Best London Hop On, Hop Off Buses and More

So which London bus tours are the best for you? Once you’ve pounded the pavements with our free walking tours, you might decide you’d like to take one of London’s world-famous double-decker bus tours! A good way to sit back, relax and watch the capital go by, bus tours are suitable for the whole family, can provide commentary in various languages and can often include Best London Bus Touradded extras, like riverboat cruises.

Hop On, Hop Off Bus Tours
Night Bus Tours
Unique Bus Experiences

Do It Yourself London Bus Tours
Day Trips from London
Bus Combo Packages

 

TIP: Many of these London bus tours are included in the London Pass and/or Explorer Pass and the London 2 for 1 program.  We note whether or not a tour is included below. Also, check out discount websites, such as Living Social, to see if they are running any special discount deals on London bus tours.  

 

Hop-On, Hop-Off London Bus Tours

The most popular kind of bus tour here in London is a hop-on, hop-off tour. This means that the buses are continually driving around pre-defined routes in London and visitors can use their ticket to jump on at any stop, and can get off at whichever stop they choose. With your ticket you can ride any route from any stop at any time. Tickets are usually valid for 1 – 2 days for the operating hours of the company you have bought your ticket from. Many routes overlap one another and it is usually possible to ride all routes within a single day.

The best hop-on hop-off tours in London are run by the three following companies – so use our helpful guide to help you decide which is the one that’s best for you!

 

Big Bus Tours

Big Bus Tours considers itself the premiere hop-on, hop-off tour bus company and the reviews appear to agree. Purchase of a multi-day ticket also includes a free river cruise and several free walking tours (though not as good as ours) and a booklet filled with vouchers for various London attractions.  You can also combine a Big Bus ticket with several popular attractions for a combo discount.

TIP: If you are considering a London tourist attraction discount pass, keep in mind that Smart Destination’s Explorer Pass includes the Big Bus 1 Day Tour + Boat Cruise at no additional cost.

 

24 Hour Ticket Prices – get 10% off of listed prices below with promo code BB24TEN

48 Hour Ticket Prices – get 10% off of listed prices below with promo code BB48TEN

  • Adult – £38
  • Child – £17.50
  • Family – £87.50
  • There is a multi-day ticket for a few pounds more that allows you to use your ticket on non-consecutive days.

Purchase of the 48 hour tickets includes a free boat cruise to Greenwich.  Times: 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Tours run every 10-20 minutes.

Night Tour Ticket Prices (Seasonal)

  • Adult – £18
  • Child – £10
  • Family – £46

The night tour departs at 7:30 pm, 8:oo pm, 8:30 pm.

Where to Purchase Tickets: Purchase tickets here or you could get them from Central Departure Points (where staff are positioned throughout the city). These points are at Marble Arch, Green Park, Victoria Station, Baker Street and Trafalgar Square.

Commentary Languages and Type: Live commentary in English. Recorded commentary in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, Arabic, Hindi, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, and English.

Routes:

  • Red Route – “Classic” – London Eye, Covent Garden, Big Ben, Mayfair, London Bridge, etc.
  • Blue Route – As above plus Kensington Gardens, Knightsbridge, Paddington, Notting Hill, Regent Street, etc.

Route Durations:

  • Red Route – 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Blue Route – 3 hours 15 minutes

Included in the London Pass? No.
Included in London 2for1 Offer? Yes.

 

The Original Tour

The Original Tour company is almost identical to Big Bus Tours and their reviews are about equal.  As their name hints, they are the original hop-on, hop-off London sightseeing bus tour.  The biggest differences appear to be that but it is included free in the London Pass. The Original Tour also offers opportunities to combine a bus ticket with tickets to popular attractions to save on both. All Original Tour tickets include a free, 24 hour hop-on, hop-off river cruise with City Cruises.

NOTE: Through March 2017, 24 hour tickets are automatically converted to 48 hour tickets at no additional cost.

