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50 Free Things to do in 50 Cities Around the World

Traveling around the world can be pricey but many cities offer lots of inexpensive, even free options for the Savvy Explorer. Here is our list of 50 free things to do in cities around the world.

MUSEUMS/ THE ARTS

Seattle, Washington

Benaroya Hall: Take in a free recital at Seattle’s Symphony, complete with a 1,190 pipe organ in the mix, offered bimonthly on Mondays at 12:30pm. Or take a tour of Benaroya Hall every Tuesday and Friday at noon or 1pm. website

© Hong Kong Tourism Board

Hong Kong, China

Symphony of Lights: Every night at 8pm, the world’s largest light and sound show dazzles spectators at Victoria Harbour. View it from the Avenue of Stars, and watch its lasers, pyrotechnics, and the lighted choreography of 40 buildings on both sides of the harbor. website

Osaka, Japan

Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum: Discover history of the commercial food keystone microwaveable ramen noodles. The museum has free entry, but you can pay $6 to choose your noodles to make at the end. website

London, England

tate_modern_1

© Tate Photography

Tate Modern: London is also famous for its many free art museums. Head to the Tate Modern for masterpieces from Picasso to Pollock to Andy Warhol. For more information on art museums in London, check out our London Art Trail story. museum website

Oslo, Norway

Edvard Munch: The Norwegian artist is all over Oslo. During winter, the Munch Museum is free to view his thousands of paintings and drawings. The always free National Gallery has Norway’s largest public art collection, including Munch’s famous “Scream” paintings. website

Denver, Colorado

The Denver suburb of Littleton is host to a unique look at Colorado’s pioneering past, the Littleton History Museum. Set over 14 acres, this window into history features two farm houses, a blacksmith shop, a schoolhouse and other exhibition spaces. A special exhibit features a look at the early settlements of the Denver area. website

Montreal, Canada

Musée des Beaux-Arts: One of many free art galleries and museums in Montreal, the Beaux-Arts features European art dating back to the Middle Ages, as well as African, Islamic and Buddhist artworks and sculptures. Don’t forget the collection of Canadian art. website

Opera Outdoors

© Wiener Staatsoper

Vienna, Austria

Vienna State Opera: Head to the square in front of the opera house to watch the normally expensive show be broadcast for free on a 50-foot jumbotron. Listen to Puccini or Mozart in the open air April through June, as well as September. website

 

MARKETS/FOOD AND DRINK

Melbourne, Australia

Queen Victoria Market: Take the free Circle City Tram to Victoria Street and enjoy the many precincts of the market. Fresh produce stands, organic foods, a wine shop, seafood, meats and even clothing and accessories. website

Taipei, Taiwan

Shilin Night Market: One of the largest markets in the world with over 600 shops and attractions of food, curios and even karaoke bars. The Yang Ming theater section stretches further down the road.

Tokyo, Japan

Tsukiji: Over 1,500 stall make up Japan’s largest fish market, where almost all of Japan’s seafood arrives at the docks every morning. Arrive early to see fish auctions, there are places for onlookers not participating as well.

Bruges, Belgium

The Markt: In the heart of Bruges, this center point is a hub of markets surrounded by traditional architecture. The Belfort, bell tower, is here, as well as medieval structures and contemporary cafes.

Toronto, Canada

St. Lawrence Market: One of the top markets in the world, St. Lawrence sprawls over three historic buildings, with antiques, food and an upstairs gallery. Free to browse, fun to explore. website

© St. Lawrence Market
© St. Lawrence Market

Jerusalem, Israel

Machane Yehuda Market: This 19th century market has places to shop and taste products from all over the world. When the stalls close, bars open at night in their place. website

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Fería De Mataderos: Gauchos on horses, tango dancers and market vendors make up a rich cultural experience. The fair is open and free to visitors every Sunday.

