With vaccines becoming rapidly available worldwide, travel is becoming a possibility again for our post-pandemic world. Most of us, however, are finding we have much smaller budgets for travel than we did before COVID-19. If you’re itching for a life-changing, budget-friendly trip in 2021, check out these 13 budget destinations to visit in 2021 to add to your travel bucket list!
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Protect Your Trip!
Before booking any of your travel plans, I always suggest protecting yourself with trip insurance. This step is more important now than ever with travel restrictions constantly varying and people still contracting the COVID-19 virus. I’ve had great experience booking trip insurance through World Nomads. Enter your travel information below to get a quick and easy quote!
COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Within the EU
Many of the budget destinations to visit in 2021 on this list are in the European Union. As of July 1, 2021, travel restrictions to the EU have lifted for the countries on this list under the conditions on this list.
Budget Destinations to Visit in 2021
If you’re looking for a budget destination in the Caribbean, Roatán, Honduras needs to be on your radar. Roatán has all the gorgeous beaches, fresh seafood and clear-blue waters as the rest of the Caribbean, but at a fraction of the price. Although you’ll still find plenty of bougie and expensive all-inclusive resorts, it’s more than possible to live out your beach-life fantasies in Roatán on a strict budget.
Roatán holds an extra special place in my heart since it’s where I’ve called home for all of 2021. I intended to move for only a month and had a flight back to Chicago on February 12th. Well….it’s June 24th and I’m writing this post from my living room in West End, Roatán. For more information on visiting/living in Roatán, Honduras, check out my recent posts below!
Kraków is the perfect city for you if you’re looking for a budget-friendly European destination! This charming and historical city is chock-full of tasty eats, lively hostels, fascinating history and world-famous monuments…all at a fraction of the cost of the rest of Europe.
I kicked off my first night in Kraków the right way with an ice-cold Tyskie (beer), five pierogis and a hearty cabbage roll. Guess how much that dinner set me back? A whopping €4. Entrance to most of the churches, synagogues and monuments costs around €2-3, so there’s no excuse to not see everything you can while you’re there! If you’re interested in adding Kraków to your budget destinations bucket list, check out my related posts below.
Česky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Everyone and their mother has visited Prague…but have you ever heard of Česky Krumlov? Located along the Czech Republic’s Vltava River and dominated by a 13th century castle, Česky Krumlov is one of my favorite budget destinations in Europe. Although the town itself is pretty tiny, it’s the perfect weekend escape for history buffs and beer-lovers alike! Česky Krumlov is very easy (and affordable) to visit from Prague. If you’re interested in “czeching” it out, head to my post Česky Krumlov Day Trip Itinerary.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Nestled in the mountains of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is much more of a budget destination than its southern counterparts. Chiang Mai is known for its elephant sanctuaries*, elaborate Buddhist temples, night markets and beautiful scenery. It’s very easy to fly into Chiang Mai International Airport and flights are very cheap from around the rest of the country. Once you arrive, you’ll have tons of beautiful hotels to choose from for a very low cost (and don’t even get me started on the price of massages). If you’re considering visiting Chiang Mai, check out my tips in my post, Your Complete Chiang Mai Bucket List.
*Make sure to do your research before booking an elephant sanctuary excursion in Thailand. Many places claiming to be “sanctuaries” are exploiting and harming these beautiful animals for financial gain, especially those offering elephant rides to tourists. For more information, check out this article by Expert Vagabond: Why You Shouldn’t Ride Elephants In Thailand.
Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
A hidden gem of the Adriatic, Kotor is a medieval old town with Romanesque churches, fresh seafood and unbelievable views of the Bay of Kotor. It’s located only a short drive from Dubrovnik, which makes it the perfect day trip from the walled city. Even though the Yugoslav Wars ended in 2001, Kotor remains a bit off-the-beaten-path for most tourists. Since it’s not widely know, Kotor is the perfect budget destinations for those wallet-conscious travelers!
If you plan on visiting Kotor, check out my post, A Day Trip to the Bay of Kotor.
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mostar is another budget destination and UNESCO World Heritage Site not-to-be-missed in the Balkans! It’s most famous for the old bridge in the center of town, Stari Most, which was destroyed in the Yugoslav Wars and rebuilt in 2004. Mostar has an incredibly interesting history and remains one of the most culturally diverse towns I’ve ever visited. In the tiny old town, you’ll see three different and distinct religious influences: Islam, Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism.
