Travel and Leisure's "World's Best" Vacation Spots – How Much Are Flights?

Every year, Travel and Leisure surveys its readers to learn the best vacation spots the world has to offer. The 16th Annual World’s Best includes plenty of intriguing locales. (Hint: Orlando and Las Vegas are not near the top.)

While travel aficionados give top ratings to unique vacation spots such as Bangkok, Istanbul and Cape Town, how easy is it for the average Joe to find a cheap flight?

Americans are not known for being particularly adventurous overseas (just 37% of the population even has a passport), but perhaps it is time for us to get over our reservations about making reservations abroad.

Bangkok, Thailand: This year’s top-rated city will overload your senses without draining your wallet. While getting there can be pricey (expect to pay between $1,500 – $2,000 for roundtrip tickets during November to February, their peak travel period), once you have landed in this lively paradise, you can find deals on everything from food to lodging to entertainment. Two airports service Bangkok and there are plenty of transportation options to the city center, including trains, buses and taxis (given Bangkok’s notorious traffic jams, trains are probably your best bet.)

Florence, Italy: The No. 2 city on T&L’s list also happens to be FareCompare founder Rick Seaney’s favorite spot. Roundtrip airfare to Florence ranges anywhere from $850 to $1,400. Tip: Travelers might be able to find lower-cost tickets to Rome, Milan or another European hub, then take a train to the city. While Florence does have its own small airport, most international flights fly into Pisa, an 80-minute train ride away. Planning ahead is a must when visiting Florence during its busy season (June to August;) waits to get into hotspots like the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’Academmia can be lengthy if you do not purchase tickets ahead of time. The Chicago Tribune also rated Florence as one of the top family-friendly European cities.

Istanbul, Turkey: Europe’s hottest city (and we are not talking temperature) is easy to get to, with two international airports as well as bus and train stations. Roundtrip airfare starts as low as $790 and averages $1,200-$1,300. The No. 5 city on the list, Istanbul does not exactly leap out as a family-friendly destination. However, several travel sites say that despite its reputation for history and architecture, there are plenty of things the shorter set will enjoy including boat trips on the Bosphorous, the Spice Bazaar and Miniaturk.

Cape Town, South Africa: After hosting the World Cup, plenty of travelers are interested in visiting this city on the South African coast (No. 6 on the T&L list.) We found fares for as low as $940 roundtrip, but most average closer to $1,600. Additionally, no nonstop service is available from the U.S. The airport, which was renovated last year, is just 20 minutes by car from the city center and is serviced by several major international carriers. The city is small – cradled between the Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain – and is relatively easy to get around via taxi or hired car. (Avoid minibus taxis – their drivers have a reputation for being dangerous.) If traveling with children, head to the waterfront where activities were designed with kids in mind.


Published: July 26, 2011