We scoured the globe in search of destinations offering that dazzling combo of great value and serious vacation appeal in 2017.
Best Value Destinations for 2017: The Methodology
To determine the best value destinations for 2017, we first pulled airfare and hotel data from our sister site, Airfarewatchdog. For airfare, we compared average low fares from three major U.S. airports (JFK, ORD, and LAX) to a shortlist of destinations between 2015 and 2016. For hotel, we looked at the average 3-star hotel room rates in 2015 and 2016 for a shortlist of destinations.
After analyzing these trends, the destinations selected were further valued by other travel industry round-ups as well as their Big Mac Index, Price of Travel – Backpacker’s Index, and currency conversion rates currently and over time. From the shortlist of destinations, 10 were selected and ranked based on their values across these categories.
Editors’ Choice and Readers’ Pick Winner: Portugal
Whether it’s an island-getaway to the Azores or a trip to Porto’s world-renowned wine region, Portugal has something to offer for every traveler at a great price.
With inexpensive new routes from Toronto on TAP Portugal and free stopovers, it’s never been easier or more affordable to add on a few days in Portugal to any European—or even African—vacation. TAP already flies from other North American destinations like Boston, Miami, New York JFK, and Newark and has a partnership with JetBlue.
And, with the Euro nearly equivalent to the U.S. dollar, all your travel expenses will be lower than in years past—which means you can look forward to everything from hotels to good wine for significantly less.
This year, Norway shines with year-round outdoor activities and a noteworthy recent decrease in price. While a trip to Norway is by no means cheap, budget airline Norwegian Air has opened up dozens of new routes between its home country and the U.S. This, combined with a drop in the value of the Krone compared to the U.S. dollar, makes 2017 a perfect time to go to the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Bergen—the gateway to the fjords—stands out as particularly good value spot in Norway. From Bergen, you can rent a car and take one of dozens of drives through the fjord lands, or opt to see these natural wonders from the water on a cruise
This Caribbean getaway has long been popular with U.S. citizens, but 2017 offers U.S. travelers to Belize even more value with favorable exchange rates, extremely low nightly hotel rates, and lower airfare. It’s one of the fastest growing international destinations for U.S. travelers, so the time to go is now.
Eastern Europe is an exceptional value for U.S. travelers. And Bulgaria’s capital city, Sofia, offers this great value against a backdrop of Persian architecture, museums, and outdoor cafes. It’s rare that cultural riches come cheap, but according to the Backpacker Index, Sofia is the cheapest European destination for 2017, allowing you to splurge on things like hotels, food, and beverages while you’re on vacation.
Between its accessibility from departure cities around the U.S., favorable exchange rate, and very inexpensive nightly hotel rates, Nicaragua stakes a claim as the perfect beach vacation destination for 2017. And with sunshine and an average temperature of 80 degrees year-round, there’s no bad season to pack your bags and go.
Laos ranked high in many travel industry round-ups this year thanks to its affordability and appeal. While much of Southeast Asia offers U.S. travelers a favorable exchange rates and low nightly hotel rates, Laos in particular stood out to us. It remains (for now) off the beaten path for most travelers, while offering unspoiled landscapes and everything from temples to cave complexes at a low cost.
Cheaper-than-usual flights and lower hotel rates than in recent years land Kenya a spot on our list of value destinations for 2017. Among the best values the country offers this year are safari journeys. While safaris don’t have a reputation for being affordable, adventure-oriented outfitters like Intrepid and G Adventures are changing the game by offering less expensive ways to see Kenya’s famous wildlife.
Typically overlooked compared to Western Europe, Budapest and Debrecen are less expensive and offer a variety of cultural activities. With sights like the Buda Castle, outdoor thermal baths, the Chain Bridge, and Fisherman’s Bastion, Hungary has just as many things to do as Prague or Vienna, but for a fraction of the price; according to the 2017 Global Travel Price Outlook the country is less expensive than last year, even furthering its value.
No matter what your vacation interests are you can enjoy Hungary—visit the capital Budapest for Turkish and Roman cultural influences or opt to experience beaches and wineries along Lake Balaton.
Airfare, vacation rentals, and hotel nightly rates are cheaper than other years, and Norwegian Air is expected to fly to Argentina starting late this year, opening up competition as well as access to cities like Mendoza.
Buenos Aires, Salta, and Mendoza offer entirely different experiences, so whether you’re seeking an urban vacation, beach town, mountain retreat, or wine tour, you can find it at a great price in Argentina.
Morocco offers a variety of cultural activities at a low price thanks to a favorable exchange rate and cheap nightly hotel rates. Food and tours are well priced and you can see a lot of the country in short amount of time.
Relatively new airline routes from TAP Portugal open up the country to most of Europe and the U.S. via a Lisbon stopover. Go during the summertime (low season) for even cheaper flights and prices.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Best in Travel: The 2017 SmarterTravel Editors’ Choice and Readers’ Picks Winners
- 10 Up-and-Coming Destinations You Need to Visit in 2017
- 10 Best Family Vacation Destinations for 2017
- Best LGBTQI Destinations 2017