Sheffield, located in the South of Yorkshire, is a city you want to add to your list. Not only is it near one of the beautiful British National Parks, the Peak District, but it’s a city with many activities that you can do for free.
Keep reading to discover the best free things to do in Sheffield city centre and its surroundings.
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Top things to check before visiting Sheffield
Best free things to do in Sheffield City Centre
Contemplating Sheffield’s Street art
If you love street art, you’ll love exploring Sheffield. As you wander around the city, you’ll find that most corners and streets are filled with impressive street art.
Here is a list of places where you can find graffiti in Sheffield:
- “Now Then, Then Now” located in Howard Street
- “The birds” located in Charles Street
- “Fraud’s Isa” located in Pitt Lane
- “Metamorphosis” located in Vincent Road
Dropping by Sheffield Cathedral
When visiting some cathedrals around the UK, you’ll often have to pay an entry fee. However, this isn’t the case with Sheffield Cathedral.
From the outside doesn’t look as beautiful as how it is inside, so don’t judge the book by its cover.
Once you enter, you’ll be impressed by the detailed architecture, stained glass windows and ceilings.
The cathedral also has a little shop you may want to buy a unique souvenir from.
Exploring the Graves Gallery
I found this gallery by chance because I didn’t have it on my list.
The Graves Gallery is inside the public library, you just need to take the stairs to go to the top floor where it’s located.
As you walk through the gallery, you’ll see interesting pictures and sculptures that will take you on a journey to the contemporary world.
One of the most impressive artworks is the Comfort Blanket by Grayson Perry. This 8 metres blanket has elements and ideas that represent Great Britain’s identity and class.
The Gallery also has temporary exhibitions that are worth checking.
Relaxing at Peace Gardens
A few steps from the Winter Garden and Millennium Gallery, you’ll find Peace Gardens. This square is the meeting point of many locals and a tranquil space to relax at lunchtime.
Peace Gardens used to be the churchyard of St Paul’s Church, which was built in the 18th century. By 1938 St Paul’s Church was no longer used and it was demolished to welcome an extension to the Townhall.
This extension was never built and a temporary garden was created, the actual Peace Gardens.
In the gardens, you can find different features, the Goodwin Fountain, the Spanish War Memorial and the Bochum Bell.
Seeing Sheffield City Hall
Sheffield City Hall, located in Barker’s Pool, is a Grade II* listed building where many business and non-business events happen.
Before visiting Sheffield, check the events calendar to find out if there are any events you may be interested in attending – concerts, comedian shows, musicals and much more.
Visiting the Millennium Gallery
This art gallery is situated in the city centre of Sheffield. It’s part of Sheffield Museums Trust, an independent charity that operates the city’s significant museums and heritage sites.
In the gallery, you can find all sorts of collections – from archaeology and metalwork to natural history and visual art.
In here you’ll also find a shop where you can buy unique gifts and souvenirs. One of my favourite gifts is the signs with Yorkshire words such as “Ey Up” and “Ee By Gum”, cute mugs and notebooks.
Walking through the Winter Garden
This is Sheffield’s most charming place. It’s located just next to Millennium Gallery, and you can access it from the gallery or any of the other two external doors.
This small garden has tropical palm trees and other trees and flowers from other places around the world. In this garden, you’ll also find hidden the bears of Sheffield. These statues have been set up in the winter garden as well as other parts of the city to raise awareness of children with cancer.
You can wander around, sit on one of its benches, or have a coffee/tea in the cafe inside.
Entry to the winter gardens is free.
Other great things to do near Sheffield
Sheffield Botanical Gardens
Not very far from Sheffield city centre, the botanical garden is a free attraction you can easily visit during your visit to Sheffield.
The Botanical Gardens are listed by English Heritage as a Grade II site of unique historic and architectural interest.
It has over 18 different paths that will lead you to unique gardens based on geographical and botanical themes.
The Peak District National Park
If you’re after spending time in nature, the Peak District National Park is the place you want to be. The park is 1,437 km² long, and it offers a wide range of activities – cycling, walking, camping, caving, horse riding and much more.
Apart from these adventure activities, visiting its quaint towns and villages is also a great choice. If you love photography, you’ll find many photo opportunities in towns such as Bakewell, Eyam Plague, Tideswell and Castleton.
Weston Park Museum
Weston Park Museum first opened in 1875, but the building was completely different to how it is nowadays. The museum used to be a private house and the park was an extensive estate.
This museum has two large archaeology and art galleries. One of the permanent galleries spans Sheffield’s story from pre-history to the present day, which makes it a must-visit place if you’d love to learn about the history of Sheffield.
Entry to the museum is free, and something to be aware of is that the area around the museum is often busy during the week and parking is limited. Therefore, the best way to access the museum is by using public transport.
