Review of London Pass and Other Sightseeing and Attraction Passes
This post compares the London Pass, the Explorer Pass and other tourist discount passes in London. Everybody knows that London is one of the most exciting and diverse cities in the world, with enough visitor attractions to keep tourists entertained for weeks. Although we are lucky to have numerous free museums and galleries, some visitors find that admission prices for many of London’s biggest attractions are high – and add up quite quickly! This post reviews several options for steep discounts for admission into many popular London attractions and sightseeing tours. Don’t forget, our tours are pay-what-you-wish and cover much of the city.
What is the London Pass?
The London Pass is a sightseeing pass available for all visitors to London to purchase. It takes the form of a smart card (similar to your Oyster Card) that has a one-off fee loaded onto it in advance, allowing the holder to enter numerous attractions. In addition to this, the London Pass offers a queue jump for many attractions which can literally save hours of standing in line!
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Passes can be bought to last for 1, 2, 3 or 6 days depending on the length of one’s visit to London. Passes can be bought up to 12 months in advance and ‘activates’ on the first usage of the card to enter an attraction. Once the card has been used for the pre-determined length, it expires. (It is also worth noting that the pass only grants entry to each attraction once.)
The Pass is valid on over 60 attractions in London! Overall, that could potentially mean a saving of over £500. However, it is unlikely that anybody would make it to all the attractions that accept the Pass so it is best for individual visitors/groups to take a look at the list of accepted locations that they wish to visit whilst in London to decide whether or not the card could save them money.
What is included with the Pass?
Attractions included in the London Pass are numerous. Here we will list a few of the ‘big’ locations, but do take a check the London Pass website to get the comprehensive list.
Use London Pass at:
- The Tower of London
- Westminster Abbey
- Hampton Court Palace
- Kensington Palace
- The London Zoo
- The Churchill War Rooms
- Apsley House
- Kew Guardens
- HMS Belfast
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
- The Royal Albert Hall
- The London Monument to the Great Fire of 1666
Also note, that it includes ‘Fast Track Entry’ at some of the busiest tourist locations in London – for some, this is an invaluable addition since it saves so much time.
What attractions are not included with the Pass?
As vast as the list of attractions who accept the Pass, there are some that do not.
Also note that the majority of national Museums and Galleries in London are free regardless.
How much does it cost?
Costs vary depending on the duration of the pass and the age of the holder.
One Day Pass:
- Adult – £59.00
- Child – £39.00
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Two Day Pass:
- Adult – £79.00
- Child – £59.00
Three Day Pass:
- Adult – £95.00
- Child – £66.00
Six Day Pass:
- Adult – £129.00
- Child – £89.00
Ten Day Pass:
- Adult – £159.00
- Child – £109.00
Where can I purchase my Pass?
The London Pass can be purchased in advance from the London Pass website.
Is the London Pass worth it?
This depends entirely on the user! It is worth tallying up the entry costs of the attractions you wish to visit, and comparing it against the pass. Here as a good example:
Single Day Itinerary:
Tower of London – £22.00
St. Paul’s Cathedral – £16.50
London Bridge Experience – £20.00
This means with a One Day pass you would save just under £10 per pass. It’s estimated that visitors need to go to three attractions a day to make a 1 to 2 day pass worth the money. Two attractions for a 3 or 6-day pass. Their website offers up their own itinerary suggestions.
Who is the Pass good for?
- Those traveling with children. Skipping the long queues can prove invaluable for those who are visiting with little ones.
- Those who want to see a lot in a short period of time. If you are traveling on a tight schedule and can make it to see three attractions a day, then the pass should work out to save you money.
- Those who are not interested in too many museums. For people who are not interested in visiting free museums, but would rather see big attractions, the Pass will be suitable.
- Those who are visiting London for the first time. If you are in London and looking to hit all the MAJOR traditional sites (Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, etc.) the pass can provide good value.
Who should skip the London Pass?
- Those who are interested in museums and galleries. As most museums and galleries in London are free of charge, those who want to focus their tour around these attractions should not purchase the Pass.
- Those staying in London for longer than a week. If visitors are in London for longer than a week, there is more time to see big attractions AND free museums and also tour at a more leisurely pace which means the Pass would not save too much money.
- Those who only want to see a couple of the sites that the Pass takes in. For those who only have one or two ‘big’ spots on their must-see itinerary, the London Pass will not provide much of a discount.
Tips for Tourists considering London Pass
- Consider the time of year. In summer, London can be extremely busy. And, surprising to some, extremely hot! Many visitors to London between July and September may find that the price of the London Pass alone is worth it to enter the fast track queues which will save users time spent on their feet out in the sun.
- Think about the shorter tickets.
- If you are prepared to stick to a strict itinerary for one, two or three days and then want to relax for the rest of your visit and keep your days less regimented, look seriously at the shorter Pass options.
