Top Free Attractions

The attractions featured were the most visited in 2019 according to entry statistics and visitor information.

Top Free Attractions – England

British Museum

6,239,983 visitors (2019) A museum of the world, for the world. Discover over two million years of human history and culture. Some of the world-famous objects include the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures and Egyptian mummies.
Location: Great Russell Street, London.

Tate Modern

6,098,340 visitors (2019)
Explore modern and contemporary art from around the world. Entry to the gallery is free – there’s no need to book. Tate Modern has over a hundred years of art, from modernism in the early 1900s, to exciting works created today. This includes paintings, sculptures, and more made by artists all over the world such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, and Jenny Holzer. Experience Tate’s iconic Turbine Hall.
Location: 53 Bankside, Southwark, London.

National Gallery

6,011,007 visitors (2019) The National Gallery houses the national collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the 13th to the 19th centuries. It is on show 361 days a year, free of charge.
Location: Trafalgar Square, London, England.

Natural History Museum

5,423,932 visitors (2019) A centre of scientific excellence in the discovery of taxonomy and biodiversity, this world-famous museum promotes the discovery and enjoyment of the natural world through such exciting exhibits as the Life and Earth Galleries, wildlife garden and geological collections.
Location: Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London.

Brighton Pier

4,901,221 visitors (2019) Brighton Palace Pier, commonly known as Brighton Pier, is one of the finest pleasure piers ever built. With its famous fish and chip restaurant, a range of hot food and drink concessions, fairground attractions, two arcades, plus Brighton’s biggest indoor soft play area - ‘Palace Play’ - Brighton Palace Pier makes it a day to remember. Palace Pier is located in the heart of Brighton and Hove’s 12 km of coastline.
Location: Brighton, UK.

Victoria and Albert Museum

3,992,198 visitors (2019) Promoted as the world's greatest museum of art and design. The V&A's collections are unrivalled in their diversity. Explore historical and contemporary art and design, including works of art from many of the world's richest cultures. Admission free.
Location: Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London.

Science Museum

3,301, 975 visitors (2019) T he Science Museum is must-see for families and adults as part of any trip to London. The museum aims to make sense of the science that shapes our lives, inspiring visitors with iconic objects, award-winning exhibitions, beautiful galleries, hands-on workshops, science demonstrations and incredible stories of scientific achievement.
Location: Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London.

Somerset House

2,841,772 visitors (2019) Somerset House is a spectacular neo-classical building in the heart of London, sitting between the Strand and the River Thames. During summer months 55 fountains dance in the courtyard, and in winter you can skate on London's favourite ice rink. Somerset House also hosts open-air concerts and films, contemporary art, design and fashion exhibitions, family workshops and free guided tours of spaces usually hidden to visitors.
Location: The Strand, London, England.

Abbey Gardens

1,228,564 visitors (2019) Tranquil and beautiful gardens complete with abbey ruins, aviary, rose garden in the heart of Bury St Edmunds. A great place for a tranquil walk or have a picnic . A highlight are the ruins of the Old Abbey in what once was the Capital of England and grew wealthy on the wool trade exporting to Europe.
Location: Mustow Street, Bury St Edmunds, England.

Clacton Pier

Clacton Pier is a pier located in the seaside resort town of Clacton-on-Sea in England. It was named Pier of the Year in 2020 by the National Piers Society. The pier hosts rides, ten-pin bowling, arcades, a seqaurium, golf and a soft-play centre – as well as numerous food, drink and retail outlets. Nearest major town: Colchester.
Location: Marine Parade, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, UK

Source: Visit Britain

Top Free Attractions – Scotland

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

One of the most visited museums in the UK is a free family winner. The grand Victorian building itself is an attraction with its voluminous entrance hall sure to wow first time visitors. There is everything inside from statues of Elvis and the instantly recognisable work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, right through to a Spitfire aircraft dramatically suspended in the air and a landmark painting by Salvador Dali.

