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Top 7 affordable holiday destinations
Destinations & Inspiration

Top 7 affordable holiday destinations

Suzie Dalton
By Suzie Dalton - 15 minute read

One of the rea­sons that our mem­bers are so pas­sion­ate about home swap­ping, is that it’s undoubt­ed­ly the most cost-effec­tive way to trav­el – and at Love Home Swap, we love a bar­gain break! But it’s cer­tain­ly also true that your mon­ey will go even fur­ther in coun­tries that have low­er liv­ing costs. With that in mind, we’re delight­ed to present a round-up of some of the cheap hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions that you can explore through home swap­ping. Whether you fan­cy a city break or some­thing hot and trop­i­cal, we’ve done the research into some of our favourite cheap places to travel. 

Affordable breaks Turkey

Keep your costs low by tak­ing a hike to watch the hot air bal­loons at Cap­pado­cia take off at sunrise.

Take an affordable holiday in Turkey

High on your list of cheap coun­tries to vis­it’ should be Turkey. With beau­ti­ful scenery, a huge expanse of coast­line, incred­i­ble food and sim­ply loads of space – which in turn means there’s plen­ty to see and do – it’s sim­ply impos­si­ble to pin­point one key location. 

Rather than focus on one cheap place to trav­el, let’s cast an eye over a few! Every trav­el guide to Turkey inevitably starts with Istan­bul, and it’s hard to ignore the sheer majesty of this buzzing city. Where east meets west, it’s a delight­ful treat for the sens­es. If you’re keen to explore the city, then you’ll be able to save mon­ey on your trav­el expens­es by invest­ing in an Istan­bulka­rt, which will pro­vide you with cut-price rides on the metro, trams, bus­es, and ferries.

While many deem Istan­bul to be one of the prici­er loca­tions in Turkey, we’d point out that liv­ing costs and eat­ing out are around 70% cheap­er than Euro­pean cities such as Lon­don and Paris, so it’s fair to assume that your spend­ing mon­ey will go fur­ther – par­tic­u­lar­ly if you head to neigh­bour­hoods like Kadiköy, Ortaköy and Tak­sim where you’ll find low-cost restaurants. 

Next up is Cap­pado­cia, which is par­tic­u­lar­ly love­ly in the spring months before the heat real­ly picks up. With dis­tinc­tive rock for­ma­tions, this city of caves is best explored by foot. Many tourists choose to admire the scenery with a ride in a hot air bal­loon, but if you’re try­ing to keep the cost of your hol­i­day down, then walk the short Rose Val­ley trail at sun­set. Near­by Göreme and Uchis­are are both con­ve­nient bases, and there are plen­ty of cheap options for eat­ing out.

If you’re look­ing for sun, sea, sand and good times, then Mar­maris is a pop­u­lar choice for a cheap hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion (or alter­na­tive­ly stay in Rhodes and take the 1‑hour fer­ry between the two for a day-trip) or head to Bodrum which is equal­ly gor­geous and afford­able. After a day of explor­ing the white­washed streets, laz­ing on the beach and splash­ing in the sea (which won’t cost you a thing), head to one of the many restau­rants that are pop­u­lar with the locals – just stay away from the tourist traps which are inevitably prici­er. The city of Antalya is also anoth­er great option – and street food ven­dors will help you keep your lunchtime costs low – while Lara Beach is very entic­ing if you’re there in the hot­ter months.

Affordable breaks Portugal

Pon­ta da Piedade in Lagos, Por­tu­gal is the per­fect place to find a peace­ful cove.

Find a cheap holiday in Portugal

If you want to explore a rugged­ly beau­ti­ful coast­line plus dynam­ic cities and towns, then head to Por­tu­gal. As one of the cheap­est coun­tries to vis­it in West­ern Europe, Por­tu­gal is often over­looked in favour of Spain – but it’d frankly be a crime if you didn’t make it to this love­ly coun­try at least a few times in your lifetime! 

First and fore­most, the food in Por­tu­gal is amaz­ing, with seafood steal­ing the lime­light. From crispy sar­dines to seafood stews baked with white wine and lash­ings of gar­lic, the 580miles of coast­line that bor­der the coun­try serve up a wealth of tasty delights. Aside from the incred­i­ble munchies avail­able, Por­tu­gal ben­e­fits from year-round mild weath­er, while the sum­mer months can be seri­ous­ly hot – which means that out­door activ­i­ties are a great way to enjoy the coun­try while min­imis­ing your hol­i­day spend­ing. We like Lone­ly Planet’s round-up of the best hikes in Por­tu­gal, while Rough Guide’s overview of the best beach­es in Por­tu­gal is essen­tial read­ing if you’re a keen swim­mer or sunbather!

