Things to do for free in Europe
50 things to do for free in Europe
Traveling to Europe next summer? Want to know how to get in to the Louvre without paying a cent? Or how to get a free meal in Milan? Hostelworld.com’s Colm Hanratty and Rebecca Keenan have put together their top fifty things to do for free in Europe…
1. Florence: Catch a sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo
Located a swift twenty minute walk from Florence’s city centre, Piazzale Michelangelo affords anybody who goes there one of the most breathtaking views in the whole of Italy. It’s also where you’ll find one of the city’s ‘fake Davids’. And while visiting there during the day is one thing, catching a sunset from this square on a summer’s evening.
2. Paris: Visit the Louvre for free
If you’re under the age of 26, good news – the Louvre is free for you to enter! If you’re not, but you’re a teacher, it’s free to enter also. You just need to be able to prove it when you’re visiting. And for all of you who are 26 or older, or aren’t teachers, take note that the Louvre is free to everyone on the first Sunday of the month.
3. London: Enjoy choir singing in Westminster Abbey While visiting one of London’s most famous attractions may cost £16.00 during the day, if you leave your visit until when ‘Evensong’ takes place every evening at 5.30pm you won’t have to pay anything.Not only that,you’ll be treated to the sounds of the Abbey’s choir too.
4. Bruges: Visit the Church of Our Lady
Also known as Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, the Church of Our Lady took almost two centuries to complete and is best-known for the many art treasures it houses. Of these, the most famous is Michelangelo’s ‘Madonna and Child’ which was his only piece to leave Italy in his lifetime. Entrance to the church is absolutely nothing.
5. Dubrovnik: Jump off the rocks at ‘Hole in the Wall’
Also known as ‘Cafe Buja’, the ‘Hole in the Wall’ is one of Dubrovnik’s worst-kept secrets. Found just 5 minutes walk from Placa, the city’s main thoroughfare, as well as being one of the city’s most popular bars, it’s also well-known for the rocks beside it that are perfect for jumping off. So whether it’s baby jumps, slightly higher ones or those for the faint hearted, you can do them here.
6. Madrid: Visit the Spanish capital’s best-known museums for free
If you’re planning on visiting Madrid but haven’t booked anything just yet, keep in mind that two of the Spanish capital’s best-known museums are free to enter at different times over the weekend. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is free to enter on Saturdays after 2.30pm and all day Sunday while the Prado is free all day Sunday also.
7. Prague: Walk through the grounds of Prague Castle
Overlooking the Czech capital and the River Vlatva, Prague Castle is the city’s number one tourist attraction. While you need to pay in to certain parts of the castle, such as St Vitus’ Cathedral and Golden Lane, you won’t be asked to hand over any money just to walk through the grounds.Try to visit around 12 noon to catch the elaborate changing of the guard.
8. Budapest: Walk over Fisherman’s Bastion
Found up on the Buda half of the Hungarian capital, Fisherman’s Bastion is a short terrace on Castle Hill.Taking no more than five minutes to walk from one side to the other, you’ll find yourself spending much more time there thanks to be unforgettable views of the city found from it.
9. Edinburgh: Conquer Arthur’s Seat
While it mightn’t be the most relaxing way to spend a couple of hours, if you’re looking for views you won’t forget in a hurry climb ‘Arthur’s Seat’. The main peak in ‘Holyrood Park’ which can be accessed by walking to the bottom of the Royal Mile, it is the remains of an extinct volcano. Depending on your fitness levels, the climb should take just under an hour. If you’re looking for views of the city but without such hard a climb, go to Carlton Hill instead.
10. Nice: Visit Nice’s modern art museum
Known as MAMAC (Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain), entrance to Nice’s modern art museum used to be €4. But since July 1st, 2008 entrance is now completely free. Located ten minutes from the city centre, it is home to collections by Yves Klein and Andy Warhol. And don’t leave without checking out the rooftop view.
11. Interlaken: Check out Lake Brienz
For stunning scenery that’ll take your breath away, make sure to visit Lake Brienz, which stretches out for an impressive 9 miles. Snow-capped mountains tower over Switzerland’s cleanest lake, adding to the area’s natural appeal. It’s easy to get here too, thanks to a short bus trip from Interlaken. Best of all? This journey is free if you’re in possession of an Interlaken Visitor’s Card.
12. Munich: Catch the ‘Glockenspiel’ show
One of Munich’s quirkiest attractions, the ‘Glockenspiel’ is an amusing way to spend 15 minutes.Catch the show twice daily at 11am and midday up on the New Town Hall, located in one of the city’s most notable squares, Marienplatz. What’s all the fuss about? Well, during the show 32 life-size figurines act out the ‘Cooper’s Dance’, a local tradition. Large numbers of people flock here to check out the free shows each day.
