Is Buying a London Pass Worth It?

by Christy on

We’d heard of the London Pass before we started seriously planning our trip across the pond, so we were thrilled when the company sent us two complimentary passes to use and review.

London Pass Review

The London Pass is a card that gives you free entry at over fifty-five major tourist attractions in London. As their website explains: “It’s a bit like an ‘all you can eat’ buffet – once you’ve bought your London Pass you don’t have to pay to get into any of the attractions covered by the pass and the more sights you see, the more money you save.”

The pass (it looks like a debit card) is activated at the first attraction you visit, and is then valid for the remainder of that calendar day. There are a few stipulations (like the fact you can’t exceed the “purse value” of the pass each day), so check out more information on how it works and what it costs.

Each of us received two one-day passes (£44 each), so we went out on two separate days to give them a try. Here’s how we did:

Overview of the London Pass

DAY ONE

  • Westminster Abbey, £16
  • Jason’s Canal Boat Ride, £9
  • Tea and Tattle, £3 (25% off the total bill)
  • Tower of London, £18
  • Tower Bridge, £8
TOTAL: £54 (£10 savings)

DAY TWO

  • Kensington Palace, £12.50
  • Crussh Coffee, £2 (one free hot drink)
  • City Cruises, £13.75
  • Design Museum, £8.50
  • Globe Theater Tour, £11.50
  • Curzon Mayfair Cinema, £12
TOTAL: £60.25 (£16.25 savings)

Our total saving was £26.25, which is about $43 at the current exchange rates. It would have jumped to $62 if we hadn’t messed up scheduling our trip to the cinema on the first day, and this is savings each. Overall, for the two of us the London Pass could have easily saved us about $120.

Pros of the London Pass

1. Save money.

These passes really do have the potential to save you quite a bit of money. The first day we ran into a minor camera emergency (our battery died… which meant we spent a few hours trying to buy a new one, realizing they aren’t sold pre-charged, and then finally killing time in a camera store while they kindly charged our current battery for us) which really ate into our sightseeing time and limited how much we were able to fit in. We also missed the evening show time at the Curzon Soho because we were busy eating Indian food at Brick Lane (eh, compromises :) ). However, even with those two setbacks we still managed to exceed the ticket price by £10!

Review of the London Pass

View of the London Eye from City Cruises

2. Many high-value attractions are covered.

I was worried the pass would only get us access to a few random museums (regular readers will realize we’re not the best museum-goers, so this was a real concern for us), but it turns out there are tons of high-value attractions included. This is important because not only does it help you recoup your costs, but it also means that by the time you’re done you’ll likely have already seen most of the London attractions you’re interested in. The only thing I was disappointed not to see on the list was the London Eye.

3. You can jump the queue at most attractions.

This is really important — since you’re trying to fit in as many attractions as possible, the last thing you want to do is spend your valuable time waiting in line! We didn’t actually encounter many long lines on our excursions, but I think that was partly due to the nature of the places we chose and partly due to the fact that we ended up venturing out on week days with relatively poor weather.

It’s worth noting that you cannot jump the queue at Westminster Abbey or on the City Cruises, however, which is unfortunate since those were the two longest lines we encountered.

4. Discover something amazing you might not have considered otherwise.

For us, this was one of the best parts of having a London Pass. We likely never would have taken a canal boat ride through central London or gone to the totally bizarre Kensington Palace if we didn’t have the passes… but those turned out to be two of our favorite London outings! The London Pass comes with a pretty hefty booklet containing a full rundown on every attraction it offers, and having them all laid out and color coded made it much easier for us to research new possibilities and ultimately decide to check out things we’d never heard of before.

Review of the London Pass; photo of Jason's Canal Boat Ride

Jason's Canal Boat Ride

Cons of the London Pass

1. You have to rush to fit it in as many attractions as possible.

We’re lazy tourists. We usually stop for coffee, fit in some people watching, and then spend twenty minutes or so reading our Kindles in the park before we move on to the next item on our list of things to see for the day. The majority of our days out are spent wandering around random neighborhoods, and if we snap a few good pictures along the way then we’ll call the outing a success.

