20 Free Tourist Spots to Visit in the UK

Enjoying the top tourist spots in the UK doesn't have to break the bank. In fact, you can experience some of the best places to visit in the UK without spending anything. If you do your research (and take your own picnic) you can have a great day out, even on the tightest of budgets.

1. Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Arthur's Seat, one of Edinburgh's seven hills, is an extinct volcano and site of a well-preserved fort. Getting to the top involves quite a hike, but it's achievable for most fit adults and kids, and the views from the top are more than worth the effort.

2. Richmond Park, London

Many UK cities have free parks that are much more than green spaces. London's Richmond Park boasts two herds of deer, a beautiful azaela and rhododendron garden, secret woodlands and a tea house overlooking the entire city.

3. Southbank Centre, London

The Southbank Centre hosts free concerts, lunchtime music and dance performances. Other UK venues with free lunchtime entertainment include the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff and the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama in Manchester.

4. Duxford Chapel, Cambridgeshire

For a taste of 14th century Britain, visit Duxford Chapel, which is virtually intact, complete with ecclesiastic windows and exposed beam ceilings. Its history remains a bit of a mystery, so step inside and let your imagination run free.

5. Bridge Cottage, Suffolk

This 16th century thatched cottage inspired painter John Constable and was the setting for some of his famous landscapes. Located by the River Stour, Bridge Cottage features an exhibition about the artist and has a riverside tea room.

6. Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim

The Giant's Causeway, which looks like a roadway into the sea, was created by an ancient volcanic eruption. It's made of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns (some more than 12 metres high) which form stepping stones from the foot of a cliff into the sea.

7. Great North Museum, Newcastle

The Great North Museum combines the collections of several natural and ancient history museums. Check out a large-scale, interactive model of Hadrian's Wall, a life-size T-Rex skeleton and mummies from Ancient Egypt. The live animal collections, including wolf fish, pythons and lizards, are particularly fascinating.

8. Hadrian’s Wall

Explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which dates from the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 122, by foot or on bike. It originally stretched from coast to coast across northern Britain, and much of it remains, from which you can see major Roman sites, turrets and forts.

9. Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow

GoMA is Scotland’s most popular art gallery, with ever-changing contemporary exhibitions. Outside the gallery, stop for a selfie with the iconic Duke of Wellington statue, permanently topped with a traffic cone thanks to the determination of locals.

10. Knole Deer Park, Kent

While privately-owned Knole house is not free, its grounds are. One of the few medieval deer parks to have survived 500 years, it's home to oak, hawthorn, oak, yew, ash and hornbeam trees and a herd of 600 fallow deer.

11. National Railway Museum, York

York boasts the world's largest railway museum, documenting 300 years of rail history, fascinating exhibitions and iconic objects. It's home to the famous Mallard, a Japanese bullet train and UK steam engine record setter. The Great Hall hosts daily machinery demonstrations, and there are plenty of child-focused activities for younger visitors.

12. Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Set in 500 acres of countryside, Yorkshire Sculpture Park celebrates 20th and 21st century British sculpture. Permanent outdoor displays include works by Anthony Gormley, Eduardo Paolozzi and Elisabeth Frink.

13. National History Museum, London

One visit to the National History Museum is never enough, but luckily it won't cost anything to go as often as you like. With exhibits relating to dinosaurs, human evolution, geology, marine life, biology and much more, this is one of the best things to do in London for free.

14. Roskilly’s Farm, Cornwall

At around 4 p.m. every day you can watch Roskilly's dairy cows being milked (plus you can sample the goods at the farm's very own ice cream parlour). Meet all sorts of animals on this organic farm, including goats, turkey, pigs and sheep. While you're there, explore the 20 acres of beautiful farmland.

15. The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

Established in 1670, Edinburgh’s beautiful botanic garden is spread over 70 manicured acres. You'll find many rare plants, including the largest collection of wild-origin Chinese plants outside China. Highlights include the Scottish Heath Garden, the Rock Garden, the Windows on the World glasshouse and the Fossil Garden.

16. The Tolkien Trail, Birmingham

If you're a fan of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings," you can't visit Birmingham without walking in the footsteps of author J. R. R. Tolkien. Download a guide from the city's tourist board website and begin your tour at Sarehole, which is said to have inspired Hobbiton and the Shire.

17. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London

Entry to the redeveloped Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the site of the London 2012 Olympic Games, is free, and features a range of activities, from tree houses to pixel art. Make sure you pose for a photo next to the Olympic Rings and try to avoid the water jets in the Pleasure Gardens.

18. National Football Museum, Manchester

The hi-tech National Football Museum, home to interactive exhibits and rare objects, is a perfect day out for football fans young and old. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a football buff, take part in the Match of the Day Commentary Challenge on the first floor.

19. The Potter Trail, Edinburgh

The Potter Trail is a free guided walking tour covering the various locations that inspired the Harry Potter books, including the café where J.K. Rowling wrote the first book in the series. You might even see the final resting place of Lord Voldemort.

20. Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The V&A is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects. See paintings, textiles, ceramics, furniture, fashion, glass, metalwork, jewellery, photographs and sculpture.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Claire Gillespie, who has been writing and editing for 18 years, has written about personal finance for private clients and various websites, including SheKnows and Reader's Digest.

Try our awesome promobar!