Travelling the world and exploring new countries is a popular pastime – but with the cost of living rising, many of us are looking for cheap holiday destinations.

The good news is that there are many budget-friendly countries to discover that are both beautiful and fascinating. Whether you’re looking for a short flight or are hoping to travel to far-flung corners of the globe, here are 12 of the cheapest holiday destinations to visit in 2024.

And, if you’re ready to book a holiday, why not browse thousands of exciting holiday deals from our travel partners, suitable for a range of budgets?

1. Malta


Though it’s the 10th smallest country in the world, with its Mediterranean climate, sandy beaches, and historic cities, a holiday to Malta is sure to leave you with memories you’ll treasure forever. And, while prices still spike during the summer, it remains one of the cheapest holiday destinations in Europe.

With over 7,000 years of history, Malta’s intriguing cultural blend can be felt across the island. In Valletta, the capital, you can stroll along cobbled streets, visit fascinating museums, wonder at the lavish St John’s Co-Cathedral, and explore the historic waterfront. With so much to do here, it’s no wonder that Valletta was declared the Capital City of Culture in Europe in 2018!

While it can be pricey to stay in Valletta, other parts of the country are cheaper, including the nearby town of Floriana. Alternatively, you could stay on the neighbouring island of Gozo which tends to be more budget-friendly.

In Malta, history buffs can visit some of the world’s oldest free-standing temples at Ħaġar Qim and explore the original capital, Mdina. For those more interested in a beach break, with 300 days of sunshine a year, crystal clear waters, and white-sand, you’ll almost certainly have a great time.

Malta is known for pastizzi – cheap savoury pastries stuffed with ricotta or peas – which can make for a tasty way to save money on food. Public transport and taxis tend to be pretty inexpensive too.

To find out more, you might like to read our article; 10 places to visit and things to do in Malta and Gozo.

2. Albania


Albania may not currently be as well known as other European countries, but that’s sure to change. It boasts charming Ottoman towns, natural springs, and dazzling beaches, yet remains highly affordable and just a three-hour flight from the UK.

This Balkan nation has so many historical sites that you’d never be able to see everything in one trip. For example, there’s 158 castles here! Gjirokastra Castle sits within a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, with incredible views of the ‘City of Stone’ below, is one of the most popular to visit.

In the capital city, Tirana, you can learn about the country’s Communist history in former interrogation centres and prisons. There’s also plenty of art galleries to explore, as well as trendy cafes, bars, and restaurants. Plus, just 25km away, you can take the cable car up Mount Dajti and tuck into a tasty (and cheap!) spit-roast lamb lunch at the top.

Those with an adventurous streak can hike across the rugged Albanian Alps, go white-water rafting and mountain biking in Përmet, or camp alongside unspoiled beaches on the Albanian Riviera.

By eating at local markets, you’ll be able to save some pennies on food costs, all while sampling traditional Albanian cuisine, including qofte (meatballs), byrek (a savoury pie), and fërgesë (baked vegetables with cheese).

3. Italy


Italy is one of the most popular holiday destinations amongst Brits, and for good reason. It offers a perfect blend of stunning scenery, blissful beaches, absorbing culture, and, of course, mouth-watering food and drink.

And while it’s certainly not the cheapest holiday destination in terms of accommodation costs and spending when you’re there, flights from the UK tend to be fairly cheap, meaning that it remains a favoured choice throughout the year. Plus, many people find holiday deals when booking to help bring costs down.

Italy is so varied that no matter where you go, you’re sure to find something to enjoy. Foodies may like to head to Tuscany where you can sip on world-class wines and savour traditional cuisine in luscious vineyards, all while overlooking breathtaking landscapes.

If you’re more interested in learning about Italy’s history as the birthplace of the Roman Empire and Renaissance, why not head to cities like Rome, Venice, or Florence? You’ll be able to spend your days exploring museums, taking in ancient ruins, and being awed by grand palaces.

On the other hand, if you’d rather relax with a cool drink on the waterfront, a trip to the Italian Lakes in the north or the glorious island of Sicily in the south may be more up your street. Sicily in particular can be a more budget-friendly option, though, again, during the summer months expect prices to rise.

