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London Pass review: How It Works, What to See & More

I discovered the London Pass while reading another London Pass review, but questioned the pass’ ability to save me money since many London attractions offer a student discount. After several hours of calculations under hundreds of possible scenarios, I purchased the London Pass but was still skeptical of it. Would it be cheaper to purchase student tickets individually? Is the pass flexible enough? Are the included attractions actually interesting? Will I have enough time each day to visit enough sites to make the London Pass worth it? Now, to save you time and energy, I wrote this ultimate London Pass review and guide.

How the London Pass Works

When I initially purchased my pass, I was confused about how to use it. This London Pass review breaks down how the pass works so it’s hopefully less confusing for you.

After purchasing the London Pass, there is no additional entrance fee to any of the 80+ attractions included on the London Pass during the London Pass’ activation period. All you have to do is show your London Pass at the ticket booth and the attraction’s staff will print your entrance ticket. Some major sights, like the Tower of London, even include a fast track entry allowing you to skip the ticket booth queues and immediately enter the attraction.

1, 2, 3, 6, and 10-day passes are available for purchase. Purchasing the London Pass does not immediately activate the card, therefore you can purchase a pass up to one year before using. Entering your first attraction will activate the card. The London Pass must be used on consecutive days, so be sure to plan accordingly.

For a higher purchase fee, an Oyster card can be purchased with the London Pass. The higher fee is equivalent to the cost of the Oyster card plus the preloaded fare, so you don’t save money by purchasing the Oyster card with your London Pass. Most people opt to pick up their pass in London or use the new mobile app, so I recommend you purchase an Oyster card at the metro station upon arrival instead of with the London Pass.

I purchased my pass online during a sale, but the pass is also available at many stores around London.

Attractions I Visited

While researching the London Pass, I was unsure of which attractions to visit and skip. Now I’m sharing every attraction I visited with my pass in this London Pass review. You’ll find a short description, pictures, whether or not I recommend the attraction, and what the attraction would’ve cost without the London Pass for students and adults in pounds. As you’ll probably soon realize, London attractions are expensive.

Tower Bridge Exhibition

London Bridge is not the iconic Victorian-style bridge commonly associated with London. London Bridge is a boring, concrete bridge. Tower Bridge is the stunning bridge iconic to London. The exhibition showcases the design and construction of Tower Bridge. Part of the flooring is made of glass, allowing you to view the bridge and Thames river from above. One side even has a mirror on the ceiling for some awesome selfie-taking. Tower Bridge is the largest and most sophisticated bascule bridge ever built. In its day, the bridge used hydraulic power on a scale never before attempted.

***Recommended for everyone, including families

6.30/9 GBP (cost when I visited)

6.80/9.80 GBP (cost as of June 2, 2019)

London Bridge Experience

Although extremely touristy, I enjoyed the London Bridge Experience. It is deemed the scariest attraction in London. The experience is broken up into two parts–the history tour and the tombs. The history tour explores the history of London Bridge with live actors and actresses. Although a bit eery and spooky, it is not necessarily scary. I thought the experience was an interesting way to explore London’s history while focusing on London Bridge, but I wouldn’t pay the price only for the history part. The tombs are the horror part and it is optional to go through these, but note it is included in the sale price either way. I’ll be honest, the anticipation was much scarier than the actual event. Everyone is required to walk through in a line with one hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them. Perhaps there really is strength in numbers?

***Recommended if you like haunted houses

27.95 GBP

HMS Belfast

Growing up, my father and I toured several historic Naval ships together. To keep this tradition alive, even without my dad as a travel partner, I thought it was necessary to view this cruiser. Anyone with interest in Naval history will find HMS Belfast fascinating. The exhibits are extensive and you can visit nearly every part on the ship. You’ll need several hours to see everything! Some of the pathway markings are nonexistent, though, causing some confusion and backtracking amongst visitors and myself. 

***Recommended if you or your children enjoy war/naval history

12.80/16 GBP (cost when I visited)

14.40/18 GBP (cost as of June 2, 2019)

Westminster Abbey

This is a must-see in London. Royalty marry here and world-renowned Brits are buried here, including Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. One particular memorial, The Grave of the Unknown Warrior, received a U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor. The grave, made of black stone with gold type and surrounded by red poppies, was an emotional reminder of missing spouses, siblings, and friends everywhere. The High Altar, where Queen Elizabeth II and many Kings and Queens before her were coronated, features intricate marble designs made by an Italian artist. The Coronation Chair is also available for viewing. It is the same chair used since 1308! Its longevity represents, as told in the audio guide, the Royal Crown’s continuity and adaptation. The Lady’s Chapel is my personal favorite in Westminster Abbey. Light pours in from the windows and colorful knight banners line the walls, making this a cheerful room.

