Breathtaking Sights Around the World You Can See for Free
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As winter drags on, you might be dreaming of a relaxing vacation somewhere with cool waters, sandy beaches and breathtaking vistas. Unfortunately, many of the world’s most beautiful sights are also among the most expensive to visit.
While few people have the funds to afford that oceanside resort in the Bahamas, there’s plenty of stunning scenery you can enjoy without emptying your bank account.
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The Bixby Creek Bridge
Located in California along the Big Sur coast, Bixby Bridge offers canyon and ocean views from a height of 260 feet. The site is free to visit — and photograph — though road closures mean that it’s currently only accessible from the north.
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The Getty Center
Perhaps one of the neatest and most affordable things to do in Los Angeles is visit the Getty Center, where you’ll find spectacular art and architecture. Located atop a hill and offering gorgeous views of the city, the museum is open every day of the week except Monday. Admission is free, and parking costs $20 or $15 after 3 p.m.
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The Baltimore Museum of Art
General admission to the BMA is free, but some special exhibitions have entry fees. Don’t miss the Janet and Alan Wurtzburger Sculpture Garden and the Ryda and Robert H. Levi Sculpture Garden, located just outside the museum.
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A must-see San Antonio destination, The Alamo is a monument to the pivotal battle of the Texas Revolution. Discover exhibits on the Revolution and take a tour of the battlefield. The Alamo helps make San Antonio a cheap travel destination you’ll actually want to visit.
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The U.S. Capitol Building
Stop by the U.S. Capitol, seat of the Senate and House of Representatives. The historic building has undergone numerous architectural changes since President George Washington set the first cornerstone in 1793, but it is still a sight worth beholding.
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Stroll through more than 100 galleries, boutiques and restaurants along Canyon Road. This half-mile-long historic district is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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The Manhattan Skyline
Go for a sunset stroll along the Brooklyn Bridge for beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline. The walk across the bridge is just over a mile long.
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Niagara Falls at Night
Head to Ontario, Canada, and walk along the parkway at night to see the majestic falls illuminated by a rainbow of light.
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The Kensington High Street Roof Gardens
Based on the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, this London site consists of three magnificent gardens. See a wide array of English plants and flowers and Mediterranean trees.
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The Golden Gate Bridge
Visit Battery Spencer for the best view of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, which is one of the most popular U.S. tourist attractions. You can also take in the city from this vantage point.
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See American presidents carved in stone at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota. Parking is just $11 for cars, RVs and motorcycles.
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The Gaylord Opryland Resort
Visit this spectacular hotel, located just a short walk from the Grand Ole Opry. One of the most lavish resorts in Nashville, it features nine acres of indoor gardens and waterfalls.
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St. Peter’s Basilica
This iconic church in Vatican City is one of the holiest Catholic sites in the world. Visit to see breathtaking artwork, including Michelangelo’s Pieta.
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The Freedom Trail
This 2.5-mile trail in Boston will lead you past 16 historically significant sites and teach you about the rich history of the American Revolution.
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Don’t miss out on this Windy City must-see. A historic pier that has been transformed into an entertainment destination, Chicago’s Navy Pier sees 9.3 million visitors annually. Some individual attractions have fees, but there’s no charge to walk the pier.
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Absorb the one-of-a-kind view from the rocky cliffs of Maine’s Monhegan Island, a 1-square-mile island beloved for its wild beauty. Admission is free, but round-trip ferry service from New Harbor costs around $38 per adult.
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The View Over Kotor
Skip the popular path from Old Town, which costs 3 euros, and depart via the North Gate. Walk across two bridges and turn right to find the original — and free — path to the Castle of San Giovanni. According to Sarah Pavlovic, publisher of the Montenegro Pulse, this alternate path offers a much easier hike along with the same beautiful views of the Bay of Kotor.
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San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
Cross the bridge and climb the 241 steps to the top of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe — a must-see attraction in Spain’s Basque Country. When you reach the church, ring the bell three times and make a wish.
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Discover a view of one of the world’s most beautiful cities — Florence, Italy — from Piazzale Michelangelo. The structure was designed in 1869 by architect Giuseppe Poggi.
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Krakow’s Old Town
Wander the streets of Krakow’s Old Town in Poland to find Europe’s largest market square and countless historical houses and palaces to enjoy.
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The Garden of the Gods
Take in the towering sandstone formations at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colo. In 2017, TripAdvisor listed Garden of the Gods as one of the top ten most popular spring attractions in the U.S. It’s one of the best free things to do in Colorado.
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Morro Dois Irmaos
While most Rio de Janeiro visitors head to the statue of Christ the Redeemer, you can get a different but equally breathtaking view of the city by hiking the mountain of Dois Irmaos for free. The journey takes about two hours.
