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London travel pass

My husband and I are going to be in London next June for 5 nights. We are staying at Premier Inn County Line. I was looking at the London Pass today (3 day) and wondered what people thought. I tried to calculate a cost comparison and I think it is more than buying advance tickets for what I would like to do. But it is reasonably close so my question what do you gain or lose with the London pass compared to buying tickets individually? It does seem easier. I am interested in the following which are on the pass:

London Tower
Kew Gardens
Windsor Castle
Churchill war rooms
Westminster Abbey
Globe theater
Thames River Cruise (one way from Kew Gardens)

Beth

Posted by
267 posts

When I was at Windsor Castle, there was a fellow trying to get in on the late admission (I think after 3PM), and was told that since he didn't buy his ticket through the castle's box office, that he wasn't allowed in that late admission. So there might be some restrictions which the sights have, that the London pass might not be able to tell you about. When I've looked at the passes for what I would want to do, the numbers came out pretty good, but I'd have to keep moving :)
But as Rick steves emphasizes, if it lets you skip the lines/queues, then it could be very much worth it..... !
Have a great time,
-Alison

Posted by
21312 posts

People have reported serious line issues at the Churchill War Rooms recently, so that's a place being able to walk right in would be advantageous, if the pass allows you to do that. In terms of actual financial benefits, it's not so easy to calculate.

I note that you have less than five full days in the city (if you're arriving after an overnight flight, I'd count it as just four days) and you already have seven major activities on your list. Windsor Castle is out of town, beyond Heathrow, and I gather that the town of Windsor is also worth seeing. Kew is a bit of a subway ride from the center, and it is huge; coming back by boat is a great idea but will not be fast. People often spend many, many hours at the Tower of London and the Churchill War Rooms. I don't know about Westminster Abbey and the Globe, but my point is that you may not actually have time for all those places, or you may get to all of them but find yourself needing to leave before you want to, in order to get to another place to make the pass pay off.

Posted by
1063 posts

"London Travel Pass"? What your referring to is the London Pass, the travel option (oyster card) is available as a separate purchase from the London Pass people but is not usually considered good value as they sell you an all zones card (most visitors only need zones 1-2). Have you thought about the 2 for 1 offers instead?

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g186338-c133479/London:United-Kingdom:Paper.And.Oyster.Travelcards.2.4.1.Offers.html

Posted by
1787 posts

I meant the London Pass. We arrive early am on Sunday after over night flight and will have part of that day plus part of Friday as we intend to take a train in late afternoon to Bath. So that is four full days plus parts of two other days. I realize we will be jet lagged the first and intend to mostly walk outdoors. But still when I started allocating sites to days I can see that might not have time for everything I would like to do. I had been thinking that the alternative to the London Pass would be buying tickets ahead of time. But now I am thinking based on feedback that maybe should do that only for most crowded sites that are top on our list because it is likely we won't get to everything.

Which sites should we buy ahead of time if we want to go to them? I was thinking at least Churchill war rooms and London Tower.

beth

Posted by
1063 posts

" I had been thinking that the alternative to the London Pass would be buying tickets ahead of time"

Or using the 2 for 1's.

Posted by
1787 posts

Can you explain 2 for 1s? I looked this up on the internet and seems to be limited to those taking train to sites. I think we would be taking train only to Windsor Castle and Kew Gardens. Kew Gardens seems to be part of this but not Windsor Castle.

But there seem to be advance purchase train tickets, and travel together train cards.

There seem to be an endless number of schemes which I find very confusing.

Beth

Posted by
4684 posts

The London Pass gives entry to the Globe Theatre exhibition and a guided tour to the theatre itself, but note that the theatre itself is only open to visitors with passes in the morning. During the afternoon there are performances and it is only accessible to people with tickets to the performances, which can sell out well in advance, especially for Shakespeare plays.

Posted by
21312 posts

I've always taken the Underground to Kew Gardens.

I believe that if you buy a weekly travel card (for use on Underground and buses) in paper form at a rail station (not loading the travel card on an Oyster Card, and not purchasing at an Underground station), it allows you to take advantage of 2-for-1 offers. But I haven't yet done that myself; I'm exploring the possibility for next year's trip when I'll have a friend with me.

I think the Tower of London is also on the 2-for-1 list, and that's a very expensive ticket.

One thing to pay attention to is whether using the 2-for-1 deal necessarily means standing in a very long ticket line. That's something I'm not clear about. It probably wouldn't be an issue at Kew Gardens, but I think it might be a big deal at the Tower of London.

Posted by
1787 posts

I see now that the reason I had us going by train to kew gardens was that I put the Waterloo train station (because very close to Premier Inn County Line) and of course I got a route by train. If we walk to the Westminister tube station we can go by tube to Kew Gardens for less money!

Beth

Posted by
1787 posts

Philiip-

I didn't realize tours to see Globe theater are only in the morning. Thank you very much for telling me that!

Beth

Posted by
11292 posts

Beth, if you look at the TripAdvisor link in Harleydonski's post, it explains the way to get 2-4-1 offers. As Acraven says, you need a paper Travelcard from a rail station (not an Oyster card, and not a paper Travelcard from a tube station).

Note that the London Pass only gets you "skip the line" entry at six sights, and the Churchill War Rooms are not one of these six. Because of the movie The Darkest Hour, these are now very popular. I got there with no pass or advance ticket at about 9:45 AM, thinking I'd beat the crowds. Well, others had the same idea, and I waited 20-30 minutes to get in. By the time I got in, there was a very large line behind me - many wearing their London Pass on the lanyard, waiting with everyone else. Those with prebooked time tickets had only a short wait.

I was in London twice this year - April 2019 and September 2019. I didn't get a London Pass either time, but I learned some useful tricks:

1) Do look at the London Pass list of covered attractions. Through this, I learned about the Museum of Brands, Packaging, and Advertising, and the London Jewish Museum. Both were very worthwhile. You may discover a non-famous place that draws you.

2) MANY sights now have a discount for advance online booking, of £1-5 per ticket. So, before I left for my second trip, I registered at the various websites of places I was interested in, but didn't actually buy any advance tickets because I wasn't sure of my itinerary. When I decided one morning to go to Greenwich that day, it was easy to book tickets on my phone since I had pre-registered, and I saved £5.25 this way. Some tickets can be scanned off the phone, while others cannot (you need to use the email to get a ticket at the window). Annoyingly, many websites don't specify. I was able to have my hotel print out my Greenwich tickets, but it turned out they could have scanned the PDF off my phone.

Posted by
13213 posts

The train from Waterloo Station to Kew (actually Richmond station) is not much more than the Tube and your tickets will get you the 2-4-1 offer there.

We have used a 7-day paper Travel card to gain 2-4-1 access to many sites within London, including Churchill War Room, St. Paul’s, special exhibitions at various museums, etc. but it is not a “skip the line” ticket; you have to stand in the regular ticket line to buy the two tickets.

Posted by
211 posts

Just chiming in to say we also discovered the London Jewish Museum this year (July) – highly recommended. We only knew about it because of posters in the Tube stations advertising the Astérix exhibit (which was fantastic, as we are big fans).

Posted by
1787 posts

Too many things to see! We will have to come back!

This thread has been very helpful!

I figured out that we needed to delete a day trip and eliminated Windsor castle (my husband wanted to go to Kew Gardens and I to Harry Potter). Once we did that, the London pass really didn’t make sense.

With the 7 day paper travel pass, I am still deciding. We will walk most places and plan on using tube only a couple days within zone 1and 2. So 7 day is more than we need. On the other hand, the savings could be worth it. The biggest gain would be flexibility over advanced purchase which are discounted and then we just turned 60 and can get a concessions rate. The 2-4-1 are only for regular full priced adult rate. But with 2-4-1 you can’t get skip the line while you can with advanced purchase! One poster pointed out could do advance purchase night before if hotel can print out tickets so that could be possibility too.

