Are you dreaming of far-off lands, emerald seas and soft sandy beaches? Or envisioning trekking through a gorgeous national park or skiing down a perfect slope? Maybe getting lost in a city steeped in history is more your speed? Whatever your travel style, there are so many options that will make for an incredible holiday abroad.
But the cost of living crisis has left many prospective travellers wondering how to satisfy their wanderlust without breaking the bank. Still, many affordable destinations have pristine beaches, unspoiled mountains, and riveting histories just waiting to be discovered. Some are just a short flight away, and others are much further afield. All offer affordability and the promise of adventure and relaxation alike.
So, dust off your old suitcase, polish your sunglasses and prepare to take notes as we reveal our handpicked selection of destinations that promise a wealth of holiday adventures, all perfectly balanced with affordability and unforgettable experiences. Travelling the globe and making memories need not be a luxury reserved for the few.
Combining affordability with an unparalleled cultural experience, Turkey, a country on two continents, offers everything a young-at-heart traveller desires. Turkey has topped several cheapest country lists this year, with the cost of living being a whopping 50% lower than the UK. Imagine indulging in a delectable three-course meal with your better half in a beautiful Istanbul restaurant, all for around £18 - we know we wouldn't miss that!
But let's not forget accommodation. Many decent hotels in Turkey can be found for an average of £50 per night, making it easy to find a comfortable room without breaking the bank. And don't we all deserve a comfy bed and a mesmerising view after a day of sightseeing?
Speaking of sights, the beauty of Turkey's landscapes will captivate your senses. Tackle the rocky terrains of Cappadocia, where hot air balloons paint the sky with colourful splendour, or gaze upon the cotton-candy-like sights of Pamukkale, which are as dreamy as they are unique. With its rich history and diverse geography, Turkey promises enchanting views that will be etched in the hearts of all who visit. Architectural masterpieces such as the iconic Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Ephesus ruins will transport you to a different era.
Whether you're looking for sun, sand, history, or food, Turkey has everything. And at a fraction of the price of many European destinations.
Portugal, a sun-kissed paradise with a rich history, flavorful cuisine, and gorgeous coastal views, is one of Western Europe's most affordable holiday destinations. Choose from charming budget hotels in Portugal for as low as €30 - €40 per night, or opt for mid-range lodging that provides modern comforts and location advantages, averaging €80 per night.
Oh, and did we mention that the cost of living in Portugal is 25% lower than in the UK? Flights to the country are one of the cheapest you'll find too. On average, you can find a round trip for just £50.
Portugal's vibrant culture and historical tales will enchant and intrigue even the most well-travelled among us. Stroll through the cobbled streets of Lisbon, sip on some velvety port in Porto, or wander through the whitewashed villages of the Algarve. If a European holiday is on your radar this year, Portugal is cheap compared to neighbouring countries. So give it a go for a relatively inexpensive holiday abroad.
Bulgaria offers sophisticated travellers the perfect combination of affordability, quality, and novelty. The budget-conscious wanderer will rejoice at the prospect of flights to Bulgaria, which range from £50 to £240 round trip, depending on the season. A mid-range three-course meal at a restaurant will set a couple back around £30. If you want a pint of local lager to wash it down, it'll be just under £1.50.
With the sparkling Black Sea lapping at the shores of Sunny Beach, your stay will be nothing short of idyllic at prices starting from just £27 per night for a hotel room. However, if you want to avoid the well-trodden tourist trap that attracts younger people looking for cheap alcohol, head to Sveti Vlas, a sanctuary for seasoned travellers. All coastal resorts promise all the sun, sea and sujuk (a local cured meat sausage) you can handle.
For those yearning for a blast of crisp mountain air and the thrill of conquering snow-capped peaks, then Borovets and Bansko are the places to be! These ski resorts attract both seasoned and aspiring fans of winter sports, offering phenomenal skiing opportunities and winter sports packages. Go during the ski season, and you'll discover a winter wonderland - complete with great apres-ski experiences!
If a dose of culture is what you're after, this cheap travel destination won't disappoint. Plovdiv is one of the best places for history buffs; the city may be the oldest in Europe. From adventures in the picturesque Balkan Mountains to wandering through old cities adorned with ancient Roman ruins, Bulgaria has a rich history waiting to be discovered. Take a gander at the dazzling Boyana Church or the medieval Tsarevets fortress, where Bulgarian kings once ruled. So if you're looking for sandy beaches, affordable accommodation, beautiful mountains, and lots of history - you know where to go.
Morocco is another country often at the top of the list of cheap places to visit. And it's undoubtedly one of the most affordable places on this list.
Morocco's crowning glory lies in its ability to blend old-world charm and modern splendour, and there is no better way to start your journey than in the enchanting maze of streets that is Marrakech. From ornately carved doors to brightly coloured fabrics lining the souks and bazaars, you'll feel like you've stepped back in time.
Feeling peckish? With the cost of living around 50% lower than in the UK, you'll soon learn the joys of indulging your culinary whims without counting each coin as a mid-range, three-course meal for two costs just £16. And savouring a pint of domestic lager will set you back just £2.
