Last Updated on October 9, 2023
Planning a romantic summer trip on a budget and wondering where to go? From the turquoise water of the Caribbean to the stunning landscapes of the United States to the historic cities of Latin America, you can visit them all without breaking the bank!
Discover fun summer destinations close to you – so you save on transportation – featuring budget-friendly accommodation options and lots of free activities, and international options to which you can find cheap flights from the US and once there enjoy an advantageous exchange rate.
Whether you’re looking for a beach getaway, an outdoor adventure, or a city break, you’ll find below the best cheap summer vacations for couples for a romantic getaway you won’t forget!
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Cheap Summer Vacations for Couples in the US
Lopez Island, Washington
By Lynli Roman from WanderBig
Sparsely populated and mostly overlooked by PNW tourists, Lopez Island is an affordable alternative to more popular islands in the San Juan archipelago. Visiting Lopez Island during summer is perfect for couples looking for an affordable, laid-back escape.
One of the best things about Lopez Island is its under-commercialization. Rather than a tourist strip and chain restaurants, you’ll find local eateries and far more parks than tourist shops. In fact, most of this 15 mi long and 8-mile-wide island is forest or farmland. A few locally owned guesthouses and one hotel offer lodging for travelers who prefer to forgo the island’s incredible campgrounds.
Some of the free things to do on Lopez include flying a kite in the vast openness of Spencer Spit State Park, tidepool exploring at Shark Reef Sanctuary, or hiking to Iceberg Point. During your visit, be sure to ask locals about recent whale sightings. Lopez Island is one of the best ways to whale watch without the ethical and environmental problems of guided whale-watching tours. With local guidance- it’s possible to spot whales, bald eagles, and other sea life from the island’s rocky cliffs!
For extreme budget travelers, cozy up for a romantic night camping in one of the affordable public campgrounds and swap out your vehicle for a bike. Lopez Island’s mostly flat terrain and bike-friendly trails make it easily biked. You can rent a bike at Lopez Island Bicycle Works or bring your own.
San Diego, California
By Nausheen from Globe Glazers
If you’re looking for an affordable summer vacation destination for couples, look no further than San Diego! This sunny city offers plenty of free activities and attractions that are sure to keep any couple entertained.
From breathtaking sunsets at Sunset Cliffs to romantic strolls through Balboa Park, there is something in San Diego for every type of couple.
At Sunset Cliffs, you can watch the sun dip below the horizon in a magnificent display of color right before your eyes. This romantic spot is perfect for couples who want to spend some quality time with each other and enjoy nature’s beauty. Plus, it’s totally free.
Another great (and free) destination for couples is Balboa Park. This 1,200-acre park is home to gorgeous architecture, museums, theaters, and walking paths that make for a great afternoon of exploration. Take the time to walk around and take in the sights.
Finally, no trip to San Diego would be complete without a visit to the beach. Spend a day walking along the boardwalk or simply enjoy some time in the sand and surf. It’s the perfect way to relax together and make memories that will last a lifetime – all without breaking the bank.
San Diego is an amazing destination for couples looking to explore, relax, and spend some quality time together this summer on a budget. And accommodations are affordable, too. Consider a stay at Hotel Point Loma, only a few miles’ drive from Ocean Beach and highly rated by couples.
Las Vegas, Nevada
By Erin from Pina Travels
Las Vegas, Nevada is a cheap summer destination for couples as flights to this city from other parts of the US often go on sale, summer weather is hot, so prices drop, and there are plenty of budget hotels to choose from. For example, Circa Resort and Casino averages 100 USD per night.
There are plenty of fun activities for couples to do in Vegas, even on a budget. Start with doing some casino hopping on the Las Vegas strip. If you skip the gambling, exploring the famous themed casinos of this epic city is totally free!
A visit to Las Vegas isn’t complete without stopping by the famous Las Vegas sign. Head to the end of the strip to get a photo with this iconic sign. After exploring the Vegas strip, head to Fremont Street, where you’ll find the “Fremont Experience.” This pedestrian mall has a canopy of lights, and it hosts daily street performances and free concerts.
For a romantic experience, head to the Bellagio Hotel together to watch the famous Bellagio Fountain show. The fountains are set on Bellagio’s 8.5-acre artificial lake. They have over 1,200 fountains that can shoot water 460 feet into the air! Shows are choreographed to a wide variety of music, and this free outdoor show starts every 15-30 minutes, every day.
By Lucy and Dan from Thoroughly Travel
Nestled in the center of the east coast of the Island of Hawaii, Hilo is a charming town with a laid-back vibe. Boasting volcanic beaches, lush rainforests, and secluded waterfalls, Hilo is one of the best budget-friendly destinations in Hawaii.
