The 10 best places for a cheap, alternative Spring Break

The 10 best places for a cheap, alternative Spring Break

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Here are some of the best, cheapest places to go for an alternative Spring Break. We’ve got some unique hidden gems, interesting cities, and quieter beaches around the world, so you can avoid the tourist crowds

Spring Break is coming, so here are 10 top destinations you can go to avoid the (other) college kids. Whether it’s North America, Europe, Asia, or further afield, we’ve got city breaks, beach holidays, adventure trips and island getaways for every type of traveler.

Best Spring Break destinations in Europe

Dublin, Ireland

View down the river towards Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin — iStockDublin, renowned for being a sociable city, is one of the best places in Europe to explore with friends — iStock

Our first suggestion for a Spring Break destination is Dublin. It’s long been associated with everything people think of as typically Irish: pubs, buskers, nightlife, friendly locals, and that mysterious, infectious energy known as “the craic”. From the huge Phoenix Park in the north of the city to the beautiful, quirky Iveagh Gardens, there are plenty of green spaces (naturally!), while Temple Bar and south to Portobello provides every sort of pub and club for getting to know the locals and fellow visitors. It’s the sort of city that people just want to come back to time and again. Okay, it’s maybe not one of the “avoid-the-crowds” destinations we said we’d be listing, but it’s a classic.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Young girl with backpack on Triple Bridge in heart of Ljubljana Old Town, Slovenia — ShutterstockLjubljana makes for the perfect relaxing city break — Shutterstock

For a more relaxing city break, Ljubljana is a great shout. The friendly, green, compact Slovenian capital has everything you’d want in a destination — history, riverside cafés and bars, interesting little nooks and crannies, a castle on top of an exhausting hill — but with an atmosphere that encourages you to take things as they come. There’s no reason to work out an itinerary, it’s just a matter of drifting from place to place, stopping occasionally to take in a view or refuel with a coffee, all the while feeling slightly jealous of people who get to exist permanently in this attractive, prosperous little corner of Europe.

Cagliari, Italy

Poetto beach in the sunshine — ShutterstockPoetto beach — Shutterstock

Finally, we’re heading to Cagliari, an Italian city that’s not in Italy. Well, it is, but not on the mainland. It’s the capital of Sardinia, and when Sardinia was a nation unto itself, Cagliari was its powerhouse. It’s still clear today that this was an important place, its 13th-century walled city — the Castello — sitting atop a hill, surveying its maritime domain. Eventually, however, after you’ve explored the winding streets that tumble wildly down to the seafront, you’ll discover that all roads lead not to Rome, but to Poetto beach. It’s the place to be for relaxing during the day, and for partying at night. The perfect combo, eh?

Least-crowded Spring Break destinations in North America

Tulum, Mexico

Couple making hand heart against beach backdrop in Tulum — Getty ImagesTulum is a quieter alternative to the likes of Cancún — Getty Images

We begin our North American selection on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. In contrast to the more heralded and (some would say) clichéd Spring Break destinations such as Cancún, Tulum is more for those who like a little bit of R’n’R with their revelry. Sure, there are beach parties and live DJs, but rather than raving all night, things tend to be more on the chill-out end of the musical spectrum. Plus, if you feel like adding a spot of culture to your trip, the nearby ruins just along the coast were once one of the foremost trading posts of the Maya civilization.

Guadeloupe

To the Caribbean next, and no, not Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, or any of the other places you might automatically think of. Technically a part of France, Guadeloupe consists of six inhabited islands and a bunch of smaller, empty ones, and it’s quickly making its mark as an up-and-coming destination. The French-Creole fusion food is amazing, the beaches range from black, volcanic sand to a typically Caribbean blazing white, and you can go for all-in luxury or look at the budget end of the market. It’s not necessarily cheap, but with more than 5,000 apartments or rooms for rent, you’ll find somewhere to suit.

Sedona, US

Hiker admiring the view of red rocks in Sedona — ShutterstockSedona is a dream destination for hikers and mountain bikers — Shutterstock

Finally for this section, here’s an option for outdoorsy types. Set in 1.8 million acres of Arizona’s national park land, its famous red landscapes are popular with hikers and mountain bikers, and you’re a relatively easy drive from the Grand Canyon to boot. If that’s not quite your thing, you can also head to one of the many spiritual retreats on offer: sleep beneath a wide bowl of stars amid the ancient rocks and spend your break meditatively before returning, refreshed, to the real world.

Cheap Spring Break destinations in Asia

Canggu, Indonesia

A Balinese penjor pole in Canggu — ShutterstockA Balinese penjor pole in Canggu — Shutterstock

For a Spring Break experience in Asia, there are thousands of beaches and cheap places to stay, but we’ve decided to focus on just one. This Balinese town is a lush, green seafront destination with every type of accommodation on offer, from luxury villas to hostel rooms from as little as $6. The food and drinks are equally cheap, and with beaches that either host parties every night or are more for simply chilling in the evening sun, you’ll be able to choose exactly what sort of trip you want. During the day you can surf or swim, hang by one of the pools, discover the restaurants, or visit some of the local temples for a spot of local culture.

Alternative Spring Break Destinations in South America

Chiclayo, Peru

Royal archeological site in Chiclayo — ShutterstockYou’ll find some awesome archeological sites in Chiclayo — Shutterstock

Our first South American selection, and it’s somewhere you might not have heard of. That’s a shame, as its parks and gardens are among the finest in the country, it’s the place to discover wondrous archeological sites of the ancient Moche people, and it’s got all of this while still being only 13 kilometers from some wonderful Pacific coast beaches. It’s not the most rock-and-roll town in the world, but that’s okay because you’ll get to feel more at home as you try the unique regional food, hang out with the locals, and generally spend time in warm, friendly company.

Ilhéus, Brazil

Let’s head almost directly across the continent now to find one of Brazil‘s more modern cities, but still a pleasant place to spend your Spring Break. It’s built on a bunch of waterways — rivers, lakes, lagoons — and the oceanfront, giving it some attractive beaches and a city center that sits on a small hilltop overlooking it all. As an added bonus, the surrounding state of Bahia is famous for cocoa production, so you can be sure your sweet tooth will be catered for!

Adventurous Spring Break destinations in Africa

Tanzania

Finally, for a less self-indulgent Spring Break than a couple of those mentioned above, there are scores of volunteer programs that are always looking for people who want to give something back while having an adventure. A great example is the International Volunteer HQ program. Projects including teaching, medical aid, child care, and women’s education are always looking for enthusiastic members, and the whole trip mixes authentic culture and unforgettable experiences. Combine your volunteering work with safaris, mountain treks, visiting Maasai tribes, or rewarding yourself with a week on the beach when you’re done!

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