10 Cost-Free Adventures for a Day in an Unfamiliar City

Visiting a new city can be thrilling and daunting, especially when you aren’t sure of the best way to spend your time there. The good news is that you can always fill your bucket list with activities that won’t poke holes into your pockets. A user in an online community asked for suggestions on spending a day in a new city without spending money. Most of the replies would cost nothing to experience; here are a few of our favorites.

1. Take a Walk

Traveler woman walking at night
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Walking in a new city is hands down one of the best ways to experience the place. To make it more interesting, you can get some snacks and something to drink to take on your walk. However, you should have a map handy, just in case. You might also need to ask questions or research before going on the walk. 

2. Go on a Run Instead

Man running
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This is for those who enjoy the sport. If, like me, you hate running, you can stick to the advice above and walk. The first step would be to plan a route that would take you through some of the beautiful sights in the city. You get to kill two birds with one stone — sightsee and exercise at the same time. 

3. Visit a Library

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - MAY 04, 2014: Old bookshelfs with ladder and books inside the Austrian National library. Tourist visit exhibit.Vienna, Austria exhibit
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Someone mentions visiting libraries in new cities, and we couldn’t agree more. A forum user suggests visiting a library would give “a sense of the city or town, everything from the architecture to the vibe and which books or events or services they are promoting.” Plus, most libraries are situated in areas that would allow you to see the city; they have unique buildings, and librarians are some of the best people to get information about a city and local events. 

4. Take a Walk With Other People

Tourist taking a tour of the city
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These are called walking tours. Several cities have a bunch of walking tours you can join. It’s the same as walking but with a guide and other tourists. The walks are usually organized; they highlight the good spots and landmarks of the city, and sometimes, the tour guide narrates the history. Someone says, “I have done this in over a dozen cities around the world, and it never disappoints.” 

5. A Day in the Park

Greenwich park at sunny spring day
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We recommend this for people who would rather experience the city passively. Going to a park, armed with snacks and drinks, and watching the people in the city pass by can be an exciting way to spend time. You could also get more comfortable on the grassy field and enjoy a quiet day.

6. Museums Are Fun, Too

The Vatican Museums (Italian: Musei Vaticani) in Rome, Italy (St. Peter's cathedral)
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Another member comments visiting the museum is another way to experience a new city. Although this isn’t always free, it’s typically quite cheap. This might sound boring to some people, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people who would genuinely enjoy spending a day in a museum. 

7. Subways/Mass Transit

Aerial view of the High speed orange train on the railway station. High Speed Train Jakarta-Bandung. Bandung, Indonesia, November 22, 2022
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These rides are usually cheap and quite effective in getting around a new city. Most rail tracks cut across beautiful scenic areas in the city, so you’re paying for a ride and a sight. There are some exceptions: in some cities, taking the train is more expensive than other means of transport. Research and ask questions to confirm that you aren’t spending more.

8. Hiking 

Woman hiking
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Hiking is a great way to spend a day, especially if the city you’re in is near the countryside. You can do it for fun, exercise, explore nature, or all of the above. Ask for some of the best hiking paths and add them to your hiking route — we promise a swell time.

9. Visiting Cathedrals

St. Paul's Cathedral and Millenium Bridge in London
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We weren’t expecting this, but we sure love the idea. Have you noticed that cathedrals are some of the oldest and most aesthetically pleasing buildings to look at? It doesn’t matter if you are Christian; you can add visiting cathedrals to your bucket list when you visit a new place. You can go when there’s no mass or service and enjoy the art, or go during mass and enjoy both the sight and fabulous music. 

10. Take a Nap in a Park

Couple relaxing in Central Park
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This might not sound like a fun adventure, but hear us out. The idea behind going on a vacation isn’t only to experience new and exciting adventures. It is also a time to pause and experience something different. Taking a nap in a park sounds a lot like something different. Look for a park near your hotel; you can leave your phone behind. Go to the park, look for a quiet spot, and nap. “It’ll be the nicest nap you’ll ever take,” a contributor opines.

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