Should I Get a City Pass?


“City Passes” — sometimes known as “Sightseeing Passes” or “Attraction Passes” — are becoming more and more part of the travel landscape. While long a part of the European travel scene, they are a more recent arrival in the U.S.

In many ways they are overdue. Nobody walks into a hotel to request a room or walks up to the airline ticket counter and expects to get the best price, and yet that is still largely the case when it comes to people purchasing things to do while on a trip. City Passes let people buy their admissions in advance to get the best deal and to do so in a more convenient way that trying to by individual tickets separately.

The basic idea behind any city pass is that it bundles together the entry tickets for multiple museums, sights, and tours and puts them on a single ticket. In doing this, the pass provides a discount compared to the cost of buying separate tickets. It may often have other benefits such as the ability to skip lines and/or come with a free guidebook.

One popular example is the New York City Explorer Pass. Nearly 50 of NY’s top sights accept the Pass as an admission ticket. Customers pick the number of sights they want to see and buy a pass for that number of admissions. Then the pass then works for that many admissions for whichever of the participating sights the holder wishes to visit. For example if a customer bought a 5 choice Pass, they could then use it to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Empire State Building, the Ground Zero Museum, Madame Tussauds, and a hop-on/hop-off bus tour (or any other combination of 5 sights they wanted).

Other examples include the Musee Pass which covers 60 museums and monuments in Paris, the Go Oahu Card with 30 sights and activities in Hawaii, the Smartvisit Card that covers sights in and around Sydney, Australia, and so on.

In addition to being available directly from their own websites, these passes are available from leading travel sites. There are even sites like Smart Destinations that are dedicated exclusively to selling city passes and offer them for a variety of destinations. They also have a video explaining how passes work, so if you need more info access the video on their home page.

And for those who don’t want to plan ahead, passes can often be bought directly in their locales. The New York City Explorer Pass discussed above lists eight locations where it can be bought in the City.

If your next trip involves taking in the sights, its worth doing your research on your in destination activities just like you would for your flights and hotels. The savings can be significant.

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