The 15 Best Budget Destinations in Winter

by Christina Garofalo

The 15 Best Budget Destinations in Winter

by Christina Garofalo

When winter comes to town, it's easy to get down. Fortunately, major discounts on airfare and hotels make winter the perfect time to get away. From the slopes to the city, here's where to go. All flights and prices are from NYC.

When winter comes to town, it's easy to get down. Fortunately, major discounts on airfare and hotels make winter the perfect time to get away. From the slopes to the city, here's where to go. All flights and prices are from NYC.

15
london_istock-shansche2.jpg
1 of 15
London

With flights as low as $365 (plus steep discounts on some of the best hotels)winter in London offers great value. Catch the holiday spirit and go ice skating at Somerset House, watch New Year's Eve fireworks by the Thames, and stop by the Christmas markets in Hyde Park. And, a visit to London wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Tate Modern. Afterwards, catch a show at Shakespeare's Globe

With flights as low as $365 (plus steep discounts on some of the best hotels), winter in London offers great value. Catch the holiday spirit and go ice skating at Somerset House, watch New Year's Eve fireworks by the Thames, and stop by the Christmas markets in Hyde Park. And, a visit to London wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Tate Modern. Afterwards, catch a show at Shakespeare's Globe. 

chicago_istock-uwmadison.jpg
2 of 15
Chicago

Chicago’s bone-cutting winds dissuade visitors in winter. Score flights fas low as $100, along with amazing deals at luxury hotels. (We found rates at the St. Jane as low as $108 per night.) Take refuge at the Art Institute, ice skate at Millennium Park, and warm up after with a hot slice of deep-dish pizza. And, if you love architecture and design, check out our guide here.  

 

Chicago’s bone-cutting winds dissuade visitors in winter. Score flights as low as $100, along with amazing deals at luxury hotels. (We found rates at the St. Jane as low as $108 per night.) Take refuge at the Art Institute, ice skate at Millennium Park, and warm up after with a hot slice of deep-dish pizza. And, if you love architecture and design, check out our guide here.  

 

 

paris_istock-dennisvdw.jpg
3 of 15
Paris

Paris is winter magic. Dazzling lights line the Champs-Elysées, and the Eiffel Tower and Louvre are nearly empty. Sip café au lait in a café, go wine tasting; shop at indoor passages, and browse Shakespeare and Company bookstore — a favorite of Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. We found flights as low as $251, and rooms at the chic C.O.Q. hotel are available from $92 per night.

Paris is winter magic. Dazzling lights line the Champs-Elysées, and the Eiffel Tower and Louvre are nearly empty. Sip café au lait in a café, go wine tasting; shop at indoor passages, and browse Shakespeare and Company bookstore — a favorite of Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. We found flights as low as $251, and rooms at the chic C.O.Q. hotel are available from $92 per night.

keywest_istock-jonathanross.jpg
4 of 15
Key West

Key West in winter has plenty to tempt. Beyond the balmy weather, it’s home to North America's only coral barrier reef and snorkel-friendly shipwrecks, the Ernest Hemingway Home, and Mallory Square — where sunset celebrations transition to bars that buzz into the wee hours. Flights are available as low as $247, and score a room at The Perry West from $137 per night.

Key West in winter has plenty to tempt. Beyond the balmy weather, it’s home to North America's only coral barrier reef and snorkel-friendly shipwrecks, the Ernest Hemingway Home, and Mallory Square — where sunset celebrations transition to bars that buzz into the wee hours. Flights are available as low as $247, and score a room at The Perry West from $137 per night.

la_istock-melpomenem.jpg
5 of 15
Los Angeles

Seize the perfect weather and stroll the Walk of Fame or hike the Hollywood sign. Earlier sunsets mean more hours for star-gazing at Griffith Observatory, and, in late Januarymuseums are free for one day. Drive, top down, along Pacific Coast Highway to Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu — sipping cab over ocean views at Malibu Wines. Flights start at $197 and hotels, like Hollywood’s Mama Shelter, are available from $179 per night. 