At least I understand the choices now (I think).

Beth

Posted by
9921 posts

I wanted to add some information about Kew Gardens and the boat back to London. I did this in May and thought I had things organized as I had actually emailed the boat company to find out the schedule (wasn't updated on the website). I was having difficulty finding which gate at Kew was the closest to the ferry dock so went back by the Information Desk at the Victoria Gate when we were ready to leave. The kind gentleman told me the ferry times for that day (different than the ones the company had emailed me!) and showed me how to get to Kew Pier. My advice is to stop by that desk on the way in to the gardens and double check the schedule! We wound up with the 5:30 boat back to London and that worked perfectly - just in time to find dinner.

Here is the link to the garden map:

https://www.kew.org/sites/default/files/kew_map_June_2018.pdf

You'll leave by the Elizabeth Gate. Walk just a short distance and take a left on Ferry Lane (haha, should have been a clue!). Walk to the path on the river's edge and take a right. Walk under the highway and there is a small green trailer-type office on the left where you'll buy your tickets. The person will point out the slightly hidden path out to the pier.

https://goo.gl/maps/L1BpQztoBLq

Try to do Kew on a sunny day but maybe not a weekend. It was wonderful and even spending most of a day there we didn't make a dent into the collections and sights. I enjoyed Kew Palace and was lucky enough to be there when the Laburnum Walk was in bloom. We ran out of time and didn't get to the Treetop Walkway and several other major things!

Posted by
4736 posts

Don't forget for the 2-for-1 offer you only need an appropriate National rail ticket for that day. It need not be a 7-day one, or even one that you actually use, but it does have to be a credible one to travel to where the attraction is sited..

Posted by
1787 posts

Yes, I thought we would take train to Kew Gardens and get 2-4-1 for that.

I really do appreciate the detailed directions on taking boat back. I agree a sunny day would be best which is one of my hesitations in fixing too many plans in stone. My husband is an aborist and hasn’t wanted to go to Kew for years. I am sure he will like it sunny too but as long as not pouring , he will be happy. Now me, I really would like a nice day. 😊

Beth

Posted by
28126 posts

It will be sunny. As long as you aren't there during Wimbledon Fortnight. That's why they put the roof on centre court. LOL

An arborist will be in seventh heaven at Kew.

Can you get him down to Winkworth Arboretum (really needs a car) or RHS Wisley (bus from Woking which is a train ride from Waterloo) or Sheffield Park (across the street from steam train from East Grinstead which is a connection from Victoria or Charing Cross)? He'd be like a kid in a candy store.

Posted by
9921 posts

"An arborist will be in seventh heaven at Kew."

So TRUE!

I was traveling with my brother, SIL and her sister. Brother is a retired forester. SIL is a retired University Extension Educator with a degree in Horticulture. They were both in heaven. Really, my brother was actually running from tree to tree. They could not believe the specimens they have there, both variety and age. Amazing. I, too, tried to leave a couple of days flexible and we did go on a sunny day. Even a cloudy or rainy day would be fine but for us the sun was wonderful. Getting out of the city bustle was also awesome for those of us who live in rural areas, lol.

SIL's sis and I just enjoy gardens and green spaces and we had a fabulous time too. It was actually pretty hilarious watching the other 2 ohhh and ahhh!

Posted by
1787 posts

My husband is an university extension educator now-he is commercial horticultural agent! I can see now I won’t properly appreciate, although I love a good walk among trees.

Nigel-great ideas but I think we will have to make a return visit!

Beth

Posted by
9921 posts

Oh gosh, my SIL started in Ag extension in FL ~many~ years ago (Palatka) but moved back to Idaho. Wound up specializing in Small Farms and then moved to Food Systems for Extension.

(That only makes sense if the FL in BethFL = Florida, hahaha!!)

Posted by
1787 posts

Pam--

Small world! And yes, BethFL=Florida. My husband has worked in horticulture here for 20 years--before that it was vegetables.

Beth