Travelling in Europe can be notoriously expensive, but guess what there’s oodles to do for free in Europe, so if you’ve run out of cash by the end of your holiday, have no fear because there’s loads to see and do without spending a penny. Here’s some of the best things to check out when you’re hopping across this glorious continent.
Italy’s largest, grandest, richest and most spectacular basilica is completely free to roam around. Consecrated in 1626 after being built on top of a 4th-century church, the grand interior houses some of Italy’s finest artistic masterpieces: Michelangelo’s Pietà and Bernini’s 29m-high (95 ft.) baldachin over the incredible papal altar.
The UK’s largest museum is one of the oldest, most spectacular heritage institutions and is continuously voted one of the best museums in the world. So much cultural stuff is on offer here that Londoners never need to leave – Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, Roman, European and Middle Eastern, you name it, it’s here. So how much is it? Tenner? Twenty quid? Nope. Free.
Notre Dame is Paris’ most visited unticketed site and gets more than 14 million visitors per year and is arguably one of France’s finest examples of gothic architecture. Filled with gorgeous stained-glass windows, grand statues and stunning marble floors, the cathedral’s mammoth cave of an interior can hold up to 6,000 worshippers. And no, you don’t have to pay to get inside.
One word: Gaudi.
Schönbrunn Palace is what Versailles is to France – a reminder of imperial opulence and extravagance. What does this mean? It’s OTT and very pretty. The former royal residence located in the Austrian capital has 1,441 rooms and is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historical monuments in the country. If you don’t fancy paying a few bucks to look inside, the gardens are completely free to explore.
The Charles Bridge is one of Prague’s most iconic attractions, and best of all it’s absolutely free to cross from the Old Town to the New Town. Best time to go? At dawn or sunset for those perfect Instagram shots.
Stepping into the Red Square never ceases to inspire the traveller. Vast, imposing, and spectacularly colourful, it lives up to the very definition of the word stunning.
One of the best examples of gothic architecture in the world, Barcelona Cathedral (not to be confused with Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia) dates all the way back to the 13th century. It’s free to roam around, but if you fancy spending a few pennies, visit the roof (don’t worry there’s a lift) to get an absolutely mesmerising view of Barcelona.
Often regarded as one of the most beautiful mosques in the world, the Blue Mosque was the grand project of Sultan Ahmet I (r 1603–17), whose tomb is located on the north side of the site facing Sultanahmet Park. Inside, you’ll find exquisite carpets, chandeliers and some of the most wonderful examples of Iznik ceramics (the blue Iznik tiles that adorn the exterior give the mosque its name) and Islamic architecture.
This lovely spot makes the most out of the panoramic function on your iPhone. People come here in particular for the dramatic sunset porn. Just a 10-minute uphill stroll along a road (handy after you’ve scoffed your tenth pizza) you won’t only get a fab view of Tuscany and the Duomo, but you’ll also get to see the view that inspired so many Renaissance masters like Michelangelo and Raphael. Fab.
Described by Robert Louis Stevenson as ‘a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design,’ Arthur’s Seat is the main peak of a group of hills in Edinburgh, Scotland. Free to climb and wonderful to conquer, expect breathtaking views and a grand feeling of achievement.
Founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, the Vatican Museum boasts one of the world’s greatest art collections. Set across seven kilometres (four miles) of opulent halls and corridors, highlights include the spectacular collection of classical statuary in the Museo Pio-Clementino, a suite of rooms frescoed by Raphael, and the Michelangelo-painted Sistine Chapel. Best thing is, all this culture is free to see on the last Sunday of every month.
Lisbon continuously tops the list as one of Europe’s ‘it’ destinations. The city’s top attractions can be very, very pricy, but on the first Sunday of each month, you can catch the big sights for nothing, including the Museu Nacional do Azulejo tile museum, the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Belém, the Torre de Belém and the unmissable art collection of the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian.
Love a good bargain? This map shows the cheapest AirBNBs in Europe!