The World’s Best Free Attractions

Notre Dame, Paris

AOL Travel published a great article not too long ago, highlighting some of the top attractions in the world – that are totally free. The list was gleaned from Lonely Planet.

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.

Outdoor Art in Buenos Aires

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.

Shelley at Park Guell in Barcelona, 2009

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.

Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

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.

Shelley at the Lotus Temple, Delhi 2009

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?

Things To Do on raveable
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About Shelley Seale

I'm Shelley, a journeyer and learner of the world, freelance journalist and author, yoga chick and dog lover. I pound the keyboard from home barefoot every day, and while my boss is demanding she also occasionally lets me have the early afternoon cocktail. I think not going into an office or collecting corporate paychecks are very good ideas, though not always profitable. I have written for National Geographic, USA Today, The Guardian, Texas Monthly and CNN, among others. Neither the New York Times nor Johnny Depp have answered my letters yet. I love yoga, indie movies, wine, and books, though not necessarily in that order. I believe in karma. Mean people suck. If I could have any dream job I would like to be a superhero. I have performed a catch on the flying trapeze, boarded down a live volcano and was once robbed by a monkey in Nepal. But, I don't know how to whistle. My mantra is "travel with a purpose."
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