So for us, using the London Pass was a HUGE change of pace. We had to set an alarm and wake up early (oh, the horror!), stick to a pre-determined schedule (gasp!) and keep focused to minimize our inevitable dawdling. Overall I believe it was well worth it, but it was definitely more stressful than our typical sightseeing days.

2. There’s incentive to rush at each attraction.

This is very similar to Con #1, but slightly different. Not only is there incentive to avoid non-London Pass activities during your outing, but you also want to fit in as many attractions as possible to make sure you get your money’s worth… which means it’s hard not to rush through each activity to get on to the next. This usually wasn’t a big problem for us, but there were definitely a few places (like Westminster Abbey) where we could have easily spent hours wandering through all the nooks and crannies.

3. Most attractions close in the early evening.

You have to get an early start and squeeze in as much as possible during the middle of the day, because the majority of the attractions close up shop sometime around 5pm.

Would we recommend the London Pass?

For the majority of travelers, absolutely. Most tourists are only in London for a few days, and have already made the decision to pack all their sightseeing into a short period of time. If that’s the case, then you can enjoy all the above-mentioned benefits of the London Pass with pretty much none of the downsides.

However, those travelers who have more time in the city and who prefer to sight see at a more leisurely pace will need to weigh that against the cost-saving component. The pass is definitely still a valuable option, but for some folks the trade-offs may not be worth it.

Review of the London Pass; photo of Tower Bridge

View of the Tower Bridge

Suggestions when using the London Pass

1. Check out the list of London attractions covered by the pass.

The website has information on each attraction the pass will get you into, including the location, regular ticket prices, and a brief explanation of what you can expect to see. If you’re considering purchasing the pass, use this guide to get a sense of how many attractions you’re interested in; that way you can determine roughly whether or not it’s cost-effective for your travel plans before you actually spend any money.

2. Plan out your schedule ahead of time.

Check the hours for each attraction, map them all out, and make sure the cost of the activities you’ve chosen for each day at least covers the price of the pass. Don’t forget to schedule in breaks and meals, and consider alternating between attractions with lots of walking and those that let you rest a bit more. Know your “must-sees” and schedule those (as well as any particularly-expensive attractions on your interest list) early in the day just in case you run out of time.

Review of the London Pass; photo of Tower of London

Tower of London

3. Identify a few options that are open later, so you can take advantage of the evening hours.

The best evening option we found was catching a movie at one of the three Curzon theaters. After a long day of sightseeing, what’s better than catching a free film in a swanky cinema… with a full bar? Make sure you check movie times, though; each cinema only plays a few films, and each film is only shown a couple times per day.

4. Consider buying the pass with the travel card option.

If you buy the London Pass with Travel option, it’s about £8 more per day… but you get unlimited travel on the tube, buses, and national rail, which can definitely add up! If you decide not to go with the Travel option, at least get an Oyster Card; they’re reusable, you pay less for each journey than if you bought individual tickets, there are “price caps” for peak and off-peak hours, and you just swipe it at the turnstile on your way to the train. Saves time, hassle, and money.


Have you ever used the London Pass, or one of the other city passes (e.g. Paris Pass)? Would you recommend it? Share your tips or experiences in the comments!


Interested in reading more about London? Check out these other posts:

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissatwitter: longhaulproject August 26, 2011 at

Wow, sounds like you visited some great attractions. I think a benefit of a pass like this is that it might encourage me to check out places that I wouldn’t otherwise. As you know, your posts are making me so homesick and jealous and dinner at Brick Lane and a movie at the Curzon Soho definitely didn’t help. I seem to remember there’s a really great cinema in Hampstead somewhere that has couches and serves food. It’s pricey but a nice experience and good if you like arty cinema.
Melissa recently posted: Tom and Melissa spend 24 Hours at The South Street Diner

Reply

Christy August 26, 2011 at

A cinema that has couches?? That’s like our dream come true; we’re always complaining about how uncomfortable movie theater seats are (because apparently we have nothing better to do with our time, lol).

Reply

inkatwitter: lilygogo August 26, 2011 at

I really don’t want to be told where I can go at a discount and then be in a mad rush. I rather see less attrcations, even if my time is short and pay the admission. But, I think your review is not only honest but also very valuable.
inka recently posted: Traveling with friends – a rare treat!

