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The average cost of a roundtrip flight from the United States to Europe is $1167, which is $300 more than the average from last summer. Many European vacations are fully booked far before the summer travel season starts. Instead of traveling to Europe this summer, consider these 13 alternatives that may be less crowded and less expensive.
Aruba Instead of Amsterdam
Along with stunning beaches, Aruba is known for its Dutch influence and rich history that traces back thousands of years. The island hosts many annual events and festivals, including the Soul Beach Music Festival and Carnival.
Located conveniently on Palm Beach, the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is the perfect place to explore everything the island offers. Just a short ride from the hotel, explore the capital city of Oranjestad with Dutch architecture and colorful buildings, local shops, boutiques, restaurants, and bars. Families can explore caves once inhabited by the Arawak Indians, while snorkeling and scuba diving groups can discover massive shipwreck sites underwater.
Richmond, Virginia Instead of The Colosseum
Richmond, VA, one of the oldest cities in the United States, is not only known for historically being at the forefront of the Civil War but also for its current burgeoning art and culinary scenes. Walk along the streets to discover the many independent shops and galleries.
At night, visit The Park, a one-of-a-kind entertainment hub featuring attractions such as mini golf, bowling, and self-pour taps at one of the state’s largest bars.
Mexico’s Cenotes Instead of an Italian Grotto
With quick and affordable direct flights from almost every major US city, Cancun is a popular vacation destination for travelers seeking an escape from reality. Cancun offers picturesque ocean views and easy access to Yucatan’s incredible attractions, like the colonial city of Valladolid and the ruins of Chitzen Itza.
During the day, guests at the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa can enjoy thrilling watersports, swim with whale sharks, take day trips to Island Mujeres, and sip a glass of the 150 unique twists of the classic margarita at the resort.
At night, the Cancun strip comes alive with vibrant spots like the iconic Coco Bongo, featuring dazzling Vegas-style performances with showgirls and musicians. They also have impersonators performing as legendary superstars. Keep the party going with Miami-style nightclubs with pulsating music from DJs, vibrant light shows, and photo-worthy tequila cocktails.
The Bahamas Instead of The Greek Islands
Escape to the secluded South Andros Island in the Bahamas and discover a destination reminiscent of the Greek Islands. On this tranquil island, Aptly nicknamed “The Sleeping Giant,” Caerula Mar Club offers the perfect destination for pure relaxation.
South Andros is one of the largest islands in the Bahamas, with slightly over 2,000 residents. An hour-long flight from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, with its own international customs, makes getting there a breeze.
Once there, guests can enjoy an uncrowded paradise with the world’s third-largest barrier reef, mystical blue-hole ocean caves, and over 90 miles of pristine beaches. The untouched beaches and blissful sounds of nature make it feel like a true escape.
Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale Instead of Venice
Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale offers a taste of Venice with its beautiful, navigable waterways spanning 165 miles. The scenic seaside walk along Las Olas Blvd combines Fort Lauderdale’s nautical charm and homegrown flair.
Often referred to as the “Venice of America,” the city has stunning views of the intercoastal waterways that wind around incredible galleries, award-winning art museums, charming shops, and delicious dining all along Las Olas Blvd. Along this lovely stretch, the nautically inspired Hyatt Centric Las Olas is perfect for exploring art galleries and restaurants or enjoying a romantic sunset stroll.
Puerto Rico Instead of Spain
Experience the essence of Spain without venturing far from home by visiting Puerto Rico, just a quick flight from America. The best part? United States citizens do not need a passport to travel there.
Puerto Rico has a rich cultural heritage influenced by Spanish settlers, evident in everything from their dialect to their culinary delights.
Visitors can stay at the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico in Rio Grande for a complete immersion. This expansive resort, set along the famed sandy shores of Puerto Rico, offers luxurious accommodations, a lagoon-style pool, two 18-hole championship golf courses designed by Tom Kite, and an impressive selection of 17 food and beverage outlets. Framed against the El Yunque rainforest backdrop, the destination is a picture-perfect Puerto Rican postcard.
Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit Instead of Portugal
Feel a Portuguese charm in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, where the white sand beach meets lush jungle. Enjoy the safe haven at W Punta de Mita for adventure, relaxation, delicious cuisine, cocktails, and unforgettable experiences.
For adrenaline lovers, the resort’s beachside WAVE Surf Shop offers private and group surf lessons taught by local experts with a lifetime of surfing experience.
When not catching waves, guests can unwind in the recently renovated oceanfront suites with private plunge pools and bathrooms, giving the sensation of outdoor showering.
The AWAY spa offers locally inspired treatments for rejuvenation, while the revamped adults-only pool deck, WET TOO, provides relaxation accompanied by mezcal cocktails.
Napa Valley, California Instead of Bordeaux in France
Experience the ambiance of the wine-growing region of southern France without leaving the United States. At The Meritage Resort & Spa, among the sprawling vineyards and rolling golden hills of Napa Valley, visitors can get their dose of top-notch vino and world-class luxury.
This premier vineyard property is the gateway to Napa Valley activities such as hot air balloon rides, luxury shopping, bike tours, culinary experiences, and over 400 wineries and 90 tasting rooms. Guests staying at the resort and spa can enjoy the on-site tasting rooms, elevated dining options, a locally-sourced artisanal market, relaxing pools, and Spa Terra within a 22,000-square-foot Napa Estate Cave.
Northern California is experiencing a historic super bloom of colorful wildflowers due to the record-breaking rainfall. The flowers lighting up the rolling hills provide an unprecedented level of beauty.
St. Maarten Instead of The Beaches of Europe
Instead of country-hopping in Europe, embrace the opportunity to island-hop in the Caribbean. The Dutch Caribbean Island of St. Maarten presents quintessential island vibes with diverse options for relaxation and adventure. Find an abundance of white sandy beaches ranging from serene relaxation spots to vibrant snorkeling and watersports spots.
This island has adventure and historical and culinary offerings such as the world’s steepest zipline, an 18th-century French military fort, roadside snacks and chefs’ tables, and a newly-emerging art scene in the capital of Philipsburg.
Centrally located in the Caribbean, St. Marteen makes the perfect home base with easy access to the beautiful neighboring islands with unique cultures. In a day trip (or two), take a quick flight or ferry ride to nearby islands such as Anguilla, St. Barths, Saba, and St. Eustatius.
Cabo Instead of Ibiza
Head to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to get the ambiance of Ibiza without traveling far. The newest luxury property, Corazon Cabo Resort & Spa, offers the perfect blend of beach and desert elegance with luxurious accommodations, Mexican cuisine, and vibrant nightlife.
Start the day on the shores of Medanco Beach, relaxing and taking in the stunning views of El Arco, Cabo’s famous landmark. Spend the afternoon at the Corazón Beach Club, the largest beach club on Medano Beach, with private cabanas, a full-service bar and restaurant, and a resident DJ.
At night, there’s no shortage of options for dining and entertainment. Explore downtown for authentic Mexican bites, followed by party-hopping through Cabo’s lively nightlife. End the night on a high note at Rooftop 360, the highest terrace in town for dancing under the stars alongside locals and visitors.
Puerto Vallarta Instead of Prague
Instead of making a long trek to a Czech wellness resort, consider the closer The Westin Resort & Spa, Puerto Vallarta, located on a former palm tree farm. In one of the world’s friendliest cities, the wellness oasis for all ages provides an escape from the hustle and bustle in tranquil surroundings.
Relax among 600 palm trees, a private beach, and a world-class spa, and enjoy diverse dining options on the property, including health-conscious and plant-based options. Book a private seaside picnic at sunset with the soft sounds of crashing waves.
Unwind with seaside meditation and yoga, relax in the sauna and Westin’s signature Heavenly® Beds, or get fit at the state-of-the-art WORKOUT® fitness studio.
Antigua, Guatemala Instead of Paris
With a Paris-like feel, lose yourself in charming cobblestone streets, enchanting passageways, and captivating historic sites in Antigua, Guatemala. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua’s gothic architecture, well-preserved colonial buildings, and magnificent churches are reminiscent of the architectural splendor of Paris.
Visitors can foster a deeper connection to the local culture by exploring the winding streets, vibrant markets, and lush courtyard gardens.
Just outside the city, Villa Bokeh, a luxurious hacienda, features 15 rooms, and a 6-acre garden oasis, with a picturesque backdrop of the Agua Volcano. It’s a serene, perfect place to indulge and admire the beauty of the tranquil lagoon, hidden gardens, and charming plazas.
Curaçao Instead of The Netherlands
Get a taste of the Netherlands on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao. With untouched turquoise waters and vibrant architecture, Curaçao blends influences from 55 diverse cultures. The island allows travelers to explore the culture and the warm Caribbean waters.
In the cultural hub of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, streets come alive with colorful Dutch architecture, larger-than-life murals, and live music around every corner.
With thriving marine ecosystems, vibrant reefs, underwater caves, and 65 diving sites, Curaçao is a scuba diver’s paradise.
At night, unwind at a chic beach club and sip on a refreshing drink while watching the sunset.
Instead of buying expensive flights and spending long travel days getting to Europe, consider visiting one of these 13 travel alternatives to Europe this summer. Experience the culture, history, and architecture with a European feel in a closer-to-home, less crowded, and less expensive destination.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Featured image credit: Taylor Beach
About the author
Rachel K. Belkin
Rachel K. Belkin
Rachel K. Belkin, M.Ed, is a syndicated freelance writer of travel, business, health, education, and editorial topics. Rachel is also a content, marketing, and SEO consultant in Austin, Texas with publications in HuffPost, Hometalk, Matador Network, AP News, MSN.com, and her websites Rachel K. Belkin, Elkin Bay, and Probe the Globe. After selling her lifestyle blog, community, and media outlet for six figures in 2021, she now writes, speaks, and teaches bloggers, brands, and business owners the strategies used to build a business on part-time hours, through motherhood, chronic illness, travel, and a breast cancer diagnosis.