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Should I Give a Pass to the London Pass?

Updated: Jan 12

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Today we're going to talk about whether or not the London Pass makes sense. It did not make much sense for my family in 2012 because we got to the point where we simply could not get to another attraction on the final day that would have made it worth the cost. But, for some it may be worthwhile if you are fine with going at an exhaustive pace on some days and cramming as much in as you possibly can. Let's take their very popular three-day pass and do the Send Me To London breakdown.

The London pass must be used consecutively. If you buy 3 days, you have to use it 3 consecutive days. Something to be aware of is that Windsor Castle is closed on Tuesday and Wednesdays so if that is on your itinerary, you want to make sure you don't start the timer on your London pass in a manner that would not allow you to access Windsor Castle. And of note, Windsor Castle can only be entered in the afternoon with the London pass.

Let's say you bought the three-day pass. And on your must-see list is the Tower of London, St. Paul's, Hampton Court Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Windsor Castle. There are tons of different extra things to see that you could plug in that would make it more worth the cost. But, as we always say here at Send Me To London, you want to have plenty of time just to wander this glorious city.

The 3 Day pass is £119.00 although price are reportedly going up in a few days.

So, I would lay it out like this on a 3-day pass:

Day 1: The Tower of London in the morning (£29.90) St Paul’s in the afternoon (£21.00)

Day 2: Hampton Court Palace (£25.30) Free London museums

Day 3: Westminster Abbey (£27.00) Windsor Castle in the afternoon (£30.00)

The total cost of these things just buying individual tickets is £133.20 so £14.20 more than the 3-day London Pass. But, prices on the pass are going up May 5 and the entrance cost of the Tower of London is going up at the end of May so I don't know if it will still shake out at a savings or if the pass will be a loss.

For me, the pace of these 3 days would be about right as there would be time for meals, wandering through markets and just walking around – which is what I love doing in London. I generally plan on very time-consuming thing, one less time-consuming thing and then free time into every day. So, for ME, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to buy the pass.

But, look at the list of available attractions. If you want to go to the London Transport Museum or up the Monument to the Great Fire or up to the Shard or to the Globe and you are willing to fit it in to those 3 days, it starts to make more financial sense. But, know that you will have a packed 3 days and no time to get distracted by something not on the pass.

But, also, don’t get wrapped up in the attractions you probably wouldn’t bother with like London Zoo or all the stadium tours. Most tourists don’t bother with those. And, I have mixed feelings on the Hop-on-Hop-off bus. It’s such a SLOW way to get around. Traffic is a beast, and you might end up waiting for a bus when you could just get on a TFL (Transport for London) red bus and get to the same place much faster. In fact, the #9 bus is just £1.65 to ride and takes you by a lot of the best sites in London. You just won’t get the commentary.

I have strong feelings about the River Roamer. I LOVE London from the river. DO IT! Get on the Uber Boat at Millbank Pier just past Westminster Abbey and ride it to the Tower or as far as Greenwich. But, when you get on, it’s just a bunch of constant stops until you get past the Tower of London. It’s SLOOOOOW and if you miss the boat, you’ll have to wait for the next one. It’s probably the most inefficient way to travel around London. Don’t be romanced by the idea of riding the boat all day because it’s included. Just get on it for one trip, enjoy the view and then take the tube back.

Beyond that, you have to consider if you are REALLY going to go to the Canal Museum or the police museum? The London Pass is crammed full of things you can get into, but won’t go to unless you really have a connection to it. Ignore how long the list is - it doesn't matter if you aren't interested in 75% of the things on it.

There are tours and if that’s your thing and want to spend 3 hours of one day on a tour, then it’s great.

But, when you only have a certain number of days and must use them one after another, you really need to write out your itinerary to see if the pass makes sense. You can’t do more than about 3 things a day and Hampton Court Palace will really take over half a day. Windsor Castle likewise can be half a day. That’s where we got tripped up. We went to Windsor and then discovered that we really couldn’t do Hampton Court Palace the same day on our last day of the pass. St Paul's Cathedral was also not accepting the pass during that time so we ended up having to pay to get into that. So, we lost money on the pass for our family of 4.

The images here are from the London Pass site. It's their suggested 3-day itinerary and it's a bit misleading. For instance, if you took the boat to Greenwich and back, it would only cost you £15.40. You simply aren't likely to ride the boat all day. And, honestly, take it there for under £8 and ride the tube back for efficiency.

A London Pass tour example

A Day 2 London Pass tour example

A day 3 London Pass tour example

And, including the Hop On-Hop Off bus for a day is also inefficient as stated above. And, honestly, just take a free walk across Tower Bridge at street level.

When you take out the things that don't make sense, it's not much different in price and you aren't locked into a 3-day itinerary you have to stay on because of the pass.

But, the ultimate decision is yours. I'm just suggesting that you look at it with a critical eye and do the math and not just buy the London Pass because your neighbor's cousin did on her trip and loved it.

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