21 fantastic free things to do in Sheffield

Sightseeing and getting out and about can leave you feeling a little strapped for cash.

If your bank balance is looking less than healthy, don’t worry – there are plenty of ways to entertain yourself without spending a thing.

Whether you’re Sheffield born and bred or a newcomer to this fine city, there’s sure to be something to entice you out your house. From contemporary art to free sports, here’s our list of 21 free things to do in Sheffield.

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1. Attend a book reading at Waterstones


If you’re a literature-lover, the steel city is one of the best places to be. Aside from having indie poetry readings around the city, there are often book launches, signings and  readings at Waterstones in Orchard Square. Attend one of these events and you can rub shoulders with the literati and hobnob with famous authors. Check out the board outside the shop for a rundown of the latest upcoming events.

2. Feed the animals at Graves Park

When you’re up in the Norton Lees district of town, take a moment to stop off at Graves Park. There, you will find a great little farm, where you can see some exotic wildlife. From alpacas to sheep, there’s a whole lot to see at this place. If you’re feeling generous, you can feed the animals as well!

3. See exotic plants at the Botanical Gardens

Flickr / CC

With over 5,000 species of fauna, you have to take a trip up to the Botanical Gardens. When the sun comes out, this place is rammed with people enjoying a quiet day in the park. From the stunning rose gardens to the fountains, there are many photo ops in this naturally scenic attraction.

4. Take a walk around Sheffield Cathedral


The cathedral is always a winning idea if you’re short on funds. The building boasts the title of being the oldest in the city that is ‘still in daily use.’ The first church was built on this city way back in the 12th Century. The current structure is a stunning combination of old meets new. Inside, you’ll find stained glass windows, telling biblical tales. You can spend at least half an hour strolling around this place. And, if you’re lucky, you may even catch the choir practicing.

5. Look for treasure in the Antiques Quarter

Flickr / CC

From retro rarities to vintage furniture, you can find almost anything you need within the realms of the Antiques Quarter. The vendors in this area range from specialist dealers to smaller second-hand clothing shops. You can easily spend a day or so here, browsing all the wares each place has to offer. Take a walk through the eras, from the 1800s to the 1970s, and you’re sure to find a few things of interest.

6. See an experimental exhibit at Site Gallery

Site-Gallery- Sam-belinfante

The exhibits at Site Gallery are constantly changing. Each month, these guys have a brand new attraction that you just have to check out. If you’re by the station, it is worth nipping into the gallery and seeing what’s going on. Often favouring experimental and contemporary art, you’ll find some of the most progressive pieces around in this tiny venue.

7. Take a walk along Victoria Quays

Sheffield Victoria Quays

Victoria Quays are often overlooked by people in Sheffield, but they oughtn’t be. If you’re looking for a peaceful place to escape the world, you should take a walk down the waterside here. The canal itself was built between 1816 and 1819, and is a revealing piece of Sheffield’s industrial past.

8. Play some tennis in Weston Park

Western Park is one of the most popular green spaces in the city, and you can see why. The old bandstand here often has performances that you can catch. If you’re the sporty type, though, there is nothing better than a spot of tennis. Behind the duck ponds, you will find free tennis courts that anybody can use. Of course, you need to take your own rackets and balls, but the use of the court won’t cost you a single penny!

9. Climb the boulder at Heeley Park

There’s no doubt about it, Sheffield is the capital city for climbing here in the UK. With the peaks, a mere stone’s throw away, many city-dwellers adore this outdoorsy activity. If you’re new to the sport, there are loads of places where you can practice. One of the best has to be the climbing boulder at Heeley Park. The equipment is free to use so you can sharpen up your skills whenever you fancy.

10. See a talk at Theatre Delicatessen


This horror-themed art space is part of an exciting artist development scheme within the city. Situated on the Moor in an old shop, you’ll find Theatre Delicatessen. Aside from community plays, you can often find talks and interactive exhibits taking place here. This is the place where the creatives of the city gather to share their thoughts and chit-chat. Pop in and see what’s going on – you’ll be glad you did.

