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 is our rundown of the best free or nearly free things to do while traveling.
We 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 and while we are known to really 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!
Museums- 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 that have lots of free museums, and these are some of the best museums 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, and more. 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. But there are free Zoos across the country- at least 10. So check that if you’re visiting in the US
Historic Trails– I know I mentioned hiking as an obvious one- but I’m really talking about historical trails here- you know the ones with the markers or apps that you can follow along with. The one that immediately comes to mind is the freedom trail in Boston, but you can also think of the El Camino for this. And while you’re probably not just wandering into the El Camino without knowing what it is, there are many like this and you don’t have to do the whole thing to get a good experience.
Theres 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!
And of course, the creme de creme of free stuff- free 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 its pretty darn close! These are tours by locals and they can be general tours, or specific tours- like a Harry Potter tour in Scotland or Jack the Ripper 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 or 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!
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So those are our free things to do in cities. If you want to do major tourist attractions and its 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 to do that. They usually charge by the day so make sure you would get the value before buying! They can be a great way to package those expensive attractions though.
Make sure you also check any memberships you have, like I know the Teacher’s union has some additional free entrances, our Capital One got us free major museums (like the Louvre and MET), AARP has some specials, etc. So make sure to check any of those too!
That’s all we’ve gathered for free activities while traveling so far in our explorations. Have you found something we missed? Don’t leave us out! Let us know in the comments.