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The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
Climb the 400 steps to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Hong Kong, where you’ll see nearly 13,000 statuettes of Buddha. Five hundred of them are life-sized.
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The Paris Skyline
Take in the Paris skyline gratis from the rooftop terraces of the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department store.
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The Overseas Highway
Considered one of the country’s most beautiful drives, the Overseas Highway spans 113 miles and connects travelers to several state parks in the Florida Keys, as well as historic sites like the Seven Mile Bridge and Southernmost Point.
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The Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap
Cruise along Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee and North Carolina. This 11-mile stretch of road features an astonishing 318 curves.
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The Austrian Alps
Enjoy intoxicating views of the Austrian Alps, including rustic huts and breathtaking sunsets, by taking advantage of Innsbruck’s free hiking program. Led by experienced hikers from the Alpine School Innsbruck, the program runs for only part of the year, so plan your visit well in advance.
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The New River Gorge Bridge
New River Gorge Bridge in Glen Jean, W.V., is an impressive 3,030 feet long, 876 feet high and 70 feet wide and was built with 88 million pounds of steel and cement. If you’re up for a wild time, attend the site’s annual Bridge Day in October — one of the largest BASE jumping events in the world.
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Crabtree Falls in Montebello, Va., features the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi. This magnificent site includes five major cascades and several smaller ones that fall a total distance of 1,200 feet.
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The Spanish Steps
Climb the 138 stairs of the Spanish Steps in Rome for a picture-perfect view of this ancient city.
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The Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
Founded in 1871, the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens is now the proud home of about 220 birds, 70 mammals and 20 reptiles.
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Font’s Point at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Visit Font’s Point, also known as California’s Grand Canyon, to enjoy panoramic vistas of the canyons and the best view of the Borrego Badlands.
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The West Lake Cultural Landscape
Located in Hangzhou, China, the West Lake Cultural Landscape is a well-known meeting place for artists and poets seeking inspiration. The lake is divided into different sections where visitors can find pagodas, statues, bridges and reflecting waters to calm the mind and spur creativity.
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Visit Britain’s most renowned food market for an array of tempting fare. London’s oldest food market, Borough has been operating for more than 1,000 years.
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The Central-Mid-Levels Escalator and Walkway System
Travel through this elaborate system of 20 escalators and three moving walkways for a unique view of Hong Kong. The escalators carry more than 85,000 people to work each day, according to Business Insider.
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The Ruin Bars of Budapest
Visit the Ruin Bars of Budapest in Hungary to see abandoned buildings that have been transformed into hip bars and hangouts. Look for listings on Ruinpubs.
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St. Vitus Cathedral
Visit the Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague to see the Chapel of St. Wenceslas, which features walls inlaid with 1,300 semi-precious gems. The foundation was laid in 1344.
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Savannah River Street
Walk along River Street at dusk for beautiful views and easy access to local bars. This Savannah, Ga., waterfront location is also host to fireworks displays and festivals.
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The East Side Gallery
Featuring a segment of the Berlin Wall, the East Side Gallery in Berlin is one of the longest open-air art galleries in the world.
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Take in beautiful views on the Hawaiian island of Kauai from atop Waimea Canyon, where you’ll find plenty of free parking.
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The Mona Lisa
Admission to the Louvre is free for all visitors on the first Saturday of each month from 6 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. and on Bastille Day (14 July). View famous works of art, including the Mona Lisa, at this Paris hot spot.
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Piazza San Marco
One of Venice, Italy’s, most popular attractions, Piazza San Marco offers stunning views of the canals. Plus, you can marvel at the Basilica of San Marco.
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Joan Miró’s Public Art
View Joan Miró sculptures all over the city of Barcelona for free. And don’t forget to check out the Miró mosaic displayed on the wall at the city’s airport.
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The Statue of Liberty
Enjoy the free, 25-minute ride on the Staten Island Ferry for a majestic view of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty.
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Experience magnificent views of Edinburgh, Scotland, from atop the rocky summit of Arthur’s Seat. You can reach the starting point by taking a public bus to Holyrood Palace.
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The Gardens by the Bay
The Gardens by the Bay were built to capture the essence of Singapore as a “City in a Garden.” The outdoor gardens are free, but there are fees to enter the conservatories.
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One of London’s eight Royal Parks, Hyde Park covers 350 acres and boasts famous landmarks, including the Serpentine Lake and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain.
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It costs money to ride the cable cars to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. The free view from the bottom is almost as breathtaking, though.
