Many people label travelling as a luxury, only to be backed with a nice wedge of cash. This, is, utter, balls. Anyone who has had the luck to embark on long term travel will attest to the fact that even in the most expensive city there are hoards of free stuff to keep the mind and the purse strings happy so it’s never been as easy to get cultured in Europe for free!
One of my favourite things to do in Amsterdam is to simply walk around. The canals offer a beautiful insight into a world of 17th century glamour and you will be endlessly photographing the lantern lit bridges adorn with potted plants or staring at the colourful shutters on their tall, wonky houses.
Just a few minutes walk from the main Dam Square is the Bloemenmarket, the world’s only floating flower market and offers a colourful series of stores selling everything from real, paper and plastic tulips the national flower of The Netherlands.
Amsterdam is more than just sex, drugs and tulips. If you want to learn about cheese in the city then head over to the gouda’ld fashioned(cheese pun!) Cheese Museum for a look at Holland’s famous export.
The Schuttersgalerij AKA The Amsterdam Museum is very small but beautifully formed and houses a cute little collection of Dutch artists. The Civil Guards Gallery is the cheaper friend of the €17.50 Rijksmuseum and is perfect substitute and cultural pit stop in a city of party and humble hedonism.
Modernisme and Gothic architecture with a few spatters of street art are the order of the day when strolling through Barcelona. The genius of Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona is peppered all over Barcelona and the result is a crazy, acidic trip through a dark Alice and Wonderland styled fairy everglade. His love of nature has been expressed in some of the most spectacular, recognisable and unique architectural treasures making Barcelona one of the best cities to get cultured in Europe for free.
Grab some churros and just go wandering around the city. Check out Casa Battlo, The Catalan Music Hall, The Palau Guell and prepare for a serious case of neck ache when soaking up the Sagrada Famila.
I’m learning to love Berlin. It’s been a slow, tumultuous and difficult relationship. What is fabulous about Europe’s best kick-starter city however, is it’s ability to not give a single fuck. You can be who you want, do who you want, dress how you want, you get the point…Another plus side to Berlin is that there are tonnes of opportunities to hear about this city’s bittersweet history.
Berlin is defo the hipster and cultural trendsetter of Europe and it’s arty and street art is best represented on The East Side Gallery. The largest open-air art gallery in the world and features over 100 paintings, each relating back to its rollercoaster WW2 and Cold War history.
Berlin is like one HUGE history textbook but if you want something a bit harder hitting then try the Holocaust Memorial or Topographies of Terror. Both are free and will give you a better understanding of Berlin’s darker history. The Topographies of terror sits just behind the last remaining piece of the Berlin wall and was once the HQ of the SS and Gestapo. Exhibitions feature stories of the crimes committed by the SS and Gestapo during the Third Reich.
This Danube babe is a gem for explorers at any level and you’d better get ready for surprises around every single corner. Even though Budapest is a fully modern city there are gorgeous hints at it’s imperial background as well as bullet holes from WW2, not to mention the creaking trams, the art nouveau treasures and hot water baths. It’s just an all-round sexy, sexy city with loads to do, even on a strict budget.
Start with, one of the most erotic buildings you’ll ever see, it’s the Hungarian Parliament Building. It hits all the Gothic architecture erogenous zones and it’s just pure eye-gasm. Those soaring spires, that flying buttress and the dome is just summit’ else and I defy anyone NOT to fall in love with the golden shimmer it get’s at night time.
In-between the Parliament Building and the Danube is a small memorial entitled ‘Shoes on the Danube’ and tells of the stories of the Jews in 1944-1945. Each shoe represents a very real person who was shot into the river, leaving only a pair shoes behind.
If the boring and tedious sightseeing city buses aren’t a tickla for your Palinka (Hungarian fruit brandy) then take the Tram 2 trolley journey. Voted as one of the World’s best tram routes you can see major sights for just the price of a single tram ticket and go trundling past The Parliament Building, Chain Bridge, The Little Princess Statue and get some great panoramic shots of the city.
