24 Free Things To Do In Britain

Jun 17, 2016

1. Many British museums and galleries offer free entry. Try former brewery The Tetley for modern art in Leeds, northern England or, for something tangier, Colman's Mustard Museum in Norwich, eastern England. There's also the British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Britain, Tate Modern in London, Tate Liverpool in... Liverpool (unsurprisingly) and hundreds more. http://thetetley.org, www.mustardshopnorwich.co.uk

2. Similarly, few of Britain's famous churches levy visitors. Consider the Romanesque splendour of Durham Cathedral in northeastern England, or, in December, King's College Chapel's famous Christmas Eve carol service in Cambridge, an hour above London via train. Start queuing before 9am to guarantee entry. www.durhamcathedral.co.uk, www.kings.cam.ac.uk

3. While paid-for boat trips out into southwestern Wales' Cardigan Bay give visitors the best chance of watching dolphins, climbing to the overlooking village of Mwnt makes an ace budget alternative. www.discoverceredigion.co.uk

4. Tickets to many BBC shows in London, Sheffield, Birmingham, Belfast and other cities aren't priced; check www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/tickets/index.html for the latest availability.

5. Peckish? Entry to August's Clitheroe Food Festival in northwestern England is gratis, as are its demos and near-limitless sampling nibbles. clitheroefoodfestival.com

6. There's no charge for staring at the Cerne Abbas Giant, a huge chalk sculpture in Dorset, southern England, and one of Britain's finest man-made landmarks. Nor at Hadrian's Wall, which spans the length of far northern England. www.nationaltrust.org.uk, www.visitnorthumberland.com

7. A true Northern Irish landmark, the 125ft-high Scrabo Tower has wondrous views over Strangford Lough, just south-east of Belfast. No disbursement is needed to climb up. www.discovernorthernireland.com

8. Or there are complimentary natural wonders. Up in Scotland, Ben Nevis is the UK's highest mountain, but can be climbed in four hours. Ninety minutes' drive west of Cardiff, Wales's Rhossili Bay is a regular in charts of the world's best beaches. http://ben-nevis.com, www.visitswanseabay.com

9. Look out for Common Blues and rare Marsh Fritillaries for no cost at Dunsdon Nature Reserve in south-western England: the marshy meadows attract hosts of butterflies, particularly in May and June. www.devonwildlifetrust.org

10. One of the Northern Irish capital's grandest buildings, Belfast City Hall offers free, one-hour tours (Monday-Friday, 11am, 2pm & 3pm; Saturdays 2pm & 3pm) on a first-come, first-served basis. www.belfastcity.gov.uk

11. A fun, modern form of treasure-hunting, geocaching necessitates only a GPS device (i.e. your phone) and some common sense. Themed trails can act as an introduction to scenic British spots - for example, the Brecon Beacons Collection in eastern Wales. www.geocaching.com

12. When a major auction house - Christie's in London, say, or Birmingham's Fellows - has a big sale, why not go and view the lots, posing as a would-be buyer? No dues are required to do so. www.christies.com, www.fellows.co.uk

13. While some Banksy works sell for millions, others by the mysterious graffiti artist remain open to all. Follow a Banksy Walking Tour around Bristol to spy some of the best-remaining pieces, beginning with The Grim Reaper on a harbourside houseboat. http://visitbristol.co.uk.

14. Alternatively, head to Crosby Beach, near Liverpool, to see the Another Place installation: 100 ghostly, life-size iron figures by sculptor Antony Gormley, sprawling almost one kilometre out to sea. www.visitliverpool.com

15. Free guided walks, taking in the iconic Royal Crescent, are available in Bath, southwestern England. Further north, choose between culture and architecture by downloading the no-cost Manchester Walking Tours app to your iPhone. www.bathguides.org.uk, https://itunes.apple.com

16. Every August, Edinburgh's Fringe Festival incorporates thousands of freebie arts shows - drama, comedy, cabaret, spoken word and so on. Wander the city's cobbled Royal Mile to collect flyer invitations. www.edfringe.com

17. Other than the expenditure of hiring a two-wheeler, Britain's bicycle routes are free to enjoy. An hour from London, the Crab & Winkle Way is a leafy, seven-mile former railway line linking cathedral city Canterbury with the oyster-fishing hub of Whitstable. www.sustrans.org.uk

18. How about a free festival? There's London's famous Notting Hill Carnival on the August Bank Holiday weekend, or the Cardiff Summer Festival, a blur of street theatre, music and funfair rides. http://thenottinghillcarnival.com, www.cardiff-festival.com

19. City farms will delight small children, with pattable horses, mucky pigs and cuddly little lambs. There's one within Birmingham's Sheldon Country Park and also Rice Lane in Liverpool; entry to both is on the house. http://birmingham.gov.uk, http://ricelanecityfarm.org.uk 

20. While Stonehenge charges visitors, Northern Ireland's equivalent does not. The seven Beaghmore Stone Circles, a 90-minute drive west from Belfast, are wild and atmospheric; one, known as Dragon's Teeth, boasts some 800 separate slabs. www.discovernorthernireland.com

21. One of Britain's classic royal spectacles, Changing of the Guard ceremonies outside London's Buckingham Palace don't cost a penny to view. www.changing-the-guard.com

22. Just up the Norfolk coast is Britain's best seal hotspot. Take a long-lens camera to Blakeney Point's saltmarshes in December and you'll get to see hundreds of cute grey seal pups. www.nationaltrust.org.uk

23. During September weekends in Scotland, Doors Open Days scheme enables complimentary access to a variety of heritage sites, buildings, farms and more. Last year's highlights included Glasgow Cathedral and creative offices at Dundee's waterfront District 10 development. www.doorsopendays.org.uk

24. Sure, some of Wales' 400 castles impose an entry tariff; but not the little-known Dryslwyn - despite the fabulous Towy Valley views from its regal hilltop perch. http://cadw.wales.gov.uk