The high cost of living, post-pandemic wanderlust, changing weather patterns and overtourism are combining to turn travellers’ attention towards new destinations that have largely stayed out of the mainstream.
While Spain continues to attract the bulk of British holidaymakers, an increasing number of travellers are looking at alternatives to the busy Balearics and crowded Costas, where they’ll find a quieter landscape and lower prices.
A trends report by search engine Skyscanner has found that value for money remains a key factor for UK travellers, with the cost of the hotel (25 per cent) and flight (22 per cent) being the biggest factors determining the destination of their trip.
It has also experienced the biggest year-on-year increase in searches for flights (up by 1,235 per cent) to the city of Vigo in Galicia. This corner of so-called “green Spain” – the lush landscapes of which are maintained by the temperate, oceanic climate in the north of the country – is already popular among Spanish tourists, but is quickly gaining the attention of Britons.
North-west Spain is lapped by the Atlantic rather than the Mediterranean, giving it a wilder flavour, but there are still white-sand beaches and the idyllic Cies islands – which are just 45 minutes by ferry from Vigo – that offer a cost-effective alternative to Ibiza and Mallorca. And while parts of Mallorca endured temperatures of close to 45°C in July this year, Vigo basked in highs that rarely topped 30°C.
Another beach-swap alternative coming up through the ranks is Rimini, on Italy’s Adriatic coast, where waters tend to be slightly cooler than the Med. The Emilia-Romagna coastal city is close to huge, attractive beaches such as Cervia and Riccione, as well as offering easy access to the smaller, idyllic coves of the Riviera del Conero in Le Marche – no less sparkling than the Amalfi Coast, but noticeably cheaper and more Italian.
And while Venice, further north, continues to attract debate over its controversial €5 daytripper entry fee, there is interest in alternative waterfront cities that offer good value for money.
One example is Bydgoszcz in northern Poland. Skyscanner has seen flight searches to the city increase by 313 per cent in the past year. Return fares are available for as little as £25 next month.
Bydgoszcz sits on the Vistula and Brda rivers, its Art Nouveau architecture and industrial waterfront focal points for visitors, but it’s the curiosity of Mill Island in the old town that lends itself to comparisons with Venice.
Surrounded by water and connected to the rest of the city by footbridges, it’s a compact and picturesque assembly of weirs, canals and locks that hug parks, mills, granaries, warehouses and historic houses.
Hotels nearby represent good value, with rooms costing around £50 per night, such as Przystan Bydgoszcz.
Other destinations that Skyscanner has noted a spike in interest in the past year include Billund – ground zero for Lego fans – in Denmark, which is well served by low-cost airlines and where you can often find bargain school holiday flights (it’s also centrally located in Jutland, meaning beaches on both coasts are easily accessible) and several cities in Japan.
- Vigo, Spain (+1,235% search increase)
- Leipzig, Germany (+545% search increase)
- Rimini, Italy (+362% search increase)
- Bydgoszcz, Poland (+313% search increase)
- Sapporo, Japan (+276% search increase)
- Osaka, Japan (+231% search increase)
- Nantes, France (+229% search increase)
- Chiang Mai, Thailand (+221% search increase)
- Billund, Denmark (+219% search increase)
- Tokyo, Japan (+208% search increase)
Japan was one of the last countries to reopen its borders after the pandemic and, when it did so, tourists flocked back for its culture, gastronomy and exceptional value-for-money (it has been one of few countries whose currency has not been strong against sterling).
Despite the relatively high cost of flights, British visitors have found their money has gone further than usual once arrived. Post Office Travel Money has also identified Tokyo as one of its best-value destinations for long-haul travellers this winter.