Five best-value destinations
Where to go to get the biggest bang for your buck in the year ahead
1. LANZAROTE, SPAIN
Independent travellers are increasingly heading to Lanzarote. Affordable lodgings, food and car rental are all here. But Lanzarote also revels in its uniqueness. The moon-like scenery of Parque Nacional de Timanfaya, unspoilt beaches of Órzola and the wineries of La Geria reward those who come here for more than a traditional seaside break.
Kraków may grab the crowds, but you can explore here for less than in Prague or Berlin. Beyond it are many of Europe’s lesser-known highlights. In the north, explore Gdansk’s old town and haunting coastal scenery. Elsewhere, Lublin, Torun and Tarnów’s historical beauty can form the basis of a wonderful week.
3. ESSAOUIRA, MOROCCO
Essaouira can now be reached direct by lowcost flights from the UK and France. The walled city’s narrow alleyways, hammams and medina pile on the sensory delight; the breeze allows for superb wind and kitesurfing; and the riads are good-value. Above all, the food is delicious even on a low budget, especially the just-caught seafood.
4. JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, USA
Jax, as locals call it, has beaches, surfing, art and live music. There are the St Johns River, the Intracoastal Waterway and America’s largest urban park system to explore. Barbecue joints and beach cafés offer good-value dining, while a pint of craft beer costs as little as £2. Jax also has the lowest hotel rates in all of Florida.
5. HUNAN, CHINA
Highlights of Hunan include Zhangjiajie, a sandstone canyon with 250 bizarre peaks and the world’s longest glass bridge; Fenghuang, a historic town that hangs over the Tuo River; and Mao Zedong’s home town of Changsha. Costs are low: budget meals and accommodation are in the sub-£10 range, and slap-up meals and flashy digs just double that.