Many European cities have the bad reputation of being expensive to

visit. And when you plan to see as much as you can during your

vacation, the entrance fees really add up. Thankfully, there are also

lovely places which can be visited for free. These can vary from a

stroll down a popular street, to spending time in a park or visiting

incredible historical places like churches.

1 - St. Peter’s Basillica, Vatican City

St. Peter’s Basillica is one of the greatest Roman Catholic churches in

the entire world. It is also has the largest interior, capable of

holding 60,000 people. Catholic tradition holds that the tomb of Saint

Peter, one of the Apostles of Jesus, is under the altar of the

basillica. Despite popular misconception, St. Peter’s Basillica is not

a cathedral (as it is not the seat of a bishop).

There was an old Constantinian basillica on this site since the 4th

century and the present building was completed in 1626. It is

associated with Michelangelo (the first chapel on the north aisle

contains the famous Pietà) and with papacy. There are over 100 tombs

within the Basillica, many located beneath the building (including 91


2 -The Pantheon, Rome, Italy

The Pantheon

is the best-preserved Roman building in Rome and was built as a temple

to all Gods in Ancient Rome. The current build is actually a

reconstruction of the first temple which existed here. Since the 7th

century, the Pantheon has been used a Roman Catholic church (and yes,

masses are still held here on important Catholic holidays).

One of the most interesting features of the build is the central

opening, called the Great Eye. When the Pantheon was used as a temple

the fire inside the temple would create smoke which escaped through the

opening. Today it is the only light source in the building.

3 - British Museum, London, UK

The British Museum is one of the most important museums in the

entire world. The collections comprise over 7 million items, depicting

the human history from its beginning to the present days. Among the key

highlights you will be able to see: the list of the kings of Egypt from

the Temple of Ramesses II, the Rosetta Stone, fragment of the beard of

the Great Sphinx, Mummy of ‘Ginger’ (3300 BC), mummy of Cleopatra from

Thebes and much more.

The museum opened in 1759 and has always been free to visit (except

for the special exhibitions which usually require a fee to be paid).

Also free in London: Changing of the guards, Museum of London and many more

4 - Schonbrunn Gardens, Vienna, Austria

Schönbrunn Palace

is one of the most important cultural monuments in Austria. For decades

it has been a very popular tourist destination for those visiting

Vienna. Only the Gardens can be visited for free and they are worth

some hours of your time.

The gates open at 6 a.m (or 6:30 a.m. during winter) and close

between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., depending on the season. If you arrive by

metro you’ll probably enter the grounds via the Zoo gate while if you

come by tram, you can enter the grounds via the main gate.

The Privy Garden is located between the palace and the Gloriette (on

top of the hill). In between those, there’s Neptune Fountain. The

western parts of the grounds have been turned into an English Garden.

On both sides of the Privy Garden there are 32 sculptures. Generally

speaking, unless you enter a building, the maze, the Zoo or climb up to

see the views from the Gloriette, you don’t need to pay anything.

It’s pretty much impossible to see all the parts of the Gardens

during one day. It gets very hot during summer so make sure to bring

enough water (you have to enter to Zoo to get to the mini-shops, so

that’s not exactly a good idea) and good walking shoes. It’s pretty

easy to climb the hill to the Gloriette and the views are magnificent,

even if you don’t go up on the viewing deck.

Also free in Vienna: St. Stephan’s Cathedral, Hofburg Gardens, walk on the Ring Street

5 - Gellért Hill Cave, Budapest, Hungary

Gellért Hill Cave is also known as Saint Ivan’s Cave, from the hermit

who lived here and was believed to have cured the sick by using the

natural water from the muddy lake located next to the cave. The

entrance in the cave is located 75 feet above the Danube River, on

Gellért Hill (right opposite the Gellért Hotel & Baths).

Between 1926 and 1951, the cave served as chapel and monastery,

while during the World War II it was a field hospital. When the Soviet

Army captured Budapest, the entrance to the cave was sealed and it

wasn’t until 1992 that the cave was open again for the monks and the


The church can be visited for free but it’s advisable to show up

right after the mass (while the organist still plays religious songs).

