As I planned my first trip to London – way back in 2011 –, I was nervous. It was my first international trip, and while I was excited too, there was just so much to learn, plan, and do. I was also paying for the trip with gift money and wanted to make it last as long as possible.
I was on the lookout for any ways to visit London on a budget (Stay in a cheap hostel in Canary Wharf, literally miles from everything I wanted to do? Check!). Then I learned about the London Pass, and how much it can save.
Based on my experience using the London Pass on that first trip, I’m putting together this London Pass Review. If you’re curious whether the London Pass is worth it, read on.
To help make this post more helpful, I’ve added some of the (terrible) photos from my first trip to London using my London Pass!
What is the London Pass?
If you’re reading London Pass reviews, you probably already know what the London Pass is. But in case you don’t here’s a quick explanation: the London Pass is a card you can use to receive free admission to London attractions for a set number of consecutive days. You can purchase the card for a number of different days (more below) and it will grant you free admission to London attractions (also more below) as well as discounts and deals at other attractions.
Let me break it down with more specifics.
Attractions included in the London Pass
The main value of the London Pass is in providing free access to over 70 paid attractions across London (and in the surrounding countryside). There are also special benefits at over 35 other attractions that either already have free entry or offer a discount/special offer for London Pass holders.
Based on my list of must-see London attractions, here are some of the most popular attractions you can access for free with the London Pass.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
You already know that St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of my favorite sight in London. There did not used to be an admission charge for St. Paul’s, but now that there is, you can get free entry with a London Pass.
Tower of London
I used to live near the Tower of London and loved running around the Tower and all of its history. Inside the walls, you can see the seat of London’s history dating back to the Roman times, plus gaze at the crown jewels – all for free with the London Pass.
You can certainly cross beautiful Tower Bridge on foot (or by bus) for free, but if you want a more immersive experience and to climb the namesake towers, you’ll need to pay admission (unless you have a London Pass!)
Can I admit: I’ve never actually been in Westminster Abbey – because the admission is so expensive! Don’t be like me: use the London Pass for free entry to Westminster Abbey and admire this High Gothic church inside and out.
The Monument to the Great Fire of London
While the admission to climb The Monument’s 311 steps isn’t much, it never hurts to save those pounds for an extra pint at the pub. You’ll have earned it after climbing up and down all those steps!
Royal Observatory Greenwich (Prime Meridian)
If you take my suggestion to make a day trip to Greenwich during your London trip, the main attraction is the Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. It’s a steep admission fee normally, or free with the London Pass.
Other Attractions with Free Admission on the London Pass
Here’s the full list of all other attractions offering free admission through the London Pass as of January 2021:
- Apsley House
- ArcelorMittal Orbit
- BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
- Beefeater Gin Distillery Tour
- Benjamin Franklin House
- Bicester Village Shopping Express
- Brass Rubbing Centre
- Brit Movie Tours
- Canal Museum
- Cartoon Museum
- Charles Dickens Museum
- Chelsea FC Stadium Tour
- Chelsea Physic Garden
- Curzon Bloomsbury, Soho & Mayfair
- Cutty Sark
- Eltham Palace
- Emirates Stadium Tour – Arsenal FC
- Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
- Fan Museum
- Florence Nightingale Museum
- Foundling Museum
- Freud Museum London
- Garden Museum
- Golden Hinde
- Guards Museum
- Hampton Court Palace
- Handel & Hendrix London
- HMS Belfast
- Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour
- Household Cavalry Museum
- Jason’s Original Canal Boat Trip
- Jewel Tower
- Jewish Museum London
- Keats House
- Kensington Palace
- Kew Gardens
- Kia Oval Tour
- London Bicycle Tour
- The London Bridge Experience
- London Stadium
- London Transport Museum
- Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising
- Museum of Water and Steam
- Namco Funscape
- Old Royal Naval College
- Pollock’s Toy Museum
- Postal Museum
- Queen’s Gallery
- QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl
- Royal Albert Hall Tour
- Royal Mews
- Science Museum IMAX
- Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Tour
- Thames River Boat Cruise
- Top Sights Tours
- Top Sights Tours London’s Amazing Palaces
- Twickenham Stadium Tour and Rugby Museum
- View from The Shard
- Wellington Arch
- Wembley Stadium Tour
- Wernher Collection at Ranger’s House
- Wetland Centre
- Windsor Castle
- ZSL London Zoo
Some of these attractions also offer fast-track (skip-the-line) access in addition to free admission!
