It’s a myth that there aren’t any affordable destinations to visit in December and January. Savvy travelers know that sometimes the end of the year and holiday seasons are the best time to snag deals and visit incredible places around the world. All it takes is a little research, some creativity, and an open mind – you’ll be having the time of your life before you know it!
Read on for our roundup of 10 of the cheapest destinations to visit in December and January.
10 Affordable End-of-Year Destinations
The capital of the Netherlands is one of the most affordable European cities to spend the year-end holiday season. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to sightseeing and discovering all of the Dutch charm on display. Art buffs will love the Van Gogh Museum, as well as the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk. The temperatures might be low, so you can stay warm by cycling along Amsterdam’s seemingly endless bike paths.
Eager to travel back to the origins of Western civilization? No, we’re not talking about a time machine, we’re talking about Athens, Greece. Spend your day admiring the impressive history and achievements of its ancient civilization by visiting the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the National Archaeological Museum, and so much more. Stroll the charming Plaka neighborhood to work up an appetite for the delicious Greek culinary delights on offer.
“Charm City” is just a stone’s throw from Washington, D.C. and worth visiting on its own, thanks to its storied history, vibrant arts and culture scene, and new generation of creators breathing new life into the scene. Gorge yourself on crab cakes at the Inner Harbor, visit the National Aquarium and the impressive Visionary Art Museum, and enjoy the beauty of Fells Point neighborhood. Don’t miss Fort McHenry, known as the birth of the “Star Spangled Banner”!
Barcelona is without a doubt one of Europe’s most popular destinations, no matter the time of year. Take advantage of lower airfares in December and January to visit the land of Gaudí. Try not to stuff yourself silly on pintxos before taking a tour of famed architect Antoni Gaudí’s impressive Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, Casa Milá – to name just a few. Get lost in La Boqueria market, soak up the winter sun on the city’s beautiful beaches, and enjoy some incredible people-watching along La Rambla.
Winter in Boston can be harsh, but with the right coat and a warm pair of socks, you’ll do just fine. This city is teeming with important American history, a buzzing food scene, die-hard sports fans, and beautiful scenery along the Charles River. Start off with the Freedom Trail and retrace the steps of the American Revolution, grab a bite at Faneuil Hall in Quincy Market, fall in love with Beacon Hill, shop on Newbury street, and take a stroll around the Common. If you’re an art lover, you can’t miss the Museum of Fine Arts or the Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum.
The newest European darling, Lisbon has steadily grown in popularity for the last decade or so. Its low cost of living, enchanting architecture and landscape, fascinating history, and emerging cultural scene make it a desirable destination for travelers from all walks of life. After strolling the Alfama area and visiting the National Tile Museum, snack on the famed pasteis de nata before checking out the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery. Fall in love with fado after exploring the hip Baixa and Chiado neighborhoods.
Portland, Maine is a city full of Victorian architecture and history, plenty of beautiful natural scenery, and delicious seafood. Bundle up and stroll its downtown historic area; don’t skip the lobster rolls for lunch before checking out the numerous lighthouses and heading over to Peaks Island. Don’t forget to buy some extra whoopie pies to bring back home with you!
Fall in love with New England’s history, culture, and cuisine by visiting Manchester, New Hampshire. There’s plenty to do in this vibrant little city, from the Currier Museum of Art and Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Zimmerman House to the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire. Since you’ll be visiting during the winter months, hit the slopes – there are over 30 ski areas in New Hampshire to check out.
Finally, a destination for warm-weather lovers! Palm Springs, California is an iconic destination, backdrop to some of the country’s most relevant evolving cultural moments and goings-on. It’s a town full of swanky spas, chic hotels, golf courses galore, and fabulous food and drink. Shop ’til you drop along Palm Canyon Drive, visit the Moorten Botanical Garden, and take a hike around Indian Canyons. Talk about ending the year on a high note!