If you’re head­ing to the cap­i­tal city of Lis­bon, then make the most of the trams as the best and most cost-effec­tive way to see the city, and keep an eye out for the pop-up bars that appear on the rooftops of open-air car parks. For a less crowd­ed expe­ri­ence, then Por­to is well-worth the 1‑hour dri­ve from Lis­bon. Ooz­ing his­to­ry, it’s a great way to expe­ri­ence city life with­out the cap­i­tal-city price tags. 

More keen on the great out­doors than city life? Then head to Eri­ceira for water­sports, or Sagres for amaz­ing hik­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. Want to expe­ri­ence the best of every­thing? Then com­bine his­to­ry with beau­ti­ful nature in Sin­tra – vis­it the remains of the Moor­ish palace, mar­vel at the deli­cious­ly yel­low Pala­cio Nacional da Pena and take a stroll in the pine forests for a sim­ply unfor­get­table break.

Affordable breaks India

The Taj Mahal in India is a sight you’ll nev­er forget.

India is one of the cheapest countries to visit

We reg­u­lar­ly say that we want our mem­bers to enjoy authen­tic’ trav­el expe­ri­ences, where you can immerse your­self in won­der­ful com­mu­ni­ties – and it doesn’t get much more authen­tic than in India. In fact, India is renowned for being one of the world’s best cheap hol­i­day destinations.

Regard­less of where you go, you’ll find that the cost of liv­ing is con­sid­er­ably low­er than many coun­tries – but your hol­i­day expe­ri­ences will be off-the-chart. From the beau­ti­ful white sand beach­es of Goa in the trop­i­cal south to the thrilling hus­tle and bus­tle of dynam­ic cities such as Mum­bai, this is a coun­try that offers some­thing for absolute­ly everyone.

Don’t for­get that India is size­able, and jour­neys can take longer than you’d nec­es­sar­i­ly like, so this coun­try is ide­al­ly explored at a leisure­ly pace in which you focus your atten­tion on a key area. In Rajasthan, the most pop­u­lar tourist trail takes in 4 glo­ri­ous cities: Jaipur, Jodh­pur, Jaisalmer and Udaipur, while the ever-pop­u­lar north­ern Gold­en Tri­an­gle takes in Del­hi, Agra, and Jaipur (and you’ll have the chance to see the Taj Mahal too). 

If you’ve got at least a cou­ple of weeks to spare and you fan­cy head­ing fur­ther south to enjoy a com­bi­na­tion of tea plan­ta­tions and stun­ning beach­es, then plan your itin­er­ary around see­ing Pondicher­ry, Tamil Nadu, Peri­yar, Munnar, Kovalam and Ker­ala. Each region is home to dif­fer­ent cul­tures and tra­di­tions – plus the most excep­tion­al food – so vis­it once, and you’ll be des­per­ate to go again!

Affordable breaks Poland

The water­side city of Gdan­sk is packed with history.

Enjoy a cost-effective trip to Poland

For­get every­thing you think you know about Poland. Because while Poland is indeed a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for stag do’s (for our Amer­i­can and Aus­tralian read­ers, that’s a bach­e­lor par­ty or a buck’s night respec­tive­ly) there’s so much to love about this incred­i­bly beau­ti­ful coun­try – not least the fact that it’s one of the cheap­est places to vis­it, so your mon­ey will go that much further!

Many trav­ellers head straight to War­saw or Krakow (quite right­ly so, because they’re fan­tas­tic), but Gdan­sk should also be high on your must-see’ list. With a pret­ty coastal loca­tion, the city com­bines love­ly views with a good dose of his­to­ry – take your time explor­ing the cob­bled streets and the World War 2 muse­um, plus the world’s biggest brick church! Wro­claw is also an attrac­tive option. Described by some as The Venice of the north’, the city is made up of more than 100 bridges and 21 islands, and it’s dot­ted with beau­ti­ful archi­tec­ture – make sure you explore it at night to appre­ci­ate the romance of this city. 

