Ask a room full of people why they don’t travel more, you’ll almost certainly come across one common answer: it’s too expensive. Sure, biting the bullet to buy a train ticket and a hotel room can be a pain, but the belief that traveling the world has to be a burden on your wallet just isn’t true. Cost can be mitigated in a variety of ways, such as utilizing the right travel rewards credit cards, or by choosing destinations that are more affordable and where the US dollar is currently particularly strong.
- 25 Affordable Travel Destinations to Visit This Year
- Frequently Asked Questions about the Cheapest Countries to Visit This Year
If you’re looking for your next big adventure, but a luxury vacation to Paris or Milan isn’t in the cards right now, then consider any of these 25 relatively cheap countries to visit where you can go on nearly any budget. At the time of writing in 2023, the US dollar will go especially far in Turkey, Argentina, Peru, Egypt, South Africa and Chile, though there are others.
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Do keep in mind that depending on your budget, you may need to save that 5-star resort for a later date, but all of these countries are generally more affordable than most (at the moment). They can be experienced in-depth if you use the right logistics, accommodations and are willing to explore in a mostly self-guided fashion.
25 Affordable Travel Destinations to Visit This Year
Macedonia (North Macedonia)
Macedonia, a small Balkan country, is an affordable and lesser-known destination with a rich wine tradition. The Tikveš wine region produces unique varieties such as Vranec and Smederevka. The capital, Skopje, offers an eclectic mix of architecture, Ottoman bazaars, and budget-friendly restaurants serving traditional dishes like tavče gravče and ajvar. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the stunning Lake Ohrid, hike in Mavrovo National Park, or discover the ancient city of Stobi.
Turkey is famous for its blend of European and Middle Eastern culture, its incredible Byzantine and Muslim architecture, and of course, the city that embodies all these and more: Istanbul. Known as the crossroads between Europe and Asia, this gem is still a surprisingly affordable travel destination. Although Istanbul is a must-do for any traveler passing through Turkey, don’t forget to check out some other cities like Izmir, Cappadocia and Bodrum, where you’ll be greeted by sea breezes, Mediterranean weather, fantastic wine, and world-class accommodations.
No list of budget-friendly travel destinations is complete without Thailand. The land of reclining Buddhas and temples has been one of the backpacking capitals of the world for decades, and it isn’t about to give up its place anytime soon. For an exciting urban adventure, check out the vibrant, colorful capital of Bangkok. From a cuisine perspective, it has one of the most impressive culinary and street food scenes on the planet. If an island vacation with crazy beach parties is more your scene, you can’t go wrong with Phuket, Phi Phi, or Koh Samui.
Fun Fact: Did you know you can also go wine tasting in Thailand?
Just to the East of Thailand is the equally beautiful Cambodia. Having to compete with its more popular neighbors, Vietnam and Thailand, Cambodia has often been overlooked as a travel destination. Fortunately, this means that you’ll have an easier time getting around without putting up with crowds of tourists and paying tourist prices. As a country filled with mountains and jungles, the hiking here is world-class, and you can’t leave Cambodia without seeing the Angkor Wat. Check out the itinerary below, which discusses how you can explore this remarkable country in detail.
Very few countries in the world have as much to offer as Indonesia and very few that are as budget-friendly. Take a trip to Jakarta and you’ll find yourself in one of the fastest-growing and busiest cities in the world. If you’re looking for something more laid back, the island of Bali has beautiful black sand beaches, exciting nightlife, majestic temples, and an engaging local culture unlike any other.
Romania boasts a rich history, picturesque landscapes, and exceptional wine regions. The country is known for its local grape varieties, such as Fetească Neagră and Grasă de Cotnari. Visit the medieval towns of Transylvania and the wineries of the Dealu Mare region for a memorable, yet affordable, wine-tasting experience. For an authentic Romanian culinary experience, enjoy traditional dishes like sarmale and mici at local taverns. For adventurers, the Carpathian Mountains offer great hiking and wildlife-watching opportunities.
Morocco conjures up different images for different people. For some, it’s busy souks and market squares in one of Morocco’s dozens of medieval cities. For others, it’s riding camelback through the Sahara and camping out under the stars. Fortunately, both of these experiences are not only possible but they can be yours at an incredibly affordable price. If Morocco is where you decide to go, you’ll find yourself in an incredible country with amazing cities to choose from, great food, and some of the kindest, most hospitable people you’ll ever meet.