Hotels in Morocco are affordable too. Gone are the days of roughing it in cramped quarters! On your Moroccan adventure, you can rest in luxurious surroundings for around £100 per night, proving that luxury need not come at a premium. Rest assured, you'll be reaping the benefits of value and elegance, snugly cocooned in a beautiful riad (a Moroccan guesthouse) that might even come with its own hammam.
Once you've had your fill of the bustling souks and the treasures within, you may wish to head to the desert. Explore Morocco's boundless horizons—particularly the High Atlas Mountains in the distance or perhaps trek across the vast Sahara Desert on one of the many amazing tours on offer. Morocco is one of the best-value destinations in the world and well worth visiting if you're looking for a great place to go that won't break the bank.
Budget-friendly travel doesn't have to mean sticking to Europe. How about heading to Southeast Asia for a travel adventure like no other? Renowned for its picturesque beaches, lush jungles, beautiful temples, and oh-so-delicious food, Thailand is also one of the most affordable destinations you can find. Yes, the airfare will naturally cost more than a flight to Europe, but once you get there, you'll soon find it's one of the cheapest places to travel.
You can get an elegant mid-range hotel with fantastic amenities, including a swimming pool for that much-awaited dip, starting from around £20 per night. A basic Thai meal at a restaurant can cost less than a fiver. Yes, you read that right! If you want to treat yourself to a mid-range feast for two, you'll only need to shell out around £20.
But Thailand is so much more than a budget-friendly destination. Head there to discover ancient tales as you wander through Chiang Mai's majestic temples. Discover the bustling markets of Bangkok's Chinatown for old-world treasures and unique trinkets, all at shrewd negotiator prices, of course! Or how about sailing through the turquoise waters of Phuket and its surrounding islands? Thailand offers beautiful beaches, cheap guesthouses, and fun activities like discovering street food and snorkelling opportunities. And you can do all this for next to nothing once you get there.
Bolivia is a great South American destination that is often underestimated. People head to Peru and the Inca Trail, not realising the gem this landlocked destination can prove to be. For less than the cost of a round of drinks at your local pub, you could easily stay in a comfortable budget hotel for under £10 per night. But for those who desire more luxury, you could bag five-star opulence for a mere £75 per night.
When dining out, your wallet will barely notice. You can also reimagine date night with your better half, indulging in a delicious three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant for around £18. So you can order that dessert guilt-free! And get yourself a pint of domestic lager for only £1.44.
But it's not just the shockingly low prices that make Bolivia a must-visit destination in 2023. This unappreciated gem boasts an otherworldly landscape. Imagine standing in the seemingly endless, salt-crusted expanse of the breathtaking Salar de Uyuni - the world's largest and most enchanting salt flat. Or, if emerald lagoons and wildlife excite your wanderlust, check out the lesser-known Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, where you can get up close and personal with diverse nature.
For history buffs, the once-prosperous city of Potosí awaits. This UNESCO World Heritage site entices with its ornate colonial architecture funded by its expansive silver mines that once fueled the Spanish Empire. And for those searching for vibrant culture, the bustling capital city of La Paz is a treasure trove of street markets, quaint cafes, and an authentic taste of Bolivia's indigenous heritage.
How to travel on a budget in 2023
So how do you go on all these fabulous adventures without breaking the bank? We've got some tips to get you exploring on a shoestring budget. Couple these with our suggested cheap places to travel, and you'll bag yourself a holiday that's well worth the money.
Buy your flights early and travel midweek
When it comes to air travel, timing is everything. As tempting as it might be to spontaneously jet off to an exotic location, booking flights in advance is the key to scoring sweet deals. You will likely score cheaper flights if you can book a few months in advance. Also, consider travelling mid-week when flights are more affordable. By avoiding the weekend rush, you can save a pretty penny on your journey and not have to deal with horrendously busy airports.
Don't travel during peak season
Most travellers want the best weather possible while on holiday and opt for peak seasons. But seasoned wanderers know that off-peak travel comes with its charms - fewer crowds, a more relaxed pace, and, you guessed it, budget-friendly prices! So consider embracing the shoulder seasons – that sweet spot between high and low – to get the best bang for your buck.
Consider a last-minute cruise or package holiday
When you were juggling work and family life, the thought of a last-minute getaway might have seemed like an impossible luxury. But if you're retired, you have time on your side. So here's a secret to make your budget stretch further: package holidays and cruises often slash their prices as departure dates loom. So you can take advantage of your flexibility by carefully examining last-minute opportunities. As they say, fortune favours the bold - and the retired!
Avoid travelling during school holidays
Keep an eye on those school calendars unless you're travelling with your grandchildren. With families constantly looking for exciting getaways during school holidays, prices inevitably skyrocket. Give yourself the gift of tranquillity and cost-savings by exploring the world during term time. There are many cheap holidays to be had when the kids are back in school.
Cheap holiday destinations: Top tips for a holiday on a budget
There are so many incredible countries to visit with plenty to offer, and that don't cost a fortune. Our cheap holiday list for 2023 has a bit of everything. So whether you want a long-haul holiday, a beach escape, a ski trip, or a jungle trek, you'll be able to find somewhere to travel on a shoestring budget. These are some of the best cheap destinations in the world, so don't miss out on the opportunity to travel this year.