 

The Original Tour Photo Shoot-London24 Hour Ticket Price:

  • Adult – £26.00
  • Child – £12.50
  • Family – £75.00 (2 adults & 2 children)

NOTE: Through March 2017, 24 hour tickets are automatically converted to 48 hour tickets at no additional cost.

48 Hour Ticket Price:

  • Adult – £36.00
  • Child – £16.50
  • Family – £90.00 (2 adults & 2 children)

Ticket Duration: 24 or 48 hours.

Times:

  • Yellow Route: 8:30am – 6:00pm. Tours run every 10-15 minutes.
  • Red Route: 8:30am – 4:50om. Tours run every 10-15 minutes.
  • Blue Route: 8:30am – 5:15pm. Tours run every 20 minutes.

Where to Purchase Tickets: Purchase Tickets Here! From the driver at ANY stop.

Commentary Languages and Type:

  • Yellow Route – Live commentary in English.
  • Red Route – Recorded commentary in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Portuguese, Mandarin. PLUS special commentary specifically for children.
  • Blue Route – Recorded commentary in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Portuguese, Mandarin. PLUS special commentary specifically for children.

Routes:the original tour

  • Yellow Route – The Original – National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Ritz Hotel, Bank of England, Tower of London, etc.
  • Red Route – City Sightseeing – Hyde Park, Speakers Corner, Leicester Square, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tower of London, Oxford Street, etc.
  • Blue Route – Museum Tour – Kensington Palace, Harrods, Royal Academy of Arts, British Museum, Royal Albert Hall, Science Museum, etc.

Route Durations:

  • Yellow Route – 2hours 15minutes
  • Red Route – 2hours 15minutes
  • Blue Route – 2hours 15minutes

Extras: Ticket includes FREE river cruise and a booklet filled with vouchers for various London attractions. Also for children, a FREE activity pack. Fast Entry tickets available for London attractions.

 

Golden Toursoriginaltours

Hop-on Hop-off Ticket Price:

  • Adult – £26.00
  • Child – £12.00
  • Family – £64.00

Ticket Duration: 24 or 48 hours.

Times:

  • Blue Route – 8:16am to 5:00pm
  • Red Route – 8:16am to 5:30pm
  • Green Route – 8:16am to 5:00pm
  • Lilac Route – 8:16am to 4:15pm
  • Buses run every 10-20 minutes.

Where to Purchase Tickets: Online or at departure points Green Park, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace.

Commentary Languages and Type: Live commentary in English.  Recorded commentary in German, French, Spanish, Italian Japanese, Russian and Brazilian Portuguese.

Routes:

  • Blue Route – Standard Route plus Belgravia and Kensington – Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Harrods, V&A Museum, etc.
  • Red Route – Standard Route plus the Docklands
  • Green Route – Standard Route
  • Lilac Route – Standard Route plus Soho and Bloomsbury

Route Durations: 1 – 3 hours

Extras: FREE river boat cruise. FREE Royal or Beatles walking tours.


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London by Night Bus Tours

Many of the above mentioned bus tour companies offer night bus tours, like Big Bus Tours. Here is a list of a few more.

 

See London By Night

A double-decker bus tour of London after the sun goes down. The tour route takes visitors through the most famous sites in London, all lit up at might – Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Piccadilly, Trafalgar Square, Harrods…etc!

Ticket Prices:

  • Adult – £15
  • Child – £10
  • Under 5’s – FREE
  • Family – £45.00

Times:

  • 19:30, 20:00, 20:30, 21:15, 21:45, 22:15 in Summer.
  • 19:30 21:20 in Winter.
  • Tours last around 1hour 15minutes.

Location: Tours begin from the Ritz Hotel, Piccadilly.

Commentary Type and Language: Live commentary in English.

 

Ghost Bus Tours

A spooky sightseeing tour that takes place on a black double-decker bus. Commentary is creepy but also amusing and takes guests past some of the most famous icons in the city, exploring the dark and grisly past of this ancient city.

