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London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to visit, and the strong pound aggravates this still further.

The London Pass is a smart way to save valuable money on your otherwise expensive London sightseeing.

 
 
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The London Pass

Saves money and simplifies your London sightseeing
 

If you're going to London, you're of course going to be sightseeing around the city.

Costs for admissions can add up very quickly, and the exchange rate between the Pound and most other currencies makes these costs even worse for the foreign visitor.

Good for unlimited admission for 1, 2, 3 or 6 days, and optionally allowing unlimited use of London's transportation as well, the London Pass is a great way to affordably enjoy London.

 

 

The London Pass gives you credible discounts - potentially saving you 50% or more on the cost of visiting many of London's most popular attractions.

Complete with 128 page guide book, and with line-busting privileges in many cases, the London Pass makes your London visit easier to plan, more fun to carry out, and more affordable.

If you're planning to include a reasonable amount of sightseeing during your time in London, you should buy The London Pass as a way to save you money.


Some Attractions in London are Free

The London Pass gives you free entrance fees at many places - 55 at present count, but there are of course many other places than 'just' these 55 to go visit in London.

The good news is that not all museums and other visitor attractions charge an entrance fee.  A few are completely free, including such notable places as the British Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the National Maritime Museum (in Greenwich), the National Gallery and the Tate.

It is possible to see and do a great deal in London without paying any admission at all.  But once you progress to places with paid admission, the London Pass becomes a very valuable way to keep your costs down.

How Much Can You Save?

The more places you visit, the more you save.  If your sightseeing style is leisurely, and you only visit one or two places a day, and if there are places you also want to visit that aren't on the Pass program, you'll find it difficult to make big savings.

But if you're able to plan your sightseeing around the various places featured in the Pass, and if you're thinking of fitting two or three (or more) activities into every day, the savings can be huge.

Maximum possible savings limit

Each card has a maximum value set on it, being the maximum amount of free entries you can get during your card usage.  These maximums are not really an issue for most people, and if you do reach the maximum, well, you should be delighted at having saved so much.

This table compares the cost and the maximum potential value of the card, and clearly shows how you can save a great deal more than the card's up-front cost.

Days

Card Cost

Max Value

Max Savings

  1

46

80

34

  2

61

160

99

  3

74

240

166

  6

99

480

381


An example of potential savings with the Pass

Here is a one day itinerary around one small part of London, which results in a full three day pass being paid for out of the first day of savings.

This was created to make best use of the Pass, but is still a valid example and sensible day's itinerary.

Start the day by visiting the Tower of London (regular admission is 18).

After going to the Tower, you might then go to the Tower Bridge Exhibition (admission = 8.00), making a total savings now 26.00.

Next, on the other side of the river and facing the Tower is HMS Belfast (admission = 12.25).  After these three visits alone, you've almost completely saved the cost of a one day pass (38.25).

But don't stop there.  You probably still have some spare time, so go on to the nearby Globe Theatre, which charges 12.50 for entrance to their Exhibition and Tour to non-Pass holders.

Lastly, what better way to end up your day than by enjoying a cruise on the Thames.  That will add another 13.50 to the value you're getting from your card.

So here's a full day of sightseeing, which would normally cost you 64.25, but on a London Pass, it will be no more than 46 (if buying a one day Pass) and as little as 16.50 (if buying a six day Pass).

That single day of sightseeing saves you more than the cost of a two day Pass.  Your next day of sightseeing will be entirely free.

So you truly can save substantial amounts of money if using your Pass strategically.  London Pass estimates there is over 500 worth of direct savings in admission fees, plus more savings from the various discounts and other special offers.  Of course no-one is going to visit everywhere in the course of a single six day period, but it seems most of us can at least get our money back from a three day Pass and perhaps from a six day Pass too.

Using the Pass to Plan a London Holiday

One of the problems many of us have when going back to London, yet again, is trying to choose new interesting places to see and visit.  Once you've visited the handful of the best known attractions, you are then confronted with tens and even hundreds of less well known attractions, and it is hard to know how to pick and choose from them all.

So here's an idea.  Use the Pass as a way to plan your time in London.  Work through their lists of the 55 different attractions offering you free admission, and include some of the other 42 special offers as well.  Create an interesting fun filled time in London that costs you no more than the price of the Pass, and get to see some places you probably never even knew existed.

For example, how about the Chislehurst Caves - over 20 miles of underground passageways dating back up to 8000 years - free admission when using your London Pass.  Or, closer in to the city center, why not spend a day visiting Hampton Court Palace and Kew Gardens, or right in central London itself, go inside the Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner and then cross over to visit 'Number 1, London'.

Perhaps visit Eton College and Windsor Castle plus enjoy a 20% discount off a Thames River cruise.

The possibilities for creating interesting days built around the Pass are almost endless.

Go to the Front of the Line

Here's a major benefit of the Pass.  Chances are you don't want to spend your London vacation standing in long lines to buy tickets, especially if you're traveling during the peak summer months.

Many of the places featured in the Pass program have special priority lanes for people with London Passes.  You can go straight to the head of the line and won't waste any of your valuable vacation queuing to buy tickets at full price.

Daily cost of a London Pass

The London Pass of course costs more when adding extra days of validity to the Pass, but each additional day of validity represents a lower cost per extra day you are adding.