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Re-opened in 2011 after a quite brilliant refurbishment the graceful Victorian museum and the more modern annex have now been seamlessly moulded together to create one of Europe’s finest cultural attractions. The more modern section focuses on the story of Scotland, while the older edifice is an intriguing hotpotch of anything and everything set around an airy Victorian atrium. Exhibits range from stuffed big game and a whale skeleton through to Jackie Stewart’s old racing car and Dolly the Sheep. For families the playroom on the ground floor is priceless with all sorts of aural and visual trickery to inspire and entrance young minds.

Cairngorms National Park

The UK’s largest national park is a must visit. It is completely free too. The park sports everything from strolls by the River Spey and lochside ambles around Loch an Eilean, through to mountain biking over old drovers’ roads and hiking some of the highest mountain peaks in the UK. You can pay to ride the mountain railway up the slopes of Cairngorm or just hike up in about an hour, meaning you’ll have saved some money to reward yourself with a congratulatory drink afterwards.

National Galleries, Edinburgh

Some cities don’t even have one world-class art gallery. Edinburgh is fortunate to host a trio and they are all free to enter these days. The landmark National Gallery on the Mound packs in all the big names from Raeburn to Raphael. Over in the West End the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and adjacent Dean Gallery focus on the modern and even ultra modern with an eclectic range of both art and mediums. The recently re-opened Scottish National Portrait Gallery meanwhile has portraits of everyone from Flora McDonald through to Sir Walter Scott.

The McManus, Dundee

Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum boasts eight galleries laid out across two floors. The collection and its themes span 400 million years and also tell the story of how the City of Dundee evolved from a small settlement, through its ‘Jute, Jam and Journalism’ Golden Age, to become the city it is today. Gallery highlights include ‘George Paterson’ by Henry Raeburn, what is thought to be the earliest painting of a football match, ‘The Village Ba’ Game’ by Alexander Carse, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s masterpiece ‘Dante’s Dream on the Day of the Death of Beatrice’ and some seminal works by the Glasgow Boys.

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

This green oasis has at its centre Scotland’s largest loch, which isn’t just for passively admiring. The suitably prepared can hike for free up Ben Lomond or tackle the stretch of the West Highland Way that cuts a swathe through the eastern shore of Loch Lomond on its route towards the Highlands. You can mountain bike for free too. Elsewhere in the park one of the most scenic drives in Scotland awaits between Aberfoyle and Callander in the Trossachs.

The Museum of Scottish Industrial Life, Coatbridge

This Lanarkshire attraction was already free to enter for everyone, but until May 31 for every paying adult two kids can enjoy a trip on their vintage tram for nothing if they download the online voucher. Elsewhere there is the exhibition hall with lots of hands-on activities for the kids as well as working 1950s machinery. Guides are also on hand to take groups down the re-created mine and visit the miners’ cottages. The playpark is geared for everyone from tots to teens and there is also a picnic area for sunny days.

Glenkiln Sculpture Park

An inspirational sculpture park in Dumfries & Galloway featuring six sculptures dramatically positioned in a moorland setting around Glenkiln Reservoir. They were assembled between 1951 and 1976 by local landowner Sir William Keswick. We are not talking obscure pieces by local young artists. Here for free you can admire ‘Saint John the Baptist’ by Auguste Rodin, ‘Visitation’ by Jacob Epstein and a quartet of works by Henry Moore.

Aberdeen Maritime Museum

Aberdeen’s story is inexorably bound up with the sea. This award-winning museum tells the narrative of the city’s crucial relationship with the North Sea. It is located on the historic Shiprow and incorporates Provost Ross’s House. The collection covers everything from shipbuilding and fast sailing ships, through to fishing and the port’s history, as well as displays on the all-important North Sea oil and gas industry.

The Fergusson Gallery, Perth

Scotland’s newest city, Perth, is home to this brilliant private gallery set in a highly distinctive round tower, which used to be a waterworks. The collection celebrates the life and work of John Duncan Fergusson and Margaret Morris, who were great pioneers of modern art and dance.

