Experience the Enchantment of the UK for Less with These Budget-Friendly Destinations
Belfast, Northern Ireland
The capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast was historically an industrial city that is perhaps most famously known as the birthplace of the RMS Titanic. Today you can visit the renovated shipyards and a whole neighborhood named after the famous ocean liner. There’s even a Titanic Hotel. The Titanic museum is a must-visit and even though the tickets are a bit pricey you can get a discounted, two-hour “Late Saver” ticket if you go late in the day. The museum is incredibly well done and historically accurate.
Belfast has a loud, upbeat nightlife scene with plenty of options to enjoy live music, the party often spilling out into the streets late into the wee hours on the weekends. Even on the weekdays, it’s not difficult to find live music and a drink somewhere in town.
For those looking to explore the cultural and historical heritage of the city, there are many cheap and free options in town including the Ulster Museum with its collection of artifacts and oddities, the Discover Ulster-Scots Centre, and the impressive Belfast City Hall, which offers free tours. You’ll have to pay if you want to see a show at the Metropolitan Arts Centre, but there are usually free art exhibitions in the MAC’s three galleries that you can visit any time of year.
Despite being a large city, there are numerous opportunities to enjoy nature in and around Belfast. The Belfast Castle Estate and Cave Hill Country Park is a must-see. The large park has a number of walking trails that offer amazing views and, of course, at its centerpiece is a castle dating to the late 1800s. Right in the heart of the city, Belfast’s Botanic Gardens offer an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors without traveling very far.
You can find very cheap flights to Belfast from other cities in the United Kingdom if you fly Ryanair. Just be careful to pay attention to the Ryanair luggage limits as they are quite restrictive and additional fees can really add up. There’s also a rail link from Dublin and ferries from both Scotland and England, so there are plenty of options for getting here.
Once you arrive, Airbnb has some good options for affordable accommodations, but the ibis Belfast City Centre Hotel offers a good balance of affordability and convenience as it’s located right in the downtown area.
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You’ve probably become well-acquainted with the name Liverpool from the famous football team, even if you have no idea where it might be on the map, or what it might have to offer for tourists. However, the city has its own draw for tourists seeking musical heritage, culture and nightlife.
England’s home of music, Liverpool has long been a hot spot for music production and is famous as the home of The Beatles. Lennon and McCartney’s homes are available for touring and a permanent exhibit known as The Beatles Story tells the story of the band’s rise to fame.
Culture vultures certainly won’t come up empty here with the city being home to the largest concentration of galleries and museums outside of London. You’ll want to make time to visit the World Museum, the Tate Liverpool, the Walker Art Gallery, the Museum of Liverpool and the impressive Liverpool Cathedral. Historically, the city was a significant seafaring port and there’s a great Maritime museum here, the Merseyside Maritime Museum, where visitors can learn about this aspect of the city’s history.
Of course, there’s something for fans of the famous football (soccer to us Americans) team as well. The Liverpool Football Club offers exciting experience days as well as tours of the club. A number of free parks, including the magnificent, 200-acre Sefton Park are a great place to spend a day in the outdoors and save a bit of money.
Saving money here is as simple as choosing your attractions carefully, making the most of the free ones and booking an affordable place to stay. The latter is made easy with a number of cottages and guesthouses around town that start from just £30 a night.
Budget travel is less about "cheaping out" and more about knowing what areas of travel you can cut expenses on. You'll hardly notice the difference!
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While Edinburgh gets much of the attention when it comes to booking a holiday in Scotland, Britain’s Second City of the Empire is a fantastic option for those wishing to travel on a budget. The city was settled in medieval times but its the Victorian-era architecture that really stands out as you stroll the streets of Glasgow.
The city has many beautiful gardens and nice public parks that can be enjoyed for free. The impressive Glasgow Botanic Gardens are especially nice and have some indoor areas that make it a good option even on a rainy day. You’ll find a number of free walking trails around town including a self-guided street art walking tour that you can find here.
Like many other university towns around the United Kingdom, one of the best places to look for budget accommodations is university housing. The University of Glasgow’s Cairncross House has comfortable rooms for a bargain price and is certainly worth considering.