Reply

Christy August 26, 2011 at

Thanks, Inka. I definitely understand where you’re coming from and can see why some folks would feel that way. We’re sort of borderline – we really would prefer to take our time, but we also loved some aspects of the pass. I guess for some it’s a compromise. :)

Reply

Cam @ Traveling Canuckstwitter: travelcanucks August 26, 2011 at

We ususally pick up these city passes if we know we’re going to have a few days to explore. Aside from the money savings, we find that the passes allow us to see things we likely wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
Cam @ Traveling Canucks recently posted: Surrounded by Killer Whales in Victoria, British Columbia

Reply

Christy August 26, 2011 at

I think it’s neat that other cities have them as well – we’d definitely consider purchasing them elsewhere. The really cool thing is that we can always check attractions online beforehand so we know it’s worth using the pass before we purchase it.

Reply

Stephanie - The Travel Chicatwitter: thetravelchica August 26, 2011 at

When I was there, I opted against it simply because I didn’t plan to rush to see everything. But some other travelers that were with his got the pass and got their money’s worth.
Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted: Gallery Nights in Buenos Aires

Reply

Stevetwitter: vangrizz August 26, 2011 at

If I had the time, I think I’d rather get the 6 day pass which averages out to only £14 per day. There’s no way I’d want to rush through something like Westminster Abbey.
Beautiful picture of the Tower Bridge by the way.
Steve recently posted: Surviving Southwest

Reply

Christy August 26, 2011 at

Thanks. :) And yeah, we had the same thought — £14 is so feasible for one day, and then you can take your time and see other non-pass attractions during those six days as well. I think that would be the best option for a lot of folks (and particularly families with kids).

Reply

RON | Fliptravels.com August 26, 2011 at

you got me at #3 You can jump the queue at most attractions—wear a pair of ginormous sunglass, chin up and walk fast like a diva avoiding a paparazzi. Then silently tell those in queue to “move away mortals” LOL!
RON | Fliptravels.com recently posted: money for elephant ++

Reply

Christy August 26, 2011 at

Haha, why didn’t we think of that? We didn’t make the most of our VIP treatment!

Reply

Michael Figueiredotwitter: struxtravel August 26, 2011 at

Great tips and I really like the layout!
Michael Figueiredo recently posted: Top 10: Things To Do in San Diego, California

Reply

Christy August 26, 2011 at

I spent so much time on the layout (damn html), so you have no idea how much your comment made me smile. :)

Reply

Stephanie @ Finding The Freewaytwitter: Findthefreeway August 26, 2011 at

Great post…London is one stop I plan to make whenever we make it to Europe. Who knows if the London Pass will still be available. After reading your very thorough article, I can definitely see both pros and cons. Good info to have for the future!
Stephanie @ Finding The Freeway recently posted: Exploring Pinless States: Iowa

Reply

Christy August 28, 2011 at

I would definitely recommend London, Stephanie! And if you make it any time soon, let us know and I can offer some suggestions. :)

Reply

Scott - Quirky Travel Guytwitter: quirkytravelguy August 26, 2011 at

Nice job of laying out the pros and cons. This sounds like something I’d use to save money, even if I was staying in the city for an extended period. I could most of my sightseeing into one day and relax the rest of the time.
Scott – Quirky Travel Guy recently posted: Quirky Attraction: The Plainview Klown Doll Museum

Reply

Christy August 28, 2011 at

That’s sort of what we did, actually. And to be honest, it’s been really nice getting to relax and not worry about sightseeing – we already fit it all in! Now we’re focusing our time on exploring different neighborhoods and not worrying about the main attractions, because we already saw all of the ones we were interested in. It really worked out well.

Reply

Sailortwitter: CruisePictures August 26, 2011 at

That is a good review! I am glad to see that Canal Boat Ride is also covered under the London Pass. But I don’t want to rush though that either.
Sailor recently posted: Should You Take Out Travel Insurance for a Cruise?

Reply

Christy August 28, 2011 at

The canal boat ride is actually one of the few attractions where there’s really no risk of having to rush through it. The ride is a set amount of time, so you can just sit back and relax for thirty minutes! You can choose to ride from Little Venice to Camden and hop off, or take the boat back to Little Venice. We chose to just ride the first leg (partly due to time and partly because it might have been boring to see the same stuff again in reverse) and felt we made the right decision.

