Affordable and unforgettable – value attractions in Britain

Thursday 07 January 2016

Whether finances are tighter following the holiday festivities or you're looking to make purse-friendly savings on your trip to Britain, you'll discover many attractions around the destination that are low cost or free, whether you're an art buff, culture vulture, nature lover or travelling as a family! Here's a taster of just some of Britain's affordable attractions.

VIEWS | Sky Garden at the ‘Walkie Talkie' building, London

The Sky Garden at the Walkie Talkie building is a rare chance to experience London from a different viewpoint. Spread over three floors, it's an open and vibrant leisure space with beautiful landscaped garden, a viewing area, terrace, café, bar and restaurant.

How much?: Free to enter but booking is essential; The Sky Garden is at 20 Fenchurch Street in central London. www.skygardentickets.com/skygardenpublic_ui/events

ART | Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle Gateshead, north-east England

Art-buffs can call into the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art for free and even take the lift up to the viewing gallery for impressive views of the quayside's seven famous bridges. There is a world-class restaurant at the top of the old flour mill that offers afternoon tea for a reasonable £15 too.

How much?: Free; Newcastle Gateshead is around three hours via train from London. www.balticmill.com

FAMILY | National Railway Museum, North Yorkshire and County Durham, north England

Set across two sites in York and at Shildon, highlights include a Japanese bullet train, a Chinese locomotive, Queen Victoria's railway carriage and Mallard, once the fastest steam train in the world. There is also a model railway, outdoor play area and train-ride simulator.

How much?: Free; York is around two hours by train from London and Sheldon is in County Durham in north east England, around an hour away from York. www.nrm.org.uk

HISTORY | Hadrian's Wall, Northumberland, north-east England

Discover Roman forts and museums along the 150-mile wall. Highlights include jewellery finds at Vindolanda, Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum (full-scale reconstructed bath house) and the Roman Army Museum; the gorgeous views across the rugged Northumberland countryside are also completely free!

How much?: Combined ticket for Vindolanda and Roman Army Museum adult £10.50; concession £9; child £6; family £32. Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum: adult £5.50, concession £3.50, under 16s free; Northumberland is in the north east of England, around 3 hours via train from London. www.visithadrianswall.co.uk

FUN | Pleasure Beach, Norfolk, East Anglia, east England

Traditional British seaside fun next to a sandy beach, where highlights include a 1930s wooden roller coaster and fairground horse carousel dating from 1901. Thrill-seekers can also find fun on the dodgems, swinging pirate ship, twirling tea-cups and saucers and a 70ft sky-drop.

How much?: £1 per ride with tokens, or buy a day's wristband from £17.50 for over seven year olds, £13.50 for 4-6 year olds. Norfolk is around two hours by train from central London. www.pleasure-beach.co.uk

HISTORY | Castle Drogo, Devon, south-west England

Built by Sir Edwin Lutyens in the 20th century, this fortress-style home overlooks Dartmoor and the Teign Gorge, with Gertrude Jekyll gardens and children's play area. Family trails and special events are organized in the summer.

How much?: Adults £9.60; child £4.80; family £24; Devon is in around five hours by car or train from London. www.nationaltrust.org.uk

FAMILY | Anglesey Sea Zoo, Isle of Anglesey, Wales

See the little ones marvel at the Shark Pool, Big Fish Forest and Shipwreck, using huge tanks stocked with marine life found in the waters around the local coastline. Don't' forget to try out the "Octojump" bouncy castle, adventure playground and radio-controlled boats. Also enjoy Angelsey's stunning world-class beaches completely free!

How much?: Adult £7.75; child £6.75; senior/student £7.25. Anglesey is an island off the north-west coast of Wales, accessible by car in five hours or train in four hours from London. http://angleseyseazoo.co.uk

HISTORY | Big Pit Mining Museum, Torfaen, south Wales

Get a feel of what life was like underground on a guided tour of the mine, which starts with a 300ft descent by pit cage down the mineshaft, equipped with helmets and cap lamps. The original winding engine house, blacksmith's forge and fan house are open to visitors.

How much?: Free; Torfaen is in south Wales, around three hours by car from London. www.museumwales.ac.uk/bigpit

GARDENS | Dunbars Close, Edinburgh, Scotland

A peaceful hidden garden a few steps off The Royal Mile, it was created by the visionary Sir Patrick Geddes as one of a network of Old Town gardens and immaculately restored in the late 1970s. A beautifully kept recreation of a 17th-century garden, it is a series of small, delightfully private rooms in which to enjoy a picnic - another bargain tip!

How much?: Free; Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, four-and-a-half by train from London or an hour's flight. www.edinburgh.gov.uk/directory_record/164072/dunbars_close_garden

FAMILY | Riverside Museum, Glasgow, Scotland

From the walls packed with cars, to a recreation of Kelvin Street, as it would have been between 1895 and 1930, the Riverside Museum in Glasgow offers an impressive collection - more than 3,000 - of transport and travel exhibits. Interactive experiences in the museum bring the history of Glasgow to life for all ages.

How much?: Free; Glasgow is an hour by train or car from Edinburgh, or four-and-a-half hours by train from London or an hour's flight. www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/riverside/pages/default.aspx

FAMILY | JCB young drivers' zone in County Antrim, Northern Ireland

With 50 ride-on JCB vehicles designed for two to eight-year-olds, plus a specially designed track featuring bridges, humps, roundabouts and overtaking lanes, kids have plenty to keep them occupied at Junction One, a retail centre just ten minutes from Belfast International Airport, where there are lots of shopping bargains to be had too.

How much?: £1 for all-day use. Antrim is in Northern Ireland, only a 20-minute drive from Belfast city centre. www.junctionone.co.uk

HISTORY | Mount Stewart House, County Down, Northern Ireland

Set in a scenic spot on the shores of Strangford Lough, this neo-classical house has undergone a three-year restoration project. Outside are spectacular gardens with Mediterranean-style planting and woodland areas. There are wildlife tracker packs, swans on the lake and red squirrel trails to encourage children to explore.

How much?: Adult £6, child £3, family £15; County Down is in Northern Ireland, around one hour by car from Belfast. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mount-stewart

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The Baltic Newcastle Gateshead
The National Railway Museum Shildon
The NRM at Shildon
Big Pit south Wales
Roman Vindolanda, Hadrian's Wall
Exterior - Riverside Museum Glasgow
Mount Stewart, on the shores of Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland