How to Get Cheap Tickets in London… for Everything

I’m a local to these parts, and should be snubbing the likes of you folk who are clearly *sniff tourists. But I found myself feeling all warm and fuzzy inside thinking about the landmarks which make London what it is: the terrifying Tower of London and its cheerful Beefeaters, the maze at Hampton Court Palace and the wonderful works of Shakespeare at the Globe. So, I’ve decided to track down the cheapest London attraction tickets out there for you!

Firstly, I was shocked by how many websites claim to have cheap tickets in London, but in fact, offer the same rate as the attraction’s homepage! I discovered lots of package deals which were a complete waste of space and combination tickets saved only a pound or two. As a rule of thumb, most places are cheapest when you book online in advance and you will pay more for a flexible ticket (non-specific time slot).

London Pass | 2 for 1 when you go by train | Galleries & Museums | River Cruise | London Walking Tours | Tower of London | Shakespeare’s Globe | London RIB | Buckingham Palace | London Eye | London Dungeons | Madame Tussauds | London Attraction Packages

London Pass

The London Pass offers free entry to places like Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London and London Zoo which typically cost about £18 per person. But ask yourself this: “Do you intend to visit more than two London attractions per day during your visit?” If no, then don’t bother with the London Pass. If yes, then I think you are a bit crazy trying to cram so much in. Remember, almost all the London museums and galleries are free, although if you want to access special exhibitions (typically costing between £5-£12), this pass includes free entry.

The 3-day pass works out at about £20 per day and, as long as you visit 2-3 London attractions a day, then you won’t be out of pocket. Even better, the 6-day pass is similar to paying £10 per day and you can plan your itinerary to take in just one attraction per day.

Do not buy the pass with travel included – this also works out more expensive than just buying a travelcard yourself.

CHEAPEST OPTION
I found the cheapest London Pass on GlobeTrips.com which saves you between £4-£12 compared to other sites.

  • 1-day adult pass £43
  • 2-day adult pass £58
  • 3-day adult pass £69
  • 6-day adult pass £92

2 for 1 when you go by train

You can get 2for1 entry to over 150 London attractions if you travel to the capital by train.

HOW IT WORKS:

  1. Decide what day you intend to travel to London
  2. Select up to three London attractions
  3. Print off your voucher
  4. Present one voucher along with two valid train tickets at the attraction ticket desk

The downsides?
Discounts are not valid on pre-booked attraction tickets. Meaning, you must buy tickets on the door = queuing. The voucher can only be used on the date that your train ticket is valid. Oyster cards and tube/bus-only tickets are not recognised in conjunction with this offer.

The way to get around this is to make sure you buy a paper travelcard (1-day or 7-day is fine) from a National Rail ticket office, one of the larger stations with trains travelling outside of London. Your ticket should have a double-arrow (or ‘crows-foot’) National Rail logo on it.

If you take up this offer, make sure you weigh up the savings of buying advanced tickets online against your train fare and purchasing tickets on the door using this 2for1 deal.

I’ve highlighted all the attractions in this blog valid for this ‘2for1’ offer below. Read FAQs.

London Pass | 2 for 1 when you go by train | Galleries & Museums | River Cruise | London Walking Tours | Tower of London | Shakespeare’s Globe | London RIB | Buckingham Palace | London Eye | London Dungeons | Madame Tussauds | London Attraction Packages

Galleries & Museums

Top free London museums and galleries include:

British Museum, Geffrye Museum, Imperial War Museum London, Museum of London, National Gallery, Natural History Museum, National Maritime Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Old Royal Navy College, Science Museum, Serpentine Gallery, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert Gallery, V&A Museum of Childhood, Wallace Collection, Wellcome Collection and Whitechapel Art Gallery.

To really make the most of your visit, time your trip to coincide with a free gallery tour. For example, there are free daily tours at the British Museum, lasting 30-40 minutes introducing you to the collection. No booking required, just enquire at the reception on arrival. Many other London galleries and museums offer similar free taster tours or, for a small fee, why not try a self-guided audio tour?

For special exhibitions, expect to pay between £5-£12. However, you can sometimes find 2for1 events and exhibitions.

River Cruise

I’ve been on a guided river cruise along the Thames and it was great fun with lots of witty and interesting anecdotes about London (eg. why, to this day, Dutch boats travelling up the Thames do not need to pay tax in London!) Depending on when you visit, turning up at one of the piers along Embankment will busier – especially at weekends – and costlier (about £15) so try to book in advance online.

CHEAPEST OPTION:

  • A valid travelcard or Oyster card means you get 1/3 off standard fares if you turn up on the day.

Alternatively, skip the commercial cruise and use a Thames Clippers Roamer card. Popular stops include the London Eye, London Bridge City and Greenwich. This is a great way to visit two of London’s top art institutions; Tate Britain and Tate Modern. A Roamer ticket offers unlimited hop on/hop off on Thames Clipper services and costs £13.60.

