Before my two-week trip to London, I bought a 6 day London Pass (https://www.londonpass.com) for £129. This price does not include the Oyster Card, which you can add to your purchase for easy and relatively affordable access to the tube. With over 60 attractions covered by the London Pass, there was no shortage of options. Here’s what I ended up using it on:
|London Attraction||Cost Without London Pass|
|Churchill War Rooms||£17.25|
|Tower of London||£22|
|Thames River Boat Cruise||£18|
|Windsor Castle||£20 (plus cost of transportation, see London Pass booklet for details)|
|Beefeater Gin Distillery (tour + gin & tonic included)||£12|
|Crest of London||£5 toward purchase of souvenir|
|Namco Funscape||£4 in game tokens|
As you can see, I ended up getting my money’s worth, but a fairly low savings of £22.45. In retrospect, I still would have bought the pass but I would have liked to have made time for several other attractions as well: Kensington Palace, Kew Gardens, Lord’s Cricket Grounds, Wimbledon Tour Experience, and Shakespeare’s Globe. The biggest factor that got in the way of further savings was that I went on a day trip during the middle of the 6 days my pass was valid, which caused me to lose a travel day of my London Pass.
So how do you make sure the London Pass will fit with your travel needs?
I recommend looking at the list of attractions that accept the London Pass, deciding which ones you would like to go to, and pricing it out. Make sure to consider how long you think each activity will take you, as well as travel time. Good planners can get their money’s worth by visiting a number of attractions that are close together.
For example, someone could theoretically visit the Churchill War Rooms (£17.25), Westminster Abbey (£18), and the Jewel Tower (£5.20) (all in same area), take the Thames River Boat Cruise (£18) from Westminster Pier to Tower Pier, then go to the Tower of London (£22), Tower Bridge (£9), and HMS Belfast (£16) (all in same area). This would total £105.45 if you bought regular tickets; thus, if you use a one day London pass for £59, you’re saving £46.45. However, keep in mind that there is a “purse value” of the London Pass, essentially meaning there is a maximum they’ll allow you to save. If you buy a one day London Pass, the purse value is £115. Thus, if you somehow managed to go to all these places in one day and then tried to go to the London Bridge Experience (also nearby), your pass would not allow you entry because you would have exceeded the £115 limit.
There are also several unexpected freebies you can get with your London Pass if you plan ahead. For example, I got free tokens at Namco Funscape (across the bridge from Big Ben), as well as a £5 voucher at one of the Crest of London souvenir shops that allowed me to purchase a scarf for just a few pounds. There are also free movie passes available if you need a change of pace from busy sight-seeing.
Here are some additional factors to consider when deciding whether or not to buy the London Pass:
- How long you like to spend in museums. If you move through museums or other attractions quickly, the London Pass is likely to be more useful. If you could spend most of a day reading placards, you won’t get to as many attractions in a short time frame.
- How type A you are. Will you get up early to start using your London Pass? Will you plan out your trip in advance?
- The London Pass counts days sequentially and the time of day matters. In other words, if you buy a 6 day pass, it is valid the day you begin using it and the 5 days following. If you only use your pass 4 of those days, it will still expire at the end of day 6. It’s also best to use your London Pass early on the first day; if you use it in the evening, it still counts as one whole day of your pass.
- Of course, some large attractions are not included, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral and the London Eye.
- You can still see many London attractions for free without the pass, such as peering up at Big Ben, walking across Abbey Road, or visiting one of London’s many free museums (e.g., the National Gallery, Natural History Museum, Tate Britain, Bank of England Museum).
- Will you skip attractions if you didn’t get the pass? Personally, I would have skipped the Churchill War Rooms to avoid shelling out £17.25 if I didn’t have the London Pass, but this turned out to be a highlight of my time in London. I may have ended up spending a bit more buying the London Pass than I otherwise would have, but it also allowed me to check out a variety of attractions guilt-free.
Did you use the London Pass? If so, was it worth it? Let me know in the comments below!
I’ll leave you with this picture of otters at the London Zoo: