If you pay as you go, the cost of tickets for UK heritage and historic attractions can really add up. Prepaid passes that offer free, unlimited entry to hundreds of landmarks are a great solution. Besides saving money, they usually allow you to skip the lines at busy sites. Most also include a few extras, like useful guidebooks and maps. And you don't have to keep up with changing exchange rates, as you know what you've spent before you go. These are the best passes we've found.
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This is a good discount pass for first-time visitors to England. It provides free, unlimited entry to more than 100 castles, battlefields, and Roman ruins. Extras on the pass include information about another 300 free sites, free or reduced admission to special events and a fat guidebook.
What makes this a great first-timer pass is that it is an edited selection of the best on offer. Beginners won't be overwhelmed by enormous choice but also won't miss all the good stuff.
The terms of the English Heritage Overseas Visitor Pass are generous - they come in 9 or 16-day versions and the days start counting down from the first time you use the pass.
The savings are brilliant too: you only need to visit three places to make the passes pay for themselves. Unusually, two adults traveling together can buy a special pass instead of each having to buy a separate adult pass - even if they are not related. And children under 5 go free.
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The Historic Scotland Explorer Pass covers 77 attractions - castles, abbeys, museums and ancient sites. It's sold for a set number of days within a longer period so there's no pressure to race around from one place to another to make it pay.
You can buy it for three days within a five day period or seven days within 14, allowing time for Scotlands lochs, landscapes, coasts and mountains, a bit of fishing, maybe some golf.
It's valid for a year from the date of purchase, with the time period beginning the first day you use it.
It's sold in adult, child (5 to 15), senior, student and family versions. The family pass is particularly generous, covering two adults and up to six children. Could this be a thoughtful holiday gift for a traveling friend?
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The pre-paid, National Trust Touring Pass gives free entry to all the National Trust's protected properties, including 300 buildings and gardens, more than 600,000 acres of countryside in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and more than 600 miles of coastline of outstanding beauty.
You can buy it for seven or 14 days, for one adult, two adults traveling together, or a family (including grandparents and an unlimited number of children.This one is exceptional value for money and the price supports the work of this non-profit charity.
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The Scottish Heritage Pass
Buy it year round but use it April to October. Among the 120 sites, you can visit are some of Scotland's most important heritage sites - castles, distilleries, palaces, stately homes, and gardens. Among the places included are Edinburgh Castle, Glasgow Cathedral, and the tragic Culloden battlefield.
The pass can be used for seven consecutive days and you can save 25% over the normal entry price. It combines attractions from Historic Scotland, The National Trust for Scotland and Discovering Distilleries, so it offers a bigger variety of attractions.
It is also, however, more expensive. It's available online in the USA from the Visit Britain Shop.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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The National Trust for Scotland Discover Ticket
Buy this one for three, seven or 14 days and gain access to 100 sites drenched in history. The pass is available for adults (17+) or families of two adults and up to four children under 17.
This one is well priced with a good variety of indoor and outdoor sites to visit. They estimate that if you buy a 14-day pass and visit one site every day, you can save £100.
Included in the list are Robert Burns birthplace and the Glencoe Visitor Center. Glencoe, the site of a terrible 17th-century betrayal and massacre, is, to my mind, one of the most dramatic landscapes you can visit in all of Scotland. And, if the weather is good enough for you to land on it, you can visit the St. Kilda UNESCO World Heritage Site on this pass. It's available in US dollars from the Visit Britain Shop.
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The York Pass is one of the better city passes we've seen because York, England, being a smallish, walled city, is compact enough for visitors to get their money's worth from the pass without too much rushing about. For its size, the Roman-Viking-Medieval city of York has plenty to see, including one of the official Seven Wonders of the UK, York Minster. The pass is available in one, two and three-day versions for families large and small.