13. Seville: Stroll around the Plaza de Espana
There’s plenty to see in this wide open square, which is free of charge to visit. Surrounded by a host of beautiful buildings, the Plaza de Espana is home to a number of interesting alcoves. These are covered in colourful tile designs depicting various Spanish towns and cities. That’s not all. Here you can also visit Seville’s military museum or go dangle your fingers in the large fountain situated at the square’s centre.
14. Dublin: Take a trip to Howth Head
Howth is one of Dublin’s most visited suburbs, and it costs nothing to stroll around and take in this picturesque fishing village. As well as walks along the pier, you can check out the boats in the harbour and hike up Howth Head itself. Once you get to the scenic summit, you can stop for a picnic and marvel at the great views of Ireland’s Eye, a nearby island that acts as a bird sanctuary.
15. London: Wander along the Thames
To see some of the top attractions in London for free, take a walk along the banks of the Thames.It won’t cost you a penny and it’s good exercise too! Why not start your walk at Tower Bridge.From here you’ll be able to take in the world-famous Tower of London.The Tate Modern, Westminster Bridge, an open-air book market and much more can also be enjoyed along this route.
16. Edinburgh: Visit free museums on the Royal Mile
Edinburgh’s renowned Royal Mile is home to a plethora of interesting and informative museums for you to visit. As you wander along make sure to check out ‘The People’s Story’, ‘The Museum of Childhood’ and the ‘Writers’ Museum’, to name just a few. Don’t worry about money though, as all these top-notch museums offer free entry.
17. Milan: Chow down on some free food
Buy a drink at any number of bars across Milan and you’ll be entitled to help yourself to plate upon plate of finger food left out all over the bar’s counter space. Nachos, sausages and much much more are offered.Known as Aperitivo time, the all-you-can-eat bonanza begins at around 6pm every evening.Two top spots offering this free food are Le Biciclette on Via Torti and Bar Brera on Via Brera.
18. Rome: Visit the Vatican Museum for free
If you’re lucky enough to be in Rome on the last Sunday of the month you’re in for a treat because, on this day, the top attraction in the Vatican is free. Millions visit the Vatican Museum each year and marvel at the astonishing and extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, religious artefacts and more. And if that’s not enough, this important museum also houses Michelangelo’s iconic Sistine Chapel.
19. Berlin: Check out the East Side Gallery
One of Berlin’s most interesting and moving attractions, the East Side Gallery is also free of charge to wander around. This unusual gallery is constructed on one of the best preserved sections of the infamous Berlin Wall. Close to the city centre, this length of the Wall stretches for around 1.3km and is covered in works of art by approximately 106 international artists.
20. Galway: Listen to some traditional Irish music
Where better to sample some of Ireland’s well-loved traditional music than in the west of Ireland? This area boasts a huge concentration of the country’s most proficient traditional musicians, which is especially apparent during a visit to any number of pubs in Galway city. Here you’ll be able to hear bodhráns, uilleann pipes and various other traditional Irish instruments in action. For free!
21. Venice: Listen to to string quartets in St Mark’s Square
St Mark’s Square is the beating heart of Venices café culture.Dining here can be expensive, even if you are just getting a coffee, so why not bring a packed lunch to eat in the square. You’ll save money and can even take in a free performance by one of the surrounding café’s orchestras.Places like Café Florian have a string quartet to serenade it’s diners but there’s nothing stopping you enjoying the ambience too!
22. Belfast: Visit Belfast Castle
Belfast Castle may not be one of the cities most well know or centrally located attractions but that just makes it a hidden gem! Offering the very best views of Belfast this elegant sandstone building is surrounded by stunning grounds and mountain trails and is perfect for a day out. The visitor centre details the history of the castle, it’s inhabitants and the surrounding area and entry is free!
23. Frankfurt: Go art gallery hopping
Art should be free to all and while this isn’t always the case it’s nice to know that some places share this belief . There are three art galleries in Frankfurt , located on Fahrgasse and Braubachstrasse that are free to enter and spend a few hours wandering around. These are Galerie Maurer (Fahrgasse 5), Galerie Schuster (Fahrgasse 8) and Galerie Raphael (Braubachstrasse 12).
24. Granada: Enjoy the view at Mirador di San Nicolas
If there’s one thing not to miss in Granada it’s the Mirador de San Nicolas and the spectacular views of Alhambra afforded from it’s lookout. By day you’ll be accompanied by musicians and entertainers and can grab some food and drink in nearby cafés, but it’s in the evening that is especially recommended. Sunsets here will blow you away and taking it all in with a beer in hand is just about perfection!
