Tickets to attractions, eating out… it’s easy to blow your holiday budget, but there’s no need to splash the cash on everything when you’re away. Rachel MacDonald brings you 20 top tips for totally free things to do, so you can save your money for shopping, souvenirs and a personal concierge service. After all, the best things in life are free!
1. Be on live TV, NYC
Want the incomparable glory of waving to your friends from the small screen or brushing shoulders with the stars? New York is the setting for numerous TV programs, many of which allow you to sit in the studio audience for free if you request a ticket far enough in advance.
2. Visit the Vatican, Rome
Catch a glimpse of the Pope as he rides in his Popemobile, chase pigeons in the piazza, and view mind-boggling artistic masterpieces when the Vatican Museums are free to visitors on the last Sunday of each month.
3. Wine tasting in Paris
Wine and Paris go together like cheese and… wine. Select an appropriate vintage for your picnic in the park, and get some free booze, by attending a free tasting event at fine wine vendors like La Dernier Goutte.
4. Nobel Prize lectures, Stockholm
The super-prestigious Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm each year on December 10th. Although it's difficult to get tickets to the ceremony unless your other half happens to be a brilliant biochemist, the nominees all give lectures the week before. These are completely free and open to the public, so you can boost your brainpower by proxy.
5. Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney
Originally a modest vegetable garden, the Royal Botanic Gardens are now filled with fanciful ferns and flowers. Take a pleasant stroll, enjoy a picnic on the grassy lawns, and enjoy stunning views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
6. Gallery-hopping in London
Many of London's famous museums are free, including the Tate Modern. Contemporary galleries are also free of charge. If you get lucky you'll crash an opening night and get to schmooze it up with the free bubbly and art stars of the London world.
7. Walking tours, Prague
Cover centuries of history in three hours with a free walking tour of Bohemian Prague, from the Jewish Quarter to the Kinsky Palace, and you'll have a lot more money to blow on marionettes and absinthe.
8. Visit a castle, Scotland
Not all historic sites charge an entrance fee. Spooky spots like Kilchurn Castle offer spectacular views and the opportunity to clamber around some really old rocks.
9. Tapas tasting, Granada
You'll find free tapas - traditional bar snacks - throughout Spain, but they are particularly popular in Granada, where it almost seems to be a local competition to see who can give away the most delicious food.
10. Sunbathing, Dubrovnik
Save money on trips to the tanning salon with a jaunt to Croatia. Banje Beach in Dubrovnik is a warm strand that attracts sun-seekers well into the autumn months.
11. Market-hopping, Bangkok
There's nothing like a Thai market to awaken the senses, with Thewet Market and Khlong Toey Market offering a bevy of mystifying produce to stare at.
12. Lenin, Moscow
Entrance to Lenin's Tomb in Red Square is free to visitors, although the wait to see his shrouded figure may cost you half a day of your holiday.
13. Street art, Berlin
You'll find colourful graffiti sprucing up the city walls from central Mitte to hipster Kreuzberg, around nearly every corner. Especially worth a peruse is the East Side Gallery on a preserved stretch of the Berlin Wall.
14. Festival-hopping in Portugal
There is a free festival nearly every day somewhere in Portugal, but more-than-worth visiting are the widespread elaborate processions honouring the dead on 1 November for All Saint's Day.
15. Diamonds, Amsterdam
Learn what puts the sparkle in your bling when you visit Gassan Diamonds in Amsterdam, which offers free guided tours of their diamond factory.
16. Sightseeing, Vienna
Walk in the shadows of former visitors like Napoleon and Mozart in the decadent St. Stephen's Cathedral, for free. A trip down to the ghastly catacombs costs a few euros but is well worth it.
17. Monkeying around, Jaipur
The crumbling façade of the Hindu Galta Monkey Temple is located just outside of the dazzling pink Indian city of Jaipur. It is inhabited by thousands of monkeys, lounging in the pools and just waiting to steal your snacks.
18. Boat tours, Auckland
Fancy learning more about how a working port operates? Just want to stand on a boat for an hour free-of-charge? The Ports of Auckland offers a free tour of their operations.
19. Visit a palace, Florence
Put on a fancy hat and practice your curtsy, because you've got an invitation to the palace! The Strozzi Palace, to be exact; which is free to visitors on Thursday evenings.
20. Film festivals, Istanbul
The city hosts an International Short Film Festival in November with free entry to the public, so you can get loaded on Turkish coffee and brush up on your cinematic knowledge.