London is a huge city with a ridiculous amount of must-see sights. Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, among others, are the real kings and queens of Great Britain, really (sorry, Elizabeth II). So when you go to London, you obviously want to meet all of them. The problem is, however, that the exciting capital of the British people is also ridiculously expensive. They say that one of the ways to go easier on your wallet is to get a London Pass. But is it really true?
What is the London Pass?
London Pass is “your passport to London that gives you entry at no further cost to a choice of over 60 favourite attractions”, says the London Pass guide. Over 60! Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? There are 4 types of deals you can get: 1 day, 3 day, 6 day, and 10 day tickets, with prices varying depending on whether you’re a child or an adult. I bought mine for 3 days and was quite happy to have got a last-day 10% discount (which, as I found out later, happens too often to be considered a ‘discount’ at this point). The Pass cost me £76.50 (or €109), which I thought was extremely cheap because I could see anything I wanted with it. I mean ANYTHING. Or so I thought.
Is it worth it?
The problem started when I realised that, as much as the London Pass covers, it doesn’t include EVERYTHING. No London Eye, no tours on red double-decker buses, no Madame Tussaud, for example. Moreover, out of those supposedly ‘60 sights’, many of them are very cheap (e.g. £2-4) or even have free entrance (e.g. all of the famous museums). Therefore, you don’t always feel like you’re actually saving money, even though the euphoria, which occurs every time you get the Pass out of your purse instead of a bill, tries to convince you of the opposite. When I realised that, I tried to include the most expensive sights to balance out the money I spent on the Pass. In three days I saw:
Tower of London – £22
Tower Bridge Exhibition – £9
Westminster Abbey – £18
Windsor Castle – £18.50
London Zoo – £23.63
Just these 5 sights were £91.13 worth, but I had to pay 11 pounds for the return ticket to Windsor, which made it £80.13 in the end. And without that 10% discount that I had, a 3-day London Pass actually costs £85. So in reality, I would have actually lost money on this whole deal if I hadn’t been lucky enough to have received a discount.
The success formula of the London Pass is seeing no less than 3 sights per day. Consider, however, that lots of places open at 10 and close at 4, so you have to run through them, without giving yourself much time to actually enjoy them. And then you are exhausted by the end of the day, and you hardly have any strength for the next day’s challenge, and yet you have to go through it because otherwise you’ll have lost money. Your vacation becomes a race. Also consider that many exciting things require the whole day (like the trip to Windsor), so even if you’re super fast, you physically won’t be able to see anything else that day.
I’m glad that I tried the London Pass, though, as it was my first experience of such a kind – it pushed me to be extremely active and didn’t allow me to procrastinate too much over a cup of coffee (you know how that happens). It also gave me holes in my socks from walking just a bit too much. But I’m sure that the London Pass doesn’t save you much money. I actually think it would be better if they simply offered a fair discount on those sights that are the most expensive ones rather than alluring people with ‘60+’ ‘free’ attractions that aren’t that attractive in the first place (I mean, most of the tourists would prefer the London Eye to the Wembley Stadium Tour – am I wrong?). However, if you’re in London just for a few days, and you want to fit a lot of sights into a very short time span, maybe getting the London Pass would be a good idea because it is aimed at intense tourists. Just make sure you go to the website and carefully examine the list of sights to make sure that they are worth it. Otherwise, I advise you to pass on the Pass.