As I mentioned, there are also over 35 other attractions that offer discounts and deals for London Pass holders. While the London Pass doesn’t cover every attraction in London, it definitely covers many of the most popular and more than enough to fill your entire London itinerary, no matter the length.
Length of the London Pass
When you purchase a London Pass, you choose the number of consecutive days you want it to be active. As of January 2021, your options are
- 1 Day
- 2 Days
- 3 Days
- 6 Days
- 10 Days
On my all-too-brief first trip to London (which was four days long), I bought a 3-day London Pass to help me make the most of my time.
The Oyster Travelcard Add-On
Finally, you can choose to add-on an Oyster Travelcard when you purchase a London Pass. While this might seem unnecessary since you can buy an Oyster card at any of the airports on your arrival to London, but purchasing it in advance with the London Pass means you won’t have to queue up to purchase it from those oft-frustrating machines at Heathrow with everyone else.
Your options for the Oyster Travelcard depend on the length of the London Pass you purchase:
|London Pass Length||Oyster Card Value|
The idea is that the Oyster card you purchase will cover all (or nearly all) of your travel in London while using the London Pass.
How Much Does the London Pass Cost?
Here is a breakdown of the price for an adult London Pass:
|London Pass Length||Price (without Travelcard)||Price (with Travelcard)|
There are reduced prices for children, which range from £56 (1-day without travelcard) to £204 (10-day with travelcard).
While these prices might seem steep, the London Pass will almost always save you money if you use it to visit a few attractions per day for the duration of the pass. Let’s look next at a few examples that show how much money the London Pass can save you.
How Much Can the London Pass Save You?
Obviously the primary value of the London Pass is in saving you money. While your own itinerary will surely be unique, it might help to see a few example London Pass itineraries to see how much you could save.
Example: My First London Trip
As part of writing this London Pass review, I went back into my old files and blurry/bad photos from my first London trip in 2011. I looked through my super-detailed, highly-planned itinerary and used that to come up with a list of the London Pass attractions I visited, and how much they cost today:
- London Bicycle Tour – £30
- Royal Observatory Greenwich – £18
- Tower of London – £29
- The Monument – £5
- Windsor Castle – £24
- London Bridge – £11
- St. Paul’s Cathedral – £20
- Thames Boat River Cruise – £21
- Wellington Arch – £7
Total without London Pass: £165
Compare this with the £121 cost of a 3-day London Pass and it’s a savings of £44! (Enough to cover the Fast-Track access to the London Eye plus a couple of pints!)
This doesn’t count a number of attractions and experiences I did that were part of the London Pass but aren’t anymore (Like the Jack the Ripper Walking Tour I did with London Walks.)
Example: Other Suggested Itineraries & Savings
Let’s break down a few more examples for you. I’ll add sections for a 1-day, 2-day, and 6-day London Pass itinerary.
10 Day London Pass Itinerary + Savings
On my 10-day London itinerary, I suggest visiting the following attractions that are part of the London pass on four of the days in the 10-day itinerary:
- St. Paul’s Cathedral – £20
- The Monument – £5
- Westminster Abbey – £23
- Kensington Palace – £17
- Tower of London – £29
- Tower Bridge – £11
- The Shard – £34
- Cutty Sark – £17
- Royal Greenwich Observatory – £18
Total without London Pass: £173
By rearranging my suggested itinerary, you could fit all of these into three days, and save £53 with a 3-day London Pass:
|1||St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Monument, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, The Shard|
|2||Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace (plus other non-London Pass attractions)|
|3||Cutty Sark, Royal Greenwich Observatory (plus other non-London attractions)|
If you want to purchase a 10-day London Pass and use it every day, you’ll need to plan ahead and arrange activities to help make sure you spend most of your time at those attractions and save other/paid attractions for the spare time you have.
