Photo credit: Hanna Thomas / Solar Powered Blonde
City cards can offer you a great value by giving you free admission and public transportation… but are they worth it?
I’ve asked some other bloggers who have recently used city cards to tell me a little about them, and to rate the value of the card on a scale of 1 to 5. While many of these cards are based in Europe, and I’ve listed them in alphabetical order by city below.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
By Katie-Beth Gamblin of herlifeinruins.com:
Earlier this summer, I spent 4 days using the heck out of the iAmsterdam card. The iAmsterdam card allows free admission to nearly every museum in Amsterdam, public transportation, a canal tour, and even attractions around the Netherlands!
Cards are purchased by a set number of hours (we opted for 120 hours, as we were in Amsterdam for quite some time) and can be picked up at any of the iAmsterdam stores around Amsterdam, at the train station, or at the airport. The iAmsterdam card allows visitors to visit popular attractions like the Van Gogh Museum, as well as hidden gems around town. We adored visiting the various fashion museums and the nearby Muiderslot Castle with our iAmsterdam cards! They seriously are the best deal in town and I plan on using them again in the future.
By Helen of helenonherholidays.com:
When I visited Brussels, I was amazed by how useful my Brussels Card turned out to be. It was the first time I’d used a city card on a trip; whenever I’ve looked at buying one there have always seemed to be a lot of restrictions. Not so with the Brussels Card.
As well as offering free public transport, the Brussels Card also gives you free entry into 41 museums. And the list includes almost all of Brussels’ big-hitters; the Musical Instrument Museum, two chocolate museums, Autoworld, Trainworld, the Magritte Museum and even the Sewers Museum. The only attraction we paid to enter was the Atomium, and even there we got a discount.
By Angela Corrias of chasingtheunexpected.com:
My husband and I used the Budapest Card during our last trip. Since we stayed in the city for four days, we purchased Budapest Card 72H, but if you stay for a shorter period, there are the 24H and 48H. There is also the 72H Plus, which includes the airport transfer with the miniBUD shuttle bus and a Danube river cruise. We found it extremely useful when using public transport because everything was included and we didn’t have to look for tickets every time we needed a bus, a tram or the metro.
This card also gives you free entrance to several museums but not as many attractions as I would have expected given the price. Important museums like Hungarian National Museum, the two inside Buda Castle (Budapest History Museum and Hungarian National Gallery), along with Aquincum archaeological site, Memento Park, Budatower and the smaller Szamos Chocolate Museum are free of charge. Other major attractions are not, however, like the Hungarian Parliament, Matthew’s Church, the Terror House, the Great Synagogue and Fisherman’s Bastion.
By Hanna Thomas of solarpoweredblonde.com:
During a recent trip to Copenhagen, I used a 72-hour Copenhagen Card. There was a vast list of places that were free of charge with the card, such as the Copenhagen Contemporary art museum and the famous Tivoli Gardens. There was also a long list of places that were discounted with the Copenhagen Card. One of my favourite aspects was the free travel on buses with the card.
There is an app that you download with the card that easily breaks down all of the activities included into art and design, history, castles and family and fun. You can then see on a map what is around you to use the card at. Very easy to use and very helpful for a short first trip to Copenhagen to see as much as possible! The 72 hour card is 99 Euro for an adult.
By Katy Clarke of untolditaly.com:
Valid for 72 hours from first entry, the Firenzecard gives you priority access to over 70 museums and galleries in Florence. This includes the Uffizi Gallery, Accademia Gallery (where Michelangelo’s David is housed) and the paid attractions at Santa Maria Novella, the Duomo. With the card you can save a considerable amount if you are in Florence to immerse yourself in art history.
Unfortunately there are confusing rules and caveats around using the card and some of them are highly problematic. Where previously card holders could simply visit their preferred attractions when they chose, starting in 2019 they are now required to make reservations in advance for the main sites – Uffizi, Accademia and to climb the Dome / Cupola of the Duomo. Tickets for these attractions sell out months in advance for the peak times so you may be disappointed if you bought the card on arrival in Florence.
