucked in a vibrant townhouse — equipped with a backyard garden and balconies with views of the Pinheiros neighborhood — this crash pad feels more like a cozy B&B than a hostel. Prices start at $53 for a double room, those looking to save extra can book a spot in the 5-bed dorm room for just $19. Insider Tip: Don't miss Mercado Municipal, the conveniently-located food emporium selling fresh bread, local seafood and homemade sweets.
Photo: Courtesy of Visit Vail
Vail, Colorado You might remember Vail as the setting for last year's Kardashian family drama, but there's so much more to this Colorado ski resort than being a celeb hangout. The balmy summer months are a great time to explore the many hiking trails in the Rocky Mountains, which come in varying degrees of difficulty. Enjoy the verdant foliage along the Deluge Creek Trail or explore the hidden lakes and meadows at Cross Creek Trail.
Photo: Courtesy of Tivoli Lodge
Where To Stay: The picture-perfect ski chalets at Tivoli Lodge become much more affordable in slower season. You'll be impressed with splendid views of the mountains and a convenient location right by the ski lifts. Insider Tip: You'll want to leave some time on the agenda for Vail Village, a charming area closely resembling European towns. The cobblestone streets are heated — and cars are banned within the parameters so you'll have a much more enjoyable walkabout.
Photo: Getty Images.
New York, NY New York is everything, and everything is in New York. The Big Apple has served as a source of inspiration for numerous films, TV shows, and works of literature, embodying the land of opportunities. Though the city is slowing becoming a playground for the rich and famous, it still holds many possibilities for the budget traveler. A stroll through Central Park or Prospect Park — the Brooklyn equivalent that rivals in square footage — is the perfect exercise in people watching that money can't by. The High Line is another special place that costs you absolutely nothing. The melting pot status of Gotham also means that a whole world of affordable and multi-cultural cuisine is at your fingertips. You can achieve food nirvana by trekking to Flushing, Queens for $1 duck buns, or pig out on authentic tacos in Brooklyn's Sunset Park for $3 a pop. You better leave some stomach real estate.
Photo: Getty Images.
Where To Stay: Accommodation ain't cheap here, and that shouldn't come as a surprise. Broadway Hotel and Hostel is a great option for those running on a tight budget but don't want to squeeze in with other backpackers. It's located in a quiet neighborhood — just steps away from Central Park — and sets you back under $100 a night. Insider Tip: Lookout for the seasonal outdoor markets the city has to offer. The Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene and the weekend market on West 26th Street are some underrated ones to plan your treasure hunts around.
Photo: Getty Images.
Denver, CO Your vacation in the Mile-High City will hit new heights — literally. Denver offers the cultured vibes of an urban area without losing that wild, wild West spirit. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, the destination offers plenty of options to explore the great outdoors, from whitewater rafting down Clear Creek or catching a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater.
Photo: Courtesy of The Timbers
Where To Stay: The Timbers Hotel is located between the Denver International Airport and downtown Denver, The convenient and affordable hotel will charm you with contemporary Western decor and eclectic art collection. Insider Tip: Grab a bite at The Source, a hip food hall housed inside a 19th-century foundry in the North River District. You'll be lavished with food truck tacos, homemade pork sandwiches, and artisanal cocktails.
Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Mountain
Mammoth Lakes, California California isn't all about sunshine and beaches. A six-hour drive from L.A., Mammoth Mountain has been a favorite of the Hollywood set. The powdery snow here does not pale in comparison with more well-known ski destinations, and the summertime price cuts are very much worth considering: A single-day lift ticket in the off season will cost you $69, as opposed to $125 during peak times. Mammoth Lakes feels like a completely different place when the temperatures warm up. With the great outdoors at your disposal, your après-ski agenda will be packed with activities from mountain biking to kayaking to fly fishing.
Photo: Courtesy of Tamarack Lodge
Where To Stay: Tamarack Lodge Resort charms with its rustic chic cabins and close proximity to the lakes and waterfalls. You'll love toasting your feet by the fireplace while taking in the splendid mountain views. Insider Tip: The Restaurant at Convict Lake serves hearty lamb racks, beef wellingtons, and steaks in a cozy setting.
Austin, Texas Haven't you heard? Austin is the new Brooklyn. This laid-back creative hub is quickly gaining status as one of the coolest cities in America, and the best news is, many of its thrills still come relatively cheap. Feast on Southern barbecue food and Tex-Mex at the South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery, and make your way through all the affordable culinary delights from each trailer. For something active. to do when you're keeping a low cost, hiking along the trails of Lady Bird Lake and Greenbelt are always free.
Where To Stay: Architects (and Dwell magazine) approve of The Kimber Modern, a design-savvy downtown favorite. Catch a viewing in the nearby 2nd Street District after kicking back in the sun-drenched rooms. Insider Tip: Budget your time for Austin’s hip South Congress corridor, a buzzing strip known for its exciting shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
Palawan, Philippines Booking a flight to the Philippines may sound like an expensive endeavor, but hear us out on this: Once you get there, everything is insanely affordable. Flights from Manila to Puerto Princesa, Palawan's main transport hub, are incredibly cheap, and you'll have your picking of budget lodging once you get to the individual islands. Named "The Last Frontier" of the world, the island has been consistently voted as one of the most gorgeous and unspoiled places one has to see in their lifetime.
Photo; Courtesy of Palawan Village Hotel.
Where To Stay: Palawan Village Hotel offers no-frill rooms in a rustic hut with the whopping low price of $11 per night. Insider Tip: Book at least a day ahead to go snorkeling at Honda Bay, a must-see excursion where you'll be able to spot star fish and sand dollars.
Wilmington, NY Easily accessible, convenient, and surprisingly affordable, Wilmington has gorgeous mountain views, an ever-expanding network of mountain biking trails. With the world-renowned Ausable River slicing through it, the area will also wow you with several pretty waterfalls.
Where To Stay: Try a cabin in the middle of the woods, like the KOA Campground. Stay close to nature while sleeping in a comfy bed with heat for the cool Adirondack evenings. The property offer bike rentals, mini golf and an outdoor pool. Insider Tip: Don't miss Santa's Workshop, the oldest theme park in the United States. Home to beloved fairy tale and storybook characters, busy elves, live reindeer, and Santa himself, the North Pole experience is one you won't soon forget.
Alajuela, Costa Rica Costa Rica is a destination to watch for the eco-curious. Full of lush rainforests, wildlife, active volcanoes and stunning ecosystems, the country is fast become a carbon neutral country by 2021. Many tourists visit for the picturesque beaches and a taste of the pura vida lifestyle, and you'll be getting a showing of the country's best natural treasures at Central Valley. The cascading waterfalls at La Paz has to be seen to be believed.
Where To Stay: Just 5.5 miles from the waterfall, Hotel Eskalima is a clean and no-frills villa with a generous breakfast buffet. Insider Tip: If you're making your way to La Paz Waterfall Gardens, remember to also hit up the unique cloudforests at Poas Volcano National Park and make a full day trip out of it.