Money, Travel

Best in Travel 2019 – International Destinations

Planning a trip, wondering where to go and how to get there?

Start here and See how we got the data for crunching more than 43,000 data points to find the 10 places around the world that offer the most value for your money. The prices are for a weeklong vacation. It’s time to start plotting your next place to go.

1. Meknes, Morocco

Traditional tagine pots are sold in the Meknes souks, ancient mosaics decorate the nearby ruins of Volubilis.Jeronimo Alba—Alamy

Average airfare: $890
Average hotel night: $66
Cost of a week for two: $2,639

Meknes may not have the name recognition of Casablanca or the luxury resorts of Marrakech, but that’s all the more reason to visit the beautiful and historic former capital of Morocco. “Sometimes overshadowed by other destinations in Morocco, Meknes feels more laid-back, in a good way,” says Evan Godt, managing editor at Lonely Planet, which also named the city one of the top places to visit in 2019. And the time to go is now: Kayak saw flight prices drop 42% year over year, and hotel prices decreased too, with a 16% year-over-year drop.

The nearest airport is in Fez, but Meknes is only an hour’s drive away, and rich history is everywhere you turn. Sultan Moulay Ismail, considered one of Morocco’s most important rulers, made Meknes the capital in the 17th century and established monuments like the Bab El Mansour, a mosaic-tiled gateway consisting of two towering white Corinthian marble columns, and the outdoor plaza Place el Hedim, still the city’s bustling main square and marketplace. Travelers can visit Ismail’s namesake mausoleum with its tiled walls and courtyards, which recently emerged from a two-year, top-to-toe restoration. In Meknes, a meal at mid-range restaurants costs $16 for two, and you can grab a cheap meal for nearly $3, according to Numbeo.

For a day trip, head to the nearby excavated ancient Roman city of Volubilis, where mansions with intricate mosaics can still be seen today. Taking a taxi will cost around $9 to $12, according to Rome2Rio.

Snorkelers and divers can spot numerous sea creatures in Cozumel’s waters. Gerard Soury—Getty Images

2. Cozumel, Mexico

Average airfare: $401
Average hotel night: $212
Cost of a week for two: $2,593

Welcome to a beach lover’s paradise. Located off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, this island boasts perfect white shores, but its history, culture, and affordability make Cozumel an even more worthwhile destination.

Hotel prices in Cozumel are generally all-inclusive and were an average $212 a night as of 2018 — that’s down 12% from 2017, according to Kayak. With the average taxi ride in Mexico costing less than a dollar per mile, traveling into the city from a nearby resort adds up to about $5 U.S., according to Numbeo. As of Jan. 1 of this year, one dollar was worth about 19.63 Mexican pesos.

Of course, it would be a waste to go to Cozumel and not enjoy the water and related activities. “Indulge in some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling here, including the gigantic Santa Rosa Wall,” suggests Lonely Planet’s Evan Godt. The famous coral reef wall filled with sponges and sea life is popular with deep-sea divers.

Travelers seeking different adventures can head to beach clubs, boat tours, and scenic flights overlooking the island, which also has a quaint downtown area. Visitors can tour ancient Mayan ruins, like San Gervasio, a shrine to the fertility goddess Ixchel (passes available for $9.50). Less crowded than the neighboring Riviera Maya, Cozumel is accessible via a direct flight from the U.S., a short flight from Cancún, or a 45-minute passenger ferry service from Playa del Carmen (around $10). 

3. Havana, Cuba

Average airfare:$352
Average hotel night: $189
Cost of a week for two: $2,382

If Havana recently fell off your travel radar, now is the time to reconsider. Not only is it still possible to travel from the U.S. to Cuba, but it’s also one of the most wallet-friendly trips you can take. The price of a hotel room in Havana dropped 31% between 2017 and 2018, according to Kayak, likely owing to a decrease in U.S. tourism in 2018.

Choose to go this year, and you will find the same beautiful city—cobblestone streets, colorful facades, and art-emblazoned walls included—that stateside visitors flocked to before the U.S. government announced tighter restrictions in 2017.

Trips for humanitarian projects, educational activities, or support for the Cuban people are among 12 categories of travel permitted for visitors from the U.S. Those interested in planning a trip should visit travel.state.gov for more information.

Once there, when you’re not listening to live music in Old Havana or taking in the sights at one of nearly 80 museums, there are nearly 850 restaurants to try, according to TripAdvisor.

Lively markets draw crowds in Montreal. Stéphan Poulin—Courtesy of Tourisme Montréal

4. Montreal, Canada

Average airfare: $314
Average hotel night: $217
Cost of a week for two: $2,962

In Montreal, you’ll find Gothic-style architecture and rich culinary and cultural diversity.

Hotel prices have dropped 15% from 2017 to 2018, according to Kayak. Once you’re settled in, stop by the city’s historic churches and Catholic basilicas, including the Basilique Notre-Dame, one of Canada’s most notable landmarks (and the site of Céline Dion’s 1994 wedding). Or head to Saint Patrick’s Basilica, the oldest 19th-century church in Montreal, which served as a safe house for Irish immigrants escaping famine in 1847.

Souvenir shopping? Get ready to head indoors—and underground. Under the city’s downtown sits the RÉSO, also known as the Underground City: a multilevel network of tunnels and stairways that connect metro stations, shopping malls, hotels, and restaurants. Originally built as a refuge from the frigid winter, the area is now decorated with modern art and atriums.

