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Hop on Hop off Bus Tours in London

If there is one city in the world where riding a red double-decker bus is a must-do, it is undoubtedly London. Get on board and discover with your own eyes the magic of the British capital!

Vicky Del Moral

Vicky Del Moral

9 min read

Hop on Hop off Bus Tours in London

Hop on Hop off | © Jorge Franganillo

In London, one of the first cities in the world to incorporate the sightseeing bus, touring the streets in one of them is a 'must'. You will discover the city and travel between the main tourist attractions comfortably seated.

1. What are the best tourist buses in London?

Visit Big Ben from a Sightseeing Bus | ©Jack Regan
Visit Big Ben from a Sightseeing Bus | ©Jack Regan

As one of the most typical experiences in the British capital, there are many tour bus companies. They all operate the same but differ in route and number of routes, prices, and stops.

  • Big Bus Tour
  • From $ 43
  • 4 routes
  • 56 stops
  • Up to 3 days duration
  • Includes Thames cruise
  • Booking
  • The Original Tour
  • From $ 50
  • 6 routes
  • 77 stops
  • Up to one week duration
  • Includes Thames cruise
  • Book
  • Vintage Tour
  • From $ 48
  • 1 route
  • 5 stops
  • One day duration
  • Includes cruise on the Thames
  • Vintage Red Bus
  • Reserve
  • Golden Tours
  • From $ 86
  • 4 routes
  • 70 stops
  • Same duration as Pass
  • Includes Thames cruise
  • Book

2. Big Bus Tourist Bus

Big Bus London
Big Bus London

Big Bus Tours was one of the first companies to start touring London by tour bus, more than 25 years ago. Then they had only 2 buses, today they have more than 400 lines of tourist buses distributed by the tourist capitals around the world.

With the Big Bus sightseeing bus you can see the city on four routes, with more than 50 free stops. All of them have explanations on board by a professional guide or audio guides in more than 10 languages. In addition, Big Bus offers you the possibility of taking a free guided walking tour and a Thames river cruise from which you will admire several of London's attractions built on the banks of this mighty river.

It is important to note that all Big Bus buses are adapted to any type of traveler, from small children in strollers to people with disabilities and who need to get on in wheelchairs or with assistance animals. All from 43 per person, children up to 4 years free.

Types of tickets for the Big Bus

  • 1-day Classic,
  • 2-day Premium or
  • Deluxe 3-day
  • Red Route
  • 22 stops
  • 63 attractions
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Departures: every 5-10 minutes
  • Starting point: Green Park
  • Schedule: from 8:20 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Tower of London
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Piccadilly Circus
  • Houses of Parliament
  • Blue Route
  • 15 stops
  • 20 attractions
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Departures: every 20 minutes
  • Starting point: Marble Arch
  • Hours: from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
  • Marble Arch
  • Hyde Park Corner
  • Natural History Museum
  • Notting Hill
  • Orange Route
  • 9 stops
  • 30 attractions
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Departures: every 30 minutes
  • Starting point: Baker Street
  • Hours: from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Madame Tussauds
  • National Gallery
  • London Eye
  • SEA LIFE London Aquarium
  • Green Route
  • 10 stops
  • 20 attractions
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Departures: every 20-30 minutes
  • Starting point: Woburn
  • Hours: from 8:40 am to 5:30 pm
  • The British Museum
  • Covent Garden
  • Euston
  • St. Pancras

How it works

You will receive confirmation of your ticket as soon as you make your booking. Your e-ticket will only begin to count towards your usage time from the first time you redeem it. Cancellation of your reservation is possible as long as you cancel at least 24 hours before the start date.

What is included in the Big Bus tour bus?

  • Bus tour with 4 different routes and dozens of free stops
  • Live guide (Red Route)
  • Recorded commentary
  • Complimentary headphones
  • 30-minute Thames River Cruise
  • Walking tour

What is not included on the Big Bus sightseeing bus?

