Searching for the cheapest places to travel in 2019? You’re in the right spot. Welcome to our annual report on the world’s most affordable travel destinations, completely updated for this year!
As you know, finding cheap vacation ideas can be frustrating. To get the best travel deals, it typically takes hours of time-consuming research – including comparing hotels, finding cheap flights, and considering your meal options. And this is after you’ve spent weeks researching where to go.
So, we’ve taken the 100 most visited travel destinations in the world and ranked them according to price.
But, before we get started, don’t forget to grab our free “Travel More, Spend Less Roadmap!”
The Cheapest Places to Travel: Our Observations
If you’re a veteran of budget travel, the results of our study shouldn’t shock you.
As expected, travel destinations in Asia once again dominate the top half of our list. In fact, Asia is home to the cheapest countries in the world – claiming a whopping 27 of the top 30 cheapest places to travel on our list…and all of the top 23. That’s a pretty incredible number.
Travel destinations in Europe and North America are generally the most expensive places to visit. A newcomer to our survey, Lviv, Ukraine is the most affordable European destination, landing just outside the top 25 overall. For reference, no other European destinations make it into the top 30 while the cheapest place to travel in the United States is ranked a meager 67th.
Keep in mind, however, that comparing the best travel destinations by price is extremely relative. When searching for cheap places to travel, numerous factors come into play – including your proximity to the destination and the time of year you plan to visit. Seemingly cheap vacation spots can quickly turn into budget busters if you don’t account for every expense.
So, with dozens of variables at play, how can anybody accurately compare the cheapest travel destinations in the world?
Easy. We had to set some ground rules.
Cheap Travel Destinations: Our Methodology
Let me assure you, we haven’t taken this project lightly.
To accurately measure the cost of each location, we needed to create a methodology which ensured that each destination stood on relatively equal footing. So, as we’ve done in the past, we focused our efforts on factors that were universal, controllable, and useful.
First, we had to decide which destinations to include. Although Sleepy Eye, Minnesota may be a cheap place to travel for fellow Minnesotans, how many people actually visit Sleepy Eye each year? How useful is that to the vast majority of people?
For that reason, we limited inclusion to Euromonitor International’s 100 most popular travel destinations in the world for 2018, as determined by the total number of international visitors.
Since everybody’s travel style is different, we also needed to determine which factors best represented the overall cost of a destination. Average food and beverage costs became an important factor in our rankings, as we feel they are indicative of an area’s overall affordability.
Using numbers from Numbeo, we based our food and entertainment numbers on the average cost of a meal at an “inexpensive” restaurant (3 per day) and the average cost of a domestic beer (3 per day). We added an extra 10% to both, just to be on the safe side.
Prices for accommodations were also a major factor in our rankings. Clearly, one’s travel preferences are going to affect the amount it costs to stay in a certain area. For instance, overwater bungalows, no matter how affordable, are going to cost a heck of a lot more than a standard hotel room.
Additionally, because rates change based on occupancy and the time of year in which they are booked, we needed to find a consistent way in which to apply our methodology. So, we based our numbers on a midweek stay during each destination’s “low season,” averaging the 5 cheapest 3-star options for accommodations during that time.
To help you put this all together, here’s a quick breakdown of our methodology:
- Must be one of the top 100 most visited destinations in the world
of top 5 cheapest accommodation options for each location
- 3-star accommodations only
- “Low season” pricing
- Midweek stay
- Double occupancy
price of meal at an “inexpensive” restaurant
- 3 per day
- Plus 10% for accuracy
price of domestic beer at a restaurant
- 3 per day
- Plus 10% for accuracy
Using this data, we created our “Affordability Index” – a metric used to compare costs between locations and rank each travel destination by their overall affordability. The lower the number, the cheaper the destination.
Known Issues with Our Methodology
This isn’t to say that our methodology is perfect.
As with any study, our rankings are only as accurate as the data we’ve collected. While we’re confident in our sources, there is certainly some room for error. However, the results tend to correlate with what most experienced travelers would expect.