Ticket Prices:

  • Adult – £21.00
  • Child and Concession – £15.00
  • Family – £57.00

Times:

  • 19:30 and 21:00
  • Tour lasts approximately 1hour 15minutes.

Location: Northumberland Avenue, near Trafalgar Square opposite the Sherlock Homes pub.

Commentary Type and Language: Live commentary in English.


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 Unique Bus Tour Experiences

Although we obviously think walking tours are the best way to see London, we know that taking a bus tour can be a fun and easy way to see even more of the city. Although hop-on hop-off open top bus tours are the best way to see the most of London in a short amount of time, there are other bus tours running here to provide different ways to explore the capital! Supernatural, super tasty, or super fun – here are our recommendations of slightly off-beat London bus tours.

 

London Duck Tours

A whirlwind journey through London in a Second World War amphibious vehicles! The tours run through London giving visitors fun facts and stories about the capital before finishing by splashing down into the river Thames for a boat ride – all in the same vehicle!

Ticket Prices:

  • Adult – £24.00
  • Chid – £16.00
  • Family – £70.00

Times:

Tours are approximately 75minutes long.

Location: Tours start from Chicheley Street by the London Eye.

Commentary Type and Language: Live commentary in English.

 

BB’s Bakery Bus Afternoon Tour

Afternoon tea with a twist – or a sightseeing bus tour with a twist…However you look at it, this is one tasty tour! A full afternoon tea served aboard a double-decker bus that travels through Central London, showcasing London’s famous sights as guests indulge in sweet treats and teas.

Ticket Prices:

  • Adult – £45.00
  • Children (5 – 11) – £35.00

Times:

  • 12:30, 15:00 and 17:30 (Last sitting on weekends only)
  • Tours last approximately 1hour 30minutes.

Location: 8 Northumberland Avenue for daytime tours. Belvedere Road near the London Eye for the 17:30 sitting.

Commentary Type and Language: None


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Do It Yourself London Bus Tour

There are budget-friendly ways of sightseeing in London – really!  Free Tours by Foot offers London walking tours for every budget, you name the price.  As many travelers know, there is no better way to explore a city than by walking its many streets.  But of course that can be strenuous, so why not complement our walking tours with self-guided free London bus tours.  Instead of spending lots of money on an organized bus tour, do it yourself and be your own guide.  There are many options, depending from where you start off, and what you want to see.

Check out our selection of free self-guided walking tours as well as our Guide to London on a Budget.

There are many suggestions out there.  London For Free, for example, offers some pretty good suggestions for a self-guided bus Free London Bus Tourstour. 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.  Here is what Free Tours by Foot suggest as a supplement to our walking tours:

Old and New London

Posh London – Piccadilly and Kensington

South Bank London 

TIP:  Many of these London bus tours are included in the London Pass and the London 2 for 1 program.  We note whether or not a tour is included below.  Also, check out discount websites, such as Living Social, to see if they are running any special discount deals on London bus tours.  Also, be sure to check out our post on making your own free London bus tour.

Ride from Tower Bridge via Southwark to Covent Gardens

Take the RV1 bus at the Tower Bridge.  The bus stop is opposite of the tower, when you walk towards the top of Tower Bridge.  Cross the road, so you are standing on the side where traffic is heading towards the bridge.  This bus ride is recommended for either after our All-in-One Tour or our City of London Tour which both end near the Tower of London.  The bus ride will end in Covent Garden Piazza. Here is what you’ll cover on your self-guided bus tour:

Ride from Westminster Abbey via Trafalgar Square to City of London

For those of you, who take our Westminster walking tour, but are unable to do our comprehensive All-in-One walking tour, take the 11 bus from Westminster Abbey (the stop is located on Victoria Street, between Dacre St. and Tothill St.) and get off at St. Pauls.  Here is what you’ll cover on your self-guided bus tour.

