As summer winds down and the kids head back to school, you might feel like the window for a holiday is closing on you. Working around school clubs, work schedules and after-school plans to find free time for a family getaway is nearly impossible. But if you have a free day and a few spare quids, daytrips are a great way to get a break from the everyday routine without breaking the bank. If you can make it to your destination and back in a day, you won’t need to pack a bag or stay overnight in a hotel and you can save more money by bringing your own food. And with such diverse geography and rich history, the United Kingdom has practically endless attractions to explore that are worth a closer look. We’ve gathered a list of four historic United Kingdom daytrips you can enjoy for less than £30 per person, excluding food and transportation.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
For outdoor types, a trip to the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh is a must. The garden was founded in 1670, and in 1820, moved to its current site. With exhibits and glasshouses spanning over 70 acres, this attraction can easily take a whole day to explore. You can access the garden for free. While the glasshouses aren’t free, admission is only £7 and you can experience 10 climate zones with thousands of exotic plant species.
Bank of England Museum
Explore the history of United Kingdom money with interactive displays, films and rotating exhibitions at The Bank of England Museum, located within the Bank of England. You can feel a real gold bar and take a look at the historic stock office. With plenty of activities for children, this is a perfect spot for families. The museum is completely free.
Natural History Museum
While you’re still in London, the massive Natural History Museum is another worthy stop. With four separate zones and three floors housed inside an impressive Victorian-style building, you can explore a sprawling collection of fossils, skeletons, human biology, sea life, minerals, plant life and more. Kids can see the Old Museum Clock from Andy’s Adventure. The museum admission is free, though you can pay £15 for a tour of the site’s spirit collection.
Take a trip to the Durham Castle, a thousand-year-old working building and home to the University College, Durham. You can learn about its rich history throughout the years with a private tour of areas like the Chapel and Great Hall for only £5. Stately architecture, Civil War armour, stained glass, sculptures and more fine art adorn the castle’s interior.
Another historic stop in Durham is the Durham Cathedral, where you can take in the impressive fine art exhibitions, beautiful gardens, sculptures, stained glass windows, Monks’ dormitory and filming sites of the first two Harry Potter movies. The elaborate Norman/Roman architectural style dates back to 1093, and the tower has a lot of steps and some very narrow walkways. With a suggested donation of around £4, this awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site is worth every penny.
The Warwick Castle is a massive medieval castle built by William the Conqueror nearly a thousand years ago. Learn about its long, gruesome history as you descend winding stairs and creep through the virtually endless tunnels and towers. With tons of activities for the kids, including a maze, peacock reserve and gardens, they’ll easily be tuckered out by the end of this stop. Though admission isn’t free (£29 per person), the attraction can easily take several hours to see and you can save money if you purchase tickets online.
If you wore yourself out from the tour, you can actually stay in the 14th Century Tower in one of two luxury suites. While it won’t fit into our budget at £164 per person, the price includes two-day entrance to the castle with a private tour and more perks to explore.
When you have so many interesting, educational and affordable destinations so close to home, there’s no excuse not to get out and explore the world. Since we didn’t include the cost of travel, you’ll have to factor that into the budget of your trip. But there are a number of ways to find affordable transport inside and outside of the United Kingdom. Take public transportation whenever possible, especially if you’ll be in a city with good infrastructure. You may also be able to cycle or carpool with a friend!