San Francisco, California

brewhouse wide

© Anchor Steam Brewery

Anchor Steam Beers: Taste San Fran’s home-grown beer at Anchor Brewing Company. The tour of the historic brewhouse and a tasting of six Anchor Steam beers are free, as long as you book in advance. website

Las Vegas, Nevada

Ethel M. Chocolate Factory: Go behind the candymaking process free of charge, just a few miles from the Vegas Strip. If you want to burn off the sweet treats, stroll through their Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden, one of the largest in Nevada with over 300 species of plants. website

 

HISTORICAL SITES

Boston, Massachusetts

USS Constitution: Tour the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. Nicknamed “Old Ironsides,” its neighboring Navy yard and exhibit hall can be viewed 10am-4pm Thursday through Sunday. website

Mumbai, India

The Gateway of India: Considered Mumbai’s Taj Mahal, this arch stands at the water’s edge in Mumbai Harbour. It offers a view into India’s colonial history, as well as the modern day with festivals and markets that take place around the monument.

© Suomenlinna Governing Body

Helsinki, Finland

Suomenlinna Fortress: Beautiful grounds of this bastion built in the 1700s are completely free to explore. There are galleries, a church and onsite museums including a full submarine. website

Moscow, Russia

Lenin Mausoleum: Probably the most bizarre Russian attraction, the preserved body of Vladimir Lenin is housed in his tomb in Red Square. Free to enter and view the body of the Soviet Union’s founder, on display since 1924.

Berlin, Germany

The Reichstag: The seat of the German Parliament, this building doubles as a free attraction. The top offers a 360 view of the city, and the building itself is a modern marvel. website

 

RELIGIOUS SITES

Bangkok, Thailand

Khao San: Wander down Khao San Road to take in the vibrant atmosphere of Bangkok, and head to The Golden Mount (Wat Saket) nearby. Climb the steps to see a large golden Buddha statue and a view of the city from above.

Paris, France

Notre Dame: Free to visit and enter, the iconic cathedral is worth the line to get inside. Massive and laden in gargoyles, the medieval structure is a fine sight along the Seine. website

Florence Italy

Piazza del Duomo: The Duomo is the fourth largest Cathedral in Europe, and the tallest building in Florence itself. The Piazza, the square in front of the cathedral, has a bell tower as well. website

Rome, Italy

St. Peter’s Basilica: A necessary visit in Italy’s capital, with the largest interior of any Christian church in the world. It is open daily and free to enter and view, as well as the Swiss Guard, or the elite Vatican Army members that look on in tradition. website

Blue Mosque Int 5

Blue Mosque ©TheSavvyExplorer

Istanbul, Turkey

The Blue Mosque: From the 17th century, its blue tiled ceilings, domes and six minarets were designed to rival the Hagia Sofia. It’s free to enter but closed during prayer times. website

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: It’s grandiose and can’t be missed, taking up five football field lengths and accommodating 40,000 worshippers at once. Four huge minarets, reflective pools and columns covered in semiprecious stones, and even the world’s larges chandelier create an amazing space to visit. website

Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of Agios Dimitrios: The largest church in Greece and an interesting sight for non-orthodox visitors. Rebuilt in 1948, the plans followed the exact original structure from 313 AD.

 

NATURAL WONDERS

Singapore

Gardens by the Bay: Completely unique to Singapore, the gardens include the Supertrees, giant artificial trees, which use solar energy to illuminate themselves at night, and serve as rain collectors to irrigate the greenery below. Walk the elevated Skyway between the “trees” to take in the view. website

Sydney, Australia

Royal Botanic Gardens: Located right at Sydney Harbour with views of the Opera House, the Gardens offer rare and exotic flora, and offer free guided tours. Its most unique residents are fruit bats, some 200,000, which are a sight to be seen as they take off at sunset. website

Edinburgh, Scotland

Arthur’s Seat: A natural formation that stands over the city with excellent views from above. The walk up takes about an hour, but it’s worth the hike for a free view from the top.

Salzburg, Austria

Mirabell Palace and Gardens: A noted film location for the classic The Sound of Music, the gardens are a beauty with or without star power. The Angel Staircase and the Dwarf Garden are places of note, all free to explore. website

Rio de Janiero, Brazil

Copacabana Beach: Famous and perpetually busy, this beach has white sands, great food, and stunning architecture features as well. It is wild and crazy but always visitor friendly.

Lima, Peru

Costa Verde: Parks and bike paths enhance Lima’s pedestrian friendly coastline. Watch para-gliders, skaters and surfers form the shore in the Bohemian district of Peru’s capital city.