25. Brussels: Embark on a comic strip walk
Without a trained eye you may miss some of Brussels lesser know attractions but missing out can be avoided by joining a guided walk of the city. Simply go to the city’s tourist office at Hotel de Ville in the Grand Palace and request either the Comic Art Walk or the Art Nouveau Walk.The Comic Art Walk is especially interesting and takes in 30 walls that have been transformed into story book Comics!
26. Cork: Visit the Cork Public Museum
Occupying a gorgeous Georgian building on the western side of the city in the middle of a park lies the Cork Public Museum.The house itself has an interesting enough history but it’s the exhibits inside that draw in the crowds. Exhibitions include 4000 year old artifacts from the excavation of the city, models of medieval times and of course documents and photographs relating to Cork-born Irishmen such as Michael Collins.
27. Warsaw: Catch the changing of the guard
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by only the most elite of army volunteers. Needless to say, they’re not much fun to look at! However the guard is changed every day at 1pm in an elaborate ritual that shouldn’t be missed. The tomb itself is dedicated to those unknown Polish soldiers who had fallen in World War 1.
28. Rome: Stroll through the Roman Forum
There may not be much left of the Roman Forum, as it’s not been as well preserved some of the other attractions in Rome, but it remains one of the cities most popular sights and with good reason. This relatively small area was the centre of the mighty Roman Empire and within the great buildings that once stood here that empire was planned, budgeted, realized and governed. You can walk around the forum for free and, if you use your imagination, get a sense of what this area might have been like all those years ago.
29. Riga: Admire the Art Nouvea architecture
Riga has one of the largest concentrations of Art Nouveau architecture in the world, with more than a third of the Central District built in the style. Some streets are more impressive than others of course with Elizabetes, Alberta and Strelnieku in particular providing more than enough architectural eye candy and opportunities for fancy photos. Altogether there are over 800 Art Nouveau buildings in the city but finding them all may be too much for even the most enthusiastic of fans!
30. London: Listen to people at Speaker’s Corner
Free speech is taken to the extreme in one (usually) quiet part of eastern Hyde Park, opposite Marble Arch tube. Here people from all walks of life gather to talk, listen and heckle. This is speakers Corner where anyone with something to say or, and more often than not, nothing in particular to say get up on their soapbox and let loose with their words of wisdom. Sunday morning is the best time to visit but you’ll now find speakers at most times of the week.
31. Amsterdam: Go to a free concert
On Tuesday afternoons from September to May, you can catch a free show at the Boekmanzaal, part of the Opera House’s Muziektheater. Performers involved include the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. Free concerts can also be heard each Wednesday afternoon between September and June at the Concertgebouw. Both Tuesday and Wednesday shows start at 12.30pm.It’s a great way to catch some top-notch classical tunes without having to pay a cent.
32. Stockholm: Go see the churches in Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s Old Town area, is filled with sights to delight with numerous churches dotted around. It’s free to enter these important houses of worship and while inside you can marvel at stained glass, priceless art, artifacts and more. Two of the most well-known churches in the area are Tyska Kyrkan, a German church filled with 119 different paintings, and the Storkrykan, Stockholm’s cathedral. The Cathedral is the oldest church in the city and it is home to the well-loved ‘St.George and the Dragon’ statue.
32. Krakow: Hear jazz bands for free
One of the best things about the live music scene in Krakow is that you can attend a huge number of shows held in the city’s bars and clubs for free. A great example of this is the local jazz scene. On most nights you’ll be able to find one of the top local jazz acts playing a free show somewhere in the city.If you want to have a listen to some of this great music, head towards the Rynek Glowny area which is rich in top-notch venues.
34. Paris: Watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle
Every night in Paris you can catch the free light show at the Eiffel Tower, one of the most famous landmarks in the entire world. Beginning at twilight and continuing hourly, this spectacular show lasts for five minutes and sees around 20,000 individual light bulbs all over the tower blink on and off, lighting up the city below. Best of all, watching this impressive sight won’t cost a thing.
35. Salzburg: Play street chess for free
If you’re up for something a bit different, head to Kapitelplatz in the centre of Salzburg and tryout agameof street chess.It doesn’t cost anythingto takepart,andpeoplegather around each day to wait their turn. A large chess board is painted onto the square and participants move around it, slotting their over-sized pieces into the black and while squares. Various barrels surround the giant board and on top of these you’ll find more traditional chess sets. These are also free to play.
36. Lisbon: Check out Lisbon’s museums on a Sunday
To save some money while visiting Lisbon, wait until Sunday to check out the city’s top museums.Many of these museums offer free admission on Sundays, including the Museu Nacionaldo Azulejo which showcases the world-renowned Portuguese tile. Two of Lisbon’s premier art galleries are also free to visit on Sunday. These are the Centro de Arte Moderna and the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian.
