The 35 best free WordPress themes

Here are some of the best free WordPress themes for creating blogs, porfolio sites and more.

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The WordPress community is big. Really big. We're talking thousands of designers and developers, tens of thousands of writers, and millions of users, all contributing to pushing WordPress forward. And one very popular way to do this is designing and developing free WordPress themes.

Free Wordpress themes are a great way to get a blog or website off the ground – and there are countless WordPress tutorials online to help you do just that. You might want to start writing about a topic but don't want to invest the money in a custom site design on top of hosting and a domain. And once your site is up and running, there's nothing to stop you dissecting them, building on top of them and learning from them.

01. Hemingway

Classic blog template with large text

Classic blog template with large text

Unless you want to change themes every year it's best to pick something that won't look dated as design trends evolve, and Hemingway is a good option in that regard. It's a simple, elegant two-column layout with classic typography and large, readable text. Bloggers will find it ideal. Hemingway is built to be responsive, so will work on desktop and mobile.

02. SKT Full Width

Fill the browser with your large images

Fill the browser with your large images

This is a nice one if you've a site whose main purpose is to display images; it uses the whole browser window and lets you add discriptions via overlay text. The only thing to watch out for is whether your images will stand up to being displayed on very large screens.

03. Origin

Origin, beautiful type for long reads

Origin, beautiful type for long reads

If you want to fit a lot of text onto your homepage, Origin does a good job of that without looking messy or cluttered. Your articles are arranged in a column that gives each one space for a decent intro length, and the type looks great. A good choice for a site with a lot of reading.

04. Upright

Free WordPress themes: Upright

Upright is a free Wordpress theme that can be used for portfolios

Upright is a fully responsive blog magazine theme for WordPress that leverages big imagery and portfolio functionality to present content effectively. Featured sliders, sidebar colour pickers, and custom background images allow users to create unique websites without having to code. Upright is search engine optimised from the get-go which helps increase traffic.

05. Fashionista

Bold headlines for a magazine blog

Bold headlines for a magazine blog

Fashionista is another type-driven theme that's good for magazine-style blogs. We like the bold headlines and pleasingly busy layout that will look good on both desktop and mobile.

06. Hatch

The image grid shows visitors your work with no clicking or scrolling

The image grid shows visitors your work with no clicking or scrolling

Illustrators, photographers and artists will love this theme: the layout has one slot for your main image and then a grid of 12 that instantly gives visitors a sense of what your work is like. It's a great use of space that fits a lot of content into one screen.

07. Optimizer

optimizer template

Fully optimised: you can customise every element

Optimizer is aptly named, as it's super easy to customise for optimum satisfaction; the most advanced theme options panel lets you customize each and every element of your site with ease. It's fully responsive and retina ready, so no need to worry about mobile compatibility. The uses are endless – from personal blogging and portfolios to services, this theme gives you so many options you can be hard picked for choice.

08. Future Lite

future lite

Creative agencies might want to check out this smart, feature rich theme

A clean, creative, feature-rich and multipurpose theme that would be perfect for creative agencies, creative portfolios or freelancers. The responsive layout of this WordPress theme adapts well to the screen size of different device your visitors are using. Future is also retina ready and will look sharp on high resolution displays. It's powered with custom menu, custom header, sidebar widget, featured image, theme options, nice typography and built-in pagination features.

09. Lightly

Free WordPress themes: Lightly

This free WordPress theme is another that can be used for portfolios

Lightly is a clean, minimalist blog magazine theme for WordPress that puts your content centre stage. The theme's refreshing design features a home page slider and a widgetised home page that allows users to create custom layouts by simply dragging and dropping everything into place and high quality coding ensures your site performs optimally every time!

10. Longform

longform

Tell all your stories with Longform

Great for storytellers, Longform is a free WordPress theme designed to be fully compatible with the powerful Aesop Story Engine plugin. It includes beautiful styles for all Aesop story modules with no code snippets or extra configuration required. Fully responsive, retina-ready and super easy to customise.

11. Moesia

moesia

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words...

Moesia is perfect for building your business's online presence. Choose from eleven predefined blocks and build the homepage that best suits your company. Each of the homepage blocks can have a parallax background image and its own set of colours. Featuring a good selection of Google Fonts, two types of layouts for the blog page, cool animations and effects, a parallax header and much more... Make sure you have a great header image to grab attention!

12. TA Dailyblog

ta daily

A great blogging template for the avid blogger!

