Which London Pass is the best – A Comparison of All London City Passes For Tourists
Thinking about saving money on London attractions but not sure what’s the best London city pass to buy? This London attraction comparison shows you the difference among all the popular London travel passes to see which is the best.
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” This is the first quote I saw when I landed in London. But having lived in London for a couple of years, I can understand why this quote is spot on.
London is an amazing city with a lot of history, culture, and heritage. It is also the perfect bland between the ancient and the modern. One second you are visiting a historical church and the next second you are getting the best view of London from the Shard.
With so much to see and so much to do, any London visitor would wonder “how do I see everything in London” and “how do I save money when I visit London”.
A London attraction pass is one of the ways that allows you to see famous attractions in London while saving money! But there are actually a number of popular London tourist passes, how do you decide?
This blog will provide you with a comprehensive overview and comparison of each of the London tourist pass so you can see what each pass includes and what are the differences to see which London city pass is the best for you.
FYI: Public museums in London are free. These are not included in the passes.
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Quick Summary of the Best London City Pass
If you are short on time or don’t have the patience to read through this super detailed London Pass comparison, here is a short summary for you!
The best London attraction pass for those who are short on time is the Go City London Pass. You can get up early and cram in as many attractions as you can within a day or 2 and save over 50%.
What are the popular London Tourist Pass?
There are 4 popular London attraction passes on the market. They each include different things that could appeal to different people. The most popular London attraction passes include:
Most of these London attraction passes are operated by different companies, but there are two major types of passes:
- All Inclusive Day passes
- Attraction based passes
All of these passes require you to pay upfront to purchase the pass, then download the pass to your mobile phone app (or some allows you to print it out).
After you purchase the London tourist pass you can make reservation (only at some very popular attractions) then visit the attraction for free. You may also get skip-the-line privilege with some of these attraction passes.
Are London Passes Legit?
Great you asked because I once wondered the same thing. How can companies just give you discount on all these attractions in London?
Rest assured that all the London tourist passes are legit and real. There is no hidden fee or anything, you really do get great discounts on attractions in London.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these London travel passes.
The London Pass®
The London Pass® is one of the most famous attraction passes in London.
Which company runs The London Pass®?
How does The London Pass Work?
The London Pass is an all-inclusive pass based on the number of consecutive days. The London Pass offers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 10 consecutive day passes.
This means if you purchase a 3 day London Pass, you can visit different attractions that are covered by the pass for free for 3 straight days (not 24 hour periods).
Once you buy the London Pass online, you will receive an email with confirmation number. You can download the Go City app, enter the confirmation number you received in the email and use the London Pass on your mobile phone.
Each London Pass is subject to a value of a maximum credit and you cannot exceed this cap. 1 credit is worth £1 and your credits are redeemed when you enter attractions, reducing by the amount of the standard gate price of the attraction you enter.
Some tours and attractions covered by the London Pass requires a reservation, so be sure to book ahead of time (even though it’s free).
The London Pass activates the moment you visit your first attraction. If you buy a 2 day London Pass and you visit your first attraction at 3pm on Monday, your 2 day London Pass will be valid on Monday and Tuesday only.
How much does the London Pass cost?
What attractions are included in the London Pass?
Some of the most popular attractions covered by the London Pass include:
- Tower of London
- Tower Bridge
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- The View from the Shard
- Westminster Abbey
- ZSL London Zoo
- Windsor Castle (afternoon entry)
- Uber Boat by Thames Clippers 1 day River Roamer
- London Bridge Experience
- Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Tour
- Football stadium tours
- The Murder at Trafalgar Square
- Frameless – Immersive Art Experience <- super instagram worthy
You can also get discounts on food at some of the attractions!
Does the London Pass include public transportation?
The London Pass also covers 1 day hop-on hop-off bus tour, but it does not cover public transportation (Oyster Card). You can pay for an add-on Oyster Card when you check out.