Additionally, one of the biggest expenses for any vacation is transportation. This is an extremely difficult metric to gauge. Flight costs vary wildly depending on where you’re flying to and from. Because we couldn’t find a consistent way to apply airfares across the globe, we decided to leave them out entirely.
For that reason, some of the cheapest places to travel may not be as affordable for you. For example, flights from New York City to most Asian destinations can cost 2 or 3 times as much as they flights to Europe. Keep this in mind before settling on a destination for your next vacation.
Since it’s nearly impossible to predict transportation costs from around the world, think of the Affordability Index as a metric of what you can expect to spend once you arrive.
Finally, some really cheap places to travel didn’t make the list because – well – they don’t have enough visitors. For instance, Sofia, Bulgaria and Bucharest, Romania are widely considered some of Europe’s most affordable travel destinations. However, they didn’t meet the standard of visitors needed to make our report.
Cheap Places to Travel: Additions and Subtractions
As we’ve mentioned, to qualify for our list of the cheapest places to travel in the world, a city must also crack the list of the top 100 most popular destinations. Since that list changes from year to year, our list of cheap vacation spots also needs to change.
Here are 5 new additions to our list of the cheapest destinations in the world for 2019:
- Batam, Indonesia
- Krabi, Thailand
- Lviv, Ukraine
- Porto, Portugal
- Santiago, Chile
And, here are 5 travel spots that qualified last year, but didn’t receive enough visitors in 2018 to make our updated list:
- Artvin, Turkey
- Colombo, Sri Lanka
- Edirne, Turkey
- Taichung, Taiwan
- Washington, D.C., United States
We’ll see if any of these places can rebound to make the list again next year!
Cheapest Places to Travel: #100-#91
Without further ado, here’s our list of the 100 cheapest places to travel in the world for 2019.
#100) Tel Aviv, Israel (Change: None)
Affordability Index: 260.46 Popularity: #81 (↓2)
Located on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Tel Aviv is a popular tourist destination for beachgoers and sightseers alike. As the second largest city in Israel, this spot has plenty to do and see – including some amazing day trips and excursions throughout the Holy Land. However, it isn’t a particularly cheap vacation spot. For the second straight year, Tel Aviv lands at the bottom of our list…and it’s really not even close. In large part, this is due to the lack of affordable accommodations, ranking dead last for affordability in that category.
#99) Jerusalem, Israel (Change: None)
Affordability Index: 220.01 Popularity: #63 (↑9)
Three of the world’s major religions lay claim to Jerusalem as a holy city. As such, pilgrims from around the globe flock here to visit some of the world’s most sacred sites. It also serves as a good starting point for other destinations in the Holy Land, with multiple tours leaving from the city each day. However, Jerusalem is an expensive place to stay. The city ranks ahead of only Tel Aviv as the least affordable destination on our list for accommodations. Still, because of its importance as a religious pilgrimage site, Jerusalem will continue to flourish as a popular travel destination.
#98) Honolulu, United States (Change: ↓2)
Affordability Index: 212.38 Popularity: #77 (↑3)
Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places in the world, but it comes at a price. Hotel rates in Honolulu are some of the most expensive in the world, with accommodation prices ranking 98th on our list of cheapest place to stay. Food and beverage prices in Honolulu didn’t fare much better, ranking no higher than 75th. Still, if you’re looking for a beautiful beach vacation, it’s pretty tough to top the incredible sandy beaches and volcanic mountains of Hawaii. While you’re there, be sure to check out a luau, take in a sunset cruise, and maybe try a helicopter ride over the active volcanoes still lurking there.
