12 cheap travel destinations you must visit this year

A detailed list of 12 cheap travel destinations for 2022. The cities & towns we think you should visit this year and next! As someone who travels frequently (together with my husband we have visited 49 countries to date), I am struggling with not having any vacations planned thanks to the dreaded C-word disease (I shall not mention its name!) We are hoping to travel to Europe a few times this Summer, but, we will have two babies under two so family-friendly destinations are a must. All the places I’ve listed below are suitable for families too!

Here’s a list of 12 places we fell in love with on our travels. And better yet 12 cheap travel destinations for 2020 and 2021!

12. Athens, Greece

Walking through ancient Athens is like being in a history book, there is so much to do here that you will never see it all unless you’re here for a long time. A must-see is the Acropolis (visit here as soon as it opens to avoid the crowds), we also highly recommend The National Archaeological Museum.

We stayed very close to the Acropolis at Adam’s Hotel (ask for a room with a view of the Acropolis here). Rooms here are reasonable considering the location, and cost from €65 per night. We highly recommend staying near the Acropolis or Monastaraki Metro stations, Athens is a big city and you don’t want to be too far out from all the major sights.

Top tips to save money in Athens

  • Eat at the many Greek streetfood stalls around the city where a chicken or pork souvlaki will cost you just €2
  • Drink local Greek wine which costs from €5 at a restauarnt or buy your beer/ wine from a store and drink it in your hotel room or one of the parks in the city
  • You can purchase a ‘Multi Ticket’ which gives you access to most of the ancient sights (including the Acropolis) for about  €30. 
athens acropolis
Overlooking the Acropolis in Athens

11. Eindhoven, Netherlands

We stopped here for a very quick stopover en-route to Corfu. I’m all about stopovers, I think  if you’re stopping there anyway why not make the most of it. FYI – a lot of airlines now offer free stopovers. Not knowing much about Eindhoven,  we didn’t expect a whole lot from the city. But, to be honest,  after just 36 hours in the city we were won over. It’s well worth a visit. Very clean, it’s almost too perfectly clean and functioning. I found myself likening it to a city in the Sims.

Eindhoven has lots of great restaurants, we went to a Ribs Factory, a Ribs restaurant that was phenomenal. Eindhoven is also filled with lots of cool Student-type bar with a focus on in-house brewing. We particularly liked Van Moll Craft Beer. The city also is very popular with stag parties. As with most other Dutch cities – everyone cycles here. So, you have to be mindful of cyclist lanes everywhere.

Our top recommendations for Eindhoven are the Van Abbemuseum and St Catherines Church.

Top tips for a cheap weekend in Eindhoven

  • Walk or rent a bike to explore the city as public transport can be pricey here. Thankfully, Eindhoven is a very easy city to walk around
  • Dine out for just one meal a day, as restaurants can be quite expensive here. You can easily buy a decent lunch or breakfast at one of the supermarkets in the city.
  • Catch the bus from the airport instead of a taxi. Both the 400 and 401 buses’ go to the city centre from the airport. The journey takes just 25 minutes and costs € 2.60  one-way.
Queen Hotel, Eindhoven, Netherlands - Booking.com
Eindhoven CBD on a sunny day!

10. Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is a stunning city, surrounded on almost all sides by great big looming mountains. Known as the city where the beach and the mountains meet. It is undoubtedly one of the worlds most beautiful cities.

There’s so may great coffee shops that you’d struggle to visit them all in a year. If you like Korean/ Vietnamese food this is the city for you. Vancouver is a great city to walk around with no definite plan.

Money-saving tips for your vacation in Vancouver

  • Save money by eating out at local markets like the one on Granville Island. Or at one of the many food courts in the city’s shopping centres. Surprisingly, the food courts have an excellent variety of a cuisines.
  • Everything good to see in Vancouver involves “the great outdoors” and it’s all free. Stanley Park, Capilano Suspension Bridge and the Seawall walk are my favorite free things to do in Vancouver.
Top 10 Things Vancouver Is Famous For
The gorgeous city of Vancouver!

9. Corfu, Greece

I’m sure most of you are familiar with Corfu, it is what it says on the tin, a holiday-makers paradise with lush green scenery and turquoise-water beaches, we spent five days here in total.