Thanks to its tropical climate and slow-paced way of life, Hilo is a cheaper alternative to the west coast of Big Island, which is littered with luxury resorts.
Most of the best things to do in Hilo are free, including relaxing at the many beach parks, seeing turtles, and visiting the iconic Rainbow Falls, while Akaka State Falls Park is only $5.
Featuring independent galleries and local restaurants, the town itself has plenty to see too. Liliuokalani Park and Gardens is a popular spot for relaxing in the summer sunshine, while couples can spend some quality time together at one of Hilo’s numerous boutique spas.
Hilo is easily accessible from mainland USA with Hawaiian Airlines offering flights to Hilo Airport that often cost less than $100. Hiring a car is easy and very affordable, while those on a tighter budget can get around the island via the Hele-On bus.
By Faith from 3 Tickets Please
For the outdoor-loving couple, Boise is a wonderful cheap summer vacation spot. And with so many of the best things to do involving the beautiful and free outdoors, the city is also great on the budget.
Boise is best known for its access to outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and rafting. During the summer, couples can take advantage of the city’s proximity to the Boise River, which offers numerous great spots for rafting, kayaking, and tubing.
Boise also has a vibrant arts and culture scene. Boise is home to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, where you are encouraged to pack a picnic with a bottle of wine and great eats to enjoy a night of theater under the stars.
The city also has a great music scene and some of it is free. On Wednesday nights, downtown is the place to be with the free concert series, Alive After Five.
Throughout the summer, the Idaho Botanical Gardens have a music festival. While you can certainly buy a ticket, couples on a budget can do what the locals do and hike into the foothills surrounding the venue and hear the music in nature’s best venue.
Most people visiting Boise want to be in the action of downtown Boise, which makes sense. But if you are on a budget, downtown is not a good fit. Instead, stay at Hotel 28 near Boise Airport.
Boise’s airport is minutes away from downtown. You can rent a car, but even better use Boise’s 3 Vista bus that transports you from your airport hotel to downtown in less than 10 minutes. You’ll save lots of money but won’t miss out on the experiences that make Boise amazing.
Lake Tahoe, California
By Gabriel from Chef Travel Guide
Lake Tahoe is the perfect budget summer destination for couples who love the outdoors. The best part of a visit to this picturesque alpine lake is all the free activities that allow you to connect with nature.
Whether you want to explore the top attractions like Emerald Bay or trek up to Eagle Lake, the most you will have to pay for is parking.
You can hike from Vilkingsholm along the shore of Lake Tahoe on the Rubicon Trail, where you will discover hidden coves and a small secret beach.
Or, if you are up for a good challenge, you can hike up to Maggie’s peak, where you can relax and take in panoramic views of the entire Tahoe Basin.
If you feel like relaxing in nature, you can opt to head to any of the stunning beaches around the lake to catch some rays or have a picnic.
Another fun budget activity is to rent a paddleboard at Sand Harbor, where you can cruise around on the glassy water and take in the view of the surrounding mountains and the natural underwater rock garden.
There are countless affordable accommodations surrounding the lake, but a popular option is Basecamp South which features an onsite brewery with communal fire pits.
Another way to save a few dollars is to book a romantic vacation rental cabin, where you can cook a special meal or relax in a private hot tub on the deck.
You will be hard-pressed to find a better destination surrounded by nature for a budget getaway than Lake Tahoe.
By Candice from Exploring the Gulf
Travel can be such a romantic and enjoyable experience to share with your significant other. But with the costs associated, it can also be a source of contention. It’s time to leave all your financial concerns behind and take a budget-friendly summer couple’s getaway to Clearwater.
Clearwater Beach is home to some of the most beautiful stretches of white sandy beach and crystal clear water. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more relaxing and enchanting setting to spend time with the one you love. And best of all, a day at the beach doesn’t carry much of a price tag.
Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach is also a fun and thrifty spot to unwind and soak up the Florida summer sun. You can walk the pier or take in the arts, crafts, and other festivities that go down at the pier every night at sunset. All without spending a dollar.
Clearwater motels offer some of the most affordable accommodations you’ll come across in this part of Florida. If you’re looking to save money on where you stay, consider veering away from flashy hotels and resorts.
Belleair Beach Resort Motel is a great example. A room at this property is significantly less expensive than one at a high-affluent Clearwater hotel, but you not only save at Belleair, you also get to enjoy the Motel’s private beach. It’s a win-win.
Don’t give up on the urge to travel just because it might seem financially out of reach. Clearwater is an inexpensive summer vacation spot that couples from all walks of life will enjoy!
By Agnes from The Van Escape
Located on the Utah-Arizona border, the city of Kanab is the perfect base from which to explore the Southwest. The town is less famous than Springdale or Moab. It’s also less crowded, so prices are more affordable, and couples who love hiking and outdoor activities can have a perfect and budget-friendly vacation here.
