Most of the UK's visitor attractions (the national museums being an exception) charge entry fees. Visiting them can be expensive if you pay for each one separately, but there is a way to cut down on the costs.
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Joining a charitable organization (you can do so on the spot when you visit one of the organization's attractions or on-line before you leave home) allows free entry into all their sites as well as giving you a guidebook with opening times, location and background on each attraction.
The National Trust is perhaps the best known of these organizations. They own more than 200 properties as well as coastlines and countryside. Membership gives you access to their properties in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. To join online go to National Trust or NTS. Membership is reciprocal between the two organizations.
English Heritage, Historic Scotland and Cadw Wales all produce their own guidebooks, but membership in one allows free entry into the others' sites. These organizations stage special events during the summer season.
The Historic Houses Association (HHA) is a group of homes, castles and gardens in private ownership. Opening times are more limited than those of the charitable organizations. Still, with more than 1500 properties participating in the scheme, there are plenty to choose from. As the entry fee for these can be quite expensive, you can save a lot of money by joining the HHA. The website is found at Historic Houses Association
The Great British Heritage Pass is another way to save on entry fees. It is a good choice for short term visitors, allowing reduced admission to approximately 600 houses, castles and gardens in the care of the National Trust, The National Trust for Scotland, English Heritage, CADW, The Treasure Houses of England, The Historic Houses Association, Historic Scotland and the Historic Royal Palaces Agency. It can be purchased before you leave home or after arrival in Britain. To see a list of the properties and to purchase the pass, go to Visit Britain pass Purchase includes a souvenir gazetteer listing all the properties in the scheme with opening times and maps showing the locations of the properties.
Two cities, London and York, offer their own versions of a pass. Purchase gives you a guidebook and entry into each city's attractions. Find out the details at London pass at London Pass and York Pass
Whichever way you choose to see Britain's historic buildings, homes, castles, and countryside, membership helps support ongoing heritage preservation as well as saving you money.