Backpackers and budget travelers, add these cities to the list. We found 50 (yes, 50!) cities that you can visit to eat, stay and play for under $25/day.
1. Porto, Portugal – $24/day
Porto is a coastal city in northwest Portugal known for its stately bridges and Port wine production. In the medieval Ribeira (riverside) district, you’ll find narrow cobbled streets wind past merchants’ houses and cafes.
2. Bangkok, Thailand – $23/day
Bangkok – Thailand’s capital – is a sprawling metropolis known for its ornate shrines, amazing (and cheap) food, and vibrant street life. The boat-filled Chao Phraya River feeds its network of canals, flowing past the Rattanakosin royal district, home to the opulent Grand Palace and its sacred Emerald Buddha temple. Nearby is Wat Pho with its enormous reclining Buddha and, on the opposite shore, Wat Arun with its steep steps and Khmer-style spire.
3. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – $23/day
Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Caribbean’s oldest cities. The Zona Colonial – the walled, cobblestoned old core of the city features buildings dating to the 1500s. Yet you’ll find that the modern parts of Santo Domingo are vibrant and cosmopolitan, well-known for its nightlife, merengue and bachata music and fervent baseball culture.
4. Istanbul, Turkey – $23/day
Istanbul – where continents collide along the Bosphorus Strait. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit, as the weather is good and festivals are in full swing. The Old City reflects cultural influences of the many empires that once ruled here. The iconic Byzantine Hagia Sophia features a soaring dome and Christian mosaics for the history buffs, while the Bazaar District offers traditional cheap eats.
5. Kiev, Ukraine – $23/day
Kiev is the capital city of Ukraine, known for its phenomenal religious architecture, secular monuments and history museums. Catch the metro to Hidropark island in the Dnipro river. Kiev is endowed with natural city beaches that line the Dnipro. Spend a summer day in the parks and on the beaches of the islands, where you can buy shashlyk from stalls, play beach volleyball, swim in the river or in the pools on the island, or just soak up the sun.
6. Jeju Island, South Korea – $22/day
Jeju Island, also known as the “Island of the Gods,” is a volcanic island off the coast of South Korea, and a popular vacation spot for Koreans and foreigners. It remains the top honeymoon destination for Korean newlyweds. Popular activities include hiking on Halla-san (South Korea’s highest peak) or Olle-gil trails, catching sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, visiting folk villages and museums, riding horses, or just lying around on the sandy beaches.
7. Ljubljana, Slovenia – $22/day
Ljubljana is Slovenia’s capital and largest city, known for its university population and green spaces, especially Tivoli Park. The curving Ljubljanica River, lined in outdoor cafes, divides the city’s old town from its commercial hub. Find tons of museums, including the National Museum of Slovenia, displaying historic exhibitions, and the Museum of Modern Art, home to 20th-century Slovene paintings and sculptures.
8. Yangon, Myanmar – $22/day
9. Amman, Jordan – $22/day
Amman forms a great base for exploring not just Jordan, but the wider region as well – the city is generally well-organized, enjoys great weather for much of the year and the people are very friendly. Visit Amman’s Roman Amphitheatre, its many art galleries or the newly opened Jordan Museum, spend an afternoon away on a chic cafe terrace, then dine on the region’s varied and delicious cuisine. Modern shopping malls are increasingly abundant in Jordan but open air souqs are what many travellers will remember most. Amman is currently experiencing a massive change from a quiet sleepy village to a bustling metropolis – much like a young and buzzy Arab capital making its way into the world.
10. Asuncion, Paraguay – $21/day
Asuncion is the capital and economic hub of Paraguay. It’s a young city: 65% of its residents are under the age of 30. Paraguay has a tradition for beef – so make sure you try the grilled meat (asado). Pasta is also popular as are the street stalls selling panchos (hot-dogs), hamburgers, empanadas and similar fast-food. It is brutally hot in Paraguay’s summer. If you’ve ever wondered why Latin culture has a “siesta” where everything closes down at noon for a few hours, you’ll soon know why if you spend time in Asunción during the summer. People eat dinner late and stay out partying all night as it’s too hot during the day to enjoy being outside.
11. Warsaw, Poland – $21/day
Travel to Warsaw and you’ll come across signs of the city’s tumultuous past and how it’s survived. Rather than being centered on an old market square, the capital is spread across a broad area with diverse architecture – restored Gothic, communist concrete, modern glass and steel. Warsaw’s restaurant and entertainment scene is the best in Poland. Dine on cuisines from around the world at an affordable price, visit the numerous museums and take your pick among the lively bars and clubs throughout the sprawling city.
