En español | The dollar has been strong against many currencies in countries around the world, allowing American visitors a nice savings on their vacations abroad. Though they aren't all bargain-basement cheap and you'll need to factor in airfare, these eight international destinations are now relatively affordable. And each offers unique pleasures — whether historic significance, cultural richness or natural beauty — for different kinds of travelers.
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While Plymouth, Massachusetts, celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing in 2020, Plymouth, England, will be marking the ship and its 102 passengers’ September 1620 departure for North America. The 15th-century port city on England's south coast, three hours by train from London, is hosting a year of anniversary festivities, including a Sept. 16 Mayflower Ceremony. Visit the Mayflower Museum (its entrance fee is less than $5 per person), and stay at Mayflower Guest House, where you can sample scones and local Devon clotted cream. Rates start at less than $85 a night, with a full English breakfast. Beyond Plymouth, Devon is a beautiful county to explore, with craggy seaside cliff walks, beautiful Dartmoor National Park and quaint villages. A website includes a guide to accessible spots in the city.
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The sun-kissed farming region in the heel of Italy's “boot” isn't yet overrun with American tourists, though Europeans have discovered its charms. Four hours by train from Rome, it offers lovely seaside villages and hill towns, as well as delicious, inexpensive local cuisine, including fresh burrata, focaccia and its signature orecchiette pasta, shaped like little ears, served with broccoli rabe. Explore Matera, a 2019 European Capital of Culture that's famous for its prehistoric caves, many turned into homes and churches. Swim in the Adriatic in the resort town of Otranto, and visit unique Alberobello, home to beehive-shaped trullo stone cottages. Charming under-$100 lodgings with breakfast abound. Keep in mind that Italy can be a difficult destination for people with mobility issues, with its uneven streets, steep stairways and centuries-old churches, but you can increasingly find accessible hotels.
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Mexico's capital is popular for more reasons than the dollar's strength against the peso. You can visit a wealth of museums, including Museo Frida Kahlo, where the artist once lived; Museo Nacional de Antropología, with pre-Columbian artifacts such as the Aztec Calendar; and Museo de Arte Popular, filled with folk art. Stay at the Hotel MX Roma for less than $75 a night, including breakfast, in the residential neighborhood Roma (made famous by 2018's award-winning movie of the same name), and eat cheaply and well at family-run restaurants. If you're up for a culinary adventure, splurge on a half-day, $100 Mexican Food 101 tasting tour from Eat Like a Local. Also helpful for your budget: Flights to Mexico City from many major U.S. cities are far more affordable than trips to Europe — often under $400 round-trip.
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This pretty port city on the Baltic Sea, about 260 miles north of Warsaw (once Danzig, East Germany), is a hidden gem, at least when it comes to tourists from the U.S. This is where Lech Walesa started the anti-Communist Solidarity trade union movement 40 years ago; Visitors can learn the story at the city's European Solidarity Centre. You can also pay tribute to the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II at the absorbing Museum of the Second World War, which includes exhibits on the Nazi occupation of Poland. Admission is free on Tuesdays. Stroll cobblestone streets and shop (or just window-shop) in the Old Town — amber jewelry is a coveted souvenir — and try the local craft beer. Many comfortable hotels cost less than $60 a night. Fly directly to Gdansk through Warsaw, Amsterdam, Munich, Berlin or Frankfurt; the airport is only about a 10-minute drive from the city.
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Witnessing the dramatic beauty of western Canada's snow-capped mountain region, in and around national parks like Jasper and Banff, makes for a dream vacation. The U.S. dollar has been getting a nice exchange rate (about $1.32 Canadian) and, especially if you visit in the less-crowded spring or fall, you can find hotel rooms for $100 (U.S.) a night or less, including at the Mount Royal Hotel in Banff. Wallet-watchers also can save by choosing an all-inclusive (transport, activities, lodging, meals) guided tour through sites such as AffordableTours.com, which recently offered a four-day “Rockies Summer Classic” tour from Vancouver for $599, plus tax. You can also fly into Calgary or Edmonton international airports, depending on the area of the Rockies you plan to explore. Note that even if you aren't a hiker or have mobility issues, you'll be able to revel in the region's beauty from the roadways. (The Icefields Parkway is a must.)
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São Miguel Island, the Azores
The largest isle in this Atlantic archipelago that's governed by Portugal draws frugal travelers who love the outdoors. Known as the “Green Island,” and easily accessible from the U.S. (fly into Ponta Delgada, less than five hours nonstop from Boston), it's full of natural wonders, beautiful walking trails and hot springs. Visit Lagoa do Fogo, a volcanic crater lake, or watch spouting whales and leaping dolphins. Dinner for two, including fresh seafood, local cheese and wine, can set you back less than $40, and accommodations are just as affordable: The four-star Hotel Marina Atlântico, with an indoor pool, has rates starting at less than $60 a night. Your best times to visit are from April through November; summer is the busiest season.
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On Feb. 6, this Caribbean island nation will mark what would be the 75th birthday of global reggae legend Bob Marley. Tour Marley's Kingston home, now a museum that includes original furnishings, exhibits, memorabilia and a mini documentary on his life. Jamaica is also known for its beautiful waterfalls and beaches, and all-inclusive beach resorts (many of them wheelchair accessible), where you can sleep, eat, snack, drink and dance for less than $1,700 a week, for two. The cliffside resort Catcha Falling Star in Negril, for example, has cottages for $95 a night in the off-peak late-spring and summer seasons. For deeper savings, look for budget all-inclusive packages for travel to Jamaica through companies such as Apple Vacations and Funjet Vacations, and avoid the busiest months of January through March (unless you're timing your trip to Marley's birthday). You'll fly into either Kingston or Montego Bay.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on November 8, 2019. It has been updated in light of the Coronavirus outbreak.
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