The UK's best FREE days out revealed by Which?

A bucket list that won’t break the bank! The UK’s best FREE days out revealed by Which? – from a trip to the world’s largest railway museum to a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament

  • Which? surveyed over 7,000 people on their favourite free attractions to visit
  • ‘Finding cheap or free days out has never been more important,’ says Which?
  • READ MORE: TikToker reveals ‘the things in the U.S that make no sense to a Brit’

St Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff and Durham Cathedral are among the UK’s best attractions for a free day out, Which? has revealed. 

The consumer champion surveyed almost 7,000 people, asking them to rate their experiences at more than one hundred museums, galleries and historic attractions, dividing the findings into two categories – museums and historic sights. 

In the museum category, Which? asked more than 4,000 people to rank their favourite free-to-enter museums and galleries on their engagement and entertainment factor, the quality of the information provided, queueing times and crowdedness, range and quality of facilities and value for money. 

The top-rated free museum is St Fagans National Museum of History, which achieves a customer score of 94 per cent. The open-air museum offers a ‘fascinating glimpse into history’ and features 40 reconstructed buildings including a working forge, a school, chapel and Workmen’s Institute, while practical exhibits involve demonstrations of blacksmithing, pottery and weaving.

The UK’s best attractions for a free day out have been revealed by Which? – and St Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff (above) is the number one museum in the ranking 

York’s National Railway Museum, home to more than a hundred locomotives, ranks joint second in the museum category 

It’s followed by York’s National Railway Museum – famed as the world’s largest railway museum – and Shropshire’s Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum in joint second place with scores of 91 per cent.

The National Railway Museum displays more than a hundred locomotives including the Mallard, a working replica of George Stephenson’s Rocket and the only Shinkansen bullet train outside of Japan.

The RAF museum in the Shropshire village of Cosford, meanwhile, boasts a ‘renowned’ collection of military aircraft, including the world’s oldest Spitfire, as well as Britain’s V Bombers from the Cold War era including the Vulcan, Victor and Valiant. 

Also on display is a Dornier Do 17, a German bomber recovered from the bottom of the English Channel a decade ago, Which? notes.

Moving down the ranking, Edinburgh’s National Museum of Scotland takes the bronze medal. 

The rest of the top 10 list is comprised of the Cardiff National Museum (joint fourth, 87 per cent); Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow (joint fourth, 87 per cent); London’s Royal Air Force Museum (joint fourth, 87 per cent); Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool (joint fourth, 87 per cent); Oxford University Museum of Natural History (joint fifth, 86 per cent) and the Scottish National Galleries (joint fifth, 86 per cent).



1. St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff – 94% 

2 = National Railway Museum, York – 91%

2 = Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum, Cosford – 91%

3. National Museum of Scotland – 90%

4 = Cardiff National Museum – 87%

4 = Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – 87%

4 = Royal Air Force Museum, London – 87%

4 = Walker Art Gallery – 87%

5 = Oxford University Museum of Natural History – 86%

5 = Scottish National Galleries – 86%


1. Durham Cathedral – 86%

2. St David’s Cathedral – 80%

3. Chichester Cathedral – 77%

4. Houses of Parliament – 76%

5. Bury St Edmunds Abbey – 73%

6. Somerset House – 71%

7. Bristol Cathedral – 68%

Source: Which? 

The Cosford RAF museum, which ties for second place in the museum ranking, boasts a ‘renowned’ collection of military aircraft

Edinburgh’s National Museum of Scotland, pictured, takes the bronze medal in the museums and galleries list 

The watchdog also asked 3,000 people to rate their favourite historic attractions on nine criteria including accessibility, the quality of food and drink available and lack of crowds.

Durham Cathedral, once described by travel writer Bill Bryson as ‘the best cathedral on planet Earth’, tops the ranking with a score of 86 per cent.

‘Perched high above the city, it has inspired visitors since the medieval period,’ Which? says.

St David’s Cathedral is also rated highly, landing second with a customer score of 80 per cent. Located in the UK’s smallest city, there have been services held on the site since the sixth century, and today over 300,000 people visit every year, the consumer champion reveals.

Cardiff National Museum, pictured above, ties in fourth place in the museum ranking

Which? asked almost 3,000 people to rank their favourite historic attractions, with Durham Cathedral (above) taking the top spot

Chichester Cathedral, meanwhile, is the third-highest-rated free historic destination with a score of 77 per cent.

Fourth place goes to the Houses of Parliament, which has a score of 76 per cent. Which? says: ‘While guided tours can often be costly, at around £25 a head, it is possible to gain entry for free, with just a little forward planning. Any UK resident can contact their MP, or a member of the House of Lords, to request a free 75-minute guided tour.’

The watchdog adds that UK residents also have the right to visit Prime Minister’s Questions or other debates, again by contacting their MP.

Other highly rated free historic attractions include Bury St Edmunds Abbey (fifth), which receives a customer score of 73 per cent, Somerset House (sixth, 71 per cent) and Bristol Cathedral (seventh, 68 per cent).

Commenting on the survey’s findings, Which? Travel editor Rory Boland says: ‘As the cost of living crisis continues to be a strain on household budgets, finding cheap or free days out has never been more important. Fortunately, the UK has a number of fantastic museums, galleries and other attractions which offer free entry and hours of fun.

‘From the world’s largest railway museum, to the Houses of Parliament, Which?’s rankings of the UK’s best free days out has plenty to inspire you as the summer holidays approach.’

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