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Budgeting tips

Young asian Woman Renting Bicycle From Bike Share Service

Introduction

If you want to make the most of your trip without breaking the bank, then check out our handy money-saving tips. From buying tickets in advance to searching for free things to do, read on for some top picks.

Sightsee for less

If you’re planning on ticking off lots of iconic heritage sites and attractions, it’s worth investing in a multi-pass. Helps save those pennies by giving you access to hundreds of sites for a one-off price.

Heritage passes are offered by organisations like the National Trust, English Heritage and Historic Scotland, while big-name attractions like the London Eye and SEA LIFE London Aquarium can be visited for less using the Merlin Magical London 5-in-1 Pass or exclusively to London, the London Pass.

The Tower of London, Historic Royal Palaces

Buy before you arrive

If you’re looking for discounts on travel tickets, tours, attractions and more, then check out what’s on offer at the VisitBritain Shop before your travel.  That way you can start crafting your wish list of places to visit like  Windsor Castle or a walking tour of Harry Potter filming locations before you even get here.

Many attractions also offer cheaper tickets online than on the door, so it’s always best to plan ahead.

Free attractions

The best way to save money on your holiday in Britain is to visit places that are have free entry. Luckily lots of major museums and galleries are free to visit in Britain and Northern Ireland including the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, The Natural History Museum in London and the South Wales Miners Museum.

Throughout the year there are also events that see historic monuments and buildings, especially those usually closed to the public, open their doors for free. Open House London focuses mainly on places in the capital, while Heritage Open Days run across England. Doors Open Days gives you the chance to look around sites in Scotland, while Wales’ Open Doors opens the likes of atmospheric abbeys and radio museums. 

A man canoeing with two spaniels. Clear blue skies

Cheap rail travel

Booking train tickets early is an easy way to save on rail travel, but it’s also worth noting that regional train companies often offer special discounts too. Families heading to destinations in Kent and Sussex should check out Southeastern Railway’s Kids for £1 or Scotrail’s Kids for a Quid schemes, which allow up to four children to travel for £1 each with one adult.

If you want the freedom of hopping on a train when and where you please, the BritRail Pass might be your best bet – this ticket offers unlimited travel on rail services across England, Wales and Scotland within a set period of your choice.

On top of cheaper rail travel, booking train tickets in advance can also get you 2-for-1 entry to a huge variety of attractions up and down Britain, from the Royal Pavilion in Brighton all the way up to The Edinburgh Dungeon in Scotland. Check out the National Rail website for more information.

Visit Britain’s National Parks

All of Britain’s 15 National Parks are free to enter and there’s lots to to keep everyone happy. From sailing along the picturesque waterways of The Broads National Park to rambling along picturesque walks in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Entry is usually free but save some pennies for snacks or a drink. 

Couple sitting on stone bridge over stream

Hunt for online deals

Trawling the internet for some deals it worth doing. You can sometimes find special offers, reduced price entry to theatres, last-minute deals and some ticket offers for out-of-season entry to attractions.

Theatre trips for less

Going to the theatre is more than possible - even on a budget. If you’re after cheap theatre tickets in London, one of the best things to do is head to the official TKTs booth in Leicester Square where you’ll find great seats at half the normal price. Alternatively, download the TodayTix app where you can buy advance tickets to a huge selection of West End shows, try your luck at £25 day seats and enter daily ticket lotteries where you can win heavily discounted seats for same-day performances.

If you have the time, another way to bag some bargains is by visiting the theatre box offices directly on the morning of your desired performance as many tend to offer a small amount of reduced-price day seat tickets on a first-come-first-served basis.

View from the top of the Minack Theatre

Use discount websites

You can find loads of discounted activities, meals, attractions and even hotels on handy money-saving websites. One example is Open Table, a restaurant reservation platform that also showcases deals and discounts at eateries across Britain. Lastminute.com promotes special offers on experiences and theatre for under £20 while websites like Groupon offer a vast range of vouchers valid on experiences across Britain including 50% off afternoon teas, spa day deals and great prices on overnight stays in stately homes and castles.

Cheap eats

There’s plenty of ways to dine out on a budget in Britain. Restaurants often offer discounted meals on Mondays – this is because it’s Britain’s quietest dining night.

When you’re researching restaurants, make sure you look to see if they offer pre-theatre set menus – usually available up to 6pm, these early-evening deals are usually made up of two or three courses and can end up saving you lots of money compared to eating a la carte (off the main menu).

Alternatively, restaurant chains like Nandos, Pizza Express and Wagamama are known for being budget friendly and many have rewards schemes and free subscription services that get you savings and freebies too, from complimentary starters or desserts to discount codes.

Smiling man working at food stall serving burgers

Money-saving travel apps

Downloading travel apps can help save money once you’re in Britain. Citymapper, for example, is a great tool that helps you get from A-Z with a variety of transport methods on offer and will even tell you how much a journey will cost, how long and track your route on a smart phone for you to tell you when to get off. For last-minute accommodation on a budget, try Hostelworld, which lists thousands of hostels, bed & breakfasts and low-cost hotels, while Tablepouncer lets you take advantage of unfilled tables at restaurants – perfect for the spontaneous at heart.