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10 Day Trips for a Tenner – cheap days out by train

Looking for a day out that won't break the bank? Here are 10 day trips for less than a tenner.
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Nothing comes cheap these days. But, sometimes you just want to hop on the train and explore somewhere new. So, we’re here to show you some cheap days out by train that’ll leave you with change for 10 quid.

Where can I go on cheap days out by train?

We’ve got a suggestion for 10 cities across Great Britain. They’re return tickets, they’ll stay the same price no matter when you book and you don’t need any sort of Railcard. Let’s see where £10 can take you!

1. Newcastle – Hexham

For just £8.20 return, you can head off to Hexham. So, what is there to do in this beautiful town near the Tyne? Well, the Abbey is a great start:

hexham, which can be reached on cheap days out by train from newcastle

It was founded in AD674 and the existing building was constructed in 1250. In more recent times, it reclaimed ownership of the former monastic buildings, which had previously housed Hexham Magistrates Court. You’ll now find a visitor centre in them, which tells the fascinating story of the Abbey.

Don’t act up too much though, as you might end up in the Old Gaol! It doesn’t house prisoners anymore, but it continues to tell the story of those who were locked up in one of the oldest purpose-built prisons in the country. The Old Gaol started welcoming ‘guests’ in around 1332.

Aside from these attractions, you can visit one of the many independent cafes and shops in Hexham. If you’re looking for local goods, then you can’t miss Hexham Market, which takes place every Tuesday.

2. York – Knaresborough

We’ve all heard of Harrogate. But have you considered cheap days out by train to its neighbour? There’s so much to see and do in charming Knaresborough, while you can enjoy a slightly slower and calmer pace to your day. It’s just £8.90 return from York.

You can begin with a stroll down the River Nidd. You’ll find a variety of independent cafes along the water’s edge, and it’s a great place to admire one of the most famous views of the town. Of course, we’re talking about the railway viaduct:

Knaresborough - which can be reached on cheap days out by train from york

Once you’ve made your way along the river, don’t forget to climb back up towards Knaresborough Castle & Museum. This Norman Castle was largely destroyed in 1648, not because of any war, but because Parliament ordered the destruction of any ‘Royalist’ buildings. In fact, many buildings in the town were later constructed from ‘Castle’ stone.

If you head back down the river and under the railway viaduct, you’ll find Mother Shipton’s Cave. It’s England’s oldest tourist attraction, and it was the home of Mother Shipton, a Tudor prophetess. Legend has it that she foretold the fates of various rulers both during and after her lifetime. She even predicted the Great Fire of London.

Looking to end one of your cheap days out by train with a drink? You’ll find the Track & Sleeper on the York-bound platform. We paid it a visit as part of our visits to station pubs across the nation.

3. Leeds – Hebden Bridge

If you’re looking for cheap days out by train from Leeds, then Hebden Bridge is a winner. For just £8.80 return, you can visit, according to some, the Greatest Town in Europe!

It’s awash with independent shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. Whether you want to fill your basket or fill your belly, there’s something for everyone. Plus, the town is in a stunning location. The Rochdale Canal runs straight through it:

hebden bridge

A little closer to Hebden Bridge, you could also go exploring around Hardcastle Crags. It’s around a 35-minute walk from the station to the beginning of the area. It has 15 miles of paths to explore though, so it might take you a little longer than 35 minutes to cover it all.

Looking for more inspiration? We’ve got a dedicated guide to day trips from Leeds.

4. Manchester – Littleborough

We’re sticking with the Rochdale Canal for this next cheap day out by train. For just £7.50 return, you can make the most of the great outdoors. In fact, you have two choices on where to walk!

If you take the Rochdale Canal route, then you’ll very quickly find yourself at the summit. Fittingly, the summit of the Rochdale Canal is in an area called Summit! At this time of year, you’ll likely want some respite from the cold, too, so the Summit Inn is there if you need some hot food or a drink.

countryside in the vicinity of littleborough

Feeling more adventurous? You can take the Pennine Way, instead. Just make sure that you wrap up warm before you go exploring Blackstone Edge or beyond. There’s even a suggested walk available for you.

5. Birmingham – Stratford-upon-Avon

It’s time to get in touch with Shakespeare on the next of our cheap days out by train. It’s both the birthplace and burial location of the iconic playwright and poet, and you can get there for just £9.70 return from Birmingham.

The natural place to begin is Shakespeare’s Birthplace. As the name suggests, this is where the story of one of the greatest storytellers began. Just be sure to book ahead, as it can get rather busy. If you’re interested in his days in education, then Shakespeare’s Schoolroom is for you.

A little further out, you can pay a visit to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage:

anne hathaway's cottage - which can be visited on cheap days out by train

Stratford isn’t just all about Shakespeare, though! You can take a wander by the River Avon or take a visit to warmer climes in the Stratford Butterfly Farm. That is of course on top of the beautiful historic centre, which is packed with cafes, restaurants and more.

