This year, frequent travelers who like to ring in the New Year abroad got an especially good deal, given that the U.S. dollar is enjoying its fastest rise in 40 years. A stronger U.S. dollar means your money will go a lot further in restaurants and hotels in Europe and South America. Here’s a look at five international destinations with famed New Year’s Eve celebrations that along with fireworks also deliver a big bang for the buck.
Although it made a miraculous recovery after being the world’s worst currency performer at the end of 2014, the ruble continues to struggle. Today $1 gets you about 71 rubles, compared with 33 at the start of last year.
Currency woes aside, Russians go all-out for New Year’s Eve. The place to gather is Red Square, where the fireworks are spectacular. Get a head start on the crowd by staking out a spot near St. Basil’s Cathedral or beneath a street clock with a view of the national history museum. If you’d rather watch fireworks away from the elbow-to-elbow crowd, try a stroll along the banks of the Moskva River, which offers a nice skyline view of this capital city within a quick walk of many hotel doorsteps.
Rio de Janeiro
You can’t go wrong visiting any major city in Brazil, but there’s really only one place to ring in the new year: Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach. At Copacabana, you’ll join several million excited people clustered up and down the 3.3-mile sandy beach awaiting fireworks blasting off from barges floating in the Atlantic.
The cost of your vacation will be worth shouting about, too, given that the Brazilian real lost more than 32% of its value vs. the U.S. dollar over the course of 2015. One sign that the prices are right: you can book a four-star hotel for just under $175 a night.
On New Year’s 2015, you’d have spent about $1.40 to buy one Euro. This New Year’s, one Euro will cost only $0.91. That means your greenbacks are worth 35% more now. Happy New Year indeed.
The strength of the dollar is a great reason to visit Europe in general, but Paris is a special case—this year more than ever. There may be no better way for a tourist to stand up to the fear of terrorism than by taking a selfie in front of the resplendent Eiffel Tower and then posting it all over your social media feeds.
While the fireworks may not be as expensively spectacular as in financially healthier European countries, there’s good reason to go to Athens. For one thing, feeding the local economy could help the city get back on its feet after Greece’s debt crisis. In fact, this year’s celebration is all about hope.
And while the municipal-sponsored New Year’s Eve event will be tamer this year, local bars, hotels, and other businesses are stepping in to fill the void. Visitors will be treated to a multitude of smaller fireworks exhibits throughout the city, with hotel rooftops as a prime viewing spot. Wherever you stand, seeing the Parthenon illuminated by a backdrop of crackling fireworks is always a sight worth seeing.
New Year’s in Stockholm is a zoo—literally. The city’s Skansen Museum and Zoo has been the center of Stockholm’s New Year celebrations since 1895. At the stroke of midnight, a selected Swede reads the Tennyson poem “Ring Out, Wild Bells,” followed by a celebration of streamers, trumpets, and fireworks. Just as festive is the fact that many of the city’s clubs waive their cover charge that evening. That said, unlike the Euro, Sweden’s krona is down only about 10% vs. the dollar from a year ago.