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London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to visit, with some museums costing over $20 for a ticket. But with a little planning the tourist can find plenty of free things in London that are still outstanding.

1)      Westminster Abbey

What’s this doing on a list of free things in London? We approached Westminster Abbey and were shocked to find an admission price of 16 pounds, about $26. For a family of four it would cost over $100 to go to church, granted it’s a famous church, but still. . .

But you can visit Westminster Abbey for free. Five nights a week Evensong services are offered at 5pm (3pm most weekends). This service isn’t highly publicized. To attend the service, walk over to the iron gate by the main entrance to the Abbey, not the side entrance used for paid admissions. Guides wearing bright scarlet capes and stern expressions stand blocking the gate. Tell them you’re there for Evensong and they step aside while cheerfully welcoming you.

The 45-minute service is beautifully rendered by the Abbey choir. There is not much time for strolling about the Abbey after the service but you do get to see enough. In many ways, Evensong is preferable to walking around the Church with hundreds of other visitors during the day. The visitor gets to experience Westminster Abbey for what it was originally designed, worship and prayer.

Click the link for more information and current service times: Westminster Abbey Evensong services.

2)      The Wallace Collection

Free things in London Wallace Collection London

We love museums that can be visited in about an hour or so; with many interesting items on display but whose size isn’t so daunting that we feel like we’re missing most of it. The Wallace Collection, housed in a historic London mansion, is one of those museums. It was owned by five generations of collectors, including a few Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, before becoming a public collection.

The collection has a little something for everyone: 18th-century French masterpieces and furniture, Galleries of Old Master paintings including Rembrandt, medieval religious manuscripts and a sterling collection of swords and armor.  The museum surround an open-air courtyard restaurant for snacks and afternoon tea.

Website: www.WallaceCollection.org

3)      Royal Air Force Museum

Free things in London RAF Museum

The RAF museum is about a 30-minute Tube ride from central London. It has an incredible amount of planes and helicopters on display in four large hangars. As airplane geeks we’ve been to many aviation museums and this may be the largest. One building is devoted to RAF’s derring do in the World War II Battle of Britain. Antique plane enthusiasts will enjoy the collection of pioneering airplanes in the 1917 Grahame-White Hangar, the UK’s first aircraft factory. If you are traveling with young kids there is LOTS of room to run around and burn off some energy.

Website: www.RAFMuseum.org

4)      Museum of the City of London

Free things in London Museum of London

Photo courtesy www.TravelCultureMag.com

Long before the kings, queens and Big Ben, London was a prehistoric settlement and then a Roman outpost. This museum takes the visitor on a time travel tour from the city’s distant past up to the present day. A combination of displays and interactive exhibits hold the attention of all ages. Feel the heat of the Great Fire of 1666, attend an 18th-century garden party and stroll through Victorian streets before going to the movies in the Roaring Twenties and hanging out with Mick Jagger and Twiggy in the 1960’s. The museum’s location gets visitors in the mood: a starkly modern structure built along the remains of ancient Roman Walls.

Website: www.museumoflondon.org.uk

5)  Victoria and Albert Museum

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto courtesy of Walter Lim, Flickr

If decorative arts is your thing, the “V&A” is the place to go. This mammoth museum, located in swanky South Kensington, has some of the world’s largest collections of fashion, textiles, ceramics, jewellery (the “Veddy British” spelling), furniture and glass. Channel your inner designer by viewing the stunning collection of drawings, many of which provide insight on the design process. If you still have the energy, they have wonderful paintings as well.

Note: Although admission is free, the V&A can be a little overwhelming. If you’re pressed for time, or simply prefer to have someone point out the best things to see, we recommend booking this V&A Highlights tour from Viator.

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A few other free things in London:

6)  British Museum – Massive collection of over 8 million objects. www.BritishMuseum.org

7)  National Maritime Museum – The largest maritime museum in the world with pride of place going to Admiral Nelson, including the bloody uniform he was wearing when he was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar. www.rmg.co.uk

8) National Army Museum — Great Britain has a pretty long military history so the Army Museum is a sprawling complex detailing battles going back centuries. I did find one glaring gap though. Their army didn’t seem to be involved in any activity between the War of Spanish Succession that ended in 1714 and the Napoleonic Wars that started in 1795. It seems a little skirmish that occurred in the American colonies has been forgotten.
Web Site: http://www.nam.ac.uk/

[Note: The National Army Museum is temporarily closed until spring 2017 due to a major retrofit.]

9)  The Wellcome Collection – The ghoulish may be interested in this medical collection which includes various body parts and antique medical devices. www.WellcomeCollection.org

10) Tate Modern – We’re not that into modern art, a pile of bricks that looked like they were left by a worker was one of the displays. But if you’re into that sort of thing this is the place to see them. Here’s information on visiting the Tate Modern.

Bonus Pick:

11) Abbey Road – Don’t forget to be a Beatle for a day and cross Abbey Road. It’s free and a lot of fun. Here’s information on how to cross Abbey Road.

This list highlighted 11 free things to do in London. Here’s a list of the 25 best things to do in London.

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Here are the top books about traveling to London.

28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive monthly updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

London is a fascinating city filled with history. From its official naming in the Roman era to its bustling streets today, the city has always been important to England..

We’ve already written about free things to do in London, and are now revealing many unusual attractions and historical sites that you can visit there. (Many of which are also free.) These are hidden sights in London, the ones that many visitors, and even locals, never see. Here are seven interesting and sometimes bizarre things that you can find in the capital that you won’t want to miss.

Hidden sights in London

The Eisenhower Centre

During World War II, several protective deep level air shelters were built. With kitchen and medical facilities, they were able to hold 8,000 people. The reason that this particular shelter on Chenies Street in Bloomsbury (near the Goodge Street Station) is so famous is because it also doubled as a signals and command facility for General Eisenhower’s during the war. It’s now leased as storage space, but the exterior is a must-visit for military history buffs.

Click here for info, tours and tickets to more World War II sights.

Burlington Arcade Beadles

Burlington Arcade beadles

Burlington Arcade can be found just off Piccadilly and has had its own legal jurisdiction since 1818. It’s like walking into a slice of Edwardian England, with Beadles walking around instead of security guards. If you run, whistle, hum, open an umbrella or do anything that might show a jovial nature, these guards in Edwardian dress will politely ask you to leave. It’s all part of the fun in this odd corner of London.

Ferryman’s Seat

On the South Side of the Thames, near to the Globe is an inconspicuous stone chair that is carved into a wall. This is what could be described as a Middle Ages taxi service where people would wait for the waterman so that they could get a ride through the city and to the other side of the river. A quirky scene, it’s a good site to visit.

Sewer Lamp

We’ve toured the sewers of Paris, but didn’t realize London had an “effluential” attraction too. Just off The Strand stands the Sewer Lamp. It’s long been rumored that the lamp runs on methane produced by the guests at the Savoy Hotel next door. There were actually lamps like these in England to help remove the methane from sewers, but sadly the original lamp was destroyed in a traffic accident. While this one is a replica, it is still an interesting and little known London fact.

York Watergate

Hidden sights in London York Watergate

Before the Victorian Embankment in the 1800s, the houses on the Strand had pride of place with beautiful gardens that fronted the Thames. The home of the first Duke of Buckingham, York House, was one of these and was built in 1237. The gate is all that remains after the house was razed during the 1600s. Here’s more about the tangled history of York Watergate.

Kensington Roof Gardens

The roof garden sits atop the former Derry & Toms department store above busy Kensington high street and consists of 1.5 acres of absolute beauty. With rose bushes and fruit trees sprawling across the grounds, it is also home to wandering flamingos and a stream filled with dazzling fish. It truly is like stepping through a portal to a completely different world.

Skeleton of Jeremy Bentham

In the south cloister of University College London, you can see the remains of the renowned philosopher and reformer Jeremy Bentham. A respected man, he requested that his body be mummified and displayed after his death, which it was. Unfortunately, it’s decayed so only his bones remain. The head is made from wax but actually contains his skull. If you’re into that sort of thing.

Hopefully you will pay these hidden sights in London a visit. With so many attractions hidden from the public eye and missed out in guidebooks, London offers much for the curious visitor to explore.

Interested in exploring some of these and other unique sights in more detail? Check out this great list of London Walking Tours from Viator!

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Visitors to the City by the Bay, and even locals like me, are always looking for free and cheap things to do in San Francisco. From hilly streets to chocolate treats, here are 10 of my favorites:

1. Explore the secret parks (called “POPOS”) that downtown building owners don’t want you to find.

Due to a quirky zoning code, many downtown San Francisco buildings operate secret public parks, rooftop terraces, and gardens that are on private property but are open to anyone. These privately-owned public open spaces (“POPOS”) are sometimes difficult to find, but locating them makes a fun scavenger hunt for the chance to enjoy a picnic in the park, likely all by yourself. Click here to check out a Google Map of these parks or download a smartphone app.

POPOS San Francisco

2. Skip the expensive cable car, ride the historic trolleys instead. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation agency (Muni) operates a number of beautifully restored vintage streetcars built from 1912 through the 1940s. They run on a scenic route (the F-Line) from Fisherman’s Wharf around the coast and up Market Street through Downtown. At only $2.00 per ride, this journey through history is a fraction of the cost of the cable car.

