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Traveling on a Budget? 5 Activities that Are Always Free

Traveling on a Budget? 5 Activities that Are Always Free

I get it, fees for visiting popular attractions add up fast. Twenty dollars per person spent at an art museum, an additional twenty dollars spent to go to the top of a famous skyscraper. For a couple, that’s  $80 right there, and for a family of four, it’s a whole lot more. Well, here are five things to do in just about any city around the world that don’t cost you anything.

  • Food halls

Okay, so this one is somewhat of a catch-22.  Even though it doesn’t cost anything to enter, you will undoubtedly want to buy just about everything you and your stomach come into contact with. Visiting food halls in a new city is probably one of my favorite activities as a more mature, foodie inclined traveler. Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market will always have a piece of my heart, Cleveland’s Westside Market is really the main reason we drive the two hours to Cleveland, and my much too brief time in Munich, Germany makes me want to return if only to delve deeper into the stunning Viktualienmark. My best piece of advice if you do remove your wallet from your pants or purse is to try a little of everything, but especially  the everythings you can’t find back home. At the top of my travel bucket list is visiting the famous Great Market Hall in Budapest and the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul.

Traveling on a Budget? 5 Activities that Are Always Free

  • Cemeteries

I’ve said before on the blog how fascinated I am by cemeteries and how much I enjoy visiting famous historical ones on my travels and even in my home base of Pittsburgh. If you’re only familiar with those cemeteries that are somewhat  nondescript, perhaps a bit more modern (i.e. only really containing graves from the 1940s and on), then yes, I can understand your hesitation in seeking out a cemetery while traveling. But what about those cemeteries  containing the graves of famous people (i.e. Margaret Mitchell in Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery or Paul Revere in Boston’s Granary Burying Ground)? Or a cemetery like Bonaventure just outside of Savannah, Georgia that is so visually stunning to visit? History is just as much alive at a place you think is quite dead (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). And three trips to Paris and I have still not made it to Pere la Chaise. Next time you can count on it.

Traveling on a Budget? 5 Activities that Are Always Free

  • Parks

The old me, my  early-20 something self, would have scoffed at the idea of being in a new place and visiting, well, a park. But today, parks capture my attention just as much as  museums. It goes without saying that London’s Hyde Park and New York’s Central Park are crème de la crème. But even those parks that are not as well-known on a global scale are equally enchanting-Mexico City’s Chapultepec, Seville’s (Spain) Maria Luisia, and Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Parks are also wonderful places that are beautiful to visit in any season.

Traveling on a Budget? 5 Activities that Are Always Free

The gardens at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen, Denmark. Okay, so the castle cost money but walking the gardens was free.

  • Houses of worship

Yes, it’s true. Some houses of worship (mainly churches,  based on my past travels) do charge you to enter. But many still do not.   (I’ll add, though,  that if there’s ever a house of worship I truly want to visit, I would never let an admission fee keep me from doing so;  I would never be that cheap.   Case in point,  the Old-New Synagogue in Prague and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.)   But I’ve seen some truly spectacular houses of worship that were completely free-the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels that is home to beautiful stained glass windows, the Lisbon Cathedral, and a church in Rome whose name I’ve long since forgotten that  I came across while walking from my hostel in the Termini area to the Spanish Steps,  that  featured stunning mosaic ceilings.

Traveling on a Budget? 5 Activities that Are Always Free

  • Walking the streets

You may think to yourself, walking the streets? What’s the point? The point is there’s sheer beauty and intrigue to doing just that. I feel there are many cities whose  allure is on the outside, not found in some pricey tourist attraction. When I visited places like Charleston, Savannah, and Prague, I certainly paid to visit some sites, but mainly I was content  walking their streets that were filled with such beauty and historical significance . And even in bigger cities like Boston and Lima (Peru), cities whose historical areas have been dwarfed by 21st century skyscrapers, I still found pockets of city life that called out to me, urged me to take out my camera and snap away. Sometimes the best travel itineraries are those that are not jam packed with one activity after the next but rather ones that simply allow you to soak in the ambiance of the place you’re visiting.

Traveling on a Budget? 5 Activities that Are Always Free

Is there anything you like to do while traveling that doesn’t cost anything?

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Traveling on a Budget? 5 Activities that Are Always Free

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Bridget @ A Traveling B
    February 9, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Great list! It is always important to insert some of these free activities in the itinerary because like you say, the price can certainly add up! One of my favorite things in Europe is the Sandeman’s walking tour. I love that they offer for free and you tip based on how happy you were with the tour. I hope the trend picks up in the US eventually. As for food halls, add the St. George’s Market in Belfast if you find yourself there anytime soon. Another great find where I wanted to buy something from every food stall!
    Bridget @ A Traveling B recently posted…A Look Back at 2016My Profile

    • Reply
      Julie
      February 9, 2017 at 7:03 pm

      Your posts on beautiful Belfast have me so interested in visiting, and especially that great sounding food hall! Not to mention, there are so many European “things” I wished the US would take measure of 🙂 I will definitely need to seek out a Sandeman’s walking tour the next time I’m back in Europe!

  • Reply
    Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad
    February 11, 2017 at 10:55 am

    1000000% agree with walking the streets! I find myself learning more about a culture doing that sometimes than visiting a museum. Awesome list, it goes to show travel doesn’t have to be expensive! I would add markets in general. I love food halls (the one in Budapest is amazing!) but markets are one of my favourite things to explore wherever I can.
    Clazz – An Orcadian Abroad recently posted…Why It’s Important To Travel Now More Than EverMy Profile

    • Reply
      Julie
      February 13, 2017 at 7:46 am

      Thanks for commenting Clazz! And yes, I wholeheartedly agree about travel not always having to be equated with steep costs. I have heard such wonderful things about the food hall in Budapest (it’s also one of the cities I’m dying to visit next). And you can’t find a more authentic experience than one with food 🙂

  • Reply
    New to the blog? Start here! - The Red Headed Traveler
    July 27, 2017 at 10:06 am

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