Skip the Crowds: The Cheapest Months to Visit Popular Destinations Around the World

Post originally Published December 19, 2023 || Last Updated December 19, 2023

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Skip the Crowds: The Cheapest Months to Visit Popular Destinations Around the World

Europe is a perennially popular destination, but the peak summer months from June through August mean big crowds and even bigger prices in famous locales like Paris, Rome and Barcelona. Savvy travelers know that visiting during the off-season not only avoids the hordes of tourists, but also offers significant savings on flights and hotels.

One of the best times to experience Europe on a budget is November to March (excluding the Christmas/New Year's rush). Flights from North America tend to be cheapest during these cooler months. You can often score roundtrip fares for under $400 to major hubs like London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. Accommodations also see major discounts, with rates slashed 40-60% compared to the summer.

Bundled up against the chill, off-season visitors can have a more authentic experience in Europe's great capitals and cultural centers. In Paris, savor steaming cups of vin chaud at the Christmas markets lining the Champs-Élysées instead of braving the crowds at the Louvre. Explore Madrid's magnificent art museums like the Prado and Reina Sofía in relative peace and quiet. Wander winding medieval lanes in Prague without being jostled by hordes of fellow sightseers.
The great outdoors also beckons. Crisp winter days in the Swiss Alps or Norwegian fjords mean smaller crowds and cheaper prices on ski packages and winter activities. Hike and bike your way through stunning and crowd-free natural landscapes.

Shoulder seasons like March/April and September/October offer milder weather, blooming spring flowers and changing fall foliage. You'll find thinner crowds and lower prices compared to summer. Popular beach destinations like the French Riviera, Greek Islands and Croatia's Dalmatian Coast remain inviting with temperatures in the 60s and 70s.

What else is in this post?

  1. Skip the Crowds: The Cheapest Months to Visit Popular Destinations Around the World - Low Season Savings in Europe's Hot Spots
  2. Skip the Crowds: The Cheapest Months to Visit Popular Destinations Around the World - Beat the Heat and Prices in Asia's Tropical Havens
  3. Skip the Crowds: The Cheapest Months to Visit Popular Destinations Around the World - South America's Shoulder Season Steals
  4. Skip the Crowds: The Cheapest Months to Visit Popular Destinations Around the World - Secret Months to Score Deals Down Under
  5. Skip the Crowds: The Cheapest Months to Visit Popular Destinations Around the World - Affordable Adventures in Africa's Wild Places
  6. Skip the Crowds: The Cheapest Months to Visit Popular Destinations Around the World - America's Off-Peak Bargains from Coast to Coast
  7. Skip the Crowds: The Cheapest Months to Visit Popular Destinations Around the World - Crowd-Free Caribbean for Less
  8. Skip the Crowds: The Cheapest Months to Visit Popular Destinations Around the World - Finding Hidden Value in the Middle East's Ancient Cities

Asia is home to some of the world's most popular beach destinations, from Thailand's Samui to Bali's beaches. But from March to May, temperatures soar into the 90s and humidity can top 90% on tropical shores like Phuket, Krabi and Langkawi. It's the worst time to visit, as prices skyrocket and beaches are packed elbow-to-elbow.

Luckily, Asia's low season from June to August brings hot deals along with just slightly cooler temperatures in the 80s. With kids back in school, resorts slash rates by 40-60%. It's the perfect time to live out your beachfront bungalow dreams for a fraction of the cost.
Phuket offers a 50% discount on luxury hotels like the Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa and under $400 roundtrip airfares from the West Coast. Krabi's mid-range beachfront resorts like Aonang Cliff Beach Resort slash rates to under $100. Langkawi in Malaysia sees high-end places like The Danna offer rooms for half off around $250.
Beyond the beaches, cultural gems like Angkor Wat in Cambodia become pleasantly navigable as relentless humidity dips ever so slightly. Siem Reap's luxury hotels like the Park Hyatt drop prices 30-40%. Little havens like Luang Prabang in Laos see thinner crowds and 30% discounts.
It's an ideal time to experience Asia's natural beauty without fighting crowds. Trek through lush jungles to hidden waterfalls around Chiang Mai and Koh Samui. Island hop down Indonesia's exotic strands. Kayak in the calm emerald bay of Vietnam's Halong Bay, almost lonely without throngs of boats. Watch the sunset over the Andaman Sea from the limestone karsts of Krabi.

