FREE Museum Destinations in Europe

Not many people place the words travel and education in the same category since travelling is usually associated with relaxation, but it is just a matter of finding a museum that suits you. It’s even more enjoyable when you can see legitimate evidence right in front of you and most importantly, all free!

From art to history museums, go watch your school textbooks come to life and make your own interpretations of what’s right in front of you without having to spend a dime.

1. LONDON, ENGLAND

The historical British capital is home to numerous gratuitous museums. With impressive and extravagant collections from the nation and from across the globe. Including one-of-a-kind pieces such as the Rosetta Stone, the Cat Mummies, Hoa Hakananai’a Moai Statue and many othersatthe British Museum.

London museums usually take Mondays off, so make sure to plan your museum visits accordingly.

2. PARIS, FRANCE

Paris shouldn’t just be a romantic destination for couples but also for young adults under the age of 25, since they can enter majority of the museums in the city for free. If this wasn’t motivation enough to visit the beautiful British capital, Paris also has an abundant selection of some of the most beautiful (and expensive) art pieces in the world. Which include pieces by French artists such as Geourges Braque, Henri Matisse and Édouard Vuillard.

3. ROME, ITALY

No free museum list would be complete without the ultimate outdoor museum city in the world. Just by strolling through the streets of Rome you will bump into ruins, statues, monuments, buildings, churches and of course, museums older than any person in the city. If you are a history admirer, make sure to visit this Roman capital and its beautiful museums.

4. MADRID, SPAIN

Spain is home to magnificent artists such as Titian, Velasquez, Goya, El Greco and many others, which also makes this European city an acclaimed art destination. With collections that are over two hundred years old, along with private pieces donated by the Spanish monarchy from the sixteenth and seventeenth century.

5. LISBON, PORTUGAL

As one of the oldest cities in the world, Lisbon is full of timeless museums. Along with fascinating museums, the Portuguese capital also includes historical architectural landmarks such as the Torre de Belém. A masterpiece that combines the architectural styles, Gothic and Romanesque.

How To Travel Like an European

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware.

By Martin Buber

Just like every continent, Europe has its own way of doing things and to help you make the most of your trip, here are 8 travel tips to help you get around Europe as the locals do and make the best of your trip!

PUBLIC TRANSPORT IS THE WAY TO GET AROUND

In some countries taking public transportation might not be the most efficient way to get around, but in Europe, it is definitely the way to go.

Lisbon tram
  • In big cities like London, Amsterdam and Berlin there are multiple ways of getting around, such as train, tram, metro, bus and boat. That reaches a greater part of the city with easy access. Smaller cities might only have a bus system but they are usually reliable and punctual as well.
  • At night in Sweden’s capital, when the trains stop running, the city makes sure everyone can still get home by providing night busses. They run right from the central station and it goes to every destination the still-running metros don’t go.
  • Europe also has lots of historically fun transportations like the Portuguese trams, Dutch boats and the Swedish ferries. The Portuguese tram is particularly beautiful because it goes to Bairro Alto, a neighbourhood on top of the city full of delicious restaurants and a great view.
  • Some public transportations provide Wi-Fi and USB plugs for you to charge your phone. Which is a life saver when you need to get somewhere and your phone is dying.
  • In the Netherlands the most common form of transportation are bicycles. You get to leave whenever you want without having to when your train comes next, exercise and save money all at the same time! European streets are much more narrow and one way, making them much more suitable for bikes than cars. When in Amsterdam, make sure to rent a bike for at least a day. YourCityBike is a great company to rent strong and easy city bikes.

