Best Value Vacation Destinations for US Travelers
Many trends are already shaping the landscape of 2020 for travelers, but one thing that never goes out of style is affordable travel. Whether it’s being able to stay in an outstanding hotel for pennies on the dollar (or euro or yen, as it were), or delicious meals that don’t set you back, every destination is more enjoyable if you have to pay less to visit.
Below we’ll take a look at some of the best value vacations you’ll be able to take in 2020, which we’ve assembled using data from Skyscanner’s very own researchers. Whether you’re seeking an Asian escape or you’re on the hunt for the best value Caribbean vacation, you won’t want to miss a word!
Median price: $386
Percentage price change: -38.12%
There’s never been a better time to visit Beijing than now, especially due to its affordability. From the opening of the city’s state-of-the-art Daxing International Airport in late 2019 to the facelift of sights like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall (received in advance of the 2022 Winter Olympics Games), Beijing beckons travelers in 2020.
Alternative to: Shanghai
In Beijing, you can discover thousands of years of Chinese history. From the aforementioned Forbidden City and Great Wall, to the Tibetan-influenced Lama Temple to the sprawling Summer Palace, Beijing is the ultimate history classroom.
Most popular: Beijing has four very well-defined seasons, each of which has its own merits. A particularly nice month to visit, November has cool temperatures and clear skies, which juxtapose with fiery foliage that can be seen throughout–and just outside–the city center
Make sure to see the traditional hutong water houses located along the shores of Houhai Lake in Shichahai. Although easy to miss now, these actually used to be the dominant feature of the Beijing cityscape!
…going in with an open mind. Beijing gets a bad rap for any number of reasons, but it’s one of the most magnificent and rich cities in the world if you give it a chance!
Median price: $436
Percentage price change: -37.83%
As a relaxed city that juxtaposes golden beaches with some of Europe’s most unique art and architecture, Barcelona might not strike travelers like an affordable city. Yet, whether you’re seeking one of the best value beach vacations in Europe, or simply want to eat some tapas, Barcelona is calling your name.
Alternative to: Nice
The art and architecture of Antoni Gaudí is the visual glue of Barcelona. Spend your morning at the surrealistic Sagrada Familia cathedral, then watch the sun set into the Mediterranean Sea from colorful Parc Güell.
Most popular: There’s nothing like a Barcelona summer for sun, sand, and sangria. However, visiting during “shoulder” months like May and September offers a similar experience with fewer crowds.
Although less globally famous than Gaudí, the Catalan painter Joán Miró is also a beloved Barcelona son. Visit the “Woman and Bird” sculpture in L’Eixample or the Fundació Joán Miró near Castel Montjüic.
…creating a balanced trip plan. Focus a full day on art and culture, spend a day in Barceloneta at the nearby beach, and consider taking a day trip to nearby cities like Girona or Sitges.
Median price: $409
Percentage price change: –33.20%
The phrases “trip to Paris” and “affordable travel” might not belong in the same sentence according to conventional wisdom, but data going into 2020 tells us a different story. Enjoy one of the best value vacations in Europe by traveling to Paris, whether you watch as Notre Dame Cathedral rises from the ashes, or follow a morning at the Louvre with a baguette and a glass of bubbly in the Tuileries Garden.
Alternative to: London
The Eiffel Tower is obviously the symbol of Paris, but it’s only the beginning. For an entire neighborhood to fall in love with, visit Sacre Couer Cathedral and explore surrounding art-filled Montmartre.
Most popular: Paris is at its most beautiful during the spring months of April and May, when the city is quite literally in bloom. If you have to visit during the summer, come in August when most Parisians are down on the Côte d’Azur—the city center is empty!
An interesting side trip from the historical center of Paris is La Défense, aka “downtown Paris.” Home to a glass-and-steel version of the Arc de Triomphe and offering great views of the city center, it’s just far enough off the beaten path to be fascinating.