Indulging in classic French fare is a must; there are over 5,000 restaurants in the city, according to Numbeo. Try the upscale Chez Lévêque or the more casual restaurant Plein Sud. But for an authentic taste of Montreal, grab a sesame bagel at St-Viateur Bagel.

Ships sail the Qinhuai River in Nanjing. Xia Yuan—Getty Images

5. Nanjing, China

Average airfare: $867
Average hotel night: $103
Cost of a week for two: $2,817

Nanjing sits between Shanghai and Beijing on the Yangtze River, and its location makes it a quick stop-by for many. Don’t be fooled: Nanjing is an excellent destination, at a more affordable price. The cost to fly to Nanjing is down almost 6% as of 2018, according to Kayak, and you can get there for under $900. Once you arrive, Numbeo data shows the dollar can get you fairly far—a three-course meal at a decent restaurant will run you about $22. A mile in a taxi—or a roundtrip ticket on public transportation—is less than a U.S. dollar.

There are plenty of landmarks and monuments to visit, including the Nanjing Gate of China, the Ming Palace ruins, and the first Ming emperor’s tomb (part of a Unesco World Heritage site). The Nanjing Museum and the Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre provide a more complete historical picture.

Locals and tourists can be found dining and buying goods near the Qinhuai River, and at night, a river cruise allows visitors to take in sights—and a good meal—under lanterns.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve gives visitors an up-close view of the region’s vast biodiversity. Paul McKenzie—Ascent Xmedia/Getty Images

6. Monteverde, Costa Rica

Average airfare: $498
Average hotel night: $147
Cost of a week for two: $2,636

Seeking an active vacation? Head to Costa Rica’s natural playground. Monteverde sits 4,662 feet above sea level, and locals share the land with 100 types of mammals, 400 varieties of birds, and 2,500 plant species, according to the city’s tourism board. Hiking trails in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve navigate through magnolias, bamboo, orchids, and waterfalls.

Among the less expensive international places on our list to travel to, the combined price of the average flight and hotel room in Monteverde is cheaper than 90% of the destinations we analyzed around the world. The value of the U.S. dollar increased 6% between 2017 and 2018. Head to Monteverde Cheese Factory for homemade ice cream, or to Tree House for authentic Costa Rican coffee.

The Festival of the Flowers takes place each August in Medellín.Dan Herrick—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

7. Medellín, Colombia

Average airfare: $593
Average hotel night: $94
Cost of a week for two: $2,208

The nickname “City of Eternal Spring” says it all: This valley locale has perfect year-round weather complemented by green mountainous views, lively nightlife, and excellent public transportation. Medellín is the cheapest international destination on our list (and much safer today than it was in previous decades). For less than $100 a night, you can get a luxurious apartment in El Poblado, the most expensive neighborhood in the city. But it would be best to go soon—airfare to Medellín is slowly rising as more visitors descend.

The excavated site of Knossos is one of Crete’s most popular attractions.phillus—Shutterstock

8. Crete, Greece

Average airfare: $1,106
Average hotel night: $202
Cost of a week for two: $4301

Now’s the time to book your trip to Crete: Flight prices dropped 9% from 2017 to 2018, and hotel and Airbnb prices dipped as well.

Greece’s largest island is divided into four main regions that offer unique escapes. The historic Venetian town Chania has buildings like the Kucuk Hasan Pasha Mosque built by the Ottoman Turks in 1646. In Chania, you’ll also find Balos Beach and Lagoon, known for its clear turquoise waters. Heraklion, Crete’s largest and most popular area, contains one of the island’s famous landmarks: the ancient Minoan palace Knossos. Crete’s other two regions, Rethymno and Lasithi, contain traditional villages and beaches. And on Lasithi, you’ll find Vai beach and its natural palm forest, the largest in Europe.

A carriage passes by the historic Old Town Square in Prague. Rostislav Glinsky—Shutterstock

9. Prague, Czech Republic

Average airfare:$928
Average hotel night: $164
Cost of a week for two: $3,542

With centuries-old castles, lively cobblestone squares lined with iconic Gothic architecture, and hundreds of museums, Prague is a favorite European vacation. Luckily for budget-conscious U.S. travelers, it’s also one of the region’s best values.

A trip to the historic capital, which was named a Unesco World Heritage site in 1992, has become even more affordable: The average flight price decreased 3% between 2017 and 2018, according to Kayak, while the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar is up 5% from the prior year. What you do with those savings once you’re in Prague is up to you. The City of 100 Spires has 200 outdoor activities and more than 600 tours for visitors, according to TripAdvisor—and make sure you work up an appetite, since Prague is home to nearly 5,000 restaurants.

10. Tainan, Taiwan

Average airfare:$1,060
Average hotel night: $106
Cost of a week for two: $3,271

While Taipei may get more attention, Taiwan’s former capital is well worth visiting. Travelers can take in history at numerous museums, landmarks, or centuries-old buildings—like the Tainan Confucius Temple and Fort Zeelandia, built in 1634 by the Dutch—or indulge at the Tainan Flower Night Market and snack on oyster omelets and tofu fries. Flights are on the expensive end, but affordable hotel costs—down nearly 25% from 2017, according to Kayak—and a strong exchange rate make the trip relatively easy on the wallet.