4. Portugal


With cheap flights from the UK, friendly locals, and balmy temperatures, Spain is a long-time favourite holiday destination – but it can be expensive. Instead, why not visit its neighbour, Portugal?

Considered one of the cheapest holiday destinations in Europe, Portugal offers everything from idyllic scenery and picture-perfect beaches to charming towns and delicious food (salted cod is the national dish).

Though the picturesque Algarve region is famously lovely, it’s not the cheapest part of the country – especially during the summer months. To find more affordable accommodation options and experience the striking coastline and dramatic mountains at a fraction of the cost, you might like to visit this region during the off-season (October to May).

Portugal has plenty of culture to discover too. You can visit notable monasteries, explore medieval castles, and stroll through the historic city of Évora (which enjoys UNESCO World Heritage Site status).

Porto makes a brilliant destination for a city break; it’s a treasure trove of baroque churches and interesting museums. Plus, it’s known for producing port, so there’ll be plenty of opportunities to sit back with a glass and watch the world go by. It doesn’t get too busy across the year either. Lisbon is another popular choice, though is slightly more expensive.

For further inspiration, check out our article; 8 towns and cities to visit in Portugal.

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5. Peru


If you’ve never been to Peru before, there’s a good chance it’ll be your new favourite country by the time you leave. 

Whether you’re into hiking, history, food, festivals, or adventure, Peru has something to offer everyone. Yet, despite its charm, beauty, and popularity with travellers, it remains one of the cheapest holiday destinations in South America.

Peru’s Inca period spanned 5,000 years, and you can spend months here visiting ancient ruins, rugged fortresses, and curious geoglyphs. But, this is a modern country too and exploring downtown Lima, with its cool bars and world-class restaurants, is a must. Peru is home some of the most delicious and innovative cuisines in Latin America, and you can dine like royalty here without breaking the bank.

However, many would argue that Peru’s most famous attraction is Machu Picchu, the lost Incan citadel that’s spectacularly sprawled over a tropical mountain forest. If you like hiking, you can follow the old Incan route that winds through valleys and over peaks. While Machu Picchu’s beauty will likely leave you speechless, it’s actually one of the country’s more modern attractions!

And if you like adventure, the fun doesn’t stop there. Home to the majestic Andes, lush rainforests, vast sand dunes, a crashing coastline, and enthralling wildlife – Peru has it all.

There’s an infinite number of adventures awaiting here, whether you want to feast on mouthwatering fusion food, zip-line through jungles, or surf over Pacific breaks.

6. Nepal


If you love hiking, adventure, and exploring the great outdoors, you might want to think about visiting Nepal.

Few places in the world are better for trekking, and while most of us aren’t planning to scale Everest, there are plenty of other hikes that wind through the Himalayas, including the Annapurnas and Langtang treks. These treks can be self-guided (saving you lots of money), and you’ll be able to admire the world’s tallest mountains along the way.

Nepal has much more to see than the mighty Himalayas, though. There’s plenty of culture here too – from golden temples to historic hill villages and Tibetan Buddhism. The cities of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur are also fascinating to explore.

Costs in Nepal are very low, whether it’s staying in a cosy mountain lodge, enjoying the delicious food of Thamel and Pokhara, or picking up hiking gear from the countless trekking shops.

Plus, if you like independent travel, Nepal might be your cheap holiday destination of choice. You can spend weeks wandering medieval squares, visiting backstreet shrines, hiking over mountains, trekking through jungles, and still barely scratch the surface of this mesmerising country.

The only problem is that it’ll be tricky to fit everything in. But the low prices will hopefully make it easier to come back!

7. Guatemala


Guatemala is one of the cheapest countries in all of Latin America, which is one reason why it’s so beloved by backpackers. However, there are many other reasons to fall in love with this enchanting country – and once you visit, its beauty, history, and culture will stay with you forever.

Tucked beneath Mexico, with the Pacific and Atlantic coasts on either side, Guatemala is dizzyingly beautiful. This is a place where you can hike up smoking volcanoes, swim in pristine highland lakes, and trek through jungles to find hidden Mayan temples. There’s plenty to see and do here, and money goes so far that you might want to cancel your return flight!