St. Julian’s, Malta
Malta is a tiny island situated south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. Although it’s often mistaken for part of Italy, Malta is its own country with a strong historical and cultural connection to both Europe and Northern Africa. St. Julian’s is a lively and affordable area of Malta, perfect for young travelers in search of a budget destination. In addition to historical landmarks, tasty restaurants and beautiful beaches, St. Julian’s has some of the best nightlife in all of Europe! And yes, I’m including Ibiza.
One of Tuscany’s world-famous gems, Siena should be up next on your bucket list of budget destinations! Known for its Italian food, Tuscan wine and historical architecture, Siena is also the site of the Palio, a twice yearly horse race with ten bareback riders. In Siena, like Italy’s other famous cities, prices go up near famous monuments and tourist hotspots. However, entrance to historical monuments is very affordable and you’re easily able to find delicious and authentic restaurants around the city for a very cheap price.
The Provence region of France is not usually known as a budget destination and Avignon is by no means the cheapest destination on this list. However, if you’re in the market for a semi-affordable French vacation, Avignon might be the place for you. Located on the Rhône, Avignon used to be the seat of the Catholic popes. The city is situated around the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes, shown below) and remained under papal rule until becoming part of France in 1791.
Avignon itself is a fairly small city, but it’s the perfect home base to explore the various hilltop towns of Provence. If you’re staying in the area, make sure to check out the surrounding towns of Roussillon, Gordes and L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.
Although I was only able to enjoy it for a weekend, Marrakech remains one of my favorite cities in the world. The people, the culture, the bright colors, the tasty cuisine and the extremely cheap prices combine to make it a must-visit destination and the perfect spot for the traveler on a budget.
Morocco is known for its beautiful riads, a type of accommodation with an interior garden or courtyard. I would definitely suggest staying in one while visiting Marrakech. Not only are they incredibly affordable, but most of them have rooftop terraces perfect for smoking some shisha and taking in the sunset over the horizion. If you’re traveling to Marrakech, consider staying at my favorite riad, Equity Point.
After the end of Yugoslav Wars in 2001 and since the filming of Game of Thrones, Croatia has grown exponentially as a tourist destination. The walled city of Dubrovnik is one of the most popular vacation spots, with Split and the capital, Zagreb, in second and third place. Dubrovnik is, unfortunately, quite an expensive destination to visit, especially in the summer months. Split tends to be a much more affordable destination year round!
If you plan on adding Split to your bucket list of budget destinations to visit in 2021, check out my related post The Best Itinerary for Split, Croatia.
Like the Czech Republic, Hungary is one of the most affordable countries to visit in Eastern Europe. Even as Hungary’s capital city, Budapest is incredibly budget-friendly. Most of the historical monuments in the city are free or very cheap to enter. Traditional Hungarian cuisine like goulash, cabbage rolls or langos will only set you back €2-3 for a hearty meal. Hostels are plentiful around the city as well, most offering on-site bars or fun activities for young travelers.
Budapest is also known for its thermal bath culture. Although it was one of the pricier activities I participated in, I would definitely suggest a visit to the famous Szechenyi Baths and the Thermal Beer Spa! And if you need more suggestions for the best restaurants, attractions and viewpoints to see in Budapest, head to my post, What to Do in Budapest, Hungary.
If you haven’t visited Portugal yet, you’re going to want to add Lisbon to your list ASAP! Not only is the Iberian Peninsula one of the most scenic areas of Europe, but Portugal tends to be much cheaper than its neighbor, Spain. The capital city, Lisbon, is the definition of Portuguese charm with colorful mosaic tiles, tasty seafood, unbelievable views and a rich history. For solo travelers, there are plenty of great hostels to choose from in Lisbon. However, the Airbnbs are very affordable as well and a much more convenient option if you’re traveling in a group.
For more information on visiting Lisbon, check out my related post, The Best Itinerary for 3 Days in Lisbon, Portugal.
In my opinion, budget travel is the way to go. In many places, you learn to appreciate a more authentic and local point of view vs. a wealthy tourist perspective. If you’re thinking about booking your next trip, hopefully you gathered inspiration from this list of the best budget destinations to visit in 2021!
Looking for more tips on planning your next epic trip on a budget? Don’t forget to download my free guide, “How to Plan Epic Trips!” And if you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy my related posts…