Also free in Budapest: guided tours of The Parliament (free for EU citizens only), a walk on Margaritsziget (an island)

6 - War Museum, Athens, Greece

Inaugurated in 1975, the museum depicts the history of warfare over

thousands of years. You can admire weapons from every era, starting

with stone axes and ending with fighter plane.

The primitive weapons and the Bronze Age ones are among the most

interesting. If you are interested in the Greek War of Independence,

you can learn about the weapons used. Children will most likely enjoy

climbing in the cockpit of a fighter plane.

Also free in Athens: Changing of the guards in

front of the Parliament, Railway Museum, Museum of Popular Musical

Instruments, The Hellenic Children’s Museum, Municipal Gallery of Athens

7 - Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

Paris is filled with incredible places to visit and Notre Dame is one

of those iconic landmarks we all have learned about at some point

during our school years.

The beautiful Gothic Cathedral is located on the eastern half of the

Île de la Cité. It was the first building in the world to use the

flying buttress, although it was not originally designed to use them.

The construction began in 1163 and was completed in 1345.

Just like visiting any other Roman Catholic or Orthodox cathedral, make sure to dress accordingly (or how they put it on the official web site “show a respectful attitude, through both their behaviour and their clothing”).
Also free in Paris: The Louvre Gardens , Sacre Coeur

8 - The Berlin Wall, Berlin, Germany

Once the barrier dividing West and East Berlin, the Berlin Wall is an

important part of the German history. The wall fell on November 9, 1989

after a series of protests. Right after the fall, the government opened

ten new border crossings and visa-free travel was allowed starting on

December 23, 1989. In the summer of 1990 the official dismantling of

the Wall began.

Today, only some sections of the walls exist as memorials, and

nearly all of the original wall is gone. The longest remaining stretch

is the East Side Gallery, which is now considered an open-air museum.

There are also sections of the wall along with their histories located

in the busy Alexanderplatz area (pictured above).

Also free in Berlin: Reichstag

9 - Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

The Charles Bridge is one of the most beautiful places and best-known

attractions in Prague. And best of all, it’s free. The stone Gothic

bridge started its life in 1352. There are towers on each end of the

bridge but only one can be climbed. The bridge is lined with 30 statues

(most of them are replicas of the originals). Touching the status of

St. John of Nepomuk is believed to bring luck.

The pedestrian bridge is almost always full so if you want to avoid

the crowds, plan to walk on the bridge either early in the morning or

late at night.

Also free in Prague: the Prague Astronomical Clock

10 - Red Square, Moscow, Russia

The most famous square in Moscow and possibly the most famous in the

entire Europe is, without a doubt, the Red Square. During the Soviet

era, the square was used to hold all the parades, and soviet rulers

even wanted to demolish the famous St. Basil’s Cathedral only to have

more room for their displays of power. Nowadays, the square is a

preferred place to organize concerts.

Today the Kremlin and the Red Square are UNESCO World Heritage

Sites. The buildings located in the square are: Lenin’s Mausoleum, the

State Historical Museum, Kremlin towers, the Iberian Gate and Chapel

and St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Also free in Moscow: Alexander Gardens

11 - Vigeland Sculpture Park, Oslo, Norway

Part of Oslo’s Frogner Park, Vigeland Park features 212 bronze and

granite sculptures created by Gustav Vigeland. Among the interesting

art pieces, one can admire the fountain – originally designed to be

placed in front of the Parliament -, the Monolith and the eight statues

of children playing (in the area called Children’s Playground).

The park is also known for the lovely picnic area and the possibility to sunbath.

12 - La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain

The most famous street in Barcelona is, without a doubt, La Rambla.

During summer it’s awfully crowded with both locals and tourists but it

represents a lovely way to do some people watching and window shopping.

The middle part of the street is pedestrian only and at any time during

the tourist season it comes to life due to the live performances and

the flower market. There are interesting buildings on both sides of

the street and if you want to relax, go to Placa Reial, just off La

Rambla. And for a colorful and exotic meal, check out La Boqueria, the

iconic street market filled with pretty much anything you might want to

buy or eat.