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Free Things in the UK

A list of things I've done for free in the UK - because we're an expensive sort of country, and free is good!

Updated August 20, 2012
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  1. Very cheap "Sights & Attractions" in Avebury, England, UK
    Avebury Stone Circle is a huge complex of standing stones located in the heart of Wiltshire. It is less famous than Stonehenge, and lacks the moody moor location and impresive lintels, but personally, I prefer it. At some point in the middle ages…
  2. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in London, England, UK
    The British Museum is The British Museum. Depending on how right on you're feeling, or whether or not you're Greek (because of the marbles), it is either one of the finest collections of antiquities in the world, or a horde of stuff that the Victori…
  3. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Cerne Abbas, England, UK
    The Cerne Abbas Giant is a mysterious chalk figure in Dorset. As such, you would have to have another reson for being in the area - Stonehenge, perhaps, or sailing at Weymouth, both of which are nearby. It takes very little time to stand at the vie…
  4. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Bristol, England, UK
    One word - Ichthyosaur! The City Art Gallery and Museum is a city museum at the top of Park Street, with free admission. And marine reptile fossils. There are two giant icthysaur fossils. It can't get better than that. There are also some ol…
  5. Cheap "Sights & Attractions" in Bristol, England, UK
    Clifton Suspension Bridge, built by legendary engineer Isembard Kingdom Brunel, spans the Avon gorge between Clifton (the posh bit of Bristol, where the zoo is) and Leigh Woods. Even now, it's a genuinely impressive structure - I never look at it wi…
  6. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Heybridge, England, UK
    I love small, random, independent museums. And this one is particularly good, because it is free. The museum of power is on a backroad near the lovely and historic - although frankly, dull - town of Maldon. It is housed in the former pumping s…
  7. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in London, England, UK
    Tate Modern is one of the UK's best art galleries. It specialises in modern, twentieth century and contemporary art, although there are sometimes a couple of Monets around. Tate is arranged thematically, rather than by artist, country or era. The…
  8. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    I am a huge fan of the Botanics. I know you didn't come to Edinburgh for the gardens, but they are really well worth a trip. The botanics are in Inverleith, a short bus ride from the town centre. Admission is free, but you have to pay to go in t…
  9. Free! "General Tips & Advice" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    Edinburgh is a lovely city. Most visitors will, of course, concentrate on the history and the buildings, and of course, the drinking. This tip is for the next morning, when you wake up and realise that you cannot face either another castle or anoth…
  10. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Devizes, England, UK
    Caen Hill means Lovely Hill in Celtic, and it is a really nice place. Built during the start of the industrial revolution as a way to get canals up the hill to Devies, the restored canal climbs an impressive set of 16 locks in a few kilometres, an…
  11. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Swindon, England, UK
    I don't know about good- but it's certainly not forgettable! When I moved to Swindon, the only thing that anyone knew about the town was the Magic Roundabout. Everyone said, "Swindon - that's got that roundabout, hasn't it?" So this review is a…
  12. Cheap "Sights & Attractions" in Bristol, England, UK
    Weston pier and beach are close to Bristol, and it's worth warning you I went in Winter - summer is probably far more crowded and parking might be an issue. Weston super mare has an enormous tidal range, so there is a wide, sandy beach and then …
  13. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    Admission to any of the National Galleries is free, but special exhibitions may cost extra. There are several National Galleries in Edinburgh, including the national portrait gallery on Queen Street, the National Gallery of Modern Art near Dean …
  14. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Tintern, Wales, UK
    The 365 steps are a forestry commission path in teh woods in teh Wye valley. The woods are apparently unique, and look a bit like the temperate rain forest in a Botanic garden. Except with more yew trees. The steps ascend the steep hill on the…
  15. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Salford, England, UK
    The Lowry is a theatre and gallery complex in Salford, which is a city that is part of Greater Manchester. It is interesting architecturally, and focuses on contemporary and modern art. The gallery is free. Theatre ticket prices depend on the pe…
  16. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Swindon, England, UK
    North Meadow is in Cricklade, near Swindon in the South West of England. It is close to the A419, and near the highest point on the Thames where you could theoretically take a boat. It is an ancient meadow which, for reasons lost in history, never …
