For those in the know, a trip to Britain offers excellent value for money – as well as being crammed with memorable experiences to share. Our insider guide is full of top tips on how to indulge and make the most of your trip, all while getting the best bang for your buck.
From dinosaur skeletons to Picasso, Britain is home to some incredible art and culture, with many world-famous museums and galleries being free to enjoy. There’s the Tate Modern, the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert and the Natural History Museum in London, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow and Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum, all of which make for fantastic days out for culture vultures looking for unbeatable value.
If you’re London bound, the Visitor Oyster Card is the best way to travel around the city. Coming in at 50% cheaper than paying for everything separately with cash or contactless, you can buy the card online before you travel to London and avoid conversion fees, making it the easiest and most bank balance-friendly way to get around the city. With it, you’ll get access to the underground, overground, trams and buses (a one-hour journey costing just £1.50). It even gives you a 10% discount on Thames Clipper river boats, a fun way to travel along the Thames while enjoying incredible views of London’s famous riverside landmarks.
Visitor Rail Passes are another great way to get the best value for money on longer journeys. What’s more, many major attractions offer 2-4-1 deals when you present your rail ticket and a downloadable voucher, giving you unbeatable purchase-power on memorable experiences such as The View from The Shard and St Paul’s Cathedral. And for booking trains in advance, there’s a special BritRail Pass. Available to international visitors only, it allows for unlimited travel on all trains across England, so you can experience every inch of the country, stress-free and with savings in your pocket.
The flexible London Explorer Pass can save you a bundle when it comes to experiencing the city’s bucket-list-worthy attractions. Step into history in the hallowed halls of Westminster Abbey, admire the cityscape sprawled beneath you from the top of the London Eye or wander in the footsteps of royalty at Hampton Court Palace. With a list of 21 must-see attractions to choose from, you can discover three to seven on one pass. What’s more, a handful allow you to skip the queue too, saving you precious time and money.
If Michelin-star food in a luxurious restaurant sounds like the holiday experience for you, it needn’t break the bank in the UK. Many of Britain’s best restaurants offer a two or three-course set menu for lunch or pre-theatre diners, often with a glass of wine or beer included for just a few dollars extra.
Take London’s Social Eating House. Nestled in the heart of Soho, the Michelin-starred restaurant’s three-course lunch menu is around $50 per person. Tuck into seasonal dishes including Cornish place with brown shrimp, samphire and Linzer potatoes, 40-day aged, Asian-spice glazed Cumbrian rump steak and lemonade parfait with black pepper meringue. And if you want some fine wine to go with your fine dining, you can add a carafe for two for around $14 more, for a pocket-pleasing way of experiencing truly scrumptious cuisine. Be sure to check out their website for the latest dining deals and for bookings.
There are many purse-friendly ways to discover our green spaces – from Royal Parks and gardens to National Parks. Fill your lungs with fresh country air and gaze on breath-taking views as you walk up Snowdonia, the highest mountain in Wales, and relax in the flower-filled oases of St James’ Park, Green Park and Hyde Park in London. Take a sun-soaked stroll into 185 million years of history along the Jurassic Coast in south-west England or get-up-close and personal with hairy coos, crystal clear lochs and heather-filled glens on a hike in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs in Scotland – all without spending a cent. You could also explore two of the most visited National Parks in Britain, the Lake District and the Peak District. Both are completely free to roam and reveal the beautiful British countryside side in all its gorgeous glory.
History is woven into almost every part of British life, a fact that’s never more palpable than when you step back in time in our castles or stately homes. If you’re a history buff who wants to walk in the footsteps of the past and also save a few dollars, The National Trust Touring Pass gives unlimited access to some of Britain’s most fascinating historic places. There are over 300 castles, stately homes and gardens to choose from, including film locations from Harry Potter and adaptations of Pride & Prejudice, and if you buy an ‘admit two’ pass, you’ll get another 10% off when compared to buying individually. Alternatively, why not check out The English Heritage Overseas Visitor Pass, for unlimited access to over 100 castles, ruins and landmarks.
If you’re visiting in September, be sure to explore Heritage Open Days, an annual England-wide event that sees the country’s stately homes and secret historic hideaways throw open their doors to the public for free. With over 5,000 experiences on offer, you could find yourself tracing your family history at the Society of Genealogists in London, exploring the RISC Edible Roof Garden in Berkshire, or exploring the ancient walls of Norwich Cathedral. And if you’re a green-fingered gardener, there’s plenty of inspiration to be had, thanks to the National Garden Scheme, which sees the opening of over 3,500 secret summer gardens that are just waiting to be discovered.