That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of amazing destinations where you’ll get more bang for your buck. Backpackers and budget travellers, add these cities to your list. We found 40 (seriously, 40!) cities that you can visit without breaking the bank.
1. Porto, Portugal – $24/day
Porto is a fascinating and vibrant city that is rapidly becoming one of Western Europe’s most respected tourist destinations. The city boasts an extensive history, interesting tourist attractions, and a buzzing nightlife. There is a lot to see and do in Porto and the city will appeal to a wide range of different visitors.
Porto is also a historic and varied city, from the warren of narrow streets that make up the ancient Ribeira district through to the grand plazas of the Avenida dos Aliados.
2. Bangkok, Thailand – $23/day
Bangkok, Thailand’s capital is a large city known for ornate shrines, vibrant street life, and yummy food. Like many other capital cities Bangkok never goes to sleep, there is always a hive of activity as people work around the clock in their various professions.
Be it dazzling temples, spectacular palaces, a world-famous floating market or colorful Chinatown, each of these famous places has an intriguing story to tell.
3. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – $23/day
Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic and one of the Caribbean’s oldest cities. The city is a mix of old-world charm and modern Latin flair. Its medieval palaces and fortresses mix with nightlife and shopping to rival any modern city in the world. You’ll find pristine beaches and hidden gems like a salsa/merengue club set inside a huge underground cave.
4. Istanbul, Turkey – $23/day
Istanbul – where continents collide along the Bosphorus Strait. This magical meeting place of East and West has more top-drawer attractions than it has minarets. The city’s cuisine is as diverse as its heritage and delicious to boot. Locals take their eating and drinking seriously – the restaurants here are the best in the country.
Spring and autumn are the best times to visit, as the weather is good and festivals are in full swing.
5. Jeju Island, South Korea – $22/day
Jeju Island, also known as the “Island of the Gods,” is a volcanic island off the coast of South Korea, and a popular vacation spot for Koreans and foreigners. Jeju Island features a volcanic Hallasan commanding the island from the center, a 224-kilometer semi-tropical forested national park, a wild coastline dotted with waterfalls and the longest lava tube in the world.
This island pulls in vacationers and honeymooners by the thousands.
Even if you haven’t just gotten married, a vacation here sure can feel like it.
6. Ljubljana, Slovenia – $22/day
Slovenia, wedged between Austria and Italy, has always been proud of its unique heritage. The capital, Ljubljana, is a perfect example of this blend of German, Mediterranean, and Slovenian culture.
It’s known for its university population and green spaces, including expansive Tivoli Park. The curving Ljubljanica River, lined with outdoor cafes, divides the city’s old town from its commercial hub. In summer, cafes set up terrace seating along the river; it almost feels like a nightly street party.
7. Yangon, Myanmar – $22/day
Most trips to Myanmar start and end in Yangon, the country’s largest city. Especially if you’re crunched for time, it makes the most sense to make Yangon your home base and go on short excursions to some of the surrounding must-see sites. The city is a mix of British, Burmese, Chinese and Indian influences – colonial architecture, modern high-rises and gilded Buddhist pagodas define its skyline.
8. Amman, Jordan – $22/day
Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a modern city with numerous ancient ruins. Downtown Amman is a must-see. At the bottom of the city’s many hills and overlooked by the magisterial Citadel, it features spectacular Roman ruins, an international-standard museum and the hubbub of mosques, and coffeehouses that are central to Jordanian life.
9. Asuncion, Paraguay – $21/day
Whether you seek retro restaurants that haven’t changed in 50 years, or innovative galleries and American-style brunches, you’ll find it here, in the capital of Paraguay. It’s a young city: 65% of its residents are under the age of 30.
Paraguay has a tradition for beef – so make sure you try the grilled meat (asado). Pasta is also popular as are the street stalls selling panchos (hot-dogs), hamburgers, empanadas and similar fast-food.
10. Warsaw, Poland – $21/day
Once you’ve traveled around Poland, you realize this: Warsaw is different. Its widely varied architecture reflects the city’s long, turbulent history, from Gothic churches and neoclassical palaces to Soviet-era blocks and modern skyscrapers.