Plan, plan…and plan some more!
Check the opening hours and days of the attractions you want to see so that you know you will have enough time to visit them. Consult your map and Underground map to select attractions that are close to one another to save time in traveling.
Bottom Line: Look at the London Pass website and do some maths in advance so you know whether the Pass will be worth it based on your individual itinerary.
Smart Destinations is now offering the LONDON GO CARD Explorer Pass for London’s top 14 attractions! This coupon book is designed to save you money (up to 35%!) off of the admission price of popular tourist locations throughout the city, and can save you time by skipping the line at the entrance!
DISCOUNTED ADMISSION RATES ON:
- Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus Tour (can be used as an alternative to public transit)
- Madame Tussauds London*
- Sea Life London Aquarium*
- Fat Tire Bike Tour
- London Eye River Cruise
- Dreamworks Tour: Shrek’s Adventure
- Sherlock Holmes Walking Tour
- Coca Cola London Eye*
- St Paul’s Cathedral
- The London Dungeon*
- Wembley Stadium Tour
- Meal at Planet Hollywood
- James Bond Walking Tour
- Doctor Who Walking Tour
- Adult: £55 ($82.50)
- Child (3-15): £40 ($60)
- Adult: £70 ($105)
- Child (3-15): £50 ($75)
- Adult: £85 ($127.50)
- Child (3-15):£60 ($90)
How It’s Done!
Pick your package (3, 4 or 5) and then pick your places! You’ll have 30 days from your first visit to use the GoCard, which means there is no rush to fit it all in one week. You’ll get your GoCard instantly via email, as well as a map and tourist-friendly pamphlet for even more exploring! Just show your GoCard on your phone at the entrance and be granted instant admission!
Pro tip: Do your research on admission costs for the places you are interested in attending, then use your GoCard on the most expensive admissions to save up to 35%. If you are worried about whether this is a good deal or not, it’s as easy as comparing admission costs.
In London for just a weekend, choose to bundle 3 attractions that you can take your time exploring. Be sure to check out this list of FREE London attractions to check out on your trip!
A few different tour companies offer combo passes, which guarantee guests discounts on certain attractions. If you are already planning on purchasing a tour bus ticket, these may be good options.
Big Bus Tours
A well reviewed hop-on, hop-off bus service whose multiple day bus tours include 3 free walking tours, a boat cruise and a slew of coupons and discounts in addition to the bus service. In reality, these could be considered combo passes. Click here for more details.
The Original London Sightseeing Tour
The The Original London Sightseeing Tour is one of the most popular and longest running bus tour companies in London. The Original Bus Tour operates as a hop-on, hop-off tour bus with over 80 different stops around the city. Tickets are valid for a 24 hour period, so guests are encouraged to see as much as possible within that span. Also offered within those 24 hours, guests can take up to 3 free walking tours and a ride on the Thames River Cruise.
Cost of Original Bus Tour: £26 for adults, £12.50 for children
Additionally, The Original London Sightseeing Tour offers combo packages, which gives guests 24 hour access to the bus, walking, and boat tours listed above, as well as entrance to an attraction of their choice for a discounted rate. Below are some of the most popular combos available:
- Original Bus Tour + London Eye + Madame Tussauds + Sea Life London Aquarium (£112/Adult, £78 for child)
- Original Bus Tour + London Eye: £43.75 for adults, £26.10 for children (that’s a savings of £1.70/ticket)
- Original Bus Tour + View from the Shard: £49.50 for adults, £29.70 for children (£2.45 savings)
- Original Bus Tour + Tour of St Paul’s Cathedral: £38.20 for adults, £17.35 for children
- Original Bus Tour + London Zoo: £47.95 for adults, £26.45 for children
- Original Bus Tour + Tower of London: £42.3o for adults, £20.50 for children
Is the Original London Sightseeing Tour combo worth it?
If you don’t mind touring from dawn until dusk, and are also very interested in seeing one of the many attractions included as a combo, then the Original London Sightseeing Tour combo is perfect for you! Again, it will be a long day of intense sightseeing, but as long as you don’t mind seeing everything into a 24 hour period, then this combo package is a great way to save.
Very similar to the Original London Sightseeing Tour company, Golden Tours also offers combo packages with their bus tours that give guests entrance to major attractions at a discounted rate. The biggest difference between the two companies is that Golden Tours primarily offer 48 hour tickets, so guests have more time to explore. Also, with just over 60 stops, the hop-on, hop-off bus tour is slightly less extensive than the Original London Sightseeing Tour company.
