Things to Do on Brick Lane

Top 10 Things to Do on Brick Lane

This post covers the top 10 things to do in Brick Lane, a vibrant street in the East End in London. We include information on how to get here, what to do and where to eat.

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HOW TO GET TO BRICK LANE

Brick Lane runs south from Swanfield Street to Whitechapel. It is 3/4 of a mile long (meters). You can start your visit to Brick Lane at either the north end or south end.

 

Where is Brick Lane

 

To the Southern end

To the Northern End

Bus Lines: 

  • 388, 8

TIP: We have more information on navigating the London Underground here.

 


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TOP 10 THINGS DO

Whether you love trying new foods, enjoy seeing street art, like shopping for vintage clothes, and browsing all sorts of shops, Brick Lane is a wonderful way to do these all these things in one place.


1) Have Indian/Bangladeshi Food

Brick Lane is the heart of London’s Bangladeshi community. You’ll notice that many of the street signs along Brick Lane are written in both English and Bengali. 

 

 

Known locally as the “Curry Mile”, Brick Lane is host to dozens of delicious restaurants and street vendors serving up some of the best – and cheapest – south Asian cuisine in the city.


2) Eat a Traditional Jewish Beigel

Founded in 1974, Beigel Bake is a London icon that produces 7,000 beigels every day! It is located at 159 Brick Lane on the northern end of the street.

This bakery focuses on Jewish style beigels which you can order with fillings such as hot salt beef, chopped herring, and cream cheese and salmon (just to name a few!). 

 

 

There’s also something here for those of you with a sweet tooth as this bakery creates mouth-watering pastries and sweets.

They don’t have a website but you can they are open 24 hours, so just pop by when you want.


3) Go on a Food Tour

You may have noticed that our first two items above involve food. The East End of London – and Brick Lane in particular – is a great place to find all kinds of cuisines. 

Our East End Food Food Tour you’ll sample delicious treats while our guide tells you about the foods and the history of Brick Lane as well.

 

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Think fish & chips, samosas, chocolates, and beigels. Savoury, sweet, traditional and modern, there’s something for everyone

Our tour runs twice a week on Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:30. Book online HERE.


4) Visit a Market

For a unique market experience, Brick Lane is the spot of a fabulous street market every Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00, which is popular with visitors and locals alike.
 

 
Street performers, food stalls, handmade crafts, and treasure troves of second-hand goods are all available for browsing and for purchase at one of London’s best market experiences.

Find out more here


5) Go on a Street Art and Grafitti Tour

There’s more to Brick Lane than just eating and shopping. Brick Lane is covered in amazing street art and graffiti and it’s a popular location for people to come and admire it.

There’s plenty to see no matter where you look but if you want to see some hidden gems, and learn about street artists then consider taking a street art tour.

 

 

Our tour runs 6 days a week (every day but Wednesday) and is led by local street artists who are happy to share their expertise with you! 

Our tours depart from the southern end of BrickLane at 83 Whitechapel Street. Book online HERE.


6) Shop for Vintage Clothing 

If vintage clothing is your thing, then check out the Brick Lane Vintage Market.  It is open 7 days a week and features vintage specialists from all across Europe.

Aside from the spacious indoor market, there are also a number of vintage shops on Brick Lane that are definitely worth exploring: Rokit, Beyond Retro, and Atika.


7) Buy Vinyl or Hear some Music

Operating since the 1970s, Rough Trade is an independent chain of record shops based here in London and they have a location in Brick Lane.

 

 

With exclusive releases and routine visits by musicians from all across the world, Rough Trade is a music lovers paradise and a great place to pick up a treat to take back home.

Open daily, Rough Trade East isn’t just a place to buy music. There are performances and events held quite often. Check their website for what is scheduled.


8) Explore the Old Truman Brewery

Previously a London brewery, the Old Truman Brewery is now a cultural hub of London’s East End. 

An arts and media centre, it’s home to dozens of creative businesses. Think shops, galleries, markets, restaurants, and bars.

With live performances, events, and exhibitions all year ‘round, the Old Truman Brewery is a must-see for anybody wanting to get the feeling for the “real” Brick Lane.

See what’s on during your visit HERE.


9) Grab a Good Book

For literary lovers, there is something for you on Brick Lane as well!

The Brick Lane Bookshop at 166 Brick Lane is an independent bookstore that has been operating here for over 30 years.

