It does not have to cost you an arm and a leg to have a good time in the United Kingdom. Read below for the top 20 activities free of charge in the UK.
The UK is known for hosting some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. With nearly 7,800 miles of breathtaking coastline this factor shouldn’t be too surprising. Any location within the United Kingdom is never more than two hours away from a surrounding beach. However, UK beaches are not the kind for sunbathing or swimming, at least not for most of the year anyway. Although these beaches are not of the tropical nature, they are wonderful for walking, exploring, surfing, and wildlife watching due to their sheer drama of scenery.
Everyone needs to visit BMAG also known as the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery at least once in their life. The 120 year old museum encompasses several collections with pieces ranging from Renaissance era paintings to over 9,000 year old Middle Eastern treasures. BMAG is also home to one of the largest Pre-Raphaelite painting exhibits in the world. BMAG is open everyday of the week from 10am to 5pm.
Located at the Lake District in England near Keswick is an ancient stone circle named Castlerigg. The 33 stone view created more than 3,000 years ago is quite an unforgettable sight. One can view the majestic stone circle at any reasonable daylight hour during the week.
King’s College hosts one of the most stunning Christmas Eve Caroling services in Cambridge, England. The event is known as the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. BBC television network has been broadcasting the event internationally since the 1930s. When attending the free show make sure to arrive extremely early to ensure a good spot in line.
There are several ancient Parish Churches scattered throughout England. Since these churches are relatively on the smaller side and almost go unnoticed they were not forced to join the Reformation of England leaving them intact from the 12th century. The Little St.John Evangelist Church in Bury, West Sussex is worth a visit to view its 12th Century nave and spire as well as its 14th Century rood screen. St. Botolph’s in Hardham is also worth your time as it dates back to before 1050 and hosts some of the first medieval wall paintings in England.
Several Cities in England host free admission parks that are so much more than green lots of grass. For example, London’s Richmond Park is made up of over 2,500 acres of wilderness and is home to two deer herds (Red Deer/Fallow), a gorgeous Rhododendron/Azalea garden, as well as a secret tea house, The Isabella Plantation. Not to mention, The Isabella Plantation overlooks the whole of London. Other UK parks worth a visit include Wale’s Sheffield Botanical Garden and York’s Museum Gardens.
It is relatively easy to find a free lunchtime concert wherever you are within the United Kingdom. Several Centres like London’s Southbank Centre, the Wales Millennium Centre, and the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama host free admission concerts, dance performances, and lunchtime musicals daily. The Leeds College of Music also hosts free concerts every Monday and Wednesday during the Leeds International Concert Season.
Britain's Cycling paths
There are numerous cycle paths, long distance routes, and mountain biking trails throughout Britain that welcome residents and tourists alike to cycle daily. The National Trust, English Heritage, Forestry Commision, and several National Parks offer free of charge cycling and route maps. The only fee you may have to pay is for parking.
The 14th Century Duxford Chapel is located in Cambridgeshire and may have originally served as a hospital. However, its exact origins and history are clouded with mystery as the Chapel has begun to deteriorate over the centuries. Many disregarded the chapel until the 20th century, when the English Heritage cleaned off the ancient chapel’s dust only to discover highly unique and extremely attractive medieval architecture. Somehow the building’s ecclesiastic windows survived the many centuries of wear and tear. The chapel is located on the edge of the Cambridgeshire village and is only surround by one local pub.
Several popular Britain Cathedrals charge admittance fees for maintenance and upkeep. However, there is one loophole to this fee - attending the cathedral during a worship service. Keep in mind, they do dictate you to place a deposit into the collection box but it can be an amount of your liking. The Evensong Cathedral at Canterbury is a noteworthy chapel well worth a visit - services are usually held every evening between 5:30pm and 6pm.
The UK is home to several major department stores, discount designer outlets, fashion shows and other chic events. Not only are these occurances free, more often than not you are eligible to win a prize. To find out about these awesome events, watch each store’s websites and/or sign up for their weekly to monthly newsletters. Selfridges, Liberty, and Bicester Village are designer department stores worth following.