That being said, if you are organized, purchase your card and make reservations in advance, the card is good value, especially for lovers of art and history.
By Michele Aaron of PursuingWanderlustBlog.com:
The Interlaken Visitor’s Pass is given to all visitors upon check-in at local hotels in Interlaken. It’s completely free and valid for the duration of your stay.
Considering it’s free, the pass has some great perks. It includes free bus transportation throughout Interlaken and the surrounding cities, a free guided village walk in Brienz, discounts on electric bike rentals, and even discounts for entry to Spiez and Thun castles and Harder Kulm.
The card is easy to use and because Interlaken is on the smaller side, the attractions included in the pass are easy to locate. What’s wonderful about the Interlaken Visitor’s Pass is that it includes so many activities to the surrounding areas, so it’s like you’re getting several city passes all in one.
From the very beginning, it was good value for money, we got a 25% discount on the airport shuttle bus. We used the metro quite a lot and rode a couple of times on the famous yellow trams as well. In total with our Lisboa Cards, we saved about 30€ between two of us and a lot of time.
By Patrick Muntzinger of germanbackpacker.com:
During my last visit in London, I was gifted the London Pass for two days by the Leisure Pass Group. What I really liked about the pass is that it works completely electronically. Therefore, you don’t need to pick up the pass during your visit. All you have to do is downloading the official app and after entering your code, you get the QR code directly on your phone, which will get scanned when visiting the attractions. Further, the app is also a mini guidebook with interesting facts and details about the attractions.
Since London is an expensive city, the London Pass is not very cheap but especially if you’re planning to do sightseeing for more than only one day, you can easily save money by visiting 2-3 attractions each day. All major tourist highlights in London are included, however, the London Eye and Madame Tussauds are missing.
By Alexei of travelexx.com:
Lyon’s enticing mix of history, culture and a thriving food scene make for a memorable city break. A great way to experience the city is with the Lyon City Card which provides free entry to over 20 museums and exhibitions, numerous activities and guided tours. It also offers unlimited travel on Lyon’s comprehensive public transport system. Owners get exclusive shopping discounts, too.
It comes packaged with a handy mini-guide which makes it easy to choose and find activities as well as a map for navigating your way around the city. It’s easy to use – simply show the card at each ticket office and validate it on public transport! Some places even have separate branded queues specifically for card owners.
It’s valid between one and four days and it’s cheaper to buy online – even though it’s easy to purchase once in the city too!
By Marta and Milosz of backpackerswro.com:
Nuremberg is the second-largest city of the German state of Bavaria and the unofficial capital of Franconia. You will be surprised by the number of tourist attractions and museums to explore there. The most significant advantage of the Nuremberg Card is that it guarantees free access to ALL points of interest in Nuremberg and Furth (the neighboring city).
Also, you have unlimited, free access to public transportation in zone A. The City Card is valid for two consecutive days (not 48 hours!) and costs 28€. We spent one day in Nuremberg and used the City Card at least ten times!
By Wendy Werneth of thenomadicvegan.com:
The Porto Card is pretty inexpensive compared with most other city cards in Europe, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good value. In most cases, Porto Card holders are offered a discount rather than free admission at participating attractions. The main advantage is the free access to public transport, but Porto is small enough that you can reach almost all places of interest on foot.
The card comes with a pamphlet that lists all of the participating museums, tour companies and local businesses. This was certainly helpful for me, as I discovered lots of smaller museums in Porto that weren’t listed in my guidebook. However, many of these city-run museums offer free admission to everyone on Saturdays and Sundays anyway. This means that, if you’re visiting on a weekend, the card is unlikely to be worthwhile for you.
By Katy Clarke of untolditaly.com:
The Omnia Pass is a three day city pass that includes skip the line entry to the major attractions in both Rome and the Vatican. Pitched as a complete sightseeing package, the card provides access to the Colosseum , Vatican City museums, a hop on, hop off bus, public transport within Rome, discounted entry at over 30 attractions and a guidebook.
