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World’s Best Budget Places for 2016

  • Yaacov Dagan/Alamy

    With the dollar muscular against a multitude of currencies, now’s the time to stretch your travel funds on dream vacations. Here are some top spots.

     

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  • All Canada Photos/Alamy

    Toronto

    The U.S. dollar has been thrashing Canada’s currency, so pack your passport and cross the border. The revitalized waterfront, including Queens Quay and 10-acre Harbourfront Centre, is a draw. And the city’s menu of value ethnic restaurants makes it even more appetizing. Visit in July for Summerlicious, when more than 200 eateries slash prices. If Air Canada continues its Toronto Stopover Program, you could fly in for no extra cost on your way to a European or Asian destination. A new train gets you downtown in 25 minutes.

     

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  • Leanna Rathkelly/Getty Images

    Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

    Picture-postcard perfect, this beach destination gives an incredible bang for the buck. Start with more than 30 miles of powdery white sand. Add dozens of resorts boasting suite-style accommodations and swim-up bars. Rates (which start at less than $100 a person a night) include all meals, room service, organized activities and all the cocktails you care to drink. You’ll find discounted packages with airfare, some for four nights at less than $900 a person for a double. Rates fall in summer in this bargain vacation haven.

     

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  • Getty Images

    The Algarve, Portugal

    This province at the country’s southern tip is a mecca for sun-worshipping, wallet-watching Europeans; the dollar continues to do well here, too. White-blossomed almond trees dot the landscape, and golf courses abound. If you steer clear of the high-rise condo areas, you’ll find blissfully secluded harbors and inviting stretches of sand. Fly to Faro or drive from Lisbon to find doubles under $60 a night in the lively beach town of Lagos or quieter Sagres.

     

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    San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

    Rent a luxury pastel-colored home with rooftop deck and housekeeper who’ll fix breakfast — for $1,500 or less per week (bring friends to split the tab). You’ll join thousands of fellow Americans who’ve said  to this inland city’s well-preserved, magnificent colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, museums, affordable restaurants, Mexican crafts and English-speaking events. Don’t be surprised if you’re invited to an expat rooftop cocktail party.

     

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    Explore Travel with our newsletter filled with tips and ideas to plan the ultimate getaway.
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  • Wolfgang Kaehler/Getty Images

    Reykjavik, Iceland

    Iceland doesn’t have a reputation for being inexpensive. But it can now wow the frugal. The country’s budget WOW Air is expanding to airports in Los Angeles and San Franciscothis year and offers great fares to Iceland — for instance, a $650 round trip for two from Boston in April. So go and luxuriate in the soothing, warm mineral waters of the Blue Lagoon, or stand before the magnificent Gulfoss waterfall. A five-day bus outing to various attractions with On the Go Tours costs about $200 a person daily, including meals and lodging. Cozy Reykjavik guesthouses that serve breakfast can cost less than $70 a night. For best prices, be flexible about dates, and avoid peak summer season.

     

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  • David Sacks/Getty Images

    A Mini Caribbean Cruise

    Experience the islands on budget-friendly sailings to ports such as Nassau and Freeport, Bahamas; Grand Cayman Island; Falmouth, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico; and private islands owned by some cruise lines. Embark in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana or Texas. Rates run from less than $300 a person for a two-night cruise, including tax and fees, to under $400 for five nights. It’s a steal when you consider all meals, room service, shows and other activities are included. Perks such as free drinks and spa credits may be offered. Carnival, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean are among lines that offer short cruises. CheapCruises.com sells them. Ask about last-minute specials, airfare packages and senior discounts.

     

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  • Emad Aljumah/Getty Images

    Barcelona, Spain

    Discover a city that’s a favorite with across-the-pond vacation-goers — and still more affordable than other European cities. Sightseeing options are endless; day trips will take you to such places as the Benedictine abbey on Montserrat or Salvador Dali’s former home in Figueres.

     

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  • Radius Images/Alamy

    Hanoi, Vietnam

    Less crowded and more walkable than Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Hanoi has attractive hotels with rooms that cost less then $50 a night. The narrow streets of the Old Quarter are named for the products you’ll find along them: shoes, silver, silk and much more. A few dollars will buy you a big bowl of steaming, fragrant chicken or beef soup with rice noodles called pho at non-touristy eateries. Don’t miss the mausoleum that contains the embalmed corpse of Ho Cho Minh or the “Hanoi Hilton” Hoa Lo prison where John McCain spent two years in solitary confinement. As for getting there, best to bank frequent-flier miles. But fares lower than $800 for a round trip are available if you’re flexible on dates.

     

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  • Jane Sweeney/Getty Images

    Granada, Nicaragua

    This colonial Spanish capital is charming, and the country offers the same untouched rain forest and volcanic terrain as in neighboring Costa Rica — but at much lower prices. The quiet beaches beckon surfers from around the world, new hotels are going up and the country’s first five-star resort is still surprisingly affordable.

     

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  • Getty Images

    Sydney

    Don’t snicker, mate. Yes, you may have to fly 20-plus hours, but airfares of $1,000 from the West Coast and a few hundred more from the East are comparable to tickets to Europe. And the Australian dollar has grown weaker than the American, so say g’day to that pint of lager and shrimp on the barbie. Sydney has budget eateries and centrally located hotels for less than $100 a night. A walk through the lush Royal Botanic Garden and a photo op outside the snow-white, gull-winged opera house will cost you nothing.

     

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