Top 15 Free Things To Do In Sheffield
SHEFFIELD is a truly visitor-friendly city, offering numerous options for travellers on a tight budget. Whether you're interested in exploring one of the city's green areas, picnicking in a quaint spot or learning about the city's long and rich history, Sheffield has a range of options that are entirely free of charge. Take a look at the top 15 free things to do in Sheffield:
1. Explore Sheffield's Metalwork Collection at Millennium Gallery
One of the best starting points for exploring a city like Sheffield is the rich history surrounding its steel manufacturing industry. Millennium Gallery's metalwork collection displays over 13,000 Sheffield-produced steel objects -- the largest collection of its kind in the UK. These items have been awarded Designated Status by the Arts Council England in recognition of their historical and cultural significance on a national level and are a must-see if you happen to be in the Sheffield area. The collection features beautiful steel cutlery, forks, spoons, bowls, teapots and a range of other unique steel products. Apart from offering an in-depth look at Sheffield's metalwork manufacturing, the Metalwork Collection also showcases the strong steel craft tradition of the area and celebrates the work of generations of Sheffield steel craftsmen and women.
2. Visit the Shepherd Wheel Workshop
Another must-see stop on the Sheffield steel tour is the Shepherd Wheel Workshop, a grinding workshop that dates back to the 16th century and is one of the last remaining landmarks of its kind in the Sheffield area. It is a water-powered workshop operated by a nearby dam within the Porter Brook valley in the southwestern part of the city. Visiting this workshop will give you an idea of the conditions skilled knife grinders worked in so as to produce top-quality sharp cutlery. You'll have an opportunity to hear different stories about what their lives looked like as well as learn about the workshop's important role in relation to Sheffield's steel industry. The workshop is also housed within a Grade II listed complex and the entire site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, making the visit well worth the trip.
3. Go on the Sheffield Round Walk
If you'd like to stay in the southwest for the day, one of the best options is the Sheffield Round Walk. This 14-mile walk along the Porter Valley passes through beautiful woodlands and parks that are an ideal activity for nature-lovers, visitors interested in getting to know Sheffield's natural history as well as those needing some fresh air. The circular route begins in Endcliffe Park, passes through Porter Valley to Ringinglow, Limb Valley and Ladies Spring Wood and then passes through Gleadless Valley and Chelsea Park before returning to Endcliffe Park. While the Round Walk guide booklet itself is not free, there are large signs (featuring an acorn) all along the way, making it easy to follow without an official guide.
4. Take a Stroll Down the Victoria Quays
If a walk closer to the city centre is more appealing to you, going for a stroll around the Sheffield Canal Basin might be the perfect way to spend a peaceful afternoon. The Victoria Quays are also rich in history -- they acted as a cargo port since they were constructed in 1819 and played an important part in the city's trade until the 1970s. Unlike other cities' quay sides which are at times over-exploited, Sheffield's Victoria Quays are exempt from the commotion that characterises more commercial parts of the city. Stroll past some of the 19th century buildings that form the Victoria Quays complex -- the terminal warehouse, the grain warehouse and the coal merchant's offices -- and explore the fascinating way in which this part of the city has transformed over the years.
5. Do a Tour of the Full Monty Filming Locations
If you're interested in the deindustrialization that occurred in the Sheffield area in the 1980s and 90s, you've probably seen the famous movie The Full Monty, a story about six unemployed Sheffield men who decide to form a striptease act to earn money. The city itself plays an important part in the film and is featured in several important scenes. If you're interested in retracing the steps of The Full Monty's cast and crew, consider visiting places like the Shiregreen Working Men's Club on Shiregreen Lane where the final strip scene was filmed or the West Street job centre at Bailey Lane made famous by the 'Hot Stuff' sequence when the lads are waiting in the unemployment queue. You'll also recognize the Sheffield Boxing Centre on Burton Street as the location where Gaz drops off his son at school. This movie is an integral part of the city's culture and deals with some of the most important themes in the city's recent history.
6. Visit Rare & Racy and Porter Book Shop
Another great way to become familiar with a new city's heritage is by visiting its secondhand bookshops. More often than not, these institutions display numerous volumes on the city's history, local music and arts and are frequented largely by locals. Some of Sheffield's most famous second hand bookstores are Rare & Racy, a 2-floor book and music shop located in Devonshire Street, as well as Porter Book Shop on Sharrow Vale Road. Both of these book stores are institutions in their own right and packed to the brim with worn and torn volumes read by many a book lover in the Sheffield area. If you're interested in spending an afternoon browsing rare titles, grab a coffee and visit one of these cozy shops for a truly unique and local experience.
7. Investigate 2Fly Studios
Interested in seeing where some of Sheffield's best musical acts were polished up? 2Fly Studios is one of the biggest names in music production and recording in the South Yorkshire area and has given rise to internationally-known bands by the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Richard Hawley, Reverend and the Makers as well as 65daysofstatic. 2FlyStudios is located in Harland Works on John Street -- go for a stroll around the area to see what inspired some of the best contemporary British bands as they were coming into their own.