Day trips from Sheffield
An hour from Sheffield, Leeds is a fantastic city to visit in day or weekend. The city is well-known for its wide range of shopping centres, restaurants and bars, however, there are other activities to do in Leeds.
Start your day by visiting Leeds city centre where you’ll find Leeds City Museum and the library and art gallery. Then explore the different shopping centres – Trinity Leeds and Victoria Gate are the main ones, but if you’re looking for buying something unique, you must visit the Arcades and Corn Exchange where you’ll find independent shops.
If you want a different experience, then go to Granary Wharf and take the taxi boat which will take you to the other side of the canal, Leeds Dock. The ride is lovely when it’s sunny of course!
Leeds Dock is beautiful – quirky boats, the river surrounded by residential buildings, cafes and restaurants, and the Royal Armouries Museum.
For some food and drinks, head to Call Lane where you’ll find plenty of bars and restaurants. But if you’re after a unique afternoon tea or brunch, I recommend eating at Fleur Cafe.
If you spend more than a day in Leeds, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Roundhay Park, one of the biggest city parks in the UK and Europe, and Harewood House.
If you’re after a big city to visit, Manchester should be on your list. The city is popular for being a cultural hub – beautiful libraries, impressive street art, sporting history and much more.
A must-see activity in Manchester is visiting the John Rylands Research Institute and Library. The library is inside a neo-Gothic building and it’s considered one of the great libraries of the world.
Manchester has industrial museums, such as the Science and Industry Museum, that showcase the fact that this Northern city was the world’s first industrial city.
For any art lovers, not only can you see the impressive street art in the Northern Quarter, but in the Manchester Art Gallery too.
Last but not least, Manchester is a great place to grab a coffee and have brunch. I love the variety of pretty cafes and restaurants that serve delicious food.
Nottingham is a charming city located in the Midlands that is only one hour drive from Sheffield. The city is known for its Robin Hood legends and historical buildings.
Start your day by visiting the hilltop Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery, and one of the oldest pubs in England, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. It’s in this area where you’ll also find the statue of Robin Hood.
Another place to add to your itinerary is the City of Caves. Nottingham has over 500 sandstone caves underneath the streets of Nottingham dating back to the dark ages. It’s amazing walking in the caves and learning the stories of people who used to live in them.
The Old Market Square is the perfect place to relax on a sunny afternoon and summer, and where the Christmas Winter Wonderland happens every year.
If you’re looking for a place to eat in Nottingham, Annie’s Burger Shack is my top choice. They have all sorts of delicious burgers including vegetarian and vegan options.
York is the best day trip for you if you love historical buildings and quirky streets. This beautiful city offers a good variety of attractions and activities for all ages.
Walking York City Walls is a unique experience. These walls date back to Roman times, and they are one of the most well-preserved in England. As you walk along the walls, you can enjoy views of different parts of the city, including the stunning York Minster.
York Minster is also an unmissable attraction. This 7th-century Gothic cathedral is beautiful inside as well as outside. Although there is an entrance fee, it’s definitely worth going inside and contemplating the beautiful stained glass windows and architecture.
For a unique experience, have afternoon tea at Betty’s or on a river cruise that will show you a different view of the city.
Lastly, there is no visit to York without wandering The Shambles, notable cobbled streets with half-timbered buildings that take you back to medieval times. In there you’ll find quirky shops that sell ghost miniatures and Harry Potter items.
Getting to York from Sheffield is around a 1 hour and 10 minutes drive.
Where to stay in Sheffield
EasyHotel Sheffield City Centre
Are you looking for the best price without compromising location? Then easyHotel is the accommodation for you.
This three-star hotel offers bedrooms with air conditioning, heating, TV, free WiFi and an en-suite bathroom.
The hotel does not have communal areas or leisure activities that you’d find in other hotels, but it’s a good option if you’re only looking for a comfortable room to stay.
Mercure Sheffield St Paul’s Hotel
This four-star hotel is located next to the Winter Gardens, at the heart of the city. Not only is its location perfect to visit Sheffield’s main attractions but access to public transport in case you want to travel to other locations.
The hotel has spacious rooms and essential facilities such as free WiFi, comfortable beds and air conditioning. Some of its rooms offer great views of the city.
In addition to this, you’ll love the indoor heated swimming and restaurant that serves delicious international food.
Located just outside Sheffield, Whitley Hall is your hotel if you want a unique experience. This four-star hotel is the perfect place to enjoy the countryside and have a relaxing experience.
The hotel has 32 bedrooms that are beautifully decorated and have amenities such as TV, tea and coffee making facilities, a hairdryer, complimentary luxury toiletries and WiFi. Some of its bedrooms have outstanding lake views too.
In addition to its lovely rooms, the hotel has a very reputable restaurant where you can have a la carte or comfort British food.
Whitley Hall is well-known for its Christmas events and weddings too.
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