With dozens of categories of literature in stock, there is bound to be something to pique your interest – and a purchase here helps to support the local owners and staff!


10) Taste Incredible Chocolates

Dark Sugars isn’t just a chocolate shop, it’s an experience! Here you can get your fill of handmade chocolates, truffles and numerous tasty treats – many of which are vegan-friendly.

The friendly staff is always on hand to guide you through the dozens of chocolates on offer and there are usually plenty of samples to be had. 

 

 

In the wintertime, their incredible hot chocolate cannot be beaten and looks like the kind of creation made in another world! 

In the summertime, unique and delicious ice creams are on offer to satisfy your sweet tooth and keep you cool!

 


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How to Use the London Underground

How to Use the London Underground

This post is a quick and easy tutorial on how to navigate the London Underground (a.k.a. the Tube), including hours of operation as well as info on tickets, transfers, and other helpful tips.

 

 


LONDON UNDERGROUND TICKETS AND OYSTER CARDS

Buying a ticket for the London Underground is pretty straightforward, but for most visitors, getting an Oyster Card is the way to go.

So, for a more in-depth explanation, check out our previous post about ticket prices and options here in London. Below is our summary.

There are 4 ways to pay for your rides on the Tube.

  • Paper tickets 
  • Visitor Oyster Card
  • Travelcard
  • Contactless Credit Cards

 

 

We normally recommend avoiding paper tickets and recommend that you buy yourself an Oyster Card.

You can wait until you arrive in London, however, you can order it in advance (called a Visitor Oyster Card), have it mailed to your home, and it comes with some additional discounts of interest to tourists.

Rides with an Oyster Card are much cheaper than paper tickets.

You can add as much money to these as you wish and there is a daily limit that you will spend, so the rides get cheaper the more you use them.

 

Regular Oyster Card

 

You can use the Oyster Card the next time you come back to London or you can get up to £10 plus the £5 deposit back when you leave London (except for Gatwick Airport where you only can retrieve the deposit). 

Travelcards, particularly the 7-day Travelcard, also have benefits for the traveler.

Read our post on which London Oyster Card or Travelcard to buy


London Underground Fares

While there are 6 travel zones for the London Underground, most visitors to London will travel largely within Zones 1 + 2.

How much you pay depends on when you travel, whether during peak hours (06:30 – 09:30 and 16:00 – 19:00 Mon-Fri) vs. off-peak (all other times), where you travel to and from, and whether you are using a paper ticket vs. an Oyster, Travelcard, or contact credit card.

 

Zones Traveled Single Ticket Adult Single Ticket Child (11-15) Oyster and Contactless Cards (Peak) Oyster and Contactless Cards (Off-Peak)
1 £4.90 £2.40 £2.40 £2.40
1-2 £4.90 £2.40 £2.90 £2.40
1-3 £4.90 £2.40 £3.30 £2.80
1-4 £5.90 £2.90 £3.90 £2.80
1-5 £5.90 £2.90 £4.70 £2.80
1-6 £6.00 £3.00 £5.10 £3.10

 

If you have one of the latter, then you will pay somewhere between £2.40 and £2.90 per ride within Zones 1 + 2. The most expensive ride (Central London to Heathrow) will cost either £3.10 (off-peak) or £5.10 (peak).

Oyster and Travelcards can be used on all of London’s public transportation options, including buses, DLR, the Overground, suburban trains (within London), a water taxi, and even a gondola. 

Daily Limits

If you use an Oyster Card or a Contactless Card, then there are daily limits to what you will spend. These caps are dependent on where you are traveling within.

So, for example, if you stay within Zones 1 and 2, the cap for an adult is just £6.80 for the Underground and £4.50 for buses. So, the more you ride, the cheaper each ride is. 

Child Discounts

Children under 11 travel for free and there is a 50% discount on Oyster Card fares for children 11-15 years of age.

To receive this discount, you need to grab a Tube staff member at any Underground station, including Heathrow.

We help you determine which type of card or ticket you need in our in-depth post on Oyster Cards.

 


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UNDERSTANDING THE TUBE MAP

Picking up a Tube map is easy! They are available for free at most stations on the Underground network. The maps on offer at the stations are small – perfect for carrying around in your pocket. 

Below is a map of the London Underground. You could also download a PDF version.