San Francisco Streetcars

3. Wander the Mission District. Check out the colorful street art and explore this fast-changing but still diverse Mexican and Central American community. Get a burrito or tacos from one of the Mission’s famous taquerias. El Farolito and El Tonayense are my favorites.

Mission Street Art, San Francisco

4. Taste delicious SF-made chocolates and get a tour of the Dandelion Chocolate Factory. While you are in the Mission, stop into the cafe owned by bean-to-bar chocolate maker, Dandelion Chocolate (740 Valencia Street). Sample a few of their chocolate bars for free in the front of the cafe and then take a free, thirty minute tour of the factory.

Dandelion Chocolate, San Francisco

5. Peep through the fence to watch a San Francisco Giants Game. Walk along the waters of McCovey Cove (adjacent to AT&T Park) and watch the game through a fenced opening in the wall for free. You can catch a few innings before the security guards shoo you away. Keep an eye out for fans in boats and kayaks in the water, wielding fishing nets in the hope of collecting a home run ball.

SF Giants, AT&T Park, San Francisco

>>Book a tour with Viator in San Francisco<<

6. Explore the Ferry Building’s gourmet food stalls and go on a free city walking tour. San Franciscans live for food, and this shopping center devoted to all that is delicious is the easiest way to experience the city’s foodie culture. For the full experience, go on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday mornings, when one of the city’s largest farmers markets is set up outside. During the Saturday and Tuesday markets, volunteers from San Francisco City Guides offer free walking tours of the Ferry Building. If you’re an adventurous eater, stop in to the wild mushroom store, Far West Fungi, and buy an ice cream bar, naturally flavored with candy cap mushrooms — it sounds scary, but it is delicious and will remind you of maple syrup!

San Francisco Ferry Building

7. Sample one of San Francisco’s favorite sweet treats, an It’s-It. This curiously-named ice cream sandwich is a San Francisco tradition. The company was founded in 1928 by a vendor at the San Francisco Beach boardwalk. He baked two large oatmeal cookies, pressed them together with vanilla ice cream, and covered them in a hard chocolate shell. When the boardwalk was demolished in 1970, the stand closed down, but San Franciscans didn’t forget about It’s-Its. In 1974, the company reopened, and began selling the frozen treats to local mom and pop stores across the city. You can find these nostalgic (and cheap) eats at almost every corner market and grocery store in San Francisco.

It's-Its San Francisco

8. Get a free, panoramic view of  the city from the top of the de Young Museum. While you do need to pay a standard entrance fee to visit  this fine art museum, the elevator ride to the Hamon Tower Observation Deck is free. This 360 degree, glass-paned view deck offers a great look over the city’s rooftops, the Pacific Ocean, and the green expanses of Golden Gate Park.

de Young Museum Tower, San Francisco

9. Take it outside to hike the stairs and catch more great views from the city’s many hills. Telegraph Hill, prominently topped by Coit Tower, is one of the more famous hikes where it’s possible to ascend a series of sometimes rickety, wooden steps. Look for one of the hundreds of feral green parrots that live in the trees on this hill. The nonprofit organization Greenbelt Alliance regularly offers free group hikes. A few years ago on New Years Eve we did a night hike going up and down Telegraph Hill, Nob Hill and Russian Hill, ending near the waterfront to watch the fireworks.

Coit Tower, San Francisco

10. Get out of San Francisco (but not that far) for the best view of the city and the bridge. Cross over the Golden Gate Bridge into the Marin Headlands. The most radient view is in late afternoon (what filmmakers call the Golden Hour) as the setting sun lights up the face of the bridge. Even on foggy days (and there are a lot of them!) you can often catch an iconic shot of the bridge peeking out from beyond the thick fog.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

What offbeat places do you recommend in San Francisco?

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cassie kiferCassie Kifer writes about travel, food, and photography at Ever in Transit. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she spends her time plotting her next journey and eating adventurously. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, or Google+.

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With guest writer Sofie ~ Los Angeles is chock full of  amusement parks, fancy restaurants and trendy night clubs. But these things all cost money. Visiting Los Angeles doesn’t have to be expensive, though. Here are a few hidden gems among the free things to do in Los Angeles. But to keep your day free, make sure to heed our warning below about the extremely aggressive parking ticket people in Los Angeles.

Free things to do in Los Angeles

1) Get taken for a ride at the Automobile Driving Museum

automobile driving museum LA model t

The Automobile Driving Museum in Segundo, five minutes southeast of Los Angeles International Airport, boasts that it is the only car museum in North America where you can actually ride in the vintage cars. Every Sunday they roll 4 or 5 cars off of the museum floor and take visitors for a spin around the block. On any given Sunday you might get taken for a ride in a 1947 Studebaker, a 1909 Model T or even a 1975 AMC Pacer. Check their website where they post the schedule of which cars will be taken for Sunday drives.

2). Walk the Walk of Fame

The Walk of Fame stretches over the public sidewalks on Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood. It’ll be more calm checking out the stars on Vine Street, but to get the real Hollywood buzz you have to be at Hollywood Boulevard, where you’ll also find the TCL Chinese Theater where you can see where stars (both human and animal) have placed their footprints, paw prints and autographs in cement for posterity. If you believe your idol deserves a star on the Walk of Fame, you can submit a nomination with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Stars are voted in once a year in June and on average 20 new celebrities get a star on the Walk of Fame each year.

 

3) Gaze at another type of star at the Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory is named after Griffith J. Griffith, a former wealthy local who donated both the Griffith Park and the Observatory to the City of Los Angeles. The Observatory is free to visit and has different exhibits on display. Located on Mount Hollywood, the terraces around the Observatory offer great views on the city and the famous Hollywood sign.

4) Rock on at the Fender Guitar Factory

fender guitar factory jam room

The list of legendary musicians who’ve played Fender guitars is almost endless: Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Dick Dale and Kurt Cobain are just a few. While there is an admission charge to tour the factory in Corona, the museum devoted to the history of Fender instruments is free. There is a Jam Room where all the guitars and amplifiers made here by Fender are on display. Best of all, anyone can stroll right in, take a guitar off the wall, plug it into one of the amps and wail away. How cool is that?

5) Hike through Runyon Canyon Park

Los Angeles Sophie canyon

Runyon Canyon Park is known as one of the places in Los Angeles to spot celebrities. Because it’s so close to the Hollywood Hills and some of Hollywood’s residential areas, you might just see some famous actor walk his dog. And even if you don’t spot Johnny Depp, Runyon Canyon still offers great views over Los Angeles. The wide paths go up and down, making a treadmill or any other machine you’d use at the gym look like a comfortable couch. Tip: go hiking in the morning, preferably before the sun is up, and bring enough water.

6) Stroll along Venice Beach

muscle beach venice

Sunbathing at the beach is an obvious free thing to do on vacation, but Venice Beach has much more to offer than just a strip of sand. There’s the famous Muscle Beach, where you can see bodybuilders and others train their muscles in the sun. They have to fight for attention with the many street artists doing tricks or selling their work along the Ocean Front Walk. Of course there are also the typical seaside shops, some with cool clothes, others with cheap souvenirs. More interesting is the beach skate bowl where youngsters on skateboards and inline skates dive in and jump back up against the background of a setting sun. And if you think you’ve seen it all, you can always follow the beach path or the Ocean Front Walk all the way until you reach Santa Monica.

7) Take a cultural trip to the Getty Center

gety museum

This one is free . . . and it’s not. You see, there’s no entrance fee to visit the Getty Center, but you do have to pay for parking ($15 per car during the day, $10 per car during the evenings in summer). The Getty Center cannot be missed, though. The different exhibition halls offer something for everyone: paintings, photography, decorative art, sculptures, manuscripts . . . It’s all there, presented in the modern buildings of the Center. It wouldn’t surprise me if the architecture of the Center is the main reason some people visit the Getty, built on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains, offering great views from the Central Garden.

8) Walk like an Egyptian

los angeles central library pyramid

The Los Angeles Central Public Library was built in the 1920s, when the Egyptian Revival design craze was sweeping America. That could explain why it’s topped off with a pyramid shaped tower. Stroll around and see how many sphinxes you can find. Travel geeks should make sure to visit the travelogue and vintage map collections on the lower level.

9) Climb the secret stairs

los angeles secret stairs

In the 1920s, before cars were everywhere in LA, outdoor staircases were built in neighborhoods with steep hills so people could access the trolley cars.  Some houses were built along them as they provided their only access to the outside world. Some of the staircases are in better condition than others. Try the 861 step Beachwood Canyon stair climb for a classic view of the Hollywood sign or the Pacific Palisades, where the houses are perched precariously as they hope to avoide the next mudslide, for spectacular and secluded ocean views. Find out more at: Secret Stairs-LA where you can also download walking maps.

10) Ascend City Hall

los angeles city hall observation deck

The building is recognizable since it is featured prominently on the badges of LAPD officers, but this free gem isn’t even known by most Angelenos. Sign in at security and ride the elevator to the top of City Hall for a 360 degree view of Los Angeles. From there you can gaze upon the Pacific Ocean, the Hollywood sign and more.

11)  Take a peek behind the Iron Curtain

wende museum cold war los angeles

The Wende Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of life in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe during the Cold War. They are building up an incredible collection of artifacts that portray what it was like living behind the Iron Curtain. From cast-iron Lenin statues to propagandist artwork to dairies of ordinary citizens, visitors get a sense of life under a totalitarian regime in the not-too-distant past.

