Let's start with the fact that many tourist attractions are free or very cheap but there will always be those that you want to see that are beyond your budget. Although you will probably end up paying the full price for most attractions there are ways of getting into some sites, somewhat cheaper, some of the time!
Almost all travel destinations now offer a City Pass, City Card or similarly named discount card which gives you free and discounted entry into a number of attractions and free public transport. However these cards do not always payoff. How many museums are you actually going to visit? You really need to do the math before buying them. The other factor to consider is that the cards normally have to be picked up from some location in the destination city. In Stockholm for example you may spend an hour finding and getting to the Tourist Office where the cards are picked up only to find that it only opens at 10am on some days so part of your sightseeing day is burned up just getting the card! For visitors to Riga or Vilnius the card may not be worth it as the cities are walkable and entrance to most places minimal. For visitors to Paris the Paris Pass is complicated to understand, costs €99 for 2 days and would only be worth it if you ran from museum to museum and saw about 8 museums in that time!
Most museums are closed on Mondays but they also have a free day at least once a month. Now I'm not saying book your trip according to these days but if by chance you are in town on those days why pay the money.
Here are a few examples of the free days you can find at tourist attractions and museums in a number of cities. In Lisbon, Portugal you can visit Jeronimos Monastery for free on Sundays until 2pm; The Queens Museum of Art, New York has "Free Thursday" afterhours on the first Thursday of every month and at the Jing'an Temple in Shanghai entrance is free on the 1st and 15th day of each month when there is a new and full moon.
Different discounts for different ages
Almost all cities have discounts for seniors, students and children depending on their ages, check before you go which discounts apply to you and make sure you have the correct proof of your age. In most cases a passport or identification card with your name, date of birth and photo will be sufficient. Students should get an international student card before traveling abroad as in many cases your local card will not be accepted. Senior citizens should remember that different countries have different pension ages so you may be a senior in Belarus at 60 (55 for women), in Austria at 65 (60 for women), Denmark at 67 and in the USA you can retire at 65 years old. You will get the senior discount if you have passed the pension age in the country you are visiting.
The same goes for the age of kids, don't presume that when it says "kids go free" or "kids pay 50%" that it means under 12 years old. Some countries and tourist attractions count "kids" as all those under 18 and some even under 25 years old! So read the signs or research before you cough up the full price. Example: at the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon, Portugal students under 25 years old pay half price; The Museum of Modern Art in New York is always free for kids and the Moika Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia has discount tickets for kids under 16 years old.
Who are you traveling with?
Always ask for a group discount, if you are two older travelers and two younger travelers ask for a family discount (2 parents and 2 kids), many museums have family tickets. At some sites (like Madame Tussauds in London) you will see long lines at the ticket entrance and a short line at the group entrance. Why not gather up a few other suckers standing in the independent ticket sales line and enter together as a group. Not only will you get the group discount but you won't have to wait in the long lines.
A Few Other Tips
1. In Europe there are often discounts only for EU citizens and in this case you will need your passport, seniors from the EU claiming a senior discount will also need to show their passports. Some countries and sites in Europe (some places in Norway for example) will only give the senior citizen discounts to seniors from their country.
2. Some churches are free others charge an entrance fee but if you are coming to worship or attend a service it is free, so join the congregation on a Sunday!
3. So you want to do the NBC Studio Tour in New York but don't want to fork out $24 then be part of a studio audience for free, and it will probably be more fun anyway!
4. Some museums and monuments offer a combo/joint ticket to a few sites so if you intend visiting them all it will turn out cheaper. If you take the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens Choo Choo Express Train your ticket will get you a $10 discount on the Sydney Opera House Tour and in Vienna Austria the "Sisi Ticket" will get you into the Hofburg Wien, Schlob Schonbrunn and Imperial Furniture Collection.
5. Another great way to save when you travel? Instead of staying at pricy hotels and eating out every night, make the most of fully furnished NYC Apartment Rentals and cook meals in your own kitchen, so you'll have more to spend on other things.
It really is true that you can see some attractions for free. Sometimes, you just get lucky. On a trip to see Pompeii, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that the last Sunday of the month was free. We saved enough for a nice lunch and enjoyed ourselves immensely.
You can Subscribe and read all the newest travel articles and reviews in your RSS reader program ! Subscribe Now !!
Your travel tips will help us all stay safer, spend a little less money and have a little more fun while we we're gone. Share your travel tips and tricks for traveling with all of us at 10 Minute Travel!