 

Map of the London Underground

 

Don’t be embarrassed to consult your map as you travel through London, even Londoners themselves occasionally need to check where it is they are heading to!

Some people will actually have an app on their phone sporting the London Underground tube map – though we think Google Maps App is very good. 

Zones

If you look closely at the map, you will notice that the center part is shaded white (zone 1) with a ring of gray shade (zone 2) which is also surrounded by white again (zone 3).

Again, most visitors to London will spend much, if not all, of their time in Zones 1-2. 


Focus on Colours

Every line on the London Underground has a different name and colour. The names and colours will appear on your Tube Map, and also all over the various stations on the network.

For some, memorising the names is easier, but in general, colours can be the simplest way to learn your way around, and also to use when asking for/receiving directions.

 

Colours-of-the-Tube-Lines

Generally speaking, any particular line will either head north-south or east-west.

FREE TOURS BY FOOT TIP:

Start your holiday in London with our All-in-One London Tour, which takes in most of London’s legendary tourist sites and utilizes the London Underground.  Get a tutorial directly from us.

 


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OPERATING HOURS AND THE NIGHT TUBE

It’s important to remember that the London Underground system doesn’t run 24 hours a day every day and that timings may be different on weekdays vs. weekends.

 

How to Use the London Underground

 

General Hours

Although each station has different timings, in general, the first tube trains start running around 5:00 am – 5:15 am and finish around 12:00 am – 12:30 am from Mondays through Fridays.

On Sundays, the Tube begins a bit later, around 6:00 am – 6:15 am and the final trains depart around 11:30 pm – 12:30 am.

Sundays also carry a reduced service which means there are not as many trains running as on Mondays to Saturdays.

Rush Hours

Weekdays: 7:00 am – 9:30 am and 16:00 (4pm) – 19:00 (7 pm).

Like any major city, London has a very busy rush hour in the mornings and in the evenings when the majority of people are travelling to and from work.

If possible, try to avoid travelling on the tube during these times, particularly if you have any large baggage/luggage with you as space is an absolute premium which means you may have to wait as multiple trains pass you, until there’s one with enough space to fit you in.

If you need a place to store luggage, read our advice here.


The Night Tube

As of 2019, some London Underground lines are now operating as The Night Tube, a 24-hour Underground service which operates on Fridays and Saturdays.

Really, this service should be called the “Overnight Tube” as the regular operating hours reach midnight every day of the week.

Click here for a downloadable pdf.

London Night Tube Map

 

There are 5 lines making up the Night Tube and there are fewer trains operating, which means wait times are more than the standard 2 – 5 minutes. The lines and approximate timings are:

  • Victoria Line – Trains every 10 minutes
  • Jubilee Line – Trains every 10 minutes
  • Piccadilly Line (Cockfosters to Heathrow Terminal 5 ONLY) – Trains every 10 minutes
  • Northern Line (Camden Town to Morden) – Trains every 8 minutes
  • Northern Line (Camden Town to High Barnet) – Trains every 15 minutes (No Night Tube on the Bank and Mill Hill East Branches)
  • Central Line (White City to Leytonstone) – Trains every 10 minutes
  • Central Line (Leytonstone to Loughton/Hainault) – Trains every 20 minutes
  • Central Line (Ealing Broadway to White City) – Trains every 20 minutes (No Night Tube on other branches of the line)

NOTE: The Night Tube operates with standard fare prices. Your daily travel card will be valid until 4:29 am the morning after you have purchased it.

 


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TIPS ON NAVIGATING THE UNDERGROUND

Now that you know how to pay and how to use the Underground map, we now will provide you with our top 7 tips for navigating your way through the system, from how to enter a system, how to board the correct train, how to change lines, and when to walk instead of taking the Tube.


Underground Tutorial Tours

Let us, Free Tours by Foot, show you how to utilize the London Underground to get around the city – like our London in a Day or our  Harry Potter Tour.

Free London Tours

While these are not specifically Underground tours, your tour guide will assist you in learning how to master the system and to offer you some tips and tricks for riding the Tube.


1) Entering and Exiting Stations

All Underground stations have ticket barriers – large grey machines where travellers either insert their paper travel cards into or tap their Oyster cards on top of.

At first glance, most barriers all seem the same but they are actually divided into three different purposes; Enter, Do Not Enter, Bags/Buggies.

