No one likes paying more than they should, especially when traveling on a tight budget. 

When I came to Britain last year, my friend told me about the National Trust and how you could get free entry to dozens of historical sites for a flat rate. My first thought was, “Wow!” My first question was, “Is it worth it?” 

The National Trust is a charity that seeks to preserve places and objects of historic value and extraordinary beauty for future generations.

If you’re thinking of visiting a few NT sites within the next year, a membership could save you loads of money. However, I’ll explain why I think most people won’t make their money back on a membership.

Lyme Park
Lyme Park by sergiovelayos


You can enter NT sites without being a member, at an average cost of £7.20 each (the Bath Assembly Rooms are as low as £2.50, while Dyrham Park is a steep £11.20).

The cost of a membership for an individual adult is £58. If you’re over 13 and under 25 you’re eligible for a “Young Person” rate of £27, and there are other membership rates for couples and families.


You’re probably familiar with some of the more famous NT locations:

Scanning the NT website is a great way to discover historic places you’ve never heard of before. If you’re a fan of spring flowers, check out the semi-abandoned country estate of Calke Abbey, Derbyshire; if your taste runs toward ancient history, visit the Roman fort of Housesteads at Hadrian’s Wall.



Not for Everyone

As exciting as an NT membership is, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who isn’t living in the UK for an extended period of time, or who isn’t prepared to focus a trip mostly around NT locations. I’ve been living here for nearly 9 months and have only been to three or four NT sites. If you’re a short-term tourist in Britain you could buy the membership thinking it’s a good deal, then be aggravated when you’re only able to visit a couple locations and don’t even make your money back.
It is possible to get your money’s worth by planning a holiday around NT sites, so if you’re willing to go to the effort you can see some magnificent places with your membership.
But even though I say that it’s easy to lose money on this, I’ve just renewed my own NT membership for another year. I think it’s worthwhile in my situation, but you have to make the decision yourself. I hope this short guide has been some help!

How about you? Does a National Trust membership make sense?

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Written by Abigail Young

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

This article has 2 comments

  1. Gregg White Reply

    Definitely only something for residents, maybe frequently returning overseas visitors [I know some Britophile Americans here in Colorado who visit the UK 4 times a year in the different seasons.] & possibly historic house dedicated visitors on a 2 week vacation. The problem is twofold. If you buy a membership then obviously you will spend hours upon hours checking which places to visit in your two weeks only to realise that there are several hundred that you would like to visit! Very frustrating. Also there are many brilliant historic houses that don’t belong to the NT so the chances are that a visitor would want to visit some of those. Hand on heart I would say that generally you need a month in the UK to make the membership worthwhile. The National Trust is a brilliant charity & we have a lot in terms of historic preservation to thank it for so on that basis I am quite happy to pay the full price when I visit a property. In fact I would say that annual membership is actually too cheap.

  2. J_on_tour Reply

    I’ve had this conversation with a fellow blogger and even though I couldn’t put my finger on it, you’ve cemented my thoughts here.
    Firstly the National Trust does a fantastic job in preserving not only historic houses and their artefacts but also has a role to play in the countryside too. A visit to a National Trust site is usually a quality experience although a little overpowering at times at the entrances.
    However, after many suggestions from friends and the sales team at the door that I should invest in a National Trust card, I’m positive that it isn’t one for me. Members can book a break in any region of the UK and gain entry to such places for “free” thus saving holiday money to spend on other things. The locations mentioned in the list above are classic and not to be missed, but on say for example a trip to York, would the visitor opt out of the high entrance fees of York Minster, Jorvik Centre and host of other top sites in favour of a free trip into the Treasurers House. It could be argued that the entrance fee saved means that another venue from the wish list could be added instead. The argument is further complicated in a place like Glasgow where most people want to see Charles Rennie Mackintosh sites all of which are owned by other organisations. Taking it a step further, visitors to Oban would much prefer to see Iona, Tobermory and Staffa while the National Trust site has a problem trying to keep itself in the limelight. Then of course there’s the English Heritage card that preserves a different base of sites such as Castles and ruins diluting the trade and yearly fees. Many privately owned Museums and Historic Houses are becoming wise to this by offering repeat visits by charging a little bit more in exchange for a yearly pass. At first it may not seem like a good idea as once you have seen it, it’s time to move on but then it’s all about attracting the customer to return for events, tours and on site sales.
    If one felt obliged to recover money from their yearly NT card, Ok they could be seeing magical places like Culzean Castle in Ayrshire but they could be missing out on places like Chatsworth House, Beamish Museum, Alnwick Castle and Castle Howard.
    Personally I believe in moderation and variety in travel.

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