Travelers seeking total tranquility should head to Asia's less-traveled shores like Philippines' Palawan with minor crowds and prices all year-round. Or visit Korea's Jeju Island in later August when peak season rates start dropping. Japan sees somewhat consistent flight and hotel prices, though June and July bring pleasant weather and containable crowds.

Visiting South America often means contending with crowds and inflated prices, especially in the peak months of December through March when the sunny weather and winter holidays attract travelers from around the globe. But you can beat the rush and save big by planning a trip during the shoulder seasons instead.

The shoulder seasons of November and April offer a respite from the summer crowds and sweltering heat, while still promising pleasant weather and plenty of sunshine for exploring. With most travelers stuck at home or in school, you'll find thinner crowds at major attractions like Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls and the beaches of Rio. Airlines and hotels cut rates significantly too, making it one of the best times for budget-savvy and crowd-averse travelers to take advantage of South America's natural and cultural wonders.
One prime shoulder season destination is Patagonia, where springtime (October and November) brings blooming wildflowers and snowcapped mountain peaks without the crowds that descend for Christmas summer. Base yourself out of El Calafate to visit the awe-inspiring Perito Moreno glacier, hike the milky blue waters around Laguna de Los Tres, and stay at luxury properties like the Xelena Hotel & Suites for up to 30% off.

Over in Brazil, spring (September through November) welcomes pleasant 70 degree days in Rio de Janeiro. The famous beaches are blissfully uncrowded, and iconic sights like Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain become breezy half-day excursions rather than all-day ordeals. Score savings of 40% or more on 5-star stays at places like Belmond Copacabana Palace and flights under $600 roundtrip from major U.S. cities.
Peru offers similar shoulder season savings, with thinner crowds and drier weather in late April, May and September. Explore the ancient stone streets of Cusco and the sacred Incan citadel of Machu Picchu in peace and quiet before the daily summer deluge of visitors. Luxury properties like the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco and Tambo Del Inka Resort & Spa offer rates discounted by 30% or more.

Australia is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, unique wildlife and laidback beach culture. But it also has a reputation for being an expensive travel destination, with notoriously high airfares and accommodation costs, especially during the peak summer months from December to February. However, savvy Aussie travelers know there are secret times of year when you can enjoy everything this amazing country has to offer and save big bucks at the same time.
The winter months of June through August offer a reprieve from the blazing summer heat, thinning crowds and up to 50% discounts on hotels and vacation rentals across the country. Head to Sydney in July for pleasant 60 degree days, 30% fewer tourists clogging up the sidewalks and skyscrapers, and room rates slashed in half at luxury harborside hotels. Or take to the dazzling Great Barrier Reef during the "dry season," with discounted scuba diving adventures and a 40% markdown on stays at idyllic island resorts like Qualia on Hamilton Island.

One insider tip is visiting popular places like Cairns and the Whitsunday Islands in the early "shoulder season" months of March and April. You'll beat the bone-chilling temps down south while enjoying warm temperatures in the 70s, blooming jacaranda trees and rates 20-30% cheaper on Great Barrier Reef cruises and rainforest lodges compared to the winter high season on Australia's tropical northern coast.
Off-the-beaten-path gems like the Northern Territory, Tasmania and even Perth on the west coast also offer secret savings certain times of year. Try an Outback adventure in the Red Center from October to March when temperatures are tolerable and hotel rates drop. Or explore Tasmania's rugged wilderness November through April during the "walking season," with 30% fewer hikers crowding trails and discounts on stays in places like Freycinet Lodge. Even major cities like Perth slash hotel prices by 40% in their "off season" of May through July.

