8 fun free days out

Love a freebie? These action-packed free days out are sure to please

Marcus Webb – Virgin Money Living Mentor

by Marcus Webb | Independent Money Mentor

Editor of Delayed Gratification and independent journalist


Whether you’re flying solo or planning a trip with the whole family, entertainment doesn’t come cheap these days. Not everything has to come with a big price tag, though. Below, we’ve rounded up fun-filled and - most importantly - free days out for every occasion. Enjoy!

1. Take a hike

It might not feel like it when you’ve run out of trail mix and there’s another hour of uphill trek ahead, but hiking in a beautiful national park such as the Peak District or Lake District is a tremendously rewarding way to spend a day – especially if there’s a hearty meal waiting for you at the end of it. There are also plenty of beautiful National Trails to tackle on a free day out. Try the likes of the South Downs Way, Hadrian’s Wall Path or the Pennine Bridleway, all of which will leave you with a tremendous sense of achievement and the toned, muscular thighs of a champion racehorse. Make sure to bring waterproofs – this is Britain, after all.

2. Express yourself

Not only is this day out totally free, but it might just end with an arena tour and an exclusive story about your recent weight gain in Heat. Britain’s top TV talent shows regularly stage day-long auditions at locations across the country, and if you’ve ever seen the parade of miscellaneous warblers on The X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent you’ll know that a good singing voice isn’t required to join in the fun. Bring a backing track on CD, a packed lunch and nerves of steel.

3. Hunt for buried treasure

Orienteering for the digital generation, geocaching makes every public space the scene of a treasure hunt. There are thousands of small waterproof containers hidden in outdoor locations across the country, and with a smartphone and a geocaching app you can track them down. And since it’s essentially ‘Pokemon Go’ just with real objects instead of imaginary monsters, the kids will love it.

4. Rock out for free

Music festivals used to be for penniless hippies. Not any more. These days you’ll be lucky to get change from £200 – but there’s still a way to do festivals for free. Festival volunteering is fun, sociable and you’ll get a free ticket for your troubles. More day-long festivals are popping up, but for an old-school camping experience you’ll need to stretch that free day out into a free long weekend. See hotboxevents.com for volunteering positions.

5. Get cultural in the capital

The capital of the UK is also the global capital of cool free days out. In addition to dozens of free museums and art galleries, there are colleges with free lectures (Gresham College, LSE, UCL), bookshops with free talks (Waterstones, Foyles), churches with free concerts (St Martin-in-the-Fields, Union Chapel) and record stores with free gigs (Rough Trade East). Paying for things is so overrated.

6. Swim like you mean it

No offence to your local leisure centre, but indoor swimming pales in comparison to fresh air, an open sky and the rejuvenating embrace of extremely – and we mean extremely – cold water. Wild swimming costs nothing and you can take the plunge anywhere – seas, lakes, rivers – although it’s always important to be safe and seek out an established spot. There’s a crowdsourced map at wildswim.com

7. Get to know your hometown

What do Bath, Bristol, Birmingham and Belfast have in common? Correct – they all have free walking tours. In fact, most British towns offer a variety of cost-free tourist attractions, many of which are totally overlooked by local residents. Be a tourist in your own town and save a bundle while doing so.

8. Sleep under the stars

Camping is a great way to escape the pressures of modern life. But regular campsites with their oversubscribed shower blocks, kids’ playgrounds and couples in the tent next door arguing over who forgot to bring the toothpaste might not offer quite the thrilling feeling of isolation you’re looking for. Wild camping gets you off the grid but it comes with a catch. Unless you’re in Scotland, where you can camp legally anywhere you please, you must check the local guidelines – you might need permission from the landowner. And always remember the golden rule – never leave a trace behind.

Before making financial decisions always do research, or talk to a financial adviser. Views are those of our mentors and customers and do not constitute financial advice.