  17. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Cheddar, England, UK
    The Mendips are a range of hills to the south west of Bristol, and most of the area is a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. Most of the nature reserves are free; there are rights of way across the other fields but please bear in mind…
  18. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Southampton, England, UK
    The New Forest is a large area of Forestry Commission owned land managed for the British Public, in the South of England. It is an unusual ecosystem, and an area of outstanding natural beauty. The first thing to note is that in this case, "new" m…
  19. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Malmesbury, England, UK
    Malmesbury Abbey must have been huge in its day. Now, all that is left is an unusually large church with an enormous arch leading to nothing round the side. Malmesbury abbey was founded very early on, and was well established by 800. About then, …
  20. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Cirencester, England, UK
    The Costwolds are an area of outstanding natural beauty (that's the official term, not just me!) in the South West of England. They stretch from just north of Bath, up past Gloucester, to just south of Stratford on Avon. The Cotswolds are typif…
  21. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Glossop, England, UK
    The Peak District is a national park covering large swathe of Northern England, covering parts of several counties including Debyshire and Cheshire. It is very close to the major cities in teh North of England, especially Sheffield and Manchester. …
  22. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Bristol, England, UK
    The Arnolfini is an arts centre in bristol, specialising in contemporary art. It is not for everyone; many of the exhibitions I have seen here are utterly incomprehensible - there was one in particular featuring found objects, including rotten t…
  23. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Manchester Art Museum is much bigger than it looks, and is free. There is a perfectly nice Gormley statue in the roof, some pleasant Lowrys and Vallettes, and some contemporary stuff that can be interesting in passing. Unfortunately, the muse…
  24. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester is a really interesting museum focusing on the industrial and scientific heritage of Manchester, which is far, far more interesting than I just made it sound. It is housed in Castlefield, a short dist…
  25. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in London, England, UK
    Regent’s Park is a large park in London, close to oxford street and Euston Station. This time of year in particular, it is very beautiful. Parts of the park are laid out as gardens, where others are more open parkland. There are also childre…
  26. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in London, England, UK
    The Royal Observatory in Greenwich is a fascinating museum that shows the history of astronomy and timekeeping, and how important they were to the development of shipping and commerce in Britain. It is free entrance. The main reason people come t…
    This review was featured on Monday May 24th, 2010
  27. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Cromer, England, UK
    Cromer Pier is a short, pretty pier in Cromer, North Norfolk. I cannot for the life of me imagine how most travellers would randomly find themselves in Cromer, but if you ever do, the trip will be rewarded. Cromer pier has a little theatre, and a…
  28. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Gullane, Scotland, UK
    Gullane Bents is an area of natural land and a beach near Edinburgh, Scotland. It is a lovely place for a walk along the coast. The coastal land here is a mix of sandy beach and rock pools, with some scrubby sand dunes and some pine woodland. T…
  29. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Whitworth Art Gallery is one of the museums owned by the University of Manchester, and it is a much better gallery than the City Art Gallery. Located a short distance out of town, beyond the main campus of Manchester University, it is set in…
  30. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in London, England, UK
    The British Library is a copyright library, holding one copy at least of every book that was ever published in the UK, as long as there still are copies. That alone is enough to get my pulse racing. But somehow, until now, I hadn’t realised that …
  31. Free! "General Tips & Advice" in London, England, UK
    London is a great, glorious city, and one of the most exciting cities in the world. It is also a sprawling, sweaty nightmare, with overcrowded public transport and some of the grumpiest natives you’ll see anywhere. Nobody can possibly claim to en…
  32. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in London, England, UK
    The Wellcome Collection is the museum of the Wellcome Trust, and is a free attraction for "the incurably curious" right opposite Euston Station in London. It is an interesting museum, focusing mostly on the history of medicine with some art throw…
