If you are visiting a city on a budget, you can still have a good time. Once you realise that there are so many activities you can do in any city in the world for free, every visit to a city is sure to become more exciting and less stressful.
They say the best things in life are free, and that’s especially true when it comes to travelling. So change your mindset and do your research on free activities before visiting a city, whether it’s a city you’ve never been to or a city you’ve been to countless times. You can make your city adventure unforgettable without spending a cent on attractions.
To get you started, here is a list of six activities you can do for free in any city.
1. Go on a free walking tour
Most major cities will offer free walking tours of the city. Just search on Google for a company that offers free walking tours, or find out whether the staff at the place you’re staying can recommend any walking tours. The guides leading these tours are usually local people who are passionate about their city so you will learn a lot.
Alternatively, you can take a walking tour by yourself. Choose your own route and ask locals and shopkeepers along the way to tell you more about the interesting sites you encounter.
2. Window shopping
In major cities, often the shopping malls themselves can be attractions. Explore malls for free by simply admiring the interesting and beautiful items sold by the boutiques, department stores, and more. Take photos of the malls’ unique architecture and decor. If you feel like taking a break, sit down on a bench and do some people-watching.
3. Take a stroll in the park
Almost all cities in the world have parks where the entry is usually gratis. Take a stroll in the park. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it on the grass while you look out for the park’s animal life: birds, squirrels, monkeys or whatever other animal inhabitants the city boasts.
Some of the most beautiful free city parks are:
- Central Park in New York, USA.
- Balboa Park in San Diego, USA – home to the San Diego Zoo (which isn’t free to enter).
- Chapultepec Park in Mexico City, Mexico, the largest city park in the Western Hemisphere, features an admission-free zoo.
- Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada.
- Hyde Park in London, England was once the hunting ground for Henry VIII.
- Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo, Brazil.
4. Visit free museums and galleries
Every city will have a list of free museums and galleries to visit. In London, for instance, most of the top museums and galleries, such as the Natural History Museum, the British Museum and the Tate Modern, are completely free to visit. In addition, Edinburgh’s renowned Royal Mile offers a wide variety of admission-free museums.
Many museums offer free entry on Sundays, such as Valencia’s popular Museum of Modern Art and the Louvre in Paris (free on the first Sunday of the month).
5. See free performances
Look out for the city’s free street performances, from live music to speeches. In a lot of cities, free music and dance performances are presented in bars, clubs, and even city halls.
When visiting an Irish city like Galway, be sure to pop into a local pub to listen to traditional Irish music. You’ll be able to hear bodhráns, uilleann pipes and various other traditional Irish instruments for free.
In Munich, watching the Glockenspiel in Marienplatz is a must. During the show, 32 life-size figurines act out the ‘Cooper’s Dance’, a local tradition.
6. Visit the library
Every city in the world has at least one admission-free public library. Whether you’re a bibliophile or not, libraries can be very fascinating spaces. Moreover, many libraries offer gratis reading-related activities and events such as poetry readings, writing groups and workshops, so look out for them during your stay.
A few free libraries worth visiting are:
- New York Library
- Amsterdam City Archives in the Netherlands
- Library of Birmingham in Birmingham, England – the biggest library in the UK.
- Centre for the Book in Cape Town aims to promote a culture of reading, writing and publishing in all local languages.