8. Explore the Moor Market
Another great way to get to know a city is through its local cuisine and specialties. The Moor Market is the city's largest market and one of the best indoor markets in the entire UK. It was even described by the Independent as a "haven for food lovers" and "the Borough market of the north." With nearly 200 stalls and over 90 independent businesses, visiting the Moor Market will give you an opportunity to see and try some of the city's freshest locally-produced food. From artisan producers such as Seven Hills Bakery to Porter Brook Deli, the Moor Market is a feast for the senses. While the Moor Market is steeped in local tradition, the building was recently renovated and is now housed in a contemporary, futuristic-looking structure -- an interesting sight that is worth seeing in itself.
9. Pay a Visit to Exchange Place Studios
If you're looking for a preview of some of the ways in which local arts have been developing in the Sheffield area in the past few years, the best place to do so is in the new Yorkshire Exchange Place Studios -- a fantastic studio complex housed within a 6-floor renovated Art Deco building. The 60+ studios are located in the historic Castlegate area on Exchange Street and are rented to local artists based upon their recent work and frequently featuring collective art exhibits. However, if you're in the area, drop by the office between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., take a peak at some of the artists' creations and explore the boom the Sheffield arts scene has been experiencing in the past few years!
10. Experience Bishop's House
Bishop's House is the oldest example of a timber framed house in Sheffield and it dates back to the late 15th century. It was initially owned by two Blythe family members who became bishops, followed by tenant farmers from the Roebuck and Shore families who farmed the surrounding land -- the house eventually passed into the City Council's ownership in the late 19th century. As such, Bishop's House is a fascinating landmark and often hosts arts events, weddings and other community-based activities. It is free to visit, open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday and definitely a must-see if you are in the Sheffield area.
11. Go on the Rivelin Valley Walk
Another fantastic walk to go on if you're in Sheffield is the area surrounding the river Rivelin in the northwestern part of Sheffield. The river is relatively fast-flowing and its surroundings boast amazing flora and fauna. Starting from Malin Bridge and going down all the down the river, you will have the opportunity to pass a number of natural, historic and cultural sights along the way. Along the entire route, there are pubs and coffee shops where you can grab a bite, a coffee or a local beer. Once you have completed the walk, you can catch the bus back as transportation is very well organised.
12. Admire Sheffield General Cemetery
The Sheffield General Cemetery is a historic landmark that acted as Sheffield's primary burial place from 1836 to 1978. Apart from allowing you to walk by some of the most illustrious names in Sheffield's history, Sheffield General Cemetery is also a fantastic sight in its own right, having been recently declared a Listed Landscape and a Local Nature Reserve. The cemetery grounds feature a number of interesting buildings built in the Greek Doric and Egyptian styles, and the two chapels -- one Anglican and the other Nonconformist -- make for a very interesting visit giving another unique glimpse into Sheffield's cultural history.
13. Explore Grade I Listed Building Architecture
Grade I listed buildings are always some of the most interesting landmarks in any given British city. The greater Sheffield area has only five such buildings so planning a visit to all five of them shouldn't take longer than a day. The buildings -- the Church of St. Nicholas in Bradfield, the Church of St. Mary in Ecclesfield, the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, Sheffield Cathedral and Sheffield Town Hall -- are all fantastic sights that should be visited by all people interested in the city's architecture and history. Unfortunately, the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet is currently a museum that charges entry, but it's exterior is still well worth the trip.
14. Visit the Sheffield Winter Gardens
The Sheffield Winter Gardens construction project was a part of the recent Heart of the City regeneration scheme, intending to construct various public spaces and cultural landmarks within the city center in the early 2000s. As such, the Sheffield Winter Gardens are known to be one of the largest temperate glasshouses that have been built within the UK in the past century. The building itself is impressive -- 70m long and 22m high -- so the Winter Gardens are a true oasis in the very heart of the city. Entry is free of charge and working hours are between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. each day except on Christmas, making it possible to pay a visit whenever you are in the mood. If you're craving for refreshments, the Gardens also have a casual sit-down option that will complete your experience.
15. Plan an Excursion to Peak District National Park
The Peak District National Park is not officially located within the city of Sheffield but it is very well-connected to the city with different public transportation options like trains and buses. Peak District is a vast sprawl of protected land covering an area of nearly 1,500 squared meters and including parts of Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire as well as Derbyshire. A day-long excursion to this national park is a great option for the entire family -- spend the day cycling, trail walking or picnicking on one of the beautiful picnic sites. If you're an avid cyclist, you could even make use of the traffic-free cycle network allowing you to safely reach the Peak District National Park by bicycle. Whatever the reason you are choosing to visit Sheffield and explore all of its sights and sounds, Homely Apartments offers a range of flexible and centrally-located accommodation options that are sure to meet your every need throughout your stay. Take a look at the serviced apartments we have on offer and feel free to contact us should you need any further information!