Brighton has a host of free things to do including the famous Brighton Palace Pier and Brighton Beach.

Brighton Palace Pier & Beach

Brighton, East Sussex c Visit Brighton

Free Things To Do

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If you're travelling on a budget and looking for some free things to do to keep the kids entertained, there are plenty of activities to enjoy across the South that will excite all the family and help those pounds go a little further.  With both indoor and outdoor activities to enjoy it doesn't matter what the weather does.

Don't forget the South East is blessed with plenty of beaches to enjoy a great day out, many of which have been awarded blue flag status for their cleanliness.  Many beaches across the South East have life guards during the summer season, to find out when and where check with the RNLI.

Home to over 3 million acres of natural beauty and a host of country parks, its easy to enjoy the fresh air, space and the picturesque surroundings of the South East countryside, with a picnic, afternoon stroll or cycle ride.

Free things to do in Hampshire
 

Head to Portsmouth on England's South Coast and enjoy a walk along the miles of promenade, visit it's two famous piers or pop into Southsea Castle and explore the ramparts and views over the Solent. Make time to visit Portsmouth Museum (closed on Mondays) and discover the world's largest collection of memorabilia relating to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and an ever-changing collection of artworks.  Free on the weekend of the 29th - 30th July?  The free International Kite Festival is confirmed to go ahead on Southsea Common.  Head to the outskirts of the city and enjoya visit to Royal Armouries-Fort Nelson (car parking applies) with its underground tunnels, fascinating fort facts explorer trail and sandbag maze. From 21st April to the 9th July you can also enjoy the 'Standing With Giants' exhibition of 258 life-size silhouetted figures, representing thos that lost their lives in the Falklands War.

Head across Portsmouth Harbour to Gosport where you can enjoy a visit to the beautiful Alver Valley Country Park, or enjoy time at Lee-on-the-Solent beach with its fantastic views over the Isle of Wight.  Head along to the brand-new Gosport Museum and Gallery which has just undergone a £1.4 million refurbishment and is hosting the Underwater Photography of the Year Exhbition until 15th July 23.

East Hampshire has six self-guided walks, each dedicated to a famous literary figure who lived in the area including Jane Austen and Gilbert White.  Head to Winchester and enjoy the Winchester city walk, with three different loops to follow which are suitable to wheelchairs and prams. They're a great way to explore the city, give a focus to your journey and helps children develop their map reading skills. 

This year you can not only watch the world's largest international sailing event 'Cowes Week' for eight days from the 29th July - 4th Aug 23.  Known as 'Dinosaur Isle' the Isle of Wight is regarded as one of the richest areas for Dinosaur discovery in Europe.  It's just £3.80 for a child to visit Dinosaur Isle, Britain's first purpose built dinosaur attraction.

Fort Nelson - Royal Armouries, a great free place to visit with the family.

Free things to do in Sussex

Enjoy a visit to Brighton and take a stroll around the world-famous Lanes, head to the beach, Brighton Palace Pier or Brighton Marina. Visit the Royal Pavilion gardens give you a chance to marvel at the unique architecture of the Royal Pavilion, pack your children's swimsuits and let them take a dip in one of the cities four paddling pools.  The main one is on the seafront by the old West Pier, they are free to use and open from late May to early September. Explore the Booth Museum of Natural History where you'll find bones, butterflies and birds, or head to the beautiful Stanmer Park, the perfect choice for a picnic, wander and play. This September don't miss the chance to explore Brighton, with Shaun the Sheep, a baa-rilliant new art trail featuring much-loved children’s character. Each Shaun the Sheep has been hand decorated with individually created designs, there are 40 sheep to find, or if visiting before then head out why not follow the Public Art Trail which starts at Brighton train station and takes approximately an hour to follow - a great introduction to this creative city.

Explore the stunning Towner art museum, in Eastbourne which has been collecting and exhibiting work for over 100 years - admission is free.  From the 28th September 23 - 14th April, the Towner will be hosting this years Turner Prize, offering visitors the chance to explore this award-winning contemporary art.  Head to Longland Road Recreation Ground for a game of tennis on the newly refurbished courts or stroll over the famous white cliffs at Seven Sisters Country park and enjoy the stunning views over the English Channel.  Why not fly a kite, enjoy a picnic or pop into the visitor centre to explore the displays and exhibitions?  It's the annual Airbourne - Eastbourne International Air Festival on the 17th - 20th  August 23 which takes place along a 2-mile stretch of Eastbourne seafront and is free to attend.

Take a seat on Littlehampton's Long Bench or enjoy a visit to Chichester Cathedral in West Sussex. The beautiful Highdown Gardens in Worthing are free and have been deemed a National collection, offering great views over the sea and the South Downs.  The newly built Rye Harbour Nature Reserve on the outskirts of the medieval town on Rye or Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, open Thursday - Sunday in Hastings, East Sussex, offer some great days out for the family.  If you want to let of some steam then head to Bedgebury National Pinetum, 16 miles north west of Hastings, with 320 acres of outdoor space, woodlands and play trails to explore.