 

London Underground Turnstiles

 

Some of the barriers will have a green arrow displayed – this means this is a barrier that you can travel through. Insert your paper ticket, or tap your Oystercard on the yellow pad right next to the sign displaying the green arrow.

The barriers in front of you (just left from the arrow) will open and allow you to walk through.

Other barriers will have a red X displayed – this means this barrier will not open for you and is either closed or being used for visitors traveling in the opposite direction.

Lastly, some barriers are quite large, with signs displaying buggies, luggage, and wheelchairs. These barriers are much larger than the regular grey ones and are there for people travelling with added items/persons.

They will not close as quickly as the others, giving travellers time to get themselves and all possessions through to the other side. 

Read our post on taking the Tube from Heathrow Airport to Central London.


2) Find Your Correct Direction

IWillsdenGreenSignn general, the Underground lines operate going north-south or east-west and vice versa.

Checking on your map will help you determine which direction you are travelling in, which will help you find the correct platform and train for your journey.

At every station, there will be maps like these showing the two directions that the trains will be travelling in, and under each direction will be a list of all the stations the train will stop at – in order!

This makes it easy not only to see which platform you need to be on but also how many stops it will take you to get to your destination. 


3) Don’t Board the Wrong Train

Sometimes, multiple Underground lines share the same track at a station. If you aren’t paying attention, you could board the wrong train.

As the trains pull into the platform, you can take a glance at the front of the train. Here will be displayed the final destination of that particular train.

 

London Underground Signs

 

Also, on every platform there will be an electronic sign displaying the time until the next train arrives, and which station will be its’ final stop.


4) Lines that Split

Another potential mixup is lines that split. Some lines can have 2 or 3 different ending tracks, so you need to be aware of this. Take the image below as an example.

 

Split Lines London Underground

 

For example, suppose you plan on boarding a District Line (green) train at South Kensington Station (the black square) with a final destination Wimbledon (the bottom-most black arrow).

You would be taking a westbound train. 

However, you can see from the map that there are two additional tracks with different ending points (Richmond and Ealing Broadway), all a part of the District Line heading westbound. As you probably can tell, you could end up missing the first tennis match.


5) Changing Lines

The Tube map can often be misleading in that many tube lines crisscross over each other on the map, but do not actually connect to one another in reality.

 

Changing Trains London Underground

 

If you want to know where you can change from one Tube line to the other, you need to look for the white circle on the line on your map.

Any time you see one of these, it means you can change from one line to another or to British Rail.

Check out our tips on using the Underground with luggage and kids


6) Sometimes You Should Just Walk

The London Underground Map is definitely NOT geographically accurate. Oftentimes it is easier to walk instead of getting on the tube to travel just a stop or two.

There is a map that gives the walking times between stations (pdf).

 

Map of Walking Distances between London Underground Stations

 

A good example of this is Leicester Square and Covent Garden on the Piccadilly Line. On the map, they appear a fair distance apart, but in reality, it would take you just 4 minutes to walk the journey yourself.

Another good example is Charing Cross and Embankment – it’s just a 2-minute walk from each station! 


7) Step-Free (Handicap) Access

For those with limited mobility, there are clues on the Underground map that will let you know if there is step-free access. This is also useful if you are travelling with exceptionally heavy suitcases.

 

London Underground Step-free Handicap Accessibility

 

Simply look at the map, and on some stations, you will see a blue circle with a white figure in a wheelchair. This means it is possible to get from the street into the train without any stairs or escalators. 

 

Handicap Symbols London Underground

 

The white circle and a blue figure in a wheelchair denote stations with step-free access from the street to the platform.

At these stations, you will need assistance to get into and out of the train, either with a ramp or the help of fellow passengers. 

Note that in larger stations, such as Waterloo, the blue circle appears on one line only, which means the other two lines do not have step-free access. Transport for London has this helpful video.

A final note – Although London is generally a safe and welcoming city for visitors, pickpockets and thieves operate throughout the entire London Underground network.

Please be aware of your surroundings, keep hold of all of your possessions, and avoid the habit of simply putting your ticket/credit cards/keys/mobile phones into your pockets – this will make you an incredibly easy target!

Also, never leave your belongings unattended on a train or in an Underground Station.

