List of 21 Free Things to do in any City!
Travelling for a holiday is a big expense for most of us right?
We bust our ass at the office and set aside a small amount to our travel kitty, when the time comes for the big vacation, we dip in and empty it.
Since we know that the costs are going to be high, what about looking at free things that you can do in any city?
Yes, we mean every city! (ok, maybe almost every)
Air fares and hotels are going to make up the bulk of our spending before we even get to our destination, and it would be wise and wallet friendly to know what are some of the things that you can do for free.
Tip: Check out the travel resources we use to save money on our trips!
In this article, and in no particular order, we round up 21 of the best free things that you can do in any city to save you some change for beer!
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What's covered in this post
- List of 21 Free Things to do in any City!
- Visit places of worship
- Hiking in Nature Parks and Reserves
- Check out Museums
- Picnic in the Park
- Free Movie Screenings
- Walking Tour
- Hang out or stay with locals
- Go to the local markets
- Show your support for Local Artists
- Check out filming locations
- Window Shopping
- Volunteer your time
- Go to a dog park
- Go hunting using Geocaching
- Visit Landmarks
- Local Libraries
- Attend a convention
- Look out for Street Art
- Moving around in bicycles
- Visit a 24 hour supermarket
- Explore Local Neighbourhoods
Visit places of worship
Religion is a big part of our culture and most cities will have a few places of worship such as churches, temples and mosques.
The best part is that in most larger cities, these places of worship were built from a time long ago and has become important architectural icons. Be ready to be wowed.
Some of our favourites include the Notre Dame Cathedral and Saint Chapelle. You can read more about it in our Paris Travel Budget and Itinerary post.
Hiking in Nature Parks and Reserves
We hope that you are somewhat similar to us, always on the lookout for nature reserves to go for a nice hike.
It is relatively easy to find one that is not far away from the city and you can take a few hours away from the crowd and get a workout in.
It is during hikes that we can get to go into relaxation mode and many a time we have encountered great people along the way and end up with some spectacular views.
Pretty good deal right?
One of our favourites, and it makes for a perfect day out or side trip, is Yangmingshan in Taipei.
Check out Museums
We cannot think of any cities that do not have a museum, save for the really tiny towns or villages.
Even sometimes in those areas you can find a museum or two to check out.
Museums are a great source of information about the places you visit, or about specific topics.
One that is really cute and uncommon is the Cup Noodles Museum in the prefecture of Osaka, Japan.
This one costs you some cash though, so if you were looking for a free visit, check out the numerous others available.
One tip here: many popular museums charge a fee, but they do have specific days in the week that they open to the public for free. Make sure you check out their website before calling a visit off.
Picnic in the Park
We really love to travel to cities that have a park and garden in the city center, or just on the outskirts. You know why?
We love picnics! Yes, the food and beverage that you bring along needs to be paid for, but you got to eat and drink right?
Parks and gardens are perfect to relax in the sun and have a sandwich and beer. If you are the active kind, go strolling or jogging!
Are you travelling to Singapore soon? Here are 7 reasons why you should visit Singapore!
If you are, make sure to pay a visit to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, which became the first tropical garden in the world to be inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List!
Don’t forget to check out our Singapore Travel Guide and Places to Stay in Singapore too!
Free Movie Screenings
Do you like watching movies? Although we are not the biggest film buffs around, we sure enjoy a couple of hours of entertainment on the big screen.
Movie tickets are on the rise too and sometimes we just cannot sit still!
Luckily, these days there are more and more outdoor events being organised where movies, some of them recent blockbusters, are being shown on a giant screen in a park setting.
All you need is to bring along a mat and your favourite snacks to enjoy!
One of the best ways to explore a new city is by walking, hands down.
Not only can you see every nook and cranny and explore every other back alley, you get the chance to discover the best views and eat try out local food not mentioned in magazines.
It is so easy to do that now since Google Maps have done a really good job of mapping out the world.
You can also sign up for walking tours in the city that you are visiting, but most of them would require a small tip.
We say that’s totally worth it.
But if you are really tight on budget, just follow the routes which they have put up on their website and walk along!
Tip: try using maps.me for a different mapping app rather than Google. These maps can be downloaded and used offline too and are designed with explorers in mind.
