Free Days Out in the UK

Looking for some fun free days out? You've come to the right place.

A sunset image of Avebury stone circles
(Image credit: Getty)

I’m always on the hunt for fun, free activities and I can honestly say that the UK is full of hidden gems to explore. In this article, I’ve compiled a list of different kinds of free activities and some of my favourite recommendations for each type, so let's get into it.

Go to a free National Trust or English Heritage site | Avebury Henge & stone circles

Avebury stone circles

(Image credit: Getty)

National Trust and English Heritage sites can be a bit pricey if you haven’t got a membership. However, there are quite a few really cool free sites dotted around, including historic sites like abbeys, priories and forts. 

One of my favourites is the historic site of Avebury, which is managed by the National Trust on behalf of English Heritage. The quaint village of Avebury in Wiltshire is the perfect day trip for history lovers thanks to its jaw-dropping Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments. 

Avebury is home to the impressive Avebury Henge and stone circles, and it’s worth noting that the outer stone circle is the largest prehistoric stone circle in the world! Not only this, but Avebury is also home to Silbury Hill (the largest artificial prehistoric mound in Europe), West Kennet Long Barrow (an ancient burial mound), The Sanctuary (a Neolithic ceremonial temple) and West Kennet Avenue (the stone avenue which connected Avebury henge and The Sanctuary), so there’s a lot to see. 

Avebury is a super fun day out; you can go right up to the stones, take pictures with them and attempt to climb them if you fancy it! It’s a very beautiful area and visiting all the sites is a decent walk so that you can enjoy the views, exercise and history all in one go. The village of Avebury is very charming and worth checking out while you’re there as well. You really do get so much for your money… oh wait, you haven’t spent any!

Top tip: If you have a National Trust or English Heritage membership you can park in the Avebury National Trust car park for free. However, if you don’t have one, parking is pretty expensive (up to £8 a day!), so I’d recommend driving around and finding free parking spaces. There are free parking spaces in the area, just not right next to the main location of the stones. 

Check out a free music festival | BunkFest

A crowd looking at a main stage at night

(Image credit: Getty)

I’m an absolute sucker for a music festival but crikey they can be expensive! However, the UK is home to a fair few free music festivals for you to enjoy. 

One of my personal favourites is a festival called BunkFest. It’s a free-access community festival set up each year in the historic town of Wallingford which runs over a weekend in early September. At BunkFest you can enjoy loads of free music, there’s a big main stage in Kinecroft, an area of open grassland, as well as music in local pubs and venues. 

There are also loads of other things going on, like a silent disco, street performers, market stalls and puppet shows, so there is plenty of entertainment. You can buy food and drinks from the stalls or venues (there are loads to choose from) or for a cheaper experience, you can bring your own food and drink to have whilst listening to music on the main stage. You can also camp overnight if you’d like to stay for the whole weekend but this does cost money. 

Of course, there aren’t just free music festivals in the UK, there are loads of other kinds of free events, like food festivals, carnivals and markets. If you’re interested in finding out about events and festivals that are close to you, it’s worth checking websites like Eventbrite which can provide you with loads of suggestions.

Visit an open-air museum | St Fagans National Museum of History

St Fagans National Museum of History

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It’s not hard to find a free indoor museum in the UK, especially in London! Most cities and towns will have free museums you can wander around in. However, if you’re looking for something a bit different, an open-air museum is a cracking day out. An open-air museum (also known as a folk museum) isn’t set inside a building, they’re outside and they tend to showcase collections of buildings and artefacts that you can interact with. There are a few dotted around the UK, including some amazing free ones. 

St Fagans National Museum of History is an open-air museum in Cardiff and is Wales’s most popular heritage attraction. Set over 100 acres of parkland, there are over 40 re-erected historical Welsh buildings from different time periods, reflecting the lives of ordinary people. You can explore so many buildings, from an old Victorian school, Iron Age roundhouses, a sawmill and a clog makers workshop - just to name a few! The parkland that the museum is set in is really pretty and there is a lot of wildlife roaming around, so that’s an added bonus.

The museum is set on the grounds of the impressive St Fagans Castle and Gardens, built in the 16th century. And guess what? Both of these are also free to look around. The gardens are really vibrant and well looked after and it’s a nice place to potter around after soaking up all the history. 

It’s worth noting that parking isn’t free (it’s £6 a day), but they do offer free parking for blue badge holders and motorbikes. There are other ways to get to St Fagans from Cardiff city centre, you can walk there (it takes roughly an hour and 20 minutes from the centre), you can cycle along the Ely Trail bike route (St Fagans has plenty of bike racks so you can easily store it once you’re there) or you can get a bus (which takes about half an hour). 

Go on a history walk | York City Walls

York City Walls

(Image credit: Getty)

When visiting a town or city, there’s often quite a bit of rich history in the area, so if you enjoy learning about history and like looking at old buildings, sculptures, monuments and sites, then finding a historical walk or tour could be a great free day out option for you. 