12. Palawan, Philippines – $20/day
Palawan is centrally located nearby Puerto Princesa (Puerto) – the culinary capital and primary gateway to nearby rural and oceanfront tranquillity. You will find some of the most beautiful seaside sights here, than anywhere else in the world. The majority of travelers go north to El Nido or Coron Town for the world-class snorkeling, diving and general island-hopping adventures.
13. Budapest, Hungary – $20, day
Explore Hungary’s most popular city, blessed with an abundance of hot springs and thus public bathhouses. There’s a lot more to Hungarian food than goulash, and it remains one of the most sophisticated styles of cooking in Europe, and the region is known for its excellent wines – from Villány’s big-bodied reds and Somló’s flinty whites to honey-gold sweet Tokaj.
14. Ubud, Bali – $18/day
The town of Ubud, in the uplands of Bali, Indonesia, is known as a center for traditional crafts, dance and culture. The surrounding rainforest and terraced rice paddies, dotted with Hindu temples and shrines, are among Bali’s most iconic landscapes. Ancient holy sites include the Tirta Empul temple complex, intricately carved Goa Gajah (“Elephant Cave”) and Gunung Kawi with its rock-cut shrines.
15. Sofia, Bulgaria – $18/day
Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria located in the west of the country, below Vitosha Mountain. The city’s churches and monuments reflect more than 2,000 years of Greek, Roman, Ottoman and Soviet occupation history. Visit the Medieval Boyana church to witness 13th-century frescoes, as well as the Roman-built, 4th-century Rotonda Sveti Georgi church for 10th century medieval and Ottoman decoration. Sofia is no grand metropolis, but it’s a largely modern, youthful city, lending an eclectic, exotic feel. Relax in one of the many vast parks and manicured gardens, and hop on a short bus ride from the centre to get to the ski slopes and hiking trails of mighty Mt. Vitosha.
16. Quito, Ecuador – $18/day
17. Prague, Czech Republic – $18/day
18. Thessaloniki, Greece – $18/day
Thessaloniki is a Greek port city on the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean Sea. Evidence of its Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman history remains, especially around Ano Poli, the upper town. The rebuilt 20th-century city has a modern European layout, and is a hub for international trade and culture. The city has given Greece some of its greatest musicians, artists, poets and thinkers. By night, the city booms with music and nightlife, fueled by the excitable stream of international students and backpackers.
19. Kingston, Jamaica – $18/day
Jamaica’s capital, Kingston – is located on the southwestern coast of the island. Visit the Bob Marley Museum for an inside look at his home and recording studio, along with tons of his personal belongings. Taste and buy fresh produce and other local goods at the Coronation Market in downtown Kingston. Jamaica is famous for its hot sauces, with the major ingredient being the Scotch Bonnet Pepper, found throughout the island. Try the local foods, including jerk chicken, escoveitch fish, ackee and saltfish (codfish – the national dish), curried button (goat), roasted corn and bammy cakes.
20. Bocas del Toro, Panama – $18/day
Isla Colón, the main island, is home to the capital, Bocas Town, a hub for dining, shopping and nightlife, with reggae music emanating from open-air bars. Colorful and full of Caribbean-style clapboard houses, Bocas del Toro (better known simply as Bocas town) was built by the United Fruit Company in the early 20th century. Today, it’s a relaxed community of West Indians, Latinos and resident gringos, while serving as a convenient base for exploring the archipelago. Taxis marinos (water taxis) will take you to remote beaches and snorkeling sites for just a few dollars.
21. Tashkent, Uzbekistan – $17/day
Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan, known for its many museums and its mix of modern and Soviet-era architecture. Visit the Amir Timur Museum to see manuscripts, weapons and other relics from the Timurid dynasty. Visit the Tashkent Tower observation deck to see the view of the city from the top. There is plenty of opportunity to escape the metropolis for great hiking, rafting and skiing in Ugam-Chatkal National Park, just a 1½-hour drive away. Spend a few hours at the Tashkent market to try the local street food and mix and mingle with the friendly locals.
22. Puebla, Mexico – $17/day
An easy two-hour drive or bus ride southeast of Mexico City, Puebla has a relatively relaxed atmosphere and is known to have the best street food in all of Mexico. Its historical center, the centro, boasts an abundant amount of Spanish colonial architecture – beautiful churches and vintage buildings covered in the colorful, patterned Talavera tiles for which the city is famous, and thus designated a Unesco World Heritage site.