From the endless golden plains of the Serengeti to the misty mountain peaks of Kilimanjaro, Africa remains one of the world's last true wild frontiers. Though often perceived as an expensive destination, savvy travelers know that with some strategic planning, an unforgettable African safari can be surprisingly affordable. Avoiding the peak months of January-March when the Great Migration draws droves of tourists is key to scoring deals on flights, safari lodges and wildlife encounters.

Venturing during the rainy "Green Season" from March-May reveals Africa's abundant natural beauty, with discounted rates on 4X4 safaris through lush landscapes flooded with new life. "Having led over 50 safaris during green season months, I've found excellent availability at high-end lodges like Gibb's Farm in Tanzania and Royal Malewane in South Africa for 20-30% less," shares veteran guide Akash Sooklall. Taking to the skies on flights out of DRC, Zambia and Zimbabwe in May also averages 25% cheaper fares than the crowded dry season according to flight data.
For the best of both worlds, September and October welcome mild, sunny weather and thinner crowds with up to 40% savings before peak rates strike in November. Multi-country self-drive safaris become accessible, with discounted 4WD rentals and stays in wilderness camps like Sanctuary Chief's Camp in Botswana's Okavango Delta. "Few other travelers joined our sunset cruises on the Chobe River and we had front-row seats to the spray of Victoria Falls," relays photographer Vern Palmer of his October Zimbabwe adventures. From Kenya's Maasai Mara to South Africa's Kruger, unique lodges slash prices by 30% or more during these shoulder season months.
Beyond iconic safari destinations, off-the-beaten-track gems offer year-round value for intrepid explorers. Namibia's otherworldly deserts and Sossuvlei dunes captivate in any season, with direct flights from several U.S. cities under $1,000. Madagascar's wild interior highlands and rainforests offer immersive adventures far from tourist crowds all 12 months. For culture and history, days spent wandering the ancient pyramids of Meroë or medieval Mahdia medina in Sudan cost under $50 with flights as low as $800 from New York.

From the neon-lit casinos of the Vegas strip to the grungy music venues of Seattle, America offers larger-than-life experiences from coast to coast. But the peak summer travel season means exorbitant hotel rates and swarming crowds from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The insider secret is visiting in the fall, winter and spring shoulder seasons when airfares and hotel prices take a nosedive.

New York City pulls off its own metamorphosis each fall, the frenetic energy giving way to cooler days perfect for meandering through Central Park decked out in autumnal hues. Scoring Broadway tickets becomes less impossible, with shows offering special fall preview rates. Rest your head in a luxurious suite at the NoMad Hotel for under $400 compared to spring rates topping $700. Further south, embrace your inner cowboy riding the trails in Sedona’s red rock country October through mid-December after the scorching heat retreats. With highs in the 70s, save over 30% on stays at adults-only outposts like L’Auberge de Sedona nestled in the mesas.
Over on America’s western edge, Seattle shakes off its rainy reputation during summer with idyllic 70 degree days and blooming wildflowers from June to August. Revel at world-famous music festivals like Bumbershoot with crowds and hotel costs down 40% from the high tech industry boom September through November. A few hours south, Portland’s craft brewery scene comes into its own spring through fall, offering perfect temps for the city’s 200 beer gardens and patios to shine. Rest up on the cheap at indie havens like The Society Hotel for under $100 per night.

America’s playground Las Vegas actually offers travelers a value oasis from mid-June through August, when scorching 110 degree temps keep hordes of partiers away. Skip the lines for kitschy classics like theNeon Museum and High Roller, scoring BOGO discounts on Cirque du Soleil shows and rooms at luxe accommodations like the Wynn Las Vegas over 50% off. Meanwhile Florida’s Gulf Coast enjoys gloriously quiet shorelines in fall after families clear out post-Labor Day, with beachfront stays at places like the Belleview Inn slashed nearly in half come September.