The multi-coloured external walls of Towner contemporary art gallery, Eastbourne

Free things to do in Kent

Mote Park located in the centre of Maidstone offers lots of green space and a great boating lake for fun on the water time. For something a little different how about a stop at the Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats, they simply ask that you make a donation to help keep the goats, or discover more about the town and local area at Maidstone Museum.

Pop into Ashford Designer Outlet shopping, 5 minutes walk from Ashford International Station, with a childrens playground and a host of brand eatiers, its a great place for a wander, don't forget that your four-legged friends are welcome too.

Heading to Dover, Sandwich and Deal?  Enjoy a visit to Betteshanger Park, or a stroll around the beautiful Samphire Hoe. Enjoy time at Dover Museum and see the remains of a large wooden prehistoric boat thought to be some 3,000 years old, an internationally important archaeological discovery.  Explore the medieval streets of Sandwich and take a visit to Sandwich Guildhall Museum located in the heart of the town or enjoy a tour of Sandwich Guildhall

Samphire Hoe, unique open space to explore for free with the family, Dover, Kent

With 19 miles of coastline and 16 spectacular, sandy beaches and bays, you’re sure to find one to suit you in Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate on the Isle of Thanet or grab your bike and head out on the Viking Coastal Trail, one of the most attractive circular leisure cycle routes in Kent. 

Free things to do in Oxfordshire

The Museum of Oxford, The Ashmolean and The Bodleian Library all offer a range of free exhibitions or activities for families to explore.

In West Oxfordshire get outdoors and explore both Kilkenny Lane Country Park and Wychwood Wild Garden - a beautiful woodland and garden, close to the centre of Shipton under Wychwood. Both are free and open all year round. 

In South Oxfordshire take time to explore the Historic Market Towns that are so central to this area, including Henley-on-Thames, Marlow and Thame.  Here you will find a number of free downloadable walking trails and apps to explore this Historic Market Town.  These are also available from Thame Museum (also free to visit) or Thame Town Hall.  Wallingford Museum provides free entry and offers fun things including the much loved 'smelly, feely' drawers and archaeology sandpits. Whilst there make sure you visit the grounds of Wallingford Castle which provide the perfect setting for a picnic.

Outside the Bodleian Library, Oxford

Free Things to do Berkshire

Reading is home to a number of fascinating free museums to visit, including Reading Abbey Ruins, The MERL and Reading Museum. If you want to head outdoors, the Thames Path National Trail offers you the chance to explore the banks of the River Thames or maybe try some Geocaching.  Don't forget you can also shop till you drop at the Oracle shopping centre. This June 10th - 18th, the fantastic Luke Jerram's earth artwork comes to Reading Town Hall - tickets are just £2 for adults, free for under 14's.

Heading to Windsor, then you don't have to go far to find some great free things to do. Take a stroll along the famous Long Walk and through Great Windsor Park, watch out you might see a deer or two!  Explore Maidenhead Heritage Museum, or follow the Queens Walkway, 63 gunmetal plaques marked with HM The Queen's personal royal cypher, pick up a map from the Windsor Visitor Information Centre.  Head to Windsor town centre to see the daily changing of the guards. The guards leave the barracks at approximately 10:50am then return back again about 11:30am (best view from the Corn Exchange by Windsor Guildhall) - check schedule in advance.

Eduardo Guards, Picture of Changing the Guards, Windsor

Free Things to do in Surrey

The Watts Gallery, Guildford, does not charge for children (under 18s) and is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful small galleries in Europe, with special exhibitions running throughout the year.  Head out an explore the stunning Surrey Hills or make a visit to Alice Holt Country Park - home to a family fun Gruffalo sculpture trail, tree top adventure and plenty of tranquil walks to enjoy.  Make a stop at Cranleigh Arts, tickets range from free to £25, Manor Farm Craft Centre or the New Ashgate Gallery, all offering the chance to discover local arts made and created in the South East.

Watts Galley Near Guildford, Surrey

Free things to do in Dorset

Head to one of the fantastic beaches in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.  Enjoy a day at the beach sandcastle building, taking a dip in the sea and just enjoying being outdoors in the fresh air.  You can also explore the central, upper and lower gardens in Bournemouth, explore Alum Chine Tropical Gardens and Beach or take a walk out along the breath-taking Hengistbury Head. Remember the Bournemouth Air Festival (31st August - 3rd September 23) is also free, offering a great day out for all the family whatever their ages. 

Looking for more inspiration, head to our blog showcasing what's new in South East England in 2024, or our YouTube channel for videos from around the region.

Free things to do in London

The Queen’s House is s beautiful 17th-century royal villa was designed by Inigo Jones and is Britain’s first classical building.  Marvel at the House’s pioneering architecture, including the iconic Tulip Stairs, and discover its internationally renowned art collection. The Queen’s House is free to visit except for Special Exhibitions and guided tours.

The National Maritime Museum is the largest museum of its kind in the world. A joy for all ages the Museum is an unmissable addition to any itinerary in Greenwich. The National Maritime Museum is free to visit except for Special Exhibitions and guided tours.