Ease the Sting of 5 Expensive Cities by Finding Free Attractions and Events

Paris on a budget

visiting Paris on a budget tips

Ah, the glamorous life of jetting off to Paris or Tokyo. If only we all had unlimited travel funds, right? Visiting the world’s most expensive–and popular–cities can mean blowing through cash at an alarming rate.

There are ways to have a great time without draining your life savings though, thankfully. You just have to make some adjustments on your transportation and sightseeing.

First, there are some obvious moves that will ease the pain in any city. Seek out the free museum days. Use public transportation instead of taxis. Spend some time scouting out the best hotel deals. Pick up the local tourist magazines and flyers for coupons and cheap entertainment tips.

Here is some insider advice for each location, however, with tips to keep the budget in line and one unique experience that won’t cost you a thing.

Tokyo on the Cheap?

When it comes to expensive destinations, Tokyo is quite the role model. You know you’re in trouble when half the “affordable tips” section of a city’s website is made up of ways to get from the airport to the city for under $50. If you search “free” on the official Japan Tourism website, it says “0 Results.”

To find an affordable meal, eat at noodle stalls for under $10 or explore the unique Japanese culinary stop: the department store basement. Seibu Department Store in the Ikebukuro area is a destination in itself, with two giant underground floors of food stalls extending several city blocks. The prim uniformed greeters will even bow as you enter.

There are 44 things listed to do for free at the Go Tokyo site, but this may be the strangest collection you ever see. Fancy a visit to the Sewage Museum? How about the Gas Science Museum or the National Diet Laboratory?

Temple with free admission in Tokyo

Thankfully, there are better options. You can Book a free walking tour of the Shinjuku commercial avenue through the Toyko tourist office and you can get the lay of the land with volunteers who speak English. You can also ride to the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Building skyscraper and visit the observation room at no charge. There’s no admission for Sensoji Temple, the oldest in Tokyo. Get up early to stroll through the Tokyo Central Wholesale Market, otherwise known as the Tsukiji Fish Market. By either name it’s the world’s largest, with active auctions going on from 5 to 10 a.m. and 1,700 active stalls selling everything that moves in the ocean.

Elusive Bargains in London

How to visit London without spending a fortune

Traveling in England has gotten a bit less expensive for travelers since the Brexit vote hammered down their currency, which still hasn’t fully recovered. London is a popular destination for business travelers and well-heeled vacationers though, so you’ll pay dearly for those theater tickets and hot restaurants.

Travel cheaply in these five expensive cities (like London) with these tips and linksOn the plus side London has a better choice of hotels in all price ranges than most other European capitals and most of its fantastic museums are always free.

To find other bargains, go to the free attractions section of the Visit London website for an exhaustive rundown on free attractions, museums, and performances. Be sure to get a refillable Oyster Card if you’ll be using the Tube regularly. It cuts the ticket price down by half for your rides.

Want a unique free experience? Put yourself into a BBC show audience by reserving tickets for a TV show taping.

Penny Pinching in Paris

France is the most popular tourist destination on Earth, so restaurants and hotels in Paris don’t have to try very hard to stay full. Thankfully there are plenty of ways to save a euro besides sitting by the Seine eating baguettes and cheese.

Paris on a budget

Marie Curie’s laboratory? The home of Victor Hugo? Eau de toilette? Visiting the Louvre will cost you (unless you’re under 26), but plenty of less famous museums in Paris are free. Three of the municipal museums in the pedestrian-friendly Marais neighborhood are free: an art museum, a photography museum, and a Paris history museum. The Fragonard Perfume Museum doesn’t charge admission and it won’t cost you anything to visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame on your own, posed hunchback photos optional.

See a full listing of free attractions, museums, and show at the dedicated page on the Paris Tourism site.

Finding Travel Deals in New York City

New York City edges out San Francisco as the most expensive place to travel or live in the USA, partly because it has the highest-priced real estate. That impacts everything from New York City hotels to prices at that hole-in-the-wall restaurant. You can save a bit with a CityPass or other discount book for attractions, but finding the freebies will help even more.

There are a good number of free museums in New York City every day of the week, some all of the time and some on specific days. If you time it right, you can even check out the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) as well as most of the zoos and botanical gardens. Central Park is free, of course, and the long-running insider tip is to hop the free Staten Island Ferry to get a view of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan from the water. There are regular free concerts going on around the city, especially in the summer.

