Whether you’re trying to stick to a strict budget or you’re just curious to discover something new, we’ve found plenty of amazing activities around the world that won’t break the bank. From hiking volcanos to watching beaches illuminate at night, these experiences are all utterly priceless.
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Swim in a cenote, Mexico
When it comes to natural swimming holes, these beauties are hard to beat. Meaning ‘sacred well’ in the Mayan’s ancient language, cenotes (pictured above) are ethereal underground pools filled with crystal-clear mineral-rich waters –perfect for a rejuvinating dip. You’ll find more than 6,000 of them in Mexico’s beachy Yucatan Peninsula, with most either free to visit or accessible for a very small fee (around $10AUD or under). Top picks? The Gran Cenote is fringed by palm-filled jungle (look out for toucans in January and February), while the Choo-Ha cenote features otherworldly stalagmites.
Eat for free (kind of) in Milan, Italy
Grab yourselves a drink at a stylish bar in Milan between around 6 and 10pm, and help yourselves to a delicious spread of buffet-style snacks like cured meats, arancini and pizza. Loosely translating to ‘pre-dinner’ drinks, aperitivo is a somewhat cultural ritual, where people share a drink and a few snacks on their way home from work. It’s not technically free (a small price will be included in the price of your drink), but it’s still incredibly affordable and you can, within reason, help yourselves to as much as you like!
Watch the beach light up at night, Bali
If visiting eastern Bali, visit Padang Bai (90 minutes from Ngurah Rai Airport) in the evening. By day, the bay is popular with ferries and locals. At night, its waters become simply magical when they illuminate with masses of bioluminescent plankton. For a truly unforgettable experience, walk along the shore or, for a cost, join a nighttime diving group.
Get your culture fix, Germany
If you’re in Munich on a Sunday, make your way to the city’s museums and see their wonders for only 1 euro (around $1.55AUD). Definitely worth visiting is the Egyptian Museum and the Neue Pinakothek – the latter is where you can see the works from Rembrandt, Turner, Monet, Degas and Klimt, plus Van Gogh’s famous Sunflowers.
Hike a volcano, New Zealand
For epic natural sights, it’s hard to find a destination that rivals New Zealand. Situated on its North Island, the challenging Tongariro Alpine Crossing takes you past an active crater, lava flows, steam vents and emerald-coloured lakes. Referred to as New Zealand’s greatest day walk, the journey will take you about eight hours and is mostly for advanced hikers, but traversing this volcanic landscape rewards you with some of the world’s most breathtaking views.
Be an audience member at a live television show, USA
Enquire before you leave for New York City, but if you’re lucky you can reserve free tickets to the taping of an impressive list of live shows. To be an audience member in NBC shows like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Voice and America’s Got Talent, visit the website here. Fans of NBC’s The Late Late Show with James Cordon? Request your tickets here.
Camp in a national park, Vietnam
Situated in south Vietnam’s Dong Nai province, Cat Tien National Park is a nature-lover’s heaven. Stretching across 72,000 square hectares, this emerald gem of a park is blessed with waterfalls, incredible wildlife and a botanical garden, and it feels isolated from the outside world thanks to the surrounding Dong Nai River. To call all this your backyard, pitch a tent at Cat Tien’s campsite. Tents are available for rent at around 80,000VND ($4.65AUD) or you can bring your own.
Be the king (or the queen) of the castle, Scotland
You’ll have to time your visit right, but in September each year you can explore Scotland’s heritage buildings for free as part of the nation’s month-long Doors Open Days festival. From old-world libraries to Outlander-esque castles, there’s plenty of sights that romantics and adventure-seekers alike will love.
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