Europe is expensive at the moment, but travelling on a shoestring budget is still very possible if you know where to look! From a night you won’t forget in North London to harbour diving and volcano hiking, the best free things to do in Europe often turn out to be much more fun than something you’ve paid for! If you love a bargain, check out our checklist of free activities…
1. Party Up at Notting Hill Carnival
London’s biggest open-air street party is not to be missed if you’re in the capital in the Summer. Packed with energy, colour and good vibes, the streets of Notting Hill become a dance floor for reggae, dancehall and afro beats for a weekend each year, celebrating the UK’s Caribbean communities. Check out this year’s carnival here .
2. Climb to Montserrat Monastery
One of the best day trips from Barcelona, the monastery at the top of Montserrat and the surrounding scenery should be on every European traveller’s bucket list. You can catch a train direct to the bottom of the mountain, and hike up to the thousand year-old monastery site (or beyond if you’re feeling brave!). The name literally means “serrated mountain” in Spanish, and you can see why from the top.
3. Stroll Around Luxembourg Gardens
One of Paris’ most famous attractions is undoubtedly one the best free things to do in Europe! Jardin Du Luxembourg is 25 hectares of beautiful, colourful English and French gardens. It’s a popular meeting point for Parisians in Summer, and has become famed for its calm, peaceful atmosphere. In the heart of Paris’ Left Bank, you’ll find fountains, sculptures, ponds, flowerbeds and even tennis courts hidden away here.
4. Dive Into the Islands Brygge Harbour Baths
Okay, diving into Copenhagen’s busy harbour might sound dangerous and downright gross, but remember, Denmark is notoriously clean! In fact, the water in the harbour pools is checked every single day to make sure it’s up to swimming quality. The five harbour baths look up to Copenhagen’s beautiful skyline and are popular amongst locals and tourists alike (especially in the Summer months when the water is warmer!).
5. Marvel at The British Museum
The entire history of humans, all for free? It sounds too good to be true, but tickets to the British Museum near Camden won’t cost you a penny! Famous for being the home to The Rosetta Stone, The Parthenon Sculptures, and countless priceless artefacts, the museum allows its visitors to step back into nearly any point in the past two million years. Unsurprisingly, booking in advance is recommended.
6. Hop on a Ferry to NDSM Wharf
Amazingly, even the travel to this one is completely free! Just hop on one of the ferries (on the purple F4 line) behind Amsterdam central station, enjoy the views of the unique docklands, and hop off to explore the artsy NDSM wharf. In this former shipyard, you’ll find street art, hipster food stalls plus live music and pop-up bars.
7. Take a Walking Tour of Vienna
Vienna, known as The City of Music, is one of Europe’s best cities to walk around. Voted the world’s most liveable city in 2022, it’s also one of the safest, and one of the greenest in the continent. You can learn about the history of the city centre (and there’s plenty of it) from a free walking tour guide .
8. Get Into the Groove With a Free Flamenco Show
The South of Spain is famous for its sun, sea and sprawling mountains, but it’s also home to a rich dance history. No one really knows the exact history of Flamenco, but it’s commonly associated with the Roma people of Andalusia. Over time, the traditional Flamenco has mingled with other cultures, making it a spectacle like no other! Seville (or Sevilla in Spain) is especially famous for its free shows. Head to La Carbonería for your Flamenco fix.
9. Explore the Old Town in Vilnius
One of Europe’s less well-known destinations, Lithuania is still a bit of a hidden gem for backpackers. The capital Vilnius is full of history, cool bars and cheap restaurants, and the old town (called Senamiestis) is one of the biggest in the continent. The view from the Medieval Gediminas Castle is amazing at sunset and the tiny shops hidden away in narrow streets are well worth mooching around.
10. Take In the View From Arthur’s Seat
If you’re in Edinburgh and fancy a quick trip out to experience a flavour of the Scottish Highlands, Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat is the perfect introduction. At only 251m above sea level, it’s a hike that won’t take too much of your energy (unless you’ve had one too many whiskies in Belushi’s the night before) and at the top you’ll be treated to the best views of Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat is actually a volcano - but don’t worry, it’s not erupted for about 340 million years, so you should be okay.
11. Admire the Catedral de Barcelona
Slap bang in the heart of Barcelona’s iconic Gothic Quarter , the Catedral de Barcelona is completely free to visit between 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and 5:45 pm to 7:30 pm most days. The interior is as spectacular as the view from the outside, and the courtyards and cloisters are a perfect place to sit and relax quietly after a long day in the sun. Look out for the 13 white geese that live in the courtyard!
12. Tuck In at Borough Market
Okay, admittedly this one might not end up being free in the end… Borough Market in London Bridge is a haven for foodies from all over the world, and a lot of the stalls still offer free samples of drinks, local produce and classic London grub. It’s completely free to visit, but try not to visit when you’re hungry if you don’t want to spend too much money!