12) Attend the Grammy Museum for free

grammy museum lecture series peter guralnick

The Grammy Museum offers a free evening lecture series where you can participate in interviews with award-winning artists and journalists. Recent shows included Placido Domingo, Elvis Presley biographer Peter Guralnick and the The Beatles are Coming: The Birth of Beatlemania in America. As an added bonus, the event takes place in a wing of the museum where you can view the latest special exhibition for free. Check out the list of upcoming programs at the Grammy Museum.

Bonus Pick: Take flight at the Flight Path Learning Center

flight path learning center Los Angeles

Hidden among the runways at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the Flight Path Learning Center, a museum dedicated to the history of commercial flight. The docents are retired flight attendants and are probably the cutest and most gracious anywhere. Exhibits include ephemera from the first century of commercial flight including racks of vintage stewardess uniforms and silver cutlery from flight’s Golden Age. But the real reason you come here is for the incredible runway level views of one of the most active airports in the world. A radio plays a live feed of the control tower so you can hear the pilot being guided in then watch the plane land. You can even walk out onto the runway, closely supervised of course, to board a DC-3. For airplane geeks the Flight Path Learning Center is a must see.

Do you know something that’s both free and fun to do in Los Angeles?

Travel warning for Los Angeles from editor:

Los Angeles has the most aggressive parking ticket enforcement we have seen anywhere. On several occasions we were ticketed as well as people we were traveling with. What made it particularly galling was that we had put an hour on the meter and only been gone for 55 minutes. The cost of a parking ticket in Los Angeles is a whopping $63. Now we know why the city makes over $134 million in parking fees per year. When parking in Los Angeles beware.

Co-Ala sofie pic (216x250)uthor Sofie is a Belgian, language lover and travel aficionada who combines a full-time job with a freelance writing career and a never-ending wanderlust. She uses her weekends, vacation days and public holidays to travel the world and share her experiences. Be sure to follow her on Twitter and Facebook or connect with her on Google+.

To follow our journey around the world in search of the tasty and quirky and receive valuable travel tips subscribe here.

One of the biggest misconceptions of travel is that everything to do in famous cities is very expensive. But with a little exploration, a visitor can find free things to do, cheap eats and low-cost stays, even on a long weekend in Venice.

So how do you keep costs to a minimum on a holiday to this glorious Italian city, while still enjoying everything that short breaks to Venice have to offer?

Venice canal St Marks towerVenice is world famous for the large network of canals that wind their way across the city, and while you have to pay to ride in one of the city’s historic gondolas, walking the canals is a free, and perhaps more interesting, way to wander along them.

There are more than 150 canals in Venice, the most famous and largest of which is the city’s main boulevard, the Grand Canal. There are many canals to choose from, including some that are so small that walking past them is perhaps easier than navigating them by boat.

An almost free gondola ride in Venice

If you really had your heart set on a gondola ride but blanch at the expense, consider a short hop on a traghetto. It’s a black gondola that travels back and forth across the Grand Canal in several places. The cost is 2 Euros, while it’s not quite free you can say you’ve been to Venice and ridden a gondola.

Unleash your inner explorer

Although the city is known for its canals, there are many more narrow passageways, piazzas and bridges that will introduce you to Venice’s beautiful architecture. Some streets are so narrow that you can reach out and touch buildings on both sides when you stroll down them, in a few your hips will brush up against the walls on both sides. Intrepid explorers should just start strolling, although bringing along a map is not a bad idea. At night a flashlight on the darkened streets is a must.

Must see sights, for a bit

st marks square veniceReferred to as “The Drawing Room of Europe,” St Mark’s Square is the heart of Venice, locals and tourists alike gather there to meet, talk and people watch. It’s less crowded in the evening after day-trippers from cruise ships have left, but avoid the cafes if you’re on a tight budget as they are rather expensive. Instead head somewhere quieter for coffee, like a traditional “bacaro,” where you can usually get a cheap meal or drink standing at the bar, Venetian-style.

If you’re heading to the Grand Canal, take a slight detour and cross the Rialto Bridge, the main crossing over the water. Completed in 1591, the bridge houses many unique shops. Beware that the Bridge can get very crowded at midday.

Make sure to stop by the adjacent Rialto Market, a food market that some say has been here for a millennium. It’s a great place for the freshest fish. While you probably won’t be firing up an oven in your hotel, check the salumeria and bread vendors to pick up items for an impromptu picnic.

In the first ghetto

A stroll through the Jewish ghetto is poignant. It’s the first use of the term ghetto in the world to designate an area where members of a minority group were forced to live; it’s believed the term comes from an adjacent iron foundry. Several synagogues are still active in this disappearing piece of Venetian and world history.

Saintly art

15 churches have combined in a group called a “Chorus,” to allow visitors to view their buildings and artwork. Over 1,000 years of Venetian art history is represented including works by Tintoretto, Donatelli,  Titian and more including the only Venetian painting by Rubens. Admission to each church is 3 euros per person, or you can buy a pass (valid for one year) to visit all 15 churches for only 10 euros per person.  To see so much art it’s a bargain.

Elevate your view

venice view from san giorgio maggiore

Take the vaporetto to the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, perched on its own little island. While other visitors are queued up to ascend St. Mark’s, you can smugly skip the lines. Don’t let the 6 euro fee for the elevator ride put you off. You’ll want to view Venice from on high and this is one of the best places to do so. Just remember to cover your ears when the bells ring.

venice rialto bridge (640x407)

As a town that lives for festivals, Venice offers many free events, including concerts, for locals and tourists. Many are offered during Culture Week (which is usually in April) but if you’re there during other times of the year look out for posters advertising free concerts, as many choirs and bands tend to play around the city for free on any given day.

During Culture Week admission to almost all of the city’s museums and galleries is free, not just in Venice, but all around Italy, so it’s worth checking into this opportunity to view some of the world’s most beautiful artifacts and art.

Whether you’re thinking of booking short breaks to Venice or a longer trip around Italy, there are ways to save money on your trip; avoid shopping at tourist traps, pick up a few items at a food market for a picnic lunch and put on your walking shoes to take the time to know Venice on your own terms.

This post has been brought to you by Expedia UK.

Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, attracts travelers indulging their passions for culture, history, art, great food and more. Fortunately, after all that indulging there are plenty of free things to do in Porto.

By doing a little research before they set off on their Portugal holidays, visitors can make sure they don’t bust their budgets while staying in Porto. Simply wandering around the streets with a guide-book and map in hand can make a great pastime. With its medieval relics, impressive bell towers, baroque churches and beaux-arts buildings, there is plenty to explore. With its old architecture and plazas, Porto’s historic center of Ribeira is part of a Unesco World Heritage Site.

port wine casks in cellar

Since the city is the birthplace of Port wine, it has long been a favorite destination for wine lovers who visit the cellars that are open for tastings. Most of these cellars require visitors to pay a fee. However, savvy travelers head to Taylor’s, where free tours are available showing how this beverage is made. Visitors get a glass of white and red port for free and can taste these samples on a terrace with wonderful views overlooking Ribeira. The Port producer Croft also offers free tours and samples.

To get your bearings in this meandering city, try a free tour when you arrive. Porto Free Tour guides aren’t professional, but they are enthusiastic, friendly and knowledgeable. They accompany tourists on trips through the city, sharing interesting facts and helping people experience places off the usual tourist trail.

Tours are limited to six people and they usually begin at 11am, although afternoon excursions can also be arranged. Typically, they last for two to three hours, with a break in the middle. To book a place on these tours, contact the organisation by 10pm the previous evening. This can be done by phone or text.

Livraria Lello bookstore Porto
Photo by Michal Huniewicz

Porto boasts many beautiful buildings, one of the more unusual is the Livraria Lello. This dramatic neo-gothic bookstore first opened in 1906 and the Lonely Planet has classified it as the third best bookshop in the world. It sells new, second-hand and antique books, as well as foreign-language guidebooks. This is a must-see for book lovers and building enthusiasts alike.

NOTE: Due to overwhelming crowds the Livraria Lello bookstore now charges 3 euros to enter which will be refunded off a book purchase.

Then there are the gigantic tile murals for visitors to admire. The tile panels inside the São Bento Station are a marvel to behold. In total, there are around 20,000 of these tiles featuring images alluding to the history of Portugal and its transport. They are mostly the work of artist Jorge Colaço.

Carmo church tiles Porto

Photo by Alex Ristea

Similarly impressive is the façade of the Carmo Church, what some say is Porto’s prettiest church was built in the 18th century. Visitors are drawn to the building because of its magnificent baroque architecture and one of its walls, which is completely covered in blue and white tile panels.

To get the full Porto experience, allow yourself at least two full days in the city. There is plenty to see and do within its streets and these free activities are just a taste of what’s available.

 

Guest post by Davide Vadalà ~ If you are traveling to my hometown of Rome on a budget you’re in luck because there many free things to do in Rome. It’s an open-air museum where you can visit most of the “not to be missed” attractions for free. Even though I’m abroad most of the time, it’s always a pleasure to return and enjoy Rome. I’m sure you will too.

Roam the historical center

rome piazzaAlthough Rome is a vast city with over 3 million people, the historical center is quite concentrated and walkable. The world-famous squares, designed during the Renaissance period, are accessible for free. Expect to spend at least a day and a night walking between Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna, Piazza del Popolo and Campidoglio. And don’t forget to take a roam along the Tiber River and stroll the “Via dei Fori Imperiali” gazing at the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.