Where to Buy the London Pass
If you’re sold and wondering where to buy a London Pass, the answer is simple: online!
While you used to be able to purchase the London Pass online, in-person (an office in London), and through some retailers like Costco, now it’s all simple in one place. You can purchase the London Pass through the official website.
When you purchase, you can decide whether to receive your pass digitally (on your phone) or by mail. I prefer to receive physical goodies, so I recommend receiving your pass and accompanying guidebook by mail.
Tips to Make the Most of Your London Pass
Once you’re committed, here are a few more tips to help you make the most of your London Pass. As I mentioned at the beginning, I am a cost-conscious traveler, so I don’t want you to spend money on the London Pass then not get as much out of it as you can!
1. Start Your London Pass in the Morning
Your London Pass is good for the set number of consecutive calendar days you purchase. That means that “Day 1” starts on the first day you use it – whether that’s 8am or 6pm. Day 2 begins at midnight in either case.
To make the most of your first day, be sure to activate your London Pass first thing in the morning (i.e. go to a London Pass attraction in the morning of your first day). You’ll then get the most out of Day 1 on your pass, no matter the length of your London Pass.
2. Purchase the Oyster Travelcard if it’s Your First Trip to London
If you’ve never visited London before and don’t already have an Oyster card, I recommend choosing the Oyster Travelcard add-on for your London Pass. There’s a £5 fee to purchase/activate any Oyster card (which explains the prices above, if you were doing the math), and it’s much more convenient to just receive your Oyster card in the mail with your London Pass.
If you already have an Oyster card from a past trip or friend/family who gave you theirs, you can skip the Travelcard add-on and just reload your Oyster card once you get to London.
3. Double-Check Admission Prices when Traveling with Kids
One last tip: while I didn’t break down the London Pass prices for children above, if you are visiting London with kids I recommend double-checking whether the London Pass will save you money for kids. Almost all attractions offer reduce admission for children and this may end up being roughly the same or potentially less without the London Pass.
Once you’ve picked the attractions you want to do, it’s worth doing the math for children’s admission (and adult’s too, though you’ll almost always save with a London Pass) to ensure you don’t end up paying extra for your kiddos.
Other FAQ About the London Pass
COVID-19 & London Pass 24-Month Validity
You might be reading this London Pass review in early 2021 thinking: okay, I’m sold – I want a London Pass… but what if I can’t visit London for a while due to the pandemic?
No worries! If you are definitely on board for a London trip after travel restrictions are lifted (I’ll be first in line!) and want to purchase a London Pass, you can do so now. It will be valid for 24 months from purchase, giving you plenty of time to plan that trip. (This also makes the London Pass a great gift for someone who’s always dreamed of visiting London!)
Which TfL Zones does the Oyster Travelcard Cover?
The Oyster Travelcard add-on with your London Pass is valid for Zones 1-9. It can literally get you everywhere in London, though the vast majority of attractions included with the London Pass are in Zones 1 and 2.
What’s a Good London Pass Itinerary?
As you can tell from my examples above, I think the 3-day London Pass is a sweet spot to save you money on many of London’s main attractions. This is true whether you’re visiting London for three days or three weeks! Here’s my ideal jam-packed London Pass itinerary for three days that you can use or add to the rest of your itinerary:
|1||Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour, St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Monument, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, The Shard, Shakespeare’s Globe|
|2||Westminster Abbey, Wellington Arch, Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle|
|3||Thames River Cruise*, Cutty Sark, Old Royal Naval College, Royal Observatory Greenwich|
This suggested London Pass itinerary takes you to 16 attractions and saves you £168! You literally start saving money by the end of Day 1 – think of Day 2 and Day 3 as totally free with the London Pass!
(Also, there are other attractions here I recommend doing too, so be sure to check my 3-day London itinerary (forthcoming) for a full recommendation of how to spend 3 days in London).
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