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Hop on hop off - London pass

To plan my Apr 8 - 12 stay in London, I was thinking of a 3 day London pass -
day 1 - hop on hop off to get my bearings and overview , then a combination throughout the days of the following that I really want to see:
tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Tower bridge, Churchhill war rooms. The rest of the time, I really want to walk, take the tube on my own. Does the London pass give a person the opportunity to not stand in line at the sites? Do I still need to book a specific time to get into the sites - specifically Churchill war rooms?

is the 3 day London pass the way to go?


Posted by
99 posts

I had a day to kill in 2018 so I took the HOHO bus for something to do. I stayed on the bus and it took a full day to navigate through the traffic on both of their routes. I had to leave one bus and wait for another bus to show up for the second route – unfortunately it was full and I had to wait another half hour or so for the next bus. As I rode the bus I did see a lot of people waiting for a bus that showed up full. You definitely do not want to rely on the HOHO bus for basic transportation.

I have used the London Pass before but it was after I had been to London a few times, was familiar with the Underground, as well as many attractions. I was showing a friend around on his first trip to London. Although there are many sights to see within walking distance there are many where it will be much faster via the Underground. Many London attractions are free so check the London Pass website to see which attractions the card covers. Select the ones you are interested in and see if it the Pass is economical, if so plan a route to cover as many as you can in the least amount of time. Three days go by fast.

I do not recall being able to “skip the line” but we did “skip” the lines of people waiting to buy tickets. Some attractions have a security line which you will not be able to avoid. Most places just scanned our Passes but there were several that issued us “their” tickets.

According to the London Pass website all you need to do is show up at the Churchill War Rooms and show your pass. As I recall there was a line of people there with tickets waiting to get in so I would suggest going early for that one.

Posted by
5512 posts

IMHO opinion neither the pass nor the Hop On Hop Off busses are not worth their costs.

I would book for a specific entry time at the Churchill War rooms and look on the Horse Guards website to see if they had anything planned at the adjacent parade grounds.

Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Churchill War Rooms, Horseguards Parade, St James Park and Buckingham Palace all within easy strolling distance from one another. Use GOOGLE MAPS overhead view ( type in Big Ben ) and you’ll see what I mean.
Get your Oyster Card and from wherever you are staying use the tube to get to Westminster station.
You’ll walk right out the Parliament Square.

Near the Tower of London, are Leaden Hall Market
( last glass covered market in London) which is next to the Gherkin so a nice Architectural dichotomy. Tower Bridge of course, easy stroll across. Check for possible lift times. The Area around the Shard might be of interest. Unless it’s been turned into a Gastropub since I was there 2 years ago the Anchor Tap is a nice traditional pub.

Posted by
1127 posts

I’d say no to both.

For the HOHO:
London traffic is so bad that you’ll spend more time looking at bank buildings or office workers out having a smoke than you will sights of interest. Plus, if you hop off, there’s no guarantee that the next one that comes around will have empty seats.

The short term London Pass usually isn’t a good deal. You’re really tied to the attractions covered by the pass to get your money’s worth. So, that doesn’t leave much room for the free museums nor a London Walk.

Also, while it does cover most of the big and expensive main attractions, many people find that they can only handle one per day. Sights like the Tower of London or Westminster Abbey are huge and crowded. I like to perhaps do one of the big attractions in the morning, a leisurely pub lunch and a pint of ale, and then a London Walk or a museum in the afternoon. Even the most crowded museum will have plenty of galleries that aren’t mobbed.

But, it’s your trip. Do the maths (looking at me using U.K. phrases) and see if it works out for you. Just try to plan the trip around what you want to do and not let the pass tell you what you should do.

Posted by
8889 posts

Do the maths (looking at me using U.K. phrases)

@Dale, Oh no, that's the US phrase. UK-English would be "do the arithmetic". Arithmetic is adding up (+ - × ÷), maths (or mathematics) is geometry, calculus etc.

And I agree, a Ho Ho bus would be nearly as slow as walking. If you want to get somewhere fast, use the tube. If you want to see things on the way, take a normal bus. Both a lot cheaper.
For both, just get an Oyster Card or use a contactless debit or credit card.

This map shows main bus routes in central London. It does not show them all:
Each stop has a map showing where the buses go from that stop.
Buses cost £1.50 for unlimited trips within 1 hour. That's a bargain.

Posted by
3106 posts

I don't think the HOHO bus is good choice. I used the London Pass last year and found it to be a good value for me and quite convenient. I did take the time to figure out my itinerary and price out the admissions with and without the London Pass before buying. One side effect that I noticed was that I tried a few places or experiences I might have just missed if I had needed to pay additional to go to them. If the special still exists, Costco travel sells a 4 day London pass for the price of a 3 day pass.

I stood in line with everyone else at Westminster Abbey, but the line moved quickly. I immediately signed up for a verger tour (not included on pass) and had a wonderful visit there. I walked right into the Tower of London and the Churchill War Rooms. Hampton Court Palace (a wonderful place to visit) allowed me to bypass a line as well. I enjoyed the convenience of deciding to take the river cruise when I was a little tired of walking and could just walk onto the pier and go.

I think the Churchill War Rooms line vs. no line really depends on the time of day you arrive. I was early afternoon. I just walked the few blocks over from Westminster Abbey and there was no line for anyone.

Posted by
8 posts

thanks for everyone's help on this. I created my realistic itinerary - 1 venue per day, rest of each day will be spent walking, having a nice lunch, taking in the atmosphere of being in London and stumbling across any unexpected treasure along the way.

This is a great group. thanks again.