It’s one of the cheaper Greek islands and public transport on the island is incredibly efficient, so it’s easy to see the whole island in a short period. A top recommendation from us would be to visit Corfu town, it’s a lot bigger than you’d expect with lots of quirky cobble-stoned back streets that you can spend hours getting lost in.

My top tips to save money in Corfu

  • Catch the bus between the towns on the island, the service is incredibly efficient. Fares start from just €1.50
  • Purchase the Corfu City Pass. This pass gives you access to many different attractions from just €25. Including access to Aqualand, a day sail, a walking tour, and much more.
streets of corfu town
The backstreets of Corfu town

8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Malaysia is the perfect country for a quick stop-over. It’s a perfect city for those on a budget – in fact it’s one of the best cheap travel destinations for 2020! Kuala Lumpur is a vibrant city. It’s all hustle & bustle, so many people squashed onto its narrow footpaths and everyone going a different direction. Streetfood stalls, that hot humid air smell, honking horns. You can eat and drink like a King here for next to nothing. There’s so much choice from Balinese, Japanese, Indian and even Irish restaurants.

My top top recommendation for Kuala Lumpur is to have a drink at Heli Lounge Bar at sunset, just get here before 6pm to get a good seat. Obviously, a visit to the Petronas Towers is a must, Jalan Alor (a long street filled with food stalls) for the atmosphere and Central Market for shopping.

Effective ways to save money in Kuala Lumpur

  • Eat at street food markets like Jalan Alor and Taman Connaught
  • Explore the city on foot instead of using public transport. Top tourist sites like Chinatown and Little India are next to each other, so easily explored on foot.
melaka streets malaysia
Melaka, Malaysia

7.  Santorini, Greece

What can I say about Santorini that hasn’t already been said, it’s top of a lot of people’s ‘Bucket List’ for good reason. Sure, the crowds can be manic, it’s expensive and it’s a little pretentious BUT its sunsets are beyond outstanding, its local people surprisingly friendly and what other place in the world can you find hotels built into the side of a cliff?

Santorini is a photographer’s dream, the way the light falls onto the quirky ‘cave houses’ is magnificent any time of the day. Most of the hotels here have a pool, but there is also a black sand beach in Perissa if that tickles your fancy.

Budget travel tips for Santorini

  • Our top budgeting tip for Santorini is NOT to stay in Oia or Fira. Instead opt for Imerovigli or Pyrgos – which offer similar spectacular views for a cheaper price.
  • Avoid the cliffside restaurants in Oia, instead opt for the more authentic Greek restaurants within the town itself.
oia sunset santorini
Sunset in Oia

6. Kinsale, Ireland

Kinsale is possibly my favourite place in all of Ireland. I’ve always said that when I settle in Ireland it will be in Kinsale. Kinsale is quirky, full of colour. Traditional Irish music is played in most bars in town any night of the week. It is the ‘foodie’ capital of Ireland with most of the best restaurants in the country hidden down its winding narrow streets.

Budget travel tips for Kinsale

  • Kinsale is famous for its fresh seafood. Why not, get takeout fish & chips instead of dining in. I highly recommend Dino’s and Fishy Fishy
  • Take a walk to gorgeous Dock beach, across the bridge from the town
kinsale streets cork ireland
Kinsale, Cork

5. Brighton, England

It’s very difficult to describe Brighton, it’s a city of extremes from its crowded stony beach, to the tourist trap that is Brighton Pier to the quirky hipster-filled North Lanes. On first look,  it may seem like a typical English city but it’s filled with the weirdest characters.  People you wouldn’t see anywhere else in the world. But that’s why we love it. The restaurants are cool, the bars are cool (even the ‘old man’ bars are cool),the coffee shops are cool. Cool.

My husband Paul is from Brighton and when I first met him, my mom asked what part of England he was from. When I told her Brighton her reply was “ah that’s a grand place, he’ll do”.  Being from Brighton = instant approval from an Irish mammy. Brighton, it’s a grand place alright.

Here’s my weird & wonderful Brighton Travel Guide for you to read next!