***Recommended for everyone

17/20 GBP (cost when I visited)

23/27 GBP (cost as of June 2, 2019)

Churchill’s Cabinet War Rooms

As a WWII buff, I could’ve spent the entire day here. You have access to the war rooms and Churchill’s museum. Touring the war rooms doesn’t require a lot of time, but the extensive Churchill Museum requires at least a couple hours. The tour and museum give an interesting insight into the man behind the name. My favorite things learned? Rifle racks were located throughout the bunker for anyone to use in case of an attack. A weather sign stated “windy” during air raids. Churchill hated noise, thus he and his closest staff used noiseless typewriters. He referred to President FDR as the “greatest friend Britain has ever had.”  Churchill had a direct phone line to FDR, and later Truman, inside a closet-sized room that appeared to be a bathroom from the outside; he hid the telephone to discourage staff from eavesdropping. Churchill once said, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” Finally, a consensus amongst Churchill’s staff was that, despite the difficulty working for Churchill, it was a great honor and he was an extremely inspirational leader.

***Recommended for history buffs

15.20/19 GBP (cost when I visited)

17.60/22 GBP (cost as of June 2, 2019)

ArcelorOrbit

Located at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, ArcelorOrbit Mittal is an art structure that offers stunning views of London. The London Pass offers free entrance to the viewing area, but the slide costs an additional five pounds. Let me tell you, the additional expense is 100% worth it. The slide is absolutely the most fun I’ve had in London! It is the longest slide in the world. I’m jealous of the workers who slide down several times a day. May I have a job application, please?

***Recommended only if you’ll pay extra for the slide

7/10 GBP (cost when I visited)

8.50/11.50 GBP (cost as of June 2, 2019)

London Transport Museum

This is a unique museum in London where you’ll learn about the growth and modernization of London’s transportation system through colorful and interactive exhibits. Although I don’t find transportation infrastructure particularly interesting, it was fun to explore another historical side of London. As a young and adventurous solo female traveler, this museum didn’t align well with my interests. The children running around the museum seemed to enjoy it, though.

***Recommended for families

15/17.50 GBP (cost when I visited)

17/18 GBP (cost as of June 2, 2019)

Monument to the Great Fire of London

Climb the 311 steps for gorgeous views of the city. Climb down the 311 steps to pick up your certificate of accomplishment. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes. Please note that there isn’t an elevator, so this attraction is not suited for travelers with mobility issues.

***Recommended for the city views

2.70/4 GBP (cost when I visited)

3.30/5 GBP (cost as of June 2, 2019)

Tower of London

Although often rated as one of the “must do’s” in London, I was not excited about the Tower of London because I’m not particularly interested in medieval history. Turns out my impressions were correct. The highly-recommended Beefeater Tour was not as comprehensive or satisfying as I expected it to be. The various exhibitions weren’t particularly fascinating. Children might enjoy running amongst the knights’ armor, but I’m simply not a medieval history fan. The one turnaround during my visit? Seeing the Crown Jewels. I thought the jewels would be highly overrated, but woah was I wrong. I didn’t understand the meaning of “priceless” until having seen the Crown Jewels.

***Recommended for families or if you want to see the Crown Jewels

19.50/25 GBP (cost when I visited)

21.30/27.20 GBP (cost as of June 2, 2019)

City Cruise Hop On Hop Off River Tour

Although a river tour is not my #1 recommendation for London, it does provide a unique vantage point to explore London. You’ll see the London Eye from a distance without obstruction, travel underneath the Tower Bridge, see the Traitor’s Gate at Tower of London from its entrance point, and more. I traveled from Westminster to Greenwich with the river tour and appreciated the different perspective and history lesson while en-route.

The London ferry service is a faster and cheaper way of travel. You can pay for this other ferry with your Oyster card. If you are only looking for water transportation, try the London ferry service instead of the City Cruise.

***Somewhat recommended

18.50 GBP 

Cutty Sark & Royal Observatory

Although two separate attractions, with one requiring an exhausting hike up a mountain to reach, a combination ticket is available to purchase. Since I would’ve purchased the combo ticket if I didn’t have a London Pass, I included that price instead of individual prices.

Cutty Sark was the world’s fastest tea clipper during its time. Touring the Cutty Sark takes you through the growth and decline of tea trade via sailboats, the variety of goods Cutty transported, and life on the water. Exhibits are geared towards children, but I also enjoyed the tidbits of information, short films, sailing games, and sea chanteys. This museum provides a sailor’s perspective of the British Empire.

Personally, I believe the Royal Observatory is a must on any London tour. Stand on the Prime Meridian, learn about astronomy and time, explore the Astronomer Royals’ living space at the Royal Observatory, and enjoy gorgeous views of London. Be sure to visit the website to see what free special events are occurring during your visit.