Saint Peter’s Cathedral and other Churches

ffree things to do in rome st petersYes ok, Saint Peter’s Cathedral is part of Vatican City, but for a Roman there is no difference. Not only you can enjoy the square and the colonnade, and go inside the Cathedral for free. And if you are into religious architecture, there are plenty of other churches from all eras to be visited without paying a penny.

Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel

Vatican museum for free on sunday There is usually an entrance fee to visit Museums in Rome. But if you visit the Vatican Museum the last Sunday of each month entrance is free. Admission is between 9:30 and 12:30. Be prepared to stand in line for hours from early morning.

Stroll the Trastevere

rome trastavare street scene This is one of the most genuine districts of Rome, with old buildings, clothes hanging on the washing lines, and restaurant offering traditional food. You can spend a nice evening or afternoon getting lost in its alleys and stopping for a street artist show.

Brush up against some Caravaggio paintings

san luigi dei francesi caravaggio paintingNot far from Piazza Navona, in the direction of Pantheon, lies the church of San Luigi dei Francesi. Here you’ll be able to admire some of the most famous paintings of Caravaggio, with his typical use of light. The entrance is free, you have to put a coin to switch on the lights, but there are always other tourists doing that, so be patient!

Toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain

trevi fountain in rome

Just a few hundred meters away from the “Via del Corso” stands the most famous fountain of Rome, “Fontana di Trevi.” Large but delicate, it completely covers the facade of the Trevi Palace with imposing sculptures. Find your way through the crowds of tourists and don’t forget to throw a coin over your shoulder if you want to return to Rome! OK, so maybe the coin isn’t free.

The eye in the sky at the Pantheon

pantheon rome hole in ceilingThough it was built during the ancient Roman era, the Pantheon is still used today as a Church. That’s why you’ll be able to enter for free and wonder how they were able to build such a huge dome over 2,000 years ago. Look up at the giant hole in the center of the roof: wasn’t this the reason you came here? If you time your visit with a thunderstorm the effect is spectacular.

Elevate your view

Rome view (575x383)

There are many places to enjoy a panoramic view of Rome.  My favorites are Gianicolo, which can be reached by foot from Trastevere, and the terrace of Pincio, right above Piazza del Popolo. Be there for sunset, possibly with your better half!

The moment of truth at Bocca della Verità

bocca della verita rome mouth of truth

This big round mask was a gutter in ancient Rome, lying in the interior courtyard of the Church Santa Maria in Cosmedin. Bocca della Verità literally means “The Mouth of Truth,” because it was believed to be an oracle capable of predicting if a women committed adultery. You better not go there if you have something to hide! The entrance is free. If the gate is closed, you can still see it through the fence. Film bugs will remember the scene that took place there in Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.

Key moments at the Buco di Roma

buco di roma

Originally known only by locals, today this place is becoming a bit more touristy. I went to see the “Keyhole of Rome” last time only 2 days ago and I had to stand in line to see it! It’s basically a keyhole on the entrance gate of the Order of Knights of Malta’s headquarter. Looking through it it’s possible to see St Peter’s Dome under a gallery of vegetation.

Go green

Parks in Rome (575x383)

You can’t believe it judging only by the traffic and the chaos in the streets, but Rome is the greenest city in Europe; 68% of its surface is covered by greenways and parks. Many of them are not far from the city center. The most convenient is the park of Villa Borghese, right above Piazza del Popolo, an easy place to cycle in Rome.

Get out and socialize

Social centers in Rome (575x382)

If you want social life or entertainment, you should go to one of the many social centers in Rome. Entrance to concerts, disco and events organized by the social centers is usually free, or at most require a very small donation to support their activities. Learn more about Italy’s Social Centers.

What are your favorite things to do in Rome?

Guest writer Davide Nomad TravellersDavide Vadalà has been traveling non stop for over 3 years now, first alone and then with his better half Otilia, met while rock climbing in Hungary. Together they created an inspiring travel blog called Nomad Travellers: stay updated with their adventures and learn how to switch to a nomadic life, follow them on Facebook and Twitter and spread their stories!

Free things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh, Scotland’s beautiful capital city, is the second most popular UK destination for overseas visitors. More than one million visitors hit the streets of Edinburgh each year to enjoy the city’s culture, cuisine and history.

City breaks can be pricey but if you’re looking for great cheap holidays, spending your time in Scotland’s first city needn’t be expensive. There are plenty of free things to do in Edinburgh throughout the year to make sure you get the most out of this dynamic city.

View the city from a volcano

free thigns to do in edinburgh arthurs seat

Arthur’s Seat is perhaps one of the most famous landmarks in Edinburgh. At 250.5m (822ft), it’s the highest hill in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park and an extinct volcano. Steeped in history, the hill is alleged to be one of the possible locations of the legendary castle and court of King Arthur’s Camelot. Climbing to the summit is not a strenuous task and the panoramic views of the city from the top are second to none; remember your camera for this one.

The world’s most beautiful garden?

Located only a mile from Edinburgh’s buzzing city centre, the Royal Botanic Garden is an oasis of calm and is regarded as the finest garden in the world. Set over 72 acres, this amazing garden is alive with a dazzling array of flora and fauna including Britain’s tallest Palmhouse and the idyllic Chinese hillside. The Royal Botanic Garden is open all year round and boasts a wealth of exhibitions and events throughout the year.

Enjoy famous Edinburgh Festivals

edinburgh fringe festival

You can usually find some sort of festival happening in Edinburgh throughout the year but August is the month of two of the city’s most famous fests.

Throughout the entire month of August, Edinburgh holds the largest arts festival in the world. Visitors from around the world descend on the city for both the Fringe Festival and the Art Festival. During the Fringe the cobbled streets of Edinburgh become home to street performers while the pubs, exhibition halls and theatres play host to well-known and amateur stand-up comedians as well as a variety of theatrical productions suitable for adults and children. Throughout the festival there are plenty of free admission shows available.

The Edinburgh Art Festival holds over 45 exhibitions at various museums and galleries across the city during August and provides an array of free live performances, guided tours and screenings.

A free guided tour of Edinburgh

free things to do in edinburgh walking tour

Most of the tours of Edinburgh will cost cash but Sandemans Tour Group offers free guided tours across the city for groups, adults and children. The tour company offers 100 walking tours per day conducted by professional freelance guides who work on a ‘tips only’ basis.

More than five million visitors have enjoyed the two-and-a-half-hour walking tours, which includes learning the history of the Royal Mile, discovering Edinburgh’s ghostly secrets and visiting the café where Harry Potter was created. Book your tour online or simply turn up at the Tron Kirk and tag along.

Rediscover you childhood spirit

Children and adults will love the Museum of Childhood on the Royal Mile that features a number of exhibitions and collections including toys and games from across the generations. The Museum of Childhood is a step back in time and guarantees some nostalgic moments for adults while children can learn what is was like to be a child in the 1930s era in Scotland.

Edinburgh has a variety of museums and many are free of charge including the Writers’ Museum and the amazing National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town.

The original New Year’s party

Many of the traditions that people use to celebrate New Year originated in Scotland and Edinburgh holds one of the world’s most famous New Year parties attracting thousands of visitors from around the world.

The New Year celebrations last for four days from the 29th December to 1st January with activities including a spectacular fireworks display over Edinburgh Castle and a torchlight procession up historic Calton Hill. The world-famous street party includes live music concerts and dancing but there is an admission price for the street party.

The above lists just a few free options and the Edinburgh Tourist Office will be able to supply a more comprehensive list of free activities in and around the city.

Guest Post from Kathryn

I grew up in New Zealand and was always looking for free things to do in Auckland. From nature hikes to museums to contemporary art, here are a few of my favorites.

1)  Stroll the boardwalk between Mission Bay and St Heliers Bay

Auckland boardwalk

Auckland has one of the most beautiful harbours in the world so make the most of it and spend some time on the waterfront. There are gorgeous views of Rangitoto Island from many vantage points on the Auckland and North Shore waterfronts. I love to stroll along the boardwalk between Mission Bay and St Heliers’ Bay. In December New Zealand’s official “Christmas tree”, the Pohutukawa, is in bloom and the waterfront is glorious.

Catch the 750 or 769 bus from the Britomart Transport Hub along the waterfront (Tamaki Drive) to Mission Bay or further on to St Heliers. Cost to St Heliers NZ$4.50. If you get off the bus at Mission Bay you can walk up to the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park for breathtaking views of the Rangitoto Island and the Harbour.

2) Head for the Waitakere Ranges

waitakere ranged park entrance frame

For those who have a rental car, 35 minutes west of downtown Auckland you will find a beautiful New Zealand native forest with mature Kauri trees. There are many bush walks that vary from 10 mins to several hours and it is all free. I recommend the Auckland City (loop) Walk which takes about an hour. It lies at the end of Falls Rd, past the golf course. To get to the Waitakere Ranges from downtown Auckland, take the North-Western Motorway and get off at Swanson Rd and continue onto Scenic Drive. If you want to do the Auckland City Walk, turn right from Scenic Drive into Te Henga Rd and then left onto Falls Rd.

Pick up a free brochure, which include maps, about the Waitakares at the airport when you arrive.

