The limit to what WordPress can do is yet to find out, and with tools like bbPress, it can be used for the rarest kind of websites, i.e., forums.

All you need is a WordPress setup, and a right theme, supporting bbPress (or its alternatives), and you are good to go with running and managing an online forum.

The themes mentioned below only works with self hosted version of WordPress which means you will require your own domain + WordPress web hosting. For this, I recommend SiteGround to host your site for as little as $3.95 + you get FREE SSL, Free domain & support.

For your convenience I have picked out my favorite WordPress forum theme in the table below:

ThemeType:FeaturesEase of useSpeedMobile-friendly?


Multipurpose4 Star Rating4.5 Star Rating4 Star Rating


Multipurpose4.4 Star Rating4.5 Star Rating4.9 Star Rating


Magazine4.5 Star Rating4.2 Star Rating4.3 Star Rating


Multipurpose4 Star Rating4.5 Star Rating4.5 Star Rating


Multipurpose4.5 Star Rating4.9 Star Rating4.9 Star Rating

Let’s have a look at the best free bbPress themes for a forum. These free themes are used by thousands of users, at least, and are all good to use.

So, without wasting any single second, let’s begin with the list.



It’s a simple theme but has been used by over ten thousands of users right now. It is compatible with WooCommerce to allow you sell products onions and have been built using HTML5 and CSS3, the two very modern web programming languages, ensuring the UI to stay on the lighter side. It packs a cool UI for a forum, keeping users away from feeling bored. It also packs a dedicated Options Panel, which is a rare entity among free themes.

Theme highlights:

  • It comes with the customizable background, color scheme, header, and Menu.
  • It can also be used to run a fully functional blog, thanks to the features like threaded comments, and two or three columns layout.
  • It packs flexible header, and the whole UI is responsive to ensure proper functionality on the mobile devices.
  • It packs 600+ Google Fonts to select and quickly change the typography.

Full Details & Download | Demo



It’s one of the most popular free themes at WordPress repository, and it is ready for multiple niches, including the one we are looking at. It is powered by Bootstrap framework, allowing the quick customization and that too without writing any code. There is a slider included in the package which is powered by parallax effects, and can handle up to 5 slides. It can be used to create a business profile, or a portfolio, or a photography website, or the forum.

Theme highlights:

  • It packs Options Panel quickly to bring the possible visual and functional changes.
  • It supports Microformats and follows most of the SEO norms to ensure proper compatibility.
  • The header area is flexible, and the whole layout is responsive. It supports right sidebar.
  • Other than bbPress, it also supports BuddyPress.

Full Details & Download | Demo



It’s a theme ready to create and run a business profile with hundreds of customization options, thanks to the support for WordPress Live Customizer and Options Panel at the Dashboard. It is compatible with all popular plugins like Contact Form 7, Jetpack, etc. The header area is flexible, and the whole layout is responsive to ensure proper functionality of the website on mobile and tablet devices. It even comes with proper documentation and some support from the developer.

Theme highlights:

  • It supports both bbPress and BuddyPress, making it one simple solution for running an online community.
  • It can be used to run a fully functional blog as it supports featured image, threaded comments, Sticky Post, and up to four columns layout.
  • It is compatible with WooCommerce, making sure that it’s possible to set up a small online shop and sell products.
  • It packs hundreds of Google Fonts which can quickly change the typography and thus affect the overall look.

Full Details & Download | Demo



Alchem can be likened to a Swiss Army knife for free WordPress templates it’s packed with a ton of features which I need an entire post to go into all the features set. If it’s a professional look you’re going for then, this template will definitely tick the boxes you get a beautiful slider to engage your readers. A feature list section to inform users of what to expect while visiting your website. There’s also the option to display your recent portfolio projects, a team section to help install trust, latest blog post and more. Thanks to the shortcode which included you can Display buttons, social profile, icons, piechart, accordion, boxes, layout option and a lot more. With a click of a button, you can quickly switch the style up your website to create something entirely new. There’s numerous header styling in which you can play with until you get one that suits your brand. Currently, there’s ten built in sections to make creating and customizing your website super easy. You have the option to choose between a one-page layout which is very popular or the traditional multi-page layout.
Theme highlights

  • A generous amount of pre-built templates and a shortcode plugin to have you up and running in a matter of minutes.
  • CSS3 animation to give your readers a more interactive browsing experience.
  • With support for bbPress, BuddyPress you can have a thriving community in no time.

Full Details & Download | Demo



Customizer is another excellent multi-purpose WordPress theme which should be great for helping you create your online community with bbPress. With well over million downloads it’s fair to say that this is a very popular template that’s used by thousands of webmasters just like yourself to create all kinds of websites. The forum section looks very clean and tidy as you would expect and it integrates nicely with the theme with lots of customization option you can stylize this template to suit your personal taste. Edit everything with the help WordPress theme customizer and see the changes live for better control over the layout of your website. It also integrates that with Woocommerce to help you sell stuff online without needing a separate WordPress templates. Everything flows the smooth and fits together nicely to help reduce bounce rate.

Theme highlights

  • Customizer comes with supports for Google Fonts giving you access the world over 600 different typography to ensure the texts on your site it’s easy to read.
  • You’re given the option to apply changes on particular page or post.
  • The theme loads super fast which is welcome news as Google mentioned earlier in the year that this contributes as part of their ranking signals.

Full Details & Download | Demo


Zerif lite

Zerif lite is a free WordPress theme loved by thousands of webmasters. It is a highly customizable template that empowers you to create beautiful websites in a variety of niches. Here is what one of Zerif Lite users say “Beautiful theme to showcase your expertise – thank you!”. The rating and number of users speak for themselves. There’s numerous amount of child themes out there to further stylized this template to suit your needs. With the built-in mega menu, you can create a forum that is easy to navigate.