York is an amazing city; if you haven’t visited yet it’s well worth going to as there are loads of things to see and do. Today we’re just talking about the free stuff, so I’d recommend walking around the medieval York City Walls (also known as Bar Walls). 

York City Walls were mainly built in the 13th century and are England’s longest town walls, roughly 2 miles long. They wrap around the city and you can walk along them for free. The walls are raised so you get a good view of the city as you stroll around, as well as get to see loads of cool historical features like fortified gateways, towers and sculptures. One of the best hotspots along the walk is seeing York Museum Gardens, which leads me into the perfect segue for the next activity… 

Tour a botanical garden | York Museum Gardens

The ruins of St Mary’s Abbey in York Museum Gardens

(Image credit: Getty)

If you enjoy looking at plants and trees but aren’t really interested in going on hikes or long walks to enjoy them, a botanical garden is a good option for you. Around the UK, there are some lovely free botanical gardens to explore, and following on from the section above, along the route of York City Walls, you can see York Museum Gardens, which (you’ve guessed it) are free to ramble around. 

York Museum Gardens was established in the 1830s and is a botanical garden with a wonderful array of flowers, shrubs, trees and wildlife (including lots of adorable squirrels that potter around the gardens). York Museum Gardens is also rich with history as there are a number of historical buildings within the grounds that you can look at. This includes the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, which was built in 1088, the Roman Multangular Tower and the ruins of the largest medieval hospital in the north of England, St. Leonards Hospital.  

Walk around a free art or sculpture trail | Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail | Totterdown Arts Trail

Forest of Dean sculpture trail

(Image credit: Getty)

If you like going for walks and looking at nice art along the way then an art or sculpture trail may be your perfect day out. There are loads of free art and sculpture trails around the UK, both in cities and in the countryside. 

A personal favourite of mine is the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail. It’s a great day out because you get to wander around the beautiful Forest of Dean and also get to look at some really interesting and unique sculptures along the way. 

The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust is a registered charity, nationally recognised for offering artists/sculptors in the early stages of their careers a successful international profile, giving them an opportunity for professional development in the creative industry. What’s really nice about the sculptures in The Forest of Dean is that they were created specifically for the environment around them, inspired by the surrounding nature there. 

Another art trail I’d also highly recommend is the Totterdown Arts Trail in Bristol. It was founded in 2001 and is Bristol’s longest-running arts trail. It runs for one weekend in November each year and it’s hosted in Totterdown, an inner suburb of Bristol. Some volunteers open up their houses in Totterdown for artists and creatives to display their artwork. You don’t just get to see the artwork, there are often other things to enjoy, like magic shows, mulled cider, cakes and workshops. Also, some of the artwork is for sale, so if you really like it you can buy it!  

Explore a free castle | Bere Castle (Castell y Bere) | Nunney Castle

Nunney Castle

(Image credit: Getty)

One of my personal favourite days out is going to castles, and I’ve been to a fair few over the years. Although a lot of castles do cost to visit, there are also quite a few free ones dotted around as well.  

One of my best-loved castles is a free one called Castell y Bere (Bere Castle) in Gwynedd, Wales. The castle was constructed by Llywelyn the Great, the King of Gwynedd in the early 13th century and although it’s now in ruins, it’s set in a stunning landscape. 

The castle overlooks the beautiful Dysynni Valley and it’s surrounded by lush green hills and mountain ranges. It’s quite a steep walk up to the castle, but the payoff is well worth it. I’d recommend bringing a picnic so you can enjoy the views and the ancient ruins for longer. If you’re a fan of long walks or hikes, it’s also worth walking around the surrounding area once you’ve explored the castle as you won’t find views like it anywhere else! 

If you’re more interested in visiting a free castle that’s more intact, Nunney Castle is a small yet impressive medieval fortress located in the village of Nunney, near Frome. It was constructed by a wealthy knight called Sir John Delamere, and the castle is surrounded by a moat (which normally has lots of ducks in it!) To get to the castle entrance you have to walk across a wooden drawbridge which is pretty cool. It’s a great spot for taking lots of photos!

Who doesn’t love a freebie?

St Fagans Castle and Gardens

(Image credit: Getty)

With the prices of everything going up, it’s nice to know there are still some great free activities out there. I could honestly waffle on forever about free places to visit around the UK as there is a lot to see, and I hope this has been helpful in giving you ideas for some awesome free days out.  

Emma Webber
Editor

Hi, I'm Emma! I've been working at MyVoucherCodes since January 2022. Before joining the MyVoucherCodes team, I had already been working in the savings industry for a good few years so I have a lot of knowledge on how to be a savvy shopper, and I love sharing my top money-saving tips. 

In my spare time, I enjoy hiking and being out in the countryside, dancing my heart out at festivals, painting, gardening and running. I also adore animals and since 2021, I've been a Website Editor and Social Media volunteer for a cat charity, writing about cats that are ready for adoption, happy rehoming stories and fundraising events.