1. Watch a film
Netflix and Amazon Prime aren’t your only options, and you don’t necessarily have to pay for a subscription to watch plenty of excellent films. Openculture has a great list of 1150 free films you can watch online right now. If you have an eligible university or library card, you might also have access to Kanopy which offers thousands more film options for free.
2. Watch a documentary
If you’re in the mood for something a bit more cerebral, there are a few websites that give you access to free documentaries. Whether you’re into sharks, revolutions, or serial killers, you’ll find something interesting to watch during lockdown. Some great sites include Documentary Tube. Top Documentary Films, and Documentary Heaven.
3. Write a novel
Is it time for you to create rather than consuming? If you’ve always wanted to write a novel but never found the time or inspiration, this is your chance. Apparently Shakespeare wrote King Lear in isolation during the plague, so maybe this lockdown is when you’ll write your opus. If you’re not really sure where to start, we have a free course on how to start writing fiction to get you on the right track.
4. Tour ancient Rome
You may feel cut off from the rest of the world, but you can time travel. Current technology means that you can explore other cities and even other times online, such as this virtual tour of ancient Rome which takes you through the forum, capitoline hill, and famous monuments.
5. Write a play or short film
Perhaps your work is better realised by actors rather than staying on the page? You’ll be pleased to know that the BBC is on the hunt for original scripts about self-isolation that they can turn into short films. If you’re daunted by that task, you could try out our free screenwriting course to learn the ropes and (hopefully) catapult you into stardom after your first film is made.
6. Paint with Bob Ross
Have any paint and brushes lying around? You’ll be pleased to know that 403 episodes of the timeless Joy of Painting have been added to YouTube so you can listen to his soothing tones while you paint happy little trees and enjoy the beauty of imperfections.
7. Write a song
If you have a musical persuasion, you could channel your current emotions into a song or even an entire album of them. If you’re not sure where to start a songwriting course could get you into the right frame of mind, and you can even start making some Spotify playlists in the meantime to get inspired.
8. Visit the MoMA
A huge number of art galleries and museums around the world have digitized their collections and are now offering free virtual tours. New York’s MoMA is just one of the incredible galleries that you can visit from your own sofa, where you can enjoy Pollock and Monet without the crowds.
9. Explore the Uffizi
If you prefer Botticelli to Pollock, you can tour the Uffizi in Florence, arguably one of the best collections of Renaissance art in the world. You can take your time looking at Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Caravaggio’s Medusa, and Titian’s Venus of Urbino without even getting on a plane.
10. Enjoy the Musée d’Orsay
Experiencing these venues from your home does mean that you can visit multiple galleries from different countries or even different continents in the same afternoon. Paris’ Musée d’Orsay is home to an incredible collection of Van Gogh and Cezanne’s artistic masterpieces. Take a look around online.
11. Pop into the Tate
Perhaps once you’ve enjoyed Florence, New York, and Paris, you can come to London to see the Tate Britain for free. Although you’ll miss out on the lovely river walk to the gallery, you can drop in at any time and see your favourite pieces from the comfort of your own home.
12. Experience the British Museum
The British Museum is home to incredible artefacts from around the world and is still open to virtual visitors. Exhibits that are usually packed are free to roam around at any time, so you can brush up on your Egyptian knowledge, see the controversial Parthenon Marbles, or just wile away a few hours.
13. Go to 500 other museums or galleries
If you’re still looking for more galleries or museums to visit, Google’s arts and culture collection has virtual tours of 500 top attractions around the world, including national galleries from around the world, individual artist museums, and even the Eiffel Tower.
14. Have a karaoke night
Missing karaoke night with your friends? You can still do it from home. Apps like AirConsole let you turn your smartphone into a mic, and sing your favourite hits with the usual gang and practice new songs to sing at the bar once lockdown is lifted.
15. Brush up on the latest publications
If you’ve always been fascinated by academia or a specific area within it, this is a great time to read the latest publications and get up to speed on the latest developments with your area. JSTOR is allowing free access to thousands of journals during lockdown.
16. Try a fitness challenge
Missing the gym? There are plenty of fitness challenges you can try out from home, so you can emerge from lockdown fitter, leaner, or stronger. You could try the 100 pushup challenge, squat challenge, or just doing a 30-day bodyweight workout challenge to stay healthy at home for free. Just make sure that you don’t push too hard early on, and warm up thoroughly before you do any exercise.
