From cheap eats in Singapore to free things to do in Manchester, Tokyo and more, we’ve got you covered with some of the best cheap places to travel on a budget in 2020. We’ve divided our suggestions into the best budget-friendly places to travel solo, as part of a couple, or with your family. Happy packing, travellers!
Best cheap places to travel for couples in 2020
1. Take the midnight train to Georgia (no, not that one!)
Get ready to explore gorgeous Georgia – the country, not the American state! This stunning yet relatively undiscovered country was named one of ABTA’s (the Association for British Travel Agents) top destinations to watch in 2020. Even better, it’s incredibly budget-friendly.
Start with the capital, Tbilisi. This buzzing, vibrant ex-Soviet city is already a top holiday destination for couples, with loads of great things to eat, drink and do. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites are worth a trip alone. Don’t miss the rock-cut monastery of Vardzia and the David Gareja cave complex.
The surrounding countryside and wine regions offer lush scenery and lots of scope for hikers and cyclists – 70% of Georgia is actually forested. What’s more, you’ll be a rare sight for the locals, who still treat tourists like cherished guests in some places. Oh, and foodies can relax too. There’s excellent street food and great wines in Georgia.
Top 3 free things to do in Tbilisi
- Join the Tbilisi free walking tour
There’s a free walking tour every day at noon, and also at 5 PM, starting in Freedom Square. The tour runs in all weather conditions, and even on public holidays.
- Climb the fortress
Give your legs a workout and climb the Narikala Fortress – an unmissable landmark in Tbilisi which was built for defense. Nowadays, it’ll give you great panoramic views over the old city.
- Check out the Dry Bridge Market
It’s free to wander this vintage and second-hand market, but we can’t account for what you might spend on old soviet flags and medals, VHS cassettes, typewriters and rusty locks.
2. Do a 007 in Jamaica
Everyone will be talking about Jamaica come spring 2020, when James Bond’s No Time to Die hits movie screens. It might even become one of the top travel destinations in the world, so get in quick – and before it gets expensive.
The best place to stay for couples in Jamaica is Ocho Rios on the north coast. It tends to be quieter over here, with less families and kids. Saying that, it is also home to Yaaman Adventure Park. From camel treks to singing critters in bird-filled aviaries, to cruises on a not-so-secret Secret River, Yaaman is a real Jamaican feast for all senses.
If it’s real Jamaican food you want, don’t miss a stop at a traditional jerk chicken stall. Ask the locals to direct you to the best ones, but watch out, the real deal is HOT!
Top 3 free things to do in Jamaica
- Shop for souvenirs on the Hip Strip
The Hip Strip is a run-down street that borders the beach, bursting with souvenir shops, restaurants and bars. It’s Jamaican people-watching and souvenir shopping at its finest.
- Chill out on Seven Mile beach
Once the haunt of pirates, this seven-mile stretch of golden sand beach is now the haunt of sun-bakers and beach bums, but it’s undoubtedly one of the best beaches in the world.
- Bathe at Little Dunn’s River Falls
Little Dunn’s River is a well-kept secret in the Ocho Rios area of Jamaica. No frills, just a cascading waterfall you can walk along in slip-proof shoes, and a nearby beach. Bliss!
3. Get jiggy with it in Galway
Galway should be doing an Irish jig onto your must-visit city break list for 2020. As a European Capital of Culture, it promises a year-long list of cultural events centred around the Irish city’s boundless creative efforts, many of them free or at least very affordable.
Couples will love exploring the streets of this top travel destination. From Eyre Square to the famous Spanish Arch, you can see all the highlights and save a euro or two with a cheap ticket for the Hop on Hop off Bus!
Whatever the weather, there’s somewhere warm and cosy ready to welcome you in – a must-see is the atmospheric Dunguaire Castle, which looms over the shores of Galway Bay. As well as exhibitions, a flourishing art scene, outstanding food, and of course, all the Guinness you can spill on your clover-leaf souvenir sweater, the scenery around Galway is mind-blowing.
Top 3 free things to do in Galway
- Shop at Galway Market
Held in a lane by St. Nicholas’ Church, the Galway Market bustles all year round on Saturdays and Sundays. Expect locally made crafts, cheap but delicious food, and art.
