You’re kicking back in a landscape of rolling vineyards and castle-topped towns. The days are filled with beautiful drives and visits to local vintners, where you sample the fruit of their labors. You might swing by a rustic wine bar for a tasting. Nights you bed down at a small hotel with cabin-like rooms and a blue-walled restaurant that blends harmoniously with the hotel’s collection of glass aquariums.
Is this Tuscany? Burgundy, perhaps? No, this is the Moravia region of the Czech Republic, home to 94 percent of the country’s fast-growing wine production. The surprising regional capital, Brno, is dotted with Modernist houses designed by Adolf Loos and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. And that stylish lodging? It’s the Noem Arch Hotel, and doubles start at a very reasonable $141 a night.
An under-the-radar province like Moravia is a real find, because it offers similar attractions to better-known destinations, but tends to be much easier on the wallet. Whether it’s a charming European hideaway, an undiscovered beach resort, or the latest food mecca, T+L spanned the globe in search of destinations like these that offer style and local flavor—and won’t cost a fortune.
Take Langkawi, a cluster of islands off Malaysia’s northwestern coast. Most of the main island is swathed in mangrove and tropical rainforests, and it was recently designated a UNESCO Geopark—the first in Southeast Asia.
On the southwestern coast of the main isle you’ll find Pantai Cenang beach, lined with guesthouses and bars under coconut palms. The nearby Bon Ton Resort, is a small village of formerly dilapidated Malay wooden houses transformed into sleek lodgings by hotelier Narelle McMurtrie. The cost: just $150 a night.
For a more urban—but also exotic—experience, head south to the capital of Colombia, Bogotá, which some say is poised to become the next Buenos Aires.
The culinary and nightlife scenes are flourishing, and in the historic city center, the recently reopened Museo del Oro showcases a 6,500-piece collection of pre-Columbian gold coins and other works of art.
Another formerly gritty city that’s newly dressed up is Marseilles, France, which has spruced up its waterfront and is attracting a more sophisticated crowd from Paris. Open-air cafés line the Vieux Port, and in the newly posh district of St.-Victor, travelers can stay at the artsy Casa Honoré, which has a tapas bar and a shop that sells furniture designed by owner Annick Lestrohan. It’s a slice of real France that most tourists haven’t seen.
Read on for more amazing, untrammeled places where the dollar still goes far.