January is a fitting time to draw up a travel wish list. The high cost of living could have an effect on plans, with one in three Britons saying that rising prices will affect their holiday booking decisions in 2023, according to research from travel booking website Skyscanner. Holidaymakers also want their money to stretch further, with hotels.com reporting a growing interest in hotels of three stars or fewer.
All-inclusive breaks can also help to manage holiday spending, says Graeme Buck, director of communications at Abta. “If you can be flexible about when you travel, such as visiting a destination outside of its peak period or travelling midweek, you’ll find prices tend to be cheaper,” he adds.
We have looked at new flights routes and prices, hotel rates and where sterling remains strong to pick 12 cost-effective holiday destinations for each month of 2023.
This Mediterranean island is among the best-value destinations for winter sun. The average cost of a seven-night all-inclusive holiday in January is £395pp, according to online travel agent On the Beach. Plus, EasyJet Holidays is selling 28-night packages in Malta from £450pp B&B with flights this month, when temperatures average an agreeable 15°C. January brings the Valletta Baroque Festival to town, with concerts at one of Europe’s oldest working theatres. If you travel independently, there are purse-friendly options: the 1926 Hotel & Spa in Sliema has a rooftop infinity pool and rooms from £42 a night. Eight-day Discovering the Maltese Islands twin-centre walking tour from £1,249pp, including flights, B&B and bus tickets, headwater.com.
Cost-conscious holidaymakers would do well to consider a winter trip to Sri Lanka. At the time of writing, £1 would buy 441 Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) – well up on the 145 LKR of April 2022 and flight prices are typically lowest this month. A new Pekoe Walking Trail covers 22 routes across 185 miles of the island’s tea country. It is Sri Lanka’s 75th National Day on 4 February, and there will be big celebrations across the country. Fifteen-day Highlands of Sri Lanka tour from £1,845pp, excluding flights, departs 19 Feb, exodus.co.uk.
Up to 1.7 million Britons booked, or planned to book, a winter sports break this season, Abta estimates. Prices tumble after February half term. The Bulgarian ski resort of Borovets is the best value, according to Post Office Travel Money and Crystal Ski Holidays. Following a tough start to January, more snowfall is forecast. Expect tree-lined slopes suitable for beginners and advanced skiers. Alternatively, Bulgaria is a thrifty option for summer sun: we found seven nights’ all-inclusive in June from £400pp. Seven nights’ half-board at Hotel & Villas St George from £690pp, with Gatwick flights on 4 March, balkanholidays.co.uk.
Trips to Albania gathered significant interest in the first few days of 2023, Responsible Travel reports. With mountains, uncrowded beaches and medieval mosques, the country caters to many tastes. Everyday costs are low: a meal and glass of wine is available for as little as £5. April is one of the cheapest times for flights: return tickets to Tirana are up to 66 per cent less than in August. Seven-night cycling holiday in Albania from £1,487pp for a 7 April departure, including flights, responsibletravel.com.
Flights prices to the autonomous Portuguese archipelago dropped by 22 per cent in 2022 compared with 2019, Skyscanner reports. May brings the flower festival to the capital of Funchal, when the streets are packed with parades of blooms. The wider island is green and rugged, with a network of hiking trails, botanic gardens and volcanic pools. Children will enjoy the Museum de Brinquedo, which holds 60,000 toys (tickets €5/£4.40, under-threes free). Seven nights at three-star Hotel Dorisol Florasol from £519pp, including flights from Manchester on 6 May, jet2holidays.com.
Hurricane season runs roughly from July to November on this Caribbean favourite, but there is still plenty of sunshine in June, with average temperatures reaching a high of 31°C and rainfall often limited to one downpour. It is also a much cheaper time to visit. Accommodation prices can be as much as 65 per cent less than during the peak season of December-to-April. June is one of the few times of the year when three types of sea turtle are in hatching season. While tourists are encouraged to stay away from hatchlings, turtle and shipwreck snorkelling tours are from $30 (£25) per person, from Harbour Lights Barbados in Carlisle Bay. Self-catering apartments from £160 a night in St James, with pool access, hammertonbarbados.com.
Almost one in three Britons are planning an all-inclusive break in 2023, rising to 57 per cent for young families, according to Abta. Going all-inclusive can mitigate some of the cost of a peak-season school holiday, and Turkey has plenty of options along its glittering coastline. Moreover, sterling has risen by 23 per cent against the Turkish lira in the past year, according to travel money specialist Eurochange, making self-catering and eating out more affordable. Seven nights’ all-inclusive at Ramada Resort by Wyndham Side in Antalya for two adults and two children, with return flights from Gatwick for £1,579, departing 5 July, thomascook.com.
Capital cities such as London, Rome, Paris and Brussels empty out over August and there are some real bargains to be unearthed. Skyscanner found flight prices to Brussels dropped by 13 per cent in 2022, while Eurostar tickets start at £49.50 each way. The new European Sleeper service from Brussels to Berlin is launching in May 2023, with prices from €49 (£33) a seat. It is among a clutch of sleeper routes across the Continent, with other connections from Brussels including Prague and Graz in Austria. Bruges is also just under an hour from Brussels via train, with tickets costing €10-€14 (£8.80-£12.35), but a Eurostar ticket from London to “Any Belgian Station” is usually cheaper. Stay at the Numa Lief in Brussels from £88 a night, numastays.com.
Sterling has remained steady against the yen. At the time of writing, £1 would buy ¥158.60, compared with ¥155.31 a year ago. Spring cherry blossom season and the autumn are the most appealing times to visit, but the latter is quieter and can be cheaper. Return London–Tokyo flights were around £125 less in September than April. Ghibli Park, a celebration of Studio Ghibli – famous for animations from My Neighbour Totoro to Spirited Away – is among the new openings since Japan welcomed back foreign tourists in 2022. Eight-night Japan Express tour from £1,208 for September departures, excluding flights, intrepidtravel.com.
Wizz Air has launched flights from London Luton to Amman, making it easier to reach the Jordanian capital on a budget (one-way fares from £36). In October, the temperature hovers between 20°C and 25°C, and a B&B can be as little as £50 a night. The rock tombs in Petra are an easy day trip from Amman. If you travel independently, consider booking the Jordan Pass. It costs from 70JD (£81) but includes entrance to more than 40 sites and waives the visa on arrival fee. The entrance fee to Petra alone is 50JD (£58). Nine-day Jordan Discovery tour, including Petra and Wadi Rum, from £935pp, excluding flights, in October, explore.co.uk.
Sterling is up against the Egyptian pound, with £1 buying E£30 at the end of 2022, compared with E£21 in December 2021. Prices for everyday holiday items are also relatively low (around £1.70 for a beer). This year is set to bring the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, just over a mile away from the Pyramids of Giza. Tutankhamun’s entire treasure collection will be on display. Sharm El Sheikh is also on the menu, with flights to the diving resort having resumed in 2019, following a four-year ban. Seven-nights all-inclusive at Grand Hotel, Sharm El Sheikh for £777pp, with return flights from Gatwick, departing 5 November, redseaholidays.co.uk.
Several destinations, including Greece, have launched digital nomad visas to lure remote workers. Athens is still mild in December (an average of 15°C) and Jet2 has added the city to its winter schedule from Manchester, Birmingham and Stansted. According to the Post Office report, Athens is the best-value European city break, with costs down 15 per cent year on year. Christmas festivities kick off from 6 December on the feast day of St Nicholas. Two-bedroom apartments from £64 a night at Kyma Apartments Athens 19, kymaapartments.com/athens.