The Crafty Traveller: Big savings or short-selling –
are city passes worth the money?
Spring is prime city-break time. Once you’ve fixed your flights or train travel and accommodation, it’s worth thinking ahead about your sightseeing plans.
For many popular cities, tourist passes can be purchased that include free or discounted admission to a host of museums, galleries and other attractions, and often free use of public transport too.
If your idea of a weekend break is to pack a lot in, buying a pass can be a good investment.
But it depends – on what precisely the passes cover and what you’re going to get up to. With a little forethought and research (information is usually easy to find on the internet), you can then decide whether the pass looks like a bargain or, as is sometimes the case, would require a masochistic amount of sightseeing crammed into a short time to make it pay.
Here’s a summary and my views on passes for five cities. Prices given are for adults, in most cases for two days. Other durations are usually possible.
Cost: £61 for two days, or £79 with public transport included.
Coverage: Free entry to 55 attractions, including the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s and a Thames river cruise – each costing £15 or more.
Any good? Only if you take in four or five of these expensive attractions in a limited time. Also remember that an enormous amount of star-quality entertainment in London is free – the British Museum, the National Gallery, the Tates, the Science and Natural History museums.
Cost: €105 (£90) for two days.
Coverage: Entry to 60 museums, galleries and monuments, including the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and Pompidou Centre; a river cruise; two days of hop-on, hop-off bus tours; and public transport. The only major omission is the Eiffel Tower.
Any good? Because the pass is so comprehensive, it’s very expensive, which means you’d need to be absolutely manic to make it worthwhile. For normal mortals, the Paris Museum Pass costs €39 (£33) for two days, gives free admission to the same 60 attractions as the Paris Pass, but not the added tours and transport, and is a better bet. Although you’d still need to pack in at least four attractions to make it pay.
Cost: With ten per cent online discount, €26.10 (£22.30) for two days.
Coverage: Free public transport, and mostly discounts at various attractions.
Any good? The website claims it’s ‘Barcelona’s best buy’, but that’s nonsense. For leading attractions, it offers miserly discounts – 20 per cent off Picasso Museum admission, €2 off tickets to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. And the inclusion of public transport is no big deal when you consider that a two-day transport-only pass costs just €12.8 (£11). A better option is the articketBCN which, for €30 (£26), gives entry to seven top museums and galleries.
Cost: €30 (£26) for three days (the only duration possible).
Coverage: Free admission to the first two attractions you visit, discounts at 40 others, plus free public transport. Most major attractions except the Vatican Museums are covered.
Any good? Yes – if the first two attractions you visit are pricier ones. Without the pass, entry to the Colosseum/Roman Forum/ Palatine (one ticket needed) and the Capitoline Museums, and a three-day transport ticket, costs €35 (£30).
The iamsterdam City Card
Cost: €50 (£43) for 48 hours.
Coverage: Free admission to 34 attractions, including the expensive Van Gogh Museum and Hermitage Amsterdam, along with free travel in the city and a canal cruise.
Any good? Paid separately, entrance to the Van Gogh Museum and Hermitage, a 48-hour transport pass and a cruise would come to €55 (£47) – which makes the City Card good value. But two other top attractions, the Anne Frank House and Rijksmuseum, are not covered.
By FRED MAWER – Mail On-Line http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel
1st Choice Concierge – www.1stChoiceConcierge.co.uk
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