Most people have a bucket list of popular destinations that they’ve always wanted to visit. But, even with ways to make air travel affordable (such as financing your flights) — the most popular destinations can be overpriced, and often, overcrowded!
The world is a big place. And while no two cities are exactly the same, for every iconic destination, there’s always a great, less touristic and much cheaper alternative.
We’ve compiled our top picks of cheaper alternatives to the world’s most popular and expensive destinations. So why not go off-the-beaten-track and have those experiences you’ve long been dreaming of, all while saving a ton of money?
Gracefully cruising along sleek and narrow canals while beautiful Italian architecture surrounds you. It’s true. Venice is a dreamland. But, it all comes at a hefty price.
Instead, consider visiting Colmar, a small town in the northeastern region of France. Colmar has all the charm and fairytale magic that Venice has — there’s a beautiful area with a canal, multi-coloured houses and cobblestone streets that is literally named Little Venice — but with much fewer tourists and much cheaper price.
The closest airport to Colmar, France is Strasbourg International Airport (SXB). Airlines that fly to Strasbourg include Air Arabia Maroc, Air France, ASL Airlines France, Arkia, Brussels Airlines, Israir Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Ryanair, SunExpress, Tunisair, Twin Jet and Volotea.
Little Venice, Colmar, France
Tokyo is one of the most fun and unique places on Earth. Ask anyone who’s been and they’ll tell you they’d return in a heartbeat. However, the downside to Tokyo — and Japan in general – is that you have to be prepared to spend.
Fortunately, there’s South Korea’s capital, Seoul.
One thing we realised when Japan and South Korea co-hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2002 is that the two capital cities aren’t too dissimilar. Although less-hectic, Seoul shares Tokyo’s ambition to be the world’s most innovative city. Their cultures may be different but each city stays true to its history and celebrates its past. And with soaring skyscrapers and neon lights illuminating the sky, they’re aesthetically alike too.
The main international airport in Seoul is Incheon International Airport (ICN). Airlines that fly to Incheon International include Aeromexico, AirAsia X, Air Astana, Air Canada, Air China, Air France, Alitalia, American Airlines, Asiana Airlines, British Airways, Eastar Jet, Jeju Air, Jin Air, KLM, Korean Air, Peach Aviation, Scoot, T’way Air and many more.
Seoul at night
Forget Bordeaux and Tuscany. When it comes to sipping wine in a breathtaking setting, Franschhoek in South Africa stands strong with the world’s best wine regions.
With each estate charging only around $3 USD for three/four tastings and no entry fees, the Franschhoek Wine Valley is cheap in everything but quality and taste. But, what really makes Franschhoek standout is the incredibly useful (and fun) hop-on-hop-off tram line. Choose from four different tram lines and visit as many different wineries on the line as you like!
The closest airport to Franschhoek is Cape Town International Airport (CPT). You can fly to Cape Town on Air Botswana, Airlink, Air France, Air Mauritius, Air Namibia, British Airways, CemAir, FlySafair, Kenya Airways, KLM, Kulula, Mango, Qatar Airways, Rwandair, Singapore Airlines and South African Airways.
Franschhoek wine tram. Credit: Wikimedia — South African Tourism
The Greek Islands are so diverse. Each island has so many different things to offer, that we won’t try to put you off the idea of visiting if your budget allows for it.
However, if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast has brilliant weather and beaches that are more than worthy of the legendary status that the Greek Islands’ hold.
For many years, Bulgaria was one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Admittedly, this isn’t the case any more. But while the number of people who visit Bulgaria in the summer months has gone up, the prices have stayed down. It remains as one of the best bargain destinations in all of Europe and was recently named the cheapest European resort!
Burgas Airport (BOJ) and Varna Airport (VAR) are the two main airports serving the Black Sea Coast. Airlines that fly to Burgas Airport include Aeroflot, Brussels Airlines, Finnair, Luxair, Norwegian, Ryanair, S7 Airlines, Smartwings, SunExpress Deutschland, Thomas Cook, TUI Airways, TUI Fly Netherlands, Ural Airlines, Voyage Air, Windrose Airlines and Wizz Air.
Airlines that fly to Varna Airport include Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Bulgaria Air, Condor, easyJet, Edelweiss Air, Eurowings, LOT Polish, Norwegian, Pobeda Airlines, Red Wings Airlines and Turkish Airlines.
Barcelona is one of the more popular cities in Europe and for good reason. While it’s not ultra-expensive, it isn’t exactly cheap either. Wouldn’t it be great if there was another large port city with good weather, great food, beaches and a buzzing nightlife scene, but was much cheaper?
Lisbon has a great blend of nightlife and culture. Go from bar to bar in Bairro Alto, the cities party district, or take a stroll through the charming streets of Lisbon’s old town, Alfama. Lisbon has some of the best weather in Europe, consistently placing in the top 10 cities with the most hour of sunshine year-round. And, if you’re about the beaches, Lisbon has some seriously underrated beaches just outside of the city centre.
Lisbon Airport is the main airport in Lisbon. Airlines that fly to Lisbon Airport (LIS) include Aegean Airlines, Aer Lingus, airBaltic, Azul, Croatia Airlines, easyJet, Emirates, Laudamotion, Level, Norwegian, Ryanair, TAP Air Portugal, Taag Angola Airlines, Transavia, Transavia France, Tunisair, United and Vueling.
Tram 28, Lisbon
With perfect weather, golden sand shores and crystal clear waters, The Caribbean islands have built themselves up a reputation for having the most idyllic beaches in the world.
However, if you’re on a budget, the Colombian-Caribbean island of San Andrés, makes a fantastic alternative. While San Andrés might not be as cheap as Bogota and other major Colombian cities, it’s still considerably cheaper than The Caribbean. And although San Andres might not have the atmosphere that its lively Colombian rival beach-city Cartagena has, if you’re purely looking to relax on a gorgeous beach with a cocktail in hand, it’s really second to none.
Gustavo Rojas Pinilla International Airport (ADZ) is the main airport in San Andrés. The best way to reach San Andrés airport is to fly into Bogota and then get a connecting flight with Avianca, LATAM Colombia, Viva Air Colombia or Wingo. However, San Andrés is also served regionally by Air Panama, Air Transat and Satena.
San Andrés beach
A man-made metropolis that exudes glitz and glamour. Dubai is impressive, no doubt.
However, Bahrain has a lot of the things that Dubai is famous for — skyscrapers, shopping malls, amusement parks and restaurants. Plus, it’s a fair bit cheaper. Bahrain Is on a smaller scale than Dubai, in terms of both size and grandeur. But that gives the country a much-welcomed contrast with a more relaxed way of life.
Above all else, what makes Bahrain more interesting than Dubai to most is culture and history. Dubai’s history only dates back a couple of hundred years, whereas Bahrain history dates back to over a thousand years ago – something that is incredibly evident when visiting both destinations.
The main airport in Bahrain is Bahrain International Airport (BAH). Airports that fly to Bahrain International include Air Arabia, Air India, Air India Express, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, EgyptAir, Emirates, Etihad, Ethiopian Airlines, Gulf Air, Iraqi Airways, Jazeera Airways, Oman Air, Pegasus Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines.
Bahrain at night
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