Check out our recommendations below for the cheapest places to go this year or start searching for your holiday deal straight away:
As far as cheap holiday destinations go, Bucharest has some of the lowest average flight prices from the UK, and the budget-friendly spending doesn’t stop once you land. You can feast in Romania’s capital for less than £10* a day, and as for the sights, simply admiring the city’s storied streets gives you a sense of the centuries of history and cultural upheaval here, from the pre-WWII Old Town of Lipscani right up to Communist monuments like the staggering Palace of Parliament. With Ryanair also running cheap flights to alternative city break spots like pretty Timisoara, Romania is definitely one of the destinations of the moment. Find out more great things to do in Bucharest in our guide.
Flights to Bucharest from the UK can be as low as £32 return.
Accommodation: From £155
Price of beer: £1.10
Average cost of dinner for two: £20
Cost of activities: A tour of the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest costs £6.50**
Malta makes a superb value short-haul holiday, with bargain flights from just £15 each way, and a wealth of gorgeous beaches and ancient ruins to explore at the other end. There are plenty of direct connections to Luqa Airport from regional airports like East Midlands, Birmingham and Leeds, too. You’ll find your euros will stretch much further in Malta, especially since you can jump on a bus for the equivalent of £1.70 and shuttle over to attractive neighbouring isle of Gozo on the ferry for well under a fiver. Since you’ll be keeping within your budget so easily, you’ll be able to finish your trip in style by splashing out on a few cocktails and a blow-out night on the tiles in clubbing capital Paceville.
Flights to Malta’s Luqa Airport start from £30 return.
Accommodation: From £315
Price of beer: £2
Average cost of dinner for two: £40
Cost of activities: A boat trip to the Blue Lagoon and caves in Comino starts from £8.50
3. Canary Islands, Spain
Spain continues to be a popular – and astonishingly cheap – holiday option for UK travellers. You can fly direct to Gran Canaria for £22 and be soaking up some well-earned Vitamin D on Maspalomas Beach in a matter of hours. The dunes here form part of a protected nature reserve, so you can bird-watch and see dolphins at Palmitos Park before stretching out on the Sahara sands. The Canary Isles offer great value, with acres of rugged mountains and forests like Mount Teide National Park in Tenerife, ripe for hiking and biking at very little cost. If you avoid tourist restaurants and eat local, you can save a lot – try classic Canarian potato dish papas arrugadas, served with a peppery mojo sauce.
Flights to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria start from £22.
Accommodation: From £399
Price of beer: £1.70
Average cost of dinner for two: £25
Cost of activities: Entry into Aqualand Maspalomas is £24
Live it up in Morocco for a fraction of the cost; a 5-star hotel here can cost under £60 a night! Flights to Marrakech from the UK remain some of the cheapest around, starting from £29 one way. Budget airlines like Ryanair have also started offering Rabat as a destination if you fancy an alternative Moroccan holiday. This seaside capital offers the best of both worlds: the joy of getting lost amidst the smells of shisha and mint tea in the Kasbah of the Oudaias, combined with a handy beach just around the corner. It’s less crowded than Marrakech too, so not only will you find fewer tourists, but your dirham will likely buy you more souvenirs in the souks, and a cheap curry can be as little as £2.50.
Flights to Rabat start from £47 return.
Accommodation: From £329
Price of beer: £2
Average cost of dinner for two: £11
Cost of activities: Head out into the desert on camel-back, with camel safaris starting from £29 for half a day, with food often included
Greece is still a budget traveller’s dream in 2017, and you can enjoy an idyllic Greek island holiday for very little money, with cheap flights to the likes of Crete, Kos and Corfu from the UK. If you’re smart you can save even more once you’ve arrived: steer clear of big resorts like Elounda on Crete and try alternatives like Paleochora on the south-west coast. As a large island, Crete benefits from a good, cheap public bus service, which will take you to all the main towns and famous sites like Knossos. The best way to get around, however, is to rent a car (from £25 a day), especially if you want to have a go at hiking the dramatic rocky landscape in places like Samaria Gorge. Food-wise, cheap street eats don’t come much better than gyros, the authentic kebab you’ll find anywhere and everywhere in Greece for around £2.50.
Fly to Crete from £71 return.
Accommodation: From £252
Price of beer: £2.50
Average cost of dinner for two: £23
Cost of activities: Explore Crete’s ancient Minoan civilisation at the Palace of Knossos; standard tickets are £12.70
Turkey’s glorious Aegean shoreline is endlessly popular with us Brits, and cheap holidays are as much of an attraction here as the Turquoise Coast and tourist-friendly resorts like Bodrum, Izmir and Fethiye. Direct one-way flights to Dalaman, at the heart of the region, start from £39 and it’s not all exclusive marinas and Riviera yachting when you get there either. 3-star hotels boast unbelievable £10-a-night rates, there are miles and miles of free and beautiful beaches to sprawl on (the much-photographed Ölüdeniz is a good start) and of course, plenty of cheap mezze and baklava (super-sweet pastries) to tuck into. Save your holiday splurges for trips to evocative ruins like Patara (south of Fethiye), or the stadium at Ephesus (around an hour from Izmir).
