So you’ve arrived at your vacation destination…now what? Chances are you have some idea of what you want to do, places you want to go, sights you want to see. Hopefully you’ve budgeted appropriately, but we can talk about that later. One good thing to know is that not everything has to cost an arm and a leg, in fact, some things are completely free! So without further ado, here are 10 free things you can do pretty much anywhere in the world!
I’ve come to realize that hiking doesn’t necessarily mean boots, mountains, and gallons of bug spray. It doesn’t have to mean huffing and puffing for miles and hours on end either. I love to hike! In fact, it’s my chosen method of cardio; I am so not a runner, and staring at the wall for an hour on the treadmill isn’t appealing to me either. You may not always find wilderness trails in the city, but I can guarantee, they aren’t too far away. Surprisingly enough though, sometimes you CAN find hiking trails in the city, which brings us to our next thing-to-do…
Parks are everywhere, and they’re all free! You can spread a blanket and read a book, play games, go for a stroll, some parks even have water playgrounds to cool off on a hot summer day. I’ve seen acrobats practicing routines in the park, rollerbladers practicing cool tricks, and there’s almost always some kind of music. It’s very common, especially in the warmer months, to see bands and musicians in parks. Shakespeare in the Park is also a spreading movement where theatre troupes put on a production for free.
3. Street Fairs
Ok, so I can’t claim that this one is completely free…obviously if you want to get something, it’s going to cost money. But if you’re like me, wandering around looking at all the fun trinkets, smelling the food, and watching the performances is entertainment enough! There’s ALWAYS something cool at a street fair.
Believe it or not, some museums are free! Even ticketed museums have free admission sometimes, whether it’s for children under a certain age, students, entrance after a certain time, or it’s a national holiday. Check out this great USA Today article that features a list of Excellent Free Museums Around the World. My personal favorite (at least so far) is London’s British Museum, home to “the largest collection of Egyptian objects outside Egypt”.
This is kind of along the same line as museums. There are national galleries and private galleries, but both are home to beautiful and one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork. Private galleries are usually quite welcoming as long as you’re respectful and dressed appropriately. I never really recommend children to go to a private gallery, because these are usually full of pieces that are still for sale, and of course, if you break it, you buy it.
I love yoga as both a meditative practice and non-rigorous exercise. I have been practicing yoga for about a year and a half, and rarely miss a week. Whether you’re new to the practice, or an experienced yogi, there is just something special about yoga in a new place. As long as there’s enough room for you to move, you can literally do yoga anywhere. Nearly every city has some kind of instructor-led free practice. You can even watch an instructor-led session on Youtube or any number of apps on your phone.
7. Places of Worship
You do not have to be religious to appreciate a house of worship. Churches, temples, and mosques are some of the most beautiful buildings constructed, and usually have impressive architectural attributes. They are also home to astonishing collections of artwork and sculptures. For much of antiquity, religion was the driving force of the world, especially in Western civilization. Wherever you travel, you will find a house of worship for one religion or another. Always remember to be respectful, and keep in mind that some have strict dress codes you must adhere to to be admitted. I had to drape a napkin over my shoulders in Italy when I attempted to walk into St. Paul’s with a tank top on!
So here is another iffy one…I know you can’t find a place to swim EVERYWHERE (and frankly, you wouldn’t want to swim everywhere), but with 71% of the Earth covered in water, the odds are in your favor. Between beaches, rivers, lakes, and ponds, you’re never far from some water…just don’t forget your towel!
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9. Colleges and Universities
Universities, especially in Europe, have marvelous architecture and unrivaled library collections. While you can’t just stroll into a lecture or residence hall, wandering the grounds and public areas of the campus is cathartic in its own way. For those of us who are history aficionados (read: nerds), campuses are choc full of stories and legends, just ask any student! Plus, there’s usually at least one cool thing of significance at every university.
10. Make New Friends!
It doesn’t cost anything to be nice! Make some friends; even if you never see them again, at least you had some good conversation! Locals generally love to show off their city, and will likely introduce you to something that you would have otherwise never done. Locals know all the best restaurants, bars, hot dog stands, and clubs. Friend them on Facebook and return the favor if they ever stop by your neck of the woods.
What are some of your favorite no-cost things to do? Drop me a line in the comments, or message me on Facebook!
Heather ~ The Bargain Bin Traveler