The Heritage bus route 15 and 9

Using London Buses is pretty easy. Most buses are driver-only operated, meaning you need to board at the front to show the driver your bus ticket.  Routes 9 and 15, the traditional Routemaster buses, work differently, as you can simply board the bus, sit, and wait for the conductor to check your ticket.  These older models are worth taking a ride if you get the chance.  Route 9 operates between Kensington via Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square.  Route 15 operates between Tower Hill and Trafalgar Square.


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Day Trips from London

There are many worthwhile places to visit just outside of London. for those looking for a quick day-trip. Though the UK has an excellent train system, certain sites such as Stonehenge or Windsor are difficult to access via public transportation. Thankfully, there are many bus companies that do day trips from London.

 


Stonehenge – Perhaps the most popular destination for those looking to escape London for a day, Stonehenge is a must-see for anyone interested in ancient history.

Golden Tours  –The following is that stats for their Stonehenge Direct tour, however they have many other combination tours that include stops in Windsor, Bath, Oxford, etc. Reviews of the Stonehenge and Bath tours are much more positive than the tours of London.

  • Trip includes: transportation, admission to Stonehenge, and an audioguide.
  • Cost: £45 per adult; £42 per child.
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 3.5 stars.

Premium Tours — The following is that stats for their Stonehenge Direct tour, however they have many other combination tours that include stops in Windsor, Bath, Oxford, etc. Reviewers praise the company’s entertaining and informative tour guides.

  • Trip includes: transportation, admission to Stonehenge, and an audioguide.
  • Cost: £47 per adult; £37 per child.
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 4 stars.

Stonehenge Tours – The following is their stats for their Stonehenge Direct tour, however they have many other combination tours that include stops in Windsor, Bath, Oxford, etc. Reviewers praise thei

  • Trip includes: transportation, admission to Stonehenge, and an audioguide.
  • Cost:£45 per adult; £35 per child.
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 3.5 stars

Evan Evans Tours –The following is that stats for their Stonehenge Direct tour, however they have many other combination tours that include stops in Windsor, Bath, Oxford, etc. Guided commentary on historic sites is highly praised. However, some guests complain that the time at each site is insufficient.

  • Trip includes: transportation, admission to Stonehenge, and an audioguide.
  • Cost: £45 per adult; £40 per child.
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 4 stars.

The English Bus – An extremely popular tour operator that runs small bus tours from London to Bath, Stonehenge, and several other sites. More expensive than some of the other tour bus options. However, most guests find that the intimacy and quality of their tours makes it worth it.

  • Trip includes: transportation and a walking tour of Bath. Entrance to Stonehenge is NOT included.
  • Cost: £79.00
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 5 stars.

+ Oxford – A small city that is home to Oxford University, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world.

Viator – If you’re looking for a bit of variety, Viator offers the widest range of combo tours to Oxford and other sites. Reviews are very positive, with many guests commenting on the professionalism of the company.

  • Trip includes: transportation and a walking tour of Oxford, in addition to other stops.
  • Cost: £45 per adult; £40 per child.
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 4 stars.

Evan Evans  — This company doesn’t offer any direct tours to Oxford, but does have a variety of trips that combine Oxford with Cambridge, Windsor, and Stonehenge. Their Oxford tours remain some of their most well-reviewed on offer.

  • Trip includes: transportation and a walking tour of Oxford, in addition to other stops.
  • Cost:Varies according to which combination tour is selected.
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 4 stars.

Golden Tours – Golden Tours runs one direct tour to Oxford that also includes a double-decker bus tour of the area. However, the company specialises in offering combo tours to Oxford, which feature additional stops at places such as Warwick Castle, Stratford, and Stonehenge amongst others.

  • Trip includes: transportation and a walking tour of Oxford, in addition to other stops.
  • Cost: Varies according to which combination tour is selected.
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 3.5 stars.

The English Bus – An extremely popular tour operator that runs small bus tours from London to Bath, Stonehenge, and several other sites. More expensive than some of the other tour bus options. However, most guests find that the intimacy and quality of their tours makes it worth it.