Source: Insider Scotland

Top Free Attractions – Wales

Wales Millennium Centre

Number one on the list of free attractions to visit in Wales is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the award-winning Wales Millennium Centre. Located in Cardiff Bay, the centre is a hub for arts and culture and plays host to a number of exhibitions throughout the year, as well as providing a world-class stage for a range of performances from major musicals to ballet, opera, and contemporary dance. Behind the scenes tours are available for groups wanting to gain that extra insight.

Snowdon Summit Visitor Centre

Nature wins out for the second-place spot on the list. Located 1,085m above sea level is the Snowdon Summit’s Visitor Centre. Trains travel to the Summit from May to the end of October and to Clogwyn ¾ of the way up the mountain during March and April. Upon arrival railway passengers and walkers are welcomed in to a modern contemporary environment and can enjoy views that stretch as far as Ireland on a clear day. Heritage Steam experiences and Traditional Diesel Services are available, along with group discounts for parties of 25 or more.

St Fagans National Museum of History

From art, to nature, to heritage - St Fagans National Museum of History. Lose yourself in what is thought to be Wales’ most popular heritage attraction. Set in over 100 acres of parkland, the 50 original buildings have been moved from all over Wales, stone-by-stone and re-located at the Museum. Explore the farmhouses and cottages, along with a schoolroom, post office and Medieval church, during your visit.

National Museum Cardiff

Visitors to the National Museum Cardiff can discover art, natural history and the geological evolution of Wales, all under one roof. Take in art and natural science collections from Wales, and beyond, which include dinosaurs and woolly mammoths before admiring the art collections featuring works by Monet and Rodin, among many others.

Pembrey Country Park

Whether you want to enjoy the freedom of being able to wander around 2,020 hectares of glorious parkland, or you want to take advantage of an award-winning golden sandy beach, a trip to Pembrey Country Park will allow you to do both, and much more. Featuring everything from a dry ski slope, to a toboggan ride, crazy golf, train rides, an equestrian centre and a variety of nature trails, there really is something for groups of all kinds.

Newborough National Nature Reserve

If the weather permits it, be sure to take the time to explore the evolving landscape, of the Newborough National Nature Reserve, which consists of dunes, marshes, woods and grasslands. With waymarked walking trails, the reserve provides a great day out for groups looking to enjoy a bit of fresh air. Walks include the Red Squirrel Trail, which will see walkers meet Sara the red squirrel, and the Saint, Sand and Sea Trail which will take you on an adventure in the forest, dune and island, providing an insight into the geological and culture features of Newborough, as well as its history and the legend of St Dwynwen.

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Wales is home to a whole host of spectacular views, and those wishing to enjoy some of its vistas, at the same time as visiting a World Heritage Site, will want to have the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on their radar. You can walk across Pontcysyllte or save your legs and enjoy a leisurely boat ride but either way, be sure to have your camera to hand.

Cardiff Visitor Centre

Not an attraction in its own right, but definitely somewhere to head to if you’re wanting to make the most out of your trip to Cardiff and you want the low-down on all of the local sites, is the Cardiff Visitor Centre. Whether you’re visiting Cardiff for the first time, or you’re just looking for new ways to experience the city, the centre is a hub of information and holds everything from bus timetables to accommodation information, souvenirs and gifts.

Gwydir Forest Park

Head into the heart of Snowdonia and you’ll find Gwydir Forest Park. A forest of lakes and mountains, the park is home to a wide range of activities, as well as a huge amount of wildlife. Those wanting to explore on foot will be pleased to know that there are plenty of tracks, old miners’ paths, cycle trails and forest walks. A popular choice amongst visitors is the walk to the viewpoint over the cascading waters of Swallow Falls.

St David’s Cathedral, Pembrokeshire

Set on a Pembrokeshire peninsula, St David’s Cathedral has been a site of pilgrimage and worship for more than 800 years but today, the building houses a number of exhibitions and collections that can be explored by visitors. Head to the Treasury, which contains items detailing over 1,500 years of history, the Gatehouse which is home to an exhibition on the history and life of the cathedral and the new Cloister gallery area in St Mary’s Hall during your visit. Groups of all ages are welcome at the cathedral, and guided tours can be booked.

Source: Visit Wales

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