Some of the best things in Tunbridge Wells are free!
A holiday break in Tunbridge Wells is full of opportunities, even if you are on a budget. There are many things to see and do without splashing the cash. Take a look at our suggestions below: from free museums to green spaces that you can enjoy during your visit.
1. Heritage Walking Trails
Tunbridge Wells is a place with a great of historic and cultural legacy. Discover the Pantiles and the Chalybeate Spring, the oldest part of the town famed for its stylish Georgian architecture. Walking around Royal Tunbridge Wells while learning about its incredible heritage is easy with our Audio Trail Tales of Tunbridge Wells. Alternatively, you can pop into the Amelia Scott, our cultural centre, and pick up a free copy of our Heritage Walking Trail leaflet.
2. Step into the past at one of the Museums
Salomons Museum is located in Salomons Estate, in Southborough, a Victorian mansion and estate where visitors can enjoy a stroll around the grounds or learn about the people and events that helped shape this ‘mansion of many marvels’. Set in 36 acres of gardens, parkland and woods, Salomons Estate was built for Sir David Salomons in the 1850s by the architect Decimus Burton.
The Cranbrook Museum houses 6,000 heritage objects including impressive costumes and military relics. The displays are arrayed over 3 floors with each room offering a different theme. The museum is set in a tranquil garden and housed in a timber-framed building dating from 1480.
The Amelia Scott
The Amelia Scott, in Royal Tunbridge Wells, is a hub for arts and culture and is open for everyone! You will find a library and fantastic collections of art, costumes, natural history and archaeology which tell the fascinating history of Tunbridge Wells. The Amelia also has a programme of free temporary exhibitions! Visit our events calendar to stay up to date with the current exhibitions
3. Galleries Galore
Art comes alive in Tunbridge Wells! If you want to stimulate your visual senses, there are numerous galleries in the town for you to visit. You will find the galleries in Royal Tunbridge Wells are home to a range of art forms in every media from paintings, drawings, watercolours, photographs and sculpture. For inspiration see our Galleries page.
4. A Breath of Fresh Air! Parks and Green Spaces
Explore the Tunbridge Wells and Rushall Commons. The Commons are bursting with delights, and as the seasons change there is always something new to discover. Look out for the famous Wellington Rocks and also for the Mt Edgcumbe Rocks where you will find the Fir Tree Pond a noted beauty spot in Victorian and Edwardian times. Pick up a copy of the trail leaflets that link the two commons and provide a series of short easy walks over well marked routes
From the centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells it is an easy stroll to Dunorlan Park, a favourite with the locals all year round. The park opened to the public for the first time in 1946, the same year that Dunorlan House was damaged by fire and was demolished. Today the legacy of the original gardens are the lake, the spring, the fountain, and the Grecian Temple. Look out for the beautiful wooden Dragon sculpture in the play area! You can find more information about the history of the park on the Visitor Information boards near the café. Download the Dunorlan Park map in our digital brochures.
Grosvenor & Hilbert Park
Grosvenor and Hilbert Park is one of the town’s oldest public parks designed by the renowned Victorian landscape architect Robert Marnock in 1889. It still contains original historic features, such as Marnock Lake and the grottoes or ‘dripping wells’. There is an exciting and challenging play area, as well as a brass rubbing trail which are well worth a visit.
Calverley Grounds is a beautifully landscaped park in the centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells. It has three tennis courts, two netball courts, and a basketball court, all of which are free to use. The park has a brand-new playground created by award-winning landscape architect, Jennette Emery-Wallis who also designed the Princess of Wales Memorial Playground and Tumbling Bay at the Olympic Park.
5. Walking in the High Weald
The High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that surrounds Royal Tunbridge Wells town is a walker’s paradise. Be ready to venture into rolling hills, green valleys, and to encounter historic villages with country pubs, tea rooms and farm shops. There are short easy walks to enjoy and serious hikes to challenge the more adventurous. Consider completing the Tunbridge Wells Circular, (27.5 miles) which takes in some of the finest scenery in the High Weald.
If you are searching for inspiration for walking routes and trails in the local area, see our Walking page for suggestions.