Reply

Shirlene from Idelishtwitter: idelishTravel August 26, 2011 at

I didnt even know a London Pass existed! Thanks for sharing this review! You’ve succinctly summed up great points we need to consider in getting the London Pass. Very helpful post!

Reply

Christy August 28, 2011 at

Thanks, Shirlene – and I’m glad it was helpful! The London Pass does a good job of advertising, but I’m still surprised by how many people have never heard of it.

Reply

ayngelina August 28, 2011 at

I have been to London a couple of times but have been occupied with all of the free museums they have, perhaps the next travel there I’ll look into it.
ayngelina recently posted: What backpack should I get?

Reply

Christy August 28, 2011 at

That is one of the awesome things about London – there are so many free museums you can spend any entire trip seeing nothing else. :)

Reply

Blars August 29, 2011 at

I’ve not done the London Card, but have used similar things in other cities. The one in Amsterdam I used a decade ago was worthwhile, but I agree that it can make for busy days to take advantage of it.

Another travel tip — Many museums have “free days” once a month or once a week, but you may prefer to avoid them because they tend to be busier than the days they charge.
Blars recently posted: oogoo-raspberrypi

Reply

Christy August 31, 2011 at

Free museum days are an awesome option – that’s how we saw a lot of the museums in Florence a few years ago. The cool thing about London, though, is that most of the museums are free all the time – it’s rather brilliant and was a great discovery for us. :)

Reply

Sarah                                                  August 29, 2011 at

Going to London one of this days is one of my greatest dream, it has many things to offer. and having this London Pass will surely make my vacation extra amazing! thanks for sharing this information.
Sarah                                                  recently posted: Chamonix

Reply

Christy August 31, 2011 at

I’m glad you found it helpful, Sarah, and hopefully you make it to London soon! :)

Reply

Adamtwitter: travelsofadam August 29, 2011 at

I only recently had heard of this. I think you summed it up correctly – for most travellers who are only in London for a short time, it’s probably a good bargain. Personally I hate feeling rushed, but it would also get me to some of the places I might not otherwise have visited…
Adam recently posted: How far will $20,000 take you?

Reply

Christy August 31, 2011 at

We’re definitely on the same page, Adam — it’s a trade-off between feeling rushed and saving money/discovering new things. We saw a TON of attractions we wouldn’t have otherwise (which really enriched our London experience), so for us the trade-off was worth it. :)

Reply

Artitwitter: artisdiary August 29, 2011 at

Looks extremely beautiful… Never been to London or for that matter outside India!!!
Nice post for travelers who intend to use the London pass…
Have a wonderful week ahead:)
Arti recently posted: Review of Arrivalguides To Go – A Travel Guide App by Intel

Reply

Christy August 31, 2011 at

You too, Arti! And Kali and I were just talking about spending a few months in India this winter, so when we get closer I’m definitely going to email you for ideas and see where you are / if we can meet up!

Reply

Christy @ Ordinary Traveler August 29, 2011 at

This doesn’t sound like a bad deal at all. I’m glad you pointed out that it’s not just for people who like to visit museums, because that would be my concern. I didn’t realize you guys used the pass for your canal tour. That is something I would definitely do in London.
Christy @ Ordinary Traveler recently posted: What Type of Traveler Are You?

Reply

Christy August 31, 2011 at

Oh yeah, the canal tour was the very first thing we put on our list to see when we got our London Passes. :P And I was pleased to see the diversity of attractions offered on the pass – obviously there were a lot of the main tourist attractions, but then a lot of other random (and sort of quirky) things as well.

Reply

Reign August 30, 2011 at

If given a chance? Yes its worth it… I would have the chance to see all the beautiful spots in London.
Reign recently posted: Affiliate Trump Card Interrelated Information

Reply

Sophietwitter: SophieR September 1, 2011 at

I always tell people to get one of these passes in Oslo, the public transport alone is often worth it. But for some reason it hasn’t occurred to me to see if they exist for London. Some of London’s sights (like the London Eye and Madame Tussaud’s) are very expensive, so I think it sounds like a very good idea.
Sophie recently posted: Pizza night in the Italian countryside

Reply

Christy September 6, 2011 at

How funny – we had only heard of the passes for London and didn’t really consider them for other cities. We’re definitely going to look into them for each of the new places we visit!