Seize the perfect weather and stroll the Walk of Fame or hike the Hollywood sign. Earlier sunsets mean more hours for star-gazing at Griffith Observatory, and, in late January, museums are free for one day. Drive, top down, along Pacific Coast Highway to Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu — sipping cab over ocean views at Malibu Wines. Flights start at $197 and hotels, like Hollywood’s Mama Shelter, are available from $179 per night. 

cancun_istock-newnomads.jpg
6 of 15
Cancún

Early December is Cancún's sweet spot: Temps range from the mid-60s to mid-80s and flights start at $252. Rooms at the luxury JW Marriott Resort and Spa are available as low as $171 per night. In addition to beachfront resorts, Cancún is home to one of the world’s largest coral reefs and is just a few hours away from Chichén Itzá.

Early December is Cancún's sweet spot: Temps range from the mid-60s to mid-80s and flights start at $252. Rooms at the luxury JW Marriott Resort and Spa are available as low as $171 per night. In addition to beachfront resorts, Cancún is home to one of the world’s largest coral reefs and is just a few hours away from Chichén Itzá.

madrid_istock-shansche.jpg
7 of 15
Madrid

Warm up this winter over hot chocolate and churros in Madrid. You’ll see Picasso’s “Guernica” for free (select times) without fighting for space. Tabacalera, an old tobacco factory, exhibits free modern art. Grab a pastry on the ninth floor of El Corte Inglés for cozy views of the Gran Via. Flights are under $300, and rooms — like those at the convenient Room Mate Hotels — for as little as $90 per night.

Warm up this winter over hot chocolate and churros in Madrid. You’ll see Picasso’s “Guernica” for free (select times) without fighting for space. Tabacalera, an old tobacco factory, exhibits free modern art. Grab a pastry on the ninth floor of El Corte Inglés for cozy views of the Gran Via. Flights are under $300, and rooms — like those at the convenient Room Mate Hotels — for as little as $90 per night.

copenhagen_istock-klug-photo.jpg
8 of 15
Copenhagen

Winter makes this notoriously costly city affordable and charming. Explore the holiday markets and decorated boats along Nyhavn with Glogg (mulled wine) in hand. Ice-skating and several museums are free (try the Copenhagen Card for the rest). Go hygge at the historic Conditori La Glace bakery. You might even see the Northern lights. Flights from $347, and hotels like The Avenue have rooms available for $82 per night. 

Winter makes this notoriously costly city affordable and charming. Explore the holiday markets and decorated boats along Nyhavn with Glogg (mulled wine) in hand. Ice-skating and several museums are free (try the Copenhagen Card for the rest). Go hygge at the historic Conditori La Glace bakery. You might even see the Northern lights. Flights from $347, and hotels like The Avenue have rooms available for $82 per night. 

iceland_istock-patpongs.jpg
9 of 15
Iceland

Because many people aren’t keen on the idea of visiting Iceland in the winter, you’ll find fewer crowds and the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. To warm up, explore Iceland’s other natural wonder: hot springs. In addition to the Blue Lagoon, there are plenty of free ones. We found flights from $383 and hotels like the Reykjavík Lights start at $101 per night. 

Because many people aren’t keen on the idea of visiting Iceland in the winter, you’ll find fewer crowds and the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. To warm up, explore Iceland’s other natural wonder: hot springs. In addition to the Blue Lagoon, there are plenty of free ones. We found flights from $383 and hotels like the Reykjavík Lights start at $101 per night. 

costarica_istock-kevinwells.jpg
10 of 15
Costa Rica

Following the December rain, Costa Rica retains a lush landscape into the New Year. January is prime for wildlife — with baby sea turtle hatchlings, plus whale and bird watching. Flights start at $234, and there’s no shortage of cheap accommodations. Hotel Aranjuez (from $41 per night) and Dantica Cloud Forest Lodge (from $110 per night) both offer exceptional value. 

Following the December rain, Costa Rica retains a lush landscape into the New Year. January is prime for wildlife — with baby sea turtle hatchlings, plus whale and bird watching. Flights start at $234, and there’s no shortage of cheap accommodations. Hotel Aranjuez (from $41 per night) and Dantica Cloud Forest Lodge (from $110 per night) both offer exceptional value. 

ireland_istock-upthebanner.jpg
11 of 15
Ireland

Winter in Dublin is easy to love. Grab a pint and enjoy traditional Irish music at Ireland’s oldest pub. Tour the Jameson Distillery and Guinness Storehouse; the Kilmainham Gaol prison and medieval crypt at Christ Church Cathedral; and the Dublin Writers Museum. Beyond the city, see popular sights, like the Cliffs of Moher, sans crowds. Flights from $292 and hotels like The Dylan have rooms available for as low as $177 per night.

