My dad loves to brag about his traveling to Europe – 30 years ago, for a business trip, 48 hours in Denmark. I told them that barely counts! So when I moved to the UK and my folks mentioned an interest in visiting, I couldn’t wait to have them come over and see our new life abroad. With a whole week in front of us we wanted to make sure everyone could have a blast seeing the sights and not miss a thing.
The best way for our group of four to tackle the city in a day was the London Pass. You can purchase these passes online for one day up to 10 days, good at a wide variety of museums, attractions, tours and more. London can be crazy pricey, so if you want to experience as much as you can this can be a huge money saver. We easily picked up the passes from a kiosk in central London and had our route already mapped out to get the most out of our one-day passes. So, what did we see?
Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour
I’m a huge fan of the public bus system in London, and always see the tourist ones intermittently between. However, this was way more fun than a regular double decker, as there are headphone jacks for an audio guide and the route is as pretty as can be. There are tons of pick up and drop off locations around the city. We not only used the bus to sail past Big Ben and near Buckingham Palace, but it also saved us tons of time getting to various other attractions on the list.
Churchill’s War Rooms
This was my husband’s pick and it did not disappoint. We went deep underground into the real World War II bunkers Winston Churchill used to live and strategize. It’s been amazingly preserved and holds some incredible stories of his leadership and team in countless concrete rooms.
Tower of London
I hadn’t even been to the Tower of London, so this was a treat for everyone. Although the day was sunny, crowds were not bad at this iconic castle in the center of it all. Learn about the Queen’s fortress that has stood tall on the Thames since the 11th century. A highlight was seeing the incredible crown jewels up close housed inside the castle.
Thames River Boat Cruise
Finishing up the day, we took to the water and enjoyed a leisurely boat trip up the Thames. It started to rain a bit during the ride, but there is plenty of space indoors and outdoors to have a wonderful experience. The narrator points out famous buildings and points of interests from the river, which can be an excellent way to get bearing of central London for more exploring.
BONUS: Gift Shop Discounts
My mother loses all control when it comes to souvenirs. She loves perusing the specialty shops at each attraction, picking up a few tangible memories for herself and her friends back home. For instance, she saves several bucks at the Tower of London on some royal books for grandma, biscuits for her sister and a few other trinkets.
4 Adult London one-day Passes: £236.00
Total for retail tickets and shop discounts: £341.00
SAVED WITH LONDON PASS: £105.00
Honorary Mentions: Kew Gardens
While I visited Kew later on in the summer, this is a perfect place to see first-hand if you get a multiple-day pass, or have visited London before. The city has some wonderful parks, but Kew Gardens is special. Spend the day or afternoon walking through various areas, from Japanese gardens to forested pathways and manicured lawns. Currently they have an art installation that mimics a real working beehive you can walk inside and hear the hums of thousands of flying honeybees. My favorite area was the massive greenhouse filled with tropical plants, especially pleasant on a cold and rainy day. Downstairs in the greenhouse is a small aquarium too.
My husband is originally from Greenwich, so we love to frequent this part of London and enjoy its maritime roots. One of the highlights is the Cutty Sark ship, dry-docked right near the DLR train stop. It’s the last surviving tea clipper of its kind in the world, dating back to the 1800s. Nearby is the free Maritime Museum as well to round out your Greenwich visit.
Where would you use your London Pass? Have you ever taken a vacation with your adult parents? Let us know!