Cardiff’s St Fagans National Museum of History rated UK’s best free day out

The National Railway Museum in York and the Royal Air Force Museum in Cosford also ranked highly in the survey by Which?

Josie Clarke
Saturday 03 June 2023 00:01 BST
The National History Museum of St Fagans open air museum on the outskirts of Cardiff (PA)
The National History Museum of St Fagans open air museum on the outskirts of Cardiff (PA) (PA Media)

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St Fagans National Museum of History, The National Railway Museum and Durham Cathedral are among the UK’s best free days, according to a survey.

The top-rated free attraction is Cardiff’s St Fagans National Museum of History, which achieved a customer score of 94% in a survey of almost 7,000 people by consumer group Which?

The open-air museum offers a “fascinating glimpse into history” and features 40 reconstructed buildings including a working forge, a school, chapel and Workmen’s Institute, while practical exhibits involve demonstrations of blacksmithing, pottery and weaving.

The National Railway Museum in York, which displays more than a hundred locomotives including the Mallard, a working replica of George Stephenson’s Rocket and the only Shinkansen bullet train outside of Japan, tied with the Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum in Cosford with a score of 91%.

Other highly-rated free museums and galleries are the National Museum of Scotland (90%), the Cardiff National Museum (87%), Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow (87%), Royal Air Force Museum, London (87%), Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool (87%), Oxford University Museum of Natural History (86%) and the Scottish National Galleries (86%).

The watchdog also asked almost 3,000 people to rank their favourite historic attractions, rating them on nine criteria including accessibility, the quality of food and drink available and lack of crowds.

Durham Cathedral, once described by Bill Bryson as “the best cathedral on planet Earth”, topped the ranking with a score of 86%.

St David’s Cathedral also rated highly on 80%, followed by Chichester with a score of 77%.

The Houses of Parliament followed on 76%, with any UK resident able to avoid paying around £25 a head by contacting their MP, or a member of the House of Lords, to request a free 75-minute guided tour.

Other highly-rated free historic attractions include Bury St Edmunds Abbey, which received a customer score of 73%, Somerset House (71%) and Bristol Cathedral (68%).

Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “As the cost of living crisis continues to be a strain on household budgets, finding cheap or free days out has never been more important. Fortunately the UK has a number of fantastic museums, galleries and other attractions which offer free entry and hours of fun.

“From the world’s largest railway museum, to the Houses of Parliament, Which?’s rankings of the UK’s best free days out has plenty to inspire you as the summer holidays approach.”

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