by Cailin O’Neil
With winter fast approaching along with the holidays, there is no time like the present to start planning a winter getaway. Whether you set your sights on a warm sunny destination or an equally awesome winter destination no matter where you go it will be a lot better than the mundane of going to work when its dark and getting home after dark. So cure your winter blues and start planning a budget-friendly winter getaway to one of these destinations that you might not have considered before.
Shopping on Playa Del Carmen’s 5th Avenue, courtesy Anna Lysakowska
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
The winter months are some of the busiest tourist times for visiting Mexico, this however can work in your favor as there is a good chance that you can get a great deal on a flight. If visiting chose Playa Del Carmen over Cancun as it is less of a tourist trap of just large resorts and has more of a local feel to it. To save money also look into apartment rentals instead of hotels as not only will the nightly/weekly rate be cheaper but you will also have your own kitchen to cook meals to help save on costs as well. However this is Mexico, you definitely must make sure you get out and eat some tostadas and grilled Mexican street corn and other tasty eats which you will find are all insanely cheap.
A snowy Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, courtesyFlickr user Steve Leclerc
Quebec City, Quebec
Quebec City is far from being a warm and sunny destination in the wintertime but they truly celebrate winter for its best. With the Canadian dollar at a low and it being so close to the US it is also quite the affordable destination. Plan to be there around the end of January and beginning of February and you will get to celebrate the Carnival De Quebec with the whole city. There are lots of events to watch and take part in from canoe race over the icy St Lawrence river to cross country skiing, ice skating, seeing the fabulous snow and ice sculptures, watching the parades and enjoying some of the best food. After all Quebec City is home to the birthplace of poutine. What’s not to love?
Las Vegas, Nevada
It is hard to make a budget destination list and not include Vegas. Not only is it a nice warm place to visit in the summer months but there are also always tons of deals and discounts being offered for flights and hotels in Sin City. You could also try your luck at a few casinos and come home having made money on your vacation. However, Vegas isn’t all just gambling and pretty lights there is also a lot of other great things to do. From shopping to hanging out by the pool relaxing to seeing crazy acrobatic performances like Le Reve, magic shows by people like Criss Angel, amazing concerts nightly by Britney Spears and more. You can also take a day trip to the Grand Canyon, go on a horseback riding adventure through Red Rock Canyon and more.
There are always flights from the U.S. to Paris and London no matter the time of year and from those two major cities you can take a budget airline and fly off to any other European destinations that might normally only have seasonal US flights for mega cheap prices. The top affordable European cities that I recommend you check out in the winter are Riga, Latvia, Lisbon, Portugal and Prague in the Czech Republic. They will not be the warmest of destinations but they can still be really great.
Riga has an adorable old town that is great to stroll through, it is home to some amazing food, their central market is the biggest in all of Europe, which you can spend hours perusing and the architecture in the city is out of this world. About a third of the city’s buildings are designed and from the Art Nouveau era of the early 1900’s making it the highest concentration on Art Nouveau buildings in the world. Even though it might be a bit chilly your Instagrams will be stunning.
Lisbon might be a bit warmer in the winter months than Riga with the average temperature being around 55f. If that’s not warm enough for you then walking up all of the hills in the city as you explore will definitely get you heated up. You can also take the popular tram 28 to explore the city that is typically crammed full of tourists in the summer months. The costs of things in the city are quite cheap even though they are on the euro. The transportation is easy to navigate, there are a lot of great places to eat at like the Time Out Market which is made up of stalls from some of the best restaurants in the city and there are also a lot of great day trips that you can do from here like visiting the small town of Sintra which is full of castles, palaces and beautiful gardens.
Christmas Marketplace in Prague
One of the best things about visiting Europe in the winter months is that it is the off-season and it will be way less crowded. Visiting Prague this time of year you can almost have the main tourist attractions to yourself. Whether you visit the famous astronomical clock, take a stroll along the Charles Bridge or visit the Prague Castle it will be more relaxing than fighting off the crowds in the summer months. The city’s transportation systems are cheap and convenient taking you everywhere and will also keep you warm whether you travel by metro, tram or bus. Some of the food in Prague is also to die for, some of the best steak tartare and meats in the world is served up here by a chain of restaurants called Lokal. Also, we can’t forget to mention the beer, the insanely cheap and tasty beer, after all the Czech Republic is home to the Pilsner and the country drinks the most beer per capita than any other country in the world.
There are of course many other affordable destinations to visit in the winter months but these cities in particular should definitely be added to your list for consideration, they might surprise you. If you have any other favorite budget winter destinations tell us about them in the comments below!