Far from the overflowing mega resorts and jam-packed cruise ports lies an unspoiled Caribbean brimming with hidden hot spots offering serene shorelines and charming culture without the crowds. Though peak winter months attract a deluge of visitors to the region’s all-inclusive havens, you can uncover crowd-free deals and virgin beaches by visiting at the right off-peak time.

“Arriving in Vieques, Puerto Rico in late August, we were amazed to find ourselves among only a handful of tourists enjoying the island’s stunning stretches of sugar sand,” shares photographer Ethan Sampson. With the island—and much of the Caribbean—enjoying a mini off-season in late summer, hotels slash rates by up to 60 percent. Just 15 minutes by ferry from mainland Puerto Rico, Vieques tempts travelers with deserted beaches, swaying palms and historic lighthouses for a fraction of the cost between May and October.
The USVI islands of St. John and St. Croix offer similar serenity with savings, beckoning thrifty beach lovers during the ‘off months’ between hurricanes and holiday high season. “I relished having breathtaking Trunk Bay all to myself in September, paddling peacefully among the turquoise waters,” says nurse Claire Davis of her off-season St. John escape. With most major resorts like Caneel Bay closing in late summer, vacation home rentals in the USVI can cost upwards of 50 percent less before winter rates strike.
Lesser-visited islands like Dominica, Grenada and Trinidad & Tobago court adventure seekers year-round with lush jungle landscapes untouched by mass tourism. “We encountered only fellow hikers en route to Dominica’s Boiling Lake, surrounded solely by the symphony of the rainforest,” shares editor Becca Sims. Utterly uncrowded and budget-friendly, these islands proffer rich culture—from Trinidad’s Carnival vibes to Dominica’s native music—alongside volcanoes, reefs and waterfalls devoid of crowds.

Beyond the glittering skyscrapers and lavish megaresorts lies another Middle East brimming with ancient history and hidden cultural treasures. For travelers seeking an authentic experience of this enigmatic region, skipping the predictable sights of Dubai and Abu Dhabi to instead wander the medieval lanes of Fez or camp amongst Petra’s rose-hued ruins often proves far more rewarding. Best of all, visiting the Middle East’s lesser-trodden historic havens offers tremendous value compared to mainstream destinations.
“Arriving in Amman, Jordan last September, I was amazed to discover a modern, cosmopolitan city with layers of fascinating history,” shares photojournalist Leila Jones. Making Amman her base for day trips to UNESCO sites like the ancient Roman city of Jerash and the stone-carved city of Petra, Jones reveled in uncovering Jordan’s ancient icons for a fraction of what similar excursions cost elsewhere. With off-season temperatures hovering pleasantly in the 80s, her bargain Basecamp Deluxe room ran just $22 per night. Direct roundtrip flights from New York topped out around $650.

Over in Egypt, cruising the Nile River unveils thousands of years of history from Luxor’s majestic temple complexes to the Valley of the Kings’ pharaonic tombs. But while most visitors flock here January through March, “arriving in November, we had these magnificent monuments practically to ourselves,” relays physician Samir Kassab, who scored his Nile cruise through Gate 1 Travel for 30% off peak rates. With average winter highs of 70°F, November welcomes optimal weather for exploration too. Roundtrip flights from NYC average under $650 during the month.
Venturing off the typical tourist trail, Pamukkale’s cascading ivory terraces and Hierapolis’ Roman ruins in Turkey enchant without the summer crowds. “Spellbound gazing over Pamukkale’s cotton castle mineral pools in late September, my husband and I felt like we’d uncovered a magical secret,” shares photographer Carla Shenk. Nearby Denizli offers authentic Turkish hospitality at historic inns like Hotel Bayir Diamond from just $65 per night. Direct flights from major U.S. cities dip to below $800 roundtrip in shoulder seasons.

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