There’s no need to splash the cash when you’re on a city break. Save your cash for cocktails with these 20 totally free things to do in Europe’s cities in this spring and summer. After all, (at least some of) the best things in life are free!
1. Free bikes, Copenhagen
Save your moola for Noma! You’ll be able to afford a slap-up nosh at the world’s top-rated restaurant if you do all your sightseeing and getting around on a free bike thanks to the city’s hire scheme.
2. Free chocolate, Zurich
Free chocolate! Perhaps only beaten by free beer? Chocoholics won't be able to resist tasting a truffle or two at the Lindt & Sprungli Chocolate Factory in Zurich. Entry to the on-site chocolate museum is free as well.
3. Free comedy, Edinburgh
If you plan on seeing three or four shows a day, the price of attending the Edinburgh Festival in August can get pretty expensive, but keep the costs down by attending some shows at the Free Comedy Festival. As the name suggests, it's free, although you should really contribute some coins to the collecting bucket at the end. Every joke will seem so much funnier when you’ve spent all your money on beer.
4. Free Da Vinci Code-cracking, Paris
Visiting the world's greatest art gallery, the Louvre, is free on the first Sunday of the month (and on 14 July, and at any time if you're under 18, if you're18-25 and from the European Economic Area, or an art teacher). Usually it costs 15 euros to moon at the Mona Lisa or do the Dan Brown thing, if you must.
5. Free shopping, Istanbul
Ok, not spending money will be a bit of challenge in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, but resist the hard-sell onslaught and this is window shopping at its most atmospheric and interactive.
6. Free concerts, Amsterdam
Join high-browed locals swinging their pants to Schubert at the free Wednesday lunchtime concerts in the seriously impressive setting of the Concertgebouw, home of one of the world's most-respected orchestras. Get there early to queue up, but it's so worth it.
7. Free dinosaurs, London
London boasts some of the best museums in the world, and some of them are free, like the brilliant Natural History Museum, an absolute must if you’ve got kids to entertain.
8. Free walking tours, Berlin
If you've done the sights like Checkpoint Charlie and the Reichstag, see a less touristy side of Berlin. Hang out with happening hipsters, take a squiz at a squat and hit the beach (bar) on the twice-daily Alternative Berlin Tours that take you into the creative heart of this captivating city.
9. Free Gaudi, Barcelona
One of Barcelona’s top attractions is the fantastical architecture of Antoni Gaudi. You can see most of it, like Casa Milà, from the outside, for free. You can even sit on it, in the case of the serpentine bench in Park Güell.
10. Free art, Madrid
Madrid’s Museo Nacional del Prado houses one of the finest collections of art anywhere. If you go to the Prado from 6-8pm (Tuesday – Saturday) or 5-8pm (Sunday), you can gape at Goya for nada.
11. Free literary history, Dublin
Aspiring to literary greatness costs you nothing at Dublin’s revered Trinity College. Wander the quadrangles soaking up an atmosphere dripping with literay genius in teh very place where Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and Samuel Beckett learnt their trade.
12. Free sightseeing, Rome
The holey-roofed Pantheon is one of Rome’s top attractions, and it’s free, so you can save your money for an extravagantly-priced gelato and cappuccino at a piazza café in tourist central.
13. Free food, Milan
In the Sixties they had free love; in Milan they have free food. It is custom for bars to lay on snacks totally gratuito at aperitivo time. And we don't mean mini sausage rolls. All you need to do is buy a drink, and get in there!
14. Free chess, Salzburg
The Austrian city of Salzburg is notoriously pricey, but you’ll get hours of fun for free by playing life-size ‘street chess’ in the Kapitelplatz. Getting whipped by local masters is also free.
15. Free music, Venice
The cost of a coffee in St. Mark’s Square is infamous, but places like the famous Café Florian lay on free performances by quality string quartets. You could even try asking for just a tap water… but prosecco is probably preferablel!
16. Free photo opportunities, Prague
If there is one thing you just have to do in Prague, it is get your photo taken on the magical old Charles Bridge over the River Vltava. And it’s free, apart from the camera, of course.
17. Free museums, Lisbon
Sunday is meant to be the day of rest, but not if you’re penny-pinching in Portugal, as you can get into lots of Lisbon’s museums and two of its top art galleries for zilch.
18. Free views, Athens
Get a godlike view of the Parthenon, ideally as it is being struck by lightning (which often happens), by making the easy ascent of Filopappou Hill near the Acropolis.
19. Free old towns, Riga
Take your pick of Baltic state and eastern European cities for a free stroll around an architecturally astounding Old Town. There's Prague, there's Krakow, or there's the ancient streets of Latvian capital, Riga.
20. Free grass, across Europe
From the Tuileries in Paris to the Tiergarten in Berlin, city parks across Europe are the best places to spend your time without spending your money. Oh, ok then, you can buy a baguette and a beer if you must.