The card has some challenges. Most of the attractions within Rome are within walking distance of each other. If you are staying centrally, you will not need the transport pass. The hop on, hop off bus cannot get very close to the main sights due to the city’s pedestrian zones, so if you thought this inclusion would provide some respite from walking that is not the case.
Lastly, to visit the Colosseum and Galleria Borghese you need to make an additional booking and choose your time slot. You’ll need to pay an additional €2 booking fee per person for the Colosseum. It is also not very clear that you need to do this which could lead to disappointment. If you were to visit most of the attractions covered by the Omni card within 72 hours then you could see some value, but that is nearly impossible.
By Emma Caldwell of emmajaneexplores.com:
The Stockholm Pass was definitely worth the money for the three days I spent in Stockholm. There is a fully digital option for this city card, so if you’re a last-minute traveller like me, then you can keep your pass (QR Code) on your smartphone, ready to whip out at any included attraction.
The Stockholm Pass covers pretty much all the major attractions in Stockholm including the Vasa Museum, Canal Cruises, The Royal Palace, Skansen Open Air Museum and many more. It also includes transport on the hop on/hop off buses and boats which makes it awesome to get around the city. The only big attraction missing from the pass is the ABBA museum. I saved 930 SEK (about $97 USD) by using the Pass for 3 days.
By Chris Backe of Worthy Go (that’s me!)
I wrote a fairly long review on the Tallinn Card recently, but for here, I’ll just say this card rocked. Accepted at dozens of places across the city, virtually every place worth seeing in Tallinn that charges an admission fee is covered. Plenty more places offer discounts, which was nice but wasn’t a major selling point.
We picked ours up at the Tourist Information Center in the heart of Tallinn’s UNESCO Old Town, but there’s plenty of other places and hotels selling them as well. Be sure to look in the provided brochure to find which cafes offer a little something food-wise for free. Don’t bother with the ‘PLUS’ card, though, as all it adds are the touristy hop-on-hop-off buses that come infrequently and are unnecessary in a city with excellent public transportation.
By Katy Clarke of untoldmorsels.com:
If you are visiting Venice you can build your own city pass (called the VeneziaUnica) depending on the length of your stay and interests. You buy a base card to which you can add packages for museums and attractions and the city’s vaporetto (water bus) network.
There is a dizzying array of choices and inclusions in the packages offered which can be quite overwhelming for the first time visitor. The basic package includes skip the line entry to the Palazzo Ducale and museums in Piazza San Marco and is valid for 24 hours.
Think carefully about buying a pass that includes transport because you may find you rarely use the water bus system. You can walk almost everywhere you need to go in Venice and we found we only used one waterbus per day – a €7.50 fare compared with €20 for a day pass.
If you are under 29 you can take advantage of deep discounts offered by the pass and for this age group there is considerably more value than for older visitors.
By Michael at thertwguys.com:
The Vienna Pass is the most expensive Vienna tourist card. Its big advantage is that it offers free admission (not just discounted) to over 60 attractions, with “skip the line” access to many. You can also ride their extensive network of Hop-On-Hop-Off buses.
I bought a 3-day card to test how I could get the best value from the Vienna Pass.My advice for a 5-star experience? Plan. Get the guide, figure out what you want to do anyway and compare the full price of those options to the cost of the card. I saved over 50€ on things I would have paid for. And with even better planning, I could have squeezed a lot more value out of it.
By Megan Starr of absolutearmenia.com:
Armenia is a country where you get a lot of value for your dollar, and Yerevan is no exception. The Yerevan Card can be ordered online or picked up at their office which is located right next to Republic Square. There is even an option to purchase one for around $50 for an entire year.
Since Aram and I both live in Armenia, we have selected this option and it gives us access to several museums, historical sights, and more. We get 10% off of a car rental purchase, 15 free metro rides, and even an airport transfer included in the card. You can use the Yerevan Card for discounts at many restaurants and cafes in Yerevan, too.
With access to over 40 museums, guided tours, transportation, and much more, the Yerevan Card is absolutely worth the money no matter how long you’re planning to stay in Armenia.
Over to you
Have you had a good (or bad) experience with a city card? Comments are open.