Reply

Faithtwitter: faithmckay September 2, 2011 at

These pluses and cons sound like the debate I have in every city that has one of these passes. I always just look through the list and tally… I rarely get them because I refuse to rush myself through things. I prefer to wander very slowly
Faith recently posted: Welcome to Our San Francisco Apartment

Reply

Christy September 6, 2011 at

I think tallying the attractions like that is a really great idea (and what I’ll likely be doing in the future). Then you can be certain the pass will be worth it… and maybe even worth the hassle of rushing in some cases.

Reply

Julien September 9, 2011 at

As you said, you really have to rush to cover enough attraction in a day to back up your purchase, but if that’s the case, that’s totally worth it…

Reply

Christy September 11, 2011 at

Very much so, Julien – and from our experience a lot of tourists are rushing to fit everything in to a few days anyhow, so for those folks the London Pass seems totally worth it.

Reply

Amanda September 12, 2011 at

I’ve used passes similar to this in New York and Seattle. In New York, the pass my mom and I bought was good for 72 hours, and included unlimited use of the hop-on-hop-off buses (which meant free sit-down guided tours), as well as admission to museums and major attractions like the Top of the Rock, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, etc. The passes were highly discounted, and were perfect for our long weekend in the city.

In Seattle, my whole family bought passes, which were good for I think 7 or 9 days, and included tickets for things like the aquarium, Pacific Science Center, the Experience Music Project, a Puget Sound cruise, the Space Needle (day and night) and a few other things. The passes were well worth it, and saved our family of 4 a good chunk of change.

But, while my mom and I weren’t rushed in NYC, we were very rushed in Seattle, since my dad insisted on visiting EVERY single attraction covered by the pass. Since we only had 2 days in Seattle, we were doing a lot of running around!

Kind of bummed to hear the London pass is only good for 1 day. I’m not sure I’d want to rush around THAT much!
Amanda recently posted: 8 Essential Stops on an Australian Road Trip

Reply

Christy September 13, 2011 at

Amanda, you can definitely buy passes that last longer – there’s one that even goes up to 7 days. Our pass was just for one day (we actually had two of those so we could get two different experiences), but there are other options. I think for a lot of people the 7-day pass would be quite cost effective and ameliorate a lot of the stress of rushing around. For folks actually in London sightseeing for that length of time, that’s probably what I would recommend.

Reply

Mandytwitter: London_Pass September 13, 2011 at

Hi Everyone!
My name is Mandy and I am part of the London Pass team.

I have noticed that there has been a lot of discussion about the London Pass on travel forums/blogs recently and would like to make myself available to answer any questions that people may have.

We are very proud of our product and every week receive lots of positive comments from our customers, many of which can be seen at – http://www.londonpass.com/customerComments.asp.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Reply

Christy September 13, 2011 at

Hi Mandy, thanks so much for the comment! The London Pass does seem quite popular, and there are so many good things to be said about it.

One of the things I forgot to mention in the post is that London Pass also has a very active Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/Londonpass). It seems to be used a lot as a quick medium for folks to get questions answered, which I think is super cool. Gotta love social media. :)

Reply

Mandytwitter: London_Pass September 14, 2011 at

Thanks Christy!
We keep everyone up to date with news on our Facebook page, if you have any questions at all about the product you’ll get a quick response! Also keep a look out for offers and discounts which we promote via Facebook.

You might want to check out our Paris Pass: http://www.parispass.com/ which is proving a popular product too (also on facebook http://www.facebook.com/Parispass)

Reply

Sam November 4, 2011 at

Nicely weighted pros and cons for the London pass. I never got it myself because I had more time and I’m not a huge tourist destination person often preferring a beer in a popular bar. I’ll be following your travels on RSS
Sam recently posted: Antelope Island State Park

Reply

Christy November 5, 2011 at

London is probably one of the only cities where it made sense for us, as there’s just so much to see there – I don’t know if the other city passes would keep us as entertained! And, like you, we’re more inclined to slow our pace.

Reply

47 Comments. Join the conversation!

Enable CommentLuv (add link to your most recent blog post after your comment)

Previous post:

Next post: