Even after you’ve conducted plenty of research, choosing the perfect vacation spot can present a challenge. That’s why U.S. News compiled a list of destinations using opinions and recommendations from travel experts and users to help you narrow down your options. The top spots range from big cities, such as Paris and New York, to coastal getaways, like Maui and Puerto Rico. We hope these recommendations can help point you toward your next vacation destination. Cast your vote below to help us determine next year’s list.
Looking for a beautiful, affordable, active, foodie corner of America’s southwest? Look no further. New Mexico powers your budget further. Dry, sunny weather is a near constant. Albuquerque’s Breaking Bad sights can be explored for the price of a trolley ride and washed down with a cheap eat from a hole-in-the-wall taqueria. Elsewhere, the winter sports are good and cheap and the outdoors is outstanding (and free): hiking in Alpine forests, petroglyph sites to track down and free wild hot springs. Given the richness of attractions all found within one state, New Mexico offers value from a time as well as monetary perspective.
Spain. Mapped by travellers? Not completely. Galicia in the northwest of the country is arguably Spain’s last frontier. Once you get beyond Santiago de Compostela, this wild region fragments into rocky coastline met by spectacular rías (inlets) and an interior of countless unspoilt villages. The region’s value comes not only from the lower costs compared with more-visited parts of Spain, but also from the quality of seafood and meat found in abundance in tapas bars, meaning tasting the good stuff in small portions costs less. And if you’re keen to save while sleeping over, aim for self-catering properties around the region, especially outside the school holidays.
If you’re pondering a little-known and highly affordable destination then Timor-Leste (rather than East Timor, if you please) might just be the budget destination for you. Away from the pricey hotels of the internationally-influenced capital of Dili, you’ll find bargain beach shacks on the beaches of Atauro Island, and welcoming homestays in the misty hill country. Despite ongoing security concerns, travelling round Timor-Leste can be an old-fashioned adventure, complete with bumpy roads and packed local transport. As an added bonus, you will be able to stare down any travel bore.
Currency fluctuations mean that the Australian dollar is a better deal for overseas visitors than it has been for a few years, and that Aussies may scale back overseas plans. This puts the dream-like landscapes of Western Australia, out of reach of some travellers thanks to the mining boom of the last few years, firmly back on the map. Beyond cosmopolitan Perth, iconic natural sights abound here, from the rocky coast and winelands of the southwest to the outback treats of the Kimberley, Kununurra and the Pinnacles.th Asia’s newest country added to your roster.
The outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has, unfortunately for other areas of the continent, had a knock-on effect in terms of bookings for 2015. So listen up: London, Madrid and Paris are hundreds of miles closer to the outbreak in West Africa than East Africa’s tourism heartland. Africa is a massive continent (the United States would fit in the Sahara Desert) so you’ll be doing yourself and tourism in East Africa a favour if you take advantage of the cracking deals on offer to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the rest of the region. And in the process experience some of the world’s great wonders, from gorilla encounters to Rift Valley scenery to squeaky-sanded beaches.Beach Cities
One of the most photographed beaches in the world, the pale pink sands of Anse Source d’Argent unfurls across the island of La Digue, one of the 115 components of this archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The sands sparkle against a backdrop of towering granite boulders, worn by time and weather. The turquoise water is relatively shallow and protected from the ocean’s waves by a reef.
Whether your dream beach trip consists of spending a few pampered nights in a four-star resort or swimming among tropical fish some 80 feet (24 meters) underwater, the Maldives are the sort of islands where either—or both—can come true. Straddling the Equator southwest of Sri Lanka, the 1,102 islands that make up the Maldives form 26 atolls. The soft air enveloping the archipelago blends into a beautiful palm-fringed haze.
Bora Bora, Tahiti
This is one of the magical islands that make up French Polynesia in the South Pacific. Just 18 miles (29 kilometers) long, this lush little slip of land lies in a protected lagoon edged by white sandy shores, the best being at Matira Point. Bora Bora boasts the nickname the “Romantic Island,” a moniker easy to appreciate with its isolated beaches, intimate hotels, and quiet atmosphere.
The Hamptons, New York
One of the hip spots for the air-kissing, well-heeled set, the Hamptons boast some of the prettiest beaches on Long Island. The unspoiled shoreline begins around Southampton and runs east to the end of the island at Montauk. Windswept dunes and waving grasses border the Atlantic Ocean.
Lanikai Beach, Hawaii
Half a mile of sparkling sand, palm trees swaying over a white beach, lush tropical plants, and endless sunshine make Lanikai one of Hawaii’s most scenic beaches. The shore is protected by a nearby coral reef, which keeps the surf relatively calm. The water is always deep green and postcard-perfect.