Some cities like London and New York have enough exceptional free activities to easily fill a week. Other destinations want money from you for something as simple as peeking in the front door (Le Grand Casino, Monte Carlo), sitting down for a few minutes (Las Ramblas, Barcelona), or voiding your bladder (pretty much all of Norway).
Having been to all of them except Buenos Aires and the Bazaar in Istanbul, I can vouch for everything else as an amazing – and free – site to visit and explore.
The top attractions listed are:
10. Kensington High Street Roof Gardens, London – comprised of three different gardens, covering 1.5 acres.
9. Outdoor Art in Buenos Aires – Buenos Aires uniquely has a number of distinctive neighborhoods and streets known for outdoor artistic expression like La Boca, Caminito and Calle Lanín. Buenos Aires’ official tourism site has several downloadable self-tour maps and itineraries.
8. Parc Güell, Barcelona – Gaudí’s outdoor masterpiece, where the artificial and natural flow seamlessly into each other (Keith and I have been here, and can vouch for its awesomeness!)
7. St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City – In addition to being one of the planet’s holiest Catholic sites, St. Peter’s Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world, capable of holding 60,000 people. One of the world’s most awe-inspiring sites, even for a non-religious person like me.
6. Notre Dame, Paris – One of the world’s great landmarks, Notre Dame took over 200 years to construct, including its (at the time) cutting edge flying buttresses, three spectacular sections of stained glass windows and the unholy 7,800 pipe organ. Wretchedly detailed, free English language tours run on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2pm and Saturdays at 2:30pm.
5. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. – The world’s largest museum and research complex, The Smithsonian, offers attractions like the Air and Space Museum, the American History Museum, the Natural History Museum and the National Zoological Park. One of the things I LOVE about D.C. is that all the museums, and most historical sites, are free.
4. Gateway of India, Mumbai – Stand under the Gateway of India, Mumbai, the monumental arch that faces Mumbai Harbour and bask in the chaos of touts and laughing kids. A fitting start to a trip to India.
3. The U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. – Going on a parliamentary tour is usually free. The U.S. Capitol is no exception – get your West Wing on with a tour of the United State’s political nerve center. Be on the lookout for statues of two famous residents per state, plus some of the most stunning, baroque and neoclassical architecture in the nation.
2. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul – One can find remarkable markets in numerous destinations around the world, but few compare in historical significance and sheer size to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Opened in 1461, it’s one of the largest covered markets in the world, comprised of over 58 streets and more than 4,000 shops.
1. Lotus Temple, Delhi – Completed in 1986, the Lotus Temple serves as the Mother Temple of the Indian subcontinent and is famous for its award-winning flower-like architectural design.
Do you agree with this list? What was left out – what would you add?