All of these cities (War­saw, Krakow, Gdan­sk and Wro­claw) are best explored on foot, and you can even join a free walk­ing tour which will pro­vide you with loads of extra info and insight – don’t for­get to tip your tour guide for their time. Or if you want to get from A to B quick­ly, then invest in a tourist card which will pro­vide you with free (or heav­i­ly dis­count­ed) trans­port and entry into numer­ous museums.

If you pre­fer the great out­doors to city explo­rations, then there are plen­ty of options to keep you busy, and they’ll bare­ly cost you any­thing. Bialowieza Nation­al Park is a gem, and it is home to the largest free-liv­ing pop­u­la­tion of Euro­pean bison in the world, but you’ll need to hire a pri­vate guide to see this. For a more pock­et-friend­ly alter­na­tive, rent bikes from the local town and explore the numer­ous cycle tracks in Bialowieza For­est – or keep the costs even low­er and walk them instead!

If you love hik­ing, then head to the Tatra Moun­tains (which are part of the Carpathi­an Moun­tain range) where you’ll find walk­ing trails for every lev­el of abil­i­ty, or explore one of Poland’s 23 Nation­al Parks. Ojcow boasts beau­ti­ful caves and cas­tles, while the sand dunes of Slowin­s­ki are impres­sive. For an incred­i­bly cheap meal in Poland, then head to a Mile Bar. These are almost like school cafe­te­rias, but the food is hearty and delicious.

Affordable breaks Croatia

Pula’s Roman amphithe­atre reg­u­lar­ly hosts sum­mer­time concerts.

Explore Croatia’s cheap holiday destinations

Dubrovnik and Split tend to be the go-to des­ti­na­tions for trav­ellers who have fall­en in love with Croatia’s unde­ni­able charms, but look fur­ther north to Pula and Zadar, and you’ll quick­ly see why they’re sim­ply beg­ging to be explored. 

Less touristy than their bet­ter-known coun­ter­parts, both cities ben­e­fit from glo­ri­ous seafront loca­tions, plus plen­ty of things to see and do – and they also hap­pen to delight­ful­ly cheap places to vis­it! Zadar is a history-buff’s dream. With Roman and Venet­ian ruins aplen­ty, you can eas­i­ly lose a day while explor­ing the rem­nants that sur­vived a 6th cen­tu­ry earth­quake. If you’re feel­ing ener­getic, then head to the Velebit Moun­tains for excep­tion­al hik­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, or go scu­ba div­ing at Kor­nati Nation­al Park. The tiered water­falls at Plitvice Lakes Nation­al Park are a sight you’ll nev­er for­get – while the sounds of the infa­mous Sea Organ (an artis­tic instal­la­tion in which the organs hum gen­tly with the tide) are almost otherworldly.

Pula is equal­ly stun­ning. Jam-packed with his­to­ry (it’s home to the only Roman amphithe­ater in the world that has a com­plete cir­cle wall), it also fea­tures an inter­est­ing under­ground net­work of tun­nels that were built dur­ing WW1 and then extend­ed dur­ing WW2. To give you an indi­ca­tion of the vast­ness of these tun­nels, they can appar­ent­ly hold up to 50,000 peo­ple! Back on the sur­face, Pula ben­e­fits from the most excep­tion­al nat­ur­al won­ders. The car-free island of Veli Bri­jun is stun­ning, so you’ll find plen­ty of ani­mals on the island, plus botan­i­cal gar­dens and a safari park, while near­by Medulin is the place to go for swim­ming and water sports.

It’s also a real food­ie haven, with white truf­fles and amaz­ing seafood on offer, all inter­laced with Ital­ian-inspired dish­es – which is hard­ly sur­pris­ing, as it’s just a 3‑hour fer­ry ride to Venice! Istri­an wine is in plen­ti­ful sup­ply in the region – and make sure you fin­ish the day by watch­ing the unusu­al Light­ing Giants’ art instal­la­tion at Pula’s Uljanik Ship­yard in which the cranes are illu­mi­nat­ed every evening in a light show with 16,000 dif­fer­ent colour combinations.

Fan­cy some island hop­ping? Then the islands of Cres, Pag, Brač and Rab are strik­ing­ly beau­ti­ful and infi­nite­ly more afford­able than the cities. While you’re in the vicin­i­ty, treat your­self to a stay in Rov­inj or Rije­ka, and make the most of the laid back pace of life. Fur­ther south in Dal­ma­tia, Šibenik is jam-packed with his­to­ry, and is an easy half-hour dri­ve from the for­mer island of Pri­mošten which has since been linked to the main­land by a road.