  33. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Lybster, Scotland, UK
    The Grey Cairns of Camster sound like something that would rise out of the mists to greet a Tolkein character, probably on some improbably bleak hillside. You know something? They look like something that would rise out of the mists to greet a T…
  34. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Stoer, Scotland, UK
    The Old Man of Stoer is a famous sea stack off the West Coast of Scotland. Although only just off the coast it still manages to have a real air of mystery. There is no road to the Old Man; you have to hike for about an hour, depending on the …
  35. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    The People’s History Museum is a wonderful museum about the rise of the working class as a political force. I know that doesn’t necessarily sound like a light hearted day of fun, but actually, it’s fantastic. The museum is best toured …
  36. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Stockport, England, UK
    The Hat Works is a cool little museum in Stockport. It is a museum, unsurprisingly enough, of hats. Entrance is free. Getting to Stockport is very easy; there are frequent, cheap trains from Manchester Piccadilly to Stockport, and the Hat Works …
  37. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in London, England, UK
    St James’s Park lies between Whitehall and Buckingham Palace, and is a lovely green space for a walk if you are on the tourist trail. Perhaps best known for its interesting collection of somewhat cold looking exotic lake birds, there are a numb…
  38. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Imperial War Museum North is in a shiny new building in Salford Quays. The architecture is quite impressive on its own, designed to reflect earth, air and water (well, that’s what the architect said) and plated in steel. Entrance is free and …
  39. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    The Kelvingrove is a large, grand museum in Glasgow. It has displays on a wide range of things, from fossil giant elks and ichthyosaurs through ancient Egypt to domestic violence, mental health and sectarianism in Glasgow and the art of the Scottish…
  40. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in London, England, UK
    Often overlooked by tourists, the Museum of London shows the history of London itself, rather than the more international flavour of the British Museum. It’s a really interesting look at the people who’ve lived in London,from many centuries BC to…
    This review was featured on Thursday September 26th, 2013
  41. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    Manchester cathedral is one of the few old buildings in Manchester. It's medieval, although it looks modern because it was extensively remodelled by the Victorians. As cathedrals go, it isn't very grand. It doesn't have a great steeple or an in…
  42. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in London, England, UK
    South of the River, an unknown land to many tourists, is Borough Market. It is a food market, which still supplies meat, fish, vegetables and groceries to many of the restaurants in the city. Here, you can find everything from carrots and fish thro…
  43. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    Clayton Vale took me by such surprise I didn’t even have my camera or phone with me.  I went out for a walk to clear a hangover, and somehow stumbled into a beautiful park hidden in a valley surrounded by housing estates.   About three or fo…
  44. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Fort William, Scotland, UK
    Climbing Ben Nevis   Fort William is a relatively sleepy town, that probably wouldn’t be nearly as well known to tourists if it wasn’t for one thing – one looming, mighty, brooding thing glowering over the town.  Ben Nevis – the UK’s hi…
  45. Free! "General Tips & Advice" in Glen Coe, Scotland, UK
    Hill Walking tips These tips are for hill walking as an activity, rather than strolling on little rolling hills in the lowlands. Hill walking is one of the best activities for a traveller in Scotland.  The landscape is at its finest away fro…
  46. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Battlesbridge, England, UK
    Battlesbridge Antiques Centre takes up most of the village of Battlesbridge, a small town between Chelmsford and South Woodham Ferrers in Essex.  It is a very good place to go to if you like antiques, and a very bad place to go to if you do not.  …
  47. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Liverpool, England, UK
    The world museum is in Liverpool, close to Lime Street Station.  It would be a great place to take a small child, but is not so great for older children and wandering museum junkies like myself. It has a very nice aquarium, surrounded by small ch…
  48. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Liverpool, England, UK
    The Liverpool Maritime Museum and the National Museum of Slavery share a building, a front door, and a staircase, so I am reviewing them as if they are one museum.  They are both in a building on Albert Dock, a renovated area of Liverpool not far fr…
  49. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Liverpool, England, UK