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Throw a coin into the largest Baroque fountain in Rome. Legend has it you’ll return to the city again in your lifetime.
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The Northern Lights
Seeing the Northern Lights requires clear skies and good timing. But, in Finnish Lapland, the nights are dark enough for consistent viewing from August to April.
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The Gateway of India
An 83-foot arch overlooking Mumbai Harbor, the Gateway of India marks the country’s main port. Constructed in 1924, it’s now a popular spot for tourists, food vendors and photographers.
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Once the final stop along the Grand Canal, the Houhai Lake now serves as a relaxing oasis in the busy capital of Beijing.
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Jardin du Luxembourg
Wander the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris and see 106 statues and a geometric forest. Additionally, guests can enjoy the pond, orchard, apiary, orchid greenhouses and rose garden.
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The Eiffel Tower at Night
When in Paris, don’t forget to visit the Eiffel Tower. Stop by at night to see the iron giant illuminated.
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The Singapore Botanic Gardens
The Singapore Botanic Gardens is the first and only tropical botanic garden to be featured on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
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The Gateway Arch
Although entrance to the Gateway Arch comes at a price, you can view this spectacular sight from many vantage points around St. Louis. For a picture-perfect view, visit Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park.
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The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Admission to the beautiful Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, established in 1670, is free. You will have to pay to enter the Glasshouse, though.
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Boasting more than 20 million visitors each year, Centennial Parklands is one of the most popular free attractions in Sydney.
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The Royal Botanic Gardens
Melbourne’s urban oasis features more than 8,500 plant species from around the world, along with an impressive array of wildlife.
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One of the most well-preserved and influential buildings in Rome, the Pantheon honors the pagan gods. It was built between A.D. 118 and A.D. 125.
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The Fountains of Bellagio
In between games of blackjack and sessions at the slots, don’t forget to check out the dancing fountains outside the Bellagio on the Las Vegas Strip.
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The River Thames
Walk along the River Thames to experience one of the most incredible views of Central London. The sight is equally impressive during the day and at night.
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Laniakea Beach, or Turtle Beach, is a haven for sea turtles. Stop by the Oahu hot spot during the summer, when the odds of finding the animals basking in the sand increase.
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Independence National Historical Park
Visit Independence National Historical Park to check out the Benjamin Franklin Museum and famous landmarks, like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. You can enjoy these hot spots for free when visiting Philadelphia.
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Pike Place Market
Explore Seattle’s 9-acre Pike Place Market, an epicenter of fresh produce, specialty foods and local vendors. You’ll find more than 200 shops and 80 restaurants to peruse.
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The Sunset Cliffs
This 68-acre park in San Diego stretches along carved coastal bluffs, arches and sea caves. Visit for an awe-inspiring panoramic of the Pacific.
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The Birmingham Botanical Gardens
The 67.5-acre Birmingham Botanical Gardens features more than 30 thematic gardens. This Alabama site is also the largest public horticultural library in the U.S.
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The Bellagio Conservatory
After viewing the dancing fountains outside the Bellagio in Las Vegas, step inside to see the stunning conservatory — a 14,000-square-foot floral playground that changes with the seasons.
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Take a walk through Jackson Square in New Orleans to see a bronze statue of Andrew Jackson and the open-air artist colony. You’re sure to find local art on display and artists hard at work.
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The Enchanted Highway
Take a trip down North Dakota’s Enchanted Highway to find the weirdest roadside art, including a massive grasshopper, a giant tin family and more.
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Ho’okipa has some of the best waves on Maui, making it a go-to spot for surfers — and one of the top locations for ocean sports and recreation.
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The Spouting Horn
Seaside lava formations make for a serious spectacle at the Spouting Horn blowhole on the small island of Kauai. As waves crash, the Spouting Horn sends up sprays of water that can reach an impressive 50 feet.
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Bonaventure is the most famous graveyard in Savannah, Georgia, thanks to the writers, poets, photographers and filmmakers who have drawn inspiration from its eerie beauty. The cemetery has existed for more than 150 years.
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The National September 11 Memorial
Located at the site of the World Trade Center, the September 11 Memorial in New York honors those who were killed in the terrorist attacks of Feb. 26, 1993 and Sept. 11, 2001.
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The Symphony of Lights
This nightly multimedia show in Hong Kong includes more than 40 buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbour and was named the World’s Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show by Guinness World Records.
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The Hoover Dam
Visiting Hoover Dam costs money if you park at the site. Savvy tourists can find free parking and spectacular spots for photo opportunities at no cost, however.
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Encompassing 5,157 acres in Portland, Oregon, Forest Park is the largest urban forest in the U.S. The park is also home to more than 112 bird and 62 mammal species.