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Best way to pay for attractions

We are headed to London for around 3-4 weeks in June. I know about the London pass how that works and am in the process of deciding if this is the way we want to go or not. That decision is unrelated to my question here. As I look on the internets and see all of the sites that have listed attractions and offers to purchase tickets via this or that website, I am wondering if it is just as easy to purchase entry to an attraction, Kew Gardens for example, by just showing up on the day we decide to visit that particular spot and buying an entry ticket. Is there an advantage to purchasing these sorts tickets before we arrive? (other than I imagine standing in line to purchase the ticket.) I would like to feel like I have some freedom to choose where we go/what we do on any given day instead of having every last activity planned out. Thanks

Posted by
6477 posts

wait til you get there a couple days before what if it the weather is lousy then you are stuck.
generally book blockbuster places (like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Alhambra in Granada) where tickets are known to sell out months in advance

Posted by
841 posts

If it is something like the Harry Potter studios that has timed entry you will need to buy those quite a bit ahead of time. Otherwise you could decide the night before that the next day you want to go to, say, the Churchill War Rooms and purchase those with your phone skipping the ridiculous line when you get there.

Posted by
1153 posts

The Churchill War Rooms now have timed entry. You need to buy in advance to skip the very long lines.

Posted by
7895 posts

Yep! On something like Kew, choose a gorgeous week-day and just head out there. I booked the Churchill War Rooms before I left home so I could print out the tickets plus I wanted a specific day and choice of times.

If you plan to go to the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at the Queens Gallery at Buckingham Palace, then I'd book that ahead so you can get your choice of times plus print out your ticket at home.

https://www.rct.uk/visit/the-queens-gallery-buckingham-palace

So many of the big museums in London are free that it makes it very easy to flex those visits and also visit more than once.

Posted by
2865 posts

Since my wife and I travel on a flexible schedule, not knowing exactly what we’ll do on a particular day or time, we don’t buy admissions in advance. We also don’t travel during the night tourist season either. You can buy them online once in London and know when you’ll be visiting an attraction.

Posted by
11841 posts

No need to book Kew in advance; the line there is not long and they do not do timed entry tickets.

What you might consider doing is what we did when we spent 3 weeks in London. We grouped our major paid entry sites into a 7-day period and bought 7-day paper Travelcards for that period so we could take advantage of the 2-4-1 offers offered by Days Out. We got 2-4-1 entry at the Churchill War Rooms, a special exhibit at the National Gallery (the museum is free but special exhibits are not), HMS Belfast, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Courtauld Gallery, the Garden Museum, and a couple of other things I have forgotten.

We took the train to Richmond to visit Kew (several times) so we used the actual train tickets for 2-4-1 entry there.

The downside of doing the 2-4-1 offers is you have two queue for entry; you cannot buy timed tickets online in advance. But we felt it was well worth it for the savings. And we were able to book in advance a time for the special exhibit at the National Gallery in person. I don’t know if this would work at the Churchill War Rooms, however.

The things best booked in advance on timed tickets:

Churchill War Rooms
Harry Potter studios (absolutely HAS to be booked, months ahead)
Buckingham Palace tour
Any very popular temporary exhibitions at the big museums/art galleries (although the general collections are free and don’t need booking)
Sky Garden - free, but needs a prebooked timeslot

Most other things, just turn up.

Posted by
11193 posts

While you can buy tickets for many things right at the attraction, many now have discounts of £1-5 if you buy in advance online. The trick is, the morning you are going is far enough "in advance."

Some of the sights that do have advance purchase discounts:

St. Paul's Cathedral
Kensington Palace
Royal Observatory Greenwich & Cutty Sark
Westminster Abbey
Tower of London
London Transport Museum
Kew Gardens

What I did was look at the websites of all the places I thought I might be interested in, and see if there was a discount for advance tickets. If there was, I created an account at home (this takes time and is much harder to do on a phone!). This way, I could book the ticket while in London easily from my phone; I logged in and it had all my saved information.

I used this trick for the Greenwich sights with great effectiveness. One morning the weather was nice and promised to be nice all day, so I booked the ticket that morning on my phone, and saved £5.50! I had my hotel print out the ticket, but when I got there, they said they could have scanned the ticket off my phone. This is not true for all attractions (another reason to look at the websites now, to learn the rules of each place).

Again, for the Churchill War Rooms and some other sights, you can't just book that morning. But for a place like Kew Gardens, you can.

Posted by
2477 posts

To answer the question you asked:
"So is there a webpage that has a listing of attractions that have timed tickets?"

No, you can go to the webpage for each attraction and look for that.
I know, it would be handy if you could find it all on one webpage.

The website of each attraction is the best place to get information and to purchase timed tickets.