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19 free things to do

Looking for some plans this week, minus the expense? Our list of the best free things to do is full of ideas to help you organise a fun and affordable day out.

friends with free sign

Credit: Jacob Lund, prapann – Shutterstock

Sometimes a walk around the block just doesn't cut it.

For anyone looking for new and exciting ways to spend a day off, we've come up with the best things you can do for free in your local area.

These budget-friendly suggestions are also ideal if you're planning a trip to a new town or city. With this list, plus our tips for getting cheap train tickets, you'll be able to plan a very cheap day out.

Top things to do for free

Find out the best things to do for free near you:

  1. Visit a museum

    There are loads of great free museums in the UK, so look into whether there are any in your area.

    Not only does it make a great day out, but finding out about local history can be fascinating.

    Particularly if you're new to an area or visiting from elsewhere, a museum can teach you so much about a town or city's industrial, environmental and creative histories.

    Museums can also have very calming atmospheres, making them ideal for a cheap day out.

  2. Head to your local market

    Browsing a market is always fun. You may even get a few free food samples!

    A great tip when visiting a food market is that you can browse for cooking tips and recipes to make at home. This is perfect if you're looking for new additions to your weekly meal plan.

    Plus, markets often sell a wide range of flowers, so even if you don't buy anything, it can boost your mood just to be surrounded by pretty bouquets.

    Not sure where your nearest market is? Have a look on Google and you'll hopefully be able to find a good one near you.

  3. Go to the beach

    Especially if it's a warm day, visiting the beach is a great thing to do as a free day out. You can plan a walk around the beach and the surrounding area, and perhaps even go for a swim in the sea.

    If walking isn't your thing, consider taking games to the beach to play with friends. Check your parents' garage or in your cupboards in case you can find something like a badminton set.

    Also, if you take a good book with you, you can spend a chilled day listening to the waves, feeling the gentle sea breeze and reading. Bliss.

  4. Watch a local sporting team

    Do you have some spare time at the weekend or even an evening in the week? There are lots of local sporting teams who would likely appreciate people watching on the side.

    From football to rugby, there's something for everyone to watch. You could even find out where the local lacrosse team plays – it's interesting to watch if you've never seen it.

    If you're heading out to watch a game in the colder months, take lots of layers, a camping chair, some snacks and a hot drink in a flask.

  5. Go on a bike ride

    two people cycling in a park

    Credit: Lea Rae– Shutterstock

    Going on a cycle ride is a brilliant way to exercise and see more of a town or city. You can use your own bike or even borrow a friend's if you don't have one.

    It's a good idea to plan a route in advance to try to see as many of the local sights as you can.

    Having said that, though, if you know an area well, you might want to just head out and see where the bike takes you. Just make sure you know the way home or have access to a map.

    Feel your bike needs a lot of work and is costing you a lot? We have tips on how to save money cycling.

  6. Look for music events/performances in your local bar

    If you love live music but don't have the budget to buy concert tickets, see if you can see free gigs in local bars.

    It's worth asking around to see if any pubs in your area host live music nights. You might find somewhere that hosts a jazz performance, for example, or an open mic night.

    You can then make a note of when a bar runs events so you have something to go to each week. Of course, you may need to buy a drink when you're at the bar, but if you have a non-alcoholic drink, you can still keep the costs down.

  7. Search for local art galleries

    See if you can find any art galleries near you. They don't necessarily have to be massive, but if you live in a small town, it's a great way to find out about local artists.

    You can discover lots about what art style you like just by looking around.

    Particularly in small art galleries, you'll often find there's someone working there who's happy to chat about the pieces on display. Don't be afraid to ask questions if there's anything you want to know.

  8. Visit a flower garden

    If you're looking for a serene experience, visiting a flower garden may be in your future.

    Grab a free coffee for the walk around and make an afternoon of it. You might see some flowers you're not familiar with, or get some inspiration for the next time you buy flowers or plants for your home.

    You could also take a notebook and pen to draw the landscape or the prettiest flowers you see!

  9. Go window shopping

    Browse the shops in your area to get ideas for your uni bedroom or for clothes you want to save up for. Remember, browsing is free!

    Maybe your friend's birthday is coming up and you're looking for gift inspiration. You could use this time to find present ideas and recreate them at home for minimal cost.

  10. Look out for seasonal events

    Keep an eye out for seasonal events in your area.