There are many great things to do in Kanab that are free or only cost a few dollars. Great hiking trails, slot canyons, fantastic rock formations, and the desert won’t bore any adventurous couple.
A perfect example is the opportunity to hike one of the longest slot canyons in the world – Buckskin Gulch. You can hike there for a day or backpack for several days. The entrance fee is only a few dollars. It’s a great alternative to the expensive Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon in Page. And the experience is even better because you’re hiking a few miles and a full day by yourself, not just an hour with a tour.
Zebra Canyon and Red Canyon (also known as Peek-a-Boo Canyon) are free slot canyons in the Kanab area. For the second one, you need a 4-wheel drive vehicle. But there’s a tip if you only have 2WD. You park your car and walk part of the way (2.5 miles) to the slot canyon.
If you’re in the Kanab area, you can also enter the Geofencing Lottery and try to win a permit to one of the most popular trails in the Southwest to the famous Wave formation.
But if you fail, don’t worry. You can take a romantic trip to Coral Pink Sand Dunes. The park is stunning and perfect for a walk on the dunes. It’s also a great place to take photos together. Packing a blanket and snacks in your backpack and having a romantic picnic in the desert is a fantastic experience for couples.
Kanab is also an excellent base for day trips to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and the rarely visited but stunningly beautiful North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
Pack plenty of water, electrolytes, and sun protection for each trip or hike, as this is a desert area.
Affordable hotels in Kanab are Travelodge by Wyndham Kanab, Days Inn & Suites, and Sun -N- Sand Motel. If you book a hotel in advance, you can also find a higher standard accommodation at an affordable price.
By Jackie from Bon Voyage Jackie
Most people don’t know this, but summer is actually the off-season for Miami travel. That makes it the perfect time of year for a budget-friendly Miami trip. While Miami does have a reputation for being an expensive vacation destination, it is surprisingly easy to plan a budget-friendly Miami trip. 2-3 days is the perfect amount of time to plan a quick getaway on a budget.
Flights to Miami are generally affordable from most major US airports. However, also take a look at prices to fly into nearby Fort Lauderdale airport as well. Fort Lauderdale is located about 45 minutes away by car from Miami, and while a taxi or Uber will cost anywhere between $45-100 depending on demand, there is a cheaper option to travel between the two cities. The Brightline train connects several South Florida cities and the route between Fort Lauderdale and Miami starts at just $15 one way.
Summertime is the most affordable time to travel to Miami, so hotel prices are at their lowest this time of year, especially if you can visit mid-week. Staying in the downtown area, Brickell, or Little Havana will offer the best rates for hotels. (The food and nightlife options and prices are much lower here than in Miami Beach as well)
Life House Little Havana is a retro-inspired, travel-lover’s dream. The hotel is housed in a restored 1920s building with decor inspired by tropical destinations around the globe. Relax in their lush courtyard or enjoy a craft cocktail from the rooftop bar.
Visiting the beach is always free. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Miami Beach Botanical Garden as well. Admission to the garden is completely free and you’ll be able to immerse yourself in nature and view beautiful tropical plants and flowers.
Parking can be expensive and hard to come by in Miami beach, so even if you have your own vehicle, taking a taxi or Uber to the beach if you’re staying downtown is wise. Depending on demand, rideshare fares from the downtown area to Miami beach typically range from $12-25.
Wynwood is an eclectic and artistic neighborhood near downtown Miami that is most famous for its street art display known as the Wynwood Walls. While the official art installation does charge an entrance fee of $10, exploring the neighborhood as a whole, which features a ton of amazing street art on every building, is free.
If you’d like to transport yourself to Europe for a day, be sure to visit the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. The mansion was built in the style of a European villa and was the former home of businessman James Deering. The architecture and grounds are absolutely stunning. Admission to the museum is $25 for adults.
Every Thursday at 9 pm, the Little Havana bar and lounge Ball & Chain offers free salsa dance lessons. Be sure to stick around after to practice your skills, enjoy the live music, and a mojito or two.
Zion National Park, Utah
By Jessica from Unearth The Voyage
Zion National Park is one of the most affordable places to visit in the US because most of everything you do there is free! It is also driving distance from Las Vegas, which has some really affordable flight options from all over the US.
Of course one of the best free things to do while visiting Zion is to go hiking. Make sure to check out the Narrows as well as Angel’s Landing while visiting. They are both rather intense hikes though, so if you’re looking for something a little more chill hike the Canyon Overlook Trail which will lead you to an incredible view out over the park.
Another great thing to do while visiting Zion is to go on a ranger-led walk where you can learn all about the park from a ranger.