Other considerations about the London Pass
The London Pass is valid for 2 years from the date of purchase (if you do not activate it within 2 years it will become invalid).
You are eligible for refunds on unused passes for up to 90 days after purchase.
What are the pros and cons of the London Pass?
The London Pass is very comprehensive since it covers over 80 attractions and tours. It gives you a lot of options to choose from and you can save some money using this pass.
London Explorer Pass
The London Explorer Pass is also operated by Go City, so you can imagine both the London Pass and this London Explorer Pass cover very similar attractions and tours (although the London Pass covers more attractions than the London Explorer Pass).
How does the London Explorer Pass work?
For example, if you buy a 4 attraction London Explorer Pass, you go to your first attraction on July 1st. Then you have 90 days including July 1st to go to the other 3 attractions before the pass expires. The London Explorer Pass gives you a lot of flexibility and is perfect for someone who is staying in London for a while.
How much does the London Explorer Pass cost?
What attractions are included in the London Explorer Pass?
It offers similar attractions as the London Pass mentioned above with a few exceptions.
What is the difference between the London Pass vs. Explorer Pass?
The London Explorer Pass is an attraction based pass versus the London Pass, which is a time based pass. Instead of worrying about how many consecutive days you have you can now take things slower and take longer at each attraction.
The London Explorer Pass covers similar attractions and tours as the London Pass mentioned above, but there are a few differences:
- It includes Up at the O2, which allows you to climb the roof of the O2 which is really cool
- Instead of the Uber Boat, you get a City Cruises Thames River Pass
- It does not include Windsor Castle, instead it offers a hop-on hop-off open top bus tour of Windsor (the town)
- It does not include The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace
- It includes a 2 course meal and a non-alcoholic drink at the Hard Rock Cafe at the Old Park Lane.
What are the pros and cons of London Explorer Pass?
If you know exactly what attractions you want to visit and if you have a lot of time in London, then London Explorer Pass is a great pass for you!
You don’t need to feel rushed and can really take your time to enjoy the attractions since you have 60 days to use the pass.
It has fewer attractions than the London Pass, especially Windsor Castle which is pretty nice in my opinion but the O2 is pretty nice too (yup I’ve done all of these during my years in London).
You should always check the regular attraction prices and do some calculation to see if your combination of attractions is worth the pass price that you are paying (especially for children).
London Sightseeing Day Pass
What company operates the London Sightseeing Day Pass?
The Sightseeing Pass is a travel company that sells attraction passes in London, Malaga (Spain) and the US. It is a smaller company than Go Travel but it covers many destinations within the US such as New York.
How does the London Sightseeing DAY Pass work?
London Sightseeing Pass offers 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 day pass. The Pass is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.
You can use the Sightseeing Pass app or print out your London Sightseeing Pass from your confirmation email. Your pass is activated when you enter your first attraction. Once activated, you have x number of days (based on what you purchased).
What is the refund policy of London Sightseeing Pass?
Unused London Sightseeing passes that were purchased with insurance can be fully refunded within a year for any reason. If you do not purchase insurance, then you will not be able to get a refund.
How much does the London Sightseeing DAY pass cost?
The prices are subject to change and there are seasonal discounts and promotions.
What attractions are included in the London Sightseeing DAY Pass?
Some of the most famous ones include:
- Tower of London (temporarily unavailable)
- Kensington Palace (temporarily unavailable)
- Hampton Court Palace (temporarily unavailable)
- Harry Potter London Bus Tour (this does not go to the studio)
- James Bond Bus Tour
- Thames River Cruise
- Football Stadium tour
- Jack the Ripper Tour (I’ve done this and it’s pretty fun)
The pass also includes a one day hop-on hop-off bus tour. It does not come with an Oyster card.
What are the pros and cons of London Sightseeing DAY Pass?
London Sightseeing Day Pass is a lot cheaper than the other day-based attraction passes in London.
It offers fewer attractions and tours than the London Pass but instead it does offer many interesting tours that are not offered by the other passes like Jack the Ripper Tour which I really liked when I did it.