23. Dakar, Senegal – $17/day
The beauty of Dakar, a city that sprawls across the Cap-Vert peninsula in a jumble of villages and former French colonial towns, comes not from its architecture, but from its people and the atmosphere they create. There’s a riot of noise and smells in the markets of the Medina (center square). And a city marked by its music, you’ll hear a constant soundtrack of raucous jazzed-up Senegalese pop. Find cultural artifacts including clothing, drums, carvings and tools at The Musée Théodore Monod. Head up to Les Mamelles (breasts in French), two hills that overlook the otherwise flat Cap-Vert peninsula, for an incredible view of the city and coastline. Find tasty street food along Avenue Pompidou – anything from grilled fish, skewered mutton and mafé rice for under 2 USD.
24. Almaty, Kazakhstan – $16/day
25. Siem Reap, Cambodia – $16/day
The resort town of Siem Reap, in northwestern Cambodia, is a gateway to the ruins of Angkor, the seat of the Khmer kingdom from the 9th-15th centuries. Angkor’s vast complex of intricate stone buildings includes preserved Angkor Wat, the main temple, which is pictured on Cambodia’s flag. Visit the famed Angkor Temples at sunrise for the best photos, and head over to Phsar Chas, the Old Market, for a taste of a real Cambodian market – baskets of spices, multicolored arrays of fresh produce, crispy fried tarantulas and meats ranging from octopus to chicken feet.
26. Pretoria, South Africa – $16/day
27. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – $16/day
Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, is probably the most energetic, high-octane city in Vietnam, where you’ll find almost anything and everything to heighten the senses. There is a constant buzz in the streets. You’ll notice the city’s French colonial influence, specifically in architecture, specifically in the Notre-Dame Basilica, made entirely of materials imported from France, and the neoclassical Saigon Central Post Office. The Saigonese people are the ultimate foodies – find food stalls lining the city’s streets, especially around the bustling Ben Thanh Market. Modern Ho Chi Minh City has a strong café culture. Stop by one of the dozens of streetside cafés, watching the world go by over their glass of ca phe. The best time to visit the city is during the cooler dry season, roughly between November and April.
28. Cluj, Romania – $16/day
Cluj-Napoca is the unofficial capital of the Transylvania region and the film capital of the country. It’s home to universities, vibrant nightlife and landmarks dating to Saxon and Hungarian rule. Surrounding its central square, Piața Unirii, is the Gothic-style St. Michael’s Church and a dramatic statue of the 15th-century king Matthias Corvinus. Visit the baroque-era Bánffy Palace museum showcasing Romanian art, and head up to Cetatuia Hill for a stunning panoramic view of the city at sunset.
29. Baku, Azerbaijan – $15/day
Baku, the capital and commercial hub of Azerbaijan, is a low-lying city with coastline along the Caspian Sea and sometimes referred to as the architectural love child of Paris and Dubai. It’s famed for its medieval walled old city – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – which contains the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, a vast royal complex, and the iconic stone Maiden Tower. Contemporary landmarks include the Zaha Hadid–designed Heydar Aliyev Center, and the Flame Towers, 3 pointed skyscrapers covered with LED screens. Take a boat tour, go to the opera, head to the Old Town to visit Hamam Mehellesi – the oldest public bathhouse in the city.
30. Nairobi, Kenya – $15/day
You shouldn’t walk around at night, but Nairobi today remains what it has long been – by day, the hectic, cosmopolitan hub of East Africa; by night, a malaria-free city of cool evenings and quiet tropical gardens, best enjoyed with a cool Tusker beer. Nairobi is an excellent base for traveling around Kenya. Millions go to Kenya for a safari, but you barely need to leave the capital to take one. Nairobi National Park is the only wildlife park in the world that you can visit by taxi or bus. Inside are lions, cheetahs, leopards, buffaloes, hippos, zebras, giraffes, gazelles and more. Make sure to try the Nyama choma, meaning “barbecued meat” in Kiswahili, is Kenya’s unofficial national dish.
31. Chiang Mai, Thailand – $14/day
Chiang Mai is a temple-adorned city in mountainous northern Thailand dating back to the 1200s. Its Old City area still retains vestiges of walls and moats from its history as a cultural and religious center. It’s home to the 14th-century Wat Phra Singh and 15th-century Wat Chedi Luang, along with hundreds of other temples. Come here to relax after Bangkok’s chaos, wander leisurely around the area by bike or on foot and dine on fabulous street food and get lost in the authentic Thai charm of the surrounding villages nestled in the mountains.