CHEAPEST OPTIONS:

London Walking Tours

A number of companies offer free London walking tours, although you should tip your tour guide to support this fantastic venture. Some London hostels such as MEININGER Hotel London Hyde Park, Travel Joy Hostels and Palmers Lodge-Swiss Cottage provide a free city tour for guests.

With guides working for tips on Sandeman’s Royal London Free Tour, you are guaranteed something between a performance and a piece of artful storytelling to bring the streets of London to life. In 2.5 hours you’ll cover Buckingham Palace including the Changing of the Guard (see Buckingham Palace), Churchill’s War Cabinet Bunker, 10 Downing Street and Big Ben. Tours run at 11am and 1pm daily (rain or shine!) from Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner – spot your guides in the red T-shirts.

If you want to get a flavour of London’s east end, the Alternative London Tour will take you around Spitalfield Market, Brick Lane and Bangalatown. Book is essential and you can opt for a 12 noon tour on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Or at 7pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. All tours leave from from Spitalfields Market.

London Pass | 2 for 1 when you go by train | Galleries & Museums | River Cruise | London Walking Tours | Tower of London | Shakespeare’s Globe | London RIB | Buckingham Palace | London Eye | London Dungeons | Madame Tussauds | London Attraction Packages

Tower of London

A trip to the terrifying Tower of London promises live re-enactments, a glimpse of Henry VIII’s armour, access to the Crown Jewels display and a tour with a Yeoman Warder himself! Bring a picnic, the gardens are very picturesque.

CHEAPEST OPTIONS:

Shakespeare’s Globe

A real taste of Shakespeare’s London at this open-air playhouse on the banks of the river Thames. You’ll receive a 30-minute guided tour with insight in to Elizabethan special effects and how sword fights were performed. Buy tickets on the main site and you will be charged £12.50.

CHEAPEST OPTIONS:

  • £12 from discount-London.com
  • If you fancy seeing a stage performance, book Shakespeare’s Globe tickets and try a front row view in the yard for £5. Ok, so it’s a standing ticket but you’ll be experiencing Shakespeare just like the peasants did!

London RIB

What a way to experience the Thames! The Ultimate London Adventure zooms under London’s historic bridges, whizzes past MI5 at 35 knots and 400hp. From the London Eye Pier 7, you will be taken right up to Canary Wharf and back. Great for those who want to inject a touch of the thrill element to their sightseeing.

CHEAPEST OPTION:

  • £34.95 from most sites, but we spotted London RIB tickets on lastminute.com for £26.

Buckingham Palace

While the Queen pootles up to her residence in Scotland, 19 of the Buckingham Palace rooms are open to the public. The State Rooms are the main events with lavish furniture and paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Poussin forming the Royal Collection. Kate’s (cough, I mean, The Duchess of Cambridge’s) wedding dress designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen is also be on display. Treat! This event sells out fast!

CHEAPEST OPTIONS:

  • Prices are regulated so there is little point shopping around. Buy Buckingham Palace tickets from the main website for £18 which includes an audio guide.
  • Our cheap alternative would be to watch the changing of the guard which takes place daily at 11:30 (May-July), odd numbered dates in August, even number dates in September etc… you can watch this (free of charge) from the forecourt of the Palace and the soldiers are accompanied by a band. The ceremony takes approximately 40 minutes.

London Eye

This one’s not just another London tourist attraction – I loved it and I’m local! It’s a fantastic addition to the skyline and the 30 minute rotation is a rather relaxing way to take in the rooftops. Why not see how many London landmarks you can spot. It might even help with your getting your bearings for the city, everyone is always very surprised at how much the River Thames bends. The most expensive tickets are the ones with flexible boarding, as much as £35. Buying online in advance is cheaper.

CHEAPEST OPTION:

  • Buy cheap London Eye tickets from the main website for £15 which is an online ‘standard ticket’ for a specific time slot.

London Dungeons

If you fancy spending an afternoon scaring the sweet beejeezus out of yourself, the London Dungeons promises cutting edge ghost storytelling. All the local London celebrities including Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd the demon barber are covered as well as the city’s gruesome past through plague and torture chambers – it’s certainly one of the most scariest London attractions. Their latest flashy installation is a 5D ride, apparently you get your own gun!

CHEAPEST OPTIONS:

Madame Tussauds

Everybody loves a touch of star spotting. And if you haven’t been lucky enough to catch Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, the Queen at Buckingham Palace or Guy Ritchie in his Mayfair pub, then Madame Tussaud’s can fill the void. Turn up on the day and you’ll be hit with looooong queues (I used to cycle past them every morning!) and £28.80 admission.

