The North York Moors is the largest continuous area of heather moorland in England. (Richard Sowersby / BBC)
With the world’s economy teetering and belts being tightened everywhere, there’s never been a better time to visit Britain’s many places of interest that are free to get in to. Here are 10 of the best attractions, plus a few old favourites.
Riverside Museum, Glasgow
The renaissance of Scotland’s second city continues, with the impressive new Riverside Museum replacing derelict shipyards. Exhibits include recreations of historical streets, maritime heritage and the world’s first pedal-powered bike.
Museum of Childhood, Edinburgh
At this museum, parents can wallow in nostalgia while kids can imagine pre-PlayStation times. Serious issues are covered, but all most visitors really want to do is look at the toys, ranging from Dan Dare to SuperTed.
Great North Museum, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
This museum combines exhibits formerly on show at various museums in Newcastle that have now closed. Its jumble of attractions include a life-size model of a Tyrannosaurus rex and an interactive Hadrian’s Wall display.
North York Moors National Park, Yorkshire
A walk in the countryside is one of Britain’s best free attractions. The North York Moors celebrates its 60th anniversary this year with events and guided walks.
Albert Dock, Liverpool
No city these days is complete without a waterfront redevelopment, and Liverpool’s Albert Dock joins the trend. Free sights include the haunting International Slavery Museum, and the pirates and smugglers of the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
Wales Coast Path
The 870-mile path around the Welsh coastline officially opens in May 2012. Trek the whole distance or particularly scenic stretches such as Porth Neigwl, or ‘Hell’s Mouth’.
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
The Millennium Centre is an architectural masterpiece and Wales’s premier arts complex. Entrance to most areas of the centre is free, as is entry to art and photography exhibitions, and performances on smaller stages.
The View Tube, London
The View Tube is a wonderfully homespun observation tower overlooking the Olympic Park, while a wander along the nearby Greenway offers further views. Access may be restricted during the Games.
Undoubtedly to the surprise of many, a lot of the capital’s museums and galleries don’t cost a penny to get in. Big names include the National Gallery and British Museum, plus lesser-known gems such as the science-based Wellcome Collection and Geffrye Museum, with its re-creations of middle-class life through the ages.
Colchester may be considered Britain’s oldest town, but the sparkly new Firstsite arts centre is unashamedly modern. Along with exhibitions, there are regular talks from art experts and events for children.
This article was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Magazine.