- Get cultural at Galway Arts Centre
The Galway Arts Centre is a sun-drenched 3,000-square-foot gallery with free exhibitions and regular cultural events. It’s a great place to stop for a coffee on a rainy day too.
- Stroll along the Salthill Promenade
This two-kilometre stroll along the scenic shores of Galway Bay will give couples incredible views towards the Aran Islands. It might be cliché, but who cares, it’s romantic and it’s free!
4. Make an olympian break in Tokyo, Japan
Japan is all set to host the summer Olympics in 2020, meaning we couldn’t resist popping Tokyo onto the list. While, admittedly, it’s not the cheapest place to travel, there are definitely things you can do in Tokyo on a budget, or even for free.
If you’ve got some budget for cultural activities in Tokyo, start by learning how the ritual of penning ink is related to the search for inner balance and harmony through meditation and zen with a calligraphy class.
Too quiet for you? Uncover over 700 years of samurai culture and tradition in Japan and check out authentic armor, swords and guns at the Samurai Museum. Or enjoy a cross-cultural conversation about Japan’s modern masterpieces in the National Museum of Modern Art. The English-speaking ‘Let’s Talk Art tour’ is designed to help you achieve a better understanding of modern art by discussing three different works with fellow participants.
Top 3 free things to do in Tokyo
- Have some fun in a forest
Watch the dance crews, cosplayers, and fashionistas flock to the popular Yoyogi Park on the weekends. Or escape the crowds and take a walk in the quieter forested parts of the park.
- Get fishy at the tuna auction
Watch the fish get sold off at the Tuna Auction in Tsukiji.
- Light a candle at Tokyo’s oldest temple
The atmospheric Senso-Ji is a dazzling temple steeped in history.
Best cheap places to travel for families in 2020
5. The ‘authentic’ Athenian Riviera
The Athenian Riviera might be pretty new on the beach holiday radar for some, but we predict an increase of visitors in 2020. This cool coastal location is just 20 minutes from Athens, making it a top holiday destination for families looking to relax at the tail end of a city break. What’s more, it’s still a relatively cheap travel destination compared to the Greek islands and over-saturated hot spots like Santorini.
The beaches are clean, white and uncrowded. Think palm-tree lined esplanades and gorgeous soft sand. For quieter beaches and windsurfing, plus seafood restaurants overlooking the sea, Athenians head to the Riviera beach town of Anavissos. For bathing away your cares in therapeutic waters, Lake Vouliagmeni is a must.
Going to Athens first? Good! The cradle of civilization has been waiting a very long time for you to check it out. Explore one of the world’s most important architectural heritage sites at the Acropolis of Athens, then show the kids what life was like before iPads at the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology.
Top 3 free things to do in Athens
- Find your own free sanctuary
Find respite from Athens’ urban hustle in the city’s gardens and green spaces. It’s free to hike up Lycabettus or Filopappou Hill, and to enjoy a family picnic in the National Gardens.
- Snap the Presidential guard in action
Will you be the one to make the famous Evzones, Greece’s Presidential Guard, crack a smile? The changing of the guard happens every hour on Syntagma Square.
- Get a free history fix
On the first Sunday of each month, from November 1 to March 31, all archaeological sites in Athens are free to enter (yes, even the Parthenon!)
6. Say hello to the future in Manchester
Manchester is one of the most underrated tourist destinations — which makes it once of the best cheap places to travel in 2020. Even better, the opening of RHS Garden Bridgewater in 2020 means Manchester will be bringing a world-class garden to the heart of Salford. Families can amble about the greenery and learn how Europe’s biggest gardening project is transforming lives.
There’s also the Contact Theatre and the recently completed ‘hello future’ exhibition at Manchester Museum. This immense project showcases Manchester’s cultural diversity.
When it comes to family fun, there’s heaps to do for kids in Manchester. Experience a 3D turtle beach at SEA LIFE Manchester, or build your day brick by brick at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre.
Top 3 free things to do in Manchester
- Escape the bustle at Manchester Art Gallery
The Manchester Art Gallery is a quiet haven in the busy city centre that’s home to almost 13,000 artworks including sculptures, paintings, drawings and photographs.
