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Saturday, October 12, 2019

How London Explorer Pass Can Save You Big

Last month I visited London. This was our third trip to the city, so we've done a lot of the regular touristy things already. Even so, we plan to return again in the future to see more, both in the city of London and outside. If you want to save big bucks in the city, then London Explorer Pass can help you see and do more for less.

I had the opportunity to work with London Explorer Pass on this last trip to show you some of the great things included on the list of attractions it can be used on. Choose from a 3, 5 or 7 attraction card, depending on how much you want to do. Plus, the more you do the more you save. It's easy to find great ways to enjoy in London, so why wouldn't you save money on them if you could?

The Coca-Cola London Eye

The Eye has been part of the city's skyline since our first trip, but we decided to see it in other ways. Because of our love of the High Roller in Las Vegas, we gave the Eye a shot this trip. We weren't disappointed. We chose to visit at night, because we saw everything from above during the day all those other times. London has a whole different vibe at night and I love it. 

See the river crisscrossed by glittering bridges, the Parliament buildings, boats, and park blocks. The capsules of the Eye are large and easy to share with others. There were 5 of us in ours and we weren't ever in each others way. There are tons of photo ops, whether you visit during the day or evening. Near the end of your 30-minute ride, you're encouraged to go stand by one of the windows for a group pic that you don't have to take yourself. 

Download the Coca-Cola London Eye app and use your phone to not only take pics, but also see what you're looking at out the windows. This is a great way to learn what you want to see on your other days in London or, like me, find a place to eat dinner (we saw how close the S.S. Tattershall Castle, aka The Pub On the Thames, was and hightailed it over there after our ride). If we paid full price for the London Eye, we would have spent £30 each.

Wesminster Abbey

Since hearing about the opening of the Jubilee Galleries, I have been looking forward to making a visit to Westminster. Not only is the church large and gorgeous, but it's full of amazing Gothic architectural features and historical religious artifacts. Unfortunately, you aren't allowed to take photos inside, because they all would have been stunning. The church has been the site of 16 royal weddings and nearly all the royal coronations. The stained glass is worth admission alone.

If you've seen the Abbey on TV, then chances are you've wanted to see it in person. You can view the choir chairs, the Coronation chair made of King Edward I, and Poets' Corner, where over 100 poets and writers are buried and commemorated. Your entrance comes with an audio guide, so you can learn as much as possible about this church that's over 1,000 years old. 

The Diamond Jubilee Galleries have a separate admission of £5 per person, but they are well worth the cost. You can see the whole Abbey from above, plus see artifacts that haven't been seen by the public for 900 years. On display are all the funeral effigies of future kings and queens, with original clothing, the oldest surviving alterpiece, and even more amazing stain glass. Our visit to Westminster Abbey would have cost £28 each, but with our London Explorer Pass, we only spent £5.

[Make sure you go across the street when leaving the Abbey to the small park and view the awesome statues that pay tribute to everyone from Winston Churchill to women in war.]

Churchill War Rooms

Speaking of Winston Churchill, London has an Imperial War Museum devoted entirely to him. The Churchill War Rooms are the actual rooms where Churchill and his government team ran the entire war effort. Inside you will see his actual desk, map room, bedroom, and private dining room. There's a lot to see in a small space, since it remains untouched (aside from some walls being taken out to be replaced with glass) for the over 40 years. 

There's an area where you can see artifacts that were better to be seen up close as well as first-hand accounts from those that worked in the war rooms. 6 years working long hours in close quarters bonded those pretty tightly, making them more like family than coworkers. Each stated how much they were proud to work under Churchill, even though he wasn't easy or fun to work for. 

To make room for more artifacts, interactive exhibits, and videos about Winston Churchill's life and career, a new space was opened up underground next to the war rooms by drilling through a 10-foot concrete wall. It was a necessity during wartime, but not now. It took three months to drill through it and it made way for an entire timeline of the life of Winston Churchill and his family. 

If you're interested in British history, this is a must see. You'll have to queue for this, since there's only so much room in the underground. If you want a shorter wait time, try to get there at opening. This museum regularly costs £22 and includes an audio guide. 

[Across the street from Churchill War Rooms is St. James's Park, which is lovely to walk through and you'll find Buckingham Palace on the other side. On the Churchill War Rooms side, you may see a group of pelicans being fed.]

Kew Gardens

Other attractions we've visited before that can be included in your London Explorer Pass: 

Tower Bridge
Kensington Palace
The London Dungeon
SEA LIFE London Aquarium
Hop-On Hop-Off Thames River Cruise
HMS Belfast
Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew Gardens)
Royal Greenwich Observatory
St. Paul's Cathedral
Shakespeare's Globe (this year we actually took in a play at the Globe and it was awesome!)

Attractions that we've not yet visited, but also included on your London Explorer Pass:

Madame Tussaud's 
Body Worlds London (we saw Body Worlds in Las Vegas and we highly recommend it)
Palace of Whitehall Banqueting House
1-day Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
Emirates Arsenal Stadium Tour
Royal Albert Hall
DreamWorks Tours Shrek's Adventure
Planet Hollywood (free meal)
Chelsea FC Stadium Tour
Cutty Sark

As you can see, there's a ton of options for your time in London, whether it's a short break or a long vacation. My best advice for choosing the right London Explorer Pass is to look at the list of attractions, decide which you want to do most, and then purchase your Explorer Pass based on that. If you have a longer list than the 7-attraction card, then choose the most expensive ones to use your pass on. 

Don't worry about having another thing to carry either. Your London Explorer Pass can be downloaded to the app, and one person can keep your whole travel group's passes on their app, making it easy to deal with everyone in your party at each ticket counter. Not only that, but your app shows you all the attractions available and their hours. You can star the ones you like most. There are transport maps, so you can get to each attraction easily, any offers attached to your pass, and useful information on the city, including where to find free WiFi. You can purchase passes through the app as well, so if you plan to return, don't delete your app and be prepared for your next visit.

Our 3 attractions would have cost £70 each, but with the 3-day Explorer Pass, they only cost £64 (or would have had we not been given complimentary passes). If you chose the most expensive attractions, your savings could go from £6 to £39. Either way, any savings is money that could be spent towards delicious food, the Tube, or cool souvenirs. 

Learn more about London Explorer pass on their website, or follow them on social media:

What are your favorite attractions in London?

Disclaimer: I was provided with 2 3-attraction London Explorer Passes for the purposes of this post, but all opinions are my own. 

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