Of course, if you’re visiting on a budget you are going to want to stay somewhere nice but affordable. If you’re planning to also visit Bryce Canyon, there are a ton of great and affordable options of places to stay between Zion and Bryce.
One of the best places is at Canyons Lodge- A Canyons Collection Property which offers gorgeous large rooms, an incredible view, and lots of cute places to hang out around the property as well as a pool. Overall, Zion is a super affordable destination and you’re bound to have a great time!
By Stephanie from Oklahoma Wonders
Pawhuska is a charming town in northeastern Oklahoma that’s been given a glamorous makeover in the past few years. Once a typical American small town, Pawhuska is now home to restaurants owned by Ree Drummond, the Food Network star known as the Pioneer Woman.
You’ll also find Hollywood film locations here since Pawhuska was used by Martin Scorsese to film the Leonardo Dicaprio movie Killers of the Flower Moon. You can even shop in the same stores that the Real Housewives of New Jersey shopped in during their Pawhuska vacation.
So while Pawhuska might seem like a slice of Americana on its own, it comes with a bit of a twist!
Even better than the fact that you can experience so many different sides of pop culture while you’re here is that so many of these things to do here are completely free. You can walk around and see the filming locations on your own without spending a penny, you can visit the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve to see the conservation efforts of the American Bison for free, and you can even tour the Pioneer Woman’s Lodge where she films her tv show for free.
Restaurants in town range from down-home and inexpensive to glitzy but well-priced. Ree owns the Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile and P-Town Pizza. While the food is first-class, the prices are still set so locals can enjoy them on a regular basis.
While in town you can stay at the Hotel Whiting or even camp at nearby Osage Hills State Park.
Affordable International Summer Vacations for Couples
Cottage Country, Canada
By Erie from Everywhere Ontario
If you’re looking for an affordable, romantic, and off-the-beaten-path summer getaway in Canada, consider heading to Ontario’s Cottage Country.
Typically referring to the Central and Eastern regions of Ontario (north and east of Toronto), Cottage Country in Ontario is a summer paradise for lovers of the outdoors. The rugged Canadian Shield is home to rocky cliffs, deep blue lakes, picturesque waterfalls, and unique accommodations offering peace and tranquility away from the city.
Many small towns in Cottage Country come alive in the summertime, as city-dwellers head to their seasonal lakeside homes. Towns like Bancroft, Huntsville, Parry Sound, and Sharbot Lake thrive on seasonal residents and tourism.
Some of the best things to do in Ontario’s Cottage Country are free or cost next to nothing! Camping, hiking, kayaking, swimming in freshwater lakes, and chasing waterfalls, are but a few of the activities this region is known for.
Algonquin Provincial Park is Ontario’s oldest and most well-known Provincial Park and is well worth visiting during your trip to this region. Consider planning a backcountry canoe outtrip through the many lakes and rivers in the park, or drive in for the day to explore some of the incredible hiking trails.
Accommodations in Cottage Country range from affordable to luxury, depending on what you’re seeking. There are both rustic B&Bs and luxury custom-built cottages for rent, representing the diversity of travelers who flock to this summer paradise.
Here are a few recommendations for affordable places to stay in Cottage Country:
- Chalet Rosemarie near Parry Sound, Ontario
- Rock Hill Bed & Breakfast in Sharbot Lake, Ontario
- Somerset Lakeside Resort in Bancroft, Ontario
If you’re itching to escape the hustle-bustle of the city and breathe in the fresh air of the Canadian wilderness, make the trip to Central and Eastern Ontario this summer and see what thousands rave about in this special part of the world.
By Michele from A Taste for Travel
Looking for a romantic summer getaway where you can nosh on flaky croissants, dine on French cuisine, and stroll atmospheric streets hand-in-hand without an overseas flight (and high price tag) of jetting away to Paris, France? Then look no further than Montreal in Quebec, Canada. Set on a picturesque island in the St. Lawrence River, Montreal was founded in 1642 and is rich in history, 17th-century architecture, and green spaces.
Montreal is one of the best budget-friendly destinations for couples any time of year, with a wealth of fantastic things to do in Montreal in summer.
Soak up the Old-World charm with a romantic stay in a converted mansion, such as Manoir Sherbrooke, in the heart of Montreal. You’ll be steps to terrace dining (try Mandy’s for healthy fare), shopping, nightlife, and museums such as the avant-garde Montreal Museum of Fine Arts where admission is just $12 on Wednesday nights.
Summer is also a prime time to enjoy the free outdoor summer festivals Montreal is famous for. Head to the Quartier des Spectacles entertainment district to experience everything from jazz to world music to performance art.
Picnic on goodies you’ve picked up at the Marché Jean-Talon outdoor market, pedal a bicycle built for two, or join the tam-tams drumming festival at Mount Royal Park, a verdant green space that comes alive in the summer with dance, music, and outdoor adventure.