Eating Out

Seafood plate from Santorini

If you are a foodie that loves authentic and traditional dishes, make sure to go to local restaurants. They might not create a big impression from it’s size and location. But trust me, the oldest and family-owned it looks, the better the food will be. Especially at the beach, it’s very common for the chef to catch their own seafood and prepare it themsevles. These chefs always know everything there is about their sea life. Not only is the food amazing but it also has other benefits:

  • Get to try local wines, liquors, teas and coffee brews from regional brands. Homemade wine in Italy is a million times better and stronger!
  • In Mediterranean countries, restaurants have “out of the menu” dishes for the locals that are familiar with the region’s food. The trick is to know the local sea life so when you are ordering, ask the waiter what’s freshly caught.
  • For those who like to meet new people, local places are the best places to hear stories. There might be some language barrier but there is always a foreigner that quit their jobs, moved abroad and has an incredible story to tell.
  • For a foodie trip to the Netherlands, I suggest joining the “small meals” Dutch culture instead of dining at a restaurant. In every city of the Netherlands you can find food stands that sell everything Dutch, like thick fries, bitterballen (fried little balls), raw haring, stroopwafles (baked caramel waffles) and fried seafood. All the dishes are cheap, fast and very easy to find. There is also the FEBO wall vending machine that sell frikandels (minced meat hot dog) and other fast food dishes.

Stay at a bed and breakfast or at a rented house

Amsterdam canal house

Staying at an airbnb will give you the opportunity to stay at a local’s house and get to see first-hand the country’s interior architecture.

  • For example, in warmer countries like Greece and Italy, houses don’t have carpeted floors and double glass windows like Scandinavian houses do. Staying at a local place will give you the chance to see these small details you wouldn’t be able to see at a hotel.
  • Netherlands is a country that I mainly recommend staying at a rented city apartment, because of the beautiful Dutch colonial architecture. Specifically for their large iroko wood-framed windows. Another perk is that the apartment will most likely be in front of or close to a canal. Imagine waking up every morning to beautiful sunlight and a canal view.
  • The best time to rent a house in Europe is off Catholic holiday season. During these holidays, it’s not as common for people to travel, instead they host large dinners and parties for their entire families.

Take a bus or car when traveling within Europe

Traffic light in Vienna

European countries are much smaller compared to other countries like the United States, Canada and China. Where travelling outside of the state can take over seven hours. Au contraire, in Europe, you can get to a whole other country in the same amount of time, even more than one in some cases.

  • This specifically applies to those that are planning on seeing as many countries as possible. It gives you the opportunity to pass by and explore smaller towns that you would have never gone to otherwise.
  • If you are on a budget, buses are going to be your home. They are much cheaper compared to trains, planes and boats. Flixbus is a good company to use and GoEuro suggest and compares the best way to get to your destination.
  • Busses might take the longest amount of time but most companies offer night buses that leave late at night and arrive early in the morning at your destination, giving you plenty of energy to go explore upon arrival.
  • If you are travelling with the family, it would be better to travel by car with Europcar. It still gives you the opportunity to pass by beautiful small cities, stopping whenever you want with the comfort of your own vehicle.
  • European cars are also pretty different. Due to their street sizes, the cars are much smaller. And in countries like the United kingdom, Ireland and Malta (first colonised by the U.K.) and Cyprus all driver on the opposite right side.

Adapt yourself to the local time & schedules

Veguetta, Las Palmas

Since each country in Europe has it’s own culture, they also have their own schedules.

Observe and learn what time the locals go out for dinner, have drinks and go clubbing.

  • In northern countries like Sweden, Norway and the United Kingdom they tend to eat earlier. Lunch is around 11:30 AM to 12 PM and dinner around 6:00 PM. Southern countries like Italy, Greece and Croatia eat much later around 8.00PM to 9.00PM. Central countries such as the Netherlands and Switzerland also eat around 6 PM, but not all central countries do. For instance, France has adapted a much later dinner etiquette.
  • Eating times can give an idea of when the happiest of hours happen and what times do clubs open. In most countries, the main rule is; the earlier dinner time is, the earlier closing times are.
  • In most European cities, clubs start charging for entrance after a certain time, around 10.30PM or 11 PM. In others like London, you need a promoter to get into the clubs. I know it sounds super difficult to go out in London, but in reality, promoters come to you at the entrance of clubs. They become your guide and make sure you’ll have the best time.

  • Each country also has its own deals and offers of the day. In the Canary Islands, on Thursdays, you can get a tapa and a drink for just €1 in the streets of Veguetta, Las Palmas.
Left to right: Sangria from San Miguel market, drinks in Las Palmas & a drink from Sexy Fish in London

Go to markets

Europeans love markets, of every kind. Full of all the foods and goods you’ve been dreaming

of before your trip.

