The English Heritage Overseas Visitor Pass makes deciding what to see and how much to spend on tickets to historic sites easy - and much cheaper than buying tickets one site at a time
This discount pass for unlimited, free access to an edited selection of more than 100 of the best English Heritage sites is the kind of bargain visitors - whether they are first timers or old hands - should not miss. And what's that? You don't live in the UK? Lucky you - this pass is only available to visitors from overseas.
Here's what it's all about and how to use it:
Lots to See and Do
Even edited, the selection of English Heritage sites to visit is staggering. They include castles, abbeys, Roman ruins and prehistoric monuments as well as several homes of important figures in the history of science, politics and the arts. These are just a few:
- Battle Abbey and the 1066 Battle of Hasting battlefield with its fabulous new visitor center
- Down House, the home of Charles Darwin, in Kent
- Tintagel Castle, connected by legend to King Arthur
- Whitby Abbey - where Count Dracula came ashore
- Hadrian's Wall - the northern frontier of the Roman Empire
- Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island
A brochure that comes with the pass lists all the sites that are included, along with opening times and locations. But you can get a good idea ahead of time with the Overseas Visitors Pass Map, published online.
Great Value for Money
Provisions of the English Heritage Pass are particularly generous. It is available in 9 and 16-day versions for:
- Single Adults
- Families - including two adults and up to four more family members under 19-years of age living in the same household. Children under 5 are free.
- Two adults - an unusual and money-saving option not often offered.
Prices start at £31 for a 9-day, single adult pass, and go up to £69 for a 16-day family pass. The time period of the pass starts the first day you use it and lasts for either 9 or 16 days in a row. The English Heritage Overseas Visitor Pass pays for itself if you visit only three sites. And the more places you visit, the more you save.
What else comes with the pass?
In addition to free, unlimited entry to more than 100 historic attractions, many of them iconic sites, the pass also includes:
- Free or reduced price entry to hundreds of special events such as jousts and re-enactments
- Free 280 page colour souvenir guidebook including maps and information on another 300 free sites in the care of English Heritage
How to Make the Most of It
- Make sure it's really for you - If you're interested in fabulous, furnished houses with remarkable art collections, the English Heritage Pass may only suit you if your visit will take you near those properties that are furnished and decorated. Many English Heritage properties are ruined castles, historic battlefields with visitor centers and prehistoric sites - like Stonehenge. This is a pass for anyone interested in history, archaeology, architecture and gardens. There are some important exceptions of course. Apsley House, former home of the Duke of Wellington in the heart of London, has glittering interiors and a huge collection of paintings. Chiswick House and Marble Hill House are sumptuously furnished. As a rule of thumb, castles will mostly be ruins with visitor centers and exhibitions, houses may be fully or partly furnished.
- Group your visits in geographic clusters - English roads are slow and often winding. It can take about twice as long to travel than the distance in miles might suggest. And the 9 or 16 days the pass lasts are consecutive days that start the first time you use the pass. To fit in the most, try to keep the sites you visit within a relatively short distance of each other. Then move on to another area and do the same thing.
- Check opening hours carefully At some sites, opening hours are limited to a few days a week or a few hours every day. Sometimes you are welcome to visit the grounds and gardens at any time but can only go into the interiors at specific times. Marble Hill House, for example, an elegant Palladian mansion beside the Thames in Twickenham that belonged to a King's mistress, is only open on Saturdays and Sundays - and then only for guided tours. So check all this before you plan your itinerary or you could fetch up at a site that's closed when you happen to arrive.
The First Time You Use the Pass
The pass is not transferable and you have to present proof of your identity the first time you use it. You'll also have to present proof that you actually live overseas - so bring an official document with your non-UK address on it.
How to Buy It
The pass is available online from the English Heritage website . Save your confirmation email because you will need it to pick up your pass. You collect your pass when you arrive in the UK from any English Heritage site. Bring your proof of purchase email, the credit card you used and proof of your overseas address and you're all set - or as the English say, "Bob's your uncle!"