Can you practice your French in Montreal? Mais oui! French is the official language in Quebec but English is also widely spoken in Montreal.
By Andy from Explore With Finesse
Negril, Jamaica is an excellent budget-friendly summer destination for couples seeking a romantic getaway. This town, located in western Jamaica, only has about 6,000 people. This makes it a relaxing (and more affordable) alternative to larger Jamaican cities. Despite its small size, it attracts travelers from around the world due to its world-famous Seven Mile Beach.
For couples seeking romantic places to visit, the sunset at Rick’s Cafe is a great option. Couples can also go on a sunset cruise or a walk on Seven Mile Beach. Additionally, you can visit the Blue Hole Mineral Spring about 30 minutes away. This is an underground spring that can be accessed through a large hole in the ground. After swimming in the spring, you can visit the small resort nearby and get a massage.
If you are a fan of vegan food, Negril is the perfect destination! Many Jamaicans consume the Rastafari diet, known as Ital, which is a vegan diet. There are several vegan-friendly restaurants in Negril, such as Ital Food, Cafe Goa, and Sweet Spice.
The cheapest and easiest way to get to Negril from the US is to take a flight to Montego Bay. Spirit Airlines has cheap flights to and from Montego Bay, so it is a great option for budget travelers. Once in Montego Bay, take a private shuttle or shared taxi to Negril for $50 to $60.
After arriving in Negril, you will find hotels for every budget. As a general rule, the closer you want to stay to the beach, the more expensive your lodging will be. You can stay right on the beach with Negril Beach Club Condos for about $90 per night.
By Ausra from The Road Reel
From the sublime coast of the Adriatic Sea, jaw-dropping Kotor Bay dotted with picturesque historic waterfront towns, to thrilling mountain roads winding up to the misty peaks, Montenegro is by far the most beautiful country for a romantic summer trip in southeast Europe.
A Montenegro road trip is a perfect choice when traveling as a couple and is also a very affordable way to explore this small Balkan country. Montenegro packs a punch of incredible sights and free or budget-friendly activities.
When traveling to Montenegro, unmissable is Kotor Bay offering an array of places to visit and things to do to keep you occupied for a few days. Exploring the cobbled streets of Kotor Old Town is a must. For the incredible panoramic views over the Boka Kotorska, make sure to climb up to St Giovanni fortress (early birds get to climb for free).
Meanwhile, for the most romantic town along Kotor Bay, look no further than the pretty Perast. Do not miss a short scenic boat ride for only 5 euros to My Lady of The Rocks– one of the two postcard-perfect inlets visible from the shores of Perast.
On a hot summer day, feel free to jump into the perfectly clean waters of the Adriatic Sea. The best beaches in Montenegro are located along the seaside towns of Budva, Bar, Petrovac na Moru, Sveti Stefan, and Ulcinj.
To experience the wildest parts of Montenegro, head to Durmitor National Park– one of the most incredible places to visit for those of you who love mountains, hiking, and white-water rafting. Conquer Bobotov Kuk peak, admire the reflections of Black Lake, and visit the deepest canyon in Europe, Tara Canyon.
Montenegro is served by two international airports- one in the capital Podgorica, and the other in Tivat located close to Kotor Bay. Accommodation in Montenegro is inexpensive and you can find a great range of homestays, hotels, hostels, and self-serviced apartments. For a comfortable stay in Kotor Bay, check out Apartment Mileva.
By Alex from Career Gappers
Destinations in South America might not be at the top of your list when considering cheap summer vacations for couples. But Lima, the culture-rich capital of Peru, is possible to visit from the USA without spending a fortune.
Flying from Miami to Lima takes less than six hours, and it is possible to buy return flights for under $300 in the summer months. Cheap direct flights are also available from many other US cities. And once you arrive, Lima is a very cheap place for food, accommodation, and experiences, which more than balances out the extra it might cost to travel there.
Summer in the USA coincides with winter in Peru, but this is actually a great time to visit Lima. The climate is still very warm from June through to August, and this is also Peru’s dry season, so you are not likely to get much rain.
Lima is a huge city that is steeped in centuries of history, having once been the capital of the entire Spanish Empire in South America. Its historic center is characterized by colorful old colonial buildings, romantic plazas, and majestic churches.
Your budget trip to Lima could include a stroll around these streets, perhaps on one of the various local free walking tours, and then at night, you could see the illuminated water fountain show at El Circuito Mágico del Agua, which costs just 4 Peruvian soles (about 1 US dollar).
Money goes a long way for accommodation in Lima. For less than 100 US dollars a night, you can stay somewhere beautiful like Hotel Antigua in Miraflores, a vibrant, safe neighborhood that makes the perfect base for exploring the city.