Theme highlights

  • Live customization to see edits on your website in real time.
  • Compatible with popular WordPress Plugins.
  • Top notch support with over a thousand live forum threads.

Full Details & Download | Demo


National Basic

National Basic is one of those WordPress themes and that had stood the test of time thanks to regular updates it remains as popular as when it was first released a few years back. Considering it’s a free theme, you get quite an array of features such as an elegantly designed slider area to create a call to action or educate users on what you offers. Straight out the box there’s support for Woocommerce enabling you to create an e-commerce store; bbPress is also compatible helping you to build a forum for meaningful discussions. Not only that but you also get BuddyPress support allowing you to add a social aspect to your site. Other feature list includes Font Awesome, which makes adding icons to your site incredibly easy. There’s also various post types which have a unique look and layout to further wow your readers. Customization is made easy with the WordPress live customizer feature you can change the width layout, title tags, header slider and so on. National Basic is responsive meaning your readers will get a seamless experience across desktops tablets and mobile devices.

Theme highlights

  • A dedicated custom CSS editor section for those who are technical.
  • Unlimited colour option, makes styling and incorporating your brand identity simple.
  • This theme is also extremely fast meaning your users get a better experience, and you can also benefit from higher search ranking.

Full Details & Download | Demo



Mixed is a clean, lightweight bbPress theme that is easy to use and navigate. There’s also support for BuddyPress and Woocommerce and a few more features which we will get into shortly. Created on HTML5 with the latest css3 design you get a theme that future proof clean and crawlable. If you would like to reach a global audience by providing your content in different languages, then you will be happy to know that mixed is translation ready. With cross-browser compatibility, your audience can experience your website across the various devices along with multiple browsers. Also worth mentioning is that it’s built on Bootstrap framework version 3 which offers mobile first approach and overall a better security. It comes with support for many popular WordPress plugins such as Yoast SEO, contact form 7, Jetpack and much more. Incorporating your brand identity couldn’t be easier with unlimited colour customization options and the Google Fonts integration you can quickly customize this theme to suits your brand’s scheme.

Theme highlights

  • Various post formats to create more engaging content.
  • Parallax slider comes as standard to create creative slides.
  • There’s numerous widgetized area to help the display more information call to action or advertisement.

Full Details & Download | Demo


Custom Community

It’s a proper theme specifically designed and developed for running a community website. As you can expect, it supports both bbPress and BuddyPress community tools and comes with 140+ customisations. It comes with three pre-defined color schemes and also integrates user-friend and responsive slideshows. It packs a full-width template along with support for one column layout, keeping the sidebar on the right side.

Theme highlights:

  • It supports WooCommerce plugin and its extension out of the box, ensuring support for e-commerce setup.
  • It comes with a responsive layout which functions correctly on smartphones and even tablets.
  • It is ready for translation, ensuring the content is available for global audiences.

Full Details & Download | Demo


bbPress (Twenty Ten)

Do you remember the themes, WordPress script comes preloaded with? If you remember them, then consider checking this Child theme for Twenty Ten theme. It’s a free product and also an official one from the bbPress itself. It doesn’t look any attractive, rather it maintains a simple and extremely lightweight design, primarily focusing on the functionalities. If you use that theme or happy with how simple and lightweight it is, then use this Child theme to add the forum functionality.

Theme highlights:

  • It can handle all the forum requirements perfectly.
  • It comes with a sidebar on the right side with options to apply two columns layout.
  • It comes with a custom background and custom header options.
  • It supports RTL languages and also the dynamic translation.

Full Details & Download | Demo



If you’re looking for lots of customization options and a lot of power in your hands, then check out the features of Quest theme and also its Demo. It can be customised to look unique and even better than what developer has pointed in its preview, and all these changes are achievable without writing any code, at all. It is compatible to run a forum, or an online magazine, or a proper blog, or a business website, or even a portfolio.

Theme highlights:

  • It comes with responsive layout, ensuring the website’s proper functioning on mobile devices.
  • It supports both BuddyPress and bbPress, supporting the two kinds of online community.
  • It holds multiple layout options, translation support and Options Panel at the Dashboard.

Full Details & Download | Demo



It’s an incredibly lightweight theme with a proper focus on achieving highest possible performance grades. It is responsive enough to look and function best on the smartphones and tablets, without needing any third-party plugin. It’s built using the Twitter’s Bootstrap framework to achieve modern looks which are customizable as well.  It supports both bbPress and BuddyPress natively.

Theme highlights:

  • It packs Google Fonts for changing and improving the typography anytime.
  • It supports RTL languages and active translation natively.
  • It comes with one column or two column layouts with a sidebar on the right side.

Full Details & Download | Demo



Farben features of flat design which as been popular in 2015 and continues this upwards trend in 201 6. It’s compiled of bold colours and features that will definitely leave a lasting impression on your visitors. Few of my favourite features includes a featured slider which allows promoting your popular post, offers, or even popular discussion boards. Another great thing about this theme is how it uniquely lays out your most recent post in a metro style design which we have seen a lot of in Windows 8 and 10. There’s also various post formats for things such as quotes, galleries, an aside and even links. Created by the same authors that brought you National Basic you get things such as BuddyPress and Woocommerce compatibility. Editing and customization can be done through the WordPress live customizer tool.

Theme highlights

  • Google Fonts integration to improve the typeface readability
  • A unique design that will help your forum stand out from other bbPress powered websites.
  • Numerous page layout option to suit your style and needs.

Full Details & Download | Demo


These were the best free options here, but these are not the only ones. Also, if you’re looking for some premium features, consider going for the premium bbPress themes for WordPress. Let me know if you need a compilation of the same. I’ll do it soon. Peace!