It’s sad but true. My home city of London has a not totally unwarranted reputation for being staggeringly expensive.
Although its world-class state-funded museums are free to visit, London’s other attractions can seriously blow a hole in your travel budget.
The good news is that London has a city pass – the Go City® London Explorer Pass – providing access to many of its top attractions and activities. But is the London Explorer Pass worth it?
In this London Explorer Pass review, I’ll give you my honest opinion on whether you should buy this pass for London attractions. Discover how it works, what is included, how much it costs and where to buy it.
All information and prices are taken from the London Explorer Pass official website and are correct as of March 2023.
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LONDON EXPLORER PASS AT A GLANCE
- The London Explorer Pass provides free access to many of the city’s top attractions and activities
- Types of pass: Available for 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 of London’s top attractions
- Cost: From £76 – 202. Deep discounts are usually available.
>>> BUY HERE TO SAVE MONEY ON YOUR LONDON TRIP
What is the London Explorer Pass?
The London Explorer Pass is a city sightseeing pass
You choose credits to visit 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 places from the list of top London attractions, tours and activities, and then download these to the Go City® app. If you want to go old-school, you can print your pass at home using the link in the confirmation email.
Your London Explorer Pass is activated when you visit your first attraction. It will then be valid for 60 days.
London Explorer Pass or London Pass?
It’s easy to confuse these two London city cards, both sold by Go City.
Like many traditional city passes, the London Pass offers access to an unlimited number of included attractions over a set number of days. The London Explorer Pass offers access to a predetermined number of attractions.
The London Explorer Pass lets you choose how many attractions you would like to visit. With the London Pass, you choose the number of consecutive days you would like to sightsee.
READ THIS NEXT: A London Pass Honest Review
What is Free with the London Explorer Pass?
You can check the full list of attractions and activities that are free with the Go City® London Explorer pass on the official website. Many of London’s most famous attractions are there, including the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and the View from the Shard.
>>> SAVE MONEY ON LONDON’S BIGGEST ATTRACTIONS WITH THE LONDON EXPLORER PASS. CLICK HERE TO BUY YOURS!
Popular London Explorer Pass attractions
Here are some of my favourite London attractions included in the pass along with the full adult ticket price at the time of writing this article.
Tower of London (£29.90)
Built by William the Conqueror, the Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history since the year 1066. This UNESCO-listed fortress is famous as the home of the Crown Jewels and as a place of imprisonment and execution.
READ THIS NEXT: 15 Insider Tips for Visiting the Tower of London
View from the Shard (£32)
Designed by the architect Renzo Piano, the perfectly pointed Shard is the tallest building in the UK and the sixth tallest building in Europe. From the Shard’s viewing platform, there are the best views over London and beyond.
READ THIS NEXT: Visiting The Shard, London: Tips from a Local
Westminster Abbey (£27)
Founded by Benedictine monks in 960AD, Westminster Abbey is the final resting place of 17 English monarchs, plus writers, artists, scientists and political leaders. It is also famous as the home of the Coronation Chair, on which monarchs have been crowned for the past thousand years.
St. Paul’s Cathedral (£21)
Designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th Century, the sublime St. Paul’s Cathedral has been the setting for many ceremonial events. These include the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles in 1981, and the funerals of Lord Nelson, and Winston Churchill.
It is also famous for its Whispering Gallery and views over London from the Golden Gallery.
Kensington Palace (£16)
Also built by Christopher Wren, Kensington Palace is best known as the official residence of the Prince and Princess of Wales and the childhood home of Queen Victoria.
Tower Bridge Experience (£11.40)
Take a lift to Tower Bridge’s walkways, 30 meters above the street level. You can then walk across through the glass floor peering down to the bridge below, and learn more about how it was built.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (£17)
This detailed reproduction of an Elizabethan theatre is located a few hundred meters from the original Globe, where many of Shakespeare’s plays were first performed. If you can’t make it to one of the productions here, the next best thing is to take a tour of the Globe Theatre.
