10 Free Things to Do on a European Vacation

When you consider free things to do on a European Vacation, perhaps the well-worn cliche that says "the best things in life are free" springs to mind.

Most overworked phrases earn their status because they deal in truth. I find when I travel that the most memorable sights and experiences usually involve no admission charge. Here are 10 such places (in no particular order). Find them and enjoy!

01 of 10

A Free and Spectacular View of Paris

Sacre Coeur offers one of the most spectacular views of Paris, without the lines and expense found at the Eiffel Tower.
(c)Mark Kahler, under an arrangement with About.com
1 Parvis du Sacré-Cœur, 75018 Paris, France
Phone +33 1 53 41 89 00

Many visitors to Paris are discouraged to find out the trip to the top of Eiffel Tower involves not only a lengthy line, but also a hefty price. But there is a better view of Paris available at no charge at the base of Sacre Coeur atop Montmartre.

02 of 10

London's Changing of the Guard

 Gautier Houba / © TripSavvy

London SW1A 1AA, UK
Phone +44 303 123 7300

The Queen's Guard in London changes in the Forecourt inside the gates of Buckingham Palace at 10:45 a.m. every day. Although it's free to view, you should invest some time to get there early enough for a good vantage point. This might be Europe's most popular free attraction, and the crowds can be huge.

03 of 10

A Tour of the Rijksmuseum Gardens in Amsterdam

Museumstraat, 1071 ZC Amsterdam, Netherlands
Phone +31 20 674 7000

From 2003-13, much of the Rijksmuseum was closed to visitors as renovations were completed. During that time, visitors learned to appreciate the museum's gardens. A free printed guide will point out some art treasures that cannot be seen elsewhere at any price, let alone for free. Please note that the garden is not open on weekends. 

04 of 10

The Roman Forum

Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/6, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Phone +39 06 6998 4452

You grew up seeing it in your history textbooks, but in Rome it comes alive at no cost. This was the central marketplace in ancient times, and it is well worth the time to wander the area and imagine what life was like in those days.

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

London's Tate Modern and Borough Food Markets

Tate Modern, London SE1, UK

These two attractions are located alongside one another. Tate Modern offers interesting (some say outrageous) art, while the markets are a fun place to browse on Fridays and Saturdays. Why not pick up an inexpensive picnic lunch in the markets and make a budget day of it?

06 of 10

Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral

6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
Phone +33 1 42 34 56 10

You don't have to be a student of architecture to appreciate this magnificent structure, generally regarded among the most beautiful on earth. You don't need money to enter and walk the inside unless you decide to climb the towers or visit the museum. It is a wonderful Paris experience. One warning: In summer, thousands of visitors invest time waiting in line to get inside Notre Dame. But people who attend mass do not wait out those lines -- and have an authentic experience in a place designed as a house of worship.

07 of 10

Westminster Abbey in London

Westminster Abbey, London SW1P 3PA, UK

There are admission fees for Westminster Abbey, but those who choose to worship here can see the inside for free. Evensong is daily, except on Wednesday. These are your opportunities to hear the Abbey Choir perform.

08 of 10

A Free Ferry ride in Amsterdam harbor

Stationsplein, 1012 AB Amsterdam, Netherlands

Boat tours in Amsterdam can be quite pricey. But one of the more revealing trips can be yours at no cost. You can traverse the older part of the Amsterdam port on a free ferry available behind the Central rail station. It's a short ride, but it might be a nice change of pace after a day of walking through the sites.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Scandinavia's Natural Phenomena

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis, the Midnight Sun and the Polar Nights are three things you won't want to miss in Scandinavia, depending upon the timing of your visit. Although getting to Scandinavia countries can be expensive, consider these three natural treasures handsome dividends on your investment.

10 of 10

Fashion Gawking in Paris

High end brand on Avenue Montaigne

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris, France

Paris fashions hardly fit into a directory of free or inexpensive things to see, but remember that looking never costs you anything. Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore or the nearby Avenue Montaigne are places to see the latest fashions and the best shoppers in action.

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Plan to do Free Things on Your European Vacation