There’s a long-running offer from National Rail where you can get 2for1 entry to 150+ attractions including zoos, museums and theme parks – in cities such as London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmingham – when you show a train ticket for each person going to the attraction.
But what many don’t know, is you can still get the 2for1 entry even when you’re not going by train, which could save a family of four £30ish on entry to London Zoo or two of you could go to Kew Gardens and save £10ish.
The trick is to simply buy train tickets for each person for the cheapest single journey to the attraction you’re visiting (usually from the next station along).
As the cheapest single train tickets often only cost a few quid, they can work out a lot cheaper than the entry price – so you still make a decent saving per person even after the initial cost of a train ticket you don’t need.
Here’s how to do it
Register online at Days Out Guide and choose which attraction you want to visit. Download and print your 2for1 entry voucher (you’ll need one voucher per two people, up to a maximum of six people) – you can’t show it on your smartphone, though a small number of attractions allow you to book online.
Show your voucher and train tickets at the attraction to get 2for1 entry (make sure each person has a ticket and it’s valid for the same day as your voucher).
Important: The train tickets must be to and from a National Rail station, not a non-mainline or Tube station, eg, tickets from Transport for London do not count.
Here are some examples of how you can save money with this trick:
|Attraction||Cheap single train ticket to nearby station1||Saving incl train tickets cost2|
|Warwick Castle||£1.60 Leamington Spa to Warwick||£23.20|
|London Zoo||£5.90 Harrow-on-the-Hill to London Marylebone||£17.95|
|Manchester United Museum & Tour||£1.80 Humphrey Park to Trafford Park||£14.40|
|Ghost Bus Tours Edinburgh||£2.30 Haymarket to Edinburgh||£11.40|
|Kew Gardens||£2.40 Chiswick to Kew Bridge||£10.20|
|Blackpool Tower Eye||£1.70 Layton to Blackpool North||£10.10|
|Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum||£2.20 Small Heath to Birmingham Moor Street||£6.90|
|1Price based on off-peak fare and doesn’t incl railcard or other discounts so you could potentially save more.
2Saving is based on two full-price adult entries to the attraction – cheapest ticket will be free.
Which other rules do I need to follow?
- All paper train tickets showing the National Rail logo are valid, including advance and season tickets, those with a railcard or group discount, travelcards (if bought from a National Rail station only) and rail company smartcards, eg, The Key, c2c Smart.
- The destination on the ticket must be near to the attraction you’re visiting (or state ‘London Terminals’ for 2for1 London attractions) and the ticket needs to be valid for the same day as your 2for1 voucher. See our Cheap Train Tickets guide for how to get the best fares.
- The offer won’t work if you show an Oyster Card, a travelcard issued by Transport for London, freedom pass, BritRail passes, Eurostar or MegaTrain tickets, or a contactless payment card.
Warning: Some ticket barriers retain your ticket, so to make sure you don’t lose your proof of travel, ask station staff at a manned barrier to help you through.
Do I have to go to a train station to buy my ticket?
You don’t necessarily need to go to the departure station on your tickets to get them. You can buy a ticket for any journey at any National Rail station.
If you buy your train tickets online you can usually choose to pick them up from a self-service machine at any station that has them, not just the departure or arrival station, so you may be able to pick the tickets up from a station near where you live or work.
Some rail companies also offer mobile tickets for selected journeys. Of course, you can have tickets posted to you but there’ll be a charge for this.
Always check for better deals
Before using this trick, always check to make sure there isn’t a better deal out there for the attraction you want to visit.
For instance, you could use National Rail’s 2for1 offer on theme parks such as Alton Towers, Legoland and Thorpe Park, but unless you’re travelling to them by train anyway, then there are currently other deals available that will save you more money – see Cheap Theme Parks.
For more top deals for attractions, theatre, cinema and more, check Cheap Days Out.
This is just one of the ‘life hacks’ we feature on the site… See our 80+ MoneySaving Life Hacks guide for lots more – including an app which lets you eat neighbours’ food for free, how to turn your phone into a free sat nav and a tool to check if hackers have stolen your info.