The best things to do in Yorkshire ... for free

The May half-term school holidays is almost here and how to keep the children happy and busy … and spend as little as possible … will be at the top of may parents’ agenda.
Close to Wintringham on the Yorkshire Wolds Way.Close to Wintringham on the Yorkshire Wolds Way.
Close to Wintringham on the Yorkshire Wolds Way.

Here is our pick of places to go, things to do and see for free across the county.

Painted Illusion Trail, Staithes, North Yorkshire

The village lies between Whitby and Saltburn, Staithes is one of Yorkshire’s best-kept secrets. There’s a whole load of artistic mystery waiting for you here. The area is popular with artists, and one, world-renowned trompe l’oeil artist, Paul Czainski, has created a trail around the picturesque throwback of narrow streets and ginnels, that show off incredible works.

Cayton Bay is perfect for surfingCayton Bay is perfect for surfing
Cayton Bay is perfect for surfing

Sandal Castle, Wakefield

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The ruins of Sandal Castle make for a great day out. It was built in the 12th century just off the River Calder. In its prime, the motte-and-bailey fortification served as the administrative centre of Wakefield Manor, and during the Civil War, it became one of the last castles in Yorkshire to hold out for the King. But its resistance was its downfall and the castle was condemned by parliament to be demolished.

Yorkshire Wolds Way

The Yorkshire Wolds Way is a 79-mile walking route in the chalk landscape of the Yorkshire Wolds. The National Trail wends through some of the most tranquil and gentle countryside in England. From the banks of the mighty Humber estuary, along wooded slopes and through serene dry valleys, the walk climbs gently onto the airy tops of the rolling hills. Thixendale and Pocklington are some of the places you can stop at. Descending from the northern escarpment the final section of the Way finishes on the dramatic headland of Filey Brigg.

National Railway Museum, York

It’s home to the UK’s national rail collection, with more than 300 incredible trains and carriages on show, alongside a display of memorabilia. You can jump aboard a Japanese bullet train, walk through royal carriages and explore a model railway village. Top tip – climb up to the Viewing Balcony on the first floor to see trains coming in and out of York Station.

Ripon Cathedral

One of the smallest cities in Yorkshire is also home to one of the finest cathedrals in the country. Ripon’s ecclesiastical monolith features Saxon crypts from the original church and the building above dates to the 1220s apart from the nave which was rebuilt in the 16th century. It’s free to look around as are concerts and services.

Cayton Bay, near Scarborough

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The quiet, peaceful beach is one of the best free days out on the Yorkshire Coast. Go for a walk down the long, sweeping sandy bay to enjoy the views and take in a dose of history at the World War Two pillboxes that remain on the north end. Perfect for surfing.

Cliffe Castle, Keighley

Cliffe Castle was once the home of Victorian millionaire and industrialist Henry Isaac Butterfield and now the Keighley landmark stands as a reminder of days gone by. It’s been carefully preserved and the renovated Victorian rooms still house incredible furniture, paintings and artefacts. You can also visit the numerous exhibitions covering natural history, archeology and social history, alongside an impressive display of Morris and Co stained glass.

Spurn Point Nature Reserve, East Riding

It’s a unique sand spit on the East Yorkshire coast – when the Holderness Coast tide comes in, it’s Yorkshire’s sole tidal island and when it goes out you can walk the 3.5-mile journey to its furthest tip. On your way, you can try and spot everything the nature reserve has to offer, from birds like bar-tailed godwits, black redstarts and whitethroats to grassland residents like butterflies, dragonflies and moths.

The National Science and Media Museum, Bradford

The museum isn’t just one of the best days out you can do for nowt in Yorkshire, it’s also the jewel in Bradford’s cultural crown. You can immerse yourself in the history of film, television and photography across seven floors before looking into the future at the next big scientific and technological developments. Get lost in a mirror maze, explore the Wonderlab and explore the games lounge.

Dean Clough, Halifax

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The 22-acre mixed-use mill complex, stretches half a mile and consists of 16 Grade II-listed Victorian mills complete with one of the best free art galleries in Yorkshire. Their Permanent Collection features more than 300 works of art, from paintings to photography.

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