Best European Cities for Free Attractions

Fri, Sep 20
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Europe on a shoestring: The best budget-friendly city breaks

Travel requires a carefully thought-out budget. Thankfully, Europe’s capitals and cultural meccas are packed with options for the budget-minded traveler. From affordable accommodation to inexpensive meals to discounts on public transport, Europe is the perfect destination for savvy travelers.

Omio is here to make travel simple and affordable. That’s why we put together a ranking of Europe’s most budget-friendly cities. This study analyzed 38 of Europe’s top destinations by ranking them according to free amenities and attractions. So, put away your wallet and head to Europe!

Free ride: Europe’s cities ranked for freebies

City Attractions Score
1 London 275 100.00
2 Paris 283 92.11
3 Berlin 543 72.47
4 Madrid 85 66.75
5 Amsterdam 407 64.97
6 Milan 324 63.93
7 Barcelona 117 55.43
8 Lisbon 188 53.17
9 Rome 224 51.32
10 Krakow 409 46.38

Here you’ll find the full-ranking list as well as a list of events for September.

We used several factors to determine the rankings: free attractions, tours, events, Wi-Fi, accommodation, and even whether the local tap water is drinkable.

Predictably, London and Paris top the list. London offers the most free events, but Paris boasts the highest number of hosts offering free accommodation. Madrid ranks first for free tours. The Spanish capital offers a range of walking tours that guide visitors through the square of Puerta del Sol, the oasis of El Retiro Park and the museums of the Golden Triangle of Art.

How the ranking works

The European cities included in the study were those that had the highest number of arrivals according to MasterCard 2016 and Euromonitor 2017 reports.

Ranking factors

  1. Free Attractions: the number of free attractions in each city all year round. Source: TripAdvisor
  2. Free Events: the number of free culture and business events in each city. Source Eventbrite
  3. Free Water: the cities with drinkable tap water (with 1 indicating ‘yes’ and 0 indicating ‘no’). Source: multiple
  4. Free Tours: the number of free tours available in each city. Source: Freetour.com
  5. Free Wi-Fi: the number of free Wi-Fi hotspots available in each city. Source: Wiman
  6. Free Accommodation: the number of hosts offering free lodging in each city. Source: Couchsurfing

Full methodology can be found here.

Scoring

  • Factors were weighted equally
  • Each factor was standardized and scored using a scale of 0-1
  • An average score was calculated for each city
  • The final scores were standardized from 0 - 100, with 0 being the lowest score, and 100 the highest

The top three city breaks for free activities


In 2001, the United Kingdom abolished admission fees to all national museums. Check out “Late at the Natural History Museum” for free entry to world-renowned exhibits, talks and events after dark.


Paris is home to many opulent churches that visitors can enter at no cost. The Sacre-Coeur, a Roman Catholic Church adorned with the largest mosaic in France, is just one example.


Street art reveals Berlin’s historical struggle with power and resistance. Book a free Alternative Berlin Tour to find out more about the intersection of art and politics in the German capital.

Ready to go? Get there with Omio.

Which European Cities have the Best Transport Options?

We researched and compared travel times from the airport, bus station and main train station to the city center in 35 European cities, from Stockholm to Berlin to Edinburgh to Marseille, to determine the best-connected city.

The top three best connected European cities for transport:

CITY COUNTRY AVG. TRAVEL TIME
AmsterdamThe Netherlands6 Min.
ZurichSwitzerland7 Min.
ManchesterUK11 Min.

Check out this “Best Connected Cites” PDF to find out how other European cities ranked.

Omio analyzed a total of 35 cities from 12 European countries to create this “Best Connected City” ranking. For each country, we picked three cities with the highest number of overnight stays. Google Maps was used on June, 28th 2018 at 16:00 GMT +1 to pinpoint the location of the city center, as well as the total time taken when departing from the airport, bus or train station. If several routes were available, then the fastest route was chosen when traveling either with public transit or on foot (excluding taxis). To compare the cities and rank them properly, we calculated the value of the time taken to travel to the city center from the respective airports, train stations and bus stations.

Top European Beach Destinations

Summer vacation is filled with possibility and everyone’s after something a little different. For those looking to combine a Europe trip with time at the beach, Omio looked at more than 1000 beaches to find the best European destinations to fit every summer holiday. Whether you’re planning a fun-packed holiday with friends, want to explore a sun-drenched corner of Europe with family, or are simply looking for the closest beach to the airport, we’ve got you covered. With the perfect combination of city buzz and beachside bliss, our summer European destination list checks all the right boxes.

The Top 3 Beach Destinations

With a massive 98 points out of 100, Alicante has been declared the best European beach destination. Alicante scores high when it comes to nightlife, accessibility, and water activities— this Spanish haven really has it all. Travelers can spend the morning immersed in Mediterranean culture, followed by an afternoon basking in the sun, before dancing the night away in the Alicante’s renowned clubs.

  1. Alicante: San Juan: Beautifully situated between the Sierra Grossa mountains and the stunning Tossal de Manises ruins, La Albufereta beach stands out with its white sand, palm trees, and mountain backdrop. A favorite holiday spot for locals, this beach provides a taste of authentic Spanish culture.
  2. Catania: La Playa: Easily accessible by tram, Alicante’s most famous beach boasts a 7km open stretch of fine, golden sand. There’s no shortage of entertainment with plenty of seafront eateries and bars, as well as beach volleyball and windsurfing options. What’s more, it’s only a 24-minute drive from the airport.
  3. Palma de Mallorca: Cala Major : In the heart of the city and renowned for its palm tree boardwalk, Postiguet beach offers the ultimate European beach holiday. With tranquil waters consistently awarded the Blue Flag for cleanliness, this beach is highly accessible and attracts people from all over the globe.

Most Convenient European Beach Destination

Can you imagine being on the beach just 14 minutes after leaving the airport? Well this is a dreamy reality if you head to Westerland, Germany. For parents longing for a smooth family holiday or students and backpackers with limited time, accessible beaches are a godsend. That’s why we researched just how quickly and easily Europe’s beaches can be reached by public transport, making sure you waste no time getting into the sea.


#CityAirport to
city center
City center
to the beach
1Westerland (Germany)0h040h10
2Puerto del Carmen (Spain)0h150h06
3Nice (France)0h110h12
4Alicante (Spain)0h130h11
5Bari (Italy)0h170h07
6Catania (Italy)0h200h05
7Senigallia (Italy)0h230h05
8Bastia (France)0h090h18
9Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain)0h130h16
10Brighton (United Kingdom)0h220h08

European Beach Destination with the Best Water Sports

From scuba diving to riding the waves, Omio investigated the various water sports available in all of Europe’s beach cities. Appealing both to those on family holidays and adventure-seeking travelers, each beach was given a score based on the available water activities. Palermo makes the biggest splash when it comes to beach fun in Europe.

You can scroll through the top 6 European destinations with beaches for water sports by clicking the arrow.

European Beach Destination with the Best Nightlife

An ice-cold cocktail on the beach is a must for many groups trekking off on their summer jaunts—particularly when local nightlife is a rather vital ingredient to holiday fun. By looking into the various forms of evening entertainment available and local beer prices, Omio was able to list Europe’s liveliest beach cities and Barcelona, Spain took the crown for nocturnal hedonism.

Get inspired for your next fun-filled beach holiday by scrolling through our top six European destinations with beaches for nightlife below.

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