I love hotel butlers, swish cocktails and luxury travel as much as the next traveller. But at heart, I’m a bit of a frugalista when I’m on the road. One of my favorite words in any language is free.
So imagine my joy at the arrival of Lonely Planet’s The Best Things in Life are Free travel guide! This new, hardcover book lists more than 880 sights and experiences in over 60 cities worldwide. It’s the new travel bible for my inner cheapskate. After all, the more money you save, the more money you’ll have to enjoy more travelling, no?
Our friends at Lonely Planet want to share the free love (so to speak). We’re giving away a copy of this ultimate money-saving travel guide, to help you plan your next budget-wise holiday adventure. Giveaway details below. But first, my review.
- 1 Lonely Planet’s The Best Things in Life are Free
- 2 My Top 10 Best Things in Life are Free List
- 2.1 Bruges – Begijnhof
- 2.2 Lima – Free Walking Tour
- 2.3 Marrakesh – Djemaa el-Fna
- 2.4 Melbourne – Royal Botanic Gardens
- 2.5 New York City – High Line
- 2.6 Rome – Pantheon
- 2.7 Singapore – Gardens by the Bay
- 2.8 Stockholm – Djurgården
- 2.9 Vancouver – North Shore Mountains
- 2.10 Yoyogi Park – Tokyo
- 2.11 What is your go-to free thing to do and see in your favorite city? Share your tips in the comments below.
Lonely Planet’s The Best Things in Life are Free
The book’s cover is plain paper-esque, as if to evoke frugality in its design and production. But the pages within are rich with budget-friendly travel advice on great things to see and do on the cheap. Each city page includes a handy map for reference, as well as eye-catching colour photos and artistic renderings.
Contents are divided by Continent and major cities (i.e. Bangkok, London, Sydney), and color-coded by theme of Arts & Culture, Food & Drink, Music, Sports & Leisure and Festivals and Events. It’s easy to find the city and free travel goodies you’re looking for within the guide’s colorful pages. Bonus: Most of the free attractions and suggestions are very family-friendly.
There are also special sections focused on the best free swimming spots, museums, galleries, movie nights, national parks, walking tours and even wine tastings. My favorite of these sections is Europe’s Best Tours by Public Transportation. While not free, public transport is much cheaper than private bus tours and usually quite an adventure in itself.
I’ve compiled my own top ten list of fave free things suggested in the guide. Some of these sights I’ve already experienced and loved, and others await a future visit. What might some of your suggestions be?
My Top 10 Best Things in Life are Free List
Bruges – Begijnhof
One of our favorite cities in Europe offers many free attractions, including a church housing a masterpiece sculpted by Michelangelo. But my personal favorite is the Begijnhof, or Beguinage, an oasis of calm in the craziness that can be Bruges in summer. The gated garden and housing complex dates from the 13th-century, housing nuns and widows in low, whitewashed cottages surrounding a lovely garden.
Lima – Free Walking Tour
Visiting Peru is in my own top five list, so Lima had to be here. A good guided walking tour is one of the best ways to visit a city you’re unfamiliar with, and Lima’s city tour is free (though tips appreciated). Daily walking tours illustrate Lima’s history, and highlight curious, overlooked places that you’d likely never notice on your own.
Marrakesh – Djemaa el-Fna
I love walking through lively markets by day or night. The sights, smells and people-watching make for indelible travel memories. Marrakesh’s largest and best-known public square is filled with snake charmers and magicians by day, and street-food hawkers, dancers and musicians by night. Magical souk time.
Melbourne – Royal Botanic Gardens
A royal respite from the hustle of Australia’s culture capital is the Royal Botanic Gardens south of the Yarra River. Thirty-eight hectares of free, beautiful park space, including “The Tan” loop for walkies, a lake, and a wonderful Children’s Garden with water features.
New York City – High Line
I’ve spent quality time in fabulous and free Central Park on my last visit to NYC, but a walk along the High Line is top of my list next time I hit the Big Apple. The 2.4 km (1.5 mile) elevated greenway offers city views of various NYC neighborhoods, as well as the chance to sit in admiration of wildflowers and public art installations. The High Line is flat and stroller-friendly, just look for entrances with elevators if your buggy is on the bigger size.
Rome – Pantheon
Another Travelling Mom favorite city. Rome has oodles of free attractions that go back 2,000+ years. One of the best-preserved and must-see ruins is the Pantheon. Started around 29 BC and completed just over 200 years later, the Pantheon remains an architectural wonder. With the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world, a visit to the Pantheon with sunlight or rainfall pouring through its oculus will amaze.
Singapore – Gardens by the Bay
A ‘fantasyland of bio-domes,’ these hi-tech trees and sculptures at the Gardens by the Bay are at their best around early nighttime, when the Supertrees put their glow on for the free Garden Rhapsody light-and-sound show.
Stockholm – Djurgården
After a lovely (and free) walk through Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s historic neighborhood, pack a picnic for a visit to the former royal hunting grounds at Djurgården. There are gentle walking trails, sandy beaches for summer sunbathing, and quiet parks for your post-lunch nap.
Vancouver – North Shore Mountains
My hometown is filled with free and fun things to do, especially outdoors, and the guide highlights some of the best local secrets. If you’re up for a major workout, check out the free ‘nature’s stairmaster’ Grouse Grind (pack some money for the gondola ride down). Also on the North Shore, the entire family will love green, cool and free Lynn Canyon Park, complete with a swaying suspension bridge, forest trails and swimming holes.
Yoyogi Park – Tokyo
A free-for-all public park with no ‘keep off the grass’ signs. A perfect place to spend a sunny weekend picnicking on a grassy knoll, enjoying a free festival, or marveling at the cherry blossoms in spring-time. Another wonderful reason to visit Japan – I have such a long list.
The Fine Print: This Lonely Planet Books Giveaway is only open to Canadian residents (sorry American friends!). The winner will be chosen at random by Random.org. Prize fulfillment will be provided by Raincoast Books. The Travelling Mom thanks Lonely Planet and Raincoast Books for sponsoring this giveaway.
Feature Photo Credit: Lonely Planet. Others: Shutterstock, and as attributed.