#97) San Francisco, United States (Change: ↑1)
Affordability Index: 196.04 Popularity: #73 (↓16)
If you’re searching for cheap places to travel, San Francisco isn’t it. Long considered one of the most expensive places to live in the United States, San Fran is also one of the country’s most expensive cities to visit. While you’re there, be sure to visit the Golden Gate Bridge, check out Chinatown, and catch a ride on one of the city’s famous cable cars or trolleys. Finding a cheap place to stay could be tough, though. San Francisco ranks 97th in the affordable accommodations category. Food and drinks won’t come cheap either, ranking 89th and 85th, respectively.
#96) New York City, United States (Change: ↓1)
Affordability Index: 176.70 Popularity: #8 (No Change)
The Big Apple is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world and the top destination in the U.S.; it’s also one of the most expensive. Anybody who has been to New York knows that it can be tough to stretch a dollar, especially in the tourist areas like Times Square. If sightseeing is your thing, a card like the New York Pass is a great way to save money on the city’s top attractions. Hotels, food, and beverages are another story, though. New York ranks one of the most expensive places in the world for all three. Even though it’s not a particularly budget-friendly destination, I highly recommend checking out New York City at least once!
#95) Copenhagen, Denmark (Change: ↑2)
Affordability Index: 173.88 Popularity: #72 (↓6)
Scandinavia isn’t known as an exceptionally cheap vacation spot, so it’s no surprise that Denmark’s capital city finds itself near the bottom of our list. In fact, of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Copenhagen is the most expensive city in Europe. Of course, expensive doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider traveling there. Copenhagen is a large city that still maintains a small town feel. Boasting a thriving historical center, great shopping, and a beautiful pier area that’s filled with atmosphere, this is still a city to keep on your bucket list. When you’re spending this much money, just don’t forget about travel insurance!
#94) Los Angeles, United States (Change: ↓5)
Affordability Index: 151.10 Popularity: #27 (↑7)
Looking for glitz and glamour? Los Angeles, California is as extravagant as it gets. Home of the stars, taking a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard will remind you why L.A. is recognized as the “Entertainment Capital of the World.” Of course, there’s more to L.A. than just entertainment. The City of Angels is home to incredible museums, stunning scenery, and beautiful beaches of its own. The nightlife is pretty spectacular, too! Of course, a trip to Los Angeles isn’t exactly the cheapest vacation idea. Being this close to all that stardom is going to cost you, but it’s worth doing at least once. If you’re looking to save sightseeing in L.A., the Go Los Angeles Card may be a good option.
#93) Stockholm, Sweden (Change: ↓9)
Affordability Index: 147.11 Popularity: #85 (↑2)
Thinking about a trip to Scandinavia? Consider giving Stockholm a try. Known for its world-class restaurants and beautiful canals, Stockholm is a cosmopolitan city with lots to see and do. A trip to the Vasa Museum brings you up close and personal with an (almost) fully intact warship dating from the 17th century. After checking out Stockholm’s “Old Town,” you may also want to visit the Kungliga Slottet – the official residence of Sweden’s royal family.
#92) Paris, France (Change: ↓6)
Affordability Index: 143.88 Popularity: #6 (↑1)
Paris is one of the best places to travel in the world, and for good reason. The City of Lights is filled with instantly recognizable landmarks, incredible history, and several of the world’s foremost art museums. And, if you love food, Paris is the place to be. As you probably know, though, Paris isn’t typically considered one of the cheapest places to travel. While a tourist card like the Paris Pass may help you save money on sightseeing, food and drink prices here rank in the bottom 10% of our list. Also, while Paris does have some affordable places to stay, rates at top-tier hotels can be astronomical.
#91) Brussels, Belgium (Change: ↑1)
Affordability Index: 142.01 Popularity: #70 (↑15)
Capital of Belgium and headquarters of the European Union, Brussels welcomed more than 3 million international visitors in 2018. Although the city saw a significant rise in it’s popularity, prices remained relatively steady. Of course, as one of Europe’s most important cities, food and hotel prices still make Brussels one of the most expensive places to visit on our list. But don’t let the price tag deter you. Brussels is an exciting cosmopolitan city with plenty to do and see. Spend some time checking out the Grand-Place or take a day trip to experience the Belgian countryside. You won’t regret it.