CHEAPEST OPTIONS:

  • 2for1 with a train ticket.
  • Madame Tussauds tickets from the homepage cost £22.50 when booked at least one day in advance. An online ‘Late’ Saver’ ticket costing £14.40 means less time to look around but it does allow use of the Priority Access Entrance and also includes entry to the Marvel Super Human Heroes 4D movie.

London Attraction Packages

As I mentioned, ticket agents which can’t make a profit on cheap attraction tickets because there is no margin, will try and flog you a package instead. For example, entry to ‘Buckingham Palace combined with afternoon tea’ or ‘Tower of London tickets with free entry to Tower Bridge exhibition’. I would avoid most of these because you are being sold something you don’t want for a higher price. A common deal is entry + dinner package – personally I would rather find a good restaurant myself than resort to a place where they send tourists on package deals!

The most popular London attractions owned by Merlin Entertainment include Madame Tussauds, the London Eye, London Dungeons and the Sea Life London Aquarium. Buying combination passes can work out cheaper, particularly if you want to catch all four – you can save 33% and entry works out at about £14.50 each. If you do go for the combination tickets, don’t buy them from Madame Tussauds’ homepage, it was a tad more expensive for some reason!

We’ve got loads of cheap London hotels, so make a weekend of it and then you can fit in more attractions. Woohoo!

London Pass | 2 for 1 when you go by train | Galleries & Museums | River Cruise | London Walking Tours | Tower of London | Shakespeare’s Globe | London RIB | Buckingham Palace | London Eye | London Dungeons | Madame Tussauds | London Attraction Packages

Thanks to billfromesm, PentaxSLR, westy48, laszlo-photo, cyesuta, Gabriel Villena, Ian Muttoo, E01, aurélien and anka @ happyhangaround for the images off Flickr. Please note, all images were suitable for use at the time of publication according to the Creative Commons Licence.

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10 Responses to “How to Get Cheap Tickets in London… for Everything”

  1. I would start with full English breakfest and some lovely cup of coffee. Morning is good time for shopping so I would go to Oxford street. Around noon I would go to Camden market for some food. Then visiting some museums and picknik in Hydeparke.

  2. I would start the day off with a proper English brekky in a greasy spoon. Then I’d hop on a train to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard . After that, I’d head into central London to see all the sights-Oxford Street, Soho, Big Ben – and a ride in the wheel! Then posh nosh at Claridges for lunch followed by a trip to the Science Museum for some fun! Perhaps a visit to an art gallery as well – either the Tate Modern or The National Gallery. I’d then chill out in Hyde Park then head on to Camden for some Chinese food followed by a good ol’ rock gig at either The Underworld!

  3. I would take the opportunity to show my wife what i enjoyed and she wasn’t able to previously. I’d get a replacement of a lost piece of art from the Westminster tube stop. Take an absinthe shot at the alcohol museum and hit up some Lebanese eateries. I’d do the London eye and the inside of the Abbey, which i skipped last time and head out of town for Stonehenge, maybe.

  4. My perfect day in London would be spending the morning sight seeing, Buckingham palace, Westminster, Tower of London and Big Ben, Lunch i would have a picnic in Hyde park, then in the afternoon I would go to London Dungeons, then head over to the London eye for a ride, whilst the Sun sets, then In the evening i would go to Madame Tussauds then finish it off with some drinks in Leicester square.

  5. I’d start my day with a full English breakfast. From there, I’d like to check out Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament & Big Ben. From there I’ll head to the mall for a stroll all the way to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard. Then it’s a visit to the Tower of London. Later that afternoon…I’ll find somewhere to experience a traditional afternoon tea. After tea…it’s time to head to the London eye! I’d end my day enjoying some wine at Gordan’s, London’s oldest wine bar.

  6. I would start the day visiting platform 9 and three quarters where I would make like Hermione Granger and magic up some brilliant pictures. Then on to the Natural history museum where I would do a *very* convincing impression of a whale. I would visit Borough market for a spot of lunch and then I would go for a tour of the Houses of Parliament. Aternoon tea Vicar? (How very posh!) Off to the Ritz we go before heading to the London Dungeons to scare myself silly.
    As dusk falls I would take to the air in the London eye and watch the lights all coming on over the city.
    As night falls I would head to covent garden for some dinner and drinks.

  7. the excitement of being in our capital, gives me feeling how proud we are and lucky, to see some our countries finest and historic buildings brimming with tales. My journey would start with Houses of parliament and Big Ben. Then off to the changing of the guards before hoping in to a London cab and travel down to Tower bridge and Tower of London.
    After the enjoyment a great meal in a traditional London pub. Then a lovely stroll down the embankment, before setting off to the London Dungeons and the big thrill before leaving dungeons. Finally a quick change then down to Drury lane to see one of the many great shows, perfect!!!!!

  8. Eugene Grechka Reply

    Dear Author.

    Good time of the day, thanks a lot for this article. It is really of a great help.

    With respect,
    Eugene

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