Happily, life is full of options … and travelers have many. It’s part of what makes a trip so fun. Why not discover smart ways to save money in expensive but must-see European cities, rather than skipping them entirely? After all, these places are famous for good reasons.
Naturally, basic travel tips like avoiding peak season, avoiding luxury hotels, and touristy restaurants are apparent to travelers on a budget. But there are many more ways to save and it all adds up. Don’t worry, you’ll eat well, enjoy concerts, explore the best places, and embark on wonderful adventures while saving money in major destinations like London, Paris, Stockholm, Venice, and Barcelona.
Best of all, the built-in benefits of urban cost-saving measures often mean diving deeper into the authentic local scene.
To fall in love with the parts of the city that tourists miss, book your accommodation in a hostel, an apartment with a host family, or a bed and breakfast inn. That action alone will save money and get you out of the tourist core to discover the distinctive neighborhoods that define the genuine pulse of a place.
To sample the food that residents place on their tables every day, head to the outdoor food market, or visit the largest grocery store you can find for a picnic or dinner “at home.” Avoid fancy food halls, expensive delicatessens, and convenient corner stores – European supermarkets and open-air market days are cultural hotspots, photo magnets, and massive fun.
Walk to all the places you can. oh, and bring your most comfortable shoes for walking because … well, cobbled.
In this expanding capital, access to extraordinary treasures is free. See Egyptian mummies, and Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers”. Do you know which of London’s national museums are free? (Hint: everyone!)
Visit the vast permanent collections at the British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Natural History Museum, National Gallery, Science Museum, Tate Modern, and Tate Britain, among others. The no-admission policy introduced in 2001 nearly tripled attendance, so expect crowds. The intimate Wallace Collection, with its inner courtyard café in Manchester Square behind the Selfridge store on Oxford Street, is a quieter find.
Paid admission is still in effect in private museums, historic houses and museums, gardens, and royal palaces. So you’ll bet on the Tower of London, Kew Gardens, Kand ing Henry VIII’s Hampton Court, to take a spin on the London Eye or stand at the Prime Meridien at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.
The days of free museums in Paris are rare, but two famous cemeteries are free and provide extraordinary historical insights for those wandering the green interior.
Leafy Père Lachaise is the final resting place of guitarist Jim Morrison, and his tomb has attracted millions of people to the most visited cemetery in the world. A vast land covers the 20th district, an area near the fashionable Belleville neighborhood covering 100 acres. Other famous tombstones include Edith Piaf, Maria Callas, Honoré de Balzac, Oscar Wilde, Camille Pissarro, Frederic Chopin, Colette, Yves Montand, and Simone Signoret.
Montparnasse is an oasis of tranquillity in a bustling neighborhood just steps from the busy 14th district train station. A graveyard for well-known literary figures and artists, the graves include the writer Jean-Paul Sartre, who is buried with his partner Simone de Beauvoir. In addition, Charles Baudelaire, Emile Zola, Guy de Maupassant, Samuel Beckett, Serge Gainsbourg, Brancusi, Hector Berlioz, Frédéric Bartholdi (sculptor of the Statue of Liberty), as well as American writer Susan Sontag and actress Jean Seberg.
Skip the Vatican Museums and visit the spectacular Pantheon for free. The large crowds and long lines in St. Peter’s Square that form since dawn may be enough to convince you of the merits of this alternative
Due to the excess of cultural attractions in Rome, the ancient Pantheon is one of the least appreciated places in Europe. However, the ancient Greek temple was built for Emperor Hadrian around 125 AD. It stands as the best-preserved ancient Roman building. Almost as old as the Colosseum, but perfect in every detail, the Pantheon is the only structure of its age and size that survives intact in all its splendor. Topped by the largest unsupported dome in the world, it surpasses the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The church is open every day and is very well located in Piazza Della Rotunda, less than a 10-minute walk from the Trevi Fountain.
Venice is all about water, of course. If you are eager to experience the magical city from a boat, don’t be tempted by the Venetian gondoliers. The boats are beautiful to look at but ridiculously expensive to board. Instead, get around town by Vaporetto, spending less than $ 2 for a 75-minute ride or $ 16 for 10 trips.
