Many popular travel destinations for tourists have an overcrowding dilemma and aren’t just cramping the locals’ way of life, but Americans’ pocketbooks, too.
Click through to discover some underrated tourist destinations you can visit instead of these more common and crowded ones.
Overcrowded Tourist Destination: St. Barths
Estimated airfare: $1,760 and up
Saint-Barthelemy, also known as St. Barts or St. Barth, is considered one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean. The tiny French island is known to attract wealthy visitors and celebrities, and it charges accordingly. Much of its appeal is that it remains underdeveloped but has great shopping and French cultural flair.
The average hotel for a couple ranges from $67 to $250, according to skyscanner.com.
Estimated airfare: $918 and up
For a few hundred dollars less in airfare, you can visit Curacao — a Dutch-Caribbean island also known for its coral reefs and European vibe. The food and accommodations are about the same as in St. Barts, but the biggest savings is in travel. You can use the extra cash for water activities or for the island’s great shopping.
Overcrowded Tourist Destination: Belize
Estimated airfare: $537 and up
Belize once was overshadowed by Cancun and Cozumel, but it now gets just as many visitors. The Central American country is a popular travel destination for its stunning beaches, barrier reef, Mayan ruins and captivating culture. If you’re looking for getaway deals, you’ll find a better bargain in another Central American country.
Estimated airfare: $672 and up
Nicaragua has equally gorgeous white-sand beaches, great surfing and snorkeling and beautiful cities such as Granada, Another perk? Hotels in Nicaragua typically cost less than half the amount than in Belize. For two people in Nicaragua, a per-night stay is only $36, compared with $200 in Belize.
Overcrowded Tourist Destination: Dubai, UAE
Estimated airfare: $1,158 and up
Is the United Arab Emirates on your travel bucket list? If so, you likely are planning to visit Dubai, which isn’t listed among other cheap trips. Understandably, the rich and famous flock here, in addition to the main tourist crowds. If you want to get a glimpse of the luxurious lifestyle while spending less, visit Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Alternative: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Estimated airfare: $1,448 and up
Abu Dhabi is just as appealing as Dubai, but a flight from New York City to Abu Dhabi can cost you several hundred dollars more. But, traveling in Abu Dhabi is cheaper, which will save you more money in the long run. The average price of food for one day costs $25, compared with $66 in Dubai, according to Budget Your Trip.
While in Abu Dhabi, be sure to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of two mosques in the country to offer entry to non-Muslims.
Overcrowded Tourist Destination: Paris
Estimated airfare: $842 and up
Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world — as well as one of the most expensive. The city is nicknamed the “City of Lights” because it truly comes to life at night. Tourist attractions include the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, the Arc de Triomphe and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Walking in Paris is the best way to explore and grasp what the city is about, not to mention seeing its many gardens and sampling French pastries.
Estimated airfare: $272 and up
Paris isn’t the only place to enjoy a French vibe. Montreal has authentic French pastry shops and French restaurants — and French-speaking locals. Airfare also is much less, possibly a few hundred dollars lower from New York City.
Furthermore, the dollar has a great exchange rate in Canada, stretching further there than in Europe. Comparing the two cities overall, on average, Paris will cost you $30 more per day.
Don’t-miss highlights include Notre-Dame Basilica and Old Montreal.
Overcrowded Tourist Destination: Prague, Czech Republic
Estimated airfare: $715 and up
Prague once was off the tourist radar, but not anymore. Now, popular attractions such as the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge and Old Town Square draw their fair share of crowds.
A traveler to Prague can expect to spend about $88 on expenses per day, another $21 for food and generally $106 a night for a hotel stay.
Alternative: Bratislava, Slovakia
Estimated airfare: $1,101
If you want a travel experience that is similar to but not as overcrowded as Prague, head to Bratislava, Slovakia, where there also are a good number of castles. Prices are far lower in the capital city of Slovakia than in Western Europe, according to Lonely Planet.
You can save a few hundred dollars in airfare by traveling to Bratislava, as well as save on accommodations. A nine-night stay at a five-star hotel with breakfast in Bratislava could cost you $1,242, while the lowest price in Prague is $3,150 for the same dates and duration.
Overcrowded Tourist Destination: Kingston, Jamaica
Estimated airfare: $561 and up
Kingston, Jamaica, draws a crowd for its beaches and from those looking to pay homage to the late reggae singer Bob Marley. Travelers even can visit the performer’s former house, which has been turned into a museum. The popularity of the capital city’s breathtaking beauty and musical beats also drives up pricing.
Alternative: St. Augustine, Fla.
Estimated airfare: $289 and up
Like Kingston, St. Augustine also is a former European settlement. The city in northern Florida also offers a subtropical climate and numerous beaches.
If you’re looking for bargain places to visit with a familiar flair, this is it, with airfare less than half the cost of Kingston from New York City. In St. Augustine, you’ll be able to save a few dollars here and there on daily travel expenses, as well as nearly $80 a night for a hotel stay.
Overcrowded Tourist Destination: Cape Town, South Africa
Estimated airfare: $1,602 and up
Cape Town is a popular travel destination with a rich history, vibrant nightlife, scenic beaches, inviting wineries and, of course, fresh seafood. It will cost an average of $101 a day per person to visit Cape Town, according to Budget Your Trip.
