Here are some fun ideas that will help you learn about and explore any city for free.


1. Walking

Yes! Walking is free whichever city you are in. The trick here is to research the best areas in the city for your accommodation.

Try to pick somewhere that is close to restaurants, parks or attractions. Doing this will mean that you can walk out of your accommodation and start exploring the city on foot.

View from the top of Mt Kintoki in Hakone, Japan

Here are some other walking options:

  • Hiking and Bushwalking - there some amazing scenery and natural areas to explore just a short walk from some city centres which are worth investigating, check out the view from the top of Mt Kintoki in Hakone, Japan above
  • Parks and Gardens - Some cities have national parks so enormous you might need days to explore it

Note: Entry fees may apply to some parks or gardens so it’s worth doing research beforehand.


2. Museums

“Boring.” I hear you say. Try it at least once, you never know what you’ll learn. You don’t know what you don’t know, right? Most cities have a museum you can visit for free or at the very least there will be exhibitions you are able to enter with no fee.


3. Places of Interest

Tourist map

Every city has a point of interest that is significant to the culture, history or city icon. These can include, but not limited to:

  • Monuments
  • Historical buildings
  • Places of worship (eg temples or churches)

Visiting these are usually free, if not to enter than at least to admire from the outside.


4. Markets

Where there are markets there’s food! Most cities have some sort of food market, these can be in the form of, but not limited to:

  • Fish or crab markets
  • Farmer’s markets
  • Festivals
  • Special events

The best things about markets are free samples! Get a taste for what the locals enjoy by perusing the stalls at your leisure.


5. Ask!

Lost tourist looking at a map

If you’ve exhausted all the above options, then the best motto is ‘Ask!’. Speak to someone who lives locally or visit the tourist information centre or even your accommodation staff. Sometimes the best little gems are found this way.


6. Tours & Activities

Spanish Steps, Rome

In some cities worldwide you can also join sightseeing tours some of which are completely free.

Companies like SANDEMANs offer free walking tours in cities in Europe and other destinations where you can see the sights without having to book or pay a fee upfront.

This is a great way to learn more about your new surroundings and tipping is completely optional.

There are also short term free volunteer programs abroad available to join where you can do something rewarding, some even include free accommodation. 


By Vasantha Pakiarajah


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