- Take a walk through Castlefield Urban Heritage Park
You’ll see a different side of Manchester on a walk through the Castlefield Urban Heritage Park. Think pretty canals, viaducts and creaking houseboats and even an old Roman fort.
- Make friends with a donkey
The kids will love meeting new, furry, four-legged friends at The Donkey Sanctuary. You can even make the responsible choice to adopt one, without the stress of taking it home.
7. Spot the northern lights in Swedish Lapland
One of the best places in the world to see the elusive Aurora Borealis is actually Swedish Lapland. It’s not the cheapest place on the list, sure, but there are ways to have fun on a budget, and also for free. Snowball fight, anyone?
Give the family a trip to remember on a budget and join a guide in Abisko National Park. The clear skies and virtually no light pollution mean you’ll have a high chance of seeing the lights around the Aurora Sky Station. It’s a bucket-list tick for 2020!
If you’re traveling via Stockholm, don’t miss the impressive Fotografiska, featuring world-class photographic art as well as rising Scandinavian stars. You have permission to skip IKEA, but do try Meatballs For The People. We recommend the Elk flavour, but they’re all good.
Top 3 free things to do in Stockholm
- Cool off with a free swim
Travelling in summer? Take the plunge into Stockholm’s enviably clean waters. The family-friendly beach at Smedsuddsbadet on Kungsholmen island is a fun free hangout.
- Uncover art in the Metro
There’s 110 kilometres of sculptures, paintings and mosaics to discover in Stockholm’s sprawling subway system. Make it an adventure in the world’s longest art exhibition.
- Visit The Moderna Museet for free
See 20th-century artists like Marcel Duchamp, Louise Bourgeois, Salvador Dalí and Henri Matisse for free on Friday afternoons from 4–6pm.
8. Get cheesy in The Netherlands
Make a break for Holland in 2020, and keep the family happy and active. Not only do the Dutch cycle everywhere, making transport cheaper for the whole family, there’s year-round fun at this top travel destination.
While Amsterdam boasts the annual colourful Keukenhof gardens from March to April, ABTA named the whole of the Netherlands as one of its top travel recommendations. Try visiting the lesser-known cities like Delft, Haarlem and Utrecht.
For something different, take a canal cruise in The Hague instead of in Amsterdam. Many other cities in the Netherlands are packed with culture, great museums, and are basically smaller, non-touristy, marginally cheaper versions of Amsterdam.
Top 3 free things to do in the Netherlands
- Feed the goats in Amsterdamse Bos
A bleating marvelous activity for the kids! The baby goats at Goat Farm Ridammerhoeve are free to roam about, and love being petted. Grab a beer and some goat’s cheese and enjoy!
- Check out a free classical concert
Once a week, usually on Wednesdays, Amsterdam’s main classical music venue, Het Concertgebouw, puts on a free lunchtime performance. Watch the local prodigies at work.
- People-watch on Utrecht’s Oudegracht Canal
For the price of a drink or lunch, you can sit by a medieval canal and enjoy the atmosphere. The subterranean restaurants, shops and bars easily rival anything in Amsterdam.
Best cheap places to travel for solo travellers in 2020
9. Compose the perfect break in Vienna
Solo travellers will find lots to explore on foot in what was once the capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire. And in 2020, Beethoven will have his day (again) as Vienna celebrates the 250th anniversary of the great composer’s birth.
Into music? You should also get yourself to all three levels of the only preserved apartment in Vienna that Mozart lived in – Mozarthaus Vienna. Don’t miss a cuppa in a traditional coffee house after. The cakes are to die for, and in winter, nothing beats a stroll around the atmospheric markets by the town hall or Rathaus.
If you want to save money, the Vienna City Pass will get you into 60 Vienna attractions for free, plus skip the line access to Schönbrunn Zoo, the Museum of Natural History, Vienna’s Giant Ferris Wheel and more.
Top 3 free things to do in Vienna
- Chill out on Danube Island
Head to the Danube Island for sunbathing on wooden piers, people-watching and swimming, all for free! There’s even a climbing park. Arrive early to avoid the crowds.
- Watch some free opera
Why spend hundreds of euros on tickets to the opera in Vienna? You can watch a performance for free in the summer, right outside the opera house.
