Britrail passes can cover all of Great Britain or just select countries or regions—your pick (Photo maps courtesy of Britrail; illustration by Reid Bramblett)
Britrail passes can cover all of Great Britain or just select countries or regions—your pick

Is the Britrail pass—good for unlimited travel on the national rail network—worth it in the U.K.?

How does BritRail pass work?

A rail pass allows unlimited rides on all trains in the national rail network within the geographic area and time frame you choose.

There is the granddaddy Britrail pass covering England, Scotland and Wales, as well as single-country and regional ones. 

There are two main flavors of rail pass:

  • Consecutive pass: As much rail travel as you can handle for 3, 4, 8, 15, or 22 days or 1 month of consecutive travel.  
  • Flexipass: Rail travel for any 3, 4, or 8 days of travel within a 1 month period (or 15 days within a 2 month period); you pick the days as you go, jotting down the date on the pass itself.

There are different prices for adult, youth (16–26), child (5–15) and senior (60+)—kids under 5 travel free with an adult.

You can also get saver passes for three or more people traveling together, and with some passes, a child travels free with each paying adult.

Britrail pass options

BritRail Pass options Where can I travel? Flexible & Consecutive? London airport trains?
BritRail Pass All of England, Scotland and Wales    
BritRail England Pass Only England    
BritRail Freedom of Scotland Pass Only Scotland Only flexipass  
BritRail Central Scotland Pass Rough triangle formed by Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling Only flexipass  
BritRail London Plus Pass Southeast England Only flexipass  
BritRail South West Pass Southwest England and Wales     (Heathrow only)
BritRail Scottish Highlands Pass  Scottish Highlands Only flexipass  

What is included on the Britail pass?

These, of course, vary from pass to pass (limited, obviously, to each pass's geographic region).,

However, to get an idea, the full-fledged Britail pass covers:

  • Unlimited travel on the national rail networks of Great Britain (including Thames link trains) 
  • Two-for-one entry into a few dozen touristy sights (e.g.: Kew Gardens and Tower Bridge in London, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Halls Croft in Stratford, Warwick Castle)
  • Caledonian Sleeper and Night Riviera Sleeper overnight trains (though you must book a sleeping berth seperately).
  • Valid at all hours (no worrying about Peak and Off-Peak).

The two more expansive Scottish passes also cover:

  • Ferry services (some free; some at a discount)
  • Coach services (for where the trains don't go)
  • Discounts on a loch cruise, steam railway, and various ciuty bus tours

Should you buy a Britrail pass?

If you plan to do a lot of train travel in the U.K., and want the ability to travel before about 9:30am weekdays (peak hours) and buy tickets at the last-minute, a Britrail pass can make a lot of sense.

However, if you are able to plan ahead and buy the cheapest Advance tickets, a Britrail pass won't really offer a savings.

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