17. Arrange a Houseparty
If you still want to meet with your friends – do it at a virtual Houseparty. The app allows for large group video chats so you can get together for a drink, a chat, or just to see some friendly faces for a couple of hours.
18. Get a penpal
You probably fell out of contact with your highschool penpal from French exchange but that doesn’t mean you can’t try again. Connect with people around the world and see how the lockdown is playing out in other countries (or ignore coronavirus entirely and chat about the weather). You can find penpals online and get started straight away to broaden your horizons and make new connections.
19. Try amigurumi
New hobbies don’t get much cuter than amigurumi – the Japanese art of crocheting small creatures or characters. It’s a cheap hobby to start, and if you already have yarn lying around you can find plenty of free patterns online, like this one to create a tiny Freddie Mercury.
20. Cook something new
One good thing about being home a lot is that you can finally spend time cooking things from scratch. You can find great recipes online, even if you’re on a limited budget. Jack Monroe’s recipes are specifically created for people on strict budgets or relying on food banks, while Miguel Barclay is best known for his one pound meals.
21. Play a board game
Board game lovers will be pleased to know that there are ways to play your favourite games online, so you don’t have to wait for the lockdown to end to try out your new Scythe strategy or to finally play Terraforming Mars with a friend.
22. Learn a language
Always wanted to speak Italian? Intrigued by Norwegian? Think that Mandarin will be useful for work, or perhaps German? Lockdown gives you plenty of time to dedicate to learning a new language, brushing up on vocabulary, and testing out pronunciation.
23. Go to the aquarium
It’s almost impossible to recreate the strange grace and tranquility of aquariums but not entirely. Although they’re closed to the public, Monterey Bay Aquarium have added a number of live cams to let you keep an eye on the jellyfish, kelp forest, coral reef, and even the penguins, completely free.
24. Visit the opera
Escape from the news cycle by immersing yourself in the drama of an opera performance, without even leaving the house. After the closure of non-essential businesses, multiple opera houses like the Met Opera have started streaming performances. Perfect if you’re a long-time opera lover or even someone who’s never been to the opera but has always been curious about it.
25. Deep clean your house
Between dusty skirting boards, dirty tiling, and stained carpets, your home can offer days of distraction if you feel like doing that deep clean you’ve been putting off. There are plenty of online cleaning guides if the task looks too big, and focusing on one room at a time will help you divide up the work.
26. Declutter your home
Being stuck at home can make you rethink how much of your stuff you really need. Do you really wear all the clothes spilling out of your wardrobe? And do you think you’ll really re-read those GCSE essays sitting in a box upstairs? You can decide what to donate and what to throw out, ready for a full clear out when the lockdown is lifted.
27. Build a medieval city
If you loved Sims and Game of Thrones, why not combine the two by building your own medieval city. It’s a great way to generate fantasy maps for gaming, writing, or just to wonder whether your walled city should have circular or square guard-towers.
28. Scare yourself in a creepy library
If you’ve always been fascinated by the inspiration for Lovecraft, horror films, and far too many conspiracy theories, you can now read a library of 1,600 digitised horror and paranormal books online. The Ritman Library has allowed free access to these pre-1900 books focused on alchemy, astrology, and magic, thanks to a generous donation from Dan Brown himself.
29. Walk through Paris or London
You can’t jump on a plane, but you can still see some of the world’s most famous views thanks to Google street view. Feast your eyes on Paris from the Sacre Coeur or take a look at the Thames from the top of the Shard. You can even take a walk along the river and see if Google’s cameras captured anything unusual.
30. Watch a gig
If you’re itching to go to a gig or think you’re going to miss festivals this summer, you can actually watch plenty of them on YouTube. Watch classics like Nirvana Unplugged, Radiohead’s Glastonbury set in 1997, or Portishead accompanied by an orchestra and enjoy your own personalised lineup.
31. Go to a national park
Long walks and open scenery feels like a thing of the past, but you can still enjoy the view. You can now take virtual tours of America’s national park (or parks a little closer to home).
32. Stretch out with a yoga class
If you’re trying to de-stress and stay healthy during lockdown, you’ll be pleased to know that plenty of yoga studios are now streaming online classes for you to join in with.
