50+ free things to do in England
England has endless amounts of cheap days out for couples, free things to do with kids and solo trips on a budget.
From ticketless festivals to free attractions, complimentary walking tours to taking advantage of public parks and beaches, you won’t be short on ideas of things to do that don’t cost a penny.
Free things to do in London
• Looking for free things to do in London? Hide away amongst the lush foliage in London’s highest indoor garden and admire sky-high views across the capital at Sky Garden, at the top of the iconic Walkie Talkie building. Free tickets are released every Monday.
See the human experience through the eyes of artists and the minds of leading scientific experts at the Wellcome Collection, a free museum combining the wonders of science and art.
• Dive into the captial city's intrinsic relationship with The River Thames at the fascinating Museum of London Docklands.
• Explore a hidden indoor tropical oasis in east London at the Barbican Conservatory, filled with over 1,500 species of plants.
• Spend an afternoon wandering around one of London’s many free museums. Go face-to-face with dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, get decor and fashion inspiration at the V&A and try wacky experiments at the Science Museum.
• Get lost in some of the world’s most important and famous literature at the British Library.
• Watch the historic Changing the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace.
• Stop by the Southbank Centre for an array of free events and displays taking place throughout the year.
• Hunt for museum treasures at the National Maritime Museum, pick up a family trails backpack and track down objects, stories and people throughout its galleries.
• See the world’s oldest dinosaur sculptures at Crystal Palace Park in south London.
• Practise your balance with free skating lessons throughout the summer beneath Waterloo Station, courtesy of House of Vans. There’s also an art gallery as well as summer concerts and talks.
Free things to do in Central England and the Midlands
• Discover not one but two sacred spaces, the bombed remains and contemporary structure, of Coventry Cathedral.
• Follow in the footsteps of J.R.R Tolkien through the Birmingham spots that inspired Middle Earth on The Tolkien Trail.
• Catch a glimpse of Wayne Manor from 2012's The Dark Knight Rises, chill with wild-roaming deer and feed your curiosity at Nottingham's Natural History Museum at Wollaton Hall.
• Pick up a pair of binoculars and see what nature you can see across the sea at the North Sea Observatory, the only purpose-built Marine Observatory in the UK.
Free things to do in North East England
Uncover dramatic tales and ancient love stories at a former Roman garrison, the Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields.
• Visit the UNESCO World Heritage village of Saltaire in Bradford, full of beautiful Italianate architecture and fascinating history.
• Follow the 73-mile-long Hadrian’s Wall, past Roman forts, towers and turrets, and take in fantastic views of the rugged landscape. Entry into the museums costs extra.
• Immerse yourself in the home of locomotives at the National Railway Museum in York.
• Step into a world of wonder at Bradford’s Science and Media Museum’s Wonderlab. Live experiments and extraordinary experiences will challenge your mind at this free exhibition which is open daily.
• Take a stroll around Auckland Castle Deer Park and keep your eyes peeled for the furry and feathered creatures (from green woodpeckers to otters) that live there.
• Get up close to Locomotion No1, the first steam locomotive in the world to haul a passenger train, as well as plenty of other railway vehicles and engineering feats at the Locomotion Museum in Shildon - the world's first railway town.
Free things to do in North West England
• Learn about the past, present and future of democracy at the People’s History Museum in Manchester.
• Walk along Manchester’s Castlefield Viaduct, the brand-new urban park built on a disused Victorian railway line.
• Admire awe-inspiring architecture and glimpse rare and ancient books at John Rylands Library in Manchester (it was also used as a filming location for BBC’s Peaky Blinders).
• Challenge brains of every age in Manchester with mind blowing science at the Science and Industry Museum’s free Experiment Gallery, open daily.
• Traverse the oldest, longest and most complete city walls in Britain - Chester City Walls - and gain a fascinating insight into the city's long history.
• Learn about historical and contemporary slavery and uncover the horrors that enslaved people endured at The International Slavery Museum in Liverpool's Albert Dock.
• Take a tour of The Williamson Tunnels - a series of mysterious tunnels and chambers built in the 1800s a few hundred metres underneath Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral - and uncover hundreds of artefacts and treasures along the way. Tours take place every Wednesday and Sunday and whilst they are free, donations are welcome.
Free things to do in the East of England
• Unearth over 900 years of history and admire exquisite Romanesque architecture at Norwich Cathedral.
• Visit Kettle's Yard, a hidden gem in the centre of Cambridge famed for housing a beautiful art collection and hosting exhibitions by renowned artists.
• See thought-provoking new and contemporary art and take part in free creative days at Focal Point Gallery in Southend.
• Take your binoculars to see the seals (and their fluffy white pups) basking on the shores at Blakeney Point in Norfolk.
• Embark on a fossil-hunting expedition beneath the cliffs at Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex – you may come across pre-historic shark teeth!
• Appreciate inspiring outdoor art by artists like Henry Moore, Antony Gormley and Cristina Iglesias at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts Sculpture Park at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.
• Explore a 3rd-century Saxon Shore Fort and enjoy panoramic views over Breydon Water from Burgh Castle - one of the best preserved Roman monuments in Britain.
Free things to do in South East England
• Expand your mind at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and learn about magical world of mushrooms, meteorites and see the famous Oxford dodo.
• Cycle past estuaries, woodland and miles of coastline, and keep an eye out for the rare but native red squirrel, on the Isle of Wight’s Red Squirrel Trail.
• Walk or cycle the 32-mile Viking Coastal Trail through Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate and discover why visitors have been coming here for centuries.
• Embark on an exciting journey through the historic Kent Coalfield and experience life as a Kent miner at the Kent Mining Museum in Deal.
• Stretch your legs with a walk through Samphire Hoe, a nature reserve created from chalk marl excavated from the construction of the EuroTunnel.
Free things to do in South West England
• See big names in contemporary art and take part in free workshops at Arnolfini on Bristol's harbourside.
• One of the best free things to do in Cornwall is meeting the friendly Jersey cows and taking a stroll around the meadows at Roskilly’s Farm.
• See the giant, ancient (and NSFW) naked figure sculpted onto the hillside at Cerne Abbas.
• Make friends with rescued donkeys and even adopt one yourself at The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, Devon.
• Spot the dinosaur lying amongst the grass, sit inside an old bomb crater and meet Pygmy goats, pigs and Shetland ponies at Bath City Farm.
• Eye-up a private collection of paintings, porcelain and antiques and, see temporary exhibitions at Burton at Bideford in north Devon.
• Take a dip in a semi-natural swimming pool that's provided people with safe seaside bathing since the 1930s at Bude Sea Pool in Cornwall.
Free things to do nationwide
• Take a breath of fresh air in one of England’s ten scenic national parks, from the limestone cliffs of the Yorkshire Dales to the string of wild ponies in the New Forest.
• Put on your walking shoes (and pack a swimming costume) and follow the epic England Coast Path as it carves its way around 2,800 miles of English coastline – once completed, it'll be the longest coast path in the world!
• From a Saxon church built on a Roman site to a Victorian masterpiece bursting with colourful designs by William Morris, visit hundreds of churches in England for free.
• Slip into the cool, clear waters of a secret lake or dive into rivers at wild swimming spots across the country.
• Seek out the hidden corners of a destination by downloading the Go Jauntly app, an encyclopaedia of carefully curated routes and trails designed by locals.