If you’re into history, you’re in the right place. Guatemala’s most famous attraction is Tikal, and these incredible pyramids – located amid the jungle – showcase the might of Central America’s greatest civilisation.

Guatemala is the land of the Maya and their culture is visible today – whether it’s the locals wearing traditional clothes or the countless archaeological sites dotted around. Spanish influence is everywhere too, and the colonial city of Antigua – with its colourful buildings, ornate churches, and pretty plazas – is a joy to explore.

But it’s the landscape that’s most impressive. From the volcano-circled Lake Atitlan to the deep turquoise pools of Semuc Champey, adventure and beauty abound. You can go trekking, swimming, rafting, caving, or just relax in a luxury jungle lodge for less than £20 a night. With so much on offer, Guatemala is sure not to disappoint.

8. Colombia


If you’re dreaming of a sun-soaked tropical holiday, you might think it’ll cost you a fortune – but not if you head to Colombia.

While the flights can be somewhat expensive, once you’re there, Columbia is one of the cheapest holiday destinations around. In fact, it’s one of the few countries backing onto the Caribbean Sea that you can easily travel around with a tight budget. Plus, it encapsulates everything that’s most magical about South America.

Thanks to its position on the equator, Colombia has it all in terms of landscape – and few countries can match its diversity. It’s home to vast Amazon rainforest, smouldering volcanoes, high-altitude lakes, tropical grasslands, breathtaking beaches – and, of course, the majestic Andes.

Then there are the cities, which are vibrant and bursting with life – nothing like what’s depicted in shows like Narcos (Colombia has moved on from the 80s!). Bogotá is the cosmopolitan capital, Medellin and Cali are more relaxed, and the beautiful colonial city of Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast, is a must-visit. Cheap food and accommodation can be easily found in all cities.

If you’re passionate about coffee, head to the Zona Cafetera – the coffee-growing region – to tour coffee farms and trek along stunning foothills. Tayrona National Park is another gorgeous spot and a great base for exploring the ruins of La Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City), which you can trek to.

Public transport is cheap too, so you can see as much as possible without breaking the bank.

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9. Slovenia


If you’d prefer a European break, why not head to Slovenia?

Whether you’re looking for a lazy beach holiday or an energetic adventure, Slovenia has it all. While this small country is just as dramatically beautiful as its neighbours Austria and Croatia, it’s significantly cheaper.

The most famous destination in Slovenia is Lake Bled, and if you’re more drawn to mountains and lakes than beaches, it’ll take your breath away. Surrounded by the jagged Julian Alps and dense pine forests, this blue-green lake offers all the beauty, history, and culture of other Mediterranean destinations, but at a fraction of the price.

Slovenia provides plenty of opportunities for adventure. There are countless places to go cycling, canyoning, rafting, caving, climbing, and skiing – often at very low prices. Also, with more than half of Slovenia blanketed by forest, it’s another fantastic location for hiking. You can trek to the top of Mount Triglav, up to the foothills of the Alps, or along gleaming turquoise rivers.

If you’d prefer to take it easy, you can do that too. Slovenia’s Adriatic coastline is dotted with sandy beaches and pretty resort towns, allowing you to enjoy a Mediterranean beach break that’ll rival Italy.

There’s also plenty to see if you’re into history and architecture – from the medieval town of Piran to the fortified village of Štanjel and charming Venetian harbour towns.

10. Montenegro


Montenegro is such a new country that many of us couldn’t point to it on a map. It only gained independence in 2006, but is fast becoming one of the trendiest European hotspots.

Thankfully, while Montenegro is rapidly rising in popularity, prices remain affordable – making it an excellent choice for a European summer break.

Montenegro may be small (less than 300km in length and just two-thirds of the size of Wales), but its landscape is incredibly varied. Inland, you can find glacial lakes, hulking mountains, mysterious forests, and historic walled towns. Then, along the coast, there are swathes of breathtaking beaches and lively coastal towns, where accommodation is plentiful and cheap.

