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London Pass Decoded: Is It Worth The Money?

Decoding London Pass


London is a huge city with a ridiculous amount of must-see sights. Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, among others, are the real kings and queens of Great Britain, really (sorry, Elizabeth II). So when you go to London, you obviously want to meet all of them. The problem is, however, that the exciting capital of the British people is also ridiculously expensive. They say that one of the ways to go easier on your wallet is to get a London Pass. But is it really true?

What is the London Pass?

London Pass is “your passport to London that gives you entry at no further cost to a choice of over 60 favourite attractions”, says the London Pass guide. Over 60! Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? There are 4 types of deals you can get: 1 day, 3 day, 6 day, and 10 day tickets, with prices varying depending on whether you’re a child or an adult. I bought mine for 3 days and was quite happy to have got a last-day 10% discount (which, as I found out later, happens too often to be considered a ‘discount’ at this point). The Pass cost me £76.50 (or €109), which I thought was extremely cheap because I could see anything I wanted with it. I mean ANYTHING. Or so I thought.
I love Camden - it's the coolest part of London!
Is it worth it?

The problem started when I realised that, as much as the London Pass covers, it doesn’t include EVERYTHING. No London Eye, no tours on red double-decker buses, no Madame Tussaud, for example. Moreover, out of those supposedly ‘60 sights’, many of them are very cheap (e.g. £2-4) or even have free entrance (e.g. all of the famous museums). Therefore, you don’t always feel like you’re actually saving money, even though the euphoria, which occurs every time you get the Pass out of your purse instead of a bill, tries to convince you of the opposite. When I realised that, I tried to include the most expensive sights to balance out the money I spent on the Pass. In three days I saw:

Tower of London – £22
Tower Bridge Exhibition – £9
Westminster Abbey – £18
Windsor Castle – £18.50
London Zoo – £23.63

Just these 5 sights were £91.13 worth, but I had to pay 11 pounds for the return ticket to Windsor, which made it £80.13 in the end. And without that 10% discount that I had, a 3-day London Pass actually costs £85. So in reality, I would have actually lost money on this whole deal if I hadn’t been lucky enough to have received a discount.
London vibe <3
The success formula of the London Pass is seeing no less than 3 sights per day. Consider, however, that lots of places open at 10 and close at 4, so you have to run through them, without giving yourself much time to actually enjoy them. And then you are exhausted by the end of the day, and you hardly have any strength for the next day’s challenge, and yet you have to go through it because otherwise you’ll have lost money. Your vacation becomes a race. Also consider that many exciting things require the whole day (like the trip to Windsor), so even if you’re super fast, you physically won’t be able to see anything else that day.

I’m glad that I tried the London Pass, though, as it was my first experience of such a kind – it pushed me to be extremely active and didn’t allow me to procrastinate too much over a cup of coffee (you know how that happens). It also gave me holes in my socks from walking just a bit too much. But I’m sure that the London Pass doesn’t save you much money. I actually think it would be better if they simply offered a fair discount on those sights that are the most expensive ones rather than alluring people with ‘60+’ ‘free’ attractions that aren’t that attractive in the first place (I mean, most of the tourists would prefer the London Eye to the Wembley Stadium Tour – am I wrong?). However, if you’re in London just for a few days, and you want to fit a lot of sights into a very short time span, maybe getting the London Pass would be a good idea because it is aimed at intense tourists. Just make sure you go to the website and carefully examine the list of sights to make sure that they are worth it. Otherwise, I advise you to pass on the Pass.

Over to you! Have you used a city pass anywhere before?

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  • I agree, I think unless it happens to coincide with a very specific itinerary, the London Pass isn’t that much – if any – of a saving. Especially as places like the Tower of London also offer a small discount if you purchase the ticket in advance.

    If there are 2 people visiting attractions a better alternative is the 2-for-1 ticket offer you can get with a National Rail Travelcard/ticket. I wrote about it a couple of weeks back if you’re interested, not much good for solo travellers though :(

    • There are a lot of places, actually, that are offering a discount if you buy ticket in advance, but the majority of tourists don’t know about that. I mean, how many people actually research for that one specific place they would like to see? Very little, because people usually just go and decide what they want to see quite spontaneously. Yes, we should all do more research before we travel in order to save money, but come on, just because we don’t, doesn’t mean that we should be misled about all these city passes etc… I’m still quite emotional about the London Pass experience, hahaha, sorry! But it’s just that I was expecting so much from it!