  • Hotel pick-up
  • Food and beverages

3. The Original Tour Tour Bus

The Original Tour Bus
The Original Tour Bus

The Original Tour is the tour bus company in London with more variety of routes, up to 6, and more stops, almost 80, plus it is the best adapted to go with small children as they have activities on board through a book of the children's club and comments and explanations especially designed for them.

The routes of the The Original Tour depend on the geographical area or the theme of the attractions included: from some with the must-see attractions in London to others with stops at the main leisure experiences for the whole family. There is also an early morning tour to see how this great city wakes. Price starts from 50 per person.

Guided Tour of London

The Original Tour also includes a free walking tour of the city, a cruise on the River Thames and some local discounts. Their buses are also fully adapted for baby carriages and people in wheelchairs or who need guide animals.

The Original Tour routes

The Original Tour bus, in addition to the four main routes that we will see in a table below, has another Purple route and a sunrise route.

The Purple route passes through Holland Park, Bayswater, Notting Hill and goes all the way to Hyde Park.

The Dawn route goes through the same area but starting at 8 a.m., so that the early risers can enjoy the first hours of the day in the big city.

  • Original Yellow Route
  • 21 stops
  • 31 attractions
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Departures: every 5-12 minutes
  • Tower of London
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Tower Bridge
  • Tate Modern
  • St. Paul's Cathedral
  • Royal Borough Blue Route
  • 22 stops
  • 8 attractions
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Departures: every 10-20 minutes
  • Harrods
  • Natural History Museum
  • Hyde Park
  • Kensington Gardens
  • Royal Albert Hall
  • British Museum Orange Route
  • 12 stops
  • 6 attractions
  • Duration: 50 minutes
  • Departures: every 20-30 minutes
  • Covent Garden
  • King's Cross Station
  • The British Museum
  • Leicester Square
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Red Shuttle Route
  • 5 stops
  • 4 attractions
  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Departures: every 30-60 minutes
  • Hyde Park
  • Baker Street
  • Marble Arch
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Marylebone

What is included in The Original Tour tour bus?

  • Unlimited hop on and hop off along 6 routes and over 100 stops
  • A cruise on the River Thames** also with the possibility to hop on and off
  • Walking tour
  • Children's club activity book and commentary for children on board. To be collected from the Visitor Centre
  • Live Guided Tour on the Yellow Route (T1)
  • Guided commentary in 11 languages

What is not included in The Original Tour tour bus?

  • Hotel pick-up and drop-off
  • Gratuities
  • Food and beverages

4. Vintage Bus Tour Bus Tour

Buckingham Palace | ©shining.darkness
Buckingham Palace | ©shining.darkness

If you're looking to take the most authentic tour of the city, you can't miss the route of the vintage retro bus Routemaster, the typical one.

In addition to including a free cruise on the River Thames, like the other companies, the Vintage Tour Bus Tour offers you the possibility to combine the ticket with access to the London Eye, the highest observation wheel in Europe, and for the indispensable and historic Tower of London. But it also includes the option to visit Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument declared a World Heritage Site.

However, this bus only has a route through the main attractions of London and is not adapted for people with reduced mobility and wheelchairs. It is, however, accessible with a baby stroller. The full tour lasts three and a half hours.

Attractions you will see on the Vintage Bus Tour

  • Tower of London
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
  • St. Paul's Cathedral
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Houses of Parliament
  • Big Ben
  • Thames River
  • Cleopatra's Needle
  • London Eye
  • Bridge

How does it work?

You will receive confirmation of your ticket as soon as you make your booking and with free cancellation if it is made 24 hours before the start date of the tour. At the time of booking, you will have to select between morning or afternoon departures. Please note that if you want to see the Changing of the Guard at its stop at Buckingham Palace, you must opt for the morning tour.

It is an open-top bus tour, so be aware you might get caught in the rain. On some occasions, the open-top bus can be changed to a closed-top bus.