Nineteen scheduled waterbus routes run along the Grand Canal, the main canals, and nearby islands such as Murano, Burano, and the Lido. See the “great show” No. 1 Vaporetto to go up and down the Grand Canal, stopping briefly at each of the six sestiere, or neighborhoods, where you can disembark or continue the full circle. Travel by night on the Vaporetto (Route N) to take in magnificent views of the Venetian palaces that line the Guidecca and take a look at the occasional interiors that sparkle under the priceless crystal chandeliers.
Note: Don’t take a seat at the Caffè Florian or Gran Caffè Quadri overlooking Piazza San Marco unless you want to waste the budget on a cup of joe.
Learn how to book a free guided walking tour in this open and friendly city full of excellent English-speaking residents. An enthusiastic and genuine Amsterdammer is happy to show you around for whatever you want. Book early (there could be a small reservation fee of approximately $ 2 per person) to secure a spot and cancel up to 24 hours in advance with no penalty.
Choose from four or five tour companies. Classic walking tours take two to three hours, starting at the easy-to-find Dam Square at the National Monument. Visit the Red Light District, pass the Anne Frank House, browse the museums to return later, and take a look at the narrowest house in Europe, and the widest canal bridge in the city.
Alternatively, book a paid tour to delve into the culture of cafes, canal houses, Dutch art, and Amsterdam by night, and tour by boat or bike.
Scandinavian capitals are notoriously attractive … and expensive. The local currency is pegged to the euro, but visitors still need the Danish krone in their pockets.
Beer is a way of life in Denmark, it is said that it has more breweries per person than any other nation. If you want to try Tuborg, Carlsberg, or Mikkeller, there are places much cheaper than the bars, cafes, and restaurants in Copenhagen, where the prices are usually very high.
Because there are no civic ordinances that prohibit drinking in a public place, the best thing to do is buy a six-pack at the store and enjoy a pilsner outside in a park or sit on a bench facing the sea. Be sure to dispose of beer cans carefully. If it’s too cold to be out, look for a “kro”, which is a Copenhagen pub.
Arlanda airport is a long way from the city, so the first challenge is getting to the city at a reasonable cost. Avoid the Arlanda Express train and take the Flygbussarna bus for less than half the price.
Stockholm is small enough to be walked around on foot, except in chilling winter weather. To get to Gamla Stan, the charming old town, just walk over one of the bridges. Or use the public bike system that provides a card (for less than $ 20) that gives you access to free unlimited use for three days for trips of up to three hours at a time.
With the money saved, you may want to splurge on a $ 15 admission to the Vasa Museum in Djurgården. Take the ferry or walk 20 minutes from the city center. The main attraction is a well-preserved warship dating from 1628, wrecked for 333 years at the bottom of Stockholm Bay.
The United Nations reports that Norway is among the happiest nations in the world, but no one would like to pay the price of beer or museum admission in Norwegian kroner (NOK for short).
Since Oslo is walkable for pedestrians, avoid buying the Oslo Pass. While it offers free entry to 30 museums and attractions, in addition to ttravelingon on all public transportation, it costs $ 50 for 24 hours.
Better yet, visit the Oslo Botanical Garden on foot. Stroll through the beautiful gardens that contain a palm house, conservatory, manor house, scent garden, and sculpture garden. Stop for a bite to eat in a garden adorned with ornamental flowers. Next to the Museum of Natural History, it is open from mid-March to the end of September. It’s easy to walk and it’s completely free.
Landlocked, mountainous, and surrounded by EU member states, Switzerland has its reasons for scoring high on lists of the most expensive cities. With its island-like situation and its status as a non-euro currency, the Swiss must pay more for almost everything they bring in from beyond their borders.
However, rare views are free. Zurich’s mountain, Uetliberg, is not impressive on an alpine scale. But at nearly 3,000 feet above sea level, it offers hikers panoramic views of the city that reach up to the Alps from an urban peak above the mist.
Switzerland looks spectacular so get more free views. The Polyterrasse, next to the Federal Institute of Technology, has special views of the towers of the old town. And on the other side of the Limmat River, the Lindenhof Hill is an ancient Roman fortification with fairytale views of Lake Zurich.
When a gust of wind blows across Lake Geneva, pedestrians are gently sprayed by the world’s tallest water jet. The famous jet d’eau located in the middle of the lake is the best-known monument in the city.
