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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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City Pass v. 2 for 1

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We will be in London for 1 week and plan to hit all of Fodor's suggested spots - using the tube. What is the best Pass to buy?
We are a family of four - 2 parents and 2 children/young adults ages 19 and 16 which I read translates into 4 adults for admission purposes - living near Philadelphia, PA.
Travel Dates: London June 6th through June 11th
1. City Pass getting us in attractions which I heard includes the tube rides
2. A pass that provides 2 for 1 (buy one admission and get one free - we would buy 2 of these since we are 4 adults. Staying in a flat in Covent Gardens.

Someone mentioned that when we are 4, it might be better to use a taxi rather than the tube.
We have gotten a lot of non-expert advice so looking to nail this down.
I am most excited to see the Tower of London again after 30 years and show the kids.
*We bought tickets to Harry Potter Studies for Friday -
Thanks in advance.

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    You have six days in London. Is that six full days or does it include the days when you travel to and from London?

    A six day London Pass with transport included costs 172 pounds each. That's a lot of money. Almost 29 pounds/day.

    A three day pass is 123 pounds. That's 41 pounds/day. Yes, the daily cost is higher for a three day pass.

    Will the total entry fees without a pass be more than the cost of the pass? We can't answer that without knowing what sites you want to visit.

    You need to look at the London Pass website. Make a list of the included attractions and what they would cost without a pass. Decide which attractions you actually want to see and try to make them fit into the available days. Look at the numbers and decide. You should probably subtract the cost of an ordinary transport pass, too.

    Remember that a lot of London museums are free to enter. One could easily spend an entire day in the British Museum. But if you have a London Pass every hour you "waste" on a free attraction is an hour you could have spent in a place where the Pass saves you money.

    I have no idea what is included in the 2 for 1 deals, since I travel solo. But I'm sure that can be found on the Internet, too.

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    >>1. City Pass getting us in attractions which I heard includes the tube rides<<

    Almost certainly not. Check the attractions included, against the things you want to see (NB: the major museums and galleries are free to get on); the tube option it provides might have you paying for far more than you're likely to need (you'll likely not need more than zones 1 and 2 for almost everything - if you want to go outside the centre, add-on fares are still likely to be cheaper.

    >>2. A pass that provides 2 for 1 (buy one admission and get one free - we would buy 2 of these since we are 4 adults.<<

    This is a promotion run by the national rail companies to encourage their regular commuters to use the service for leisure as well. Check www.daysoutguide.co.uk to see if what they list is likely to include what you want to see, and print out any vouchers you might want to use. BUT to use this option you need to buy tickets (such as the 7-day travelcard for London zones 1 and 2) from one of the national rail companies, NOT Transport for London. You can use that travelcard for tubes and buses, just as if it had been issued by TfL, but it needs to be a paper ticket, which you'd get from the national rail ticket offices in one of their stations. If you're staying in Covent Garden, the nearest would be Charing Cross.

    But note, you'd have to be in central London in the first place to buy that sort of travelcard. If you're flying into Heathrow, you'll have to get TfL's Oystercard and put some pay-as-you-go money on it to get into your hotel (and probably also for the add-on fares to your Harry Potter tour, which I assume is outside the centre).

    >>Someone mentioned that when we are 4, it might be better to use a taxi rather than the tube.<<

    Not for ordinary getting around: if you're looking at passes to save money, why spend umpteen times as much on taxis? You might just as well use your travelcards on the big red taxis (AKA buses):
    http://tfl.gov.uk/maps/visitors-and-tourists

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    Most people fail to get any value out of the London Pass (there's no such product as a "City Pass") - ESPECIALLY if you acquire an Oyster Card from the company flogging these borderline con jobs - because most London attractions are free, and those that aren't almost all offer 2 for one deals to people with a valid Travelcard bought from a RAILWAY station Not from a tube stationb or convenience store.

    The best hard data about this is on Trip Advisor. Search London Pass on its London Forum, and there are spreadsheets taking you through the very limited circumstances in which the London Pass makes financial sense.

    The claim that taxis are cheaper than tubes works only if you all only ever travel together by taxi. This is:
    - delusional with teenage children. If it's not delusional, you've not brought them up right
    - silly anyway, because the cheapest way of getting round town is by on foot, followed by on bus. Using London's (highly professional, but eye-wateringly expensive) taxis to avoid getting the tube is daft.
    - a myth that serves only the interest of London Pass.