    Tate Liverpool is the northern branch of the Tate Gallery, which has four galleries altogether – Tate Modern on Bankside, London, Tate Britain on millbank,, London, and Tate St Ives in Cornwall.  The Tate galleries have a sort of core mission to m…
  50. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in London, England, UK
    The Victoria and Albert museum (V&A) is a large museum in Kensington, South London.  Established with a specific mission as an educational resource for architects, artists and designers who could not afford to go abroad to study, it has a genuinely …
  51. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Drymen, Scotland, UK
    Ben Lomond National Memorial Park is a National Trust for Scotland park dedicated as a peace memorial. It is also a site of special scientific interest, because of the range of plants and animals there. The park includes a sculpture trail and low …
  52. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in London, England, UK
    Despite the nearby Liverpool Street station being my gateway to London for much of my adult life, I had no idea what Spitalfields was like until I accidentally stumbled into it by taking a slightly long way home.  Nestling so close to the financial …
  53. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Wakefield, England, UK
    The National Coal Mining Museum in Yorkshire is housed in a former working pit.  This makes it a very different experience from other coal mining displays I have seen in the past, including Beamish, which are either reconstructions or housed in the …
  54. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    In the Northern Quarter of Manchester, there is a small, free museum dedicated to the Manchester Police force. There are two parts, some displays, and the preserved police station itself. By far the best part is the guides, retired police officers…
  55. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Blackburn, England, UK
    One of the things I love most about Britain is the parks.  I know other nations have parks, but I’ve never been anywhere where every town with any pride makes such a good job of them.  And if I was going to lay out a park that had all the element…
  56. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Haslingden, England, UK
    For a sculpture designed to be visible from two separate motorways, it is surprisingly hard to visit the Haslingden Halo Panopticon.  It isn’t signposted from anywhere, and neither is Tip O’Slate, the park it is in.  Although when you eventuall…
  57. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Burnley, England, UK
    The Singing, Ringing Tree is a large sound sculpture on a bleak expanse of moor above Burnley.  It is a tree made of pipes, that “sing” in the wind.  By “sing”, read emit a chorus of spooky noises rather like those made by metallic aliens i…
  58. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Rochdale, England, UK
    Toad Lane is the least impressive conservation area I have ever seen.  It consists of one pub (I didn’t go in, but I am sure it is perfectly pleasant), one toymaker, and a building that at the time of writing is entirely hidden by scaffolding.  I…
  59. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Rochdale, England, UK
      Touchstones is a small municipal museum in Rochdale.  It is a good place to get out of the stinging Lanashire rain for a half hour (in which time you can see most things), although probably not worth a special journey.    I love small munici…
  60. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in York, England, UK
    The National Railway Museum in York is one of Britain’s best known museums. It attempts to cover the whole history of the railways, from static winding engines that pulled coal trucks out of mines through to Bullet Trains, but of course the focus …
    This review was featured on Monday June 11th, 2012
  61. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    The Burrell Collection is a small museum in a beautiful country park in Glasgow. Founded by a private collector and gifted to the nation, it’s one of these wonderfully eccentric collections of stuff that someone very rich liked. This means that t…
  62. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    The Glasgow Museum of Modern Art is a museum in the Merchant city area of Glasgow, focusing on late 20th century and contemporary art. Admission is free. I enjoyed my trip to this museum. It focuses mostly on visual art and some sculpture,…
    This review was featured on Saturday September 1st, 2012
sarahelaine says:
Thank you! It's not really work, it's just I've been compiling it a very long time. :) And the UK can be very expensive if you don't know where the free stuff is at!
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012
soonthiam says:
I have just returned from the UK for a holiday. I have tried to visit a few places you mentioned above and I must say the museums are the best especially the British Museum, Imperial War Museum and the Natural Science Museum.These museums alone is worth my trip.:)
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012
dahling says:
Fantastic, if I ever make it to England, I will sure to pick this out first - great guide - thanks a lot
Posted on: Sep 14, 2011
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