FREE in-person or virtual visits to 3,000+ hidden UK property gems

Heritage sites open on selected September dates in England & Northern Ireland and throughout the month in Scotland & Wales

You can get FREE access either in person or online to many historical sites and tourist attractions including Shuttleworth House and gardens, Chartwell House (home of Winston Churchill), and Powis Castle as part of heritage open days across the UK in September.

The sites included usually charge an admission fee, wouldn't normally be available to tour online, or are closed to the public at other times of the year. To check places near you, see these websites:

  • In England, Heritage Open Days is on from Friday 9 - Sunday 18 September and includes 3,000+ locations and events. There are only a small number in London, but a separate festival called Open House London is running from Thursday 8 - Wednesday 21 September.
  • In Northern Ireland, European Heritage Open Days is on for a week digitally from Monday 5 - Sunday 11 September, with in-person events on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September. It includes 200+ sites and properties.
  • In Scotland, Doors Open Days runs throughout the whole month of September with hundreds of sites opening, as does WalesOpen Doors.

How to book

For some attractions you'll need to book in advance, but for others you'll be able to just turn up on the day. You can check whether you need to book or not by visiting the page for each attraction. If you do need to book, there'll be a link or instructions provided. If you don't need to, it may be worth double checking with the venue before your visit anyway. Opening dates and times vary for each attraction. 

Below, we've picked out some of the popular or interesting places you can visit for free.

England - in-person & online from 9-18 September

In-person events

  • Shuttleworth House, Collection, and Gardens, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire (Thu 15 Sep only). Normally £17.50.
  • Chartwell House, Westerham, Kent (Mon 12 Sep only). Normally £14.
  • The Brickworks Museum, Southampton, Hampshire (Thu 15 Sep only). Normally £6. Pre-booking required.
  • Greys Court gardens National Trust, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire (Mon 12 - Fri 16 Sep). Normally £13.
  • Ickworth National Trust, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk (Fri 9 - Sun 18 Sep). Normally £11.
  • Margate Caves, Kent (Fri 9 - Sun 11, Wed 14 - Fri 16 Sep). Normally £4.50.
  • Powderham Castle, Exeter, Devon (Sun 11 - Fri 16, Sun 18 Sep). Normally £12.95. Pre-booking preferred.
  • Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend, Tyne & Wear (Sat 17 - Sun 18 Sep). Normally £5.95.
  • Union Chapel, London (Sun 18 Sep only). Organ workshops for children, plus organ recital in this Grade I Victorian building. Rarely open to the public. Pre-booking required.
  • Weelsby Hall, Grimsby, Lincolnshire (Sat 10 Sep only). An opportunity to explore the grounds of Weelsby Hall and the interior entrance hall. Rarely open to the public. Pre-booking required.

Online events

If you check the Heritage Open Days website and select 'online events' you'll be able to see all which are online only, or have an online component, such as:

Powderham Castle, Devon

Northern Ireland - online from 5 September, in-person 10-11 September

In-person events

  • Rowallane garden (Sat 10, Sun 11 Sep, 10am-6pm only). Visit the garden originally created by Reverend John Moore and his nephew Hugh Armytage Moore.
  • Maritime Mile Photography Tour (Sat 10 Sep, 10.20am-12pm only). Improve your photography on a 90min tour of Maritime Mile shoot locations including the Titanic slipways, Titanic Hotel Belfast, and more. Booking essential.
  • Belfast Royal Academy (Sat 10 Sep, 10am-12pm only). See the three-storyed Cromby building made of Scrabo sandstone.

Online events

Rowallane garden

Scotland - throughout September, mainly in-person, some online

In-person events

  • Lower City Mills, Perth (Sat 17 & Sun 18 Sep). A rare survivor of similar mills that once operated in all Scottish burghs from the medieval period until the late 1890s. Pre-booking required.
  • Beannachar Camphill Community, Aberdeenshire (Sat 17 Sep). Including interesting buildings, plus grounds with woodland, farmland, lawns, sports field and a walled garden with flowers, vegetables, fruit and herbs.
  • Falkirk Steeple, Falkirk. (Sat 17 & Sun 18 Sep). Constructed to house the town’s bell and clock, as well as temporary cells not usually open to the public.
  • Dean Gardens, Edinburgh (Sun 25 Sep only, usually members only £150/year). Founded in the 1860s by local residents, the Dean Gardens contain part of the Dean Bridge, a Thomas Telford masterpiece of 1835.
  • Alloa Tower, Clackmannanshire (Sat 24 & Sun 25 Sep, usually £6.50). One of the largest and finest towers of its type in Scotland.

Online events

Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be an easy-to-access map of online events for 2022 as there were in previous years, and they're difficult to search. Some events have both online and in person options so it's worth clicking through to any you'd like to see to check.

Beannachar Camphill Community

Wales - throughout September, mostly in-person

Note: When checking locations at the Cadw website, remember to tick the box at the top marked 'Open doors' or the list will show locations which also charge full price.

In-person events

Online events

Powis Castle and Garden

Why do they do this?

The spirit of these open days is to celebrate hidden history and culture. However, a small number of privately-owned properties taking part get funding or have tax-exempt collections, which means they must allow public access for a certain number of days a year – but most of them just open up for the joy of it.

See our Cheap Days Out round-up for other ideas and ways to save, including 2for1 theme parks and attractions, cheap zoos and cinema tickets.