When it comes to once in a lifetime experiences, more often than not, it’s the sweeping shores of exotic coastlines or the snow-capped peaks of distant mountain ranges that spring to mind. Yet we forget that some of the most impressive and unforgettable backdrops are often right under our nose.

It’s that time of year where we’re all itching to get our holidays and adventures booked, so we have something to look forward to – if only to make it through the long, grey weeks of January!

It’s also that time of year where many of us are feeling a tad cash-light, which is why we’ve found some much nearer and cheaper alternative destinations to those far-flung locations that are just that little bit out of reach.

Check out our top 8 destinations that have huge differences in distance and price, but not so much in appearance…

Totuma Mud Volcano, Colombia vs. Dalyan Mud Baths, Dalaman

With natural ingredients such as calcium, magnesium and aluminium, all said to be beneficial for the skin, many visit Colombia’s mud volcano for an all-natural therapy session. But with an average entry cost at over double that of the Dalyan mud baths in Dalaman, plus a flight time of 11 hours or more, you’ll be pleased to know that Dalyan’s mud is just as mineral rich. And with such impressive savings, you’ll enjoy it all the more!

Yelapa Beach, Puerto Vallarta vs. Agios Georgios, Corfu

Side by side, anyone would be shocked to think that these two coves are 7,000 miles apart. If it’s soft white sand and the bluest of oceans that are calling your name this year, then you might not need to travel as far as you thought. Or spend as much either! With return flights from just £50pp, Corfu is a budget-friendly choice for a beach holiday with a truly exotic feel.

Skydiving at Mount Everest, Nepal vs Swiss Alps

Along with an adrenaline rush like no other, it’s the backdrop that can really make a skydive spectacular. Whilst the breathtaking peaks of Everest really are unique, skydiving from these mountains will set you back a tidy sum! Thank goodness the Swiss Alps boast a skyline just as beautiful and offer skydiving for a fraction of the cost.

We got in touch with Visit Switzerland to offer their location of choice for a skydive like no other:

“The place to go skydiving is Interlaken - the so-called adventure capital of Switzerland. You fly with views of the famous mountains Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Skydiving in Interlaken is possible all year round - so you can go for 40 seconds of free-fall at speeds of 200 km/h with views of either a white winter wonder landscape or lakes glistening in the summer sun.”

Surfing in Oahu, Hawaii vs. Fistral Beach, Cornwall

Hawaii is world renowned for two things – incredible sunsets and even better surfing. So it might come as a surprise that its worthy rival is just a five-hour drive from London! Fistral Beach in Cornwall, England’s surf capital, plays host to annual surfing competitions that bring in avid wave-chasers from far and wide. You’ll also find a vast selection of surf schools here if you’re not quite as experienced on the board – well worth a lesson given how much you’ll save on travel!

Scuba Diving in GBR, Australia vs Faro, Portugal

If witnessing turtles in their natural habitat and swimming amongst colourful corals are attracting you to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, then you might want to consider looking a little closer. The Algarve is met with a coast that offers a spectacular diving scene beneath the waves, and with return flights to Faro from as little as £60, this really is an alternative worth a look. Plus, you’ll be spending just a couple of hours travelling, which means more time in the sun!

Or Tor Kor food market, Thailand vs. Great Market Hall, Budapest

With stall after stall of fresh fruits and vegetables, dried chillies and herbs hanging at every turn and plenty of local delicacies to try, Budapest’s Great Market Hall is regarded as one of the best in the world. So if your budget isn’t looking quite so accommodating for a long-haul trip to see Thailand’s bustling food markets, then the 2 and a half hour flight to Hungary’s capital from just £50pp might just save the day.

Hungary’s Tourism Agency recommend a market tour to make the most of the market:

"Of course Budapest, as the vibrant cultural capital and by far the largest city, is the place to go in Hungary. It is easy to find that special item you won't find elsewhere! We recommend joining a market tour where you can shop with a knowledgeable guide to gather fresh ingredients for dinner.”

Kayaking on Emerald Lake, Canada vs. Lodalen Valley, Norway

The calmest of waters inviting keen kayakers to dip a paddle make Canada’s Emerald Lake any water-lover’s dream. But that said, the lakes of Norway are not to be overlooked. Framed by a naturally stunning landscape on either side, Lodalen Valley is best explored in a kayak, and you really can’t go wrong with flights to Norway from as little as £20pp – plus it’s free to visit!

Visit Norway gave us some top tips on the best location and time of year to hit the water:

"If you are rather new to paddling or you prefer quieter waters, you may want to consider the fjords in the west of Norway. The waters are least cold and the sun is at its most warming in July and August, with late sunsets and mild summer nights.”

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York vs. St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague

If the gothic splendour of historic cathedrals are a focal point for your next holiday, but you fancy saving a fair sum when you book it, then Prague is well worth looking into. Dating back to 1344, St Vitus Cathedral is a real attraction in the city’s architecture. Whilst both cathedrals are even more stunning on the inside than out, the only difference is that you need only travel a third of the distance to explore Prague’s beauty, and at a fraction of the price.

Have you visited any exotic attractions that are closer than you think? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

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