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27 May 2021

Best-value days out in the UK

We reveal the UK galleries, museums and historic attractions rated top for value for money
Which? Team

Days out are likely to be in high demand now that museums, galleries and historic attractions are back open. But while entry to some of the UK’s best sights might set a family of four back by more than £100, a top day out needn’t leave a dent in your wallet.

To help you enjoy an affordable day out this year, we’ve picked out the best-value attractions from our most recent UK survey of around 5,000 people. While these aren’t necessarily the cheapest places to visit, they are the highly rated ones where your pounds and pennies will go furthest.

In all cases, it’s best to check the website before making the journey, because advance booking is often required and a couple of attractions are yet to fully reopen.

For more independent travel advice and recommendations, subscribe to Which? Travel.

Where to find the best-value UK attractions

The map below shows the 14 best-value attractions for days out in the UK, from the Riverside Museum in Glasgow to the RAF Museum in London. Every attraction earned top marks for value for money, as well as an impressive overall score of at least 85%.

Top 10 best-value museums and galleries

You’re spoilt for choice if you want to visit a fantastic museum or gallery without spending a small fortune. Some 13 attractions earned top scopes for value for money in our survey, with 10 of them also receiving impressive customer scores, indicating how likely visitors are to be satisfied with their experience and recommend it, if asked.

See our full list of the the best museums and galleries in the UK

  1. St Fagans National Museum of History (94%) — This incredible open-air museum in Cardiff tells the story of Wales in vivid detail. It’s engaging, informative, quiet and, incredibly, completely free.
  2. Beamish, The Living Museum of the North (91%) — Another open-air museum near Newcastle brings to life the story of the North. While it costs close to £20 to enter, visitors in our survey were in agreement: this 300-acre attraction offers exceptional value for money.
  3. National Railway Museum (91%) — You might think the world’s largest railways museum, showcasing more than 100 historic locomotives, would be pricey and packed full of visitors. Our survey reveals the complete opposite to be true.
  4. Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum Cosford (91%) — As well as having an impressive collection of historic military aircraft, from the Dornier Do 17 to the Vulcan V Bomber, interactive exhibits ensured the museum also earned full marks for engagement in our survey.
  5. National Museum of Scotland (90%) — After the Museum of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Museum merged 15 years ago, you can now enjoy two museums for the price of one. Except there is no price, because admission is completely free.
  6. Cardiff National Museum (87%) — If you’re visiting St Fagans, make sure you visit Cardiff National Museum as part of the same trip. It’s free and it’s incredible variety, from science exhibits to art, means there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
  7. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (87%) — Regional restrictions mean you can only currently visit this gallery in Glasgow if you live in the city, but it’s well worth a visit with rules ease. Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross is perhaps its most famous attraction, but the museum has a remarkable 8,000 exhibits in total.
  8. Royal Air Force Museum London (87%) — The second RAF museum to feature in our top 10, this sister site in London is also free and home to a fantastic array of historic aircraft.
  9. Oxford University Museum of Natural History (86%) — Home to more than 7 million objects, this free-to-enter university museum is an award-winning celebration of scientific natural history research.
  10. Riverside Museum (85%) — Glasgow’s transport museum is home to more than 3,000 exhibits, including The Tall Ship, Glenlee. It’s free, quiet and extremely interactive. Non-Glaswegians can’t visit until local restrictions ease, though.

Best-value historic attractions

Great value historic attractions are slightly harder to come by, with just six out of 50 earning top marks for value for money in our survey. Of those, just four also earn exceptional overall scores, so they should be your first port of call.

See our full list of the best 50 UK attractions.

Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh (90%)

The best historic attraction in the UK also represents fantastic value for money. Visitors are free to explore the Queen’s former yacht, including the opulent state dining room, before enjoying champagne and cream tea on the Royal Deck.

Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire (89%)

Fountains Abbey dates back to the 12th century and is now the largest monastic ruin in the country. As well as representing fantastic value for money, you’ll be able to explore the grand Romanesque ruins and surrounding Studley Royal Water Garden at your own pace, because it also earned top marks for lack of crowds.

Houses of Parliament, London (86%)

The home of democracy in the UK was the fifth-highest rated historic attraction in our survey. While tours are currently still suspended, it’s worth keeping on the website as exploring the chambers and the 11th century Westminster Hall is not to be missed. Entry is cheaper than many London attractions and UK residents can avoid paying altogether by requesting free tickets from their MP.

Durham Cathedral, Durham (85%)

It’s impossible not to be impressed by Durham Cathedral’s dizzyingly high-vaulted ceiling, held up by massive, chevron-striped pillars and pointed arches. It’s the highest-rated UK cathedral in our survey and, better still, entry is completely free.