33. Go to the theatre
When you can’t go to the theatre, let the theatre come to you. Recorded performances are nothing new, but some platforms like Marquee are offering free trials so that you can see whether it’s something you’d want to watch on a more regular basis.
34. Visit a mystery house
Even more esoteric attractions are now offering virtual tours – you may not have heard of the Winchester Mystery House, but it’s certainly one of the stranger homes that you can explore online.
35. Have a work out
Keeping active will make a big difference to how you feel during lockdown – physical activity should help you sleep better and lift your mood, even if you’re stuck in the same room for most of the day. You don’t need any equipment for a good workout, and there are plenty of free online videos to take you through a routine.
36. Solve a mystery
True crime fans can immerse themselves in mysteries or even start solving them. There are plenty of online communities like Reddit’s Unresolved Mysteries, where mystery fans get together to swap theories and combine information to try to get to the bottom of old cold cases.
Sometimes the best way to get out of your head is to help other people. You may have some local groups that are focused on helping the vulnerable or isolated during lockdown. If you’re quarantined or would rather reduce your contact to the absolute minimum, you can volunteer as an online listener with schemes such as 7 Cups to help other people through this tough time.
38. Start a blog
This could be a great time to build your audience, especially if you have relatively cheap, indoor hobbies that you can share. Interest in pastimes like cooking and board games has shot up over recent weeks – if your hobbies are trending, why not set up a blog and share your knowledge? You can set up a WordPress account and blog for free, and take it from there.
39. Learn first aid
It’s good to be prepared for an emergency, especially when urgent care centres are overwhelmed or you may not want to leave self-isolation for a relatively minor injury.
40. Discover your roots
Wonder where your family was in the flu pandemic of 1918? Tracing your family tree can unearth lost memories or even distant relatives. Start by learning about genealogy and you can discover more about yourself and your background.
41. Understand nutrition
Comfort eating during lockdown is understandable, but won’t help you enter summer happier and healthier. Understanding nutrition and how food affects your body, health, and mood, will help you make better decisions for your overall wellbeing and even better use of your current food cupboard.
Meditation and mindfulness doesn’t just help people stay calm – practitioners around the world rely on it to help them focus, remain present, and appreciate what they have. It’s a simple concept that can be hard to master, but you can start now, at home, and see if it works for you.
43. Plan a holiday
If you’re lucky enough to have a job that lets you work from home for this time, you’ve probably saved money on your commute and buying lunch each day. Why not calculate how much you’ve saved through the lockdown and put it towards a holiday? You can plan a staycation at home, catching up on all the things you’ve missed, or go further afield to experience something new.
44. Have a kitchen dance party
You can definitely have too much screen time. If workouts aren’t your thing or you just miss a good dance, put together a list of your favourite songs and dance around your kitchen. Don’t worry, nobody’s watching!
45. Sew a teddy bear
Recreate a favourite childhood toy or just upcycle some old clothing by sewing your own teddy bear. As long as you have some fabric that you can use (perhaps some socks or an old t-shirt) and a small sewing kit, you can get started.
46. Improve your communication skills
Worried that being home by yourself is eroding your communication skills? You can actually improve them while you’re at home to help you smooth over workplace tensions, excel at group work, and add in-demand soft skills to your CV.
47. Upcycle old clothes or accessories
Got a wardrobe full of clothes that you hardly ever wear? Or lots of basic staples that lack personality? You can update, reuse, or upcycle everything from old t-shirts to shoes and garden pots. Just figure out what you’d like to use and find a project on Upcycle That to get started.
48. Read or listen to a book
If your new year’s resolution was to read more, you can definitely achieve that this year. You can finally tackle the huge stack of novels next to your bed or (if your bedside is actually pretty tidy) you can find something interesting on Many Books. If you prefer audiobooks, try out Audible for free.
49. Start a virtual book club
Want to chat about your book afterwards? Start a virtual book club! You can agree on free books and get together for a chat and yet more recommendations. It’s a great way to stay in touch with friends or make new ones.
50. Try bird watching
You might have heard that nature is taking back cities on lockdown, from wild boar in Italy to goats in Llandudno. If you want to get a little closer to nature, you can start with your own back garden (or balcony). Resources like eBird can help you get started.