So, for example, if you are considering 'should I buy a two or a three day pass', note from the table below that the extra cost of that third day is only 9.  If you think you'll get more than 9 of benefit from the third day of validity, you should of course then choose the three day pass over the two day pass (and, conversely, if you think by the time the third day comes around you'll be wanting a break, perhaps it is better to settle for a two day pass).
 

Days

Total Cost

Cost per Day

Cost per Extra Day

  1

46.00

46.00

n/a

  2

61.00

30.50

15.00

  3

74.00

24.67

13.00

  6

99.00

16.50

8.33
(25 for three days)

 

What Length London Pass Should You Buy

As you can see from the table above, the cost per day of a London Pass drops as the number of days (and total price) increases.

But clearly it makes no sense to buy a London Pass for longer than your total stay in London, with two possible exceptions - if you are planning on using a pass for four or five days.  In the case of needing five days of pass, it probably makes sense to buy a six day pass and just forget about the unused day.

But if you are needing four days of pass, you might be better advised to visit the most expensive places, using the pass, on the first three days, and then on the fourth day, you have 25 that you saved (by buying a three rather than six day pass) which you can use to buy admissions as needed to places.

Most people will probably choose three or six day passes.  If you're choosing a three day pass, you'll probably choose the option that includes the Travelcard too (see the next section immediately below).

Note that the multi-day London Passes must be used on consecutive days.  For example, if you get a three day pass, you could not use it on Monday, Tuesday, and then again on Thursday - if the pass starts on (eg) the Monday it will run continuously through until the end of Wednesday, whether you use it each day or not.

The London Pass compared to the Great British Heritage Pass

There was formerly a similar product called the Greate British Heritage Pass, but this was discontinued on January 1, 2012.

Should you buy the London Pass with or without the included travel option

The London Pass can optionally include a London Travelcard good for unlimited off-peak travel (ie all day after 9.30am) for the same number of days as the Travelcard itself is valid for, in all zones (1 - 6).

The extra charged by London Pass to include the Travelcard is almost exactly the same as you'd pay for a Travelcard by itself - see table below.  But - for most people - you don't need a Travelcard that covers all six zones - if you're traveling around central London, a simple Zone 1 and 2 Travelcard is all you need, and this is a little less expensive if purchased separately.

Here's a table comparing the alternate ways to arrange your travel around London.  For a much more complete discussion on the best value way to travel around London, see our page on how to find the best transport ticket pricing in London.
 

Days

Cost with
London Pass

Travelcard
Zones 1 - 6

Travelcard
Zones 1 - 2

  1

8.00

8.50

7.00

  2

18.00

17.00

14.00

  3

25.00

25.50

21.00

  6

50.00

51.00

42.00

  6

50.00

 

54.40 for a 7 day Travelcard

 

If you're buying a one, two or three day London Pass, and/or if you think you might travel to further away points than just central London, you should probably buy the inclusive London Pass, complete with Travelcard.  This saves you the bother and hassle of having to buy Travelcards every day while in London.

But if you're choosing a six day London Pass and are reasonably sure you won't be needing to travel outside of central London, then buy the London Pass without the included Travelcard option and buy your Travelcards as you need them in London.

Note the included Travelcard is only good for travel after 9.30am.  If you're going to be starting your touring earlier in the morning, you'll need to buy extra tickets until 9.30am when the Travelcard can start to be used.

Reference Book Included

Each Pass comes complete with a 128 page guide book giving you an excellent resource to plan your London stay.

The soft-covered book measures approx 4" x 6" and features helpful information about every attraction the Pass includes, plus some general London touring information, suggested itineraries, and of course a copy of the inevitable London Underground map.

I found the book to be very helpful in better understanding whether some of the less well known attractions would actually be of interest to me or not.  Plus each featured venue has a small map showing you how to get there, which is very helpful.

This guidebook is published twice each year (the most recent edition coming out in early June) so has up to date information to help you.

Delivering the London Pass

You can choose whether you want to collect the London Pass from the main Visitor Information Center in London, just 50 yards from Piccadilly Circus on Regent St (on the right hand side while walking from Piccadilly Circus to Trafalgar Square) or you can have the Passes mailed to you, at a cost of 5.95 for regular mail that takes about ten days to get to you.

The Visitor Information Center is open seven days a week, and we always visit it anyway as one of the first things we do in London, so you might choose this option; on the other hand, if you have plenty of advance time before your travels and want to have everything received before you start your travels, getting the passes and book(s) mailed to you might be a good idea.

Which Pass to Buy and Where

Most people will not use their London Pass every day of their time in London, so normally you'd choose a shorter duration Pass than the length of your stay in London.

We expect most people will probably choose the three day Pass with included Travelcard.  If your stay in London is longer than five or six days, you might want to consider the six day Pass, but without the included Travelcards, which you'd buy, as needed, in London itself.

Note that the one day Pass is more expensive, in terms of the cost per day, than the longer duration Passes.  You'd want to check, before buying a one day Pass, that you would be able to use it sufficiently on that one day to get good value from it (but see the example above that shows how dramatic the savings can be, even on a one day Pass).

Buying The London Pass is simple.  Simply visit the website (click the link immediately preceding), choose your Pass options, and either have them mailed to you before your travel starts or collect them when you get to London.

Note that reduced rate Child Passes are also offered on their website.

Summary

Chances are a London Pass will save you more than it costs you, and chances also are that the London Pass will help you choose some interesting places to see while in London.

With a choice of 1,2,3 or 6 day validities, there's a Pass to suit most people.

The pass can be conveniently purchased from their website.

 

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Originally published 9 June 2006, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
 
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