11. See some pigs at Heeley City Farm

If you’re an eco-minded individual, Heeley City Farm will be right up your street. Promoting green living and environmental awareness, this community farm is one of the best free things in town. Aside from animals and fresh produce, there’s also a full recycling centre within this space. The main attraction, though, has to be the massive, yet beautiful pigs who reside here. These guys can often be found lazing around in the mud.

12. Hang out at the Peace Gardens


The moment the weather heats up, there is only one place to be in Sheffield. The Peace Gardens are a prime spot, where you can sit and relax for an hour or so. If things get a little two hot to handle, you can even play in the fountains here. Throughout the summer, this area becomes one of the city’s hot spots for students and families alike.

13. See a polar bear at Weston Park Museum

Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to come face to face with a polar bear? Well, now you can. The Arctic World is a permanent exhibit at the Weston Park Museum and is always popular with people, young or old. Here, you can try your hand at building an igloo or stare a polar bear right in the face. Next to this exhibit, you’ll find the What on Earth! display where you can delve deep into the finer details of our ecosystem. Make sure that you take a quick look at the ant farm, where you can watch the little critters hard at work for their queen. The museum has free entry all year around, although there is a suggested donation.

14. Attempt the Sheffield Round Walk

If you have an entire day to spare, you should try the Sheffield Round Walk. This 14-mile trek will take you to some of the most picturesque places in the city. You can download a map from the council website for free. Then, pull on your best pair of walking shoes and get going. From epic dams to steep woodland trails, this activity is ideal for you outdoorsy types out there.

15. Hear some poetry at Bank Street Arts

Bank Street Arts Sheffield

Near the city’s courts, there is a hidden gem of a place. Bank Street Arts hosts a range of literary events throughout the year, many of which are free to attend. Each month, a group of budding writers meet to host a poetry cafe, where they discuss their work. If you’d rather watch people perform, though, there are often evening readings and book launches here. Check out their site for a full list of upcoming free events: bankstreetarts.com

16. Play some table tennis in the city


In some of the most prominent locations in Sheffield, such as the cathedral and next to the theatres, you can find free table tennis tables. You don’t even need to bring you own paddles or balls – they are already there. The only downside to this fun activity is that, when it’s windy, you run the risk of a ball escaping!

17. Check out Ruskin’s art at Millenium Gallery


Art and nature come together in one glorious exhibit here. Take a trip to the Millennuim Galleries, where you can find a permanent exhibition of Ruskin’s pieces. From detailed imagery of trees and landscapes to original sketches of birds and wildlife, you can spend quite some timing gazing at this collection of unique work. The museum has such an extensive amount of Ruskin pictures, that they have to keep rotating the exhibit to make space for new pieces.

18. Take a stroll through the Winter Gardens

Rain or shine, the Winter Gardens are always the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon. With tropical plants and even a (pretend) crocodile, there’s few places as lovely as this one. The large greenhouse style building offers a little oasis in the centre of the city. (Look out for the nymphs in the trees.) This venue is also the setting for the annual Snooker Championship commentary.

19. Practice your moves on Devonshire Green skate park


Do you fancy yourself the next Tony Hawks? You don’t have to go all that far to practice your moves. The Devonshire Green has a small skate park, which is completely free to use. All you need to bring along with you is your board and, of course, your skills.

20. Take a look at the writing on the walls

Whether you’re a young lyricist or just appreciate a well constructed verse, here’s a little something for you. One of the most interesting additions to this city has to be the wealth of poetry on the walls around town. From a piece by the ex-poet laureate Andrew Motion adorning Sheffield Hallam’s main building to this poem by Simon Armitage, there’s a whole host of walls you need to see. Take a walk around the city centre and you’ll come across a handful of epic-sized lyrics.

21. Head out to the Peaks for a day

And finally, we are lucky enough to have one of the finest open spaces right here on our doorstep. The Peak District is a five minute train journey away, making it a fantastic way to waste a day in style. Gaze at the natural beauty of this vast, untouched area. From planned out walks to hidden rural treasures, you’re sure to discover something new every time.