Visiting the U.K. doesn’t have to be a huge expense. With a little forward planning, even London—one of the world’s most costly cities—can be seen on a budget. Cheap U.K. holiday ideas range from timing your trip to coincide with free festivals and events, to purchasing passes that can get you into historic sites across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for less. Instead of staying in U.K. hotels, you might also consider alternative accommodation ideas, particularly youth hostels.
Stonehenge is one of the sites listed on the Great British Heritage Pass
UK Youth Hostels
Youth hostels offer a way to stay throughout Britain without spending a fortune. Many hostels are family-friendly and have private rooms available. Despite the name, most youth hostels welcome travelers of all ages. The UK Youth Hostel Association has a reliable network of more than 200 clean and cheap hostels across England and Wales. Some are located in expensive areas, such as YHA London Central, but charge significantly less than most standard hotels.
Derbyshire, England, DE4 3YH
Free Attractions and Events
You pay nothing to enter many of the U.K.’s most famous museums and galleries, from the British Museum—London’s most visited tourist attraction—to the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art. There are also many free events and festivals in U.K. cities, particularly in the summer months. See free comedy and theater at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, or join a million other spectators who gather along roadsides to cheer runners at the London Marathon in April. London’s Notting Hill Carnival, held over the last weekend in August, is the second-largest free street festival in the world.
Great British Heritage Pass
If you’re planning to see several historic British sites, a cost-effective idea is to buy a pass. The Great British Heritage Pass, for example, gives you access to over 580 heritage sites across the U.K., including Stonehenge, Blenheim Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Passes last from four to 30 days, depending on price.
Great British Heritage Pass
The Leisure Pass Group
58-60 Berners St
London, England, W1T 3BB
International house swapping has become a viable way to experience new countries. With house swapping, you register with one of several house swap companies, and then search for your destination of choice on its website. Hundreds of U.K. families participate in the network. Not only is it a cheap option, it’s also an unusual way to see a new destination because you’re unlikely to be staying in typical tourist areas. There are several websites where you can register for U.K. house swap holidays, including homeexchange.com and homelink.org.uk
- stonehenge image by Horticulture from Fotolia.com