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