Get up close and personal with the picturesque lake surrounded by Mont Blanc and the most impressive snow-capped mountains by taking a ride on the water on the yellow public transport boat. Travel is free with a Geneva transport card provided by each of the city’s hotels and hostels. Alternatively, if you are staying in an Airbnb-type accommodation, a Geneva Pass can be purchased online at a 10 percent discount to cover boat trips, and a Mont Saléve cable. e-car, and museum tickets.
Did you know that an adult ticket for a United Nations escorted tour at the Palais des Nations in Geneva costs $ 10 less than a UN tour in New York City? So for half the price, consider it a good deal to take a look inside.
Rich in culture, history, and musical heritage, Vienna can also be quite rich for the taste of a traveler on a budget.
To save money, skip the guided bus tours of the great palaces and take a self-guided walking tour. Starting at the main train station, Wien Hauptbahnhof, walk northwest to the Belvedere Palace. Stroll through the formal gardens and majestic fountains and enjoy views of the capital city. Turn left on the left towards the Schwarzenberg palaces, cross the Ringstrasse and continue through Old Town.
It may end at the famous 14th-century St. Stephen’s Cathedral, where Haydn sang like a choir boy. See the catacombs below the North Tower where Habsburg royals rest in the Imperial Burial Vault. Climb 343 narrow spiral steps up to its tower for the best panoramic views of Vienna. Total cost? Zero.
It is not necessary to skip the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, where one of the largest art collections in the world is located. Think of Titian, El Greco, Velázquez, Goya, and hundreds of Spanish, Italian, and Flemish masterpieces lining the walls.
But instead of paying $ 17.50 per person for admission, plan your day to arrive at the beautiful 200-year-old stately castle in central Madrid for a two-hour daily free admission slot. Less than 26? The entrance is always free. 65 years or older? The entrance is half-price
Madrid is a night city. So every night there is the opportunity to take advantage of Prado’s free entry policy from 6 to 8 p.m. (Sundays and holidays from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.). If you’re short on time, take the one-hour tour of the 15 highlights.
Poor beautiful Barcelona; As popular as the Spanish seaside town has become, over-tourism is the buzzword on everyone’s lips. Keep your wallet or purse safe from pickpockets in crowded places when pre-purchasing a discounted transportation pass, which means you don’t need to buy the ticket before boarding.
To get around, including the beach, buy a T10 ticket that allows 10 trips on public transport for even less than half the price. It also allows the use of several people.
For a longer stay of up to five days, buy the Barcelona Card issued by the Tourist Board. It is a discount for use by a single person for unlimited travel in Zone 1 by metro, tram, and bus, which includes free round-trip transfers on the RENFE train between the BCN international airport and the city center. Prices start at around $ 21 for a two-day Barcelona Card.
The Irish city on the River Liffey has elegant Georgian architecture and a distinguished UNESCO City of Literature designation, but they say “Dublin” and many visitors think “Guinness.”
Introduced in 1759, the famous Irish dry stout originated from the St. James’s Gate Brewery. Tickets for the Storehouse tour start at $ 21.50, including a pint of creamy-headed Guinness, made on the spot. But if you’re looking to save some money, grab a pass on the tour and drink it elsewhere.
Avoid the crowds at O’Donoghues and Mulligan’s, go to Neary’s, where they have been serving a pint of black since 1887.
Or enter Ireland’s oldest pub, The Brazen Head, the site of a former carriage house dating back to 1198. There is live music every night, saving you a couple of shillings on entertainment.
The capital of Iceland is indeed ultra-clean, safe, and ecological. But no one would call Reykjavik cheap. Not long ago, travelers returned with stories of $ 15 burgers, but those days are long gone since McDonald’s shut down its inaccessible operation in Iceland.
So, forget about burgers, but remember Icelanders love hot dogs (and ice cream). This national obsession dictates that any trip to a geothermal pool or natural spring must be followed by a visit to a nearby hot dog stand. Considering the high price of food, it is fortunate that an Icelandic hot dog is a meal.
It is served hot and comes on a steamed bun topped with raw white onions and crispy fried onions, ketchup, pylsusinnep, sweet brown mustard, plus remoulade, a sauce made with mayonnaise, capers, mustard, and herbs. Call it dinner and head to an ice cream parlor.