The Best Budget Destinations to Travel to in Your 30s

by Elizabeth Aldrich | Updated Nov. 9, 2021 - First published on Sept. 29, 2019

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Couple in their 30s smiling while traveling.

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These unforgettable cities are easy on the eyes and the wallet.

Traveling in your 30s can present its own unique challenges. You might feel you're done with bunking down in a hostel with a group of teenagers, or you've spent one too many nights in a crowded dance club, and you're looking for some more mature delights. But hey, you still want to have fun, and you'd rather not spend your entire life savings to do so. Here's a list of destinations that are as perfect for your budget as they are for your memories.

1. Mexico City, Mexico

If you’ve never been to Mexico City, trust me when I say you’ve never experienced a city quite like this. As the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world, Mexico City is home to more people than New York City and features a near-endless supply of things to do, see, eat, and drink. 

If you’re looking for incredible museums, you could spend days in the famous National Anthropology Museum or even take a trip to Frida Kahlo’s house. Explore the quaint neighborhoods and hip eats around the city, and visit the local mezcal and pulque bars for delicious drinks on a budget. 

The cost of everything from accommodation to food will be a treat for anyone used to paying U.S. prices -- you can find street tacos for less than $1. You can even Uber around the city for a few dollars per ride. Flights to Mexico City are routinely in the low hundreds from most major U.S. cities.

2. Berlin, Germany

As another large city with reasonable prices for accommodation and food, Berlin has become a popular destination with travelers from all over the world. Here, you can find your fill of art, architecture, and history. Berlin is home to Museum Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Berlin is still known as the capital for electronic music, and you’ll find some of the best EDM and techno dance clubs in the world here. The city is bike-friendly and even features several low-cost bike sharing programs, which means you can save a lot on transportation as you make your way through its many neighborhoods.

3. Cairo, Egypt

Maybe you’ve thought about one day seeing the Great Pyramid of Giza, but if you haven’t put the city of Cairo itself on your travel list, you should. You can spend your time adventuring out to the many pyramids and seeing the Great Sphinx of Giza with your own eyes, or walk through the Khan el-Khalili bazaar to find gorgeous artisan crafts and fragrant spices. 

Flights to North Africa aren't exactly low-budget, but if you save up credit card points to pay for your flight using one of the best travel credit cards, Cairo can be very affordable once you get there. If you’re looking for a more luxurious hotel, Cairo boasts fantastic rooms at its many resorts, often for half of what you would pay for a budget hotel stay at home. Combine that with food for less than $5 per meal, and you can use the money you saved to splurge on a cruise down the Nile River.

4. Medellin, Colombia

Mild temperatures, gorgeous landscapes, and plenty of museums and activities combine to make Medellín the perfect vacation spot. One of the best things to do in Medellin is to simply walk around and take in its many colorful homes and incredible works of street art -- you can even take a tour of the city’s graffiti artwork. 

You’ll also have to try some Colombian coffee while you’re here, and luckily the cost of drinks and food are low enough that you can afford to sample something from every vendor in the impressive Mercado del Rio. You'll find regular flight deals to Colombia from many U.S. cities, as well.

5. Siem Reap, Cambodia

If exploring 12th-century ruins sounds like a dream come true, the increasingly popular travel destination of Siem Reap is absolutely the place for you. Although a plane ticket to Cambodia might cost you a bit more, the right rewards credit card can help you cover it, and Siem Reap offers many budget hotels in the city area and low prices for food and drinks. 

The large and inviting night market is a can’t-miss attraction, boasting every type of food and clothing, as well as other crafts you’ll be keen to take home. You’ll want to spend at least one full day (and most likely more) exploring the many famous temples of Angkor Wat, where hiring a private guide to drive you around in a tuk-tuk won't break the bank.

6. Cape Town, South Africa

Situated on the coast of South Africa, Cape Town is a stunning city with a landscape that will blow you away. Visit the iconic Table Mountain by taking a cable car up to the top and looking out over the entirety of the city. Spot wildlife at the Cape of Good Hope or relax at Boulders Beach. If you want a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can also go cage diving with great white sharks off the coast or simply observe these sharks from a cruise ship. 

Although flights to Cape Town are generally pricey unless you can catch a sale, traveling during the “shoulder” season of March to May or September to November will save you money on lodging and food. You could also try to save up miles for a free flight.

7. Porto, Portugal

Ornate, medieval structures and a unique history make Porto, Portugal one of the most interesting and exciting cities to visit. If you love history, you’ll adore touring the ancient buildings of what is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Of course, a trip to Porto wouldn’t be complete without trying port wine. You can taste many varieties of it at the Port and Douro Wine Institute or order a glass at one of the city’s many port wine cellars. 

You can find budget flights to Porto from many major U.S. cities, or fly to another European city on the cheap and then catch a budget airline to Porto. Save on transportation in the city with the Porto Card, which gives you unlimited free public transportation, as well as entry to its many museums and tours for about $14 a day.

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