What is included in the Vintage Bus Tours tour bus?

  • Unlimited hop on and hop off
  • A cruise on the River Thames also with hop on and hop off
  • Possibility to include entrance to the London Eye attraction and/or a visit to Stonehenge
  • Local guide
  • Not adapted for wheelchair users.

What is not included in the Vintage Bus Tours tour bus?

  • Gratuities
  • Food and beverages, unless specified
  • Hotel pick-up and drop-off

Vicky's Traveller Tip

If you are going to spend several days in London and want access to several attractions, in addition to the tourist bus get the London Pass, a tourist pass with which you will save time and money.

5. Golden Tours with the London Pass and other tourist cards

Golden Tours Bus
Golden Tours Bus

If you are going to spend several days in London and want to squeeze the cultural and leisure offerings of the city in addition to having the option to go by tourist bus, I strongly recommend that what you do is to take a tourist card.

These passes allow you to save money, by not having to pay the entrance fee for each of the attractions you visit; and time, by letting you access through their fast queues. I have written a post about London Pass that with more details, but I tell you that the tourist passes that include a day in tourist bus are:

London Pass

Everything you can visit in London in terms of cultural tourism you'll find it in the the London Pass, which gives access to more than 80 attractions and a day in tourist bus. Its price depends on the number of days of use, having a maximum of 10 days of duration that you can customize paying only for the days you are going to use it.

London Explorer Pass

The Explorer Pass is the ideal option to discover the essence of London in a minimum of 4 days and add to your experience the visit to some of its most fun attractions, such as the London Eye, Madame Tussauds or the London Dungeon, among others. This tourist pass can be customized and you pay for the number of attractions you want to visit.

Within this pass, you can choose between two tour bus companies: the one I explained at the beginning of this article, Big Bus Tours and another of the newest companies in the city, with recognizable blue buses, Golden Tours.

Golden Tours has a total of 4 routes, of which two, "Pick Up and Drop Off", are really interesting as they can be taken in the mornings from hotels in the Notting Hill, Bayswater, and Victoria areas to the city center and back in the afternoons. Golden Tours sightseeing buses run over 70 stops and your day ticket offers a cruise on the waters of the Thames and a walking tour in English.

Golden Tours sightseeing bus tour

  • Classic Tour - Red: tour London's main monuments and the museum district.
  • Grand Tour - Orange: passes by the London Eye and Buckingham Palace, as well as many other central London landmarks.
  • Pick Up - Yellow: Operational in the mornings only, this route departs from the popular hotel districts to central London.
  • Drop Off - Green: operational in the afternoons, this route departs from central London to the popular hotel districts.

6. If you are interested in the sightseeing bus you will also be interested in....

If you are one of those who like to move around the city without having to lock yourself underground in the subway, where it is impossible to enjoy the views, I recommend that you value the option of taking a cruise on the Thames, which will allow you to continue discovering the most imposing monuments that London has on the banks of the river while you rest or even enjoy a luxury dinner. I leave you this article where I tell you all about these cruises: Thames River Cruises.

If you are also thinking of visiting some of the most emblematic attractions of the city, my recommendation is definitely the London Eye, for those who prefer to enjoy the views from the air, the London Eye is definitely a great option. You have in this guide about London Eye Tickets all the information you need to organize your visit.

Frequently asked questions

  • Where do Hop-on Hop-off Buses usually stop?

    It depends on the route you choose, but you will likely pass through Big Ben, the Parliament, the West End, Westminster Abbey, The Tower of London, Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, St Paul's Cathedral and London Bridge, among other landmarks.

  • How long is a London Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour?

    Complete routes range from 1 hr 15 min and 2 hr 30 min, with as much as 23 stops across the city.

  • Does the London Pass include Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tours?

    Yes, the London Pass includes a 1 day Hop-on Hop-off bus tour, selecting from 9 different bus routes around London.