Warsaw’s restaurant and entertainment scene is the best in Poland. Dine on cuisines from around the world at an affordable price, visit the numerous museums and take your pick among the lively bars and clubs throughout the sprawling city.
11. Palawan, Philippines – $20/day
Palawan is a slice of heaven, a sliver of an island that teems with exotic wildlife, and quaint fishing villages. Wave hello to endangered animals at the Calauit Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary or explore the Japanese shipwrecks of Coron Island, regarded as one of the best dive sites in the world. A guided boat tour of the Puerto Princesa Underground River will take your breath away.
12. Budapest, Hungary – $20, day
Explore Hungary’s most popular city, blessed with an abundance of hot springs and thus public bathhouses. Budapest is paradise for explorers. Keep your senses primed and you’ll discover something wonderful at every turn.
There’s a lot more to Hungarian food than goulash, and it remains one of the most sophisticated styles of cooking in Europe, and the region is known for its excellent wines.
13. Ubud, Bali – $18/day
Ubud is in many ways Bali’s cultural heart. It’s in the cool mountains, just an hour’s drive north of the airport. This traditional country town is home to one of Bali’s royal families. You can even visit the majestic palace in the center of town. Ubud is also well known as a flourishing crafts center.
The surrounding rainforest and terraced rice paddies, dotted with Hindu temples and shrines, are among Bali’s most iconic landscapes.
14. Sofia, Bulgaria – $18/day
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria. Sofia is no grand metropolis, but it’s a largely modern, youthful city, lending an eclectic, exotic feel. Relax in one of the many vast parks and manicured gardens, and hop on a short bus ride from the center to get to the ski slopes and hiking trails of mighty Mt. Vitosha.
15. Quito, Ecuador – $18/day
A capital city high in the Andes, Quito is dramatically situated, squeezed between mountain peaks whose greenery is concealed by the afternoon mist. Modern apartment buildings and modest concrete homes creep partway up their slopes and busy commercial thoroughfares lined with shops and choked with traffic turn into peaceful neighborhoods on Sundays. Warm and relaxed, traditional Ecuadorian Sierra culture – overflowing market stands, shamanistic healers, fourth-generation hatmakers – mix with a vibrant and sophisticated culinary and nightlife scene.
16. Prague, Czech Republic – $18/day
Prague – the romantic capital of the Czech Republic – is nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires.” It’s known for its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with winding cobblestone streets, colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock.
Walk the Charles Bridge and its 30 statues of saints, and get lost in the city’s overall haunting charm. Once you escape that beautiful (but crowded) city you’ll find an inexpensive country with some of the most beautiful and rugged landscape in this part of Europe.
17. Thessaloniki, Greece – $18/day
Thessaloniki is easy to fall in love with – it has beauty, chaos, history and culture, a remarkable cuisine and wonderful, vast sea views. This is Greece’s second city, which, like the rest of the country, has suffered the hit of the economic crisis, but the streets remain full of life and vibrancy. By night, the city booms with music and nightlife, fueled by the excitable stream of international students and backpackers.
18. Kingston, Jamaica – $18/day
Kingston is the capital of the island of Jamaica, lying on its southeast coast. Kingston’s diversity is reflected in its disparate neighborhoods, from the wealthy northern suburbs to the less affluent downtown. Travelers can discover the spirit of One Love at the Bob Marley Museum, or sample delicious ice cream at Devon House. Nearby, the former capital of Spanish Town offers insight into the area’s history.
19. Bocas del Toro, Panama – $18/day
Isla Colón, the main island, is home to the capital, Bocas Town, a hub for dining, shopping and nightlife, with reggae music emanating from open-air bars. Taxis marinos (water taxis) will take you to remote beaches and snorkeling sites for just a few dollars. It’s an easy place to get stuck into and an even easier one in which to linger.
20. Tashkent, Uzbekistan – $17/day
Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan. It’s one part newly built national capital, thick with the institutions of power, and one part leafy Soviet city, and yet another part sleepy Uzbek town, where traditionally clad farmers cart their wares through a maze of mud-walled houses to the grinding crowds of the bazaar. Tashkent is a fascinating jumble of contradictions that’s well worth exploring over several days.