Cheapest Places to Travel: #90-#81
#90) London, United Kingdom (Change ↑1)
Affordability Index: 140.04 Popularity: #3 (No Change)
If you love history, art, and sightseeing, London is one of the world’s best places to travel. London ranks as the most popular travel destination in Europe, and for good reason. This place is filled with historical sites, incredible museums, and world-class entertainment. And since the British Empire controlled roughly 3/4 of the world at one point, many of us can trace our own history back to this incredible city. Although it isn’t the cheapest vacation spot, using a London Pass can help you see most of the city’s major sites for less. Trust me, a trip to London is one you’ll never forget.
#89) Dublin, Ireland (Change: ↑4)
Affordability Index: 139.32 Popularity: #46 (↑1)
Dublin is another large city with some serious small town charm. With friendly smiles and neighborhood pubs on practically every corner, this place makes you feel right at home. Although the city’s food and hotel prices rank as some of the most expensive you’ll find, using a Dublin Pass is one option for controlling costs on your trip. Also, don’t miss out on visiting Kilmainham Gaol while you’re there. This tour provides an emotional context for understanding the long history of struggles faced by the Irish people, and it comes highly recommended from your’s truly!
#88) Amsterdam, Netherlands (Change: None)
Affordability Index: 137.98 Popularity: #23 (↑7)
While not the cheapest place to travel in Europe, Amsterdam is certainly one of the most interesting. Famous for its “coffee shops” and red light district, there’s more to Amsterdam than its wild side. Take a stroll through the Van Gogh Museum or ponder the Nazi atrocities of World War II with a visit to the Anne Frank House. Enjoy a relaxing boat ride down one of the city’s many canals, or take a day trip to the Dutch countryside for some picturesque views – windmills included!
#87) Milan, Italy (Change: None)
Affordability Index: 136.60 Popularity: #32 (↓6)
Located in the northwest corner of Italy, Milan is considered one of the most fashionable cities in the world. Like much of the country, it’s also home to some incredible art and architecture. The Duomo di Milano is third largest cathedral in the world, and Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” is hosted down the street at the convent of Santa Marie delle Grazie. Located a short distance from the Italian Alps and the Lake District, there is plenty to do outside the city, as well.
#86) Miami, United States (Change: ↑4)
Affordability Index: 133.90 Popularity: #22 (↓1)
There aren’t a lot of world-class cities located on incredible beaches, but Miami happens to be one of them. Unlike many of the most popular destinations in the U.S., Miami enjoys warm and sunny weather throughout the year. It also brings a unique Caribbean flair (particularly Cuban) that you won’t find elsewhere in the states. As you might expect, prices in Miami reflect the flashiness for which it is known. But, if you want to see and be seen, Miami is the town for you.
#85) Vancouver, Canada (Change: ↓7)
Affordability Index: 133.29 Popularity: #71 (↑6)
Located on Canada’s west coast, Vancouver is one of the most popular travel destinations in North America. This cosmopolitan city offers plenty of things to do, plus you’re only a short drive from some of the best mountain resorts in the world. Although prices for accommodations fall in line with most destinations in North America, staying in Vancouver will definitely cost more than some other cheap places to travel. The city ranks #93 on our list for hotel prices.
#84) Toronto, Canada (Change: ↓10)
Affordability Index: 125.61 Popularity: #52 (↓2)
Home to world-class theatre, restaurants, and shopping, Toronto is often referred to as Canada’s version of New York City. Although it used to be considerably cheaper than the Big Apple, according to our survey, that gap seems to be closing. Toronto took one of the biggest falls from last year, dropping 10 spots to #84. Prices for accommodations and food drove the change, falling 6 and a whopping 15 spots from last year, respectively. Still, Canada’s largest city welcomed more than 4.6 million visitors last year, landing it at #52 in overall popularity.