Going to Museums for Free

How to visit museums for free - a frugal traveler's guide! http://www.theartofcheaptravel.com/2014/08/free-museums.html

When somebody says "budget travel" people automatically think of dirty hostels, ramen noodles for every meal and no museum visits. The last one at least is not true - you can go to galleries, churches and museums for free almost everywhere in Europe and find educational and cultural value without spending money. You just have to know where and when to go and here is a quick guide...

There are several categories of museums that you could visit for free. Since there are too many free cultural activities in Europe for one article I will just give you examples - you can find more information on certain cities easily on Google (search for 'free museums in XYZ'). If you are looking for a list of best free museums in Lisbon or Madrid, check my previous posts out.

Museums that are always free 
Almost every city has some museums that never charge an admission fee - no matter how old you are. In London most major national museums are free - British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, Natural History Museum and countless other galleries. In Paris you can visit Musée d'Art Moderne, Musée Carnavalet, Musée Cernuschi, Musée du Parfum and some others that also don't have admisssion fees. Have you ever heard of the Blind Museum in Madrid? You will find exciting galleries like that in any European city. Don't just assume that famous museums are expensive - always check the prices and look out for places that are free.

Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris is free

Museums that are free on a certain day
Let's say you are not satisfied with the range of free museums and want to visit some of the famous places that normally have a ridiculous admission fee. Don't give up yet, chances are there is a certain day or time when you can go for free. Madrid's legendary Museo del Prado is free if you go between 6 and 8 pm. In Lisbon a lot of famous attractions don't have an admission fee on Sundays. In Paris the magic day is the first Sunday of the month - this is your chance to go to Centre Pompidou, Musee d'Orsay, Rodin Museum and many other exhibitions. If you are in France during cold months (November til March) the first Sunday of the month will even get you free entry to Arc de Triomphe, Louvre and Versailles! In Rome it is the last Sunday of the month. Expect a lot of other visitors on those special days though.

Museums that are free for certain groups
If you are a student, under 26, under 18, a child, a teacher, disabled or a senior you will get a free visit to a lot of Museums at any time. Students can to Prado and Reina Sofia in Madrid for free. In Paris you can go to Louvre, the Fashion Museum (highly recommended ladies!), Musée Rodin, Versailles and other national monuments and museums if you are under 26 and a resident of the EU. When looking at prices of a desired museum, read all the small print - maybe you don't have to pay anything at all! Just carry a valid student card, a passport and whatever identification can prove that you are eligible with you!

If you are interested in politics of a country you are visiting, then go to the parliament - those are free to enter (bring your passport) and in some countries like Norway and Spain you will even get a free tour inside the building. Many times you will find an exhibition about the history of the country. In Brussels there is Parlamentarium - a free museum right next to the parliament of the EU, where you can learn about the history of the union though high tech interactive tools. In most parliaments you can even attend a session as a visitor if you are there at the right time!

St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Vatican - going to museums and churches for free by theatofcheaptravel.com
St. Peter's Basilica
Don't forget that most churches are free to visit too- whether it is St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican, Notre Dame de Paris, Cathedral in Madrid or another famous church or cathedral. Pantheon in Rome is also free, although technically not a church anymore. Note that some famous churches do require an admission fee, for example Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and Catedral de Sevilla. 

What are your favorite free museums? Do you splurge on those kinds of attractions or do you research the cheap and free ones? I'd love to hear your opinion!