Austin, Texas

Barton Creek Greenbelt: Conveniently near downtown Austin, 809 acres of land includes hiking, biking and even natural swimming holes. Dog friendly, people friendly and entirely free. Follow the trail to Zilker Botanical Garden, open year-round and also free of charge. website

 

ICONIC STROLLS & DESTINATIONS

New York, New York

High Line Meadow.jpg

© High Line

The High Line: Stretching from the trendy Meatpacking District through West Chelsea, the reclaimed railway tracks have been turned into an elevated green space, complete with gardens, artwork, and walkway with views of the Empire State Building and the Hudson River. The third and final section debuts in 2014. website

Chicago, Illinois

Navy Pier: Chicago’s 3,000 foot long Navy Pier is worth a visit any time of year, from its Ferris wheel, to the Landshark Beer Garden, to an ice skating rink. Catch a free fireworks show every Wednesday and Saturday night from Memorial Day through Labor Day. website

Miami, Florida

Little Havana: Head to Calle Ocho on Fridays for “Viernes Culturales,” an open air gallery of art and music, plus free walking tours of the area known for its Hispanic history and culture. Check out the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame, or try Casa Panza for the legendary flamenco-dancing fiestas, all gratis.

New Orleans, Lousiana

The French Quarter: Walking through the historic section of New Orleans is an attraction in itself. The oldest and most famous neighborhood offers beautiful architecture and eclectic restaurants and foods to enjoy. Stop by Jackson Square for live music, sketch artists and tarot readers in view of the St. Louis Cathedral.

Panama City, Panama

Casco Viejo: The colonial sector, almost 350 years old and full of Spanish colonial and canal-era history. With ocean and bay views, and stunning atmosphere and nightlife, the area can be enjoyed and explored easily on a budget. Check out many historic churches, or admire the bay view from Paseo Esteban Huertas, the promenade built on top of the city’s old outer wall.

Shanghai, China

The Bund: Walk down the bustling avenue and you will get a glimpse of classic Shanghai that has been preserved and renovated. It is fashionable and current, with the original building structures intact from World War II era.

Stockholm, Sweden

Changing of the Guard: Watch the procession of the 30,000 guards of the Swedish family, including a parade and a military band. It takes place at the Royal Palace every day.

Copenhagen, Denmark

The Little Mermaid: An homage to Han Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale, the bronze statue of the Little Mermaid is located in the northeast corner of Frederiksstaden. She is over 100 years old and one of Copenhagen’s famous symbols.

St. Petersburg, Russia

Nevsky Prospect: St. Petersburg’s main street, its most famous heart of shopping and city life. See the Kazan Cathedral and Gostiny Dvor- a 19th century shopping mall.

Barcelona, Spain

Las Ramblas: The series of avenues joined together create one of the most famous tourist streets in the city, from the center of the city to Barcelona’s harbor. Lined with cafés and bars, packed with street performers and markets, it’s an interesting slice of Spain’s most cosmopolitan city.

Building in Alfama ©TheSavvyExplorer

Building in Alfama ©TheSavvyExplorer

Lisbon, Portugal

Alfama: High above the city, Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood affords stunning views of the city and Tejo River from the Castle of São Jorge. Wander the ancient streets and admire the tile covered houses then take in the expansive views at one of the miradouros (scenic overlooks).

Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Canals: Exploring Amsterdam’s iconic waterways is never a disappointment. The ring of canals, which turns 400 years old this year, radiates out from the center. Here you will also find the Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market, with houseboats full of blooms and seeds for sale.

Prague, Czech Republic

Old Town Square: Head here to see Prague’s 15th century Astronomical Clock. Join the masses for the hourly show on the southern wall of the Old Town City Hall. Afterwards, marvel in the architecture of this meticulously preserved medieval town square.

Cape Town, South Africa

Sea Point Promenade: 11 kilometers long, the stunning ocean views in the shadow of Table Mountain make this a perfect stroll for any time of day. The restaurants, beaches, bars and parks lining the promenade make it an ideal place to play for any age, especially during the summer when ice cream vendors abound – try the frozen granadilla (a fruit similar to passion fruit).

 

Rabat, Morocco

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