Affordable breaks Vietnam

Explore the beau­ty of Ha Long Bay in Viet­nam on a tra­di­tion­al junk.

Vietnam is a cheap place to visit

The best cheap hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions aren’t just kind to your pock­et – they’re the types of places that you’d be will­ing to vis­it even if they weren’t incred­i­bly afford­able. And that’s par­tic­u­lar­ly true of Vietnam. 

With hot sun­ny days almost all year round (as long as you move accord­ing to the wet sea­sons) Viet­nam offers some­thing for every­one. So first things, take a look at Rough Guide’s help­ful guide to the weath­er in Viet­nam to decide when you’ll be vis­it­ing. Next, have a think about what makes you hap­py. If you’re after beau­ti­ful beach­es, then Nha Trang is a social hub and offers great div­ing sites, while Mũi Né is a lit­tle more peace­ful and the per­fect loca­tion for a spot of wind­surf­ing and sandboarding.

If you’re inter­est­ed in his­to­ry, then Ho Chi Minh City (for­mer­ly Saigon) packs a punch. With ele­gant French archi­tec­ture, var­i­ous mil­i­tary muse­ums and the Cu Chi tun­nels, there’s plen­ty to see, do and expe­ri­ence. Alter­na­tive­ly, explore the Impe­r­i­al Enclo­sure at Hue, which is a 19th cen­tu­ry rel­ic, or head to the delight­ful town of Hoi An where you can see 17th cen­tu­ry mer­chant houses.

Keen to expe­ri­ence the con­sid­er­able nat­ur­al won­ders of the coun­ty? Then the lime­stone islands of Halong Bay are excep­tion­al. Many peo­ple choose to view this unusu­al sight via an overnight cruise, but be warned that some of the junks’ (tra­di­tion­al boats) are pop­u­lar with 18-year-old back­pack­ers – so unless you fan­cy a rau­cous par­ty, you might want to choose wise­ly for the sake of a peace­ful night on the water! There are also plen­ty of stun­ning Nation­al Parks in the region, while hik­ing around the vil­lage of Sapa gets rave reviews. 

Per­haps one of the most delight­ful­ly afford­able activ­i­ties in Viet­nam is the fan­tas­tic eat­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. While we always encour­age our mem­bers to make the most of the kitchens in their home swaps to save mon­ey, eat­ing out is just as cheap – a bowl of phở with a cold beer can cost you less than three US dol­lars (just over £2). Which, we think we can all agree, makes Viet­nam one of the cheap­est coun­tries to visit!

Affordable breaks Romania

Bran Cas­tle in Roma­nia is a must-see for many bud­get travellers.

Romania is one of the cheapest places to travel

When you’re look­ing for an afford­able hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion, you’d be for­giv­en for look­ing to south east Asia, but nes­tled in the heart of Europe is the large­ly over­looked Roma­nia – and what a mis­take that is, as this coun­try is an absolute delight. 

With a low crime rate, Roma­nia is under­stand­ably pop­u­lar with solo trav­ellers, but the lush land­scapes, medieval towns and tasty food are start­ing to be noticed by trav­ellers who are sim­ply look­ing for a great break at an afford­able price.

Many trav­ellers under­stand­ably head straight to the cap­i­tal city of Bucharest, or they sim­ply want to explore Tran­syl­va­nia so that they can say they’ve seen Dracula’s home­town and Bran Cas­tle – and that’s a sen­ti­ment that we total­ly under­stand. The town of Brasov is where many peo­ple locate them­selves, and it’s a great place from which to explore the sur­round­ing area, plus try out some great local restau­rants. For more goth­ic-esque treats, con­sid­er vis­it­ing Peles Cas­tle or the Palace of Cul­ture in Iasi, and set aside some time to wan­der the streets of Sibiu, which has lots of wood­en struc­tures and love­ly parks.

If you want to keep the costs down, then aim to spend a good deal of time hik­ing or cycling and explor­ing the numer­ous nat­ur­al won­ders of the coun­try. The Buce­gi Moun­tains are pop­u­lar for their Sphinx and Babele rock for­ma­tions, or explore the water­ways of the Danube Delta. And like every great hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion, Roma­nia is a real food­ie treat, with cab­bage rolls (so tasty, so cheap) and grilled minced pork mici’ fea­tur­ing on many menus. To keep the costs down, try out the set menus at lunchtime, then head back to your home swap to knock a bit of din­ner together.

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