32. Yerevan, Armenia – $14/day
Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is marked by grand Soviet-era architecture. Republic Square is the city’s core, with musical water fountains and colonnaded government buildings. Fall is the most popular season to visit, with perfect weather. Eat for cheap at one of the many stands selling Armenian-style “pizzas” called “lamehjun” or “lahmajoun.” Armenia itself is a place to drink, with no prohibition against drinking in public – the most popular places to drink in the summer tend to be outdoor cafés and cafés/restaurants. The cafés by the Opera and Republic Square are always packed. And after that, make sure to take home a bottle of Armenian brandy (locally called Cognac as well), as it is considered one of the world’s finest brandies.
33. Split, Croatia – $14/day
Split, the country’s second-largest city on the Dalmatian Coast, is known for its beaches and the fortresslike complex at its center, Diocletian’s Palace – erected by the Roman emperor in the 4th century. This city has just the right balance of tradition and modernity, with dozens of shops, restaurants, cafes and bars all nestled inside the old walls. Its dramatic coastal mountains act as the perfect backdrop to the turquoise waters of the Adriatic. Take a ferry journey to or from the city to fully appreciate the gorgeous cityscape from afar. The Riva, Split’s seafront promenade, runs the length of the old town and is one of Europe’s finest. Spend an hour or so on the balcony/terrace of a cafe, and enjoy the views across the harbour to the islands beyond.
34. Bratislava, Slovakia – $14/day
Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is set along the Danube River by the border with Austria and Hungary. It’s surrounded by vineyards and the Little Carpathian mountains, crisscrossed with forested hiking and cycling trails. The pedestrian-only, 18th-century old town is known for its lively bars and cafes. Perched atop a hill, the reconstructed Bratislava Castle overlooks old town and the Danube. Vienna and Prague are only a few hour train rides away. With its rural atmosphere, on a hot afternoon a flock of sheep wouldn’t look out of place grazing on Františkánske Square. The Old Town is a charming few blocks filled to the brim with romantic cobblestone lanes, cool new cafes and quirky museums.
35. Lima, Peru – $14/day
Lima, the capital of Peru, sits on the country’s arid Pacific coast. Though its colonial center is well preserved, today Lima is a bustling metropolis that’s one of South America’s largest cities. It’s known for its vibrant food scene, encompassing specialties from ceviche and traditional coastal cooking to refined global fare. Lima’s dining scene is all the rage and offers some of the best bites on the continent. It’s also home to the preeminent Museo Larco collection of pre-Columbian art and the Museo de la Nación, tracing the history of Peru’s ancient civilizations. More than 30 archaeological sites are scattered across Lima’s neighborhoods, such as the pre-Inca temple Huaca Pucllana in Miraflores and the Huaca Huallamarca temple in San Isidro. There is so much to explore – museums, archaeological sites, beaches, the boardwalk, valleys, natural reserves, the nightlife, adventure sports, and the exquisite cuisine gives Peru’s capital an authentic and vibrant personality – one that absolutely should be seen in your lifetime.
36. Antigua, Guatemala – $13/day
Antigua is a small city surrounded by volcanoes in southern Guatemala. It’s renowned for its Spanish colonial buildings, many of them restored following a 1773 earthquake that ended Antigua’s 200-year reign as Guatemala’s colonial capital. Architectural landmarks include baroque La Merced church, noted for its ornate yellow-and-white facade, integral to the city’s famous Semana Santa, a holy week with parades and rituals. Thanks to the dozens of Spanish-language schools that operate here, Antigua is a global hot spot and the most popular place to learn the language. Be sure to venture out of the city to explore indigenous communities, coffee plantations and volcanoes. Spend an evening trying authentic Guatemelan food cooked up by local women every evening in Merced Square.
37. Bar, Montenegro – $13/day
Bar is a beautifully charming coastal town in Montenegro – the old town, or Stari Bar, unlike the newer parts of the city, is not near the sea—it instead rests on a hill, first erected by the Illyrians as a fortified city. Inside the Stari Bar, you can find the remains of the two main churches of the old city, St. Catherine (14th century) and St. Veneranda (15th century), along with the Church of St. Nikola, erected in 1288 and the massive aqueduct that supplied the town with fresh water. The Palace of King Nikola is located on the promenade, facing the sea and was built in 1885 with a chapel and a winter garden. The palace now houses a local museum with a section devoted to the narrow gauge railway that ran from Bar to Virpazar in 1908. Venture not too far from the city’s center and you’ll find an olive tree as old as Christianity itself—more than 2009 years. This olive tree symbolizes the lifeblood of Bar and both the olive tree and olive oil are symbols of Bar itself olive oil from Bar is sold at a premium price for both its quality and its taste. You’ll find beautiful, empty beaches with warm weather and affordable prices throughout the city.
38. Colombo, Sri Lanka – $12/day
Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, is a bustling city and a hopping-off point for beaches in the island nation’s south. It has a long history as a port on ancient east-west trade routes, ruled successively by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. That heritage is reflected in its spicy cuisine as well as its architecture, mixing colonial buildings with high-rises and shopping malls. Colombo’s upcoming cosmopolitan side offers stylish eateries, galleries and museums. Venture into its old quarters and you’ll find great local food at affordable prices, and discover local shops and cafes full of character, making Colombo an excellent start – or finish – to your Sri Lankan adventures.
39. Penang, Malaysia – $12/day
Penang is an island rich with multicultural history full of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European influences. Penang is also well known domestically and in Singapore for being the “food paradise” of Malaysia. Visit George Town— the capital of Penang, and a favourite spot for visitors as it has many attractive pre-Second World War houses and shophouses, street art, 19th century churches, temples, mosques, and colonial buildings. Tour the night markets to try cheap and delicious street food from Malay, Indian and Chinese vendors. Take the cable car up to the top of Penang Hill to see the spectacular view of the island from above.
40. Belgrade, Serbia – $12/day
Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, is a bustling city on the Danube River. Its most significant landmark is Beogradska Tvrđava, a fortress at the confluence of the Danube and the Sava rivers – serving as a testament to the city’s strategic importance to the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Serbian and Austrian empires. In present day, it’s now the site of several museums and Kalemegdan, a vast park. Walk along Knez Mihailova, a lively pedestrian boulevard lined with grandiose coffee houses, quirky sidewalk ice-creameries and smoky dens – all leading up to the famed Kalemegdan Fortress. Its youthful population makes the nightlife legendary and the parties last until dawn. In August, Belgrade is home to a five-day beerfest that lets you in for free.
41. Natal, Brazil – $11/day
Natal is the capital city of the state of Rio Grande do Norte, on Brazil’s northeastern tip. It’s known for its extensive coastal sand dunes and star-shaped Forte dos Reis Magos, a 16th-century Portuguese fort at the mouth of the Potengi River. North across the river, Genipabu is an area of towering dunes with a freshwater lagoon. Natal is where the affluent Brazilians park their holiday homes, as it is significantly calmer and safer than other large cities in the region, and as having a superior quality of life. You’ll find rows of restaurants lining the beach, but be sure to try the most typical beach food – “ginga com tapioca” – best served at Redinha market.
42. Cochabamba, Bolivia – $11/day
Busy, buzzy Cochabamba is one of Bolivia’s boom cities and has a distinct, almost Mediterranean, vitality that perhaps owes something to its clement climate. While much of the city’s population is typically poor, parts of town have a notably prosperous feel. The spacious new-town avenues have a wide choice of restaurants, eagerly grazed by the food-crazy cochabambinos, and the bar scene is lively, driven by students and young professionals. Despite this, Cochabamba remains a very affordable city, with prices far below those in Sucre or La Paz. You could easily find yourself staying a lot longer than you planned.
43. Skopje, Macedonia – $11/day
Skopje is the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, in the center of the Balkan Peninsula. The 15th-century Stone Bridge beautifully connects the Ottoman Old Bazaar (Čaršija) on the Vardar River‘s north bank with the contemporary Macedonia Square to the south. The city’s recent abundance of statuary, fountains, bridges, museums and other structures built to encourage a national identity has visitors’ cameras snapping like never before and has defined the ever-changing city for the 21st century. Journey to the wonderful Čaršija (old Turkish bazaar) and get lost for hours, Sveti Spas Church, with its ornate, hand-carved iconostasis, and Tvrdina Kale Fortress, Skopje’s guardian since the 5th century. Make sure to try traditionally famous Macedonian foods such as burek and shopska salata, and grab a drink at one of the many bars in Old Bazar or Debar Maalo.
44. Kaohsiung, Taiwan – $11/day
Kaohsiung is a massive port city in southern Taiwan, home to loads of skyscrapers, such as the 248m-tall Tuntex Sky Tower, and is known for its diversity of parks. Its focal point is the Love River, with walking paths and cafes along its banks, and cruise boats navigating its waters. Shopping options range from high-end malls to the Liuhe and Ruifeng night markets. The city is home to two rival night markets -Kaisyuan and Jin-Zuan, with 300+ food stalls enclosed within their boundaries. The Formosa Boulevard Station in Kaohsiung is the most beautiful metro station in Taiwan, if not the world. Visit Lotus Pond – where you’ll find two seven-story pagodas guarded by crouching tiger and dragon statues. Visitors enter through the dragon’s mouth into a tunnel (inside the dragon’s body) with walls embellished with carvings. Visitors exit via the mouth of the tiger for good luck.
45. Taghazout, Morocco – $11/day
Discover the other side of Morocco in Taghazout, a quaint fishing village in the Souss-Massa Draa region that offers a break from the chaos of the northern cities. A thriving surf-culture came from an influx of hippies in the 1960’s, and continues to draw in those looking for golden waves on the Moroccan coast. Surf the Anchor point, an amazing surf location in Morocco – it’s way less crowded than Spain and France, with warmer water and surrounded by fantastic culture.
46. Tunis, Tunisia – $10/day
Located on the sandy Mediterranean coast, scented with jasmine and sea breezes, and where the fish on your plate is always fresh, Tunisia is prime territory for a straightforward (and affordable) sun, sand and sea holiday. The city of Tunis is divided into the old city, known as the medina, and the new city, or ville nouvelle in French. Take a walking tour of the ancient buildings, mosques, and gates of the medina. Ave Habib Bourguiba, is the perfect spot for strolling, drinking coffee, and idly people watching.
47. Salento, Colombia – $10/day
Nestled in the foothills of the Andes, the popular and charming traditional coffee town of Salento is full of friendly smiles, tasty local dishes, lively cafe-bars, and pristine countryside. Take a tour through a coffee plantation, or make your way to the Valle de Cocora just outside the Parque Los Nevados and soak in the stunning landscape of the cloud forest.
48. Cordoba, Argentina – $9/day
Córdoba is located in the foothills of the Sierras Chicas on the Suquía River, about 700 km northwest of Buenos Aires. Called the Heartland of Argentina for its location in the geographical center of the country, Córdoba has a strong colonial history blending with modern economic growth. Like the rest of Argentina, people in Córdoba like their meat. Make sure to try the traditional asado, locro, empanadas and lomito sandwiches, as well as Bagna Cauda, the anchovy dip for vegetables and bread that Italian immigrants brought with them to Argentina. Venture outside a bit and visit Cerro de Pan Azúcar for great views of the city.
49. Tbilisi, Georgia – $9/day
Tbilisi’s mazelike, cobblestoned old town reflects a long, complicated history of Persian and Russian rule. The capital city is filled with Eastern Orthodox churches, art nouveau buildings with ornate balconies and Soviet Modernist structures. Among the most iconic are Narikala Fortress, a reconstructed 4th-century citadel, and Kartlis Deda, an iconic statue of Mother Georgia. The Saturday flea market (“Dry Bridge Market”) by the river is one of the best places to get jewelry, antiques and even antique swords. Haggling is encouraged, although if you speak little Georgian or Russian. Don’t forget to try the local foods of khinkhali – dumpling filled with meat potatoes or mushrooms, pkhali – vegetable paste topped with pomegranate seeds, kachapuri – circular bread filled with cheese, mtsvadi – grilled skewered meat, and kababi – chopped and seasoned meat grilled on a skewer, served on thin flat bread.
50. Lahore, Pakistan – $7/day
Lahore is Pakistan’s second largest city but widely considered the country’s cultural capital. The Mughal and Sikh legacy survives in the Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque and Gurdwara, the Mall is lined with colonial-gothic buildings from the British Raj, and the suburbs of Gulberg and Defence feature palatial mansions and trendy shopping districts. The city is home to numerous universities and offers cultural attractions, including museums, parks and a planetarium. The food scene is one to be remembered, and The ‘Food Street’ of Gowal Mandi is a must-visit for dinner – a 200 meter long street with historically preserved 2/3 story old houses on both sides. You’ll find a beautifully bustling street full of shops offering authentic Lahori fare – probbaly a hundred restaurants with mouth-watering menus.