With so many different areas of the city to explore, it is best to plan at least 2 days in Lima. For an extended trip, you could spend 3/4 days in the city and then head onwards to the desert oasis village of Huacachina, or take a trip to the ancient hilltop ruins of Rúpac, an alternative to Machu Picchu that is much closer to the capital.
Mexico City, Mexico
By Jase from Roaming Vegans
While many people are drawn to Mexico’s coastlines, Mexico City is a more budget-friendly option that is more aligned with those who want to experience the ‘real’ Mexico.
One of the highlights of Mexico, or CDMX as it’s often called, is its food – particularly its vegan scene which is one of the best in the world. You can find incredibly cheap, all-vegan Mexican street food stands, fresh churros, fancy pink tacos, and an unmissable fishless seafood street taco stall. As mentioned, CDMX prices are a fraction of what you’ll pay at the resorts in Cancun, so you can truly eat your heart out.
When you’re not indulging in Mexico City’s finest foods, you can explore its rich cultural history, street art, and its huge relaxing parks like Chapultepec Park, which is one of the largest city parks in the world. At Chapultepec, which is free to enter, you can enjoy a romantic picnic, rent a boat on the lake, or explore the many museums and monuments located within the park (for a small fee).
While staying in Mexico City, the suburbs of Roma and Condesa are the most popular, but also the most expensive. If you want to be in these areas, you can save a little extra money by choosing to stay in Roma Sur rather than Roma Norte, with Norte tending to be the most expensive suburb in CDMX. Roma Sur is a little grungier than the upscale Norte, but just as safe and more authentic.
Isle of Barra, Scotland
By Kristin from Scotland Explored
The Isle of Barra is in the Outer Hebrides, a group of islands north of mainland Scotland. Barra is a small island but it boasts a wide variety of outdoor activities. It is the perfect summer destination for couples looking for an inexpensive romantic vacation. And best of all, most of the things to do on the island are free.
Barra has amazing beaches which look like they could be in the Caribbean. There is nothing better than walking along the pretty beaches and most of the time you will have them all to yourself. One exception is Traigh Mhor which also doubles as the landing strip for the island’s airport. At low tide planes from Glasgow land on the beach and this is the only time it might feel like there are lots of other tourists on the island.
For fantastic views over Castlebay and Vatersay, hike up to the statue of The Lady of the Sea at Heaval. It takes about one hour to get to the statue from where you can either go back down or continue on to the mountains behind.
Castlebay is the largest village and it has a picturesque castle in the middle of the bay. This is also where the ferry arrives and departs.
The cheapest way to get to Barra is to fly to Glasgow and get the ferry from Oban.
On the island B&Bs such as Tigh na Mara in Castlebay and Sealladh na Mara close to the airport cost £90 to £115 per night. The most affordable and popular places to stay on the island are self-catering cottages which work out much cheaper than staying in a B&B or hotel. Sealladh na Mara also has a self-catering cottage and another good option is Crofters Cottage by Eoligarry.
By Megan from Packing Up The Pieces
Oaxaca Mexico truly has it all, a unique food scene, colorful streets, bustling markets, charming villages, and UNESCO-recognized archaeological sites. What’s also great about Oaxaca is that it is a super-budget-friendly summer destination for couples.
One of the best places to visit in Oaxaca is the lively and culturally rich city of Oaxaca. However, the state of Oaxaca boasts stunning mountains, waterfalls, and a rugged coastline on the Pacific coast. The entire region is well-connected with budget-friendly public transportation options.
In Oaxaca, find the best food at one of the many lively local markets. The food in the markets is homemade, authentic, and extremely affordable. Couples can experience a romantic date night with a multi-course tasting menu for well under $100 per person or indulge in delicious street food.
Oaxaca is surrounded by special villages that produce unique artisanal goods. Most artisans use ancient techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation. Each village has its own specialty from alebrijes (wood-painted spirit animals) to pottery. Visiting the artisan markets provides a chance to support the local artisans and take home a reasonably priced souvenir.
Oaxaca is a great base to take day trips to archaeological sites and villages, go on a mezcal tasting, or hike to the petrified Hierve el Agua.
By Sasha from Mog and Dog Travels
Stretching across the continents of Europe and Asia, with a buzzing culinary scene, pulsating nightlife, rich history, and magnificent skyline, Istanbul in Turkey is a city that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Despite being the country’s largest city and receiving millions of tourists each year, Istanbul is an ideal destination for couples looking for a budget-friendly summer vacation.
Istanbul was once the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires and has many historical landmarks, some of which are free to enter. These include the stunning Hagia Sophia mosque, once the largest cathedral in the world; the Blue Mosque, famous for its 20,000 handpainted tiles and the Suleymaniye mosque which has amazing views across the waters of the Golden Horn.