…staying as many days as you can, ideally in an apartment, in order to have a “lived experience” in the city. Paris has awesome attractions, but part of its magic is finding a café or a boulangérie you can call your own (for a few days, anyway).
Median price: $376
Percentage price change: -23.42%
Certain destinations in the Dominican Republic are far from exemplary of affordable travel—the capital, Santo Domingo, is not one of them. This Spanish colonial city might be just the best value Caribbean vacation. Stay close to downtown and discover a world of cuisine and culture, not to mention some of the best boutique hotels in the region. Or, use Santo Domingo as a base for day trips to the emerald jungle and cerulean sea.
Alternative to: San Juan
The Zona Colonial is at the heart of Santo Domingo. Explore architecture that dates back to the 18th century and beyond, including the ornate Alcazar de Colón castle and the Basilica de Santa Maria church.
Most popular: Visit the Dominican Republican between December and April in order to avoid heavy rain (and hurricanes). However, consider avoiding spring break and the winter holidays, which are crowded (and see the highest prices).
The “Three Eyes” Cave sits just outside the city, but makes you feel like you’ve explored far into the jungle. Featuring emerald pools that resemble…well, three eyes, this is an easy half-day trip from the capital.
…getting the best of both worlds. In addition to using Santo Domingo as a base for day trips like Three Eyes Cave, you can also use 2-3 days in the city to explore the Dominican Republic more deeply.
Median price: $660
Percentage price change: -16.33%
Want to find affordable travel in Asia, but don’t want to get a Chinese visa? Consider a trip to South Korea’s electrifying capital Seoul, which looks to be among the best value travel in 2020. Whether you walk through the temples and heritage homes of Bukchon, or shop and eat street food in Myeongdong and Gangnam, Seoul is a priceless destination that just so happens to boast one of its most attractive price points in years.
Alternative to: Tokyo
It’s difficult to pinpoint the nucleus of a city as huge as Seoul, but a great place to start is at Gyeongbukgung, a palace right in the heart of the city. You can also enjoy a stunning panorama from the N Seoul Tower.
Most popular: Like neighboring Japan, Korea is also famous for cherry blossoms, which bloom during the second week of April in Seoul. Seoul’s autumn colors are also outstanding and reach their peak in early to mid-November.
If you visit the famous Gangnam District, don’t focus all your energy on high-end shopping and karaoke bars. Instead, make sure to visit Bongeunsa, one of the tallest standing Buddha statues in the world.
…taking many day trips outside the city. Whether you visit the DMZ (demilitarized zone) between North and South Korea or scale the ancient city walls of nearby Suwon, Seoul is as a great a city to visit in its own right as it is a hub for discovering Korea.
Median price: $257
Percentage price change: -22.94%
Even if you can’t make it to February’s annual Mardi Gras celebration, 2020 provides 12 months of affordable travel to New Orleans. The French Quarter is beautiful anytime of year, anyway, to say nothing of the lush botanical gardens, ornate Antebellum-era mansions and bountiful Bayous you’ll find in the city. Brighten your taste buds with a bite into Louisiana’s rich Creole culinary culture, or make a darker discovering by digging into voodoo.
Alternative to: Miami
Bourbon Street in the French Quarter is the most popular spot in New Orleans, even if you don’t visit during the Mardi Gras festivities. The picturesque St. Louis Cathedral is also an evocative, can’t-miss spot.
Most popular: New Orleans features mild winters and wet, scorching summers, which means that spring and autumn serve as “Goldilocks” times to visit. LGBT travelers will want to consider visiting during Southern Decadence, a festival that occurs the weekend before Labor Day.
It might sound morbid, but New Orleans’ wide variety of cemeteries are among its most interesting attractions. Many famous people are interred within the sprawling grounds of St. Louis Cemeteries No. 1 and No. 2.
…spending at least one day of your trip off Bourbon Street. Whether you enjoy the shopping and art scene of Magazine Street or a stroll along the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans is so much more than one big party.
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