Egypt has had its share of bad press in the past decade, but don’t be fooled, it is a perfectly safe destination with so much to offer. Between the thousands of years of ancient Egyptian history and its relatively more recent history of being a cultural center in the Arab World, Egypt is truly every traveler’s dream. Because so many people have been shying away from Egypt over the past decade, you’ll have a very easy time seeing the world-class historical sites and museums this country has to offer, leaving you more time to explore some of Egypt’s hidden gems, like the Colored Canyon or Sharm El-Sheikh. As with any other destination, check travel advisories before you book your trip.
While Hungary is full of hidden attractions like anywhere else in the world, you absolutely must go to Budapest while you’re there. With a nickname like “The Pearl of the Danube,” how could you not? One walk along the river or through the Fisherman’s Bastion will show you why this has been one of Europe’s must-do destinations for so long. Even as a city with so much beauty and excitement to offer, you’ll have a hard time running up an expensive bill here. So, indulge yourself in all the goulash and Hungarian wine you want.
Bulgaria is an under-the-radar destination that offers a mix of history, culture, and wine. The Thracian Valley and Melnik regions are known for their production of Mavrud and Melnik wines, which you can sample at numerous wineries. Explore the ancient city of Plovdiv, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe, and be amazed by its rich history and architecture. For nature lovers, the Rila Monastery and the Seven Rila Lakes offer breathtaking views and hiking opportunities.
Georgia (The Country)
Georgia, the birthplace of wine, presents a unique and affordable travel destination. With over 8,000 years of winemaking history, the Kakheti region is home to some of the world’s oldest wineries. Experience traditional Georgian winemaking methods by visiting local vineyards and trying wines made in qvevri, clay vessels buried in the ground. The capital, Tbilisi, is a lively city with a mix of old and new architecture, delicious local cuisine, and a thriving arts scene. Be sure to visit the ancient cave city of Uplistsikhe and the picturesque town of Sighnaghi.
Moldova, an off-the-beaten-path European destination, is an affordable choice for travelers interested in wine and culture. The country’s wineries, such as Cricova and Milestii Mici, feature some of the world’s largest underground wine cellars and offer immersive tasting experiences. In the charming capital of Chisinau, visitors can explore a mix of Soviet-era and modern architecture, fascinating museums, and sample delicious local cuisine at affordable prices. Nature enthusiasts will find the Orheiul Vechi archaeological complex, with its ancient cave monasteries and picturesque landscapes, an excellent destination for hiking and outdoor exploration. Don’t miss the chance to attend a traditional Moldovan wine festival, such as the National Wine Day, where you can taste local wines, enjoy folk music, and experience the warmth of Moldovan hospitality.
When you think of affordable travel destinations, Portugal probably doesn’t come to mind. Yet, it remains one of Europe’s most budget-friendly countries. As long as you steer clear of some of the touristy areas in Lisbon and Lagos, you’ll find that you can enjoy some of the best weather and seafood in the world without having to break the bank. So, if sipping wine and listening to a fado play in the background on a sunny day sounds like a good time to you, check out Portugal. It’s probably cheaper than you think.
Peru is a diverse and fascinating country that offers travelers a rich cultural experience, breathtaking landscapes, and delicious cuisine. Although not as famous for its wine production as some other countries in South America, Peru’s Ica Valley is home to a growing wine industry, producing unique varieties such as Albilla and Quebranta. While visiting the Ica Valley, be sure to try pisco, Peru’s national spirit, which is distilled from grapes and used to make the famous Pisco Sour cocktail. The vibrant capital city of Lima boasts a thriving culinary scene, with a wide range of dining options, from affordable street food to world-class fine dining establishments. Don’t miss the opportunity to try ceviche, Peru’s national dish, or lomo saltado, a mouthwatering fusion of Peruvian and Chinese flavors. For adventure seekers, the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and the stunning Andean landscapes offer unforgettable experiences, while the Amazon rainforest provides unparalleled biodiversity and ecotourism opportunities.
Argentina offers a diverse landscape and some of the best Malbec wines in the world. The Mendoza wine region, nestled at the foothills of the Andes Mountains, is an excellent destination for wine enthusiasts, with numerous vineyards and wineries to explore. Buenos Aires, the vibrant capital, is known for its tango music, historic sites, and mouthwatering steaks. For adventure seekers, the Iguazu Falls and Patagonia offer breathtaking scenery and outdoor activities such as hiking and glacier trekking.
While still in South America, be sure to make a stop in Chile. Chile offers a diverse landscape, from the Atacama Desert in the north to the Patagonian wilderness in the south. Wine enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the Central Valley, known for producing exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, and Sauvignon Blanc wines. Santiago, the capital city, is a vibrant metropolis with a thriving culinary scene and affordable dining options. Be sure to try empanadas and pastel de choclo, two popular Chilean dishes. Adventure seekers can explore the stunning Torres del Paine National Park, the arid Atacama Desert, or the mysterious Easter Island.
