Top 10 free days out
Great days out for free
1. The National Gallery, London
Feel like seeing a masterpiece? The National Gallery has about 2,300 of them, from big names like Van Dyke, Monet, Cezanne, Holbein, Van Gogh and many more. If you’re struggling to decide which to see first, how about taking one of the daily guided tours (they’re free too), where you’ll also learn the history and stories behind the paintings…
2. Borough Market, London
Why not try something new today? Like ostrich burgers, hemp seed falafel or venison fillets – all of which you’ll find at Borough Market – along with delicious cheeses and rather tasty coffee. It’s free to browse (and often sample, too) so who knows what you could end up taking home for a dinner?
3. Planting Trees, (various locations)
Forget the gym. There’s nothing like a good day’s work in the great outdoors to put some colour in your cheeks. Spend a day with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers and you could be planting trees and hedges, repairing dry-stone walls or creating footpaths. The sense of satisfaction is worth the sweat and aching shoulders.
4. Chinese New Year, Manchester
The Chinese certainly don’t hold back on their New Year Celebrations (which actually take place in February). The extravaganza features Kung-Fu demonstrations, acrobats, Shaolin monks, firecrackers and fortune telling, but the highlight is the colourful 175ft dragon parade, which weaves its way through the excited crowds every year. Don’t worry, it’s not the fire-breathing kind…
5. Science Museum, London
Ever wondered what your voice would sound like as a member of the opposite sex? Or how your face will change as you get older? Spend a few hours in the Science Museum and all will be revealed. Sure, it’s science – but there’s not a white coat in sight.
6. The Winter Garden, Sheffield
Located right in the heart of Sheffield, this is one of the world’s biggest greenhouses , where you’ll find around 2,500 plants growing in a specially-controlled microclimate. Amazingly, they’re all watered by hand (seriously); a group of green-fingered gardeners goes round with a hose or watering can to ensure the plants receive exactly the right amount of water. It’s thirsty work.
7. Maiden Castle, Dorset
This enormous Iron Age hill fort covers a site the size of 50 football pitches. There are ditches and ramparts galore (an attempt to keep the Romans out), if you take the steep(ish) climb to the top, you’ll be rewarded with views out over the rolling Dorset countryside. Don’t forget the camera.
8. Sherwood Forest Country Park, Nottingham
Immerse yourself in the Robin Hood myth with a wander through his famous stomping ground . Don’t miss the Major Oak, the tree where RH is rumoured to have hidden while fleeing from the Sheriff of Nottingham – or the nearby visitor centre, which separates the fact from the fiction.
9. Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds
If you’ve ever wondered where all the knights in shining armour are these days, they’re here. In fact, The Royal Armouries Museum houses 70,000 pieces of armoury altogether – and you can see a lot of it in action in the tiltyard, as two knights battle it out in a Henry VIII-style joust.
10. Bath Walking Tour, Somerset
Want to know what the Romans smelled like? Or how tight a Regency corset was? Follow in Jane Austen’s footsteps with a free tour of her favourite city , where your guide will give you a potted history that’s not straight out of a textbook.
Psst... Handy hints
Soak up the atmosphere along the South Bank by watching the al fresco performers and street painters.
Over 60? Then you’re eligible for free off-peak travel on local buses anywhere around the country.
Watch all the action for free with a Polo match at Smith's Lawn, Windsor Great Park between April and September.