 


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TUBE ETTIQUITE

To avoid a faux pas and keep from being marked out as a typical tourist, here are a few tips for Tube etiquette when travelling along the Tube.

1. Have Your Ticket Ready

Do not approach the ticket barriers until you have your Oystercard – or paper ticket – ready.

If you walk to the barrier and then fumble through your pockets/bags for your ticket, it will delay other travellers and oftentimes can mess with the barrier censors, potentially causing the barriers to lock.

[Remember you need a ticket both to BEGIN/ENTER and also to FINISH/LEAVE your journey!]  Be sure to read our blog post on the Oystercard and Travel Card.


2. Stand on the Right

When riding escalators up and down in Underground Stations, please remember to stand on the RIGHT. Travellers who wish to move up/down whilst on the escalators will be doing so on the left-hand side.

If you stand on the left you may find yourself politely asked to move to the right, or simply shoved past by a multitude of commuters.

This also includes your belongings/suitcases – they must be on the right of the escalators as well. It is poor form and bad manners to take up the left side of the escalator with your belongings.


3. Stand Behind the Yellow Line

Please Stand Behind the Yellow LineOn every Tube platform, you will find a yellow line painted along the edge. This line marks the boundary between where it is safe to stand, and where it is dangerous.

Stand BEHIND the line (not on top of!) in order to limit any risk of death or injury.

You may occasionally see passengers swiftly walking down the platform directly on top of the yellow line – but do not follow their lead!

4. Move Down the Platform

As soon as you get onto the platform, move either right or left. You will find many people gathered at the entrance to the platform, meaning people cannot get past them and move onto the platform to get their train.

TIP: Besides just being courteous, the rear and front of the trains tend to be less crowded so moving down the platform means you’re more likely to get a seat!

5. Let Other Passengers Off First

Move Down CarriageAs soon as the Tube doors open, step to either side of the opening doors and let customers off the train before you attempt to board. Failure to follow this rule may lead to verbal chastisement.

6. Move Down Inside the Carriage

Once you are inside the Tube – move away from the door! Standing in place will impede others who are trying to board.

Also (especially during peak times) it is important to move as far down into the carriage as possible in order for the maximum amount of people to fit onto the train.

You will see Londoners standing in between the benches on busy Tube carriages, and you should follow their lead.

7. Keep Feet and Bags Off the Seats

Particularly on crowded trains, it is unacceptable to take up an entire seat solely for your possessions – or your feet!

8. Do Not Lean on the Poles

The poles that are placed throughout the Underground train carriages are meant for people to hold on to.

Leaning against one of the poles means blocking the pole for those that may need it to hold balance whilst the train is moving.

9. Mind Your Earphones and Your Meals

The music you are listening to should not be loud enough for anybody else on the Tube to hear. Also, it is best to avoid eating hot/smelly food on the Underground.

10. Get Out of the Way of Those Getting Off the Train

When you are on the Tube and at a stop that is not yours, make sure you are not in the way of those who are trying to exit the train.

Occasionally, you may need to step outside of the train to let passengers off if the carriage is very crowded – this is expected behaviour, and you will be able to step right back on once the departing have left.

11. Stand Up for the Elderly and Pregnant

BabyOnBoardThis is one even some Underground regulars need reminding of! It’s just good manners in the UK to offer up your seat to the elderly, pregnant, or those who are less able to stand.

Be aware of who comes on the Tube at each stop and do not be afraid to offer your seat.

Occasionally you may see women with a small ‘Baby on Board’ badge with the London Underground logo pinned onto their coats.

Some men even take it upon themselves to stand up for any woman who comes onto the train so chivalry is not completely dead in London!

12. Take Your Rubbish Home With You

Rubbish left behind on the Tube is unsightly and can be quite disgusting.

There are no bins on Underground trains or at most Underground Stations which means it is expected that you will take any rubbish of yours off the train and home/back to your hotel with you when you leave.

On the London Underground, a little bit of courtesy and kindness can go a long way.

Commuting and travelling in the city can be quite stressful so try to remain courteous to others as you go about their business, and hopefully, they will do the same as you go about yours!
 


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HOP-ON-HOP-OFF BUS VS. LONDON UNDERGROUND

If you’re visiting London and aren’t sure about riding the London Underground, then we hope our tips above have made you more confident and willing to use the tube to get around town.

