Great British Heritage
Saves you money and simplifies your sightseeing
If you're going to Britain,
you're of course planning to visit some of the castles,
stately homes, gardens, museums, and other interesting
Costs for admissions can
add up very quickly, and the exchange rate between the Pound
and most other currencies makes these costs even worse for
the foreign visitor.
Good for unlimited
admission for 4, 7, 15 or 30 days, the Great British
Pass is a great way to affordably sightsee around Britain.
Great British Heritage Pass
free admission to over 580 different attractions throughout
Complete with a free map and
guide book, and with line-busting privileges in many cases,
the Great British Heritage Pass makes your UK visit easier to plan, more fun
to carry out, and more affordable.
If you're planning to include
even only a moderate amount of sightseeing during your time in
should use The Great British Heritage Pass as an excellent way to save
substantial money on your sightseeing.
Some Attractions in London are
The London Pass gives you
free entrance fees at many places - 55 at present count, but there
are of course many other places than 'just' these 55 to go visit
The good news is that not
all museums and other visitor attractions charge an entrance
fee. A few are completely free, including such notable
places as the
British Museum, the
National Maritime Museum (in Greenwich), the
National Gallery and the
It is possible to see and do
a great deal in London without paying any admission at all.
But once you progress to places with paid admission, the London
Pass becomes a very valuable way to keep your costs down.
How Much Can You Save?
Clearly, because the Pass
allows unlimited admissions during its validity period, the more places you visit,
the more you save.
How many places are you likely
to visit each day
The chances are you're
probably only going to visit one place every day or two.
It is sometimes possible to visit two places a day, if the
traveling time between places isn't too great, and if you don't
spend too long at each place, but more commonly, people will
probably visit one place a day.
And some days are going to
be spent just relaxing, walking around towns, or traveling.
So a conservative rule of thumb would be to guess at visiting
one place every two days, or perhaps two places every three
If you want to be more
exact, you can of course plan your itinerary and from that plan
you'll know exactly how many places you're visiting and can
calculate the cost savings exactly.
How much do you save on each
In 2007, it seems most
places have admission prices, for an adult, somewhere between
about £5.50 and £16. As a rule of thumb, you could
guesstimate that each place you visit would cost, on average,
about £10 for admission.
So if you're going to be
traveling around and sightseeing for say a week, then you might
use your pass four or five times, meaning that you'd be saving
about £40 or £50 while having purchased a pass that cost £39.
You're saving somewhere between £1 and £11.
Noncash benefits of using the
Is it worth buying a Pass up
front even if you're saving perhaps only £1 or £11?
Yes, for several reasons -
see our discussion below on using the pass to add extra places
to your itinerary and using the pass to jump to the front of
lines waiting to get in to places.
There's another subtle but
important reason. With a pass, you've fixed this part of
your travel costs before leaving home, and so, while you're
traveling around, you then feel motivated to go to see more
places, because the more you do, the more you save.
If you didn't have a pass,
the chances are that sooner or later you'd find yourself saying
'I don't think we'll go there because we're spending too much
money already' and you might miss out on something unique,
interesting and enjoyable.
In other words, the Pass
encourages you to enjoy yourself.
Using the Pass to Plan your UK
One of the problems many of
us have when going back to Britain, yet again, is trying to
new interesting places to see and visit. Once you've
visited the handful of the best known attractions, you are then
confronted with tens and even hundreds of less well known
attractions, and it is hard to know how to pick and choose from
So here's an idea. Use
the Pass as a way to plan your time in Britain. Work
through their lists of the 580 different attractions offering you
free admission to create an interesting fun filled time in
that costs you no more than the price of the Pass, and get to
see some places you probably never even knew existed.
No longer do you have to ask
yourself the questions about where to go in Britain and what to
do once you get there. The pass clearly shows you the best
attractions by region, so you can choose your holiday's
itinerary based on what you want to see.
Go to the Front of the Line
Here's a major benefit of
the Pass. Chances are you don't want to spend your vacation standing in long lines to buy tickets, especially if
you're traveling during the peak summer months.
Many of the places featured
in the Pass program have special priority lanes for people with
the Great British Heritage Pass. You can go straight to the head of the line
and won't waste any of your valuable vacation queuing to buy
tickets at full price.