***Recommended for everyone, including families

15.50/18.50 GBP (cost when I visited)

15.85/23.65 GBP (cost as of June 2, 2019)

Golden Tours Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour

My disliking towards bus tours continues. Not only do bus tours prevent you from truly appreciating the sites, but it is impossible to take a good photograph! For a photography enthusiast (read: I like to pretend I’m a photographer), bus tours are horrible. Golden Tour’s bus tour particularly disappointed me. I was impressed with the company’s Stonehenge day tour and had high expectations for this bus tour. Unfortunately, the two tour guides I had both relayed very inaccurate information and one had several disgusting coughing fits into the microphone.

***Not recommended

25 GDP

Shakespeare’s Globe

Many friends recommended I visit Shakespeare’s Globe while in London, but I honestly had little interest in visiting. Shakespeare and I never hit it off in high school literature classes. Nonetheless, its inclusion in the London Pass made it easier to write into my “to-do” list, though at the bottom. My expectations were way wrong! Shakespeare’s Globe was one of my favorite experiences with the London Pass. Not only did it reignite my love for theatre, but it also sparked an interest in giving Shakespeare another try.

***Highly recommended to everyone, including families

11.50/15 GBP (cost when I visited)

13.50/17 GBP (cost as of June 2, 2019)

Other Included Attractions

The London Pass includes many paid attractions in London, as well as other perks. Aside from the ones listed above, below are some other interesting inclusions I eventually wish to visit. To see all the attractions and perks of the London Pass, visit the website or look inside the guidebook provided to every customer upon pass pick-up.

  • Hampton Court Palace
  • Kensington Palace
  • Kew Gardens
  • Royal Albert Hall
  • IMAX film at the Science Museum
  • Wembley Stadium Tour
  • Beefeater Gin Distillery Tour
  • London Bicycle Tour
  • Chelsea Physic Garden
  • Cartoon Museum
  • Jason’s Original Canal Tour
  • London Wetland Centre
  • London’s Brass Rubbing Centre
  • Museum of Comedy
  • Benjamin Franklin House
  • National Theatre Backstage Tour (reservation necessary)
  • Royal Mews
  • Rock n Roll Walking Tour
  • Chislehurst Caves

I visited a lot of museums with my London Pass, but there is more to see and do than museums with the pass. More attractions and tours are frequently added, too. When I return to London I will definitely purchase another London Pass.

Tips for Using the London Pass

  • If you purchase a London Pass, do not forget to use it in the attraction’s cafes and gift shops! I bought souvenirs at the Churchill Cabinet Rooms and coffee/cake at the Cutty Wharf. Both times I forgot to show my London Pass and both times the attractions offered discounts.
  • Ensure the London Pass is worth it for you. Before purchasing, write a list of attractions that interest you. Then map a route while using your London Pass to ensure you maximize the number of museums per day. You’ll reasonably be able to visit 2-4 attractions per day. The shorter the pass’ duration, the more attractions must be visited in one day to save money.
  • Do not visit free attractions while using your London Pass, unless it’s to quickly pick up a free guide book. It only wastes your time and money.
  • Check out the special offers for London Pass holders. There are a wide variety of discounts, including helicopter tours, waffles, cell phone hires, and massages. I wish I was able to try a few of these.
  • Look out for London Pass sales!

London Pass review

I purchased the London Pass for 161.15 pounds during a 20% off sale. This price included six consecutive days with the London Pass and an Oyster Card with 40 pounds preloaded. Without the London Pass, I would’ve spent 199.45 pounds with student entrance fees plus 40 pounds on transportation. The London Pass, without a doubt, saved me lots of dough–even as a student. Not only that, but I was able to visit several wonderful attractions I wouldn’t have otherwise visited because they were included in the London Pass.

Since I visited though, the London Pass has increased in price. A six-day pass now costs 169 pounds without the Oyster Card. Attractions also increased their prices, so it would’ve cost 212.70 pounds to visit with student discounts and 250.60 pounds to visit with adult tickets. The new prices still make it cheaper for students and adults to travel with the London Pass.

The London Pass added a maximum credit of 605 pounds for the 6 days, meaning a passholder can’t spend more than 605 GBP with their London Pass. If I had paid for adult entrance fees, I would’ve spent nearly 220 pounds. The maximum credit seems nearly impossible to reach. If purchasing adult entrance fees, the London Pass could still save you money.

The perks of the London Pass–from savings, skipped queues, discounts, flexibility, and more–are worth the price if you purchase a 6 or 10-day pass. Be careful if you purchase a 1, 2, or 3 days pass because you’ll have to rush through attractions to meet the break-even point. For those who have visited London several times or are in London for a few weeks, as I was, the London Pass is a great option for you. Hopefully this London Pass review clearly points out the monetary benefits of purchasing.

Have you used other sightseeing passes? Did you like this London Pass review? Comment below!

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