TA DailyBlog offers a simple and clean design with full optimisation for smartphones, tablets, desktops and any other devices. This free WordPress theme would be ideal for blogging, especially for daily or hobby bloggers who love to share their stuff. It's very flexible and fully customizable with 16 color schemes and smooth and fast user experience. What’s more, the theme is SEO friendly, with a Schema compatible structure that will make Google love your website. It supports most popular plugins, too.

13. Nictitate

Adds a professional touch to any website

A smart and savvy template to make an impact

Nictitate is an incredibly versatile template: from blogging and portfolios to online stores and services, this theme can be customized to fit any and all of those needs. This multi-purpose free responsive template will add a touch of class and professionalism to any site.

14. InterStellar

Free Wordpress themes - InterStellar

InterStellar is a clean, sophisticated design

Create and manage your portfolio or blog with ease with this clean and sophisticated InterStellar design. With multiple portfolio page layouts, this theme's options allow you to change the layout, colour scheme, logo and add your Google Analytics code, buttons, Google maps, columns and more.

15. Arcade

Free Wordpress themes - Arcade

Create a stand-out site with fully responsive HTML5 theme Arcade

Create a stand-out website with Arcade, a lightweight and fully responsive HTML5 theme. Customise it to your taste by adding your own header image, page layout, site width and more. Each post can be distinguished with one of the eight supported formats; video, image, aside, status, audio, quote, link and gallery.

16. vFlex

Free WordPress themes - vFlex

vFlex was designed specifically with designers and bloggers in mind

Designed specially with bloggers and designers in mind, vFlex is a stylish, free, responsive WordPress theme. Its main features include an inbuilt FlexSlider so you can simply select featured images, and an integrated VibeOptions panel, which supports logo upload, import and export settings and many other features. vFlex's responsive layout also means the theme looks great on iPad, iPhones, and other devices.

17. Splendio

Free Wordpress themes - Splendio

Splendio provides a good balance of content

Splendio has done a great job of balancing the featured content of the page with additional added value content. You want to promote the other pages and posts on your site (to increase traction and time on site) without taking away from the reason the visitor is there in the first place. This is a difficult task that the designers and developers of Splendio have done well. The details and colours really help to make this a great blog theme.

18. Meeta

Free WordPress themes: Meeta

Don't overlook this 'plain Jane' theme

Sometimes "Plain Jane" themes like Meeta get overlooked. However themes like this are easily converted and modified to fit your site and content. With two navigations, a featured graphic and a responsive layout, this free WordPress theme will act as a great foundation for your site or blog. However you will need to dedicate the time to customise it a bit.

19. Folder

Free Wordpress themes - Folder

Free WordPress theme Folder is perfect for showcasing projects and products

Folder is a free WordPress theme with a slight retro feel to it. With a design dominated by images, this responsive theme is perfect for displaying projects and products. Features include custom project posts and admin panel, five different widgets included (video, latest work, contact form, twitter feed, recent posts), and more.

20. YAMINTH

Free Wordpress themes - YAMINTH

Yet another minimal WordPress theme available for free download

There's no shortage of modern and minimal WordPress themes available online. But YAMINTH (Yet Another Minimal Theme) and its unusual image layout caught our eye. The free theme comes with light colors, dark footer, Google Web Fonts and jQuery fade in, fade out of images. It also has an options page for easy customisation and is free for use in both personal and commercial projects.

With an unlimited selection of colour themes this theme would be appropriate for any blogger. Another feature, which has been cropping up on some of the newer WordPress themes, is the Translation-ready abilities, reaching new audiences in a foreign languages.

21. Thoughts

Free Wordpress themes - Thoughts

Thoughts takes it cue from flat design

Like flat design and want to use large images on your website or blog? Want it to be responsive? Then as free WordPress themes go, Thoughts is probably good one to investigate.

22. Glider

Free Wordpress themes - Glider

Who needs images? Glider brings text to the fore

Don't want to mess about trying to find beautiful imagery? Looking for free WordPress themes that focus on the text, to make that look beautiful instead? This minimal text-focused theme is all about seamless reading: no page loads, no interruptions, just a quick and easy way to access content.

23. MyStile

Free Wordpress themes - Mystile

MyStile is clean and lightweight

One of our favourite sources of themes is Woothemes, and they've got a few tasty free WordPress themes as well. MyStile is a clean, lightweight WooCommerce theme, designed as a canvas which you can use as-is, or easily create a unique design to match your products. The theme is responsive as standard, and comes bundled with plenty of options and alternate colour schemes.