Kew Gardens (£13.50)
Another of London’s UNESCO-listed sites, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is home to more than 50,000 plant species. The Temperate House and the Palm House are gems of Victorian engineering and kids will love the Treetop Walkway,
It’s also good to see many of London’s interesting smaller museums on the list of included attractions. These include the excellent Museum of Brands and the Mail Rail at the Postal Museum.
Transport & Tours included in the London Explorer pass
Hop-on-hop-off Bus Tour (£41)
Choose between two operators to see the best of London from an open-top bus with included audioguide in five languages.
City Cruises Thames River Pass (£21)
Get a different perspective of London with this 24-hour cruise ticket. This sightseeing tour by water has four stops for you to hop on and hop off.
London Bicycle Tour (£38.95)
Explore the city on two wheels on a choice of two guided bicycle tours. For a DIY option, bicycle hire is also included in the pass.
Wembley Stadium Tour (£24)
This is one is for the footie fans (and their reluctant partners). The London Explorer Pass also includes tours of the Emirates Stadium, Chelsea FC Stadium and Tottenham Hotspur.
Fuller’s Brewery Tour (£25)
Down the perfect pint on a tour of the Griffin Brewery in west London.
Do you Need to Book Ahead with the London Explorer Pass?
You don’t need to pre-book most of the pass’s London attractions. However, there is a handful that you will need to book in advance, including the hugely popular View from the Shard.
Find out which attractions require a reservation here.
Which Attractions Are Not Included in the London Explorer Pass
By any measure, the London Explorer Pass is pretty comprehensive. Notable exclusions are Windsor Castle, the London Eye, the bafflingly popular Madame Tussaud’s, Buckingham Palace tours (summer-only), the London Aquarium, the London Dungeon and tours of the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament).
The London Explorer Pass doesn’t usually cover admission to temporary exhibitions and events or audioguides at the included attractions.
State-funded museums such as the British Museum and the V&A are not included, but admission to their permanent exhibitions is free regardless.
Unlike some city cards, the London Explorer Pass does not public transportation. To zip around London’s transport network, buy an Oyster card (a prepayment tap-and-go smart card) and load it with credit when you arrive.
London Explorer Pass Price
The cost of your London Explorer Pass will be determined by how many credits, or attractions, you select. One credit grants you access to one of the included attractions.
It comes in these different flavours: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 credits.
Adult prices apply to those aged 16 and over. Child prices are for those aged 5 to 15. Most attractions grant free entry to under-fives.
The London Explorer Pass prices quoted refer to full face value as of March 2023. Discounts are usually available and you can check the current costs here.
2-Choice Pass – Adult £76 | Child £48
3-Choice Pass – Adult £99 | Child £63
4-Choice Pass – Adult £122 | Child £73
5-Choice Pass – Adult £159 | Child £99
6-Choice Pass – Adult £185 | Child £112
7-Choice Pass – Adult £202| Child £120
The more choices you select, the cheaper the pass is on a cost-per-attraction basis.
Cost of the London Explorer Pass vs Individual Tickets
The only way to work out if the London Explorer Pass is worth it is to do a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, costing the attractions that you would like to see with and without the pass.
Let’s take the example of a first-time solo visitor to London who wants to visit the city’s most popular, and most expensive, attractions.
- Tower of London (£29.90)
- View from the Shard (£32)
- St. Paul’s Cathedral (£21)
Cost of individual tickets: £82.90
3-Choice London Explorer pass: £99
YOU LOSE £116.10
However, this isn’t the end of the story. I’ve learned to take the face value of these London sightseeing passes with a pinch of salt.
At the time of updating this review, the cost of the 3-Choice London Explorer Pass was reduced to £69. This means that you would save money based on visiting these three London attractions.
Let’s add a few more attractions to see how much the 7-choice pass would save you.