However, we understand that some people may still be a little anxious or unsure about the benefits of taking the tube, as opposed to riding one of London’s hop-on-hop-off tour buses.

To help you make up your mind, we’ve listed a few pros and cons of each below.

London Bus Tour Comparison

Hop-on-hop-off buses can be useful in getting an overview of the city or learning your way around town. They are also quite useful for people who aren’t physically fit enough to walk through London day in and day out.

However, whenever possible, we strongly believe that the best – and quickest – way to get around town is by taking the London Underground or to walk.

[Note that if you wish to take a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, we have a handy page HERE to help you choose which one to ride]

Pros of a Bus Tour

  • easy to understand routes
  • convenient stops at the most popular tourist attractions
  • climate controlled all year (on the inside)
  • tickets often include night tours, boat cruises or free attractions.
  • commentary along the routes

Cons of a Bus Tour

  • more expensive than riding the subway
  • routes are only one-direction
  • wait times can be very long due to seasonal or even daily traffic
  • buses can be crowded
  • bad weather is always a risk

Pros of Riding the Underground

  • (relatively) inexpensive
  • flexible routing
  • very warm in the winter
  • you get to travel like a real Londoner
  • Almost always faster than a bus

Cons of Riding the Underground

  • not all stations are accessible for wheelchairs and strollers
  • can be really hot and sweaty in summer
  • can be really crowded during rush hours
  • no commentary

Related Content

 

London Hop On Hop Off Buses

Hop-On-Hop-Off London Bus Tours

This post will provide details about each of the hop-on-hop-off bus tours available in London. We will also include information about any discounts or deals available on tickets.

 

 


PROS AND CONS OF HOP-ON-HOP-OFF TOURS

If you’re looking for a great way to see all the major sites in London, a hop-on-hop-off bus tour can be a great option.

That said, there are a few things you may want to consider before purchasing tickets.


PROS

Here are a few reasons you may want to think about taking a hop-on-hop-off bus tour in London.

Live and Recorded Commentary

These bus tours typically include both live and recorded commentary about the most historic and notable landmarks in the city, and the audio tour is often offered in at least 5-10 different languages.

 

Which Are the Best London Bus Tours

 

Jump Off and Explore

In addition to the tour itself, you’ll also have the opportunity to jump off at any stop you want and take a closer look for yourself. Once you’re done looking around, just hop back on and resume your guided trip!

Great Overview of the City

This is a great way for visitors to become more familiar with the city and where everything is located. Each hop-on-hop-off bus tour includes a map which can make it even easier to find your way around town.

Additional Services

Depending on which type of ticket you purchase, you could also enjoy free walking tours, cruises, night tours and other things to do. This is a great way to save money on activities you may already be considering.

Reasonable Prices

Considering that you’ll receive transportation, a tour, live and recorded commentary, a map, and even additional activities, the ticket prices are pretty reasonable at an average price of £35-£50 per person.

TIP: We have a section on discounts and deals below so you don’t have to pay full price!


CONS

Although a hop-on-hop-off bus tour can be very useful for most travelers, there are some reasons that you may want to consider another service.

 

Best London Bus Tour

 

Simplistic Commentary

It’s nice that these tours typically include both live and recorded commentary about the city, but they don’t usually go into a lot of detail about all of the landmarks and historic locations you will see.

If you want more in-depth commentary, consider a different type of London bus tour instead.

Not Very Efficient

Whether you don’t have a lot of time in London or you just want to save some time, a hop-on-hop-off bus tour isn’t very efficient. This service is more about taking your time and exploring each location of interest.

Visitors who want a quicker, more efficient experience should consider a different kind of London bus tour.

No Assigned Seat

While you can get an assigned seat on other bus tours and assure that you’ll always have a place to sit, there is no such guarantee on these hop-on-hop-off bus tours. All seats are first-come, first-served.

If you want to make sure you’ve got a good seat with great views of the city, another type of London bus tour will probably suit you better.

 


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LONDON HOP-ON-HOP-OFF BUS TOURS

This section will cover each of the 3 main London bus tour companies that allow you to jump off and explore each stop at your leisure.

We will provide details about ticket types, hours, prices, and other important factors.


Big Bus Tours

Big Bus Tours considers itself the premiere hop-on-hop-off tour bus company and the reviews appear to agree.