3) The West Coast Beaches

muriwai beach new zealand

A little further north of the Waitakere Ranges are the West Coast beaches Muriwai, Bethells and Piha. Popular with surfers and those that love to stroll along long stretches beach between the thundering surf and the sand dunes. West Coast beaches are famous for their black sand.  At the south end of Muriwai beach is the Gannet (bird) Colony; the best time to visit is between October and February. Adult pairs return to this spot each year to nest. The chicks hatch in November and fly off to Australia 15 weeks later.

There are brilliant views of the main colony from the view platform and I love to watch the adult Gannets soaring on the on-shore winds. It takes 40 minutes to drive the 45 km from downtown Auckland to Muriwai Regional Park. Follow State Highway 16 until you get to Waimauku and then turn left into Muriwai Rd and continue to the park.

4) Auckland War Memorial Museum

free things to do in Auckland war memorial museum (575x432)

One of the most impressive buildings in New Zealand is the Auckland War Memorial Museum which sits atop a small hill in the Auckland Domain (that’s a park for you non-Kiwis) and offers impressive views of the city and harbour. Despite the name, most of the the museum is not war related. Admission is by voluntary donation.

To use the bus to get to the museum, take the bright green “Inner Link” bus which does a circuit (both clockwise and anticlockwise) around inner city Auckland and costs a maximum $1.9 per ride. Hop off at the bus at 470 Parnell Rd. Take the first right turn and walk down Domain Drive and you will see the Auckland Museum on your left.

If you remain on the green bus you will travel through the popular New Market shopping area, back around past the Domain, up Karangahape Rd to Ponsonby (which is famous for its cafes) and down past Victoria Park to Customs St in the central business district. The buses run every 10-15 mins.

5)    The Auckland Art Gallery

free things to do in auckland art gallery

New Zealand has produced some very talented artists. Many examples of their work are contained within The Auckland Art Gallery. One of my favourite artists is Charles F. Goldie who painted amazing portraits of the Maori, NZ’s indigenous people. The museum is housed in a traditional Edwardian building but just added the recent Maori inspired wing seen above. Admission to the gallery is free but charges apply for special exhibitions.

How to get there? From the bottom of Queen St you could walk or catch the bus up Queens St until you get to Wellesley St East. Walk 1 minute up Wellesley St East and you will come to the Auckland Art Gallery on the corner of Wellesley and Kitchener Streets.

 6) Climb to the top of One Tree Hill for the best view of Auckland

One Tree Hill Auckland New Zealand u2

The site made famous in a U2 song, One Tree Hill offers the best panoramic view of the Auckland area. Try to count the 48 (hopefully) extinct volcanoes in this volatile region. One Tree Hill has a history of its own related to conflicts between the Maori and later settlers. You can read more about that at: Why there is no tree on One Tree Hill.

Guest writer Kathryn grew up in Auckland. She embarked on an open-ended global journey in May 2013 and blogs at RTW Travel Guide. 

Cairns is a popular jumping off point to explore the Great Barrier Reef. There are many free things to do in Cairns, we’ll even give you some tips on how you can scuba for free.

Since Australia is so expensive, you have to take advantage of “free.” Here is a short list of free adventures I went on while living in Cairns recently. Most of these trips can be done in a day or two.

Visit the Botanic Gardens in Edge Hill

free things to do in Cairns botanical garden

The Botanic Gardens are located in Edge Hill, a leafy, quiet suburb of Cairns. Collins Street, where the Gardens are located, is known as one of the prettiest streets in Cairns. Have a wander in the Botanic Gardens and marvel at all the different exotic flowers. If you can, visit early morning or late afternoon to get the best lighting for photographs and to beat the heat.

Take a stroll on the Esplanade

free things to do in Cairns esplanade The Esplanade is one of the nicest I’ve seen anywhere to relax and unwind in Cairns. Take a walk along the beachfront and admire the contrast between rainforest, mountains and sandy mudflats. There are many bbq areas here (although use of the grills costs a few bucks) so bring some friends and food for a relaxing picnic under a shady tree.  There are showers, exercise areas, and a lagoon filled with fresh water so you can take a dip and cool off after all that sunbathing.

Are you into exercise classes? The esplanade is host to a variety of free classes including Beach Volleyball, Pilates, Yoga & Zumba- one night while we were eating dinner we watched over 100 people participate in a Zumba class! Classes are day and night so there is a time that will suit everyone! All you have to do is show up.

Go for a hike up Mount Whitfield

View from Mt Whitfield Cairns

The Mt. Whitfield Conservation Park is located just behind the Botanic Gardens. The entrance is clearly marked on Collins Avenue. Choose from 2 hikes that will leave your heart pumping: The Red Arrow trail, which is a little over 1k and has some steep parts with rewarding views, or the Blue Arrow trail, which is 5.5k and takes about 4-5 hours to complete. Watch out for the snakes and wild turkeys! Pause at the top of your Red Arrow climb and admire the sweeping ocean views.

Take a culinary journey through Rusty’s Markets

cairns Rustys Market

Every Friday thru Sunday off of Grafton Street in the heart of downtown visit Rusty’s, a wet market. With over 180 bustling stalls, Rusty’s has extensive displays of exotic fruits and veggies, organic and allergy- free products, and a wide mix of Asian veggies. Visit the cheese stall for some free samples. A particular favorite is the stall that sells local honey and fresh pizza dough. Explore the variety of products and if you can’t help yourself, splurge on a samosa from the a stall in the back next to the coffee shop, which sells Spinach & Cheese or Veggie Samosas. A special treat that usually sells out by noon! *Double splurge- get the refreshing lemon, lime and mint juice made fresh. Try not to gulp it down all at once.

Get a temp job on a reef boat and go diving for free on the Great Barrier Reef

Cairns great barrier reef clam island

You read that right. We’ve had a few couchsurfers stay with us in Cairns and they’ve done it, so it’s not so much a secret as it is about timing and luck. Head down to your nearest dive shop or the marina and ask for work as a “hostie”- you work a few hours on a boat in exchange for 1-2 dives out on the reef. The work is pretty easy and you get to dive for free! Some dive shops are making hosties buy a $25 t-shirt from the dive company, but $25 bucks for food and a few days of diving sounds like a bargain to me. Make sure to check that out ahead of time.

About guest writer Mica:

Mica Travel this earthMica has been traveling since 2005. Working as a Chef by trade, Mica blogs about food and adventure travel. Obsessions include fried plantains, cameras, cheese, and Pisco. Follow her blog at: Travel This Earth          

Beyond its main sights like the Uffizi Gallery, the statue of David,  and the Duomo, there are many free things to do in Florence. Here are five of my favorites.

Mercato Centrale

Florence Mercato Centrale

Don’t miss the Mercato Centrale, a huge indoor food market. It’s filled with Tuscan delights: fresh salads, olive oils, salami, cheeses, beautiful produce, pasta, and many other examples of wonderful local food. You can simply look around or enjoy a snack, get picnic supplies, and even buy gifts or souvenirs.

Walk to San Miniato al Monte

Florence view from San Miniato al Monte

Stroll down the Arno River to Viale G. Poggi and then climb the winding path uphill. You will reach Piazzale Michelangelo, but for a better experience, walk just a little further to the church that sits above the piazzale.

San Miniato al Monte, a Romanesque church from 1018, is one of the oldest churches in Florence. The views of Florence from outside the church are stunning. You can walk the grounds, see the cemetery, and even visit the shop next to the church, which is run by Olivetan monks. Step inside the church, notice the carvings in the floor, and walk to the back to see the beautiful mosaic from 1297.

As you make your way back down to town, stop in the Rose Garden (Giardino delle Rose) at Viale G. Poggi 2.

Visit the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

Florence SMN Officina

This pharmacy/perfumerie dates back hundreds of years and is an important part of the cultural heritage of Florence. The monks of the nearby church began to sell their products in the 13th century; later, the pharmacy produced scents for Queen Catherine de Medici, among others, and became known for its herbal remedies and natural creams.

Step inside the beautiful marble entrance and enter one of several rooms that make up this museum and shop. All the rooms are decorated with intricately painted ceilings, ornate furniture, sculptures, and chandeliers. Get a copy of the information brochure and read about the long and interesting history of this unique pharmaceutical office. Entrance is free, and products are for sale. Via della Scala 16, open every day 10:30-7:00.

Visit Artisan Workshops

Free things to do in Florence bruscoli

Florence is known for its artisans who have carried on the traditions of making quality products by hand for centuries. Now with the increase in globalized goods and machine-made products, the artisan heritage of Florence is at risk of dying out. You can experience this piece of Florence’s history by stopping in an artisan’s workshop.

Cross the Arno River and start wandering the quaint streets of the Oltrarno quarter to find most of the workshops. Back on the main side of the Arno is the Bruscoli workshop, run by Paolo Bruscoli, a 4th generation artisan who makes fine leather products in the Florentine tradition. His partner makes traditional Florentine paper. Mr. Bruscoli speaks English, so feel free to ask him about the workshop’s 140+ years of history. Their items are for sale at the front of the shop, open 8:30-1:00 and 3:00-7:00 at Via Montebello 58.

Palazzo Strozzi Public Events

palazzo strozzi

Palazzo Strozzi is one of the best museums in Florence and definitely the one that connects the most with the Florentine community. It hosts excellent exhibits of both contemporary and historical art. The museum is housed in one of the best examples of a Renaissance palace—it was built for the Strozzi family, rivals of the ruling Medici family, in the 15th century.

