Despite its plethora of free museums, London can be an expensive city to visit. You will find here a range of ways to get discounted travel and entry around the city.
The Days Out Guide offers 2 for 1 entry to loads of attractions in London (and beyond). All you need to do is present a National Rail ticket and downloaded voucher from the Days Out Guide website at the ticket office of your chosen attraction. So if you’ve come in from any of the airports via rail, or done any travelling around the countryside before coming to London, save your National Rail tickets! They will get you and your partner/friend/travel buddy into dozens of places for half price. I forget about this way too often. Attractions include (but are not limited to) the Tower of London, City Cruises, Madame Tussauds, the Cutty Sark, HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge Exhibition, and even a few West End productions.
The London Pass is what it sounds like – a pass that gets you into a whole range of places for free. You can buy passes for 1, 2, 3 or 6 days. You also have the option of buying a London Pass with Travel, which includes a travel card. The London Pass covers attractions such as the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace, HMS Belfast, the Globe Theatre, Churchill War Rooms, the London Transport Museum, a Thames Riverboat Cruise, the Courtauld Gallery and special offers at many shops. A lot of these places are expensive so it sounds like great value. It does have its drawbacks though. Many of the attractions, such as the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, take a good half day or even full day to see. I believe that, if you were to take the time necessary for these places (and not rush for the sake of getting to the next place), you probably wouldn’t go to enough places to make the cost of the pass worthwhile, especially considering many of London’s best attractions are free. The 6 day pass is a possible exception if you were intending to see many of London’s most expensive places over that week – however most visitors are not in London for 6 days.
This will, however, vary depending on each person and how long you think you might take in each place, and which places you want to go. If you want to cram in London’s 5 most expensive attractions in 2 days then yes, it might be worth the price of the pass. This is something where you’ll probably need to sit down and do the maths yourself to see if it’s worthwhile for you to get.
The TimeOut card gets you varying discounts to tourist attractions, restaurants, plays, films, bars, musicals and experiences all over London. Again, this is something where you will have to do the maths to figure out if it will save you enough to be worth the price of the card. Unlike the London Pass, you pay the one flat rate to have the card and it is valid for an entire year – and you can get the discounts for up to 6 people on the one card! The longer you are in London and the more people who are in your party, the more likely it is it will work out economical. As a London resident, why have I not heard of this before? I must have it now!
TKTS is a ticket booth in Leicester Square which sells discounted last-minute theatre tickets. You can check the prices online before heading out to buy them. Take care when looking at the prices though – TKTS’ prices are not always much better than the regular price (they do advertise on their website that they sell some full-price tickets), and there has been the odd occasion where I’ve spotted them an extra £1 more expensive. You can get some good deals though so it is worth checking. Keep in mind seat selection will probably be limited due to the last minute nature of the booking.
National Rail offers discount Railcards to various categories of people – for example, disabled people, members of HM Forces or young people between 16 – 25 (among others). Often you can add the discount to your Oyster card as well.