Newcastle has recently opened The Great North Hancock Museum which features several collections of natural and ancient history artifacts. Some of the museum's highlights include an interactive model of Hadrian’s Wall, a life size T-Rex skeleton, and numerous objects and mummies from the Ancient Greek and Ancient Egyptian times. Other exhibits include live animals such as the aquaria showcase of pythons, wolffish, leaf cutting ants and lizards. The museum is open all year long, Monday through Friday 10am - 5pm, Saturday 10am - 4pm, and Sunday 11am - 4pm.
The Sackville family has owned the Knole Tudor House in Kent since 1566. While touring this gorgeous estate is not free, walking the beautiful 1000 acre deer park surrounding it is. The Knole Deer park is the last surviving medieval park in Kent and one of the few left in the UK entirely. The landscape features a medieval game forest as well as countless other ornamental features from the 17th and 18th centuries such as oak, yew, hawthorn, bird maple, silver birch, and ash trees. The herd of 600 deer fallow are incredibly charming to boot.
Britain’s Maritime History of astronomical and navigational discoveries as well as seafaring deeds that have led us to voyages of discovering empires can all be explored at this amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site. When visiting one should explore the National Maritime Museum, four hundred year old Queen’s House, Prime Meridian Courtyard, and Royal Observatory. To end your visit make sure to take a stroll through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel for a wondrous view of the entire site from just across the river.
Britain’s covered and outdoor markets are perfect for people watching, window shopping, and photographic opportunities. These markets are technically free, if you can resist the impulse to purchase anything. The Portobello Road Market in London is a great Saturday morning market to grab a free lunch sample at while people watching. Other markets like the Birmingham Bullring Market, Kirkgate Market, Borough Market, Oxford Covered Market, and York Market are all noteworthy UK markets worth a visit as well.
The National Railway Museum in York is the world’s largest museum dedicated to the railway. The museum itself contains over three hundred years of railway history, interesting exhibits and iconic objects for railroad buffs and families alike to view. Kids are welcome to climb aboard some of the most iconic trains in the world, like The Mallard Uk steam engine record stetter. Plus there are daily interactive demonstrations, such as handling the turntable for turning locomotives located in the Great Hall, Theatre programs about railroad inventors, and visits to Thomas the Tank Steam Engine. The Museum is open everyday from 10am to 5pm except for major holidays.
During 75 AD, a fortress named Caerleon was built in Newport, Wales. Today, the Caerleon fortress lay in ruins and to preserve its memory the National Roman Legion Museum was built within its remains. At The National Roman Legion Museum one can discover how the Romans Lived on the edge of their empire in one of only three fortresses they built in Britain. The museum is also home to a Roman Garden, and the most complete Roman Amphitheatre left within the UK. The National Roman Legion Museum is open year long, Monday through Saturday 10am to 5pm, and Sundays 2pm to 5pm.
Wales’ wool industry is located in the beautifully redeveloped Cambrian Mills and was once one of the most important regions in the country. It was also home to one of the most famous wool making villages known as Dre-fach Felindre. At Dre-fach Felindre village wool makers created everything from shawls to bedcovers. You can follow the story of Dre-fach Felindre, witness live demonstrations, and see interesting loom exhibits all at the National Wool Museum. Open daily from 10am to 5pm (seasonally).
Every national museum within the UK is free of charge. In fact you are encouraged to bring along a sketch pad and capture as many personal memories possible. At top museums like the Victoria and Albert, they even go as as far as providing neat foldaway stools for artists to sit on as they sketch. Just make sure to avoid coming in contact with any and all artwork or blocking the view of others. Otherwise spend as many hours as you would like sketching away at some of the world’s 19th century wonders.
The Woolwich Ferry Service that crosses between Thames, Woolwich, and North Woolwich is free of charge. The service has been operating since 1880 transporting pedestrians, bicyclists, cars, and trucks. Each week, the Woolwich Ferry Service, has two ferries running every 10 minutes from side to side. Keep in mind that the Woolwich Ferry is all business and no frills, however one can not see a better view of the Canary Wharf, Thames Barrier, or Millennium Dome anywhere else. A word for the wise, it is best to avoid peak rush periods if you are driving because you may have to wait longer than usual for your free ride.
See also Top 20 Most Traveled UK Cities.