South Africa provides a unique blend of culture, wildlife, and world-class wines. The Western Cape’s wine regions, such as Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, are renowned for their stunning landscapes and excellent wines. Discover the Cape Town culinary scene, with an array of affordable dining options, from fine-dining restaurants to bustling food markets. For wildlife enthusiasts, a visit to Kruger National Park or one of the many private game reserves offers unforgettable safari experiences.
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Croatia is known for its beautiful coastline and historic cities, but it also offers a thriving wine culture and affordable travel experiences. The Istria and Dalmatia regions are home to indigenous grape varieties like Malvazija Istarska and Plavac Mali. In Dubrovnik and Split, visitors can explore ancient architecture, dine on delicious seafood, and enjoy budget-friendly accommodations. For adventure, the Plitvice Lakes National Park and the Paklenica National Park provide breathtaking scenery and hiking opportunities.
Armenia, one of the world’s oldest wine-producing countries, offers visitors affordable travel options and rich cultural experiences. The Areni wine region, with its ancient winemaking history, is home to the unique Areni Noir grape variety. Yerevan, the capital, boasts a lively dining scene, with affordable restaurants serving traditional dishes like khorovats and dolma. Nature lovers can hike the stunning trails of Dilijan National Park, explore the ancient monasteries of Tatev and Geghard, or visit the breathtaking Lake Sevan.
Serbia is an affordable Balkan destination with a rich history, vibrant culture, and an emerging wine scene. The Fruška Gora region is known for its indigenous grape varieties, such as Prokupac and Tamjanika. The capital, Belgrade, offers a mix of Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian architecture, a lively nightlife, and budget-friendly restaurants serving traditional dishes like ćevapi and pljeskavica. Adventure enthusiasts can explore the dramatic Đavolja Varoš rock formations, hike in the Tara National Park, or go rafting on the Drina River.
Slovenia, a small Central European country, offers affordable travel experiences and a thriving wine culture. The Goriška Brda region, often referred to as the “Slovenian Tuscany,” is known for its picturesque vineyards and superb wines like Rebula and Pinot Gris. Ljubljana, the charming capital, boasts a vibrant culinary scene, medieval architecture, and affordable accommodations. Nature lovers can explore the breathtaking Lake Bled, hike through the Triglav National Park, or venture into the Škocjan Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Montenegro, with its stunning Adriatic coastline and rugged mountains, is an affordable and off-the-beaten-path destination. The Crmnica wine region produces the indigenous Vranac grape variety, perfect for wine enthusiasts seeking new experiences. The historic towns of Kotor and Budva offer a mix of medieval architecture, affordable dining options, and picturesque beaches. For adventure seekers, Durmitor National Park provides opportunities for hiking, skiing, and rafting in the dramatic Tara Canyon.
Mexico is an affordable destination that offers a rich cultural experience, diverse landscapes, and a budding wine scene. The Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California is gaining recognition for its excellent wines and innovative cuisine. Mexico City, the bustling capital, boasts a wide range of dining options, from street food to fine dining, featuring iconic dishes like tacos al pastor and mole poblano. Adventure lovers can explore the ancient ruins of Teotihuacán and Chichén Itzá, snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of Cozumel, or hike in the Copper Canyon.
Estonia, a Baltic gem, offers visitors affordable travel experiences, a rich cultural heritage, and a burgeoning food scene. Although not traditionally known for its wine production, Estonia is home to innovative winemakers producing fruit and berry wines, as well as wines from imported grape concentrates. Tallinn, the medieval capital, boasts well-preserved architecture, a vibrant dining scene, and budget-friendly accommodations. For nature lovers, the picturesque Lahemaa National Park and the island of Saaremaa provide opportunities for hiking, cycling, and birdwatching.
The Philippines is an affordable and diverse destination with over 7,000 islands, offering visitors stunning beaches, unique landscapes, and a thriving culinary scene. While the country is not known for traditional grape wine production, it does produce a variety of fruit wines, such as mango and bignay wines, which are worth trying for a unique experience. Manila, the capital, offers a mix of Spanish colonial history, bustling markets, and delicious cuisine, featuring dishes like adobo and sinigang. For adventure seekers, the Philippines offers opportunities for diving in the crystal-clear waters of Palawan, trekking the Banaue Rice Terraces, or exploring the Chocolate Hills of Bohol.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Cheapest Countries to Visit This Year
Make your plans!
Tell us in the comments, which of these destinations might you travel to first and why? Feel free to reach out to our team for any specific travel itineraries, tours or experiences you might be interested in. We can send you information from our local experts and tour operators who can usually cut you a deal ;).
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