If you thought you’d need to save up thousands of dollars to finance a truly exceptional getaway, think again! Here are the most affordable (and still spectacular) places to visit in 2018.
1. Albufeira, Portugal
Looking to hit the beaches without the premium price tag associated with most 4+ star resorts? Look no further than gorgeous Albufeira in the southern Algarve region in Portugal.
The city has a plethora of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs to choose from, but most importantly, it has stunning beaches and the perfect climate to enjoy them.
One affordable way to plan a vacation in Albufeira is to take advantage of relatively inexpensive hotels that resemble apartments. Think Airbnb, but with the peace of mind of booking through a hotel.
If you like a little bit of commotion, plan your trip for summer, as it’s the busiest time of year. The most affordable option, though, is to go in the late spring when the tourist crowd hasn’t quite thickened and the hotel rates are still as cheap as you’ll find with good weather.
You might not want to spend your entire trip at the beach, especially since there are some great sights to see, like the blue-tiled church of São Lourenço in the nearby Almancil or the famous market of Loulé. There are also plenty of great golf courses in the Algarve if that’s more your speed.
2. Montreal, Canada
Europe can be expensive, but most travelers love the culture and atmosphere that awaits them there. What if you could get that at a much more affordable price (and a shorter flight)?
Canada is a great option if you’re coming from the States, since the dollar has a favorable exchange rate at the moment.
It helps if you speak French since Montréal is largely French-speaking, but most people are fluent in English as well. In fact, Canadians often joke that you’ll hear more (and better) English spoken in Montréal than in Toronto.
The old quarter of the city is a must-see, dating back to the 17th century. Its cobblestone streets, boutique cafes, trendy shops, and historical landmarks (the Notre-Dame Basilica, Pointe-à-Callière museum) seamlessly blend the colonial with the postmodern.
Montreal has European flair without European prices!
To read more about visiting Canada, check out: Viking Ruins & Enchanted Forests: 13 Unexpected Canadian Adventures.
3. Zanzibar, Tanzania
Zanzibar is located off the coast of East Arica. While you might assume an exotic location like this will cost you dearly, it’s actually very budget friendly. Most importantly: it’s absolutely breathtaking.
Getting from mainland Tanzania to Zanzibar is a relatively straightforward trip costing either roughly $100 by plane or $35 by ferry.
And Zanzibar has no shortage of luxurious resorts like Melia Zanzibar or Tulia Zanzibar. While these are well worth the higher prices they command, there are also more cost-conscious options.
Airbnb rentals can be found for anywhere from $40 a night. Not bad for a gorgeous spot right on the beach!
4. Barcelona, Spain
If we didn’t convince you that Montréal is a great alternative to European travel, then perhaps Barcelona, Spain will be more up your alley.
Barcelona might just be the best budget choice of 2018 for tourists who want to see Europe. The city offers a huge list of fun activities, plus sensational architecture caked with centuries of history, some of the best museums in the world, and white sandy beaches. Just be forewarned: some of them are clothing-optional!
You could spend hours strolling down Las Ramblas, the main strip in Barcelona, with its street performers, restaurants, and bars. It’s also one of the most affordable European cities to visit in 2018, with prices so far showing substantially lower than they were in 2017.
To read more about visiting Spain, check out: 17 Things To Do And See (And Eat!) In Spain.
5. Saint Martin, The Caribbean
Hurricane Irma was a catastrophe for the Caribbean, so you might be wondering why Saint Martin could be on our list for 2018 travel destinations.
While Saint Martin (or Sint Maarten as it’s also known) was hit hard by the hurricane, it’s rapidly recovering, and has been back in business for months now. The airport has been open since October 2017, almost all of the island’s electricity is back online, and almost all resorts, bars, and beaches have reopened.
With the hurricane still lurking in some locals’ memories, Saint Martin hotels are offering once-in-a-lifetime prices to attract visitors back to their picturesque island, and the money you’ll spend at local businesses will a) take you farther than ever before while b) helping people in need.
6. Gaziantep, Turkey
It’s hard to find a city that hasn’t been overhyped these days, but there are some that still don’t get as much attention as they deserve. Gaziantep in Turkey is definitely one of them.
If you’re looking for delicious food, Gaziantep is the place to be. Street vendors are searing scrumptious kababs as early as 5 in the morning. Not a bad smell to wake up to!
Gaziantep received the rare designation of Creative Gastronomy City from UNESCO, one of only eight cities to earn such a distinction. It’s also the pistachio capital of Turkey, and home to the biggest mosaic museum in the world, the Zeugma Museum.
Istanbul is a beautiful city to visit, but Gaziantep has been described as the more affordable more authentic Istanbul. It’s also only a 90-minute flight from Istanbul, making it quite accessible.
7. Curaçao, The Caribbean
As mentioned, Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean Islands and caused some serious damage, but the Dutch-Caribbean island of Curaçao was one place that emerged completely unscathed by the massive storm. That hasn’t stopped prices from dropping substantially in 2018, though, and this is a great opportunity to explore Curaçao at a discount.
With a reputation for some of the best diving and snorkeling in all of the Caribbean, you will not be bored here. The capital city Willemstad is well worth checking out with colorful architecture, old-time charm, and a wealth of shopping and dining options.
8. Dubrovnik, Croatia
You might recognize the name Dubrovnik as a filming spot for HBO’s Game of Thrones (it’s the real-life King’s Landing). It was chosen by the show runners for a reason: its walls, battlements, and medieval fortifications.
While there are, of course, Game of Thrones-themed tours, there are lots of other activities to take advantage of. Stroll down the limestone-paved streets and appreciate the well-preserved architecture of centuries long forgotten.
Some noteworthy monuments to check out include the St. Blaise Church, Goth Rector’s Palace, and the renaissance-style Sponza Palace.
There’s a ton of history to learn about, and you can discover it firsthand while touring the medieval fortresses Bokar and Lovrijenac.
9. Naples, Italy
It doesn’t take much to convince most trailers of the splendor that is Italy, but Naples is a sometimes-overlooked gem.
While millions flock to Italian destinations like Capri, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast, Naples is finally being recognized as a destination worth checking out in its own right.
The Neapolitan method of making pizza has only recently been awarded a UNESCO designation on the Intangible World Heritage list. But food is only one reason to visit Naples, the official birthplace of pizza.
Naples is one of the oldest cities in Europe, and it has too many historical monuments and significant cultural landmarks to list. Some of the standouts include the underground catacombs and the host of castles that line the seaside.
Spring and autumn are excellent times to visit, with more affordable prices and weather that’s still perfect for walking the city streets.
10. Karpathos, Greece
Mykonos and Santorini are the Greek islands that first come to most people’s minds, but Karpathos is an excellent alternative because it offers many of the same attractions at significantly lower prices.
The island has a history dating back to the 5th century BC. So while there is no shortage of sand and surf to enjoy, there’s also a lot of cultural inheritance here.
At Aghia Anastasia, visitors can check out the ancient ruins, or take a pit-stop at the Archaeological Museum.
The white-sand beaches are truly jaw-dropping, and there are the usual accompanying activities such as snorkeling, fishing, sailing, and scuba diving.
For more adventurous visitors, renting a car and traveling to small villages like Arkasas or Olympos offers a more traditional feel straight out of the past. The capital of the island, Pighadia, on the other hand, is a modern city with all the amenities.
While there are many resorts and luxury hotels on Karpathos, there are also apartments for rent, and budget hotels for travelers looking to spend under $100 a night. The food is also surprisingly affordable – and, naturally, delicious!