Best Value Greek islands
When times are tight we suggest you travel more, not less – but pick carefully. This is where your wallet will smile at the memories for years to come.
View of Navagio Beach, also known as Shipwreck Cove, on Zakynthos Island. Image by Dave Porter Peterborough Uk / Photolibrary / Getty Images.
Making a splash on one of Portugal's surf-friendly shores. Image by SayLuiiiis. CC BY-SA 2.0.
Each year the British Post Office surveys the prices in European holiday resorts. The most recent edition names Albufeira in the Algarve as the cheapest option for a summer family holiday. The Algarve in high summer may not be to everyone’s taste, but it shows that Portugal is great for the budget-conscious. There are excellent deals elsewhere too. Lisbon has wonderful coffee and sweet treats for a few euros, and you can ride cheap trams around to your heart’s content. Portugal is also, for Europeans, a superb place to surf without having to fork out the airfare to the sport’s traditional heartlands.
Swimming in crystal-clear waters in Fiji. Image by Island Effects / E+ / Getty Images.
A South Pacific island destination on a value travel list? Yes, Fiji may just be the most affordable slice of paradise. The Yasawas and the Mamanucas are home to the unusual phenomenon of island resorts aimed at backpackers. While it’s not as cheap as Southeast Asia, the value here is in bringing the South Pacific within reach of mid-range travellers. Combine some island-hopping by daily catamaran with public buses around Viti Levu, Fiji’s ‘mainland’, and get almost as much Polynesia as possible for not all of your money.
El Castillo at Tulum, Mexico. Image by Aaron Logan. CC BY 2.0.
Ignore the headlines about budget-busting resorts and savour the value of a visit to Mexico. Grab a good-value flight and try to avoid periods such as US school holidays. Travellers who explore off the established trail will find Mexico hugely rewarding. North of Puerto Vallarta, laid-back beach towns such as Chacala offer guesthouse rooms for US, and the relaxed ambience is its own reward. Good value can be had even in the tourist heartland of the Yucatán Peninsula. Cheap bus trips to Mérida and Tulum provide all the Mayan wonders you can muster at a fraction of the cost of Cancún-based tours. Look for cabañas, huts with a palm-thatched roof, most often found at beach destinations.
The intricate archways of the Maharaja Palace of Mysore. Image by Tuul / Robert Harding World Imagery / Getty Images.
A boat ride around dramatic limestone cliffs in Palawan. Image by Jerick Parrone. CC BY-SA 2.0.
Jungle rivers, limestone cliffs and awesome beaches – Palawan’s no secret, but it certainly rewards those who visit. This mix, combined with stand-out attractions such as Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and the Bacuit Archipelago (all available at a competitive price), makes it a great-value pick for old Asia hands and novices alike. A journey on from Palawan leads to the Calamian Islands where apparently Alex Garland saw the strip of sand that inspired The Beach. Watch out for the May to October monsoon: it brings heavy rain, usually in the afternoon.