Oslo on a Budget

The whole of Scandinavia rivals Japan for eye-popping prices and it’s not easy to find a cheap place to sleep or eat in Oslo. With some advance planning and some time to enjoy nature, however, you can avoid spending your life savings on a visit.

Oslo free atttraction Akershus Fortress

For €41 a day or less, you can use the Oslo Pass to control costs. It gives you free entry to 30 museums and attractions, free travel on all public transport, free entry to outdoor swimming pools, free walking tours, and lots of discounts.

The city’s Oslo on a Budget website provides tips on free attractions and events, cheaper accommodation, and places to eat well for less.

Oslo has plenty of free outdoor concerts and cultural performances from June through September. Any month of the year you can keep your wallet tucked away for the popular Vigeland Sculpture Park. You don’t have to go very far to find good public hiking and biking trails around Oslo, no fees required. There are an incredible 40 islands and 343 lakes within the city limits.

You want Bonwi points? Go to London!
You want Bonwi points? Go to London!

So if you find a good flight deal to one of the expensive cities, don’t assume you can’t do it on a budget. Get a nice points payback when you book your hotel on Bonwi, then use the links above to keep the costs in check upon arrival.

Tim Leffel is author of books The World’s Cheapest Destinations and Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune. He runs the popular Cheapest Destinations Blog, running continuously since 2003.

Discounted Excursions from Metro North Railroad

Not only is taking the train romantic, it's scenic and you can get discounts to places where you can kayak, hike or even ski!
Not only is taking the train romantic, it’s scenic and you can get discounts to places where you can kayak, hike or even ski!

If you’re looking for an exciting trip to take for less, Metro-North Railroad is offering a discounted getaway to see the sights in New York City, Connecticut, and Hudson Valley.

Metro-North Railroad is now featuring trips to various different locations that are major areas of interest for tourists, travelers, and locals alike.

The railroad has created several different day-trip and vacation package deals that make a day of traveling a breeze for any tourist.

Metro-North has organized several different trips to attractions in various areas that include a discounted price for admission and a corresponding railroad route that delivers travelers to each destination.

The most recent additions for 2018 have been to their New York City getaway options. Metro-North Railroad has one of the least expensive options to travel to Manhattan, and there is frequent service.

You can get discounts to the most popular attractions in the Big Apple from Metro North railroad.
You can get discounts to the most popular attractions in the Big Apple from Metro North railroad.

Frequent service allows travelers to come and go as they please with lots of room in the rail car; lots of seats for you, your family, and friends.

Several different attractions and museums are featured by Metro-North Railroad, such as the American Museum of Natural History, Grand Central Terminal ‘Official’ Audio Tour, Guggenheim Museum, Gulliver Gate, Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, Madame Tussauds New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York Historical Society, National Geographic Encounter, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the New York Pass, the Sightseeing Pass, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Metro-North also has getaways to the Hudson Valley, Connecticut, the Bronx, various outdoor adventures, farms with apple picking, bike tours, walking tours, and shopping destinations. They even have an excursion to Thunder Ridge Ski area in Patterson, New York!

In order to receive discounted rates on attractions and railroad tickets, you must hold on to your itinerary for rail times. Package prices come into play when you arrive at a certain railroad station and then go to the nearby associated attraction.

An example of this is the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, an attraction on the Metro-North’s Getaways to the Hudson Valley, Connecticut, and Beyond.

The deal that you receive through Metro-North applies to your ticket to the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum if you arrive at the GCT/Harlem-125th Street. There are also other package prices available from other stations.

Take a Metro North train to go skiing, kayaking, or hiking in nearby Connecticut!
Take a Metro North train to go skiing, kayaking, or hiking in nearby Connecticut!

You can purchase your rail/admission ticket from any Metro-North ticket office, full-service ticket vending machine.  Visit website for more information.

You’ll need a place to stay, so find cheap New York City hotels by using Bonwi, and get points for your next business trip in the Big Apple too!

New York City: Hudson Yards Brings It–Big Time!

Hudson Yards Manhattan New York City
Hudson Yards is going to change the skyline of Manhattan with five Empire State Building sized structures plus a massive arts center, retail stores, parkland and condos.

When you think of New York City, what are the first images that come to your mind? You may be thinking of the Empire State Building, The Statue of Liberty or maybe Rockefeller Center. But a huge new attraction is coming to lower Manhattan in the coming years that is sure to whisk you off your feet.

Constructed on 28 acres over a working rail yard, the Hudson Yards project is set to become the largest private real estate development in United States history, and there is truly a staggering amount of effort being put in to make this compelling vision an absolutely incredible sight to behold.

