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Hop on Hop off Bus Tours in London
One of the most celebrated cities in the world, London is filled with enchanting alleyways, intriguing museums and regal palaces. Its colossal size means it can be difficult to see all of the city's main attractions on foot, which is why many choose to hop on a classic red double-decker in order to cover all sites.
Hop-on hop-off bus tours in London take you on a whirlwind adventure through this buzzing metropolis, from grand arches and lofty towers to luxury shopping districts, and peaceful parks.
What are the best hop-on hop-off London bus tours? What are their prices?
Big Bus London
Big Bus London operates three routes across central London, covering more than 40 stops and enabling visitors to make the most of its plethora of fascinating landmarks.
The red route begins at Green Park and travels to the world-renowned Hard Rock Cafe. You’ll then stop at the Queen Mother Gates, which were constructed to celebrate the royal’s 90th birthday. Continuing on this hop-on hop-off bus in London, you’ll have the opportunity to see the magnificent architecture of Marble Arch or shop till you drop by disembarking at Regent Street or Piccadilly Circus.
The next stop on the route is Trafalgar Square, home to Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery, followed by Craig’s Court. As your bus navigates London’s bustling streets, you’ll pass Horse Guards — the official entrance of both Buckingham Palace and St. James’ Palace — as well as Whitehall, and the London Eye. Next, it’s on to Waterloo, Covent Garden and St. Paul’s Cathedral — where Prince Charles, and Princess Diana wed in 1981.
Continuing on your sightseeing extravaganza, you’ll see London Bridge, as well as the Tower of London, which, because of a local superstition, is home to a collection of ravens, and Temple Underground Station. Other iconic sites along the route include Westminster Pier, as well as Buckingham Palace. You’ll also pass by College Green and Tothill Street as you make your way to your final destination — Victoria Station.
This hop-on hop-off bus in London covers several of the same sites as the red route and begins at Victoria. It journeys first to the Queen Mother Gates, Marble Arch and the Hard Rock Cafe. From there, you’ll continue on to Hyde Park Corner and the most esteemed department store in London — Harrods. See the South Kensington Museum before traveling along Gloucester Road to Kensington Palace and Notting Hill, where a vibrant carnival is held annually.
Jump off to explore the pristine Kensington Gardens, or stay on board to see the Thistle Hotel, Lancaster Gate and Paddington Station. Then, it’s on to Baker Street, before entering the main shopping district where you’ll stop at Oxford Street, Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus. From there, this route follows the same itinerary as the red line, moving between several landmarks, such as Covent Garden and the Tower of London before finishing at Buckingham Palace.
This service begins at Woburn and moves through several stations — Euston, King’s Cross, and St. Pancras — before journeying along Euston Road to the British Museum, which is home to over 8 million artifacts.
Pass by Temple Underground Station on your way to Covent Garden, known for its mouthwatering dining options and a myriad of street performers. Finally, this hop-on hop-off bus in London finishes back at the British Museum.
The blue route begins at 8 AM, while the red route starts at 8:15 AM. They both operate every 10 to 20 minutes and run until 6 PM. The blue route takes just under 3 hours from start to finish, while the red route is shorter, lasting approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can hop on the green link, which runs every 30 to 60 minutes from 8:30 AM to 5:45 PM and lasts an hour.
By purchasing your hop-on hop-off London bus tickets online in advance, you’ll save 10%.
This ticket gives you access to hop-on hop-off bus services for 24 hours. You’ll also be able to take a one-way cruise along the Thames River. Adults cost £40.50 while children between the ages of 5 and 15 benefit from a reduced rate of £31.50. Alternatively, you can purchase a family ticket, which includes passes for two adults and two children, and saves you over £10, costing £128.30.
The “Essential” ticket is valid for 48 hours and is fully flexible. Alongside access to a one-way river cruise, you’ll also be able to take advantage of three free walking tours to some of London’s most renowned landmarks. Adult tickets are £49.50 each, while children cost £40.50. A family pass costs £159.80.