Other attractions such as the gorgeous Topkapi Palace Museum, formerly the residence of the Ottoman sultans, and the Galata Tower, which boasts a 360° view of Istanbul, require a ticket. If you’re in Istanbul for several days and plan on visiting these sites or want to explore any of the other amazing museums in the city, it’s worth buying a 5-day Istanbul Museum pass which gives you free or discounted entry into many ticketed tourist sites.
Istanbul is also an incredibly picturesque and romantic city. Take a leisurely stroll around the historic neighborhood of Balat, famous for its quaint cobbled streets, charming cafes, and brightly colored Ottoman mansions. In the late afternoon, make your way to the Galata Bridge to watch a magnificent sunset over the waters of the Bosphorus.
A fantastic public transport system makes traveling around Istanbul cheap and convenient. Buy an Istanbulkart (a contactless transportation card) from the airport or anywhere in the city and you’ll be able to ride the trams, metro, buses, and ferries in Istanbul at a discounted rate. It’s a much better option than taking the city’s overpriced taxis.
Before you leave make sure to try at least one Turkish breakfast – a decadent meal featuring between 10 – 30 different dishes. Cesme Bazlama Kahvalti is famous for its unlimited breakfast – they won’t stop serving you until you say you’re full!
There is a wide range of places to stay in Istanbul and plenty of budget-friendly hotels. Dreamers V&V Hotel located in the bohemian area of Cihangir is close to cafes, supermarkets, and restaurants and offers comfortable rooms with complimentary breakfast.
La Fortuna, Costa Rica
By Jessica from Uprooted Traveler
La Fortuna is the perfect place for a cheap romantic summer vacation, complete with hot springs tucked away in the jungle, turquoise waterfalls, and endless adventures to have together.
While there are tons of things to do in La Fortuna, this city, located at the foot of the Arenal Volcano, is primarily known for its hot springs. While many of the hot springs here are quite pricey, you can definitely find some that are on the more affordable side, including the very romantic Ecotermales Hot Springs.
Alternatively, you can even find a totally free, natural hot spring, tucked into the rainforest, outside of the grounds of the luxurious (and very expensive) Tabacon Hot Springs Resort and Spa. Just get here early if you want the place to yourself!
Costa Rica is known for its vast biodiversity and one of the best ways to experience its wildlife is to go on a hike in one of its ecological parks. For example, you can visit Arenal National Park for less than $20 a person and spend all day exploring the trails, keeping your eyes peeled for capuchins, howler monkeys, and sloths. If nothing else, you’ll have jaw-dropping views of the Arenal Volcano during your adventures!
The Arenal Volcano Inn perfectly melds affordable lodging (under $100 a night!) with luxurious touches- like, for example, every room offers a view of the nearby volcano and in-room whirlpools. Relax in the inn’s hot tub, nestled inside the jungle, and watch the sunrise together before your day’s adventures.
By Elle from Only in Germany
The Island of Ruegen, Germany is one of the most romantic places in Germany. It is a hidden gem that offers a romantic experience to couples looking for a unique and affordable destination. With its picturesque landscapes, charming towns, and sandy beaches, Ruegen is an ideal place for a romantic getaway.
One of the most romantic places to visit in Ruegen is the Jasmund National Park. The park is home to the famous chalk cliffs that stretch along the Baltic coast and offer stunning views of the sea. The park is also a popular spot for hiking and nature walks, where couples can explore the forested areas and enjoy the fresh air.
Another must-visit attraction is the Binz Pier, which offers a spectacular view of the sea and the town of Binz. Couples can stroll along the pier and watch the sunset, making for a romantic and memorable experience. For couples who want to save money, there are plenty of affordable or free things to do on Ruegen.
The island has several beaches, including Prora and Binz Beach, where couples can enjoy the sun and the sea without spending a penny. There are also several hiking trails throughout the island that are free to explore.
In terms of accommodation, there are plenty of affordable options on Ruegen. One recommendation is the Hotel Am Rugard in Bergen. The hotel offers comfortable rooms at an affordable price and is located in the heart of the island, making it a convenient base for exploring all that Ruegen has to offer.
Getting to Ruegen is relatively easy, with several options available. The island can be accessed by train from Berlin or Hamburg and by ferry from Stralsund. For couples looking to save money, taking the train is the most affordable option.
By Colleen from Then We Walked
Northern Spain is an amazing destination for budget-conscious travelers. With stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and endless beaches, northern Spain is an absolute peach! And it’s still possible to bag a bargain on flights to Madrid or Bilboa.