      • Hehe, no no, I agree, you’re right to be upset I think.

        I appreciate that there’s an element of profit to be made from other people’s apathy, in a way, that’s often what paying for a service entails.

        However when something ‘official’ is marketed directly to a certain demographic, like a tourist, then you expect a certain level of honesty.

        It’s implied that the pass will save you time *and* money. Therefore, it should!

  • I’ve never been to London but am looking in to studying there in 2016. This is very helpful! I’ve never been one to jump on these tourist trains so thank you for confirming that. xo Lisa
    http://www.strumsimmersip.com/

  • No pass includes ‘everything’, but I was pretty happy with the London Pass.

  • I m agree on Anda Gllafy word.

  • I congratulate the beautiful change of your blog . pardon for spelling Galffy.

    • Thank you! There are going to be small twists later on in the layout as well :)

  • Thanks for the review. I always debate about getting similar passes when I travel and unless you really have the details to decide you can pay more than necessary. Much appreciated!

  • Well, it is great that at the very least it got you on your feet and exploring so much! I’d say it was put to great use in order to cram all those experiences in :)All

  • Thanks! I’ll be sure to avoid it when I’m in London.

  • Whenever I research destinations for an upcoming trip I look into the pass and think: is it worth it? I love that you have laid it out for us. The Tourism Board is being tricky. It sounds appealing but like you say, it doesn’t include the “big things”, but rather places that are cheap anyway. I struggle with this because depending on the city I am sometimes that overly intense tourist who could probably profit from this aha!

    • Truth be told, I think there’s a very little amount of truly ‘intense tourists’!

  • I’m glad you made the most of the pass so it at least evened out – but I always did think that those museum passes weren’t worth it. I’m glad I never got one! The other thing about those is that there isn’t as much flexibility.. what if you meet awesome people along the way who invite you somewhere? Or your plans change? I guess that’s just my thinking. This is a great post though, very honest and useful!!

    • I never really meet new people too easily when I’m on the road, to be honest, because I always like to “stick with a plan”. But you got me thinking now, actually, that flexible travelling can be extremely important because it may give you a broader experience of your journey…
      hmmmm, will have to thoroughly think how to make friends while travelling now!!!

  • Hello Olga,

    Thank you for writing this very informative post! I have not been to London yet but when I do, I will definitely keep this in mind. In general, I think people should research on what the city passes have to offer first before they buy it to ensure that they get what they want out of it especially in a short time manner as well. Despite of some limitations, I hope you at least enjoy some of the sights :)

    • Oh, I enjoyed the hell out of it, don’t worry :) London is an amazing city that has, maybe, a bit too much to offer for tourists to keep their heads clear, haha. But speaking of the city passes – I think it’s so difficult to actually research it all completely before purchasing. I mean, there isn’t really time to just sit and calculate how much money you might potentially spend with the pass, so there’s only that much research you can do. Here’s when travel bloggers, like me, come, though :)
      I’m glad you found the post informative!

  • We also looked into the pass when we were in London and just didn’t find it to be terrific value for money. Thanks for breaking it down for others to easily find out

  • It always takes a bit of working out to see if a city pass is worth the money or not. Thanks for your opinion!

  • Great points, I hope your review makes people actually think about what they’re getting when they go to puchase a city pass. We always sit down and look at what it covers and if the attractions include activities or sights we actually already wanted to do. In same cases it may not work out. Thanks for the write up :)

  • Good to know. We have done many of the sites you listed above over the course of a couple days and I agree, not rushing them is key.

    • Absolutely! Otherwise it’s just not enjoyable.

  • Great advice RTA. I find it better to just get a day tube pass and see most of the big attractions from the outside as that’s the most visually enjoyable part. Museums and art galleries are mostly free. You don’t enjoy yourself when you’re rushing and counting pounds!

    • I still like to go inside whenever I can! You never know – what if in THAT museums you will have your MOST inspiring art experience? I wouldn’t want to miss the chance of having it, so I’m always trying to get in!
      And unfortunately, in Germany, for example, museums and art galleries are almost NEVER for free! In fact, entry tickets cost a fortune!