  • Stockholm can get pretty cold during winter up to -13 degrees, so the city mainly has indoor markets like Hötorgshallen and Östermalm Saluhall. Hötorget also has an all-year-round farmers market right at the main square. Where you can get incredible mushrooms and other Swedish goods. On Sunday mornings the market becomes antique with beautiful paintings, china, decor and others.
  • The San Miguelindoor market in Madrid is in a beautiful steel building with ornate iron and glass walls. This market is much more elegant and pricy because of their delicious gourmet food and sangrias. Definitely worth going there for lunch or dinner.
  • Personally I love outdoor markets, like the El Rastro (open on Sundays), also located in Madrid. I love this place because you get to shop for vintage goods while walking around the city and admiring the architecture.

No need to tip

In Europe you are not required to tip at all- unless you want to, of course. Which is great when you are travelling on a budget.

In fact, some countries might consider the act to be rude. Italians take pride on having the best service and a compliment with a smile is much more appreciated.


Always keep coins with you

Germany

In countries like the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Germany, you have to pay for public bathrooms and these bathrooms include inside malls, some restaurants, clubs and bars. Which can be stressful when you’ve had a couple of drinks and reeelly need to go.

  • So when travelling, make sure to always exchange cash and keep it with you.
  • Also, the smaller the city the smaller the chances of you being able to pay with credit card, or for your card to even be available. Especially in Mediterranean countries like Croatia, Greece and Italy.
  • On a positive side, at least the bathrooms are always clean and have toilet paper.
  • If you find yourself without any cash and super hungry, I suggest going to an international chain or fine-dining restaurant because they will most likely accept cards. The bill might be expensive but at least you got a delicious meal out of it, right?

Disclosure: Of course, these tips do not apply to every single country in Europe, it is marely a generalized guide to help travellers make the best of their trip by suggesting alternatives.

Solo Weekend Tips: London Edition

Some people may think travelling solo might be boring and lonely. When it’s actually a “do-whatever-you-want-trip”. Picking every place you go, every food you want to eat and where to stay without any negotiation needed. If you are on your way somewhere and half way you decide not to go anymore, you can just turn around and go somewhere else! It’s that easy.

A few years ago I was supposed to go to London with a friend of mine but there was a miss communication and I ended up going alone. At first, I was quite scared to go to a completely new country on my own. Until I was out in the streets calling all the shots and going to all the places I wanted to go to.

So here’s a guide on things I’ve learned when travelling by myself.


Getting around

  • When travelling on your own in a big city, I would recommend booking a hop-on-hop-off bus. It will take you to all the main attractions while you sit at a double-decker bus with a guide and Wi-Fi. Can’t get any better than that. Whenever you want to get off to explore an area more, you can definitely do so and then grab the next bus. Plus, there is always a single seat available and some packages include a boat trip to the Shakespeare museum which is incredible.

  • If you like finding your own way amongst the locals, I highly recommend getting a public transportation card. In London, I purchased the Oyster Card for the 4 days (£30) I stayed at the city. It is 50% cheaper than buying a single ticket every time you take the tube and get special offers at shops and entertainment venues.

  • Travelling to London as a solo trip is a lot easier in regards to language barrier since the main language is English, but when you travel to a country where you are not familiar with the language is important to learn useful phrases.

Perks: Extra sleeping time because you already have the whole day planned without any altercations. Have the whole hotel room to yourself to efficiently get ready.


Accommodation

I would highly recommend staying at a hotel instead of an Airbnb or a hostel if you are on your own…especially if you are a girl. Not saying anything can happen, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

You will end up paying for the room yourself, but it is a small price to pay when you get:

  • Late hours front desk and reception– Who can help you with whatever you need.

  • Security– I stayed at the London Edition hotel which also has security at the entrance due to the popular restaurant and bar inside the hotel. Again, not saying something could happen but it definitely made me feel safer.

  • Centralised location– The hotel I stayed at was also very close to Oxford Street and it’s parallel man streets which made it a lot easier to find transportation back and to always be nearby the hotel.

Perk: Who doesn’t love staying at a fancy hotel?


Food

There are several ways to get delicious meals without needing to go to a restaurant.

