Gdansk is one of Poland’s many under-appreciated highlights
Poland somehow manages to remain affordable and relatively under-visited. Sure, Kraków grabs the crowds but you can explore here for less than in Prague or Berlin. Beyond Kraków is a roll call of Europe’s least-appreciated highlights. In the north, explore Gdansk’s rebuilt old town and haunting coastal scenery.
Elsewhere, Lublin, Torun and Tarnów’s historical beauty (free from large numbers of visitors) can form the basis of a wonderful week. If you have more time, consider exploring the mountain playground around budget-friendly Zakopane or go bison spotting in Bialowieza National Park.
Inexpensive train and bus connections, keenly priced food and beer, plus budget places to stay complete the picture. Point-to-point rail travel in Poland is good value, meaning a rail pass isn’t generally needed.
Poland tourism: poland.travel
LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
Spectacularly situated at 12,000ft, La Paz is one of South America’s best value places to linger, whether you’re keen on acclimatising, learning Spanish or simply enjoying the colourful street life and Andean setting. Budget-conscious travellers can get by on less than £22 a day, eating at unforgettable markets and taking hiking and biking trips.
La Paz also has a fast-emerging yet affordable upscale scene, epitomised by superb dining at Wandering the world needn’t cost the Earth.
Consider one of these value destinations as revealed in LONELY PLANET’s new Best In Travel 2018 book FROM PREVIOUS PAGE places such as Gustu, founded by Noma’s Claus Meyer. Boutique hotels and hip coffee joints are popping up too, all at lower prices than their equivalents elsewhere. Move fast as La Paz is on the rise.
Explore the ancient Witches’ Market, ride the cable cars and soak up the colonial architecture.
Bolivia tourism: visitbolivia.org
Bolivia’s capital city stands at 12,000ft
With 760 miles of coast, there’s plenty to see and do in Baja California
Estonia’s capital is compact, fashionable and terrific value. Explore one of Eastern Europe’s loveliest old towns on foot for free, stay in goodvalue dorms, guest houses or private homes and take in Baltic Sea views and a superb panorama of the city from the flat roof of the vast Linnahall (one of Tallinn’s best free things to do).
Connected by budget flights from around Europe, the city isn’t a secret – but if you want a taste of Tallinn to yourself then head to Kalamaja, a fast-changing neighbourhood home to Telliskivi Creative City. The food trucks here offer Instagrammable fill-ups that won’t tax your wallet.
Tallinn tourism: visittallinn.ee
BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO
It’s the world’s second-longest peninsula meaning there’s more than 760 miles of prime coastal territory to explore.
True, prices can be higher here than in other parts of Mexico due to the relative remoteness of Baja. But many experiences are significanty lighter on the wallet than those found across the border in the United States.
In the north, for example, the wine route through the Valle de Guadalupe is like Napa but a lot cheaper.
Meanwhile, towns such as Todos Santos, Loreto, San Ignacio, Mulegé and La Paz are authentically Mexican and feature great-value accommodation.
Baja California tourism: discover bajacalifornia.com
A crowd-free Grand Canyon
For affordable and accessible adventures in Arizona, aim for simple roadside motels then camp and hike. Visit Saguaro National Park on a day or overnight trip from Tucson. Over in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument you’ll find fewer fellow visitors to compete with for views. Shoulder season unlocks great value: visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon from March to May and September to October for cooler temperatures and lighter crowds.
For the less crowded North Rim, go in May or October. Aim for Scottsdale’s spas and golf courses between June and August. Sure, it’s hot by day but there’s always the pool for those sizzling hours.
The desert climate and high altitude of many Arizona attractions make for chilly nights: pack accordingly, especially if camping.
Arizona tourism: visitarizona.com
LANZAROTE, CANARY ISLANDS
Over the past decade, in-the-know independent travellers are increasingly heading to Lanzarote. Awaiting them is a well-developed infrastructure that makes it a doddle to find affordable lodgings, food and car rental.
There’s plenty of no-nonsense holiday fun but Lanzarote also revels in its uniqueness.
The moon-like scenery of Parque Nacional de Timanfaya, unspoilt beaches of Órzola and black-sand wineries of La Geria reward those who come here for more than a traditional seaside break.
You can explore César Manrique’s artistic and architectural footprint, follow stunning hiking trails and enjoy unexpected and jaw-dropping views along many drives around Lanzarote.
César Manrique’s buildings and artworks are big-ticket items, so aim to see them early or late in the day to avoid crowds.
Lanzarote tourism: turismo lanzarote.com
The historic town of Fenghuang is built over the gentle Tuo River
Love Morocco? Been to Marrakech? Us too. If you’re seeking another, still-affordable side of this safe slice of North Africa then Essaouira might just be the place for you. A popular day trip from Marrakech itself, just three hours away, Essaouira can now be reached direct with low-cost easyJet from London Luton. So, what awaits? A walled city narrow alleyways, traditional hammams and medina pile on the sensory delight. The breeze allows for superb wind and kitesurfing, as well as bracing beach strolls.
Characterful riads are affordable, especially if you’re travelling with family or a group. Best of all, the food is sensational even on a low budget, in particular the just-landed seafood.
Morocco tourism: visitmorocco.com
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, USA
Jax, as locals call it, hasn’t drawn international praise like other destinations in Florida, despite 35km of beaches, surfing, art and live music. There are long stretches of the St Johns River, the Intracoastal Waterway and America’s largest urban park system to explore on foot, by bike or, best of all, on a guided kayak tour.
Barbecue joints and beachside cafés offer good-value and family-friendly dining, while a pint of craft beer at one of eight local breweries can be priced as low as $3.50. Not only is Jacksonville affordable for sleeping, you feel as if you’re discovering somewhere new.
Jacksonville is the largest city in the continental US by area, meaning that a car is necessary to get around.
Jacksonville tourism: visitjackson ville.com
Highlights in this part of Southern China come thick and fast. At Zhangjiajie, an amazing sandstone canyon with almost 250 bizarrely shaped peaks, the world’s longest glass bridge opened in 2016. Another don’t-miss is Fenghuang, a stunning historic town that quite literally hangs over the Tuo River.
If you’re not sold yet, the provincial capital Changsha happened to be Chairman Mao’s home town.
This being China, costs can be very low indeed: budget meals and accommodation are in the sub-£7 range and even slap-up servings of fiery Hunan cuisine in the flashiest Changsha digs cost not much more than double that.
Hunan tourism: enghunan.gov.cn
Lonely Planet’s new Best In Travel 2018, £9.99.