24. Travelify

Free WordPress themes: Travelify

Travelify is inspired by nature

The Travelify free WordPress theme is inspired by nature. Fully customizable, with several Theme Options and page templates, this theme is an obvious choice for travel blogs, green thinking and adventurists.

25. Clean Retina

 free WordPress theme: Clean Retina

Clean Retina is simple, clean, responsive and retina-ready

Clean Retina delivers exactly what it says on the tin. The theme is simple, clean, responsive and retina-ready. There is a selection of nine homepage layout options, also a large homepage slider with space for supporting text. This is one of those free WordPress themes that would work nicely for bloggers or small business owners.

26. Simple Corp

Free WordPress theme: Simple Corp

Simple Corp has plenty of time saving features

Simple Corp is a responsive HTML Theme by Site5. It includes plenty of time-saver features, so no need hunting around for plug-ins. The contact page consists of a built-in contact form furthermore and a large Google Map. Multiple colour styles can be easily accessed via the colour options tab. One of the best free WordPress themes we've seen for business, it can update a corporate website with a fresh vibe.

27. Photo

Free WordPress theme: Photo

Photo is the ideal free WordPress theme for photographers

Photo is, you won't be surprised to hear, best suited for a photographer, as its major feature is the responsive gallery. The theme is clean with a bold header that emphasizes your logo. This is perfect if you're looking for a minimal and versatile theme.

28. Great

Free WordPress theme: Great

Great is exactly what it claims to be

With an unlimited selection of colour themes, as well as being SEO Optimized, this free WordPress theme would be appropriate for any blogger. Another feature which has been cropping up on some of the newer themes is the Translation-ready abilities, reaching new audiences in a foreign languages.

29. Balloons

Free WordPress themes: Balloons

Balloons is the theme for you if you want to play around with scrolling effects

This free WordPress theme uses parallax scrolling. Cleverly, Balloons builds it into a minimalistic design that lets the viewer focus on the cool scrolling effect. While a small business or corporation may not get what they want out of this theme, it would work beautifully for an event or personal website.

30. Grid

Free WordPress themes: Grid

Grid is great for a graphically rich or photo-heavy site

Grid gives you the feeling you're on a site that's had a lot of thought put into its design. This free WordPress theme would work really well for a portfolio, artist or event site. It's very graphic or photo-heavy, so make sure you have the content to back it up. One plus is that this theme maintains its responsiveness quite well.

31. Sensitive

Free WordPress theme: Sensitive

Sensitive features a Metro-styled accent to its design

Sensitive is a fully responsive theme built using Twitter's Bootstrap framework with Metro Styled Accent. It ships with three different page templates, support for custom backgrounds and menus. It's a great option if you're looking for clean and modern, without a lot of fussy code.

32. _ARCHITEKT

Free WordPress themes: Architekt

Architekt is a minimalist, responsive theme

Architekt's layout and minimalistic approach to design makes content (especially photos) stand out well. This is a really nicely designed and well thought-out responsive theme.

33. Skeleton

Free WordPress themes: Skeleton

Skeleton is minimal and responsive

Skeleton has a lot going for it. Firstly, it's very minimal so if you know what you're doing it will be very easy for you to layer your own flavour of style and colour on it. Secondly, it's responsive, so it's ready for any and all devices. Lots of widget and featured areas makes this a very versatile WordPress theme.

34. Shuttershot

Free WordPress themes: Shuttershot

Shuttershot is a great choice for photographers

Shuttershot is another free WordPress theme that lets the content speak for itself. If you have less than stellar photographs or graphics you may want to use a different theme. Allocating the entire homepage to a single image will pressure you to highlight your best work. Make sure your content can support this really well made theme before you move forward with it.

35. Panoramica

Free WordPress themes: Panoramica

With a full-width slideshow on the homepage, Panoramica is perfect for showcasing your photos

If you want to showcase images in all their glory, free WordPress theme Panoramica may be just what you're after. Its design heavily emphasizes the use of images, with its appearance fully customiseable through an extensive options panel. Panoramica also features a full-width slideshow on the homepage, perfect for grabbing prospective client's and employer's attention.

Contributions to this article from: Aaron Kitney, a freelance graphic designer and art director based in London and Vancouver. Jesse Friedman, a veteran WordPress developer. Sam Hampton-Smith, a freelance author and front-end designer/developer based in Scotland. Tanya Combrinck, who has been writing about the web for over four years.

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