London is a very peculiar city for budget travelers. If you just turn up with little preparation you are guaranteed to think that it’s the most expensive place on earth. Unlike most other large and famous cities, the center of London feels like a trap built to suck all the money out of your wallet and your credit cards. Every turn brings another outrageous expense, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
We’ve previously discussed London budget travel tips, and if you follow that advice you can actually cut your expenses in half or so, while having just as much fun in the process. In fact, London prices are lower than expected on our cheapest European cities list, mostly due to the free attractions and relatively cheap hostel beds.
The London Pass – Is it worth it?
As much as you might save on your bed plus food and drink, you are really coming to London to see its many world-class attractions. More than any other city on the planet, many of London’s most famous attractions are actually free, or at least courtesy of UK taxpayers. However, of the paid ones, London attraction prices are easily among the highest in the world. So is the London Pass worth it?
London is a very unusual city so the answer is complicated. The attractions other than the state-run museums tend to be expensive, and you have to factor in the value of the London travel pass that comes along with the main London Pass as well. We’ve previously reviewed the Paris Pass and reviewed the New York Pass, and the answer here is at least as complicated.
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3 categories of London attractions
- British Museum
- Tate Modern Museum (plus about 20 other state-run museums)
- Speakers’ Corner
- Hyde Park
- The Changing of the Guards
- and hundreds more
London attractions NOT included in the London Pass
- The London Eye (Ferris wheel)
- Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum
- Double-decker bus tours
The 55 attractions that ARE included in the London Pass
- Tower of London – £19.50
- Churchill War Rooms – £14.95
- Windsor Castle – £17.75
- Westminster Abbey – £18
- London Bridge Experience! – £24
- Chelsea FC Stadium Tour – £18
- Wimbledon Tour Experience – £22
- London Bicycle Tour – £18.95
So look at the lists above. If you are on a backpacker budget it’s obvious that you can have a great time in London without buying the London Pass. Or, if you are only in London for a few days and you have your heart set on doing the London Eye and Madam Tussaud’s, then the London Pass might actually slow you down more than it helps.
However, if you look at the things the London Pass offers it’s a very impressive list. Many of us don’t like museums, or at least not for more than an hour or so at a time, and a great number of the more exciting attractions are included with the London Pass.
2014 Prices of the London Pass
- 1 Day Adult Pass: £49.00
- 1 Day Child Pass: £33.00
- 2 Day Adult Pass: £68.00
- 2 Day Child Pass: £49.00
- 3 Day Adult Pass: £81.00
- 3 Day Child Pass: £56.00
- 6 Day Adult Pass: £108.00
- 6 Day Child Pass: £76.00
NOTE: The Pass is good for one year so you can buy now and validate it anytime in the next 12 months.
There are also options that include a London Travel Card, which can be convenient, but there is no discount on the travel portion so we’ll just examine the value of the attraction part.
Is the London Pass a good value then?
As long as you are interested in visiting enough of the included attractions, the London Pass is definitely a good value. Unlike some other cities we’ve covered, this pass pays for itself very quickly. If you visit only 3 big attractions in one day you’ve already saved money, not to mention the fact that you can skip the notoriously long queues in the process.
If you opt for the 2, 3, or 6-day option then you can take in as few as 2 attractions per day and still save money. Honestly, this is the best-value city pass we’ve looked at, as long as you are actually interested in these attractions.
Who is the London Pass good for:
As mentioned above, this pass isn’t ideal for everyone, so look at your own circumstances to see if it’s right for you.
- Those who definitely want to visit many included attractions
- Families (skipping queues is invaluable with little ones)
- First-time visitors only in London for a few days
- Visitors who don’t love state-run museums
Who is the London Pass NOT good for:
- Those on backpacker budgets
- People who prefer museums over exciting and unusual attractions
- Visitors staying more than one week in London
Note for visitors from June through September
The queues for attractions tend to be very long from June through September, and they can be ridiculous during July and August. Being able to skip a 2-hour ticket-buying queue twice a day could be worth a LOT during busy months. Combined with the outdoor heat, the ability to walk straight into the top attractions could really enhance your entire visit. If you are otherwise on the fence then you should really consider getting the pass during summer visits.
Here at Price of Travel we are all about value, but it’s important to remember that the whole point of traveling to cities like London is to see the things that interest you there. Fans of the big museums can save a lot of money by skipping the London Pass and concentrating on the British Museum, Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert plus many more.
But if you want to see the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Windsor Castle or even the Chelsea Football Stadium Tour then you’ll be astonished by how expensive everything in London is and the London Pass is a great way to keep you from spending too much or skipping things because you are worried about going over budget. Also, if you haven’t reserved a room yet, check out our recommended London hotels for our expert choices.
And again, if you decide it’s for you then you can save 5% off All Orders of London Pass Tickets with this code: londpas05