London, the city with an endless number of activities to keep everyone busy. We recently made our first trip to London and deciding what to do over our 5 nights was a little overwhelming. We quickly accepted the fact that there was absolutely no way we could get close to seeing it all and did a little research before coming across the London Pass, which offers free access to a large number of London attractions for a fixed price. This price varies based upon the number of days the pass is good for and if the oyster card is added on.
The London pass includes entry to over 70 attractions throughout London and offers options of 1, 2, 3, 6, and 10 days, with the price per day decreasing as the length of the pass increases. Since we were only in London for 5 days we ignored the 6 and 10 day options. Then the one and two-day passes seemed pretty expensive for only being good for such a short duration. So we ended up deciding on the 3-day London Pass, which the website says could provide up to £295 in value. While this does sound great I didn’t want to spend my vacation running around London ticking off boxes just to suck all of the possible value out of the pass. However, since they were offering an online sale we decided to test it out and see what kind of value we could get from casual usage. We ended up paying £123 each for the 3-day London pass with Oyster Card. For this test we listed the prices below for each attraction we visited based upon the price we would have had to pay for entry without the pass.
1. Oyster Card – £25
The package arrived containing a small guidebook featuring a long list of London attractions with the London Pass and Oyster card slid into flaps on the very last page. I can honestly say it was extremely convenient already having the Oyster card in hand upon arrival in London. It made taking the tube from Heathrow to our hotel in central London very easy. As an added perk, this card ended up lasting us the entirety of our trip. This was certainly helped by the fact that we never left zone 1 during our trip and took the Heathrow Express Sunday morning when heading back to the airport.
2. Tower of London – £28
The Tower of London takes up a sizable area along the River Thames near the Tower Bridge. Most people come here to see the Crown Jewels but this is only a small part of this attraction. There are a number of other areas worth seeing including The Mint, The Bell Tower, Traitors Gate (pictured above), Wakefield Tower, Cradle Tower, Salt Tower, & The Bloody Tower. We arrived right when they opened and were able to walk right in with the London Pass giving us quick access. We ended up spending about 2 hours and 45 minutes here from start to finish before heading over to the Tower Bridge. It was really neat and I highly recommend visiting if you get the chance as it is a huge part of London history.
3. Tower Bridge – £12
In my opinion this was the neatest bridge we saw the entire time we were in London. Not only is it a draw bridge, so we were able to see it in action, but both towers have elevators with viewing decks up top. This attraction was very busy when we visited but since we had the London Pass, we had access to the fast track line. Once up there the walkway offered excellent views down the River Thames and the glass floor provided another unique perspective. The Tower Bridge is mostly self paced with a few videos about how the bridge was built so people can spend as much or as little time in the viewing areas as they like. It took us about 45 minutes from the time we walked onto the bridge until we came down the elevator on the other side to leave.
4. HMS Belfast – £14.50
This is one of those attractions that falls in the category of, I’m glad I did it, it was extremely interesting to see and read everything, but I wouldn’t feel the need to do it again on my next visit. This ship is located very close walking distance from the Tower Bridge and the London Pass offers easy access. We simply handed them our passes, they scanned them, gave us tickets and we walked on board. The ship has a lot of areas to explore and even affords the opportunity for people to sit and take in the view from the Captains chair (pictured above) of the HMS Belfast. We ended up spending just under 1.5 hours exploring and listening to the self-guided audio tour.
5. Royal Albert Hall – £13.75
The Royal Albert Hall is a famous London site for concerts, shows, sports, and anything else they can manage to fit in the venue. Since we didn’t have any tickets for a show we used the London pass for a 1 hour guided tour. We were able to see most levels of the Hall but they did mention that depending upon who is performing that evening certain areas could be off limits for visiting, taking photos, or both. It was very interesting learning about some of the history of Royal Albert Hall and I certainly wouldn’t mind trying to see a performance there sometime in the future. From what I could tell tours were offered on the half hour during operating hours.
6. Kensington Palace – £19
The entrance to Kensington Palace is located within Hyde Park and a short walk from Royal Albert Hall. For this reason we did them back to back and took a nice stroll through Hyde Park on our way to Kensington Palace. When we approached the Palace there was a large gate stating priority entrance but when we showed them our London pass they let us right through. There was then another line with security before actually entering. The Palace is quite large with a few expansive and impressive rooms. We ended up spending about 2 hours here from start to finish since the line really backed up around the very popular “Diana: Her Fashion Story” exhibit.
7. Churchill War Rooms – £19
The entrance to the Churchill War Rooms is located near Westminster Bridge, across the river from the London Eye. The London Pass does not offer any type of fast track or priority entrance but it still includes access to the actual exhibit. The War Rooms offer a self-guided audio tour so people can go through everything at their own pace. We ended up spending just over an hour here and found it really neat to see the living conditions where Churchill operated from during World War II.
Value Used: £131.25
The ending value received on the London Pass came in at £131.25 vs. £123 spent. Then this doesn’t include the added perk of fast track entry at multiple attractions and the overall ease of use. Given that we took everything at a leisurely pace and didn’t go to more than 3 London Pass attractions in one day it would easily be possible to get even more value out of the pass. To maximize the pass I would recommend reviewing the attractions included and setting up a plan of action before the day starts to keep everything flowing. If I return to London I wouldn’t hesitate to get the London Pass again since there are still plenty of sites we didn’t get to see. The pass isn’t perfect for everyone but if you want to see as much as possible in a short time and don’t want to worry about constantly paying for attractions then I would certainly recommend making it a part of your next trip to London. For more on the attractions covered and to purchase your London Pass visit their website here. If anyone has used the London Pass before or has any questions related to it feel free to share your experiences or comments below.