Life around the world

Monday, 24 February, 2014 - 08:30

Discovering cities: cheap or free!

by JoR

This weekend I took a trip to Copenhagen with friends, and had a fantastic time. If you ever have the opportunity to visit, it’s a city I would recommend for both fun and culture!

As with many European cities, Copenhagen is not the cheapest place to go. We shopped around online for a hostel, and took overnight trains to cut our costs, but we had heard that we’d need a lot of spending money. I was quite concerned that the three and a half days we had booked would not be good for my bank account!

The second day, however, revealed that it’s more than possible to explore this, and other expensive cities, on a budget. I came home with a much fatter purse than expected, and some fantastic experiences under my belt too – either for cheap or for free!

My first recommendation for any city break is a walking tour. In most cities like this, regular walking tours meet and take you on a journey through the city for a few hours – and often this is for free! There are often expensive bus (or boat) tours available, and some walking tours even charge, but do your research and find a free one. Walking gives you a much more practical geographical knowledge of the city, which helps later in your stay – we often found ourselves retracing our steps throughout the weekend, to find things that our guide had pointed out or suggested on the tour.

Just because something is free, does not mean it’s done half-heartedly. If you’re on a free tour, the guide will often rely on customers’ tips, which means they need to be super enthusiastic and interesting, to get their cash reward. After a fascinating 3 hour exploration of Copenhagen, I gave our guide a 50Krone tip (about €6.70), which is far cheaper than any other tour options out there. If your guide doesn’t measure up, though, you’ve not lost any money, as tipping is by no means compulsory.

Another thing to do before you go somewhere is to check the museums. Luckily, the National Museum in Copenhagen (where we spent an entire day!) is always free, as are many of the others in the city. I recently visited Bremen too, where we took a trip to the Universum – the science museum. Not only was this lots of fun, but it only cost us €5, as we arrived 90 minutes before closing time – this is a popular deal they always do, and the only downside is that you are limited to an hour and a half of fun.

Internet research is important in finding these great deals. We sadly missed out on a trip to Berlin – we discovered that the Museum Island has a deal one evening per week, where you can get much cheaper entry. Such a shame that we found out a day later!

So if you plan a trip, do your research in advance. Search the internet for free things to do, cheap deals for attractions, offers for young people…remember: a city break does not have to cost the earth!


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