Travel website Travelzoo has released its annual list of the best destinations for bargain-hunting vacationers. The news is good for those who are considering international travel in 2016. Four of the top five ‘wow deal destinations‘ for next year are outside of the United States.
“There are two common trends when it comes to our deal destinations — increased inventory and the strong dollar,” Gabe Saglie, senior editor for Travelzoo, said. Some hot spots, like New York and Puerto Vallarta, have more hotel rooms than travelers to fill them. Meanwhile, the strong dollar makes it more affordable for Americans to travel abroad. It also means that there will be fewer international tourists at certain domestic destinations, which translates into cheaper vacations for U.S. travelers.
Here are Travelzoo’s top five destinations for 2016, along with our suggestions about when to go and what to do when you get there.
1. New York
“As Britons, Canadians, and Brazilians pull back on visiting the Big Apple, Americans can reap the benefits with steep discounts on flights, hotels and attractions,” Saglie said. Though the city is still expensive compared to many U.S. destinations, hotels are considerably cheaper than they were just a few years ago. You’ll find the best deals from January through March of 2016.
When to go and what to do: The weather will likely be chilly, but you should be able to score a great deal on a hotel if you visit NYC in February, when the average room rate is just $109, according to Travelzoo. Visitors can check out events like the Lunar New Year Parade and Festival in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood on February 14, 2016. Delay your visit until early March and you can check out The Armory Show, an international art fair; this year the focus will be on art from Africa and the African diaspora.
The U.S. loosened travel restrictions to Cuba early in 2015, which has spurred interest in traveling to the once largely off-limits island nation. Forty-six percent of millennials surveyed by Switchfly earlier this year said they were interested in visiting Cuba. Prices for package deals have dropped by 47% since last year, according to Travelzoo. Keep in mind, though, that if you’re a U.S. citizen, travel just for tourism is still forbidden. Your visit needs to fall into one of 12 permitted categories, including educational trips.
When to go and what to do: Visit Cuba during April and you may be able to find a better deal on accommodations while avoiding both big crowds and the hurricane season, Lonely Planet advises. Head to Santiago de Cuba, the country’s second-largest city to take in San Pedro de la Roca Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site; built in the 17th century, it’s the best-preserved example of a Spanish-American military fortress. Or, visit the dozen colonial churches in the area, which were recently named one of the world’s most endangered places by the World Monuments Fund.
3. Puerto Vallarta
People in search of a luxurious vacation without the high price tag should look to Puerto Vallarta. The resort area is scrambling to attract tourists since the State Department issued a travel warning for the region earlier in 2015. Resorts are usually fairly safe, area tourism officials say, though venturing off the beaten path may be risky. A favorable exchange rate also makes Mexico a bargain for U.S. travelers.
When to go and what to do: Head to Puerto Vallarta in May or June, when tourist crowds thin out and there are good hotel deals to be found, says U.S. News & World Report. Low-season hotel rates are down 18% from 2013, according to Travelzoo. Once there, book a day trip to the scenic Marietas Islands for snorkeling, kayaking, and other outdoor activities in the protected marine reserve.
A Canadian vacation should cost about 25% less this year because of the strong U.S. dollar, says Travelzoo. A four-star hotel in Toronto averages just $89 a night during the winter months, provided you can stand the cold. Travel in the summer and you’ll spend about $150 per night.
When to go and what to do: Film buffs will want to head to Canada’s largest city in September for the Toronto International Film Festival, where you can see the hottest new movies before they’re released in theaters (and probably spot a few celebrities while you’re there). More than 300 films from over 60 countries are shown each year, according to festival organizers.
Norway has a reputation as an expensive country for tourists, but American travelers should find the Land of Fjords more affordable in 2016. The U.S. dollar is at a 10-year high against the Norweigan krone and budget-friendly Norweigan Air Shuttle has launched direct service to Oslo from seven U.S. cities. Flights from JFK can be found for as little as $150 each way.
When to go and what to do: The days will be short and the night will be long, but visiting Norway in November or December offers an amazing opportunity to see the Northern Lights. For the best view of this atmospheric phenomenon, head to the Svalbard Islands in the Arctic Ocean. If that’s a little too remote, the North Cape is another prime viewing spot. Book a room at Sorrisniva, an igloo hotel near Alta, to complete the experience.
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