Five Europe destinations that won't kill your budget

You can also drive (if you have good reflexes and nerves) or take buses. Start in Antalya, a busy resort town where you can get an overview of the area's history from the Stone Age to the Ottoman period at the local archeology museum (Antalya Museum, about $12). Then, head down to the ancient city of Olimpos, where you hike to the Chimera, a series of natural eternal flames which in ancient times inspired myths about a fire-breathing monster. Further west is Kas, a fishing village turned beach resort where you can base yourself for explorations of nearby ruins like Demre, where St. Nicholas (Santa!) lived, and Ucagiz, an old village where you can see 2,000-year-old Lycian tombs. Before ending your tour in Dalaman, be sure to visit Oludeniz, home to what many think is Turkey's most beautiful beach, and Fethiye, where you can see remnants of the ancient Telmessos.

Trip planning:To book a sailing trip, go to the Fez Travel website. For landlubbers, the website Turkey Travel Planner has lots of good hotel recommendations. In Antalya, try the small Ottoman-style La Paloma Pansion (from 30 euros per night) in the Kaleici historic quarter. Olimpos is famed for its tree houses, including Kadir's Tree Houses (from about $20 a night), which can arrange all kinds of tours and activities for pretty good rates. In Kas, summertime rates for doubles at the seaside B&B Hideaway Hotel start at 48 euros, and in Fethiye, you can stay at the Villa Daffodil (from 40 euros per night), a quiet guesthouse away from the main town.

Early September flights from New York to Istanbul start at $902 round-trip, including taxes and fees, on Hotwire.com. In Turkey, plan to fly from Istanbul to Antalya and then from Dalaman back to Istanbul. Flights on Turkish Airlines start around $40 each-way plus taxes.

For more trip planning ideas, go to Turkey Travel Planner.

Transylvania, Romania

For many Americans, Transylvania conjures up images of an Eastern European backwater that produced one of the world's most frightening characters, Count Dracula. While it may be rough-around-the-edges, Transylvania (now part of modern-day Romania) is also a beguiling place to see, promising a chance to experience one of Europe's wildest landscapes and a proud culture that still practices many old traditions.

"As we traveled through the country side, I remember seeing women leading broad-horned cows by rope and farmers using scythes to harvest hay," says Anna Rudberg, an Arizona native who traveled through Transylvania with her brother Eric in 2006. "It seemed like we were witnessing an older way of life that doesn't exist anymore in other parts of Europe. The people seemed to very connected to their heritage and were very proud of it. The landscape is jagged mountains covered with ancient-looking forests and then farmland with medieval villages and castles. It really felt mysterious—you could understand how the land could breed myths like the Dracula stories."

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