When to use City and Museum passes



The Paris Musee Pass is one of the best kept secrets of the city. At most Museums in Paris, the pass allows me to skip the lines. I most relish, being able to avoid the ghastly long Louvre queue and pop through a mysterious back entrance and into the centre of the gallery. Tres bien!


Most cities have some sort of pass that covers the main attractions.  In some cities I will grab one and in others I spurn the option.







Whether I buy a pass or not buy a pass depends on these five things:

  1. My Goals for that city 

I like to get the “feel of a city” and experience what the locals do . This may include some attractions and museums but it may not. Think of it this way, Ii someone came to your city and only saw the “touristy”things, would you say they have really seen your city?   On the other hand going to Paris and not seeing any art would be a travesty! So, researching  what I will see and do in that city is important to me.

2. How long will I be there for?

If I am only in a city for a day, then I will generally spurn a pass. If I am there for a week, then I may get a 3 or 4 day pass and load up the attractions on one day. In some cases the difference between a 3 day and 7 day pass is so minimal, that I will go for the more epensive option.

3.  Will it be actually useful?

Do I actually plan to do any of the things the card covers? Many people buy them thinking they will be useful but never go to many of the attractions. No use buying a $60 card and not using most of it.

4. Does it include public transport?

Be careful here. In some cities, paying a regular City Pass and a regular Public Transit multi day ticket is cheaper than buying a combined City and Transit pass.

4. Are there other ways that will cover me?

For example, the museum I really want to see may be free on a certain day. I  have found my Credit Card gets me a discount. Or I may find they have a two for one program linked to your hotel. I ask a few questions at the tourist office or check out advice on Trip Advisor or Lonely Planet to see what is going to work best for me.


Should I decide to get a Pass, I check to see if it is cheaper online – Sometimes I will get a better price.



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  1. So in other words you actually think about your purchase and use common sense. This article really isn’t all that helpful for anyone who takes more than half a second and doesn’t make a split second decision to buy a city pass. A more useful article would be to write about specific city and museum passes and evaluate their value.

  2. Actually, the real benefit of a museum pass, at least in Paris, is line skipping just about everywhere except the Notre Dame tower climb. (Just try the Orsay some day without the pass!) A chance at perhaps saving money comes in a distant second, at least for me.

    Another benefit is getting to do stuff you never would’ve done at all without the pass. For example, climbing the Arc de Triomphe is something I would never have paid for, but with the pass was free. Seeing the lights of Paris go on all around us at dusk actually turned out to be fun. Or maybe we’re just easily amused.

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