City Sightseeing Passes Save Money in US and Abroad

Who’s not interested in multi-attraction tickets and city pass savings for several US cities? Many of these discounted attraction passes cover sights in Canada and the top European cities. They offer contactless payment. The mobile phone apps will really help the kids get excited about what’s coming up on your next family vacation.

Sunset over the Reunion Tower GeO-Deck in Dallas.
The Reunion Tower GeO-Deck stands out against the Dallas skyline at night, making it a popular attraction with CityPASS c. Reunion Tower GeO-Deck; photo by Amber Solis

It’s understandable how digital ticket services have evolved to include great maps and online guidebooks. These apps are now the fastest way to get a shortlist to a destination’s top attractions.

Other Perks of Money-Saving City Passes

Grandparents — let’s face it — all adults love saving money on admissions to museums, zoos, aquariums and observatories. Not only do city pass savings help ticket holders with time-saving advice, they also make terrific gifts for friends and family who are traveling. (Or gift one to relatives or neighbors trying a staycation for the next school break.)

The Edge Observatory at Hudson Yards is one new attraction availble with the New York CityPASS. Photo c. Related-Oxford
Admission to The Edge Observatory at Hudson Yards is one new attraction availble with the New York CityPASS. Photo c. Related-Oxford

Plus, these companies advise you as to which attractions require advance reservation so you won’t get shut out.

Another great perk when traveling with kids? Purchase a “city pass” or multi-attraction ticket to major tourist destinations and your family can zip right in. You won’t have to wait in line or pay a penny more. In fact, by buying passes in advance, you’ll save up to 50% off admission fees. That dollar savings means that half of the sights you enjoy are free.

Additionally, these companies generally provide great maps, online guidebooks and mobile phone apps that will really help the kids get excited about what’s coming up on your next family vacation.

CityPASS, Grandmother of City Pass Savings Programs

The C3 Pass gives visitors to certain cities the city pass savings for three attractions and, like other CityPASSES, it is delivered via mobile phone. Photo c. CityPASS
The C3 Pass gives visitors to certain cities the city pass savings for three attractions and, like other CityPASSES, it is delivered via mobile phone. Photo c. CityPASS

One of the largest companies, now celebrating its 25th year in business, is CityPass. For 2023, passes are available for Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Toronto.

What’s new in several cities is the variety of passes. Families choose to visit 3, 5 or 10 attractions within a 9-day period, for additional flexibility. In Southern California, the former multi-attraction pass has morphed into discounted tickets sold for each of the major themeparks, with Genie access or other perks included where possible. For most cities, a roster of the latest attractions has been added to the collection.

It’s best to purchase your mobile CityPASS prior to departure. If you’re pressed for time, buy them at the first participating attraction. Depending on the city, prices typically reflect a 40-50% savings over single attraction tickets. Adults pay more for passes than children ages 3-12. Passes valid for a longer period of time generally cost more than those which have to be used over a few days.

And, with CityPASS, you won’t have to wait on line to be admitted — just show your pass and walk right in. 

Go City Card Savings

A drawing of city names with a sketch of the most famous landmark in each square to promote Go City attraction passes.
These are just some of the cities around the world where Go City is offering city pass savings direct to your mobile device. Artwork c. Go City.

Go City, another city pass company formerly known as Leisure Pass Group, offers similar savings. Under the name Go City Card, they sell passes for 30 cities covering 1,500 attractions. Most passes cover the major European cities. However, the company’s reach extends from Bangkok to Cancun and south to Sydney. The passes (available for two to seven days) offer free entry to dozens of attractions. Rates depend on the number of days of access plus the selection of attractions (unlimited or a chosen few.)

What’s different is that local experts select the range of attractions, which might include performances, active adventures like zip lining, and tiny private museums. Some city pass savings from Go City also include an add-on transportation option. For unlimited sightseeing on a budget in London, choose their other product, London Pass. Similar products are available with the New York Pass and the Paris Pass — and we think saving money in Paris is a must.

And, as with CityPASS, you don’t need to waste time standing on line. Remember there are two lines. First is the line you encounter to buy one at an attraction if you didn’t purchase it in advance online. The second line to wait on is the one that ticket holders use. As mentioned, Go City passholders get immediate admission.

Anywhere Any Time City Passes

Can’t find a pass here for the place you will be visiting? Wherever you are traveling, check out the destination’s own tourism website to see what is available.

Many cities sponsor their own discounted sightseeing and / or transportation passes, that can save you a bundle on arrival. Trust on this one.

City Pass for a Guided Bus Tour

City Sightseeing Bus drives downtown through New York City's Times Square. Photo c. CitySightseeing.com
City Sightseeing Bus drives downtown through New York City’s Times Square. Photo c. CitySightseeing.com

Guided buses are like all the attractions on wheels! They are a great way for families to move around a new city and provide a useful orientation. They are typically full size vehicles; often doubledecker and some open-top. City Sightseeing is one of the largest of the guided bus tour companies. One of their competitors serving many cities is Big Bus Tours. Buy online in advance of your trip and save up to 20% off on selected bus tours in Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, New York.

Typically, you can hop on or off at any of the stops they make near the top attractions. Families short on time are often content to see the outside of famous monuments and museums. If you have time and a city pass savings app for entry, that’s even better. We like City Sightseeing because they operate in nearly 100 cities around the world. The multilingual recorded narration is easy to understand and informative. Buses are clean and well maintened. The only challenge for summer travelers is that street traffic can wreak havoc on their schedules.

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