Stop in on a Thursday evening for free admission to some exhibits and the weekly social gathering in the courtyard. There you can listen to music, hang out on couches, and, for fun, type tweets on an old-fashioned type-writer and post them on a large bulletin board. Other public events are held, including free movie nights and concerts, so check their website for updated information.

Click the link for my story about 30 things to do in Florence.

Jenna Francisco travel bloggerJenna is a freelance writer who runs This Is My Happiness, a blog about culture, art, and travel. She also writes for the new website Travel Mindset, launching in early 2013, and is an ambassador for AFAR magazine.  She enjoys writing about what makes places unique in an effort to provide a deeper look at travel destinations, especially California, Brazil, and Italy.  You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

EurotribeFrom guest writer Zorica ~ Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, dates back to the 4th-century BC and is one of Europe’s oldest cities. Because there are many free things to do in Belgrade it is an inexpensive place to visit.

1) Stroll downtown Belgrade

Belgrade downtown

One of the best ways to discover Belgrade is by Read more

Written by Meritxell ~ You don’t have to tell me that Barcelona is an expensive city, I’ve lived here almost all my life. But there are many free things to do in Barcelona. Here are some of my favorites.

Walking the markets

Food markets and street markets are always free and are a great place to mingle with locals. One of the famous food markets in town is El Mercat de la Boquería in the city center, it’s a great market full of history and colorful stalls. Don’t miss it!

MArket Barcelona Boqueria

Mercat de la Boquería

In the city center there are many different types of street markets:

Food street market in Plaça del Pi:  Food artisans get together in Plaça del Pi the first and third Friday, Saturday and Sunday of every month.

Mercat de Sant Antoni: Secondhand and new market with books, clothes, and all different types of products. It is open every Sunday from 8am to 2pm. C/ Comte d’Urgell, 11.

Gothic Market: Originally created for antiques and collectibles objects. Now all shops have a range of different products: porcelain, books, clothing etc. It runs every Thursday.
Spain market ham

At the market you can find everything from pans to hams.

Free guided tours of Barcelona

Poblenou cemetery guided tour: The first and third Sunday of every month there is a guided tour around the cemetery to discover the graves of famous people buried in Barcelona.

Where: Cemetery of Poblenoi: Av. Icária s/n 08005 Barcelona. Metro: Llacuna L4, exit c/ de la Ciutat de Granada)

Schedule: 1st Sunday of every month: 10:30 in Catalan, 12:30 in Spanish. 3rd Sunday of every month: 10:30 in Spanish, 12:30 in Catalan.

Barcelona walking tour for free: Gaudí and Old City, two tours offered by http://www.runnerbeantours.com/

Strolling Barcelona’s lovely parks

Parks are a great place to relax, go for a walk or lie down on the grass. We have many great places to do that in Barcelona:

Parc de la Ciutadella: The most famous park in Barcelona, in the city center just next to Estació de França the park offers a wide variety of activities. The park hosts the Barcelona zoo, as well as the Catalan Parliament and the Museum of Zoology.

Montjuïc is the upper part of Barcelona with sweeping panoramic views of the city. If you want to take pictures check out the Montjuïc and Poble Espanyol Panoramic Tour.

Free things to do in barcelona view from  L’alcalde viewpoint in Montjuïc

Panoramic view of Barcelona from L’alcalde viewpoint in Montjuïc

Top free tip for Barcelona

Here is my favorite tip for discovering free things to do in Barcelona. The website forfree.cat highlights the free activities taking place that week. It offers various categories so you can search for what you are interested in. A section called “less than 5 euros” shows activities that are not free, but are still pretty cheap for the budget-conscious traveler.

Free museum day in Barcelona

Admission is free to many of the museums on the 1st Sunday of the month. List of Free museums on Sundays

They include:

CosmoCaixa—Museo de la Ciencia – Opened in 2005, it’s already become on of the most popular science museums in Europe with a hands-on approach to learning. www.cosmocaixa.com

MNAC—Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña This art museum is taking part in the Google Art Project where it is digitizing its collection. www.mnac.es

Museo Picasso Highlights the formative years of the legendary artist. www.museupicasso.bcn.cat

Written by Barcelona native, Meritxell, a 23-year-old tourism professional who loves to travel for the sake of travel and discover new cultures and places. I live like a local everywhere I go because traveling is not only about places but mostly about people. You can follow me on my blog at Tourism With Me, on Twitter @TourismWithMe and Facebook.

What sites do you recommend in Barcelona?

There are so many free things to do in New York it’s tough to know where to begin. Here are a few involving entertainment, nature and culture.

1. Watch a TV show or movie being filmed

 

Golden Boy tv show taping New York

This realistic looking press conference at the Manhattan courthouse is actually a taping for the upcoming TV series Golden Boy.

If you have a favorite show that films in NYC, you can find daily filming locations info on http://www.onlocationvacations.com/ (look a the once-a-day locations post). Their twitter @olv also posts updates throughout the day.

Stars I’ve stumbled on filming include: Julia Roberts, JLo, Pierce Brosnan, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the cast of Gossip Girl. If you keep your eyes peeled, you’ll also see celebrities just walking around. I always do.

 2. Attend a free taping of The View

 

The view TV show studio

Wait on line outside the studio.

Going to TV show tapings is a combination of fun and torture. There’s a lot of waiting and you’re likely to be cramped and hot. But, it’s exciting to see how TV is made. My favorite taping was seeing the ladies of The View. (I don’t recommend going to a taping of a half hour TV show because the ratio of waiting time to action isn’t worth it).

For The View, you can request tickets in advance or try standby tickets. Since I live outside the US, I can’t sign up for advance tickets, so I ended up going standby. I’ve tried 4 times and got tickets twice. Both times I got up very early to be first, or close to first, in the standby line. I got there by 6am. The studio is 320 W 66th St.

If you’re trying standby, you can increase your chances by doing the following: go on a day with a less popular guest, when it’s raining, or a day they are taping two shows (you’ll need to swing by the studio at the beginning of the week to ask which is their two show day as it changes from week to week). The View typically tapes 4 days a week. And you know never what free gift they might be giving out that day.

3. Attend a free reading by your favorite author

I love seeing authors on book tour. Since NYC is the publishing capital of the world, there’s always an author event scheduled.

The best location for big name authors is the flagship Barnes and Noble on Union Square. Sometimes independent bookstores also host big names or authors who have a cult following. Try McNally Jackson (see their event calendar) or Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore. The Skint  lists author events, and lists many other free or cheap activities that well off the tourist trail.

4. Take a moonlight bike ride around Central Park

An environmental group called Times Up organizes a free 10PM nighttime ride around Central Park.  It’s only held once a month but it’s an amazing experience! Check their calendar here. If you’re not in NYC at the right time for the moonlight bike ride, you can take various free walking tours of sections of Central Park. Details here.

5. Bryant Park

Bryant Park New York CityBryant Park is on 42nd street, just a few blocks from Times Square. In winter there’s an ice skating rink that’s free if you bring your own skates. Any time of year Bryant Park is just a lovely place to sit out and people watch. If you need to do any work, you can also step inside to the reading room at the next door NYC public library (ye,s the famous one). Hundreds of desks are equipped with laptop points and free wifi, all in a historic setting. Authors, and aspiring ones too, often go there for inspiration.

6. Free Friday nights at the Museum of Modern Art

Admission to MOMA is free on Fridays from 4pm till 8pm.  It’s better to go later as it’s less crowded. The normal adult rate is $25 so this is a great saving. It’s the perfect way to start your weekend in the city that never sleeps!

Kate of 30traveler writes a blog about travel beyond backpacking, featuring short and long trips with a focus on  vegan/vegetarian travel. Check it out or follow @30traveler onTwitter orFacebook.

What free activities do you recommend in New York?

Not only is it Spain’s most romantic city, there  are many free things to do in Seville; a metropolis where flamenco echoes through nighttime streets and bullfighters are carried out of the ring on the broad shoulders of their fans. Just taking in the city’s clash of Moorish, Jewish and Gothic art and architecture is enough to make the trip worthwhile.

Get lost in Seville’s old quarter 

Seville Spain old quarterSeville has the largest old quarter in Europe. Its Moorish roots guarantee that it’s chaotic and easy to get disoriented, but that’s all part of the fun. Put away your map and explore the ancient architectural details and colorful bars while witnessing daily life in the center of town. Don’t worry – you won’t end up anywhere dangerous or sketchy!

 

Soak up the soul of Andalucía with a free flamenco show

Free things to do in Seville flamenco dancer
Flamenco is a gypsy art that developed its modern form in Seville. Ever since UNESCO declared flamenco an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, it has become the lifeblood of both Sevillanos and visitors. Peñas flamencas, small bars dedicated to legendary artists, often put on free or discounted shows in small, dark locales, the guitar wailing as a raven-haired Sevillana taps and claps her way across the stage.

La Carbonería – Seville’s landmark flamenco joint is in every guidebook because the nightly shows are free. Still, the popularity of La Carbonería and its location in the heart of downtown means that the drinks are expensive and the dancers just sub-par.

Peña Hípica El Búcaro – Tucked in the back of this unassuming bar is a dim candle-lit cavern of flamenco. Lesser-known artists dance, sing and play guitar here, but the juerga continues long after the show is finished; you may be invited to join in. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 p.m.

