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Cheap holiday destinations

Cheap holidays in 2015Cheap holiday destinationsSurfing in Devon

By Mark Hodson, Sunday Times Travel Writer and Editor of 101 Holidays

It’s not easy budgeting for a holiday these days. We all seem to be working harder than ever and feel the need to get away for a relaxing break – but finding the money can be difficult.

So where are the cheap holiday destinations? And how can you save money to ensure you have a great break this year?

Here, we present some suggestions for cheap holidays in 2015 – and some slightly pricier options that we consider to be excellent value.

Note: all the travel companies featured are personally recommended by our editors.

Cheapest holiday destinations in Europe

Cheap holidays in Europe

If you have kids, take a look at First Choice SplashWorld which has 24 all-inclusive hotels in popular locations, each with a water park on site or next door.

Crossing the Channel can be one of the best deals. You can stay on some of the most beautiful stretches of French coastline in a holiday parc with a choice of mobile homes, lodges and apartments plus loads of activities and facilities to keep children amused. We recommend Siblu.

On the French Atlantic island of Ile de Ré you can find some great-value apartments. This is a popular budget option, offering superb beaches, a long summer season and family cycling across flat paths that criss-cross the island.

Spain is not amongst the very cheapest holiday destinations but you can find some excellent villas in Catalonia at reasonable prices, and you can save even more by driving, rather than flying. We recommend PCI Holidays.

Northern Spain is outstanding value and much less crowded than the south. You’ll find wide empty beaches, charming resorts, rugged mountains (you can go white-water rafting and mountain biking) plus delicious local food and friendly people.

Croatia is good value in the Med and every bit as stylish as the Greek islands or the Balaerics. The island of Hvar is a stunner and only a short hop by ferry from Split. Check out these stylish budget hotels on Hvar. Croatia shares a border with Montenegro which is fast emerging as one of the most exciting destinations in Europe, with mountains, lakes, national parks, historic cities and pretty beaches squeezed into a country half the size of Wales. See our recommended places to stay.

Another tactic is to avoid the crowded beaches of the Med and head instead to the mountains where the climate is wonderful with low season summer prices (peak prices apply during the ski season). Many of the hotels and chalets are very good value. Try a lakes and mountains holiday with Inghams or a family activity holiday with free child care with Esprit Sun.

In the winter, you can also get deals on family ski holidays with Esprit Ski providing you avoid the school holidays. See the latest special offers.

If you’re travelling alone you can save money on single supplements by booking with a specialist such as Solos Holidays or Mercury Holidays. For more ideas, see our sister site 101 Singles Holidays. If you want to avoid airports, how about a short break by rail to an exciting city such as Paris, Brussels, Bruges or Amsterdam.

If you’re stuck to school holidays, try searching for cheap holidays in July or August. See some examples of holidays under £500.

Chy-Aber log cabin, LiskeardUK holiday destinations

Cheap UK holidays

In Dorset, we have found this inspiring collection of rental cottages. Or explore the beautiful county of Devon where you can stay in a pub with rooms or a B&B farmhouse.

A boating holiday on the Norfolk Broads is not expensive and can be a wonderful way for a family or group of friends to spend time together while enjoying the gentle countryside of East Anglia. Find more boating holidays across the UK with Waterways Holidays.

The Isle of Wight is often overlooked, but it has a great diversity of sights, beaches and good-value places to stay, ideal for families.

As you are saving on airfares, you can splash out a little on accommodation, perhaps rent a cottage in Devon, East Anglia or in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. If you want to enjoy the wide open spaces of Scotland on the cheap, try this selection of cottages. Best destinations include the Highlands, Loch Lomond and the Borders.

Margate on the coast of Kent is enjoying a resurgence with the opening of the Turner Contemporary art gallery and the fabulous new Sands Hotel. The town – within easy reach of London – has an outstanding beach and was a favourite subject of the painter JMW Turner.

It’s hard to beat camping for value. You could stay at one of Haven’s 35 holiday parks, which have caravan holiday homes, and spacious chalets. Children love working farm holidays in the West Country (details here), which are also good value. PGL has activity holidays for families in the UK and France.

If you’re prepared to spend a little more on luxury camping, you can rent a tepee, safari tent or bell tent at the gorgeous Trevella Park located near a beach in Cornwall. The park has a heated swimming pool and each tent has comfortable beds, duvets, decking, a fridge and camping stove.

Another way to explore fabulous countryside at sensible prices is by renting a cottage in the Lake District. Details here. For stylish self-catering cottages in Wales, we recommend Sheepskin.

In Cornwall we recommend Sands Resort which is excellent for families. Or rent a log cabin with space for up to eight people.

If you can’t leave your dog behind, try one of these pet friendly holiday cottages.

Cheap winter sun

If you want to get away for some winter sunshine you need to think carefully about your destination and how far you need to fly. Generally, the longer the journey, the more expensive the price of the holiday. However, some long-haul destinations have low prices on the ground, so if you stay for longer you are effectively saving.

If you just want cheap sun on a one-week or two-week package, we recommend Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, a five-hour flight from the UK. Tunisia also has attractive beaches, delicious food and good-value hotels, though it can get a bit chilly in the midwinter months. It’s better in October or March than December or January. See the latest deals from First Choice.

The Canary Islands are popular choices and with good reason. The flight is only about four hours but the climate is excellent. Tenerife has a wide variety of destinations from lively package resorts to charming country hotels. For nature lovers, we suggest La Palma, for walking, culture and quiet beaches.

We also recommend The Gambia on the west coast of Africa – six hours flying time from the UK, with excellent beaches, friendly hotels and plenty of excursions on your doorstep. The Cape Verde islands are also outstanding value.

North Cyprus is an attractive destination for cheap holidays because it’s outside the Eurozone – it uses the Turkish lira. Prices on the ground are remarkably low and you’ll find some enticing special offers.

The Aegean coast of Turkey has a very long season, as does Malta. A little further afield, Egypt has superb winter weather.

We also recommend Marrakech, which combines excellent winter weather with cultural treasures and fascinating street life.

Also see my guide to the cheapest long haul destinations.

This article was updated on 13 August 2014.

Know when you want to travel?

Cheap holidays in January

Cheap holidays in February

Cheap holidays in March

Cheap holidays in April

Cheap holidays in May

Cheap holidays in June

Cheap holidays in July

Cheap holidays in August

Cheap holidays in September

Cheap holidays in October

Cheap holidays in November

Cheap holidays in December

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