In the summer, the coast can become crowded, especially in popular resort towns like Budva or Herceg Novi. So, if you’re planning a summer break, you might want to think about spending more time inland. There are gorgeous mountain lakes where you can swim and sunbathe to your heart’s content, which means you don’t need to be on the beach to enjoy a relaxing holiday here.

If you like plenty of adventure and activity on your holidays, heading inland is also your best bet. You can hike through Durmitor and Prokletije National Parks, which are home to rugged mountains, ancient forests, and wildlife (including brown bears, wolves, and lynxes!).

Food is very cheap in Montenegro too, particularly local dishes, so this is a great chance to try some hearty Balkan cuisine.

11. Ethiopia


Many people are unaware of just how diverse Africa is. This enormous continent is home to some of the most beautiful and captivating countries in the world.

Ethiopia is especially dazzling, boasting compelling history, spellbinding wildlife, and awe-inspiring landscapes. And, once you’ve bought your flight, it’s also very cheap.

Ethiopia’s landscape is far more varied than you might think. There are vast savannas, rocky canyons, gleaming lakes, and towering plateaus – and despite its lingering association with drought, it’s one of the wettest and most fertile African countries.

If you like hiking, you can trek up the soaring Simien and Bale mountains, or along the volcano-adorned Danakil Depression, which is the lowest place in Africa.

As the cultural meeting point of East Africa and Arabia, Ethiopia is also packed with culture and history – so much so that evidence suggests it was the starting point of all human history. The small town of Lalibela is known for its underground rock-cut churches that date back to the 12th century. Whether it’s the obelisks of ancient Aksum or the stone castles of Gondar, there’s much to see.

Wildlife lovers will be in their element here too. While Ethiopia isn’t a traditional safari destination, it’s home to some wonderful wildlife, including wolves, monkeys, baboons, parrots, and the rare black lion.

From its delicious, spicy food to its music, dancing, and fiery, independent spirit, Ethiopia is entirely unique.

12. Cambodia


South East Asia is known for being a pretty cheap part of the world, but Cambodia – along with its neighbour Laos – is one of the cheapest holiday destinations in the region.

Cambodia is like no other place in the world; it’s a country where old meets new, and where a sense of youthful optimism and positive thinking belies the country’s heartbreaking history.

If you’re into history, Cambodia is endlessly fascinating. The most famous attractions are the temples of Angkor Wat, where you can learn about the mighty Khmer Empire. There are 72 temples in Angkor Archaeological Park, which can take days to visit. Plus, a week’s pass only costs £56 (or £29 for a day) so you can go at your own pace.

Phnom Penh, the capital, is also a big draw. A rite of passage for most tourists is learning about Cambodia’s painful past and what its citizens endured during the ‘Reign of Terror’ in the 1970s – and the capital is definitely the place to do this. But today, thankfully, Phnom Penh is a vibrant and lively city, packed with exceptional (yet cheap) restaurants and an exciting arts scene.

Cambodia may not be as known for its beaches as Thailand, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some gorgeous ones! The southern islands boast miles of unspoiled beaches and idyllic coves, and if you’re after a tropical beach holiday on a budget, this is a great place to visit. The riverside town of Kampot is also a lovely place to unwind without spending a fortune (or anything close to it!).

To learn more about Cambodia and how to get the best out of it, you might like to have a read of our quick guide to the perfect Cambodia getaway.

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Final thoughts…

Travel is one of life’s greatest adventures. And while expensive resorts and luxury breaks might be off-limits if you’re on a budget, there are plenty of fabulous countries where enjoying a special holiday is much cheaper than you might think.

From the tropical shores of Colombia and Cambodia to countries closer to home, like Montenegro and Slovenia, these beautiful places won’t stretch your budget too much. And whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach holiday, mountain and lake retreat, cultural city break, or an action-packed adventure holiday, the countries featured here have a bit of everything.

To find out more about travelling cheaper, you might like to read our articles; How to travel on a shoestring budget and 14 of the most underrated countries to visit in 2024. And if you’re ready to book a holiday, why not browse this week’s top travel deals on Rest Less?

Have you visited any of these countries before? Or do you have your own suggestions for cheap holiday destinations? We’d love to hear about your travel experiences in the comments below!