- Hop-on-hop-off Bus Tour (£34)
- City Cruises Thames River Pass (£21)
- Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (£17)
- Wembley Stadium Tour (£24)
Cost of individual tickets: £178.90
5-Choice London Explorer pass: £159
These examples show that using the London Explorer Pass for these big-ticket items is likely to save you money, especially if the pass is discounted. Add to that the convenience of not having to queue to buy tickets at each place and it’s a no-brainer.
Should I Buy the Go City® London Explorer pass?
That said, there are some types of travellers for whom the London Explorer Pass will be better than others.
Who is the pass good for?
If you are looking for a relaxed itinerary – As you have 60 days to max out your London Explorer Pass, you can take your time exploring the city’s attractions. Even if you visit just one sight per day, the pass will still be a good deal.
If you are spending longer in London – The generous duration of the pass is perfect for a longer-term visit. It’s even a good buy for a local like me!
If you are splitting your London sightseeing over two visits – Some people bookend their visit to the UK with stays in London. With the 60-day window, you can use the pass upon arrival in London and re-commence sightseeing upon your return visit.
If you want to set your budget in advance – No one likes a nasty shock when they check their credit card statement at the end of a holiday. With the London Explorer Pass, you can take control over a chunk of your vacation budget.
If you are looking for convenience – There’s a lot to be said for not having to queue to purchase individual tickets.
Who should skip the pass?
If you have already visited the big-ticket items – Perhaps you have already visited places like the Tower of London and View from The Shard. Or maybe you are not that keen about the city’s hop-on-hop-off bus or river cruise? These more expensive London Explorer Pass attractions generate the biggest savings.
If you want to see as much of London as possible over a short period of time – If intensive sightseeing is for you, then the Go City® London Pass may be a better deal for you. The more sights you visit, the more money you will save.
If you are on a budget – In an expensive city like London, it can be challenging to stretch the travel budget to the paid-for attractions. Fortunately, London has a clutch of excellent free museums, parks and gardens.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your London Explorer Pass
1. Prioritise high-value attractions
To get the most bang for your buck, use the London Explorer Pass to visit the more expensive places like the View from the Shard and the Tower of London.
2. Make sure that you have enough time to use all of your credits
Even though this pass has a generous 60-day window, make sure that you will have enough time to max it out. Don’t pay for credits that you won’t need.
3. Check opening hours in advance
Some London attractions are closed on certain days of the week (Westminster Abbey is closed on Sundays, for example) and many admit their last visitors at 4.30 pm.
4. Make sure that you make reservations for the View from the Shard
Don’t be a hostage to fortune. As reservations are compulsory and visitor numbers capped, make your reservation for the Shard as soon as you can.
How to Buy the London Explorer pass
The London Explorer Pass can only be purchased online. Buy it from the official site here or from GetYourGuide here.
It’s worth comparing the price and cancellation terms offered by the two sites.
Is the London Explorer Pass Worth it?
Provided that discounts are available – and they usually are – the Go City® London Explorer Pass is likely to be a good deal for many travellers. If you buy it at face value its cost-effectiveness is more questionable.
It includes a host of world-famous attractions, has a generous 60-day validity period and you have complete flexibility over how much you would like to see. Provided you use all of the credits and select the more expensive attractions and activities, it’s hard to see how you won’t save money with the London Explorer Pass.
If you like a less intensive sightseeing schedule, visiting just one or two places a day, the London Explorer Pass is likely to be a good deal for you. If you really want to blast through the city, ticking off as many sites as possible, then the London City pass will be a better fit.
But if you have your heart set on visiting Windsor Castle – Windsor is one of the best day trips from London – or taking a spin on the London Eye, then this is not the pass to use. Windsor Castle is included in the London City pass and you could take a mix-and-match approach, using a 1-day London City Pass for Windsor and the Explorer Pass for the rest.
Wherever you decide, I hope that this Go City® London Explorer Pass review has been helpful and have a fabulous time in my home city.
>>> GRAB YOUR GOLDEN TICKET FOR LONDON’S TOP ATTRACTIONS. CLICK HERE TO BUY THE LONDON EXPLORER PASS OR HERE FOR THE LONDON PASS.