Anselma – The eponymous robust owner of Anselma puts on free flamenco every night of the week except Mondays. Just be aware she’ll always make sure you’ve got a drink in your hand! (Calle Pagés del Coro, 49)

T de Triana – This bar cum flamenco haven features free shows on Tuesday and Thursday nights around 10:30 p.m. It’s location on Calle Betis makes it an ideal start to a night at one of the city’s best-known nightlife spots. (Calle Betis, 20).

Brush up on Seville’s eccentric history on free museum day

Seville Torre del oro tower of gold

The Torre del Oro is the home of the Maritime Museum

Most museums and monuments set a day aside for free entry.

Museum of Intolerance / Castillo San Jorge – free daily

Archivo de Indias – free daily with appointment

Torre del Oro – free all day Tuesday

Fine Arts Museum – free all day Tuesday

Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo – Free Tuesdays after 6p.m.

Casa Pilatos – free Tuesdays 1p.m. – 5p.m.

Hospital de los Venerables – Free Sundays 4p.m. – close

Cathedral and Giralda – Free Sundays 2:30p.m. – 6p.m.

For EU citizens, entry to the museums at La Encarnación is always free, as is admission to Itálica, a Roman settlement outside the city.

Students under 26 enjoy discounted rates or free entrance at the Alcázar, Cathedral, Fine Arts Museum, Archaeological Museum and Arts and Customs Museum.

Barter, haggle and observe at Seville’s local markets

The best way to observe how Sevillanos live is at the city markets. Old ladies clear space with jabbing elbows as they make their way to the food stands, while their husbands enjoy a morning anise in the bar. You’ll be shocked by the cuts of animals, the array of fish and the mounds of spices sold at each neighborhood’s market. A gourmet edition is set to open early in 2013 at the end of the Triana bridge. Most markets are open Monday – Saturday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Triana, La Encarnación and Feria are the most lively.

Take advantage of the city’s new free wi-fi spots

Free things to do in Seveille Metropol Parasol

The Metropol Parasol is the largest wooden structure in the world

Seville is a city that straddles both old and new. With the addition of the Metropol Parasol, the city’s skyline, once pierced by only a few church spires, now has a gigantic mushroom-like structure rising above the squat buildings. With the inception of the “Setas,” as they’re known to locals, has come a surge in boutiques, gastrobars and even wi-fi hotspots.

The system allows free access for 30 minutes. Sites include the light rail tram that snakes through the city center, Plaza Nueva, Plaza del Pan, Plaza de la Pescadería, Plaza Salvador, Plaza de la Encarnación, along with all McDonalds, Starbucks and many other restaurants. Just look for the wi-fi sticker in the window because, let’s face it, you’d rather spend your money on something else! 

Wander the Exposition fairgrounds

For two brief periods in its long history Seville was the focus of the world’s attention when it hosted the Iberoamerican Festival in 1929 and again in 1992. Large portions of the city were dedicated to these projects, adding architectural gems to a city whose beauty was already apparent. Walking around the fairgrounds is enriching, yet both are surprisingly different as they reflect the times when the events were held.

In 1929, Seville hosted the Iberoamerican Fair, an event that brought together Latin and South American countries, most of which were former Spanish colonies, to strengthen their ties. Located on the southern end of the historic quarter in María Luisa Park, the building style reflects a golden age in Spanish architecture and art, with each country designing its own pabellón, or exhibition hall. What remains today are the building exteriors, mainly occupied by government and university offices, and the crowning gem, the Plaza de España.

On the opposite side of the city, in the Isla de la Cartuja, Spain again hosted an exposition, this time to welcome the 21st century. Over 100 countries attended. Preparations included building several new bridges that spanned the Guadalquivir River and a monorail; the area is reputedly the launching point for Columbus’ first journey to America.

Visit San Fernando Cemetery

Seville’s main cemetery provides a peaceful respite from the bustling city. Opened in 1852, the city’s most illustrious names have been laid to rest here, including bullfighters, flamenco singers, war heroes and criminals. The still-active cemetery is open during daylight hours. Take bus 10 from Ponce de León until you see the cemetery (1,40€ one-way)

Discover the city’s Roman roots 

Seville has been conquered, reconquered and conquered again, creating a mix of architectural and artistic legacies. The Roman roots of the city are best preserved since city decrees outlaw the destruction of ruins or artifacts. Such objects can be seen in the archeological museum of María Luisa Park, but tourists can discover many of its ruins for free.

Starting at the corner of Calle Mármoles and Calle Abades, where the columns of a Roman temple once stood, make your way to Plaza de la Pescadería, where giant marble blocks preserve the ruins of a fish monger. Walk through the Alfalfa neighborhood to Plaza de la Encarnación for the gorgeous mosaics and old city walls that lie underneath the square (1,50€ for non-EU citizens). There are also ruins of a Roman aqueduct just outside the city center on Luis Montoto, beautifully preserved and illuminated at night as cars zip by in a city anchored in its past, but trying to break into the future.

Cat GaaUpon receiving an offer to work at a radio broadcast center in Chicago, writer Cat Gaa turned it down and instead showed up at the Consulate of Spain. Five years and a daily craving for Cruzcampo later, she writes at Sunshine and Siestas about life and culture in Seville. Follow her on twitter and instagram at @sunshinesiestas.

From guest writer Dani Blanchette ~ Medellin, Colombia has emerged from a turbulent past and evolved into a modern city on the forefront of technology and public transportation. There are many free things to do in Medellin for all ages. Here are some of my favorite free activities in Medellin.

1. The Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens in Medellin Colombia

Check out the iguanas at the Botanical Gardens. 

The Botanical Gardens provide a small sanctuary right the center of the city. Located diagonally across from the Universidad Metro stop, it houses an array of ecological systems and is just a great place to unwind, let your children run loose, and have a relaxing picnic. Stroll around the jungle and desert areas, grassy knolls, and a lake with ducks and iguanas running around. (The iguanas are huge!) There are also a few restaurants and food vendors on the property, and you can easily get the food packed up to go sit by the lake and picnic. Sometimes there are street musicians or small artisan fairs in front of the property. This is a great place for a family outing or a romantic afternoon. The mornings are best, as it can become a bit more crowded once school gets out and on the weekends.

2. The Outdoor Escalators

Free things to do in Medellin escalators

The outdoor escalators are a high-tech contrast to the surrounding neighborhood. 

The Outdoor Escalators are a short bus ride from the San Javier metro stop and are the first outdoor escalators in the world to be used as part of a daily public transportation system. Built up the side of a mountain in Communa 13 – one of Medellin’s poorest communities – the series of 6 escalators turns what was once a 35 minute climb up steep mountainside stairs, into a 5 ½ minute ride. The views from the top are outstanding, and the escalators are totally free to use (for residents and tourists). They are also covered to help protect people (and the machinery) from inclement weather. Completed in July, 2012, the surrounding areas are still being beautified. A lookout deck is under construction at the top of the escalators and should be ready for your visit. Exercise care, caution and common sense when visiting this part of the city.

3. The Metro Cables

MetroCables free things Medellin Colombia

The Metrocable provides sweeping views over the city.

Medellin is home to two metro cable lines – similar to gondolas at ski resorts or other tourist places. The difference in these lines, is that they were the first in the world to be built solely for use as part of the daily public transportation system. At the San Javier metro stop in the west of the city houses one line weaves up and down the hillside neighborhoods.

Jump off at any stop to see amazing views and get a feel for the living conditions of the poorer families in Medellin. The other metro line is located off the Acevedo metro stop in northern Medellin. It climbs up the hillside into the eastern barrios. At the top of the official metro stops, pay $5,000COP ($2.50 USD) to continue this line into Arvi Park (the $5,000 is the entrance fee into the park).

4. Pueblito Paisa

Pueblito Paisa

(Photo source: Luz Andriana Villa A., Flickr)

Pueblito Paisa is a replica of a traditional Antioquian small town (pueblito) that is built in the heart of the city of Medellin. There are many actual pueblitos (Santa Fe de Antioquia, Guatape) that are an hour or so bus ride out of Medellin, but if you don’t have the money or time to go on a day or overnight trip, in a couple of hours you can go and see Pueblito Paisa. This miniaturized town (it is only a few building around a town center type square) will give you that authentic Colombian small town experience.

Located at Calle 30A No. 55-64 on Nutibara Hill, Pueblito Paisa is a nice, relaxing area to spend an afternoon. The weekends get more crowded, but it is a little oasis from the bustling, westernized city below. It is also a family friendly place for those traveling with children.

5. Pequeño Teatro (The Little Theater)

The theater is a favorite among locals but not well known by visitors.  The best part about this theater is: SHOWS ARE FREE. After a performance for 2 people and 498 empty seats figured it needed to change its plan. The struggle of selling tickets and filling seats, which climaxed with the 2 person audience, made the theater realize that this is art, and art should be free to the public. Now, all shows are free and if you like the show, you can voluntarily (or not) contribute at the end. Because of this change, the theater now packs a full crowd for each performance, and gets to expose a greater community to this wonderful art.

All performances are in Spanish, but even if you don’t speak Spanish, you can still enjoy the shows. This is also a great place to meet locals and make friends. Pequeño Teatro is one of Medellin’s best kept free local secrets.

Bonus Free Thing – The Estadio Outdoor Pool Complex

Estadio pool complex Medellin

The gorgeous setting of the Estadio Pool Complex. 