- Hop on Hop off Bus Tour – 48 Hour Ticket + The London Eye: £45 for adults
- Hop on Hop off Bus Tour – 48 Hour Ticket + Tower of London: £48 for adults
- Hop on Hop off Bus Tour – 48 Hour Ticket + Tower of London + The London Eye : £69 for adults
- Hop on Hop off Bus Tour – 48 Hour Ticket + Madame Tussauds: £48.75 for adults
There are also special deals for families or groups.
Is the Golden Tours combo package worth it?
Absolutely. If the description of the hop-on, hop-off bus tour meets your standards, then this is a great combo deal to take advantage of as it is the most budget friendly and allows for the most amount of time to explore. Golden Tours doesn’t necessarily have the reputation of Original Sightseeing London, nor are the tours quite as extensive, but they are still very good.
Many of London’s most famous attractions have partnered with National Rail to offer visitors who purchasing a rail ticket a 2 for 1 deal on attractions. Your travel card, bought from a rail station, will give you unlimited travel on all buses in London and all Underground stations within zones 1 and 2 – as well as qualify you for the 2 for 1 rail offer!
To learn more about the 2 for 1 deal with National Rail, check out our post detailing how exactly to purchase your ticket!
What is the National Trust Touring Pass?
The National Trust Touring Pass offers overseas visitors to the UK access to historic sites around the country for a one time fee. There are over 300 sites available to visit, and guests can choose between either a 7 or 14 day all access pass to each.
What is included?
As stated above, there are over 300 different historic sites included with the National Trust Touring Pass. However, some of the highlights include:
- The Fountains Abbey (where the Secret Garden was filmed)
- Winston Churchill’s home Chartwell
- Childhood home of William Wordsworth
- Hill Top home of Beatrix Potter
How much does it cost?
7 day adult pass (admit 1) – $40.50
7 day adult pass (admit 2) – $72.50
7 day family pass – $80.50
14 day adult pass (admit 1) – $48.50
14 day adult pass (admit 2) – $87.00
14 day family pass – $100.00
Where can I purchase a National Trust Touring Pass?
On the National Trust website! Purchase online and the pass will be emailed to you immediately.
Is the National Trust Touring Pass worth it?
It depends. For those interested in touring many different historic sites and willing to explore the countryside, the National Trust Touring Pass is an excellent deal! Considering the relatively low price, it’s less intimidating than other more costly passes.
If you are in the UK for more than a week, consider purchasing the 14 day pass as it is only slight more expensive than the 7 day option, and allows guests to explore at a much more leisurely pace. These sites are scattered around the UK, so it’s helpful to have extra days.
TimeOut London Card
What is the TimeOut Card?
The TimeOut Card London is an annual membership card that guarantees users significant discounts on a wide range of attractions, events, and restaurants. Though many touristic favorites such as the Tate Modern, Tower of London, and the Globe Theatre are included with the card, there are also many local gems that are discounted with the card as well.
The TimeOut Card does NOT offer free access to any sites, but does allow for major discounts, as well as access to special events.
What is included?
A lot! The range of attractions, restaurants, and events are vast. TimeOut differentiates the offers by categories: restaurants and cafes; bars and pubs; theatre and the arts; museums and attractions; music and nightlife; shopping and lifestyle; cinema; and experiences. Some favorites include:
- 25% off Tower of London visit with Thames Cruise
- 20% of audio tours at the Houses of Parliament
- 20% of most City Cruises
- 10% off many musicals such as Matilda, The Lion King, and Billy Elliot
- 10-50% off many restaurants and bars
For a full list of discounts offered with the TimeOut card, check out their website.
What is not included?
The important thing to remember with the TimeOut card is that it does NOT offer free access to any attractions or events. Rather, it simply allows guests to purchase tickets at a discounted rate. A TimeOut card is valid for a full 12 months, and so access to tickets is subject to availability at that particular time of year.
How much does it cost?
The TimeOut card is available for purchase for the flat rate of £24.50.
Where can I purchase the TimeOut card?
Also online! You will be sent a virtual card as well as a physical card. That way, if you ever forget to bring your card with you, you will have it stored in your email!
Is the TimeOut card worth it?
The TimeOut card functions best for locals or for visitors who are staying in the UK for a longer amount of time. It does not offer as great of savings on touristic sites as the London Pass and is therefore not the best option for visitors hoping to see as much as possible in the least amount of time. However, because it is valid for a full year, it is ideal for those who can visit attractions at a more leisurely rate. The discounts available at restaurants and bars around the city allow for the greatest amount of savings.
Similar to the combo deals noted above, tour packages are another great way to save by combining many different tourist attractions. Discount London offers a variety of tour packages. The big difference is that these packages are solely comprised of attractions, and do NOT include bus or walking tours.
Packages range in price from £44.30-£102.80 for adults depending on the type and number of attractions included.
If you find a package that interests you, but still hoping to take a tour while in London, consider following one of our “name your own price” walking tours!