    Remember remember, the 5th of November is bonfire night so your local area may be holding celebrations. If the fireworks display near you isn't free, you can head to a hill or similar area to view them for free.

    Also, Christmas events tend to start around mid-November so there's usually lots to do around this time. Think free parades, markets and even the Christmas light turn-on events.

  11. Go to a free exercise class

    See if there are any free workout classes you could join nearby. Check out our deals section for free workout classes and more.

    For example, you can often redeem a free gym trial or even a free Zumba class.

    If you're not a fan of the gym or Zumba, you could also take your own towel or yoga mat to a park near you. This is a great activity to do in the sun. And if you're not familiar with yoga, try watching a tutorial on YouTube.

  12. Join free running groups

    You may be a seasoned runner, or you may not! There are free running groups for all ages and abilities, so don't feel any pressure. It's also a great way to make new friends who have similar interests.

    You might find they organise each run for a different area of town, in which case you could get to see a lot of new places.

    Also, see if there's a parkrun near you. These are free weekly events where you can run or walk 5k. They tend to have really supportive atmospheres, so they're ideal for beginners and experienced runners alike.

  13. Visit skateboard parks

    woman skateboarding

    Credit: Chokniti-Studio – Shutterstock

    Skateboard parks are a great way to make new friends. Don't be intimidated if you've never skated before either.

    Ask around to see if anyone you know owns a board and can teach you a thing or two.

    Even if you're not much of a skater, it's free to watch those who are experienced skaters, especially if it's a big skate park.

  14. Head to a free outdoor gym

    Loads of parks have outdoor gyms. These are great if you don't have a gym membership and want to be more active.

    In terms of equipment available, depending on the location, you may have access to an elliptical cross trainer, a rower, a chest press and more.

    Some places also have a table tennis table. If you're lucky, there might be a couple of table tennis paddles and balls there that you can use, but you'll otherwise need to bring your own.

    If you don't have one close by, try creating your own cheap home gym.

  15. Go to your local forest

    Heading to your local forest could just be the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

    Being surrounded by nature is super relaxing, and could help you unwind if you're dealing with exam stress.

    To switch off, you could look out for certain types of trees or flowers and see how many you come across.

  16. Read a book in your local library

    The library is such an underrated place to go to relax. In fact, library access is one of the best free things you can get from university.

    You'll likely need to sign up for a library card before you take out any books or DVDs.

    Also, most libraries will let you read for free in the building if you don't want to take anything out. So find a comfy chair, sit back and relax.

    Love books? Find out the best ways to make money from reading.
  17. Consider wild swimming

    If you're not familiar with wild swimming, it's when you swim outside in a natural body of water.

    It is more risky than swimming in an indoor pool so it's important that you do plenty of research first and know the safest ways to do it.

    Make sure that you're a strong swimmer and swim in safe areas. The RNLI has safety tips for open-water swimming.

    In particular, look for open water sites that have lifeguards. You might find you need to pay a little for the lifeguarded swimming spots, but it hopefully won't cost much.

    Not sure where your closest wild swimming area is? If you're interested in trying this, take a look at the Wild Swim Map for the UK and see if there are safe places for you to swim nearby.

  18. Create your own sightseeing route

    There's often a lot more public art around us than we realise.

    Perhaps there are sculptures you hurriedly rush past when running for your bus, or painted street art you've never taken the time to fully study.

    Looking for the finer details in your surroundings can make a daily commute much more fun. It might just surprise you.

  19. Do some artwork at home

    There are lots of ways to create art without spending a penny.

    If you like drawing, try being creative and drawing a landscape near you. Sit in the open air and sketch what you see.

    Equally, you could look for objects in your home that would be interesting to draw.

    Don't worry if you're not an experienced artist. You don't need to create a masterpiece – just the process of drawing can be really fun.

    If you don't fancy drawing with a pencil but don't have any paints, you could try using natural materials.

    You could get a cup of water, grab a brush (or use your fingers), take a little bit of mud and mix it with water to create brown 'paint'. It might not be the easiest material to create art with, but it could be a fun challenge to create line drawings with it.

We know of loads more activities to try for under £20.

Lauren Nash

WRITTEN BY Lauren Nash

Lauren is a deals and discounts expert, and the Digital Marketing Manager at Save the Student. She is passionate about saving money and has appeared on Channel 5 documentaries sharing her money-saving tips. Lauren's work is centred around securing the best exclusive deals for Save the Student and working with great student brands.
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