Flights to Dalaman start from £95.
Accommodation: From £70
Price of beer: £1.70
Average cost of dinner for two: £13
Cost of activities: Epheseus costs £8.90 to enter, though many of the ancient city’s sites, including Temple of Artemis, Sirince Village and Isa Bey Mosque are free to explore.
Both the south coast of Portugal and beautiful city break destinations like Porto make good value holidays for UK travellers, with a plethora of budget airlines like easyJet, Ryanair and Jet2 queuing up to offer competitive prices. With one way flights from under £20, Faro offers some of the best bargains, and the town itself is much more than just the ‘gateway to the Algarve’; there’s an attractive old town to explore, plus salt pans, lagoon islands and beaches right next door. If you head inland to the fortress town of Silves, you might find your holiday budget buys more, and hanging out with the locals in the al fresco cafes can be a refreshingly authentic experience compared to the beach resorts. You don’t need your own car in the Algarve either – bus services run regularly between major stops like Lago and Albufeira, and cost only a few euros a pop.
Fly to Faro from £36 return.
Accommodation: From £336
Price of beer: £1.65
Average cost of dinner for two: £25
Cost of activities: Take a guided nature tour of the Algarve’s Ria Formosa coastal park for £25
With direct flights offered from airports across the UK, you can still find temptingly cheap fares to Hungary, despite general costs rising at the same rate as its popularity in recent years. You’ll get a friendly welcome in Budapest, where a bowl of warming goulash will set you back a mere 950 forints (£2.50) and it’s still possible to get a round in at the pub for under a fiver. Stay on the Pest side of the river to keep your spending down, but make time for a little hydrotherapy at the local thermal baths – while the ornate Széchenyi spa costs around £15 for a day, Pünkösdfürdői Beach, on the banks of the Danube, is just over £5.
Flights to Budapest start from £37.
Accommodation: From £210
Price of beer: £1.08
Average cost of dinner for two: £22
Cost of activities: Visit Buda Castle and most of the sights on Gellert Hill for free; a return ticket on the funicular to get there costs under £5
Moscow offered some of the cheapest average flight prices from the UK in 2016, so there’s no excuse not to tick Russia off your bucket list this year. The capital has architectural and cultural drama in droves, from the walled-off buildings within the Kremlin to the strange sight of Lenin’s embalmed body (which, incidentally, is free to view). One of the city’s finest attractions is its stately Metro system, with stations like Kiyevskaya mini-masterpieces of Baroque design; tickets start from the equivalent of just 70p! Izia Grill is a good place to have a drink with the locals – forget skimping with shots of vodka, the cocktails start from just over £4 here.
Flights to Moscow from £120.
Accommodation: From £227
Price of beer: £1
Average cost of dinner for two: £35
Cost of activities: Admire the iconic onion domes of St Basil’s Cathedral for under £5
It may be a small island, but Cyprus has a split personality along with its divided geography and fascinating Turkish and Greek influences to show for it. It’s also a cheap place to travel, with bountiful fresh food markets that make self-catering an appealing option, as well as street-side snacks like pitta-souvlaki and eliopitta (olive pie) to tuck into for around €2. Avoid the tourist traps in Paphos and stay in Limassol, an elegant old port town with bags of charm and more than a few interesting local events, including a good-value Wine Festival in September. If you want quiet beaches, try the Akamas penisula rather than Ayia Napa – prices will be cheaper and you won’t have to pay for the privilege of a sun lounger. Getting around is by far easier with a car, and renting your own wheels can be as little as £10 a day.
Accommodation: From £350
Price of beer: £2.10
Average cost of dinner for two: £34
Cost of activities: Explore the impressive fourth century BC Tomb of the Kings near Paphos for just over £2
OK, so places like Dubrovnik are no longer so big a bargain thanks to their Game of Thrones fame, but with a luxuriously lengthy Adriatic coastline, Croatia has dozens of cheap destinations to choose from. Split is a charming alternative, with direct budget flights now going from a number of UK airports like East Midlands and Glasgow. It’s free to wander around the top attraction of Diocletian’s Palace, a renovated Roman ruin which makes up much of the old centre of the city and is now filled to the rafters with trendy bars, cafes and shops. Don’t forget you’re just down the coast from the oft-overlooked Sibenik, a pretty port town with just as many picture-book churches and streets, but without the same kind of tourist prices on the waterfront. Get a good fixed-price dinner (known as marenda or gablec) for under £5 in local restaurants. We’ve got more great tips on Sibenik in our list of top sights and activities.
Flights to Split start from £50.