    For almost all circs, the solution is a 7 day Travelcard, bought from a railway station, and universal use of the 2 for 1 deal

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    >>What is the best Pass to buy?<<

    NONE!

    The London Pass is a rip off for most visitors, and its travel option is a total rip off for everyone.

    The 2for1s are not a 'pass', they are discounts you get when you have paper travelcards purchased at a train station. W/ 6 days (or even 5) you want a 7 day zones 1 and 2 travelcard.

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    ^^^"A pass that provides 2 for 1 (buy one admission and get one free - we would buy 2 of these since we are 4 adults."

    To be clear, each person needs their own travelcard to use the 2for1 vouchers. So four travelcards.

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    I agree with the advice above. In addition

    "Someone mentioned that when we are 4, it might be better to use a taxi rather than the tube."

    London has a lot of congestion. Traveling in a taxi, the meter will be clicking while you sit in traffic. The tube is faster.

    Other tips:

    - Look into London Walks (walks.com). Lots of options, no need to reserve.

    - Also consider at least one excursion from the city. Hampton Court Palace with a return to London by boat on the Thames is a good possibility. Others are Greenwich, Windsor, Oxford or Cambridge, Brighton, Bath, etc.

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    DO NOT BUY THE LONDON PASS

    First: You won't need the transport coverage for Zones 1-6, you only need zone 1-2 travelcards. The Pass gives 1-6 coverage only.

    Second: Without the pass, you don't pay ANY admission to the following:

    Tate Modern
    Tate Britain
    National Gallery
    National Portrait Gallery
    Imperial War Museum
    British Museum
    British Library
    National Maritime Museum
    Victoria & Albert Museum
    Museum of London

    This is a partial list of London attractions that have no admission fee. Why would you PAY for a pass to gain entry to free sites?

    This should put paid to the Pass issue.

    ***

    Now, you need to get a clue on the vouchers. What you MUST buy are 7-day Zone 1-2 travelcards (yeah, yeah, you're only there for 6 days or so but the 7-day travelcard cost amortizes out with about four days of use compared to buying daily passes).

    You buy the travelcards at a national rail station (Victoria, Waterloo, Charing X, Paddington, Euston, King's X, St. Pancras, Liverpool St., London Bridge - to name the largest in central London) and you buy them on the same level as the ticket agents for the trains that lead to far-flung areas of the UK, and NOT from the Tube agents. The national ticketing levels will have a Boots pharmacy and (nearly always) an M&S Simply Food shop (just so you don't get confused).

    Your travelcard should be the size of a credit card, printed on orange(ish)-bordered paper with a thin plastic coating. If you get a hard blue card with the letters e o r s t y arranged as "oyster" on any part of it, you screwed up.

    To facilitate the transaction, you must bring passport-size headshots of each of you. This is easy enough to do yourself - take headshots in front of a neutral background and print them on decent photo paper, that way you don't have to cough up $9-12 pp for this at CVS. The Tube isn't as sticky about the form of these as the US Department of State.

    Each of you must have a Travelcard to use the vouchers.

    To use the passes, you need to get the vouchers. To get the vouchers, go to www.daysoutguide.co.uk and print every dang voucher that seems interesting. There's no charge for printing; there's no charge for not using them either.

    When you get to your tourist site you present the vouchers and show your travelcards and the vouchers. This will get you two admissions for the price of one.

    Sites include:

    The Tower
    Hampton Court Palace
    Churchill War Rooms
    The Eye
    St. Paul's
    Westminster Abbey
    The various London Walks (see www.walks.com)

    Tooling around in taxis won't give you these discounts, which are significant.

    Think of this: your rack-rate admissions to the Tower of London will be 89 GBP without the 2for1 offer. That's $130. Even the discounted "online rate" will be $119 (81.60 quid). With the two-fers, it's $65.

    And no, taxis will be neither comparable in price nor as fast as the Tube. Unlike the Tube, taxis have to combat London traffic, which sucks. London was not built hundreds of years ago for the purpose of modern traffic.

    Finally, the London Underground is known as "The Tube." Singular. "Tubes" would refer to hollow cylinders of the fallopian or test variety.

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    >>Your travelcard should be the size of a credit card, printed on orange(ish)-bordered paper with a thin plastic coating. If you get a hard blue card with the letters e o r s t y arranged as "oyster" on any part of it, you screwed up.<<

    If Fodors used stickies . . this should be one :)

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