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10 awesome places in the world you can see for free

| Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Nine enormous new bronze bells are at home in Notre Dame Cathedral, helping the medieval edifice to rediscover its historical harmony.
Nine enormous new bronze bells are at home in Notre Dame Cathedral, helping the medieval edifice to rediscover its historical harmony.

You can pay a fortune to travel around the world. Or you can pay nothing at all. Here are 10 places you'll never regret visiting that won't cost you a dime.

THE BRITISH MUSEUM, LONDON

Even if you're not big on museums, you need to go here to see the Egyptian mummies, the ancient Greek marbles and so many other treasures the Brits plundered from the around the world that it's hard to even list them. Seriously, don't tell me you went to London and didn't go. It's open every day, and, unlike most other attractions in England that cost an arm and a leg, it's completely free - and they have free loaner gallery backpacks and art supplies for kids, too. britishmuseum.org

The National Mall

 

NATIONAL MALL, WASHINGTON D.C.

If you aren't moved by your visit to America's National Mall, I don't even know what to do with you. You can walk a pathway from the Lincoln Memorial to the stark Vietnam Veterans Memorial to the Washington Monument with other sights between. Ask a park ranger for a free Junior Ranger kit for your kids, or for the schedule of free tours. Did you know you can go up in the elevator to the top of the Washington Monument? Tickets are free, but pay a small fee to reserve them in advance to avoid being disappointed. Learn more: nps.gov/nama

NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL, PARIS

You probably won't see the hunchback, but this great treasure of the world simply can't be missed. The great rose stained glass window alone is worth the visit. Give yourself time to sit and meditate, or do what I did - attend a Catholic mass. The Sunday mass with Gregorian chanting was like stepping back in time. Unforgettable. You can find a schedule of masses online and, if there's a tourist line, just tell the guard you're going to mass and he'll let you in. It goes without saying that you'll be respectful of the worshippers. Admission is free every day, but you're welcome to leave a donation. There are also free tours a few times each week. You'll pay extra for tours of the bell tower or the crypt. Learn more: notredamedeparis.fr/en

FUSTERLANDIA, JAIMANITAS, HAVANA

Seriously, this is the most interesting place you've never heard of. Artist Jose Fuster left Cuba decades ago to travel in Europe and came back inspired to decorate his run-down property in the struggling Havana suburb of Jaimanitas with broken tiles, in homage to Spanish architect Gaudi. One thing led to another, and eventually he covered a good portion of the neighborhood with his whimsical tile art, including bus stops, benches, front gates, doctor's offices and more. Subjects include patriotic art, like the boat that brought Castro back to Cuba after exile, and Latino countries of the world, including Costa Rica. His own property is covered with sculptures of fantastic creatures. For anyone who enjoys folk art, this is a must-see, and it's incredible that there's no entrance charge to visit. People staying in Havana can take a taxi or use the hop-on, hop-off tourist bus to get out here. Expect to see tons of tourists every day, a guy playing "Guatanamera" for tips out front, and maybe even the artist himself, who still lives and works there. Learn more: manvsglobe.com/fusterlandia-havana/

THE GETTY, LOS ANGELES

What does the world's richest museum look like? Well, it's white. Very white. And it sits on top of a hill in West Los Angeles. This place is so huge you must take a tram just from the parking garage to the top, but that's part of the fun. The collection features Greek and Roman antiquities and is heavy on the medieval art - not my favorite. But they also have Van Gogh's "Irises," which at the time it was purchased was the most expensive piece of art in the world. Also some lovely Monets. If you have a choice, go on a clear day, because you can see the ocean and all the way to Catalina Island from the rooftop gardens, which are an attraction in themselves. Ask at the information desk about things for kids. Admission is always free; parking costs $15. Learn more: getty.edu

BASILICA OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE, MEXICO CITY

Many people know that Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico, but fewer know how that came to pass. Devotees of her cult believe that in 1531 the Virgin appeared miraculously to a peasant named Juan Diego on a hilltop called Tepeyac, bringing him roses in winter and then leaving behind her image miraculously imprinted on his cloak. On that site, Mexicans built a basilica church in 1709 and later a more modern church beside it that opened in 1974. It holds 10,000 worshippers at once. The most pilgrims visit on Dec. 12, when the virgin's feast day is celebrated. Both are interesting to visit, and you can step onto a moving sidewalk that will take you beneath the framed "miraculous" cloak itself. Catholic masses take place in the new basilica all day long. The huge encampment of souvenir sellers and pilgrims is fascinating to view all by itself. Take the Metro there and then follow the crowds up the hill. Learn more: http://basilica.mxv.mx/web1

The Statue of Liberty

 

STATUE OF LIBERTY FROM THE STATEN ISLAND FERRY, NEW YORK CITY

Yes, you can pay to take a harbor tour and see the Statue of Liberty up close, but why not just hop on the Staten Island Ferry? It will take you past the famous statue in the harbor, and also give you a 25-minute harbor tour between Manhattan and Staten Island. The ferry runs all day and night, seven days a week. Take it during the day for a photo opp with the lady of the harbor, then at night for a killer view of the city lights of Manhattan. Learn more: siferry.com

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IRELAND, DUBLIN AND MAYO, IRELAND

Want to see bog bodies, gold ornaments, Viking artifacts and learn about rural Irish life, the 1916 uprising or other aspects of Ireland? All four branches of this museum are free to visit, including museums devoted to archaeology, natural history, decorative arts and history, and country life. Three are in Dublin. The museum of country life in Turlough Park, Mayo, is devoted to Irish rural traditions such as farming, hunting, fishing, crafts, trades and such, while the natural history museum is especially noted for its collection of insects. Learn more: museum.ie

Golden Gate Bridge

 

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, SAN FRANCISCO

Did you know you can walk or bike across this 1.7-mile bridge across San Francisco Bay? If you walk the entire length, you end up in the charming town of Sausalito - or just turn back when you're tired. You can drive the bridge, of course, but be aware that there's a $7.25 toll returning into the city from Marin County. A new overlook called Strauss Plaza provides a visitor center and great overlooks, but if you don't want to pay to park, head down Marine Drive on the Presidio, and you'll find amazing views of the bridge at the bottom, at Fort Point National Historic Site. Learn more: goldengate.org

PÈRE-LACHAISE CEMETERY, PARIS

If you enjoy exploring old cemeteries as I do, then make this a stop when you're in Paris. Opened in 1804, it's best known to Americans as the final resting place of Doors lead singer Jim Morrison. It's the most visited cemetery in the world, and many other luminaries are buried here among its 100 acres, including Oscar Wilde, painter Amadeo Modigliani, singer Edith Piaf, composer Frederic Chopin and author Honore de Balzac. Pick up a map from the conservation office, or just wander among 70,000 sculpted and carved stone tombs. Learn more: http://equipement.paris.fr/cimetiere

Marla Jo Fisher is a writer for The Orange County Register.

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