Winter in Dublin is easy to love. Grab a pint and enjoy traditional Irish music at Ireland’s oldest pub. Tour the Jameson Distillery and Guinness Storehouse; the Kilmainham Gaol prison and medieval crypt at Christ Church Cathedral; and the Dublin Writers Museum. Beyond the city, see popular sights, like the Cliffs of Moher, sans crowds. Flights from $292 and hotels like The Dylan have rooms available for as low as $177 per night.

puertorico_istock-dbvirago.jpg
12 of 15
Puerto Rico

From bioluminescent bays to historic charms, Puerto Rico offers a cultured island escape without your passport. The third weekend of Jan. is the San Sebastián Street Festival — a four-day Mardi Gras-style party in Old San Juan. Flights start at $150, and it’s not hard to find a place with nightly rates in the low $100s, like the San Juan Water and Beach Club Hotel.
 

From bioluminescent bays to historic charms, Puerto Rico offers a cultured island escape without your passport. The third weekend of Jan. is the San Sebastián Street Festival — a four-day Mardi Gras-style party in Old San Juan. Flights start at $150, and it’s not hard to find a place with nightly rates in the low $100s, like the San Juan Water and Beach Club Hotel.

colorado_istock-earthtrotterphotos.jpg
13 of 15
Colorado

You don’t have to empty your pockets in Aspen to take a Colorado ski trip. Nearby Leadville, home to Ski Cooper, offers excellent value with lift tickets for just $62 a day. At an altitude of 10,152 feet, the Victorian-era mining town and National Historic District is the highest incorporated city in the U.S. Flights start at $128, and hotels range from $100 to $150 per night.

You don’t have to empty your pockets in Aspen to take a Colorado ski trip. Nearby Leadville, home to Ski Cooper, offers excellent value with lift tickets for just $62 a day. At an altitude of 10,152 feet, the Victorian-era mining town and National Historic District is the highest incorporated city in the U.S. Flights start at $128, and hotels range from $100 to $150 per night.

nashville_istock-jonathanross.jpg
14 of 15
Nashville

Winter in Music City delights with daytime highs in the 50s and 60s. Find roundtrip flights as low as $157. Luxe hotels, like the Kimpton Aertson, has rates from $152 per night. See live music at the famed honky tonks or the Grand Ole Opry (beautifully decorated for the holidays). Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame; drink at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery; and for a blast of heat, try Nashville’s famous hot chicken.

Winter in Music City delights with daytime highs in the 50s and 60s. Find roundtrip flights as low as $157. Luxe hotels, like the Kimpton Aertson, has rates from $152 per night. See live music at the famed honky tonks or the Grand Ole Opry (beautifully decorated for the holidays). Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame; drink at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery; and for a blast of heat, try Nashville’s famous hot chicken.

amsterdam-istock-andreykrav.jpg
15 of 15
Amsterdam

It’s easy to avoid the cold in Amsterdam, between the Van Gogh MuseumRijksmuseumAnne Frank House, and even a museum dedicated to cheese. Grab a pint at Inʼt Aepjen, the city’s oldest bar, and feast on warm Stroopwafel and bitterballen (fried meatballs). And if the canals freeze over, do as the locals do — grab ice skates. Flights start at around $310, and rooms at the Generator from $40 per night. 

It’s easy to avoid the cold in Amsterdam, between the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House, and even a museum dedicated to cheese. Grab a pint at Inʼt Aepjen, the city’s oldest bar, and feast on warm Stroopwafel and bitterballen (fried meatballs). And if the canals freeze over, do as the locals do — grab ice skates. Flights start at around $310, and rooms at the Generator from $40 per night. 

Up next...

10 Best Caribbean Holiday Getaways

1920x1203_snowmanbeach_istock.jpg
Go Back
Find The Best Cruises
Find a cruise

Find the best deals!

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices