Warm Winter Escapes on a Student Budget: Top 5 Affordable Travel Spots

Are you itching to ditch the bulky sweaters for something a bit more warm? Us too! Winter can be a bummer, but who says you’ve gotta stick around for it? If you’re on the hunt for some epic, wallet-friendly hotspots to soak up the sun you’re in the right place. We’ve scoped out the hottest spots where you can max out the fun without maxing out those credit cards.

Whether you’re down for beach bumming or city cruising, these 5 destinations are your ticket to sun-drenched adventures and Insta-worthy memories. So, pack those shades and flip-flops, because we’re about to dive into the ultimate winter escape guide – student budget style!

First up, let’s start with the classic

Crystal-clear cenote in Tulum, Mexico, an affordable warm winter escape for students looking for adventure.

1. Tulum, Mexico 🇲🇽

We know Tulum has a reputation of being expensive, but by being a savvy traveler you can enjoy the dreamy beaches and ancient ruins on a college budget with an average cost of a Hostel being $15 a night and eats under $10!

Here are a couple of activities you can enjoy at this winter escape: 

  • Visit the Mayan Ruins: Explore the iconic ruins of Tulum, perched above the Caribbean Sea, offering both historical insight and stunning views.
  • Snorkeling in Cenotes: Cross it off your travel list and dive into the clear waters of Gran Cenote or Cenote Dos Ojos for an unforgettable snorkeling experience. Yes, we promise it’ll be as magical as it looks! 
  • Beach Yoga Sessions: Join budget-friendly or free yoga classes on the serene beaches of Tulum for a rejuvenating experience, or simply engage with the locals, volunteer and see where the flow takes you.

Panoramic view of Lisbon’s colorful architecture, a top budget-friendly warm winter destination for student travelers.

2. Lisbon, Portugal 🇵🇹

If you want to get the best of both worlds, Lisbon is the ultimate europe chill spot. Stays can range from $25+ a night while eats are around $10-$15. Here are a couple of activities aside from enjoying the multiple beaches that you can partake in to make sure you have a true Portugal winter!

  • Tram 28 Ride: Take a ride on the historic Tram 28 for a scenic and affordable tour of the city. This trip should be about relaxing and what better way than doing the one tourist attraction that requires minimal efforts.
  • Day Trip to Sintra: Explore the fairy-tale castles and forests of Sintra, just a short train ride away. Surrounded by parks, you can either opt in for a hike or to explore this 19th century monument. The Sintra-Cascais Natural Park offers numerous trails that lead to hidden palaces, ancient ruins, and natural viewpoints.
  • Fado Music Night: Experience a Fado performance, a genre of Portuguese music, in one of the local bars or cafes that we know you’ll visit because when you’re young, the night IS young!

While this location will probably be the one with cooler temperatures, sunny days are plenty! Plus, if you decide winter is your season, you can simply hop on a train and discover the rest of Europe, we just hope you brought extra clothes!

Vibrant market stalls in Marrakech, Morocco, offering students a warm winter escape with rich cultural experiences.

3. Marrakech, Morocco 🇲🇦

You are in for a treat because Marrakech is straight-up magical. With Riads, a traditional Moroccan house, going for $25 a night and food under $5, your only goal while visiting this wonderful place is to take it all in! Now here are a couple of activities we recommend. 

  • Visit Jardin Majorelle: Designed and created by the French painter Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and later on purchased by and restored in the 1980s by the famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent (yes, that one!). Jardin Majorelle, stands as a testament to artistic and botanical passion, offering a unique blend of Moroccan culture, French artistic influence, and natural beauty.
  • Souk Shopping: Dive into the bustling markets (souks) of the old city of Medina. The souks in Marrakech are famous for their variety of goods, from spices and textiles to pottery and jewelry. Sounds like souvenirs for everyone!
  • Traditional Hammam Experience: A pillar of Moroccan culture, a Hammam is a steam bath that not only offers a rejuvenating experience in the form of massages and scrubbing, but also serves as a social gathering place. 

Aerial view of Granada, Nicaragua, with its colonial buildings, a hidden gem for students seeking warm winter destinations on a budget.

4. Granada, Nicaragua 🇳🇮

If your budget is even tighter, sounds like Granada will be your go-to for adventure without a hefty price tag. With an average cost of $15 a night and local meals under $5, there is truly no excuse for you to be cold this winter. Find Nirvana in Nicaragua through some of these activities because freedom to experience the world is not dependent on luxurious trips. 

  • Mombacho Volcano Hike: Trek the trails of the Mombacho Volcano, one of Nicaragua’s most iconic natural landmarks for breathtaking views and wildlife spotting. Now for those who want more of a thrill, canopy tours and zip-lining are available. Check and check! 
  • Island Hop the Islets of Granada: Known as “Las Isletas,” these are a group of small islands located in Lake Nicaragua, just off the coast of the city of Granada. These islets are a unique and picturesque destination, offering a peaceful and natural escape. In fact, we suggest getting a boat tour for an opportunity to explore and learn about the local culture and history.
  • Visit Masaya Market: Known for being one of the most vibrant and culturally rich markets in Central America, support the local economy and admire the work of artisans by shopping traditional Nicaraguan crafts and souvenirs. If quality and authenticity is something you look for this is definitely a must-visit.

Picturesque coastline of Cape Town, South Africa, a prime location for students desiring affordable warm winter travel spots.

5. Cape Town, South Africa 🇿🇦

If you have a little more wiggle room in your budget and want to dip your feet in exploring the second-largest continent in the world, let us suggest Cape Town! With an average cost of hostels going for $15 a night to meals around $10, Cape Town is truly one of the coolest towns to visit with a variety of experiences that will have you wondering why you didn’t make this trip sooner. 

Here are a couple of activities to keep in mind while enjoying the South African sun. 

  • Table Mountain Cable Car: One of Cape Town’s most famous attractions, offering 360-degree panoramic views during the ascent and descent. So no matter where you stand you are sure to get spectacular views of the city and coastline.
  • Boulders Beach: See the African penguin colony at Boulders Beach where you can even swim with penguins in a protected cove. And if you are feeling brave, shark cage diving in Gansbaai is another exhilarating experience available. Just don’t tell your mom about this one. 
  • Explore the Cape Winelands: Just a short drive from Cape Town, regions like Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl offer some of the world’s best wines. Enjoy wine tasting, vineyard tours, and the stunning landscape of rolling hills and vineyards.

And there you have it! Your guide to escaping winter on a student’s budget. It’s time to get planning, get packing, and get ready to make some great memories.

And to get you started, enjoy exclusive discounted flights on us. Let’s turn those winter blues into beachy hues with ScholarTrip’s great flight deals!

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