37. Valencia: Visit the Museum of Modern Art
Hold off on visiting Valencia’s popular Museum of Modern Art until Sunday as the museum offers free entry on this day. Here you’ll be able to take in a selection of temporary and permanent exhibitions, including works of art by both national and international artists. The work on display here covers painting, sculpture, video installations and much more, a delight for any art lover.
38. Berlin: Go to the top of the Reichstag
Crowned by a glass cupola making it easily distinctive among the rest of East Berlin’s buildings, the Reichstag has been home to the Bundestag (German Parliament) since 1999. Visitors can visit the roof terrace of the building which boasts amazing views of the city as well as the aforementioned cupola which documents the building’s colourful history.
39. Barcelona: Visit Catedral de la Seu
Found on Plaça de la Seu in the heart of the Barri Gotic, this cathedral was built between the 13th and 15th centuries, although the spire and façade weren’t added until the late 19th century. While the interior of the cathedral is breathtaking, make sure to visit Capella de Lepanto in the same grounds where you’ll find a pond of white geese. Entrance to the cathedral is free.
40. Cologne: Explore the city’s ‘Rheinpark’
Cologne’s largest park area, the Rheinpark, as the name suggests, is found along the banks of the River Rhine. Filled with attractions aplenty, it boasts playground areas and sandy stretches of river-side beaches. Perfect for a chilled day of sunbathing, it’s also a great spot for rollerblading if you seek more active pursuits.
41. London: Visit London’s free galleries and museums
Many of London’s museums and galleries are free.But we’re not talking any old museums…we’re talking the city’s top museums! This includes the British Museum on Great Russell St. (which is London’s most visited attraction), the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, the National Portrait Gallery around the corner on St Martin’s Place, the Tate Modern and Tate Britain on the River Thames, and the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum, all in South Kensington.
42. Athens: Climb Filopappou Hill
Climb Filopappou Hill Located just 15 minutes walk from the gates of the Acropolis, Filopappou Hill is the best place in Athens to get a view of the Parthenon, meaning it boasts the best view in the city.Entrance to the site is free and the climb isn’t that strenuous. There’s a good view of the rest of the city from the top also.
43. Munich: Visit museums on free days
Most museums in Munich impose an admssion fee, but those owned by the city of Munich are free every Sunday.This includes the Glyptothek with its collections of Greek and Roman Antiquities and the Münchner Stadtmuseum (Municipal Museum) which offers an insight into the city’s history and the daily lives of its people.
44. Copenhagen: See Hans Christian Andersen’s grave
Visit the Assistens Cemetery in Nørrebro to see the final resting places of notable Danish citizens like Hans Christian Andersen and physicist Niels Bohr. Filled with trees and plants, it’s also a peaceful park to wander though on a sunny day.
45. Dublin: Visit the city’s free museums and galleries
Dublin has five national museums and galleries, all of which have free entrance. These include the National Gallery on Merrion Square, the Museum of Natural History next door, the National Museum of Modern Art in the Royal Hospital, Kilmanham and the Museum of Decorative Arts and History in Collins Barracks.
46. Prague: Watch the Procession of the 12 Apostles
Every hour from morning until night, hundreds gather at the Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Hall in the Old Town Square for the ‘Procession of the Apostles’. Lasting just a couple of minutes, this ‘procession’ sees the 12 Apostles nod as they pass over the clock as a bell rings somewhat morbidly. After witnessing it you may wonder what all the fuss is about.
47. Glasgow: Visit the Gallery of Modern Art
The balcony galleries and larger rooms here are full of interesting and thought-provoking exhibits. As well as renowned international artists, this museum in Royal Exchange Square also showcases works of art by Scottish natives.
48. Berlin: Get into top museums for free
If you plan on visiting any of Berlin’s National Museums, leave your visit until Thursday evenings (after 6pm) when they are all free. There are 16 in total. This includes all the museums on Museumsinsel, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Tiergarten, and the Museum of Indian Art on Taku Str.
49. Vienna: Visit the ‘Stephansdom’
To many, the Stephansdom is Vienna’s most instantly recognisable building.Built on the site of a church which dates back to 1144, its most striking features are its gothic spire and tiled roof − it has over 250,000 in total.
50. Malaga: Catch some rays at the beach!
One of the things Malaga is best known for is its long beaches. The beach at La Malagueta is within walking distance from the city centre and here you can sunbathe, swim, or make good use of the play areas dotted around.It can get pretty crowded here during the summer, with tourists flocking beachward to work on their tans.