If you love the outdoors the breathtaking Picos de Europa are for you; renting a car from 21€ a day gives you the freedom to explore this hiker’s paradise. Stay in the mountain town of Potes, where a traditional casa rural like Casa Cayo, costs 90€ for bed and breakfast and a 3-course Menu Del Dia from as little as 20€ (including bread and wine).
Wine connoisseurs should head to La Rioja. Santo Domingo de la Calzada was founded in the 10th century, has a medieval center, an impressive cathedral, and Rioja wine! Treat yourself to a night in the luxurious Parador for 115€ (become an Amigo and get free wine too).
If you like hiking, you should consider hiking part of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, either planning a day hike or a multi-day adventure, depending on how much time you have.
If you prefer cities, explore some of Spain’s most iconic! There’s beautiful Bilbao, home of the Guggenheim, Pamplona with Hemmingway’s beloved Café Iruna. For foodies, San Sebastian and Logrono are must-visit cities.
Spanish train and bus networks offer great value, with Madrid to Bilbao at just 37€ and San Sebastian by train at only 39€.
Accommodation options are plentiful so don’t hesitate if your budget is tight; even pricey San Sebastian offers highly rated places like Old Town Homestay for under 100€. And if you’re visiting a city, make sure you book a Guru-Guide walking tour; free but they ask for a donation.
Take a road trip and visit them all, adding Burgos to your itinerary with its impressive gothic cathedral and UNESCO Museum of Human Evolution (and nearby Atapuerca, thought to be 900,000 years old.)
And if all of this isn’t enough, you still have the absolutely stunning coast to discover!
By Adam from Cartagena Explorer
Cartagena, Colombia makes for a terrific budget-friendly summer destination for couples. Colombia’s Caribbean jewel has year-round warm weather, perfect for the nearby beaches. However, what really sets it apart is the historic, and incredibly romantic, colonial city. What can be more romantic than strolling narrow streets surrounded by colorful former mansions with flower-covered balconies?
Couples will also want to take a stroll along the historic walls and enjoy the views of the Caribbean. While there are terrific drinks to go with the view of the sunset at Hotel Movich’s rooftop bar or Café del Mar, located atop a corner of the wall, vendors also sell cheaper drinks along the wall, and enjoying the sunset here is one of the most romantic things to do in Cartagena. The former cannon openings make for the perfect, private feeling view!
Besides enjoying the charm of the historic district, there are lots of other things to do in Cartagena. The neighboring Getsemaní district has its own neat historic charm mixed with eclectic hipster vibes. This is also where lots of the best street art in the city is located. There are also many moderately priced cafes, bars, and restaurants here. At night, the Plaza de la Trinidad becomes a popular hang-out spot for locals and tourists alike.
Most travelers, but especially couples, will prefer staying in the historic district. Places like Casa India Catalina, Hotel Don Pedro de Heredia, Hotel Boutique Casa Isabel, and Hotel Casa Tere, offer nice budget-friendly accommodations.
One thing budget-minded travelers might want to splurge on is for a day trip or even an overnight stay out in the nearby Rosario Islands. These gorgeous coral islands, surrounded by crystal clear waters, offer much better beaches and fewer crowds than the beaches in Cartagena proper.
IslaBela, which has one of the best beach areas, has reasonably priced bungalows and day passes and would be perfect to include as part of a budget-friendly couple’s trip to Cartagena!
By Claire of Europe in Winter
Step on a TAP Airline flight from multiple cities across the USA and disembark in beautiful Lisbon, Portugal’s buzzing capital.
Lisbon’s always been a popular city, but in recent years it’s become even more well-loved for its charming (but hilly!) streets, fascinating history, and rich gastronomy. Plus, it’s wonderfully sunny throughout the warmer season!
The city’s wonderful to just walk around; explore downtown and the hilly areas on a free walking tour (you’re expected to tip) with SANDEMANS New Europe Tours. You’ll learn about its dynamic history and see some local spots that you wouldn’t find otherwise!
Board a train and head to Sintra, a fairytale palace and UNESCO site that dates back to the 15th century. Or, head down the coast to Belem Castle, which is where 16th-century Portuguese explorers disembarked from.
Don’t forget to try some Portuguese food – Damas is an excellent restaurant that serves Portuguese tapas and has an extensive menu.
The city can be quite warm in the summertime, so once you’ve enjoyed its culture, head out to Cascais, which is one of Lisbon’s beachy suburbs. Here, you can relax on the beach, enjoying the coastal breeze, or even take a surfing lesson.
The waves are biggest in Lisbon in the winter – when they attract professional surfers from around the world – but the summer months are ideal for beginners or improvers.
For accommodation, MOXY Hotel Lisbon offers chic, well-appointed accommodation right in the city center. You’ll also find more basic and cheap accommodation options, such as the well-rated Mana Guest House offering rooms under $50 a night.
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