FREE in-person or virtual visits to 5,000+ hidden UK property gems

Heritage sites open on selected September dates

You can get FREE access to many historical sites and tourist attractions including a tour of Durham Cathedral's Chapter House (featured in Harry Potter), entry to Chartwell (home of Winston Churchill), and Northern Ireland's Castle Ward 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.

Check for free open days near you

England: Heritage Open Days is on from Friday 8 to Sunday 17 September and includes 5,000+ locations and events. There are only a small number in London, but a separate festival called Open House London is running from Wednesday 6 to Sunday 17 September.

Northern Ireland: European Heritage Open Days is on for a week digitally from Monday 4 - Sunday 10 September, with in-person events on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September. It includes 200+ sites and properties.

Scotland: Doors Open Days runs during weekends in September with hundreds of sites opening

Wales: Open Doors is on throughout the month of September with 100+ sites opening for free.

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 8 to 17 September

In-person events

  • Chartwell, Westerham, Kent (Monday 11 September, 10am to 5pm). The family home of Sir Winston Churchill. Normally £20.
  • Durham Cathedral's Chapter House & prison cell tour, County Durham (Monday 11, Wednesday 13 & Friday 15 September, 11.30am). Chapter House was used as a filming location for Professor McGonagall's classroom in two Harry Potter films. Note: Access to the prison cell is via some very low doorways and several steps. Pre-booking required. The Cathedral may ask for an optional donation.
  • The Brickworks Museum, Southampton, Hampshire (Wednesday 13 & Thursday 14 September, 11am to 4pm). Over 100 years of brick making history under one roof. Normally £6.
  • Greys Court gardens National Trust, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire (Monday 11 to Saturday 16 September, 10am to 4pm). 16th-century mansion and gardens. Normally £13.
  • Ickworth National Trust, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk (Friday 8 to Sunday 17 September, various times). Known as Suffolk's 'Little Italy'. Normally £12. Pre-booking preferred.
  • Margate Caves, Kent (Friday 8 to Sunday 10, Wednesday 13 to Sunday 17 September, 10am to 4.30pm). Caves filled with colourful paintings and murals dating back to Georgian times. Normally £4.50. Pre-booking required.
  • Powderham Castle, Exeter, Devon (Sunday 10 to Sunday 17 September, various times). Fancy family home of the Earl of Devon. Normally £9.95.
  • Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend, Tyne & Wear (Saturday 9 to Sunday 10 September, 10am to 5pm). Normally £6.95.
  • Union Chapel, London (Saturday 9 September, various times). 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 (Sunday 17 September, 12pm to 3pm). An opportunity to explore the grounds of Weelsby Hall and the interior entrance hall. Rarely open to the public. Pre-booking required.

Online events

Check the Heritage Open Days website, scroll down to the search area and select 'online events' to see all which are online only, or have an online component.

Powderham Castle, Devon

Northern Ireland - online from 4 September, in-person 9 & 10 September

In-person events

  • Castle Ward, County Down (Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 September, 10am to 5pm). National Trust property including an 18th-century mansion. Normally £12.
  • Belfast Royal Academy (Saturday 9 September, 10am to 12pm only). See the three-storey Cromby building made of Scrabo sandstone.
  • Giant's Causeway (Sunday 10 September,11am and 2pm only). Take a guided walk around the site and hear tales you may not have heard before. Pre-booking required.
  • Blackhead Lightkeeper's Houses, County Antrim (Sunday 10 September, 10am to 4pm). The lighthouse was important in guiding vessels, including the Titanic, from the famous shipyard of Harland & Wolff out of Belfast Lough. Pre-booking required.
  • Armagh Observatory & Planetarium (Saturday 9 September, 10am to 5pm). It's opening its largest telescope dome to the public.
  • The Livingston Centre, County Down (Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 September, 10am to 4pm). It tells the transatlantic story of the Livingston family and the first recorded attempted sailing between Ulster and America. Normally £7.50.

Online events

Blackhead Lightkeeper's Houses, County Antrim

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

In-person events

  • Lower City Mills, Perth (Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 September). A rare survivor of similar mills that once operated in all Scottish burghs from the medieval period until the late 1890s.
  • Beannachar Camphill Community, Aberdeenshire (Saturday 16 September). It includes interesting buildings, plus grounds with woodland, farmland, lawns, sports field and a walled garden with flowers, vegetables, fruit and herbs.
  • Alloa Tower, Clackmannanshire (Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 September). One of the largest towers of its type in Scotland. Normally £6.50
  • HMS Unicorn, Dundee (Saturday 23 September, 10am to 4pm). Explore all four decks of Scotland's oldest ship. Normally £8.60.

Online events

When searching for events at Doors Open Days, you can select 'Search for digital events only' to see those which are online.

HMS Unicorn, Dundee

Wales - throughout September, mostly in-person, some online

In-person events

  • Tredegar House, Newport (Sunday 3 September, 11am to 4.30pm only). 17th-century mansion and gardens cared for by the National Trust. Normally £11.
  • Newport Cathedral (Saturday 9 September, 10am to 4pm only). A primarily Norman cathedral, with Saxon foundations.
  • Caerleon Amphitheatre & Barracks tour (Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 September, 11am to 1pm). One of the largest Roman military sites in Europe.
  • Powis Castle and Garden (Saturday 16 September, 10am to 5pm only). The gardens are open at 10am, the castle from midday, with last entry at 3.30pm. Normally £15.

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 if you enjoy visiting National Trust properties, see if you can get one of 100,000 FREE one-day National Trust family passes.