• Posted: Sunday, April 6, 2014
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Top 20 free things to do in the UK and Ireland

If you find yourself in England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland here are just some of many great free things to do.

Manchester, England: Visit the Museum of Science and Industry

One of Manchester’s top museums also happens to be a free one. The Museum of Science and Industry is a great free thing to do in Manchester and makes for a great attraction for all ages. The aim of the museum is to make science and industry inspirational and enjoyable.


Edinburgh, Scotland: Walk the Royal Mile

Edinburgh has a very compact city centre so you will find yourself walking around a lot. The Royal Mile is one of the city’s main streets and it’s also where you will find some of the best attractions such as St. Giles Cathedral, Mary King’s Close and it leads to Edinburgh Castle. A walk down the Royal Mile is great free thing to do in Edinburgh and a great way to see the city centre.


Belfast, Northern Ireland: Explore St Anne’s Cathedral – Belfast Cathedral

This beautiful cathedral is home to Ireland’s largest Celtic Cross and has many mosaics and stained glass windows. You can visit the cathedral for free on weekdays from 10am to 4pm and for a short period before and after Sunday services. 


Dublin, Ireland: Be contemporary at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

One of the best things about Dublin is that a majority of its museums and galleries offer free admission. One of the more popular Dublin museums is the Irish Museum of Modern Art which you will find in the former Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Here you will find a glorious collection of modern art from Jack B. Yeats to Rebecca Horn. And when you finish in the museum you can take a walk around the stunning grounds of the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham.


Derry, Northern Ireland: Walk the Historic Walls

The historic walls of Derry (or Londonderry as it is also known) date back to the early 17th century and are roughly 1.5km in circumference. The walls form a walkway around the inner city and are one of the finest examples of a walled European city. They are a great Derry attraction and are a popular free thing to do in the city.


Newport, Wales: Check out the Wishing Well

Newport is found on the Welsh coast and this makes for some amazing views and scenery.  The Wishing Well can be found on Carningli Mountain and it is where you will get some of the best views over Newport and the surrounding countryside. You will find the well itself underneath a great rock slab.  You can hike or cycle up to Newport’s Wishing Well. 


Kilkenny, Ireland: Relax in the Castle Gardens of Kilkenny Castle

The grounds of Kilkenny Castle are an attraction all in themselves. Castle Gardens are a great free thing to do in Kilkenny, especially if you get a sunny day in the south east.  Here you will find the beautiful Rose Gardens, large green spaces, walkways and a fun filled playground.


Brighton, England: Walk Brighton Pier

Brighton is renowned around the world for its pier and pebble beach. The Victorian Pier in Brighton is one of the town’s most popular free attractions. Lined along this picturesque pier you will find a whole host of great bars and restaurants, fairground attractions and arcades. Brighton Pier makes for a great stroll and is the perfect spot to take in all the views.


Cork, Ireland: Explore the Old English Market

One of Cork’s most popular attractions is also a free one. The Old English Market dates back to 1788 and as the name suggests, it’s a market! This popular free thing to do in Cork is packed full of stalls and counters selling a whole host of foods and delicacies. A walk around Cork’s English Market is a must to soak up the atmosphere, but you probably will end up spending some money as it can be hard to resist the food on offer.


Galway, Ireland: Sit out in Eyre Square

Galway’s central city square was transformed and modernised a few years ago and has made it the focus point of the city centre. Eyre Square is beautiful outdoor space made up of green areas, walkways, a sculpted fountain and seats. And on a sunny day in Galway the atmosphere in Eyre Square is incredible, making it a great free thing to do.


Cardiff, Wales: Catch a free concert at the Wales Millennium Centre

The popular Wales Millennium Centre is regarded as one of the world’s most iconic arts and cultural venues. You can spend lunchtime or an evening at Cardiff’s cultural landmark enjoying a free concert. These free concerts cater for all musical tastes from jazz to classical to choirs and are completely free of charge.


Glasgow, Scotland: See some art at The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

This is Scotland’s premier museum and art gallery and admission is free!  With an impressive collection of over 200,000 items you can spend a good few hours of your day here. The building is an attraction in itself as it is in the Spanish Baroque style of architecture and dates from 1901. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is home one of Europe’s great civic art collections and also to one of the finest collections of arms and armour in the world. And you can see all of these for free!


Bristol, England: Take in the views from the Clifton Suspension Bridge

The Clifton Suspension Bridge is a symbol of the city of Bristol and is one of the city’s top attractions. The popular bridge dates back to the 19th century and is the place to go for some breathtaking views of Bristol and its surrounds.


Liverpool, England: Walk the iconic Penny Lane

One for the Beatles fans visiting Liverpool is a trip to Penny Lane. You will find Penny Lane just outside the city centre and even if you wouldn’t class yourself as a Beatles fan, it is worth the trip to see more of Liverpool apart from the city centre.


Aberdeen, Scotland: Check out the Aberdeen Maritime Museum

One of Aberdeen’s most popular free attractions is the Maritime Museum. This award-winning museum relays the history of Aberdeen’s strong relationship with the sea. The collection and exhibits showcase a range of items about shipbuilding, fishing and port history. It also offers one of the best views of Aberdeen’s busy harbour.


Bath, England: Stroll through Royal Victoria Park

This beautiful large park dates back to 1830 and covers a space of over 57 acres. Across this large space you will find an aviary, a boating pond, a great playground and a bandstand. It’s a great free attraction in Bath and the perfect place to spend a sunny day.


London, England: See the famous Changing of the Guard

Buckingham Palace and all things associated with the Royal Family are a huge attraction for tourists to London. Crowds flock to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace (11.30am daily during summer, every other day during winter) as it is a popular free London attraction. But be warned, the crowds here are massive so get there early in order to get a good viewing spot.


Swansea, Wales: Visit the Dylan Thomas Centre

Wales’ most famous literary figure is Dylan Thomas and was born in Swansea. He moved from the area in his twenties but often returned and it is where he wrote a lot of his work. The Dylan Thomas centre can be found in Swansea’s Maritime Quarter and here you can find out all about the writer, his work and relationship with the city of Swansea.


Newcastle, England: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

You will find the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art housed in a landmark industrial building along the south bank of the River Tyne in Gateshead. This is an international centre for contemporary art and it has no permanent collection, just an ever changing list of events and exhibitions. Best of all, entry to Baltic is completely free making it one of the top things to do for free in Newcastle.


Birmingham, England: Window shop in The Jewellery Quarter

This area of Birmingham dates back over 250 years ago and is still home to many jewellery businesses today. This area of Birmingham is conserved with over 200 listed buildings and it is also home to Birmingham’s last remaining Georgian Square.


There’s our pick of 20 free things to do in the UK and Ireland so if you are planning a tour around these counties make sure to stop off at some of these great free attractions.

By: Tracy Lynch


Photos courtesy of Wilka Hudson, ToNG!?, damo1977, Wendy Cutler, Simon Lee, Gabriel Villena, Jeffrey Zeldman, Nicolas Raymond, William Murphy and Keith Williamson and Daniel. All images used under the Creative Commons license.


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