6. Exeter – Totnes

Looking for a true taste of Devon? Then Totnes is for you. For just £8.90 return, you can make the 29-mile trip down to this delightful market town. Fancy stepping back in time? Pay a visit to Totnes Castle or the Brutus Stone on Fore Street. Legend has it that this is where the Trojan Prince, Brutus, got off his ship. As he stepped onto the stone he said “Here I stand, and here I rest. The town shall be called Totnes”.

Foodie? You’re in for a treat. Pop in on the third Sunday of every month for a dedicated Food Market. Plus, every Friday and Saturday, you’ll find the streets bustling with local traders selling everything from crafts and gifts to local delicacies.

If you’re an animal lover, then Totnes Rare Breeds Farm is a must-visit. It’s there to keep rare breeds of animal alive and to allow the public to get hands-on and meet these adorable creatures:

ducks at totnes rare breeds farm

Fancy taking to the rails again? You can hop on a heritage train to Buckfastleigh with the South Devon Railway. It’s a 14-mile round trip through some stunning countryside.

7. Southampton – Winchester

It’s just £8.60 return for one of the best-value cheap days out by train from Southampton to historic Winchester. Travelling after midday or on a Sunday? The price is just £6. So, what is there to do?

For one, you have six Military Museums to choose from. Within this complex, you can learn about the Gurkhas, the Royal Hussars, the Royal Hampshire Regiment and more. What’s more, it’s completely free for kids to visit! It’s also possible to buy a joint ticket for all six museums.

We can’t ignore the beautiful Winchester Cathedral, either. It’s the longest medieval church in the world:

winchester cathedral

Above all, Winchester has a beautiful historic City Centre to explore. If you’re looking for the best place to take it all in, don’t forget to have a wander up to the top of St Giles Hill.

8. Cambridge – Ely

This is the cheapest of the cheap days out by train. For just £5.40 (or £3.70 on weekends) you can make a return trip from Cambridge to Ely. It’s a simple short hop and you have three different rail companies that will take you there.

Looking to buy some local goods? Ely is filled with independent shops and cafes. You can also visit the Craft, Food & Vintage Market which takes place every Saturday.

Of course, we can’t ignore the magnificent Ely Cathedral. The earliest parts of the building date from 1083 and it was granted Cathedral status in 1109:

ely cathedral, readhable on cheap days out by train

He’s one of the most divisive figures in British history, but did you know that you can visit his former family home in Ely? It’s definitely worth popping into Oliver Cromwell’s House when you take a trip to the city on the Fens.

9. Edinburgh – Aberdour

Did you know that the beach is just a 30-minute train trip from Edinburgh? Simply hop on a train to Aberdour for just £8.80 return and you can enter a completely different world. It’s one of the most beautiful cheap days out by train.

It’s just a short walk down to Black Sands, which faces the Firth of Forth and gives great views back towards Edinburgh and Arthur’s Seat:

black sands beach, aberdour

This is definitely a good one if you fancy a walk. If you’d prefer some more peaceful surroundings, then you can head to Silver Sands. It’s connected to Black Sands by the Fife Coastal Path, or it’s a 15-minute walk if you’re coming from the station directly.

You could pay a visit to Aberdour Castle & Gardens, too. It’s one of the oldest standing Castles in Scotland, with some parts dating back to the 1100s. Over the years, different families added their own touch to the castle, giving a real insight into the fashions and attitudes of the time.

10. Glasgow – Stirling

Finally, we have Stirling. It’s just £9.60 for a return ticket from Glasgow. If you make your way up to the Old Town, you’ll find a wealth of history to explore. The main attraction of course is Stirling Castle.

It had a part to play in many a historical event. Did you know that the Battle of Bannockburn took place within sight of the castle walls?

Just a short walk away from the castle is the Church of the Holy Rude. It’s the second-oldest building in Stirling (after the castle) and was established in 1129:

church of the holy rude, stirling

Looking to learn about a darker side of Stirling? Take a look at the Old Town Jail. It has a ‘sweet’ history too, as it was a sweet factory for part of its life.

Is there anything else I should know?

Ready to take one of these cheap days out by train? Remember to book your tickets with Railsmartr. We don’t charge any extra fees, so all of the tickets we’ve mentioned on this page are fully refundable.

If you change your mind before you travel, or you’re not able to go, that’s no problem. Just send us your tickets and we’ll sort the rest. That’s a full refund, with no admin fees deducted.

All information on this page is issued in good faith and was correct at 11/12/2023. It’s subject to change at any time and Railsmartr are not responsible for any loss or disappointment incurred as a result of the information provided. All fares refer to the Off-Peak Day ReturnSuper Off-Peak Day Return, Evening Out or Sunday Out for one adult. Fares are subject to change in March 2024. Not all attractions are open during the Winter months – please check ahead before visiting. 

Author Richard

Hi, I'm Richard and I've been working for Railsmartr since 2022. I make sure that everything we communicate with customers is top-notch and write exciting and informative content for the website. When I'm not at work, you'll still find me on the rails - though often in the far corners of Europe!