  • Trip includes: transportation and a walking tour of Oxford.
  • Cost: £79.00
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 5 stars.

+ Bath – A small city about an hour from Stonehenge and 20 minutes from Bristol. Bath is well-worth a visit due to its incredible beauty and history.

Viator – Viator offers a wide range of combo tours to Bath and other sites. Reviews are very positive, with many guests commenting on the professionalism of the company.

  • Trip includes: transportation and a walking tour of Oxford, in addition to other stops.
  • Cost: Varies, depending on which other sites are visited. 
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 4 stars.

Evan Evans  — This company doesn’t offer any direct tours to Oxford, but does have a variety of trips that combine Oxford with Cambridge, Windsor, and Stonehenge. Their Oxford tours remain some of their most well-reviewed on offer.

  • Trip includes: transportation and a walking tour of Oxford, in addition to other stops.
  • Cost:Varies according to which combination tour is selected.
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 4 stars.

Golden Tours – Golden Tours runs one direct tour to Oxford that also includes a double-decker bus tour of the area. However, the company specialises in offering combo tours to Oxford, which feature additional stops at places such as Warwick Castle, Stratford, and Stonehenge amongst others.

  • Trip includes: transportation and a walking tour of Oxford, in addition to other stops.
  • Cost: Varies according to which combination tour is selected.
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 3.5 stars.

The English Bus – An extremely popular tour operator that runs small bus tours from London to Bath, Stonehenge, and several other sites. More expensive than some of the other tour bus options. However, most guests find that the intimacy and quality of their tours makes it worth it.

  • Trip includes: transportation and a walking tour of Bath.
  • Cost: £84
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 5 stars.

+ Cambridge – A beautiful  university city just north of London. The area features several historic colleges and churches, and a beautiful river upon which visitors can take a punting tour.

Evan Evans  — This company doesn’t offer any direct tours to Oxford, but does have a variety of trips that combine Oxford with Cambridge, Windsor, and Stonehenge. Their Oxford tours remain some of their most well-reviewed on offer.

  • Trip includes: transportation and a walking tour of Oxford, in addition to other stops.
  • Cost:Varies according to which combination tour is selected.
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 4 stars.

Golden Tours – Golden Tours runs one direct tour to Oxford that also includes a double-decker bus tour of the area. However, the company specialises in offering combo tours to Oxford, which feature additional stops at places such as Warwick Castle, Stratford, and Stonehenge amongst others.

  • Trip includes: transportation and a walking tour of Oxford, in addition to other stops.
  • Cost: Varies according to which combination tour is selected.
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 3.5 stars.

Anderson Tours – This company provides standard transportation services. Guests report that the guided portion of the tour is extremely limited.

  • Trip includes: transportation.=
  • Cost: Adults for £39.00; children for £35.00
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: TripAdvisor Ranking: 4 stars.

+ Windsor – Windsor is home to the beautiful Windsor Castle, one of the homes of the Royal family.

Premium Tours — Reviewers praise the company’s entertaining and informative tour guides.

  • Trip includes: transportation and guided tour.
  • Cost: Varies dependent on which combo tour is selected
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 4 stars.

Golden Tours  –The following is that stats for their Stonehenge Direct tour, however they have many other combination tours that include stops in Windsor, Bath, Oxford, etc. Reviews of the Stonehenge and Bath tours are much more positive than the tours of London.

  • Trip includes: transportation and guided tour.
  • Cost: Varies dependent on which combo tour is selected.
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 3.5 stars.

Evan Evans Tours –The following is that stats for their Stonehenge Direct tour, however they have many other combination tours that include stops in Windsor, Bath, Oxford, etc. Guided commentary on historic sites is highly praised. However, some guests complain that the time at each site is insufficient.

  • Trip includes: transportation and guided tour.
  • Cost: Varies dependent on which combo tour is selected. 
  • TripAdvisor Ranking: 4 stars.

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