6. Into the woods around Tunbridge Wells!
After a delicious lunch in a local pub venture into the woods! There are a number of woodlands that encircle Tunbridge Wells providing you with plenty of choice as to where to roam and stretch your legs. The woods are home to numerous species of wildlife with paths and trails to follow which are also suitable for little ones. Southborough Woods lies behind St. Peters Church, where the ancient oak trees tumble away down to the stream. Ashdown Forest is home to Winnie the Pooh. Discover the important locations where Winnie the Pooh and his companions had their adventures on one of the two Pooh Walks.
The Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest
The Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest to the Pinetum has a world-leading collection of conifers and is the perfect place for tree lovers. The forest area is a beautiful setting for walks and picnics and with trails for both family cycling and mountain-biking, You will also find the Go Ape high rope course and a Play Trail so there is something for the whole family.. You may also find the Gruffalo and friends hiding at Bedgebury!
Parking charges range from £3.50-£14 and go towards conservation of the forest and further research
7. Adventures by bicycle
Take to two wheels and feel the wind in your hair as you enjoy an exhilarating bike ride over the rolling Wealden terrain around Tunbridge Wells.
The Forest Way provides a flat family friendly and traffic-free byway for easy pedalling through exquisite countryside.
The Tudor Trail provides a slightly more challenging cycle ride, again the majority of which is traffic free. The trail starts at Tonbridge Castle and follows the river Medway through Haysden Country Park to Penshurst Place. Wait for the superb views as you come down the hill into the village of Penshurst.
For the more experience cyclist, try the section of the Avenue Verte cycle route (London to Paris) that passes close to Tunbridge Wells. With its steep climbs the stretch from Groombridge to Heathfield is particularly demanding.
A trip to Bewl Water is also an excellent and unique choice to enjoy the beautiful scenary of the Weald. Bewl Water is a natural reservoir and is the largest inland water body in the south-east, located near the villages of Lamberhurst, Wadhurst and Ticehurst. The 12-mile scenic route around Bewl is open to walkers and cyclists all year round and via both forest paths and country lanes.
8. The Pantiles in Royal Tunbridge Wells
The Pantiles developed following the discovery of a Chalybeate Spring in the early 17th century and is now arguably better known for its famous jazz evenings, and its mix of cafes, restaurants and bars as well as some amazing independent shops and galleries. But the Pantiles still retains its built heritage from the Georgian era. Most weekends, you can visit the Pantiles Market and spend a fantastic morning and early afternoon discovering a variety of local produce, tasty treats, antiques and artisan crafts.
9. Tall Tales and Unexpected Gems
All Saint’s Church
Explore the many historic churches of the Weald spanning over a thousand years of history, not to mention the great artwork that can be found inside.
At All Saints’ in Brenchley village, enjoy the views from the churchyard which were a favourite of war poet Siegfried Sassoon. The stained-glass windows of the Church were designed and made by prominent figures in the Arts and Crafts Movement, including William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Robert Anning Bell.
St. Mary’s Church
St. Mary’s Churchyard in Goudhurst is located on the site of the Battle of Goudhurst. An infamous band of smugglers known as ‘the Hawkhurst Gang’ menaced the countryside across the south east and even further afield. In 1747 the villagers, helped by local soldiers fought and defeated the smugglers. According to legend the headstone in the graveyard with the skull and crossbones is a pirate’s grave!
St. Peter’s Church
St Peter’s in Pembury is the location for the strange tale of Ann West, a member of the congregation in the 18th century. Ann had a terrifying dream that she had been buried alive whilst in a trance. Scared that this dream might actually come true she arranged for food and drink to be taken to her coffin for twelve months after her death. The vault where her coffin rested was left open and the lid was not placed on her coffin.
10. Historic houses and gardens
Scotney Castle Grounds
Take a stroll around the Wealden woodlands surrounding Scotney Castle, a ruined medieval moated castle. The woodlands are full of interesting paths, one of which leads to the last working hop farm within National Trust property. From the walking trails you can spot Scotney house and castle. Make your way to the visitor’s centre and pickup some walking trail leaflets upon your arrival.
Another historic gem is Bayham Abbey, the best surviving example of a Premonstratensian Abbey in England. These impressive ruins show the architecture of the monastery which was founded 800 years ago.
Access to the Scotney Castle Estate and the Bayham Abbey ruins is free but you will need to pay parking fees if you are not a English Heritage or National Trust member.
No matter what time of year you decide to visit Tunbridge Wells you can be sure of a warm welcome from our accommodation providers. We have accommodation to suit all budgets, take a look at our accommodation pages to find the perfect place to rest your head.