A Tale of Two Free Cities: London and Paris

A lot of people like to experience London and Paris in the same trip due to the proximity of the capital cities, and both cities are known for being quite expensive. However, that’s not always the case. Both cities also have a tonne of things to do that are absolutely free, so you can enjoy your vacation on a budget and not sacrifice the quality of your visit.

Please note that the lists below include free entry fees, not anything that you would walk by and see. Walking around a city and seeing its sights are great ways to explore and get to know a place, but there’d be way too much to list if this article included those walk-bys.


Even though London is considered one of the most expensive cities in the world, there’s a sizable amount to do for free, and a lot of the great attractions don’t have a charge. You can easily make your vacation completely free of event charges by visiting the places below.

Get your tour fix with a free* walking tour group, many of which have fun themes such as Harry Potter and Jack the Ripper tours. *Free tours usually expect a little bit of payment so as not to be rude. Expect to donate about £4 per person, which is still much cheaper than any other tour you would get.

Get your art fix with one of London’s many free art museums:

Get your museum fix with one of London’s many free museums on other topics:

Get your culture fix with different free activities the city has to offer:


Paris is filled with lots of things to do, and many are available at no cost to you if you know when to go. Though it may be less free than London, many of Paris’s main attractions are on the list below. Of course, the biggest appeal to Paris is its several sights, which can all be seen by walking by.

Get your tour fix with a free* tour of Paris. *Note that many free tours expect a tip so as not to be rude, and 2€ per person should be enough. This is still drastically cheaper than other tours.

The city is absolutely filled with art museums that are always or often free.

Sounds like a good time to get your calendars out and plan your trip accordingly!

You can also get in more of Paris by visiting these free sights:

  • It’s free to go inside Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of the most iconic buildings in Paris, and one of my personal favourites. There is a fee to go up in the towers but not directly inside the cathedral. You can also see the Crown of Thorns for free the first Sunday of every month.
  • Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre is also free, though there is a fee to go into the tower. However, the entrance boasts of great views north of Paris, and the basilica is gorgeous and unique nonetheless.
  • Go to one of Paris’s several famous cemeteries. You can go to Père-Lachaise, Montparnasse, Montmartre, or Passy to see the graves of many famous people. It’s also a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
  • See Paris’s Roman amphitheatre at Arènes de Lutèce, which is off the beaten track and free.

There is also a page on Paris’s tourist website dedicated to free cultural events in Paris, which was very helpful when I studied abroad there.

I hope this guide helped you discover the free things to do in two of Europe’s top cities, and it makes your vacation budget a lot.

What’s your favourite free thing to do in London/Paris?

Posted on Thursday, June 13, 2019 in Destinations
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