- Özgür Töre
Even though the coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot of travel plans for millions around the world, eventually restrictions will be lifted and life will be more or less back to normal. We all need a short and sweet weekend city break from time to time.
Whether you're getting stressed out because of work, your studies—or you just need to break up your routine—a weekend trip can do you a lot of good and you'll usually come back feeling revitalized. There are a few questions to answer first, of course: your budget, where to visit, and what to do when you get there. It always helps to have someone else with you to help plan everything, but if you're traveling solo, then you're going to need a few solid tips to assist you with your much-needed city break!
Even with sites like Airbnb and Skyscanner, to help us find cheaper means of accommodation and flights, the costs of a weekend trip can really start to soar. You might then think that you'll have to survive on tap water and instant noodles just to make ends meet. Thankfully, even if the flights and accommodation were a bit more than you'd like—as spontaneous trips are often far pricier—you can still save a lot of money when it comes to visiting the top free attractions in major cities. In Europe, especially, there are dozens of capital cities that may have a reputation for being on the more expensive side but still have loads of free tourist sights that simply must be checked out! According to a ranking from vacation experts Omio, many European city travel destinations are packed with free attractions, walking tours, and even with free Wi-Fi! Let's take a look at some of my European favorites.
There are about a million and one things to do in England's capital city. First-time visitors are understandably a bit overwhelmed by the sheer size of the metropolis, the bustling population (8.9 million and counting), and perhaps even the erratic weather! However, once you get past all that, you'll be treated to one of the most diverse and entertaining cities in the entire world. In terms of free things to do, the sky is really the limit, but a good start would be:
- See the Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies at the British Museum
- Visit a T-Rex (only a skeleton!) at the Natural History Museum
- Get inspired by beautiful art at the Tate Modern
- Check out the Imperial War Museum for a look at a Spitfire plane and Harrier fighter jet
- Get the best views of the city and see some stunning nature at Greenwich Park
- Relax and have a picnic at Wimbledon Common (great ponds and even a windmill!)
- Take some cool photos for Instagram at the very colorful Neal's Yard
- Get some selfies outside Buckingham Palace (ideally when the changing of the guard ceremony is happening), Piccadilly Circus, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, and of course Abbey Road for Beatles fans!
Like London, Paris has a rich and interesting history, varied culture, and stunning architecture. There are tons of quaint little cafes serving delicious pastries and coffee, as well as fashionable shops bursting with trendy clothing and jewelry, but if all that sounds too expensive, then rest assured that Paris has a lot of free attractions to offer:
- Selfies at the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Élysées and the Louvre
- Free walking tours that help you find all those hidden gems
- Wandering around the Basilica du Sacre Coeur, one of Paris' most underrated churches
- Watching the Paris lights sparkle at night, especially the Eiffel Tower. It's easy to see why it's called the City of Love
- Get lost in the cobbled, arty streets of Montmartre
- Feel like a king or queen in the Luxembourg Gardens
- See some impressive French masterpieces at the Paris Museum of Modern Art
Fun in the sun is what Barcelona is all about! From May to October, especially, things get pretty warm and you'll definitely get a great tan and all the vitamin D your body needs! Not just famous for having one of the best soccer clubs in the world, Barcelona is great for chilling in parks or at the beach to soak up the sun, but it's not the only free activity you can do there:
- Certain museums are free on the first Sunday of every month and after 3pm on Sundays. These include the Museu Picasso and the fantastic MNAC, but it's still best to check individual museum websites for more details
- If you visit around 24th September, you'll be treated to the five-day Festes de la Mercè, which is one giant festival that's full of live music, fireworks, acrobatics, and colorful and lively parades
- Check out Gaudi's work. One of the most famous architects in the world, Gaudi's masterpieces are littered throughout Barcelona, including Park Güell, Casa Batlló, and the unmissable La Sagrada Familia
- Witness the epic Magic Fountain of Montjüic at night, where you'll get one of the best mixes of light and water ever seen
- Have a wander and picnic at Parc de la Ciutadella
- See some awesome street art around the areas of El Raval and Poblenou