If you’re off on a beach break, it can be easy to find free things to do, like swimming, sunbathing, and reading on a sunlounger. When you’re on a city break, it’s not as easy to do that, and your budget can quickly escalate.
There’s a lot to spend your money on during a city break. There’s shopping, places with entrance fees, places to eat, and many attractions. There are tickets to buy, like CenturyLink Field, Seattle Seahawks. However, there are plenty of free things that you can do too in cities if you know where to look.
Go On A Free Walking Tour
Most cities offer free walking tours. Just Google to find one you like the sound of. Free walking tours help you to explore some of the most interesting parts of a city with a local guide. Lots of these leave from hotels or other central locations in the city, so it’s easy to join the tour.
The guides are often passionate locals who want to share their city but remember that they work on tips. Free tours are often better than paid ones because the guides rely on impressing you. Always tip your guide.
If you’re in a city that doesn’t have a free walking tour, check for a walking tour app to guide yourself.
Explore The Markets
Soak up the atmosphere of the city at the local market. Experience the aromas, flavors, and sights of local food, local fabrics, arts and crafts stands, and more. Markets are a good source of entertainment and an insight into local life.
Remember to look out for free food samples. You can try local ham in Barcelona’s La Boqueria Market or unusual cheese from a stall in London’s Borough Market, and you can get a great flavor of the city that you’re staying in.
Visiting Free Museums And Galleries
In the UK, most of the top museums and galleries are free to visit. For example, in London, all the major museums like the Natural History Museum and the Tate Modern are completely free. Unfortunately, this isn’t true for all the big cities. However, there are free museums and galleries in most cities, even if they’re smaller ones. Check the guidebook, google, or ask at your hotel. If you’re in Paris, you won’t be able to get free entry to the Louvre museums, but you can go to the Carnavalet Museum for free, which is all about the history of Paris.
If you know you want to explore a lot of museums and galleries and you’re in a city where they aren’t free to get in, get a city pass card. Lots of cities offer them, but they often have a different name. These passes are usually affordable and will give you access to lots of big museums and galleries, a few tourist attractions, boat or bus tours, and sometimes include public transport too. The passes also usually come with a booklet which is full of discount coupons for bars and restaurants, for a more budget-friendly trip.
If you write a travel blog, you might be able to get free access to some sites with a press pass. Don’t be pushy or rude about asking for access, but if you’re going to be promoting the attraction on your blog then it can’t hurt to politely ask. You never know.
Hang Out With The Locals
Sometimes there’s no need to visit that museum or gallery, as just having a conversation with a few friendly and knowledgeable locals can be all you need to get a better picture of the city that you’re visiting. Locals are often happy to give tourists some tips about some of the best-kept secrets in their hometown. Don’t feel shy about starting a conversation with a stranger next time you’re on a city break. They can be far more interesting than the guidebooks and share the best tips on where to go. Conversational old men and hotel receptionists are often the best local guides out there.
Carnivals, Festivals, and Free Performances
Try to time your trip so you’re in the city at the same time as a local carnival or festival and the city will be full of free performances. Sometimes bigger festivals can push up the prices for flights to the city and hotels in the area, so you need to find the right festival to be able to get any real benefit from the free activities.
Whether you time your trip for Chinese New Year in Beijing, Day of the Dead in Mexico City, Holi in Delhi, or Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai, get involved with the culture of a local festival or carnival.
Just strolling along a tourist street or through a pretty park could lead you to a free theatre performance, outdoor orchestra, or a poetry reading.
Stroll Around A Park
If you’re trying to find somewhere quiet to take a moment for yourself, then head to a city park that you can relax in. Parks can sometimes be a big city attraction, such as the famous Central Park in New York, Kensington Gardens in London, or the English Garden in Munich.
Pack up a picnic with a bottle of something to enjoy in the park or look for the best street vendor selling churros. You can save yourself a fortune by doing this instead of the restaurant that has the views of the park. You’ll be in the park instead, which is always going to be better.
If you’re a bookworm, you might enjoy visiting the local library in the city that you’re visiting. Not all libraries are tourist attractions, of course. Some libraries are in boring buildings that are ugly inside and out, but other libraries are beautiful, fascinating, and filled with history, charm, and local information.
Visit the Amsterdam City Archives, the Glasgow School of Art Library, or the New York Library, and soak up some history.
Churches And Cathedrals
Looking at some of the world’s most beautiful and iconic churches and cathedrals is a fantastic thing to do in a city. If you like looking at old buildings, you can spend time admiring the spires of the Tyn Church in Prague, or the gargoyles of the Notre Dame de Paris. A lot of churches are free to go inside, so you can admire the equally impressive interior.
It can be tempting to blow your budget in local boutiques and shopping malls but splashing the cash abroad can be one of the most expensive parts of a city break. Instead of doing this, opt for window shopping instead if you think you can resist the temptation to actually buy anything. Often the shopping centers themselves can be the attraction, such as the incredible KLCC in Kuala Lumpur, which is in the shadow of the iconic Petronas Towers.
If you love shopping and can’t resist, then investigate the vintage shopping scene instead for a more affordable shopping spree. It’s nice to pick up vintage items while you travel, as it makes them feel even more unique and special. Vintage clothes are great souvenirs of a trip too.
Another great way to explore a city is to combine your sightseeing with your exercise. Hunt out some jogging routes around your city of choice, passing famous landmarks, and jogging through gorgeous parks. You’ll be able to cover more ground much faster, which is ideal if you’re on a short break, and have lots of things that you want to see.