London, England with the London Pass

I’m just going to come right out and say it.

I love London.

So when we were discussing where to go with the family after Shane’s Ph.D. defense, I jumped at the opportunity to go back. The direct flight from Groningen settled it and off we went for 5 days in London!

Obligatory airport us-ie. It was getting late, I’m not sure everyone was genuinely thrilled about this.
Our small plane from Groningen.

As I mentioned before, Shane and I have been to London a couple of times now, but his family hadn’t and it had been a while for my mom, so we decided to do something a little different this time.

We bought the London Pass.

These type of passes you can find in most major European cities. In fact, we bought the Budapest Card when we spent a long weekend there a few years ago.

In short, with the pass you have access to over 80 attractions in London – some with fast-track entry, it provides discounts at participating restaurants, and you can choose to have it act as your transportation card. The pass can be delivered to your house as a physical card before you travel (which Shane’s family chose), or you can have it delivered to your phone where you can access it with or without internet (which we chose).

All in all, it can be a one stop shop! For this post, I thought I’d go through a few advantages and disadvantages of the London Pass.

Advantage:

You have access to *almost* all of London’s major attractions.

Which means you’ll do things you probably wouldn’t have done if you were paying individually. For instance,

The Beefeaters Gin Tour (Β£15)

I love gin, my mom loves gin, but would we have slugged ourselves across town for a gin tour without the pass? I’m not so sure.

Was it worth it and should you do it?

Yup! (well, if you like gin that is…) The tour includes a few tastings and a G&T at the end so… πŸ˜‰

A Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour (Β£34)

Shane & I are walkers. We will have blisters & bleeding feet before we think *DUH*, public transportation. Don’t ask me why, it’s just what happens. This is why I say that the hop-on hop-off bus tour is something we wouldn’t have normally done.

It ended up being great though – a nice overview of the city on our first day there. And, it ended up being double great since Shane’s mom tore her meniscus in TWO PLACES in a freak wrong-stepping accident on the plane to the Netherlands. Needless to say, she was happy to sit & see the sights at the same time!

The tour guide says “Want me to take a picture of your group with The Shard in the background?”
I mean, I guess it’s technically in the background – but not quite what I expected. *facepalm*
The Monument (Β£5)

To the great fire of 1666 that is!

Fun fact: Because of the fire, which basically wiped out medieval London, to this day buildings are not allowed to be built with wood.

311 stairs will take you to the top with sweeping views. And don’t worry, you get a certificate to show you made it.

View from the top of The Monument.
The Churchill War Rooms (Β£22)

This museum was crazy cool and something we’ve been wanting to do. If you’re into WWII history, then the bunkers where Churchill strategized during the war is a must-see.

Maps used to track during WWII.

And you’ll definitely do the well-known stuff such as,

The Tower of London (Β£28) & the Tower Bridge (Β£10)

Would you brave the glass floor in the Tower Bridge?

Westminster Abbey (Β£23)

Another must-see. An audio-guide is also included in the admission price.

St. Paul’s Cathedral (Β£20)

FYI – there are no pictures inside St. Paul’s. A sign I missed until I was essentially tackled by my mother who was concerned about me breaking the rules…

photobombed.
Kensington Palace (Β£20)

We had intentions of touring Kensington Palace, but our walk through Hyde Park was slower than anticipated on account of a heavy rain storm. Heavy enough it resulted in us hiding out in the women’s bathroom for 15 min to let it pass. By the time we got to the palace it was almost closing time, but it is indeed included!

…stuck in the bathroom.
Kensington Palace. Wonder if Will & Kate were home?

For me, the most impressive and exciting thing included in the pass was

The View from the Shard (Β£32)

The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe. It’s called The Shard because the top is kind of jagged, like a shard of glass.

A view OF The Shard – the tallest building across the river.

I’m a sucker for a good view, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pay Β£64 (for two people) to go to the top of a building. I mean, we only payed Β£55 (for two) to go up the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world. See my problem?

Lucky for me, it was a non-issue because it’s included in the pass!

And, even if you don’t have to, go to the restroom at the top. #loowithaview

Disadvantage:

You have access to *almost* all of London’s major attractions.

Unfortunately, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye are not included in the pass.

We did have a stop from the hop-on hop-off tour in front of Buckingham though, and chose to pay extra to ride the Eye.

Buckingham Palace.
Mom and I took the “portrait mode” directive a little differently… ha!

And, if you’re interested in the theater, tickets are not included in the pass, but you are entitled to a discount – up to 25% off! We checked off one of Shane’s lifetime bucket list items and saw The Lion King. It was INCREDIBLE!

Advantage:

Mobile Pass Access

Just download the London Pass app and you’re ready to go! I say this as an advantage, because if you lose the physical card – for instance, on the tube like this suave guy below did – then you’re kind of screwed. My advice, especially if you’re prone to losing things: do the mobile version!

Disadvantage / Advantage:

The Price

It’s a double-edged sword. In my opinion, the pass itself is expensive, but then again London is an expensive city. We had 5.5 days in London, so we bought the 6 day pass. For this amount of time, I think the price was reasonable (~Β£135 pp); by day 4 we had made up for the price of the pass without having to kill ourselves to make it worth the money. For one or two days, I’m not so sure.

It does seem like it goes on sale quite frequently, we bought it with a 20% discount at the time, so if you’re considering it then watch for sales. And, the more days you purchase the cheaper the price is per day.

In summary – I’d buy it again.

There are other great things included that we didn’t do for various reasons: Hampton Court Palace and Windsor Castle if you’re looking for a day trip, or a bicycle tour and a walking tour if you’re feeling active.

Whatever you decide to do, next time you’re in London you should find this light tunnel because it was magical.

Tot ziens,

Whitney

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We are two Americans living in the Netherlands with our fat cat, Meatball. The Shwits is a diary of our time abroad!

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