Hang out or stay with locals
One of our reasons for travelling is to be able to soak into the local culture and there is really no better way than to talk to one.
We used to do that by hanging out by the bar and that’s fine, but there are more ways to do that now.
Check out Couchsurfing.
Not only are you to hang out with a local, you get to stay with one too!
There are some nasty stuff written online about staying with Couchsurfing hosts, but as long as you use your wits and be respectful, this is probably the best choice.
If you are not up for staying with a local, you can still go on CouchSurfing and take part in the activities that are organised on it.
The alternative is to check out Meetup.
Go to the local markets
As Singaporeans growing up with our parents and grandparents, we were often brought along to the markets to join them in their grocery shopping.
When we were kids, I guess we never really liked it but now that we are older, we have learned to appreciate it.
The experience of getting your groceries and produce in a market versus a supermarket is so different, plus you get to support the local businesses.
We have also experienced European markets and we can tell you it is very much different than the wet markets in Asia.
Be sure you go to one when you are in Asia.
Show your support for Local Artists
There are lots of aspiring artists all over the world, and they are all looking for an outlet to showcase their talent.
And because of that, studios and performing houses regularly conduct free sessions for the public to appreciate these talents.
It is a great opportunity to learn about the local arts scene and get to see performances that may not be readily available in your home country.
We feel that if the performances have touched you and left a great impression, there is no harm in making a small donation to the organisations.
In Europe, it is pretty easy to find free performances in the main cities, such as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam or support the students Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse in Paris.
Check out filming locations
While Hollywood is most certainly a common name for most people, there are movies being produced in almost all cities around the world.
Everybody loves some entertainment right? But what are we talking about here?
We are not asking you to become an actor or actress, but to seek out movie filming locations in the cities that you are travelling to.
But for what?
First of all, it is usually a free activity, and secondly, you can recreate the scene from that movie and take some cool pictures!
We have taken ours at the Marina Bay Sands Skypark (from the movie Crazy Rich Asians), so go for yours too!
Start your search here at Movie Locations.
Okay, we gotta confess, we do not like shopping, but sometimes we do have pockets of time in between activities and we have already taken like 4 coffees by then.
What do we turn to? Window shopping!
Not only is it free, you get a good calves workout and get to see some many pretty and cool things. Get inspired by the high end boutiques and snap some pictures to store in your album of “To-Buys”.
Although premium brands do have some unique designs, it is not impossible to find similar items at local brands or lesser known labels. Saves you a bucket of cash!
Tip: check out the malls for free activities or if they have viewing galleries. You never know what you may run into, just like in Paris where we got this gorgeous night view of the Eiffel Tower from the rooftop of Galeries LaFayette.
Volunteer your time
Most of the time when people go for holidays, the primary reason is to relax, get away from work or maybe do something specific, such as surfing, diving or roadtripping.
But have you considered volunteering?
Volunteering is a great way to make use of your time to help out others who are in need, or it could be for animal shelters or becoming a farm hand.
Other types of help that you can give includes taking part in construction of houses as well as becoming a teacher for young children.
As long as you are willing, there is definitely a match for you.
There are quite a number of organisations worldwide today that matches volunteers with nonprofits that need an extra pair of hands.
- Some of you have probably heard of organisations such as WWOOF, which pairs volunteers up with organic farms.
- Other groups that you can look at are GivingWay and GlobalVolunteers.
- Help people look after their house and get free accommodation in return! Check out HouseCarers.
Take note though, most of these volunteering opportunities involves a cost, but it is worth it for the experience gained and most of them offers you accommodation and simple meals in return.
Go to a dog park
Do you love dogs? Or maybe you have a case of missing your beloved doggy at home while on holiday?
Well, the simple solution is the head out to a dog park and mingle with the pets owners there.
Not only is it a great opportunity to make some new local friends, you will feel better after spending an afternoon playing with the cute pets there.
Go hunting using Geocaching
We are not talking about Pokemon here guys. No catching them all, sorry.
Then what are we rambling about?
If you know what a scavenger or treasure hunt is, then you are looking at the modern version essentially. Geocaching started some time in the 21st century and really started to pick up steam soon after.
The name of the game is simple.
Caches are hidden all over the world and geocachers need to locate its location and sign on a log.
Not only is this a great outdoor activity, it is free!
