Here’s Budget Travel Magazine’s Top Budget Destinations for 2011. Manila didn’t make it to the list but my favorite city, Lisbon, did. Here’s an excerpt.
We analyzed a year’s worth of news, trends, and statistics to identify the world’s best value destinations for 2011. From China to our own backyard, here are ten places that you can’t afford to miss.
Why in 2011: As Portugal liberalizes—it became the sixth European nation to OK gay marriage in May 2010—its capital is transforming into a hotbed of dining, shopping, and art. According to Hotel.com’s 2010 Hotel Price Index, Lisbon is the third city in the world (after Warsaw and Marrakech) where luxury comes cheapest: on average, a five-star hotel room rings up at a mere $153 a night. Plus, four-star hotel rates have fallen 5 percent since 2009. In spite of its much publicized money woes, the country has beefed up infrastructure in recent years, spending millions of dollars to improve highways and Lisbon’s public-transportation system ($5 buys you a one-day metro pass). Best of all, because Lisbon is a major European hub, flights are abundant. U.K. budget airline easyJet will open a base in Lisbon this winter, so even if you can’t fly direct from the U.S., you can score a cheap connecting flight from lots of European cities, like London and Barcelona (even now, one-way flights to Lisbon from London start at $44).
Best time to visit Lisbon: Spring. The country’s climate is similar to southern California’s, which means going in May lets you skip summer’s crowds without compromising on warm, sunny weather (temps average 70 degrees). It’s also the month that outdoor festivals kick into gear, including IndieLisboa, a popular 11-day event devoted to independent Portuguese films.
Price check: A recent search for flights in May found direct round-trip fares from New York starting at $838 on Continental and one-stop, round-trip flights from Chicago from $758 on Iberia; $844 from Miami (Air Europa); and $904 from Los Angeles (British Airways).
Where to stay: Restored in 2010, the four-star LX Boutique Hotel has five floors, each devoted to a different local theme. Our favorite is the second, which honors Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa with book-stocked berths.
Read the rest here.