Visit Places You Don't Already
We all know about some of
the most famous places in Britain such as Stonehenge, Blenheim
Palace, Bath's Roman Baths, Leeds Castle and so on, most of
which (including these four) are covered by the Great British
But what about some of the
other places that aren't so well known? We suggest you
include a mix of the 'A' level attractions such as the four
named above along with 'B' level attractions - for example, as
well as perhaps the A level Chatsworth stately home, why not
include the B level Chartwell (home of Sir Winston Churchill for
many years) as well (and you're probably already considering A
level Blenheim Palace where Churchill was born).
Maybe visit a ruined Abbey
or two. Fountains Abbey is Britain's largest, and is close
to York. Or beautiful Tintern Abbey in Wales, made famous
in Wordsworth's eponymous poem.
Or if castles are more your
thing, in addition to such famous castles as Edinburgh and
Warwick, why not go to Tintagel Castle, fabled home of King
Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table?
And so on and so on, working
your way all through the 580 different places where you get free
admission with your Great British Heritage Pass. Because
each extra place you visit costs you no more, treat yourself to
some less well know places and you'll get a much richer more
varied travel experience as a result.
Using the Pass in London
You might find it makes
better sense to use a separate London Pass for your time in
London, and to save the Great British Heritage Pass for your time traveling outside of
The London Pass includes the same places as the GBHP,
plus a vast number of extra places too.
If your GBHP has extra days
that will otherwise be unused on it, then of course use these
days while in London, but if you're right at the point where
maybe you need to upgrade to a longer pass length, consider then
getting separate London Passes for your time in London.
And, similarly, if your
London stay is of a length such that maybe you need to upgrade
your London Passes to a longer validity, perhaps you can use a
day or two of your GBHP passes to save the need to get longer
validity London Passes.
Other Pass Products
English Heritage have a pass
- the Overseas Visitors Pass - which gives you admission into
about 100 different properties in England. The price is
about half that of the GBHP (eg £19/23 for 7/14 days compared to
£39/52 for 7/15 days), but you're limited to only about one
sixth as many places that accept the English Heritage pass.
Historic Scotland has a pass
as well, offering 3, 7 or 10 days of admission out of 5, 14 or
30 elapsed days, selling for £19/27/32. This gets you
admission to about 75 places in Scotland.
The National Trust has a
pass that is good for 7 or 14 days, and allows you entry to
about 300 properties in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
It costs £18 or £23.
Generally you're better off
with a GBHP than with getting separate English and Scottish
passes, and you have admissions to vastly more properties (580
instead of 175). And if you add a National Trust
pass to this, you are spending vastly more money and still have
less places to choose from.
The GBHP includes 103
English Heritage properties, all Historic Scotland properties,
and 219 National Trust properties. It also has many other
properties to get to its total of 580 properties, and most of
the properties it doesn't have are ones which either have free
admission or such limited opening hours as to be problematic for
So, overall, and for most of
us, there's no real cost benefit and a major loss of flexibility
if you choose something other than the Great British Heritage
Daily cost of a Great British
The Great British Heritage Pass of course
costs more when adding extra days of validity to the Pass, but
each additional day of validity represents a lower cost per extra day
you are adding.
So, for example, if you are
considering 'should I buy a seven or a fifteen day pass', note from
the table below that the extra cost of the longer pass is £13,
or only £1.63 per extra day. With an average admission
costing about £10, you only need to go to two more places during
the extra eight days to make the longer pass a better value.
There's another way of
considering this, too. It allows you to set a more
leisurely pace and not feel the need to always be visiting
places every day to make sure you get your money's worth out of
the pass, even if it means sacrificing the concept of a relaxed
leisurely holiday to do so. With the minimal extra cost of
a longer pass, you have more time to go and visit the places you
wish to visit.
Note that there is also a Family Pass available, for the same
duration, for £62/86/114/154. This allows up to two adults
and up to three children (or one adult and four children) to
travel together. Prices are only slightly more than twice
the single person pass, making it a good deal if you are
traveling as two adults and one child; if you have two or three
children, the saving becomes even bigger.
