The Posh London Bus Tour | Piccadilly and Kensington
Welcome to Piccadilly and Kensington, two of the poshest areas in London! Many of these sites are featured in our Soho, Piccadilly Circus, and Chinatown walking tour. However, if our tour calendar doesn’t work for you or if you would just prefer to explore London by bus on your own time, then here is an excellent tour for you – our Posh London Bus Tour. You could couple this with our self-guided Piccadilly and St. James Walk.
With this self guided tour, you will see many major icons such as Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Palace, and more. Also check out our self-guided bus tours of the South Bank River Route and our Old and New London Route.
To take this free self-guided bus tour, simply go to Trafalgar Square, board at the stop outside the Thai Square Restaurant the Tower Bridge, and take the 9 bus route. The map below indicates each of the tour highlights. The tour takes between 30-60 minutes, depending on traffic in Piccadilly. With a daily bus ticket of less than £5 (make sure you have the exact fare), you can spend all day hopping on and off public buses.
Follow these links for more information regarding our Self Guided Bus Tour of South Bank London River Route or our Self Guided Bus Tour of Old and New London.
Start: Trafalgar Square (The road on the SOUTH side of the street. Board at the stop outside the THAI SQUARE RESTAURANT.)
Finish: High Street Kensington Station
Note: Heritage Routemaster buses run along this line which means you can get on an ORIGINAL double-decker bus, instead of one of the new ones. These buses are not as frequent so you may need to wait a bit longer for one to come along.
Click the image for a lager map or use our movable map
[For sites that you CAN NOT see from the bus, you will need to “hop-off.” For sites that you can see FROM the bus, look for the asterisk: *]
Constructed in 1840, and designed by Sir Charles Barry, Trafalgar Square is a public space in London dominated by the National Gallery on the North (a FREE museum!) and Nelson’s Column in the centre. Named after the Battle of Trafalgar (a British naval Victoria over France and Spain in the Napoleonic Wars), Admiral Lord Nelson was the leader of the British navy, hence is commemoration in the square. Throughout the year Trafalgar Square is a popular place for celebration, protest, parties, events, and it is also home to London’s Christmas Tree in December!
St. James’s Palace*
Built by King Henry VIII in 1530’s for his second wife, Anne Boleyn, St. James’s Palace is the OFFICIAL home of the Queen…although no Monarch has lived here since Queen Victoria moved out in the 1840’s. Minor members of the royal family still call this Palace home, including the Queen’s Daughter, Princess Anne. The small chapel inside the Palace played host to the christening of Baby Prince George of Cambridge in 2013 and is also the burial site for Queen Mary I’s heart and bowels (!!).
In the 15th and 16th centuries, popular fashion dictated the wearing of a ‘ruff.’ Stiff lace that was folded elaborately and worn around the neck, these ruffs were also known as ‘pickadils.’ It was widely considered that the best place to purchase picadils was at a shop run by a man named Robert Baker, in this area of town…hence the name! Today, Piccadilly is a glamourous location for shopping, afternoon teas, or staying in luxury hotels.
The most luxurious of them all, of course, is The Ritz! Founded in 1906, the Ritz was named after its’ founder, hotelier, Cesar Ritz. The hotel holds 111 rooms, 23 suites, and 3 restaurants, and has played host to royalty, celebrities and politicians from all across the globe over the last century. It was here that Prince Charles and his wife Camilla ‘officially’ appeared together in public for the first time and it was also here in 2013 that former Prime Minister, Baroness Margaret Thatcher died.
Originally a burial ground for a near-by leper hospital, today Green Park is 47 acres of public space. Holding no buildings, only memorials, it is said that the ground underneath the Park is a warren of hidden tunnels connecting Buckingham Palace to other royal residences and the government buildings of Whitehall.
Planned by King George IV to commemorate British victories in the Napoleonic Wars, Wellington Arch was originally supposed to be the grand entrance into London – as the area we now know as Knightsbridge and Kensington wasn’t part of London yet but, rather, the countryside! Initially, the Arch had a statue of the Duke of Wellington on top, both to commemorate his victories as well as because of the fact he lived here. Today it is topped with a statue of the Winged Goddess of Victory, Nike, in a chariot with four horses, designed by Adrian Jones.
Traditionally given the address of Number 1, London, Apsley House was the home of the first Duke of Wellington. Today it is the home of his descendant, the 8th Duke of Wellington and his family. It is open for visitors on and off throughout the year.
One of the largest, and easily the busiest, of London’s parks, Hyde Park was first created in 1637. Today it spans 350 acres (which makes it larger than Monaco!) but was originally hunting grounds for King Henry VIII. It is here that tourists come to visit Speaker’s Corner, the Serpentine Gallery, the Serpentine Lido and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.
Albert Memorial & Royal Albert Hall*
Both of these structures were built by Queen Victoria after the death of her husband, Prince Albert, in 1861. The Memorial contains a statue of Albert and stands 176 (54m) tall and was constructed at a cost of £120,000…equal to £10million today! The Royal Albert Hall, holding 5,272 seats, hosts more than 350 events each year including classical concerts, award ceremonies, rock and pop concerts, opera, Cirque de Soleil performances and charity banquets.
Originally commissioned by King William III and Queen Mary II in the late 17th century, Kensington Palace is actually built onto the foundations of a previous Jacobean mansion that stood on this site from 1605. Queen Victoria was born and raised in this house and it was here that she found out she was about to inherit the throne. Princess Diana also called this Palace home after her divorce and the gates here were the scene of national mourning after her death. Happily, today, Kensington Palace is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (“Wills & Kate”), their child(ren – depending on when you read this!), and Prince Harry. The Palace is open for visitors all year ‘round.