  • Adding a breakfast buffet to your hotel booking so you can have a big breakfast. Later on, if you are hungry, just grab something small on your coffee break.

  • Like a sandwich that you can eat outdoors at a park or around the London Eye. They usually have street performances and sponsored booths to entertain you while you eat.

  • Most restaurants have takeaway so you definitely don’t have to survive on supermarket food just because you don’t want to go to a restaurant. So on your way home, make sure to keep an eye on the restaurants nearby.

  • If you can’t be bothered to leave the hotel for a meal, there is always room service and hotel restaurants.

  • In case you do want to go to a restaurant, Nac in Mayfair is a beautiful modern restaurant with delicious brunch dishes. Their truffled mac & cheese is incredible.

  • Having several taste-testings at London’s numerous street food markets is also a great way to eat out. You get to try different dishes while exploring the city at the same time.

Perk: You can eat anything you want without feeling guilty, nobody will ever know!

London

Chelsea may be known for its famous football team and Fashion Week location, but little do most people know how beautiful and entertaining the area can also be. Last week I was in London and the city was in a lovely Autumn mood, which is my favorite season. With the color pink and floral arrangements all around. I am not a very big fan of the color but I couldn’t help falling in love with the scenery. Especially in Chelsea, where every neighbourhood and street was filled with beautiful flower arrangements and pastel colors. Walking around Sloane Street, you can find fashionable and antique stores that contribute to the theme of the city with their Victorian architecture. But it wasn’t only the outdoors that were inspired by the seasonal theme, the Saatchi Gallery is also a unique entertainment to check out during this time of the year. Where the founder, Charles Saatchi exhibits contemporary artwork by new artists from around the world. Surrounded by autumn colors, the gallery is the best place to stay inside, during the colder days.

As for a delicious drink, The Ivy restaurant was the best place to enjoy an afternoon tea, while watching the seasons change at their romantic and all-so flowery alfresco courtyard. There you can try the Ivy Garden Royale, their signature drink with rose liqueur. The restaurant makes a normal afternoon become fascinating. The restaurants and bars are always full all week and weekend long, so a reservation is highly recommended. Londoners love being out an being social, so it’s very likely that you will make friends in any place. During this delicious period, bartenders usually suggest cocktails with flower fragrances, that make you taste the sweetness of the season.

Chelsea pode ser conhecida por seu time de futebol ou por ser a localização do Fashion week, mas poucos sabem como a área é divertida e graciosa. Semana passada eu estava em Londres, toda a cidade estava em um clima adorável de outono, que é a minha estação favorita. A cor rosa e a decoração floral estavam em evidencia. Eu não sou a maior fã da cor rosa, mas não resisti ao seus charmosos encantos. Especialmente em Chelsea, onde cada rua e vizinhança estavam cheias de arranjos florais e cores pasteis. Enquanto passeia pela rua Sloane, você pode encontrar várias lojas elegantes que fazem a cara da cidade, por causa de sua arquitetura Vitoriana. Mas não era só os lugares ao ar livre que se inspiraram no tema sazonal, a Galeria Saatchi também e um lugar incomparável para você conferir durante essa época. Onde o fundador, Charles Saatchi, exibe arte contemporânea de artistas novos do mundo todo. Rodeado de cores de outono, a galeria e o melhor lugar interno para passar tempo nos dias mais frios.

Sobre uma bebida deliciosa, o restaurante The Ivy é o lugar para tomar um chá da tarde, enquanto assiste as estações mudando ao seu todo-florido pátio ao ar livre. Lá se pode experimentar o Ivy Garden Royale, uma de suas bebidas de assinatura que contém licor de rosas. Simplesmente o The Ivy faz uma tarde comum se transformar numa tarde fascinante. Restaurantes e bares da capital estão sempre cheios então fazer uma reserva e altamente recomendado. Os Londrinos amam sair e ser social que provavelmente você fará amigos em qualquer lugar. Nessa época tão doce do ano os bares geralmente o bartender sugere bebidas com fragrâncias de flores, eu diria que é uma experiência mais do que agradável que te fazer sentir intensamente o gosto dessa doce e suave estação.