NEW YORK – If you’re taking advantage of the relatively strong dollar this year by heading to Europe, you’ll be looking for ways to save even more when you get there. Here is a list of 10 free and fun things to do in Europe, compiled by the European Travel Commission:
In Madrid, the Palace of Liria, the 18th century residence of the Duchess of Alba at Calle Princesa 20, offers a collection of Spanish art, along with Flemish, German, Dutch, Italian, English and French paintings, with guided tours Fridays at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon.
Rome’s picturesque Trastevere area on the Tiber’s west bank, a charming and colorful neighborhood, hosts a festival the European Travel Commission describes as “Fellini-esque” for eight days in the second half of July, the Festa di Noantri, with a religious procession, food and entertainment.
In Leipzig, Germany, Porsche gives free factory tours where you can see cars like the Cayenne and the new Panamera assembled on antiseptically clean floors. The tour includes a museum with exhibits covering Porsche history. If you feel like upgrading your free tour, various packages for purchase include lunch and even driving experiences on a track. Details at http://www.porsche-leipzig.de.
In Paris, the Friday Night Fever — http://www.pari-roller.com — is a mass group tour by inline skaters of the city at night. Meeting point is Place Raoul Dautry in the 14th Arrondissement, between the Montparnasse office tower and the Paris-Montparnasse train station, at 10 p.m. The route varies every week but always covers roughly 19 miles and returns to the starting point at 1 a.m.
Visit a sculpture park in Oslo with more than 200 works by Norway’s most famous sculptor, Gustav Vigeland. The figures depict people in all stages of life and various emotions; details at http://www.vigeland.museum.no.
In Lisbon, the Gulbenkian Museum houses a magnificent collection of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Islamic, Asian and European art. Exhibits include Japanese prints, Persian tapestries and European paintings from Rembrandt to Rubens to Renoir.
Sandeman’s New Europe tour company is offering walking tours of nine European cities — including Paris, Madrid, London and Berlin — free of charge except for optional tipping. The latest addition to the list is a three-hour tour of Prague. Details at http://www.sandemans-new.com.
Zurich is known as an expensive city, but a visit to the Church of Our Lady (Fraumunster) is free and the13th century building includes two modern art treasures: a large stained-glass window done by the artist Alberto Giacometti in the 1940s, along with five stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall in 1970.
A monument to Frank Zappa, creator of the 1960s band the Mothers of Invention, can be found in Vilnius, Lithuania. Zappa is of Lithuanian descent, and the monument is located in an area known as Uzupis, known for its countercultural leanings, cafes, galleries and other artists’ hangouts.
In Amsterdam, at the Wooden Shoe Factory, you can watch typical Dutch wooden shoes being hand carved and painted while learning the lore behind them, which dates to the 14th century. Details at http://www.woodenshoefactory.com.
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