Budget tips for Brighton

  • Explore one of the many free parks in the city including Preston Park and Queen’s Park. You can also walk around the gardens of the stunning Royal Pavillion for free.
  • Download the Meerkat app to your phone, to enjoy 2 for 1 on starters, mains and desserts, every Sunday – Thursday at participating restaurants in the area. More detailed information here
brighton pier view
Brighton Pier

4. Alicante, Spain

Another favourite of mine is Alicante, Spain. It holds a special place in my heart because my parents have had a summer home here for 20 years. Alicante is a quintissentially ‘Spanish’ city. The Castillo de Santa Barbara is beautiful, the harbour area very sophisticated with cool bars and restaurants. But the best part of the city is the quirky flower-filled streets of El Barrio neighbourhood.

Money-saving tips for Alicante

  • Eat at one of the smaller Spanish restaurants along Explanada de España these are significantly cheaper than the pricier restaurants in the Harbour
  • Visit Castillo de Santa Barbara, entrance is free. You can spend hours exploring the grounds. There is also spectacular views of the city, so make sure to bring your camera.
alicante spain
Alicante, Spain

3. Meteora, Greece

Now I’m sure most of you have never heard of Meteora, it’s in the middle of mainland Greece and is famous for its Monasteries which sit atop massive rocks in the valley. It was a unique experience and one of our favourite destinations in Greece. We spent our days here hiking to the Monasteries (there are six active Monasteries in total), the photo opportunities when you get to these Monasteries are incredible.

To get to Meteora you catch a train straight from Athens. Two top recommendations from us would be to book a hotel with a view of the Monasteries and to book a sunset tour to see the valley bathed in a magnificent pink.

Budget travel tips for Meteora

  • Walk to the monasteries instead of paying for a tour. If you are relatively fit this is easily done and thankfully, the monasteries are situated relatively close to one another
  • Avoid the ‘tourist trap’ restaurant and instead opt for authentic Greek tavernas in the nearby town of Kastraki we loved Stefanos Meteora Tavern and Restaurant Batalogianni.
meteora hotel view
The view of Meteora from our hotel

2. Whistler, Canada

Whistler has to be one of our favourite places in the world! Our former snowy mountain home is pure magic, mad but magic. Whistler is a bubble, it’s Neverland, you come here for a short vacation and the place refuses to let you grow up.

Whistler is picture-perfect, it’s one of those places that has you saying ‘wow’ every 10 steps. It’s renowned the world over for its skiing, but there’s so much more to Whistler. From luxury hotels back-dropped by snow-capped mountains to some of the best restaurants in the world.

My top tips to save money in Whistler

  • Chase Happy Hour at the many bars in the town to save money
alpha lake whistler houses
Alpha Lake, Whistler

1. Havana, Cuba

Have you ever been somewhere and for some reason, you don’t understand why, but it just feels right. That place for me was Havana. Okay, I’ve been a tad obsessed with the city since I watched the movie Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights about 15 years ago.

Anyway, back to Havana’s magic. Havana’s not perfect, in fact its kind of dirty and gritty, the buildings are grand but crumbling and the light here is epic it’s honestly like walking through a very pretty Instagram feed. The Cubans leave their doors wide open, they sit on their front step chatting to their neighbours, their kids run barefoot on the street. The Malecon at dusk is the best place in the world. There’s a passion, a resilience about the city kind of like an eff you to the non-believers. Yes our buildings are crumbling our streets are dusty but we’re here and we’re dancing in the streets. I’ve thought about Havana every day since I’ve returned.

Best money-saving tips for Havana

  • Stay at a Casa Particular instead of a hotel. A Casa Particular is when a local rents you a spare room in their home (usually with breakfast and/or dinner included). Similar to B&B or Guest House. It’s a great way for you to save money whilst giving back to the locals
  • Visit Fabrica De Arte Cubano – without a doubt the best nightclub experience I’ve ever experienced. Fabrica De Arte is a nightclub, live music venue and art gallery all rolled into one. Entrance fee is just $2 USD and for drinks you are given a stamp card which you will pay for when you leave
cuban cars havana cuba
Havana, Cuba

There you have it, a list of cheap travel destinations for 2020. What did you think of our list? Is there anywhere you would add? Let us know in the comments below.

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A detailed list of 12 cheap travel destinations for 2020. The cities & towns we think you should visit this year! #cheaptraveltips