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Top 6 Frugal Travel Destinations for 2017

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Kate MurphyGuest Blogger
February 15, 2017 · 3.7k Views

Traveling offers the exciting opportunity to explore new places and experience cultures different from your own. You’ve had some serious wanderlust lately and one of your goals for 2017 is to do more traveling. But we all know traveling isn’t cheap. The cost of flight tickets, lodging, food, and attractions can rack up some serious dollars. Don’t give up your dream of seeing the world just yet. 

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location icon Top 6 Frugal Travel Destinations for 2017

1. Northern Vietnam

northern vietnam frugal travel destination

Attribution: Ajarnmike via Wikimedia Commons

Vietnam has always been a hotspot for adventurous travelers. For an enriching (and very inexpensive) experience of this enchanted destination, head to the country’s Northern region along the Chinese border.

thinking emoji  What To Expect

You know those National Geographic photographs of Vietnam’s atmospheric countryside with mist-covered rice fields, steep mountains, and meandering roads? Get ready to witness all the majestic beauty firsthand when you visit the North.

money The Frugal Factor

According to Forbes Travel, private lodging costs $10 to $15 a night (serious budgeters can find dorm rooms for as low as $5 a night), food costs $0.50 to $2 per meal, and transportation between towns costs just a few dollars.


2. Mazatlan, Mexico

mazaltan, mexical frugal travel destinations for 2017

Stan Shebs [GFDL, CC BY-SA 3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Beach lovers head south of the border in search of sun, glittery sands, and crystal blue waters. Skip Mexico’s tourist-packed (and pricey) beach resort areas like Cabo and Cancun and visit Mazatlan along the Pacific shoreline.

thinking emoji  What To Expect

Matzalán is a capital city rich in history and culture. Known for its fresh seafood, Matzalán also grows most of Mexico’s produce – you can look forward to perusing street markets that sell fresh (and extremely cheap) fruits and vegetables. Thrill seekers must check out the Huana Coa Canopy Adventure, because a shot of mezcal is always a good idea after ziplining! While history buffs will love the Plaza Machado in the historical center.

money The Frugal Factor

Hotels are independently owned and operated, which means lodging costs are very low – the Hotel Playa Mazatlán has rooms for $66 per night, beach access included! In restaurants like Topolo, you can feast on the freshest, tastiest seafood dishes for a fraction of what you’d pay in the US.


3. Lisbon, Portugal

lisbon portugal frugal travel destinations 2017

Attribution: Max Pixel

Portugal’s capital city has a bit of everything for the curious traveler. In Lisbon, you will find numerous historical sites, a string of picturesque beaches, and a vibrant nightlife scene.

thinking emoji  What To Expect

For a breathtaking panoramic view of the city, head to the Castelo de São Jorge, a hilltop fortress dated to Portugal’s medieval period. The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum’s vast collection of treasures includes Egyptian, Eastern Islamic, and Armenian artifacts alongside works by master painters Rembrandt, Manet, and Degas. Get a taste of local culture in the old Bairro Alto neighborhood where you can grab dinner, drinks, and see live Fado music.

money The Frugal Factor

Lisbon ranks as one of Europe’s cheapest travel destinations. A night at a mid-range hotel like the Monte Belvedere by Shiadu costs around $52 per night. Look forward to delicious Portuguese dishes. For just $6 to $11, you can sit down to simple, traditional meal at a tasca, a small restaurant with just a few chairs and tables. It will cost you nothing to explore the city’s beautiful, old buildings, charming nooks, and meandering streets.


4. Bucharest, Romania

bucharest, romania

Photo via Good Free Photos

Dubbed as “Little Paris,” Bucharest offers an eclectic mix of past and present. Its beginnings trace back to 1459 when Vlad III the Impaler (aka Dracula) took up residence. Romania’s capital and largest city, Bucharest serves as a cultural, industrial, and financial center.

thinking emoji  What To Expect

Wonder at the colossal Palace of the Parliament, the world’s second-largest administrative building (after the Pentagon). Stravropoleos Church in the Old Town is a peaceful sanctuary with hand painted ceilings and golden relics. Herastrau Park is perfect for a relaxing stroll and people watching.

money The Frugal Factor

Hotels rates are fair priced – a night at Hotel Christina starts at $68 (complimentary breakfast included). Foodies and party-goers will be happy here – it’s affordable to eat well and drink long into the night. Try Caru’ cu Bere for a hearty, traditional Romanian meal in a beautiful setting. Serious budget travelers will appreciate Bucharest’s numerous cheap, yet tasty spots to grab a bite.


5. Marrakech, Morocco

marrakech, morocco frugal travel destinations 2017

Attribution: Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be

Morocco is North Africa’s most stable and accessible country and its celebrated Marrakech is one of the most intoxicating places in the world. This former Imperial city is home to buzzing markets, beautiful gardens, palaces, and mosques.

thinking emoji  What To Expect

The Medina of Marrakech will stimulate every sense – this is where you will find the souks, flea market vendors, food stalls, and even snake charmers. Located just outside the chaotic Medina is the peaceful Jardin Majorelle inhabited with exotic plants. Admire the city’s beautiful mosques (note that if you are not Muslim, you are not permitted to enter).

money The Frugal Factor

While hotel rates run high, there are affordable options like the Riad Les Trois Palmiers El Bacha ($57 per night). Enjoy delicious (and inexpensive) Moroccan fare for a great cause at Amal, a do-good restaurant that trains disadvantaged Moroccan woman in restaurant skills.


6. Quebec City, Canada

quebec city, canada frugal travel destinations 2017

By Chensiyuan (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

If you can’t make it to Europe, but still want a taste of European culture, Quebec City is a great alternative. And while Canada is not necessarily cheap, the US dollar goes far here, converting to $1.33 Canadian.

thinking emoji  What To Expect

The only fortified city north of Mexico pulsating with European charm. Named Culture City of the Year in 2016, Quebec City has incredible architecture and historical landmarks – the-Dame-des-Victoires Church and Terrasse Dufferin are must-visit sites. The city makes the best of frigid winters with the annual Québec Winter Carnival. Cuisine is rich with French influence with standout restaurants like Les Sales Gosses and Le Quia 19. It would be a crime to leave without trying Poutine, a traditional meal of French fries, cheese curds, and light gravy.

money The Frugal Factor

You can find deals on lodging at spots like Le Champlain Hotel for as low as $57 per night (includes free breakfast). For free, you can walk the narrow, twisting streets of Old Québec or window shop in Quartier Petit-Champlain, the oldest shopping district in North America. For an authentic, low-cost Québec meal, stop by Casse-Crepe Breton.


Visiting far off lands doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With just a little planning, you can finally travel like you always wanted while staying on budget.

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catherinemurphy profile picture
Kate Murphy is a native of Pennsylvania. After receiving a degree in art history, she moved to New York City to test the waters. She enjoys writing about art, culture, fashion, design, and travel. In addition to writing, Kate works with artists, leads, street art tours, and moonlights as an illustrator.