how to find free things to do while traveling

Of course beaches, hikes and wandering around a city are usually free while traveling, but did you know there are hidden secrets that budget travelers have known for years about FREE things to do around cities? Here’s our rundown of the best free or nearly free things to do while traveling. 

FFWe are always looking for cheap and free things to do around the world. It helps us travel more if we aren’t spending a ton of money doing activities. Even though we sometimes throw down on once in a lifetime opportunities, like gorilla trekking or swimming with sharks, we have to have balance too! 

Okay- on to the free stuff!



I know what you’re thinking, museums aren’t free. Well sometimes they are! Two big areas that come to mind are London and Washington DC. Both cities have lots of free museums, many of which are top in the world. But those aren’t the only places! Many major cities have free museums (or days with free admission). Cities like Berlin, Paris, Hong Kong, Istanbul, New York, Rome, all have free options. It’s truly incredible how many free museums and exhibits exist. So before you head off, do a quick Google search to find out if there are any free museums in your city! 


Along with museums, there are also many free zoos. And I’m talking about big zoos – like the National Zoo and the St. Louis Zoo – two of the biggest zoos in the US. There are free zoos across the country – we’ve found at least 10. So check that if you’re visiting the US.

Historic Trails

I know I mentioned hiking as an obvious one, but I’m really talking about historical trails. You know, the ones with the markers or apps that you can follow along with while you explore. One of the most famous trails that immediately comes to mind is the Freedom Trail in Boston. Another, much longer and maybe even more famous is the El Camino. While you’re probably not just wandering into the El Camino without knowing what it is, you don’t have to do the whole thing to get a good experience.

There’s also an app that guides you through some of these walks with interesting facts, almost like a self guided tour. It’s called GPS my city! I’ve used it in Vigo, Spain when we couldn’t get an English walking tour and it was great!

Free Walking Tours

And of course, the crème de crème of free stuff – walking tours. There are a million companies out there for free walking tours. They’re literally everywhere! The expectation is that you are tipping your guides so this one isn’t 100% free, but it’s pretty darn close! These are typically tours by locals. They can be general tours, or specific tours, like a Harry Potter tour in Scotland or Jack the Ripper tour in London. I’ll link a few of the big ones in the show notes, but really, they are everywhere! I would make sure they meet in a city center location for safety, but I’ve literally never read anything sketchy about any of these tours. They are just a great way to get the highlights and talk to a local about their favorite restaurants and attractions. Which is definitely the best way to find the real hidden gems!


Need help with your budget?

Do you know where to go, but don’t know where to start planning? Or maybe you know you want to go somewhere, but don’t know how to choose based on your budget? We have you covered!


Start here with our episode all about how to create a travel budget.

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So those are our top, free things to do in cities. If you want to do major tourist attractions and the costs are adding up, I would also recommend looking into “city passes.” You can generally Google them for the city you’re looking for and see if it saves you money. They usually charge by the day so make sure you would get the full value before buying! They can be a great way to bundle and save on those expensive attractions. 

Make sure you also check any memberships you have. For us, the CT teacher’s union has some additional free museum entrances. Our Capital One card got us free tickets to many major museums (like the Louvre and MET). AARP also has some specials. So make sure to check any of those too! 

That’s all we’ve gathered for free activities while traveling so far during our adventures.

Have you found something we missed? Don’t leave us out! Let us know in the comments. 

Meet the Bargers

Bruce and Shelly are a 30-something couple always on the lookout for cheap eats, wildlife sightings and a good brewery. They started traveling together ten years ago and haven't looked back. They travel internationally at least three times a year and have been to 42 states, all while holding those pesky 9-5 jobs. They hope you can take these travel tips and live the life you've only dreamed about!

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