This ticket type is also valid for 48 hours and includes everything mentioned in the “Essential” ticket. However, you’ll also be able to participate in the “London Evening Tour” and see the city under the light of thousands of twinkling lights. The cost for this is £58.50 per adult, £49.50 per child and £191.30 per family.
London Evening Tour
Lastly, passes for the “London Evening Tour” are only suitable for those who wish to have a guided nighttime tour of the city and don’t include hop-on hop-off bus services or river cruises. You’ll pay £31.50 per adult, £22.50 per child and £96.80 for a family pass.
City Sightseeing is one of the most esteemed hop-on hop-off bus companies in the world, covering more than 130 destinations, including London.
The red route begins at Belvedere Road and travels through Aldwych to Lydgate Hill, where you can depart to see St. Paul's Cathedral. From there, it continues on to Queen Victoria Street, London Bridge and Tower Bridge, followed by the Tower of London. You'll then pass Victoria Embankment before stopping at Westminster Bridge to see Big Ben, which dates back to 1852.
Travel along Horseferry Road, stopping outside Buckingham Palace to pay your respects to the king before heading toward Marble Arch via Grosvenor Gardens and the Queen Mother Gates. Pass one of the most historic parts of the city — Haymarket — before journeying along Pall Mall to Westminster Bridge, where the tour ends.
The blue route begins at Marble Arch and travels first to the luxurious neighborhood of Knightsbridge before catching a glimpse of the spectacular Royal Albert Hall. Continue along both Kensington and Gloucester Road to reach the Victoria and Albert Museum, which contains over 5,000 years of history surrounding the arts.
Depart at Harrods for a spot of designer shopping or stay on board to reach the Queen Mother Gates, which combines both English and Scottish heritage. Then, you’ll return to Marble Arch, where you can spend the rest of the day sightseeing.
Green shuttle service
The green shuttle service starts at Belvedere Road and journeys through Aldwych and then Southampton Row. You’ll then pass through Woburn Place, named after Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, heading along Bedford Way to Lancaster Place.
This hop-on hop-off bus in London operates every 10 minutes between 8:30 AM and 4 PM. Then, it runs every 20 minutes until 5.20 PM, when the last bus departs. The red route takes 2.5 hours to complete, while the blue route lasts an hour. The green shuttle service runs every 20 to 30 minutes and runs from 9:15 AM to 4:15 PM.
By purchasing your hop-on hop-off London bus tickets in advance, you can save up to 20%.
The “Iconic” ticket is valid for one calendar day and costs £35 per adult. Children between the ages of 5 and 15 can participate for £22 each, while family tickets that include two adults and two children, cost £92.
You can choose between a 24 or 48-hour option for the “Essential” ticket, which includes a river cruise and access to five walking tours. Adults will pay £40 for a 24-hour ticket, while children cost £25 each and family passes are £105. Alternatively, by opting for a 48-hour pass, adults will pay £49 each whereas children cost £29 and family passes cost £127.
The “Supreme” ticket includes entry to Madame Tussauds, as well as the Marvel Universe 4D experience and costs £78 per adult, and £59 per child.
Lastly, with the “Ultimate” ticket, you’ll gain access to the London Eye, as well as all hop-on hop-off services. This costs £90 per adult and £72 per child.
How do hop-on hop-off bus tours in London work? What is included?
Each hop-on hop-off bus in London offers an audio commentary in an array of languages, which varies between companies, from Mandarin to Russian and Spanish.
Are hop-on hop-off bus tours included in any London passes?
Big Bus London tickets are included if you purchase the London Pass, which gives you access to over 80 attractions and experiences for one all-inclusive price. These last between 1 and 10 days, ranging from £80 to £180 per adult, and £44 to £140 per child.
Begin your day of sightseeing early to make the most out of your hop-on hop-off London bus ticket.
Plan your itinerary ahead of time so that you don't miss out on any attractions you're itching to see.
Hop-on hop-off buses in London operate in all weathers, so be prepared for any eventuality with an umbrella and a sunhat.