These are just 5 free things to do around Medellin, but in reality there are dozens of free things – many of them family oriented. One of my personal favorite free places is the free Estadio pool complex. Just off the Estadio metro stop are 7 FREE pools. A few of these are for practices only, but the 2 main pools are open to the public, along with a high diving pool that also offers SCUBA lessons, and a smaller family pool in the back. They also offer swimming lessons here. With just your ID and a swim cap you can get some exercise, relax, and cool off. (The swim cap is mandatory for everyone. If you don’t have one, you can buy one just outside the pool entrance for $3.000COP / $1.50USD)

There are also walking areas, places to skateboard, and a slew of restaurants just down 70th (the main road). This complex is in the heart of Medellin, so it is easy to reach by public transportation and cab. Very few tourists know about this place.

Dani Blanchette Going NomadicDani Blanchette is a music and travel photographer who sold everything she owned and left on a one-way ticket to South America in September of 2011. She is the creator of the anti-tourism, music heavy travel blog Going Nomadic.

She recently returned to the USA, and is working on a series of anti-tourism destination sites. You can keep up with her adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

By Lola of Lola’s Travels ~ When I think of Boston, the first things that come to mind are Harvard, Paul Revere & the Boston Tea Party. There is so much history here and those few things are just the start of an exciting visit. Luckily, there are many historically significant and interesting free things to do in Boston!

1) Harvard Yard & Harvard Square

free things to do in boston

Boston is home to more than 60 colleges and universities but Harvard University in Cambridge has to be its most well-known. Founded in 1636, Harvard is the oldest university in the United States. Strolling through the grounds and the famous Harvard Yard should be a must on your list of freebies when visiting Beantown. Harvard even offers a free mobile app for smartphones to share with you the historical background of the University. After visiting the storied grounds of Harvard, you should go into Harvard Square just to sample a taste of the energy of Cambridge with all its street performers. Even though both are not technically in Boston, you can easily access Harvard & Harvard Square by the ‘T’ metro system or by crossing over the Charles River at the Massachusetts Avenue bridge.

2) Boston Freedom Trail

Freedom Trail in Boston

The most famous Boston walking tour is the Freedom Trail. This 2.5-mile red-brick walking trail is easily navigable on your own and takes you past 16 nationally significant historic sites. Just follow the red-painted line from the Visitor Information Center in the Boston Common to see sights such as important cemeteries, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere’s house, the Old North Church and the Old South Meeting Hall, where patriots planned the Boston Tea Party. Markers along the trail tell the story of the American Revolution and our nation’s early years. It’s one of the most popular free things to do in Boston.

(Editors’s Note: If your travels take you to Philadelphia, check out the Philadelphia Liberty Trail.)

3) Boston Common & Boston Public Garden

Boston, known as a “city of firsts”, claims these two spots as the first public park & public botanical garden in the United States. The Boston Common was originally intended for military training and a place for grazing cattle. Now its 50 acres are a retreat for residents and visitors. The Boston Public Garden remains virtually unchanged since inception and is a place where people go to enjoy the Lagoon, Swan Boats, gorgeous fauna, and more. Children, especially love the duckling statues of Make Way for Ducklings fame.

4) Museum of Fine Arts – MFA

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Boston’s recently renovated Museum of Fine Arts is home to nearly 450,000 pieces of artwork. Free admission to one of the most comprehensive exhibitions in the world can be had on Wednesdays after 4 p.m. Youth ages 7-17 are always free on weekdays after 3 p.m., on weekends, and on public school holidays. The museum also offers Free Community days throughout the year which you can find on their website.

5) Samuel Adams Brewery

Boston may have been put on the map by its infamous ‘Tea Party’ but the local drink of choice today is Sam Adams Beer. You can tour the Samuel Adams Brewery to learn more about Samuel Adams – the patriot & brewer – as well as experience the beer brewing process. Tours are offered every half hour Monday-Thursday and Saturday starting 10 am until 3 pm and Fridays 10 am until 5:30 pm. Although open to all ages, ID is required for tasting.

More free things to do in Boston

6) Massachusetts State House  – Explore the oldest building on Beacon Hill. Although you must schedule your visit in advance, admission & the tour to this 23-carat gold-domed building are free, weekdays from 10am to 3:30pm.

7) Boston Public Library – The first free municipal library in the US, the Boston Public Library features tours highlighting the architecture of Charles McKim and Philip Johnson as well as works of famed sculptors and painters. The Art and Architecture Tour is offered on Sundays at 2 pm, Mondays at 2:30 pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 pm and Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 11 am.

8) Old North Church – Boston’s oldest church, built in 1723, is a historical landmark of major significance. Here you can view the steeple where the two lanterns were hung that signaled Paul Revere to take his famous ride, and sparked the American Revolution. Open year round but hours vary.

9) USS Constitution – Tour the oldest commissioned warship still operating in the world. Open every Tuesday-Sunday 1oam – 4pm. Last tour of the day starts at 3:30pm.

10) North End & Beacon Hill Neighborhoods – Stroll through the North End to experience Boston’s Italian culture and sample some authentic treats from the many Italian bakeries. In historic Beacon Hill you can get a sense of the Brahmin society of Boston. Wander down narrow cobblestone streets to discover the many little gold signs that indicate a famous resident or a historically significant event.

BONUS FREEBIE

For summertime visitors, The Hatch Shell is an outdoor venue located next to the Charles River that hosts a variety events. During the summer months, there are free concerts and other live events as well as movie screenings, known as Friday Flicks on the Esplanade. This is the location of the big Fourth of July concert & fireworks celebration – also free!

lolas travelsLola blogs at Lola’s Travels – A sassy, fun-loving, and flirtatious traveler, Lola has a flair for finding adventure and making new friends. A typical Lola trip is only a few days, so she’s a master at getting the most out of her getaway. A Frommer’s guide this is not, but Lola does spotlight exceptional places to stay, eat, shop and play in a playful, yet informative way.

By Bethaney Davies ~ Surprisingly, there aren’t many free things to do in Bangkok. Many of Bangkok’s attractions (with the exception of the Grand Palace) cost next to nothing to attend but if you’re doing a lot of sightseeing on a tight budget even the smallest entrance fees can add up. Here are five truly free things to do in Bangkok.

Exercise at Lumphini Park

 

free things to do in Bangkok Lumphini Park

Early morning exercise at Lumphini Park     Source: Steffengo at Flickr.com

Bangkok’s largest green space, Lumphini park is a mecca for locals to play, exercise and socialize. Visiting in the early morning or sunset provides the best opportunity to people watch, stretch your legs & lungs with a jog or take part in a spot of Tai Chi or aerobics. There’s a childrens’ playground at the North of the park. Be aware that Lumphini Park gets a tad seedy after dark!

Chatuchak Weekend Market

 

free things in Bangkok Chatuchak Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market     Source: Prof. Tournesol at Flickr.com

If you’re in Bangkok over the weekend, don’t miss out on a trip to Chatuchak. Again, go early! It gets hot quickly in the maze of alleys running through the thousands of stalls that make up Bangkok’s largest market. Bring water and wear comfortable shoes and clothes. Although you can navigate your way through with a map, if you’re not looking for anything in particular it’s best to just meander through without the worry of getting lost. There’s plenty on offer that you won’t want to buy, but it’s interesting to look at – check out the antiques and exotic pets.

People Watching on Khao San Road

 

Khao San Road

Khao San Road at Night     Source: Skoll at Flickr.com

The backpacker ghetto that is Khao San Road makes for excellent people watching – both of the local and foreign variety. The Khao San Road phenomenon brings out the strangest in people. Backpackers come to Bangkok and seem to lose all their inhibitions and sometimes their common sense. An eclectic mix of locals flock to flog their wares, hang out with tourists and take advantage of the unaware. The entire street comes alive at the night with food vendors, bar girls and market stalls. Watch as brave tourists chow down on deep-fried insects. Listen to the thumping music. Don’t take Khao San Road too seriously and you can have a good time.

Wander the Amulet Market

 

Bangkok : Amulet Market

Buddhist monk searching piles of amulets     Source: -AX- on Flickr.com

Located near the river on the sidewalks of Thanon Maharat, Bangkok’s Amulet Market makes a great stop before or after visiting Wat Po or the Grand Palace. You’ll see Buddhist amulets everywhere in Thailand. Once you start noticing them, you won’t stop. Around the necks’ of monks, hanging from a taxi driver’s rear-view mirror, amulets are prized possessions. Wander down the street, admire the vendors’ wares and get a glimpse into a fascinating part of Thai life. It’s a great place to snap photos.

 

Visit a Buddhist Temple

 

Wat Pathum Wanaram    Source: Wiki image

Bangkok’s touristy temples, like Wat Po and Wat Arun, charge a minimal entrance fee (usually around 20 to 50 baht) but there are plenty of temples you can visit for free. Enjoy the wonderful architecture, golden Buddha, saffron-robed monks and a more serene vibe at lesser known temples like Wat Indrawihan and Wat Pathum Wanaram.

All photos sources under Creative Commons License and attributed accordingly.

Bethany Davies flashpacker familyTravel writer Bethaney Davies is one-third of Flashpacker Family – a semi-nomadic, globetrotting family from Christchurch, New Zealand. Bethaney, Lee and their toddler Reuben spend half the year at home and the rest out exploring and enjoying the world. Flashpacker Family has great tales from the road, tips on travelling on a budget & travelling with a toddler and information on living a location independent lifestyle. Bethaney also runs Travel Thailand Guide – an online tourist guide to Thailand. You can follow Bethaney on Twitter and Facebook.