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Overseas Visitor Pass

Has anyone had experience using the overseas visitor pass? It appears that a 16 day pass costs 30 Pounds. We plan to visit Dover Castle, Stonehenge, and parts of Hadrian's Wall that are included in this pass. These places separately would cost around 40 Pounds, so it appears it might be a wise thing to do.

Does anyone have any experience with using this? Any gotchas that I should be aware of?

Thanks!

Virginia

Posted by
333 posts

I'm not familiar with the pass. Just make sure to add up all the places you would like to see and their individual costs first. Passes like what you're describing can be a big savings, but often they give you limited days and times for your visits and don't include any extras, so just be aware and read everything before you buy. If you plan to cram a lot into your trip, it might well be worth it. If you'll only do a few things, you'll break even or possibly lose money. I used a similar type of pass in Hawaii. It was convenient. I saved some money, but not a huge amount. It was still worth it though.

Just an FYI- I hadn't realized (until I researched) that at Stonehenge you aren't allowed to wander around the rocks. There is a short, chain fence about 30 feet around the perimeter of the circle and you can view the stones from outside the fence during your tour. HOWEVER, there are special tickets you can buy (they are limited and more expensive) that will put you on a special tour where you can wander around the stones. I splurged and spent that extra money and took the sunrise tour. Being within the stone circles as the sun came up made for a special memory and wonderful pictures and I'm so glad I learned that ahead of time and splurged. That's what I mean about "extras" when looking into the visitors pass.

Posted by
200 posts

Hi Rankster,

Thanks for mentioning that if we might want to do the Stonehenge 'inside the fence' tour that this would probably NOT be covered by the Overseas Visitor pass. This special tour does sound like an interesting and most interesting way to see Stonehenge.

Many thanks,
Virginia

Posted by
3455 posts

Virginia,
Here are the "gotchas" that you should be aware of:

One: The time limit: The English Heritage Pass (Overseas Visitor Pass) is good for either 9 or 16 consecutive days, depending upon which ticket you buy. It is activated when you visit the first attraction and the card is scanned. This means that once you use it (swipe it), the clock is running. You will, obviously, want to visit one right after another of these attractions, before the clock (time) runs out.

Therefore, look at the attractions listed on a map. Group the ones that are close to one another, hit them by area. You could also list the attractions on the list you'd like to visit, look at which ones are the most expensive, use the Pass on all the most expensive admissions FIRST to maximize your savings.

Two: The card is not replaceable or refundable if you lose it.

Three: The card is also not transferable to another person, in case you cannot take your trip as planned, and you have already bought it ahead of time online. When you use the card the first time to activate it, they will require an ID with your name and home address on it (passport or driver's license). It must match the name who made the purchase online of the Pass.

I do have experience using this Pass and found that I saved money, but you must have a definite plan about which historic palaces and sights you want to see, and hit them quickly. Of course you will not be able to see all the attractions covered by the pass. That's not the point of the pass. You will begin to save money after you have visited the first 6 or 7 sights, in my opinion. Hit your own personal "must see" sights first.

The following sights are covered at Hadrian's Wall: Birdoswald Roman Fort, Chesters Roman Fort, Corbridge Roman Town and Housesteads Roman Fort.

When you return to London, the following sights are covered by the pass: Apsley House, Chiswick House, Eltham Palace and Gardens, the Jewel Tower, Marble Hill House, Wellington Arch, and Ranger’s House (which is in Greenwich).

The sights you have named are spread out in England. Dover and Hadrian's Wall are quite far from one another, as you know. So, you will lose some travel time off the clock between them, but there are some interesting sights on the way from one to the other. Also, your savings at some of the London venues help you feel like you got your money's worth.

Posted by
200 posts

Hi Rebecca,

Thanks very much for your information.

I will check and make sure that we can use it for the Operation Dynamo and other special exhibits we want to see at Dover Castle before buying it. We may want to take a special Stonehenge tour that I imagine this may not pay for.

I imagine this could save some time by the mere fact that we would not have to wait in a line to buy a ticket, but I am starting to wonder if it would really save us any money.

Thanks again for your comments!

Virginia

Posted by
3455 posts

Hi Virginia,
One more possible "gotcha" left out of my previous post. Some of the castles and abbeys that are covered by this pass are ruins. Some are partially restored castles, like Framlingham. I think a lot of tourists who buy this pass think they will be seeing whole restored castles. The castles on the list are not all like Windsor Castle, and the abbeys do not all look like Westminster Abbey. Consider that when looking at the list of places covered. The ruined abbeys and castles are all very atmospheric and beautiful in their own way; but if that's not your thing, take this into consideration.

Posted by
61 posts

Although we did not use the pass to which you are referring in your question, we definitely bought and used an Historic Houses Association pass (I think that is good for 16 days) and the National Trust yearly pass for Americans. We used them to the hilt and they were an excellent value for us. The Historic Houses pass tends to give admission to higher end country homes (more like palaces), a few castles and some palaces. We did exactly what Rebecca suggested and that was to plot out our travel, narrow down to the sites we wanted to see as long as we could use the pass, and coordinate the days and hours they are open. We found that many of the sites opened about 10 and closed at 5 - they aren't often open for long hours. It was difficult to hit two sites in one day but occasionally we were able to do so by being strict with the amount of time we spent at each, and eating a protein bar (which we brought from home) for lunch. That's the way we managed our time but you might want to do things differently, or your sites might be more spread apart. Keep in mind that driving times in England will take longer - usually double the mileage. For instance, to drive 30 miles might actually take a good hour due to narrow (sometimes single track) roads that seldom go straight.

Posted by
200 posts

Hi Kay,

Thanks very much for your advice about the pass.

It sounds like it was very worthwhile for you!

Regards,
Virginia

Posted by
791 posts

The English Heritage pass was a good deal for my family. We really enjoyed the sites. At the bigger sites we bought the English Heritage guidebooks and found them to be very informative. You can look at their website to see prices for each place and figure out if the pass is a good deal. We never really saw a line for English Heritage sites other than Stonehenge.