- Fill up on free food samples
Stroll through Vienna’s 16th-century flea and food market, Naschmarkt, and get a free lunch at the same time. Look for free samples of sausage, falafel, Austrian cheeses and more.
10. Go off-grid in the Haida Gwaii islands, Canada
The Haida Gwaii Islands might seem off the beaten track, but “the Canadian Galapagos” offers adventures in the wild you’ll remember forever. Located just off British Columbia’s northern coast, the islands are the ancestral home of Canada’s Haida First Nations people. These people are critical ambassadors when it comes to sustainable actions in the remote north of Canada.
If you’re travelling solo, why not join a new tour to integrate more harmoniously with the native residents and local wildlife? Just watch out for bears (gulp). Elsewhere in B.C., the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway links Whistler with Vancouver and is one of the world’s most beautiful destinations. Starting in Vancouver is a great option for solo travellers on a budget.
Top 3 free things to do in Vancouver
- Get some free art for your eyeballs
On Tuesday nights, entrance to the Vancouver Art Gallery is by donation only. Head on down for a rotating exhibit that changes regularly, and a wealth of awesome art.
- Watch the sunset from English Bay Beach
Walk along the Seawall to this popular West End beach, and try to time it so you catch the sunset. Pack a snack on the cheap, or dine in any of the cafes and restaurants by the beach.
- Get free entertainment and food at Granville Island
Granville Island is just a short boat or bus ride from Downtown Vancouver and is home to a great market with free food samples! There are also some pretty cool street performers.
11. Chase the music in Chicago
The Windy City might be blustery at the best of times, but for music fans, it might even be a better (and certainly more affordable) destination than New York or New Orleans.
Chicago is the proud home of one of the USA’s best music scenes. You’ll find jazz and blues clubs all over the city, and if you don’t feel like going alone to a gig or a concert, there’s no shortage of other people to go with you. Hop on a dating app and get your dance on!
Hangover permitting, Chicago’s street art is well worth a look, and so is the impressive architecture of the Pritzker Pavilion and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House. See it all on a river cruise, a more affordable (and fun) way to feel deluxe than a fancy dinner in a stationary restaurant!
Looking for a cheap place to travel in 2020 with some outdoor action? Lake Michigan offers peaceful walks through sand dunes, uncrowded national parks, dramatic cliffs, and stunning (if a little breezy) beaches.
Top 3 free things to do in Chicago
- Explore the art on the Riverwalk
Take a stroll along the award-winning Chicago Riverwalk and listen out for free music shows. There’s free art too along this 1.25-mile promenade.
- Get acquainted with the Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago’s first central public library hosts loads of free events all year round. Look out for music and dance, theater, films, lectures, art exhibitions and family events.
- Meet the animals at Lincoln Park Zoo
Founded in 1868, this is America’s oldest free public zoo, and the Lincoln Park Zoo is open year-round. Lush gardens, a birdhouse, an ape-house and more will have you there all day.
12. Sling it in Singapore
From the chilli crab to the Singapore Slings, there’s more than enough to sate a solo traveller’s appetite in Singapore. This modern country has just celebrated its bicentenary in 2019, which makes 2020 a great time for a holiday.
The recently refurbished Raffles and Barracks hotels in Sentosa make glam pit stops for cocktails and views, while the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Botanic Gardens are a peaceful respite from all the hustle and bustle. Night owl? See lions and other creatures of the night at the world’s first nocturnal zoo, and save money on the Singapore Night Safari.
Singapore is proud to be a green city, big on eco-friendly measures. There are some excellent walking trails through lush jungle, if you can handle the heat. If it all gets too much, settle in and enjoy the food. Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian… head to the hawker stalls for cheap and delicious food of all kinds in Singapore.
Top 3 free things to do in Singapore
- Check out the Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay
It costs extra to enter the OCBC Skyway and conservatories at this awe-inspiring horticultural super park, but it’s free to walk through the Supertree Grove.
- Back to school at the National University of Singapore Museum
The National University of Singapore Museum boasts a fascinating collection that’s free to enter for a historical journey with Chinese ceramics, paintings and sculptures.
- Explore the Southern Ridges
Spanning Mt. Faber, Telok Blangah, Kent Ridge and HortPark, the Southern Ridges is a top-notch walking trail through 9km of forest and canopy walks. Bring sunscreen!