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How to Get a Free Pass in Europe’s 15 Best Museums

How to Get a Free Pass in Europe’s 15 Best Museums

If you’re one of many history buffs heading to Europe this year hoping to get into one of the continent’s best museums but are on a tight budget, you’re probably looking for a free pass. Luckily, many museums offer free entrance or freebies on specific days. However, remember that a booking in advance will drastically improve your chances, so don’t forget to try that out:

The Louvre, Paris

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Arguably the world’s most famous museum, the Louvre stands tall with the world’s most iconic Western artworks and impressive architecture. Located on the Right Bank of the Seine, the Louvre gets hundreds of tourists daily, so visitors hope to get a free pass. Amazingly, tourists under 18 and residents aged 18-25 of the European Economic Area can avail of a free pass; entrance is also free for all visitors on the first Friday of the month after 6 p.m., except in July and August.

Vatican

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Located in the Vatican City, the Vatican isn’t only one of the best in Europe and the world. The museum displays the works collected by the Catholic Church, Roman sculptures, and incredible masterpieces of the Renaissance. Although it usually costs about €20, there are specific days for free entrance. The last Sunday of every month is free. Additionally, a free entrance is guaranteed if a visitor hold a specific disabled certification, in which case accompanying adults will also enter for free.

National History Museum, London

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Located in South Kensington, the National History Museum has several million artifacts dedicated to life and earth sciences. It boasts specimens collected by Charles Darwin and has an extensive and ornate dinosaur structure, which is why thousands of tourists visit daily. Luckily, entrance is free, but temporary exhibitions may be paired with a small fee. This is why it is recommended that tourists pre-book a timed entry ticket.

British Museum, London

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The British Museum in London is home to a permanent collection of close to 8 million works, making it the largest museum in the world by collection. It is a major anthropological site dedicated to preserving the culture and stories of humans, so naturally, it gets a lot of attention. Although the British Museum, London is free all year round, tourists must grab advance tickets to avoid being turned away due to a large crowd.

Tate Modern, London

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Tate Modern displays a vast collection of modern and contemporary art, including installations and artworks by figures like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Yayoi Kusama. The Museum offers free entrance year-round but requires booking for specific exhibitions. You’ll also be safer getting your ticket in advance, so unexpected crowds won’t affect your chances of getting in.

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

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The Orsay Museum in Paris holds stunning paintings, sculptures, and works mainly dated to French artists from 1848 to 1914. Tourists will also find works by non-French artists, but the main attraction remains with the French. The museum charges a small entrance fee, but you can get in for free if you’re an underage minor (accompanied by an adult) or hold the Friends of the Musee d’Orsay card. Entry is free for all tourists visiting on the first Sunday of the month.

Reina Sofía, Madrid

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Named to honor Spain’s Queen Sofia, this museum in Madrid is home to the works of world-renowned artists, including Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Edvard Munch, Max Ernst, Jean Dubuffet, and many more. The museum has an extensive list of freebies, but all tourists under 18, over 65, and students with certain degrees in Fine Arts, History, and Art History can avail themselves of free entrance.

State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

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Head to Russia, and you’ll find the State Hermitage Museum, which displays one of the wealthiest Western European paintings from the Middle Ages collections. Art buffs will especially delight in Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces here but must deal with a small charge. But if you visit on the first Thursday of any month, you can enter for free, so plan accordingly. You may have to pay for guided tours, so it’s best to download a digital guide.

National Gallery, London

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You don’t have to plan extensively to visit the National Gallery in London; it is open free of cost to tourists all year round, save for 24-26 December (Christmas) and 1st of January. The 361 days invite tourists to marvel at the thousands of art collections stored here, some dating back to the mid-13th century. Although general admission is free, you should look for temporary exhibitions that may come with a charge.

Galleria Degli Uffizi, Florence

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One of Italy’s most prominent art museums, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, displays ancient sculptures dating from the Middle Ages to the Modern Period and the art collections of the House of Medici. You’ll have to scour the website to determine your eligibility for a free pass. Still, all under eighteen minors, European citizens with a disability, ICOM Card holders, and even journalists with a Valid professional ID can get in for free.

Cité des Sciences et de L’Industrie, Paris

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A standard ticket at the Paris Science Museum costs about €13, but depending on where you’re hailing from, you can avail of a bunch of freebies. The museum offers free passes to all children under the age of 2, pass subscribers, holders of ICOM, press cards, and Universcience Patron or VIP cards. You can find more details about the free passes and even discounts at the official website, but ensure you’re booking in advance to avoid being turned away.

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

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Standing strong since 1988, the National Museum of Scotland dives deep into Scottish history and culture, with over 10,000 artifacts on display. The museum features exhibits showcasing the stories of prehistoric Scottish settlers, the Scottish royal lineage, and a glimpse into the Industrial Revolution. It even gives a bird’s eye view of Edinburgh from a gorgeous terrace. Luckily, all tourists can enter for free, though the museum doesn’t shy away from donations.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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Dedicated to the Dutch Arts, Rijksmuseum displays the stunning artworks of famous painters and artists dating back to the 1200s. Naturally, Rijksmuseum gets its fair share of fanfare, so a single ticket costs around €22.50. However, all visitors under 18 who possess the Friends of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam City Card I, and KOG can get in for free. All visitors, even those getting in for free, are required to pre-book.

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

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Home to the majestic arts of one of the most influential painters in the world. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam boasts stunning artworks and even gives detailed guided tours for eager visitors. Luckily, the museum is free for all visitors under 18. Tourists carrying cards like Museumkaart, Vincent’s Friends, and the ICOM membership card can also get in for free. You can even avail of discount cards, but you must visit the museum.

Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, Oswiecem

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This Polish museum is a somber memorial detailing the tragedies experienced at Auschwitz. It is a popular destination for history buffs, who can get in for free. The museum doesn’t permit kids under 14. Entrance is free for all visitors at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum in Poland. Tourists are only charged a fee if an official Museum educator accompanies them, so you might have to be careful about those tour guides. However, tourists are advised to book their tickets before entrance.

Source: Statista’s list of leading European museum based on attendance.

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Emese Maczko is a travel blogger behind Eco Lodges Anywhere. Having explored several destinations around Europe, the US, Indonesia, and Australia, and resided in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Luxembourg, Emese possesses a keen understanding of diverse cultures and an appreciation for the beauty of each destination she visits. She advocates for sustainable travel and ecotourism.