Alternative: Zagreb, Croatia
Estimated airfare: $1,179 and up
For a lot less money, Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, offers much of the same vibrant culture as Cape Town. In Zagreb, you can find Austro-Hungarian architecture, wineries, fresh seafood and stunning mountain views.
Airfare to Zagreb costs less than to South Africa. You also won’t spend as much money in a day — $75 on average, according to Budget Your Trip. Food is much cheaper than in Cape Town — $21 for a typical day, compared with $43.
Overcrowded Tourist Destination: Cancun, Mexico
Estimated airfare: $530 and up
Cancun undoubtedly is one of Mexico’s most popular destinations, mainly for its beaches. The city offers great snorkeling, scuba diving and nightlife, plus the Mayan ruins. As with any touristy area, though, prices are on the high end.
Alternative: Playa del Carmen
Estimated airfare: $311 and up
Do you want to stay clear of the party crowd and have a more relaxing vacation that also costs less? Set your sights on Mexico’s Playa del Carmen. Airfare is only a little less, but you’ll find the biggest savings in hotel accommodations and daily travel. The average price is $38 a night for a couple in Playa del Carmen, according to Budget Your Trip. That’s $141 less than in Cancun.
Overcrowded Tourist Destination: Machu Picchu, Peru
Estimated airfare: $934 and up
Machu Picchu is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, bringing tourists up close to ancient civilizations and to the mystery of the lost world.
Overcrowding is a major issue for Machu Picchu, however. Peru’s government stepped in to try to control tourist traffic by regulating sightseeing times. If you combine the large crowd, the price of travel and tour of the site, which can get expensive, you might find the negatives outweigh the positives.
Alternative: Bogota, Colombia
Estimated airfare: $697 and up
A much better bargain is Bogota, Colombia, especially when you consider the $237 difference in airfare. Bogota is easier to explore than Machu Picchu because the Colombian city doesn’t experience the high numbers of tourists.
If you do go, be sure to check out the Gold Museum, city markets and the fine Latin cuisine. It costs $47 on average for a two-person hotel stay in Bogota, and meals for one day typically cost $9.14, according to Budget Your Trip.
Overcrowded Tourist Destination: Honolulu
Estimated airfare: $767 and up
White-sand beaches, great hiking trails and historic sites such as the USS Arizona Memorial make Honolulu appealing to travelers.
What you might not find pleasing is the price, with airfare costing $680 on average from JFK Airport in New York. In fact, the sought-out destination was named as one of the most expensive U.S. cities for travelers earlier this decade.
Alternative: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Estimated airfare: $347 and up
San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, is a great alternative to the overcrowded tourist destination of Honolulu. Flights are significantly cheaper from New York, with daily expenses $56 less, in general, than the Hawaiian city. Daily eats also will save you more than $13.
San Juan offers a plethora of beaches, from Playa Flamenco — one of the world’s best — to Playa Isle Verde. For days off the beach, travelers will enjoy walking along the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan and viewing its pastel buildings.
Overcrowded Tourist Destination: Miami
Estimated airfare: $349 and up
Miami appeals to visitors for its endless sandy beaches, luxury hotels and great nightlife. But Miami also is known for being expensive.
Alternative: Tampa, Fla.
Estimated airfare: $256 and up
If you’re looking to plan a last-minute vacation to somewhere that has a more relaxed vibe than Miami, consider Tampa. You’ll save $100 or more on a flight from New York and still get to enjoy soft, white-sand beaches and a vibrant nightlife. The average hotel stay per night in Tampa generally is half the cost of Miami accommodations — about $100 less, according to Budget Your Trip.
Overcrowded Tourist Destination: Tuscany, Italy
Estimated airfare: $989 and up
Tuscany is one of Italy’s top vacation spots. The region’s beautiful countryside is a draw for many tourists who want to enjoy local wine, eat delicious meals and stay at idyllic inns.
With wine buffs and tour groups ascending to the area, accommodations undoubtedly can make this an ultra-expensive vacation.
Alternative: California Wine Country
Estimated airfare: $465 and up
California wine country is popular, but by no means is it Italy. However, if you’re seeking vineyards and scenic views, you’ll pay a fraction of the cost in airfare traveling to the Golden State, which also has an ample supply of delicious wines and no currency exchange fees.
Overcrowded Tourist Destination: Singapore
Estimated airfare: $1,061 and up
Many travelers go to Singapore to see the modern, multicultural city even though it is more expensive than other parts of Southeast Asia. Popular attractions include Singapore’s Chinatown and Orchard Road for high-end shopping.
Alternative: Hanoi, Vietnam
Estimated airfare: $1,035 and up
Travel to Hanoi, Vietnam, instead of Singapore if you’re looking for vacation deals. Although the cheapest flight showed only a $26 price difference between Hanoi and Singapore from New York, the shortest routes have a more substantial difference in cost — over $1,000.
Like Singapore, Hanoi has a mix of ancient temples, urban areas and cheap street foods. On average, you’ll spend only about $11 a day on Vietnamese eats. Hotel stay also is a bargain, costing only about $42 for a couple, compared with $142 a night in Singapore.
*All round-trip airfare prices are estimated by Skyscanner at cheapest value rates from New York’s JFK Airport for travel dates August 20-22, 2010. Prices are accurate as of July 30, 2019, and are subject to change.