This is really a no brainer and we didn’t want to put it in the list since we thought anybody would have thought of it.
But no, we wanted to make this list as complete as possible and hence we got to put this down.
Most of the landmarks in cities across the world are generally free to view.
Some may impose a fee to get inside or to tour the place or to get to a viewing gallery.
But sometimes, particularly when you are on a budget, do you really need to go inside every single monument or historical spot?
Just admiring it from outside, or at times from a different vantage point, makes the view so much better.
For example, the Eiffel Tower in our opinion is best viewed from across the road at the Trocadero Gardens.
Read about our guide of Paris here.
What are some that you have come across personally?
Reading is a favourite pastime of a huge number of people, and we are gonna count you in as one of them.
It is such a great way to relax and increase our knowledge, so why not visit a local library?
Although some of us have the impression that libraries are boring concrete buildings or just another nondescript hole in the wall in a shopping mall, that is actually a very wrong assumption.
In case you didn’t know, the most beautiful libraries in the world are stunning works of architecture and many are home to some of the most treasured literature.
Check out this beauty below: the Royal Portuguese Reading Room, situated in Rio de Janeiro.
Attend a convention
Before heading to your choice of destination, how about checking out the local calendar to see if there are any worthy exhibitions or conventions?
Many cities have convention centers where all manner of business, whether local, regional or international come to showcase their wares or services.
Take for example a cool one that is free to enter in London is the Forex and Cryptocurrency Convention.
You learn how to make money while on holiday. How cool is that?
Look out for Street Art
Earlier on, we talked about supporting artists who are mainly in the school of performing arts.
We now turn your attention to another group of artists who have displayed their talents in another way, something more public and creating a new sort of landscape to a city.
Some people might be up in arms over street art, which they might call graffiti to the uninitiated.
But when done in the right way, it can transform a bleary, sleepy city into one with a much different vibe.
Something more lively, more edgy. It might even leave a comedic impression.
Some have even become cultural icons, such as the Lennon Wall in Prague.
Keep an open mind and open eyes to look out for them. Sometimes you never know where to expect one to pop up.
Moving around in bicycles
Over the last few years, after the advent of a sharing economy like Uber and Airbnb, bicycles have also gotten a new lease of life, thanks to enterprising companies and government working to provide cheap or free access to bicycles in cities.
If you are travelling out to places in America, Europe or Asia, these services have now become commonplace for everyone to use.
Most of them charge a small fee, but the trick is to read the fine print.
A lot of these services offer the first 15 to 30 minutes to use for free, some even up to an hour! It sounds really cheap but before your time is up, you can simply return your bike and switch to another one!
Even if you have to pay for it, the costs are usually minimal, and offers you an excellent way to explore the city you are in and reduce pollution.
Talk about killing two birds with one stone!
Visit a 24 hour supermarket
Do you guys like to snack? Most of us do right?
Whenever we visit a new place, we like to check out the supermarkets or local convenience stores to have a look at the types of snacks that are on offer.
While it is common to see global brand names like Kit Kat or Kinder Bueno, what entices us are the local brands, stuff you cannot buy at home.
Combined it with a late night trip to a 24 hour supermarket, where it is almost empty, you have the whole aisle to yourself!
Plus, if you are the sort that rents an apartment and cooks for yourself, it is the perfect time to stock up on groceries and not forgetting cheap beer!
Explore Local Neighbourhoods
This goes without saying right?
If you are visiting a big city, chances are the prices are jacked up and there will be lots of places catering to tourists.
Which means higher prices.
In Singapore for example, food in the city center is typically much higher than where the locals usually eat.
If you are willing to take the time to visit a local neighbourhood, which mostly are a short distance away from the city center, you get to stretch your dollar further.
Tip: Check out our 10 best food in Singapore under $1.50!
Not only is the food cheaper, you can get a sense of how the people of a country lives, which is much more meaningful than to visit every single tourist attraction and leave with nothing more than a souvenir.
So what do you think?
Which of these 21 free activities did you like the most?
And do you know of more?
Please let us know in the comments section!
There could be many other things that you can do for free in any city, and we will be on the lookout for more too.
Budgeting for a trip is stressful enough so we are really happy to share this list of free things to do in any city with you. Hope it benefits you!
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