Accommodation: From £217
Price of beer: £1.60
Average cost of dinner for two: £23
Cost of activities: Entry to a Split nightclub with live music is around £3.50-£6
With directs flights for less than £200 return, India feels less and less like a long-haul destination, and no matter where you land on this vast sub-continent, you’ll find the prices easy on your pocket. Eating out is particularly cheap, especially if you’re vegetarian; cities like Chennai offer great variety for veggies and in many restaurants you can enjoy a thali (meal) for two for 600 rupees (under £8). Food in southern states like Kerala is unlike most Indian dishes you’ll eat in Britain, but don’t spend too much time indulging, as there are elephants and tigers to spot in Periyar National Park and coconut-palm beaches like Cherai, 25km from Kochi city.
Kochi Airport is one of the cheapest destinations to fly to from the UK, with fares from £178 return, though you will need to change planes.
Accommodation: From £192
Price of beer: £1.20
Average cost of dinner for two: £6.50
Cost of activities: £3.70 adult entry fee to Periyar National Park
Thailand may be firmly on the tourist trail, but the exchange rate still favours the pound when it comes to domestic travel, food, drink and sights. Fun and frenetic Bangkok is still your best bet for cheap flights and a world-renowned street food scene along Khao San Road that might well mean you don’t sit down in a restaurant for the whole duration of your holiday. There are good-value buffets, and sizzlingly tasty noodle dishes like pad thai start from just under £1. If you fancy a more laid back stay, head for hippy haven Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand, which has just as many bargains to offer, including nearly a hundred temples you can tour freely in the city, the biggest (3km!) night market in Asia and cheap bicycle rentals so you can explore the backstreets around Nimman at your leisure.
Flights to Bangkok start from £463.
Accommodation: From £133
Price of beer: £1.39
Average cost of dinner for two: £16
Cost of activities: Step inside the Grand Palace in Bangkok for £11, including entry to Wat Phra Kaeo, The Royal Thai Decorations & Coins Pavilion and Queen Sirikit Museum of Textile
Flights to Algiers from the UK had some of the lowest average prices in 2016, and in a mere three hours travel time from London, you could be safariing into the Sahara desert, exploring silent Roman ruins and the dazzling harbour of Algiers itself, perched on a hillside overlooking the Med. Revel in the undiscovered beauty of beaches like Tipaza and Algiers’ centuries-old Almoravid architecture at the Great Mosque; you will hardly run into another tourist in some areas, and while this can be unnerving for some, prices are low as a result and the friendliness of the locals towards their few visitors makes coming here an unexpected treat.
Flights to Algiers start from £130 return.
Accommodation: From £469
Price of beer: £1.10
Average cost of dinner for two: £10
Cost of activities: The time-capsule Roman town of Djemila costs just 60p to enter; however if you are travelling from Algiers the best way is to hire a car for around €50 (£42) per day
Made up of thousands of islands and unique cultures, Indonesia is nevertheless a affordable long-haul destination thanks to low travel costs, as well as comparatively cheap prices on activities like scuba diving. Bali may sound like a honeymooner’s holiday spot, but with the great surfing, some of the world’s most photogenic temples and the free natural attractions of neighbouring islands like Nusa Penida, it’s also become a backpacking mecca in recent years. This means bargain hostel beds for as little as £5, and the chance to feast on national dish nasi goreng (fried rice) for as little as £2.50.
Flights to Bali start from £401 return.
Accommodation: From £182
Price of beer: £1.30
Average cost of dinner for two: £17
Cost of activities: Grab a surfing lesson in Kuta for £21
With a name translating literally as ‘borderland’, Ukraine is still thought of as a mysterious unknown, at Europe’s most easterly edge. Its geography is characterised by broad grassy plains or ‘steppe’, its culture by lingering Soviet influences, many of which can be observed simply by walking the streets of Kyiv and standing beneath the severe facade of the Government Building. But as the host of Eurovision 2017 (May 9 to 13) this huge and diverse country is welcoming more and more curious visitors, and those who come will find flights appealingly cheap and living costs low. Toast your new-found friends in a Kyiv pub like Solomyanska Brovarnya, with tasting glasses from local breweries starting at 70p. With the money you save, opt for an unusual excursion like visiting Chernobyl and Pripyat, site of the 1986 nuclear disaster and now an eerie ghost town of skeleton ferris wheels and abandoned houses.
Flights to Kyiv start from £49 return.
Accommodation: From £182
Price of beer: £0.50
Average cost of dinner for two: £15
Cost of activities: Visit Kyiv’s most interesting attraction, Kiev Pechersk Lavra or ‘Monastery of the Caves’, for £2.50
Want to travel further on a budget? Try these destinations:
Which European cities are best for cheap hotels, and don’t charge a fortune for dinner or a night out? We’ve calculated cost of accommodation plus a few extras and here are the cheapest holiday destinations across Europe.
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If you’re desperate for a last-minute bask in the sun, take a look at our ideas for cheap summer holidays abroad.
*Compiled using Skyscanner data on return flights from London with lowest average price in 2016. Fares based on Skyscanner ‘Cheapest month’ lowest estimated fares from any UK airport for 2017. Hotel prices based on average cost of a 3-star hotel for seven nights.
**Published May 2017. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.