When you think of Grand European Cities, Dublin sadly get’s looked over and yes, it might not be the most beautiful city but it has close and almost intimate feel to it and to be apart of the legendary hospitality and party reputation, all you have to do is turn up with a smile on your face.
Before any trip to Dublin, you should sign up to the City of a Thousand Welcomes. This is a free service which will match you with a volunteer who’ll welcome you to the city with a pint in a pub of their choosing, introduce you to the city and help you with your travel plans. This is just the kind of friendliness you should expect from everyone in the whole city.
If you’re in Dublin just for the craic then stay floating around the cultural hub, Temple Bar. The Quays Pub is my personal favourite complete with live music up to 5 times a day! There is NO where I would rather get the Dublin party started.
My love of Paris runs deep and every time I’m there it get’s stronger and more lusty! You could be in Paris for a month and still have things to do .My two favourite things to do is stroll around Notre Dame and take a long hungry walk along Rue Mouffetard.
Even after seeing Notre Dame as many times as I have (perhaps up to 8 times just in the last year) I never get tired of that beautiful churchy smell, the stained glass coloured light breaking the mist and the soaring interior. It’s one of the worlds greatest churches and that fact that it’s free to enter is a gift the world that you shouldn’t turn down.
Rue Mouffetard is one of the oldest streets in Paris, in fact it’s origins go all the way back to the Roman invasion. The Pantheon sits just at the side of the entrance to the street and should always visit on an empty stomach and with music and love in your heart. Shake your bum to the street jazz and join the locals in shopping for fresh fruit, veg, pastries, fish and cheese. It’s a perfect spring board to start a little picnic and head further into the left bank and finally ending at the Luxembourg Gardens.
If someone told me that I was moving to Prague tomorrow, I would be very happy. Prague is one of the cities that I’ll never tire of. There are so many gorgeous little anecdotes, stories and legends lurking around every corner and like a hoarder, I want to collect them all.
The Charles bridge is of the most beautiful and frustrating bridges you’ll ever cross. The sheer amount of tourists insights anger and fear into my hear. Each of the 35 little statues have story and reason for being there and no matter the weather, there is something very mystical and mysterious about the Charles Bridge.
Once upon a time the John Lennon wall was little secret tucked away behind the houses but 3 years on from my initial discovery you’ll find paint sellers, screaming tourists and lots of sullen teenagers posting for their first album covers. It’s so bloomin’ instagram-able that you can’t help but take a million photos and all the messages of love, hope and tolerance always give me a little boost from my hangover haze from the many delicious Prague themed bars.
London is and always will be my home town and I’m sad to say that it’s without doubt one of the most expensive cities you’ll find in Europe. Food, drinks, cinemas, clubs, it’s all just getting ridiculous. Thankfully my very shrinking wallet is backup by the ever expanding list of free museums and galleries. The National Gallery, Portrtait Gallery, The Tate, The National Science, V&A Design Museum, The Natural History Museum not to mention the Summer opening hours where ALL galleries are free for late night openings in Summer.
If you’re more of an objectophilia then take the number 15 bus route. After boarding a heritage red route master you’ll go past Trafalgar Square, St Pauls, The Tower of London and even along the Strand, all for the price of a £1.50 bus ticket. Dont even get me started on the London markets too, the top 5? Spitalfields, Brick Lane, Borough, Petitcoat Lane and Portobello Markets.
The Eternal city is stuffed with the smell of ground coffee, awe-inspiring art, historical legends not to mention some of the most iconic buildings of all time. The coliseum, the Dome of St Peters Basilica and the Trevi fountain have got be some of the most recognisable structures in Europe. Thankfully, all of the afore mentioned are free to look at from the outside and even more enjoyable if you partake in the local tradition of the passenggiata aka the stroll, an action that the Romans have perfected to an art form. I wrote an article about how to get fat in Italy, and i think the main reason they don’t get so fat is because of the passenggiata. There are 900 churches in Rome and the majority of them are all free of charge or may require a tiny little suggested donation. May i suggest The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and not forgetting The Pantheon a 2000 year old marvel and wonder.
If you want to venture inside The coliseum then just wait till the first Sunday of each month when ALL state museum in Italy are FREE!