So it really depends on what you want to do in London. If you want to do many of the movie tours and other interesting tours, then the London Sightseeing Pass is great.
London City Pass (by Turbopass)
What company operates London City Pass?
London City Pass (not to be confused with the London Pass) is operated by Turbopass, a Germany based travel company that offers tourist attraction passes in many cities in Europe.
How does the London City Pass work?
The London City Pass is another all-inclusive pass that let you visit a variety of attractions based on the number of consecutive days you purchase.
The London City Pass offers 1 – 7 day passes.
How much does the London City Pass cost?
The prices are subject to change and there are seasonal discounts and promotions
What attractions are included in the London City Pass?
The most noteworthy attractions that are covered by the London City Pass include:
- Tower of London
- Kensington Palace
- Hampton Court Palace
- Royal Mews
- Up at the O2
- London Zoo
- London Aquarium
- Thames River Boat Cruise
In addition, London City Pass now includes all Merlin Entertainment Products, such as
- British Royalty Tour
- JK Rowling & Wizard Walking Tour
- Shrek Adventure
- Madame Tussauds
- London Dungeons
- and many more
If you like musicals and performances, the London City Pass also offers a 10% discount on a wide range of West End experiences.
It includes one day hop-on hop-off bus tour and 24 hour Thames River cruise.
Pros and Cons of the London City Pass
The London City Pass has a range of unique tours that you will not find in any other attraction passes. The new inclusion of the Merlin Attractions mentioned above is super fun for the entire family and they are exclusive to London City Pass.
In addition, you get access to Harry Potter Tour and National Gallery Guided Tour (so you know what you are looking at). You can also add London Eye for additional fees when you purchase the London City Pass.
It may not have as many attractions as some of the other passes but it certainly has many unique ones!
Summary of Key Differences of London Attraction Passes
Here is the summary to show you some of the key differences of all the London tourist passes.
Which London Attraction Pass is the Best?
Even though there are many choices for the London attraction passes, they are actually all quite different. So what is the best London tourist pass depends on your need and how long you are planning to stay in London.
But let’s start with some of the most obvious observations.
Museums in London are free. If museum is your thing (London does have world class museums and galleries), then you should evaluate what other attractions you want to see to see if it’s worth it to get a London tourist pass.
Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour is awesome. If you are short on time or just like going from point A to point B without needing to figure out route, then hop on hop-off bus tour is great. The good news is all the London attraction passes mentioned above offer this.
Now that we addressed some of those points, let’s see which London tourist pass is the best.
If you want the best value for one day….
If you have a lot of time in London….
London Explorer Pass is the only attraction based pass and you have 60 days to visit all the attractions after you activate the pass. It also has some pretty cool attractions like up the O2 (I enjoyed it at least), as well as Shard, Westminster Abbey, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, etc.
If you want the most attractions in London…
The London Pass covers 80+ attractions and tours and you can see some of the most famous places in London such as Tower of London, The Shard, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, etc.
You really can’t go wrong with the London Pass but there is a cap on what you can see based on “value of a maximum credit”.
If you want interesting tours in London…
I have done the street art tour and Jack the Ripper tour and they are pretty awesome. If you want to do something different, then the London Sightseeing Pass is the best London attraction pass.
Ultimately you need to decide what you want to do in London, calculate the regular ticket cost to figure out what is the best London tourist pass for you.
Pro Tip: I recommend combining passes like London Pass and Sightseeing Pass to do different things!
Who should not buy a London attraction pass?
A London attraction pass is not for everyone though! If you are one of the following types of travelers, then you should not buy a London tourist past:
- If you are only interested in museums. Public Museums in London are free and they are awesome (think British Museum, National Gallery, Natural History Museum, V&A Museum, etc)
- If you are in London to shop and are not interested in attractions
- If you simply do not want to spend any money
But for most first time or second time travelers, these London attraction passes are well worth it.
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