The Hudson Yards features one million square feet of retail and mixed-use space, eighteen million square feet of commercial and residential space, five Empire State Building sized buildings, one hundred shops, fourteen acres of gardens, plazas, playgrounds and public space, four thousand state-of-the-art residences, and three dynamic parks.

Several extremely high profile restaurateurs and boutiques will be opening for business in the area, including world renowned chef Thomas Keller. And if all that is not enough to get your attention, then some of its unique, never-before-seen architectural innovations may just do the trick.

Interior view of the Vessel, at Hudson Yards.
Interior view of the Vessel, at Hudson Yards.

The Vessel at the Hudson Yards is the centerpiece of the entire project. Engaging and interactive, the Vessel is comprised of one hundred and fifty four interconnecting flights of stairs and about a mile’s worth of pathway rising over the Hudson Yard’s gardens. Its design, a geometric gridwork of stairways, is fashioned out of painted steel and a coating of polished copper-coloring, which almost gives New York City’s new public landmark a futuristic honeycomb feel.

Another fantastic addition that the Hudson Yards will be bringing to New York City is its “Haven for Creative Expression”, The Shed. The Shed will be New York’s first multi-arts center designed to be a flexible and manipulatable venue for all kinds of events, ranging from concerts to sporting events. An extremely notable feature of The Shed is its telescoping outer shell that can expand and contract with the flip of a switch.

The outer shell gives an unparalleled amount of freedom to its users, allowing the temporary construction of a one hundred and twenty-foot-high temperature controlled hall, which can be retracted at any point to clear the neighboring seventeen thousand foot plaza for public use.

The Hudson Yards will also come equipped with a small public school for its residents and children in the surrounding areas, it’s literally a brand new neighborhood. With all of these exciting new improvements on their way I’m sure you’re wondering when you can check it all out, and I have some good news.

Many of the Hudson Yard’s features will be available to the public by 2019, with a few areas scheduled to be completed as late as 2022. However, with the magnitude of this project in mind, this completion date is coming up fast. So next time you’re in New York, make sure to check on the status of the Hudson Yards, because it is set to become one of America’s most popular destinations!

Find NYC Hotels and use Bonwi points to save on your next Big Apple adventure!

Gulliver’s Gate Brings the World in Miniature to Times Square

Gulliver's Gate is a giant 3D model of the entire world laid out inside the former New York Times building, where people can walk as if they are giants among a tiny created world.
Gulliver’s Gate is a giant 3D model of the entire world laid out inside the former New York Times building, where people can walk as if they are giants among a tiny created world.

You can pay a visit to Times Square in Manhattan, New York any day and you will surely be bombarded will thousands of eager tourists wanting to see the city.

You are also likely to be approached by a topless woman with painted breasts, or the Naked Cowboy, strumming his guitar in his skivvies, asking if you want to pose for a photo next to them.

However, the city is about to get a whole lot busier as its new attraction called Gulliver’s Gate becomes more and more popular.

On the floor of the former New York Times Building, (kind of neat!), the 23,000 square-foot space is the new home to Gulliver’s Gate. It took a whole slew of engineers and designers to replicate the phenomenal view of the Big Apple, not to mention it took 358 days to create.

The metropolis exhibit, opened on May 9, features miniature 3-D models of the city, including more than 300 tiny buildings and over 1,000 model train cars. There is no doubt that you will feel like the giant from Gulliver’s Travels after peering down at dwarf-sized printed replicas of Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, and other scenes from around the world.

There is no doubt that you will feel like the giant from Gulliver’s Travels after peering down at dwarf-sized printed replicas of Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, and other scenes from around the world.

You don’t even need to travel to Beijing, Buenos Aires, or Israel because they are culturally diverse displays created from all of these places, and more! Some models are even interactive, bringing the displays to life.

Guests can choose to either buy a timed ticket for $31, which allows them to book a certain day or time, or buy a flex ticket for $41, which permits them to go whenever they please. The easiest way to buy tickets it through their online website at gulliversgate.com.

Located on 216 W 44th Street, the exhibit opens every day at 9 a.m. If you’re not impressed yet, you can also become a citizen of Gulliver’s Gate, which entails getting yourself scanned and becoming a miniature 3-D replica human in the display. You then receive your very own framed photo of the “mini you” and you will also be given a lifetime discount for anytime you want to go back.

If you’re looking to change your own perspective, well literally I guess, stop by Times Square and visit this new attraction. Find the best deal on a NYC hotel room and use Bonwi points for a return visit!

Talk about living large!