13 'Destination Dupes' to Visit for a Cheaper Vacation

AI-generated image of a couple traveling to a destination dupe

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AI-generated image of a couple traveling to a destination dupe
Cheapism / DALL-E 3

Twin Cities

If you're itching to travel in 2024 but your bank account begs to differ, a travel or destination dupe might offer a solution. But what exactly is a travel dupe? Much like fashion dupes, which offer more affordable alternatives to expensive, trendy products, travel dupes involve choosing destinations that provide similar experiences to those in more luxurious or renowned locations, but without the hefty price tag. 

These alternative destinations, which are often underrated, provide travelers with a comparable cultural, natural, or urban experience to their more famous counterparts at typically much lower price points. The clever hack is ideal for budget-conscious travelers who don't want to compromise on the quality of their vacation. 

Here are 13 vacation dupes that offer all the fun without breaking the bank. 

Pattaya Gulf, Thailand

1. Pattaya, Thailand (Dupe for Bangkok)

Often overshadowed by the bustling metropolis of Bangkok, Pattaya in Thailand's eastern coast offers a similar vibe in a more relaxed and affordable setting. Known for its beautiful beaches, lively nightlife, and a wide range of water sports, Pattaya is a hidden gem that also boasts a rich cultural tapestry. Must-visit attractions include the Sanctuary of Truth temple and the Nong Nooch Botanical Garden.

Valparaiso houses

2. Valparaíso, Chile (Dupe for Barcelona, Spain)

While we adore Barcelona, the Spanish city has become a lot more expensive in recent years, not to mention how it's crawling with tourists in the summer. An alternative is Valparaíso in Chile — a city known for its bohemian culture, vibrant street art, delicious food, and beautiful beaches. It also offers a rich cultural experience, complete with ancient architecture, many museums, and a lively arts scene.

Related: Cool Under-the-Radar Destinations for Art Lovers

Mostar city Bosnia and herzegovina

3. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Dupe for Istanbul, Turkey)

Offering a delightful blend of East and West, Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina is reminiscent of Istanbul's charming streets and vibrant cultural heritage. It's known for its diverse architecture, hearty Bosnian cuisine, and sprawling markets. Sarajevo is also renowned for its historical significance — it was where Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in 1914, which sparked the onset of WWI. 

Related: 22 Beautiful Destinations Threatened By Overtourism — and Where to Go Instead

Porto, Portugal Skyline
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

4. Porto, Portugal (Dupe for Venice, Italy)

Porto in Portugal — with its delectable seafood, colorful buildings, and thriving surf scene — offers a less crowded and cheaper alternative to Italy's Venice. Renowned for its expansive riverfront, Porto's picturesque scenery is dominated by the Douro River, which plays a central role in the city's character and economy — particularly through its connection to the world-famous Port wine industry.

Related: 6 Ways To Eat Cheap While Traveling

Old city center view in Krakow

5. Krakow, Poland (Dupe for Prague, Czech Republic)

Krakow, located in southern Poland, is known as a vibrant city that blends medieval charm with modern vitality. As one of Poland's oldest cities, Krakow is renowned for its well-preserved historic center and rich cultural heritage. Must-visit landmarks include the Main Market Square (Rynek Główny), one of the largest medieval town squares in Europe, and the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), a Renaissance-era trading post. 

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Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato Mexico

6. Guanajuato, Mexico (Dupe for Florence, Italy)

Guanajuato, nestled in the heart of Mexico, is another city that captivates travelers with its vibrant colors, delicious street food, intricate network of narrow alleys, and a profound artistic heritage. Its charm and architectural beauty bear a resemblance to the Renaissance splendor of Florence, Italy, but at a much more affordable price point.

The city is also known for being the birthplace of famous artist Diego Rivera. The Museo Casa Diego Rivera showcases an extensive collection of Rivera's works and personal artifacts. 

Related: The Friendliest Cities in the World (and How Much They Cost to Visit)

Fishing boat and the scenic village of Loutro in Crete, Greece

7. Crete, Greece (Dupe for Santorini)

While Santorini is known for its stunning panoramic views and unique architecture, Crete offers a similar laidback Mediterranean vibe — complete with beautiful beaches, historical sites, and scrumptious Greek cuisine at a lower cost. Must-visit attractions include the ancient Palace of Knossos, a key site of Minoan civilization and Greek mythology that is renowned for its historical significance and intricate frescoes. 

Related: Fall for Less: Cheap Destinations for Off-Season Travel

aerial view of the water coast
Mahmoud Ghazal/istockphoto

8. Zanzibar, Tanzania (Dupe for the Maldives)

Zanzibar in Tanzania, with its pristine white sand beaches and crystal-clear blue waters, is a more affordable alternative to the Maldives. Beyond its coastline, Zanzibar also offers rich cultural experiences and is renowned for its spice tours. Visitors can explore spice farms to learn about and taste a variety of spices like cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper — all of which play key roles in the island's history and economy.

Related: 50 Affordable Vacations to Add to Your Bucket List

Ljubljana - Slovenia (Church and river Ljubljanica)

9. Ljubljana, Slovenia (Dupe for Amsterdam)

Slovenia's capital, with its charming canals, cobblestone streets, and vibrant cultural scene, offers a quieter and cheaper alternative to Amsterdam. One of its most distinctive features is the Ljubljanica River, which flows through the heart of the city. These riverbanks are lined with outdoor cafés, boutiques, and lush green spaces — creating a perfect setting for leisurely strolls or a romantic dinner by the water. 

Quebec City Canada sunset view

10. Quebec City (Dupe for Paris)

Known as "Little Paris," Quebec City offers a slice of European charm right in North America. Known for its gothic architecture, charming bistros and boutiques, coupled with a thriving arts scene, the city is similar to its much more expensive European counterpart in both style and culture. The city's Old Quebec area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is reminiscent of Paris' intricate arrondissements and old-town charm. 

Related: A Bit Provincial: 17 Canadian Tourist Traps to Avoid

Charleston south Carolina

11. Charleston (Dupe for Bordeaux, France)

Charleston in the good ol' U.S.A offers a similar experience to Bordeaux in France — particularly for those who appreciate history, distinctive architecture, and a vibrant culinary scene. Charleston's well-preserved historic district, adorned with cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and antebellum architecture, evokes a similar elegance to Bordeaux's neoclassical cityscape. 

Related: Places to 'Travel Abroad' Without Leaving the U.S.

Aerial view of a Church bell tower rising from the rooftops of Old Town of Budva, situated on the Fortress Mogren

12. Montenegro (Dupe for the Italian Riviera)

With its stunning coastline and historic towns, Montenegro is a cheaper alternative to the Italian Riviera. The country's coastal region — especially the Bay of Kotor — often draws comparisons to the scenic beauty of Italy's island of Capri. The Bay's crystal-clear waters and surrounding mountains also create a beautiful backdrop for sailing, akin to the Italian Riviera's famed boating culture. 

Aerial view of Unirii Square, Bucharest Romania on a sunny day.
Paul Antonescu/istockphoto

13. Bucharest, Romania (Dupe for Vienna)

Bucharest, the Eastern European country's capital, offers an architectural and cultural experience reminiscent of Vienna's rich historical and artistic legacy. The city is known for its grandiose architecture, wide boulevards, and a significant cultural influence from Western Europe. Must-visit landmarks include the elegant Palace of the Parliament, which is comparable in grandeur to Vienna's imperial palaces.