What Length Great British
Heritage Pass Should
As you can see from the
table above, the cost per day of the GBHP drops as the number
of days (and total price) increases. And the extra cost of
longer duration passes is so minimal it generally makes sense to
buy a pass long enough to cover your entire stay in Britain.
If you use, as a rule of thumb, that each admission would
normally cost you about £10, you can see you need to be sure
you'll visit three places to justify a four day pass, four
places to justify a seven day pass, six for the 15 day pass and
7 for the 30 day pass. Most of us will definitely visit
that number (and quite likely substantially more) of places and
so can be sure of getting our value out of the pass.
Clearly it makes no
sense to buy a GBHP for longer than your total stay in
Britain, with two possible exceptions. If you are planning
on a stay that is perhaps 10 days, it might make sense to buy a
15 day pass. Or, if you are visiting Britain, then
traveling to the continent for a while, then spending more time
in Britain on your way back, it might make more sense to, eg,
buy a single 30 day pass than to buy two seven day passes.
The economics of the pass
costs should be considered, although usually the answer is so
overwhelmingly in favor of buying a pass this doesn't need to be
studied at great length. But if you are not planning on
traveling around and if you don't wish to visit some of the
places the Great British Heritage Pass gives you admission to,
then there's little sense in buying one.
Should you buy the Great
British Heritage Pass singly or as a family pass
The London Pass can
optionally include a London Travelcard good for unlimited
off-peak travel (ie all day after 9.30am) for the same number of
days as the Travelcard itself is valid for, in all zones (1 -
The extra charged by London
Pass to include the Travelcard is almost exactly the same as
you'd pay for a Travelcard by itself - see table below.
But - for most people - you don't need a Travelcard that covers
all six zones - if you're traveling around central
London, a simple Zone 1 and 2 Travelcard is all you need,
and this is a little less expensive if purchased separately.
Here's a table comparing the
alternate ways to arrange your travel around London. For a
much more complete discussion on the best value way to travel
around London, see our page on
how to find the best
transport ticket pricing in London.
Zones 1 - 6
Zones 1 - 2
If you're buying a one, two
or three day London Pass, and/or if you think you might travel
to further away points than just central London, you should
probably buy the inclusive London Pass, complete with Travelcard.
This saves you the bother and hassle of having to buy
Travelcards every day while in London.
But if you're choosing a six
day London Pass and are reasonably sure you won't be needing to
travel outside of central London, then buy the London Pass
without the included Travelcard option and buy your Travelcards
as you need them in London.
Note the included Travelcard is only good for travel after 9.30am. If you're
going to be starting your touring earlier in the morning, you'll
need to buy extra tickets until 9.30am when the Travelcard can
start to be used.
Reference Book Included
Each Pass comes complete
with a 160 page book giving you an excellent resource to plan
your London stay.
The soft-covered book measures approx 4"
x 6" and features helpful information about every attraction the
Pass includes, plus some general London touring information,
suggested itineraries, and of course a copy of the inevitable
London Underground map.
I found the book to be very
helpful in better understanding whether some of the less well
known attractions would actually be of interest to me or not.
Plus each featured venue has a small map showing you how to get
there, which is very helpful.
This guidebook is published
twice each year (the most recent edition coming out in early
June) so has up to date information to help you.
Delivering the Great British
You can choose whether you
would prefer to have your passes mailed to you (£6.50 for mail
that takes up to ten days to arrive), couriered to you (three
day service from £27) or if you'd rather collect the tickets
yourself subsequent to arriving in Britain (free).
There are pickup points in
London and seven other major tourist cities in Britain, with the
London pickup point being at the main Visitor Center in London
at 1 Regent St - a place most people choose to go to anyway.
Note - although you can pick
up your tickets in Britain, you can only buy and pay for them
outside of Britain. You need to buy them before traveling
Chances are a Great British
Heritage Pass will
save you a great deal more than it costs you, and chances also
are that this pass will help you choose some interesting
places to see while in Britain, encouraging you to see and do
more than you'd otherwise do without its assistance and if you
had to actually pay for every place you visit.
With a choice of 4, 7, 15
day validities, and with both individual passes and family
passes, there's a pass to suit just about every intending
visitor to Britain.
The Great British Heritage Pass
can be conveniently purchased from their website.
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4 May 2007, last update
28 May 2011
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.