 

 

The purchase of a multi-day ticket also includes a free river cruise and several free walking tours (though not as good as ours), which are Royal London, Harry Potter, and a ghost tour as well as 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.

Ticket Prices

Classic Ticket (24 Hours)

NOTE: Included for free with boat cruise with the London Explorer Pass and the London Pass.

Premium Ticket (48 Hours)

Deluxe Ticket (72 Hours)

  • Adult – £45.00
  • Child – £36
  • Family – £140
  • Includes a free cruise along the Thames.
  • Includes the night tour for free.
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

TIP: There is a multi-day ticket for a few pounds more that allows you to use your ticket on non-consecutive days.

Times: 8:10 am – 7:00 pm. Tours run every 10-20 minutes. Big Bus also offers a night tour.

Where to Purchase Tickets

Purchase tickets here. Tickets are cheaper when purchased online in advance.

Or you could get them from Central Departure Points. These points are at Marble Arch, Green Park, Victoria Station, Baker Street, and Trafalgar Square. Onsite tickets are a bit more expensive.

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 (2 hrs 30 min):

The best of London from Green Park to Victoria Station. Includes Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Big Ben, Mayfair, London Bridge, and much more.

 

Click on the map for a larger view
Big Bus London Map

 

Blue Route (1 hrs 15 min):

As above, plus Kensington Gardens, Knightsbridge, Paddington, Notting Hill, Regents Park, and more.

Green Route (1 hr 15 min):

Temple Church, The Mall, St James’s Park, British Museum, Churchill Museum, Downing Street, National Portrait Gallery and much more.

Reviews of Big Bus Tours London

With a 4 out of 5-star rating on TripAdvisor, Big Bus Tours has clearly received quite a few respectable reviews from their customers.

Most passengers felt like this was a great way to learn about London and see many significant landmarks.

Unhappy reviews tend to increase during the early summer season as buses becoming more crowded, so be sure to temper your expectations.

 


The Original London Sightseeing Tour

The Original London Sightseeing 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 Original Tour also offers opportunities to combine a bus ticket with tickets to popular attractions to save on both. 

Extras: 24-hours, 48-hours, and 72-hours tickets include a free river cruise, 3 free walking tours, and a booklet filled with vouchers for various London attractions (not for The Original Tour).

Also for children, a free activity pack is included.

The 3 free walking tours are: Changing of the Guard, Rock N Roll London, and Jack the Ripper. 


Ticket Prices

City Sampler Ticket Price (no online discount)

  • Adult – £27.00
  • Child – £13.50
  • Family – £67.50
  • Concession – £22.50

24 Hour Ticket Price

  • Adult – £32.50 
  • Child – £15.25 
  • Family – £80.00 
  • Concession – £29.00 

TIP: The 24-hour ticket is included for free with the purchase of the London City Pass, a tourist attraction discount card.

48 Hour Ticket Price

  • Adult – £42.50
  • Child – £20.00
  • Family – £104.00 
  • Concession – £38.00

72 Hour Ticket Price

  • Adult – £52.50
  • Child – £24.50
  • Family – £129.00 
  • Concession – £38.00

Purchase tickets or learn more.

Times: 8 am – 8 pm. Tours run every 5-20 minutes.


Routes

Yellow Route  – The Original Tour (T1 and T2)

  • Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral, London Eye, The Shard, Tower Bridge and Leicester Square.National Gallery, and more.
  • T1 – Live commentary in English.  T2 – Recorded commentary in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Portuguese, Mandarin. PLUS special commentary specifically for children.
  • First bus: 8:30 am. Frequency: every 5-20 mins.

 

Original Tour Map

 

Blue Route – The Royal Borough Route (T4)

  • Harrods, Victoria & Albert Museum, Science Museum, Natural History Museum and the Design Museum and more. 
  • Multilingual commentary.
  • First bus:  8:00 am. Frequency: Every 15-20 mins.

Orange Route  – The British Museum Tour  (T5)

  • British Museum, British Library, Chinatown, Shaftesbury Avenue, and more.
  • Multilingual commentary.
  • First bus: 8:35 am. Frequency: Every 20-30 mins.

Shuttles Connecting to Main Routes

Red Shuttle

  • Hyde Park, Marble Arch, and Regents Park. 
  • Multilingual commentary.
  • First Bus: 9 am. Frequency: 30 – 60 mins.

Purple Shuttle

  • Helps you connect with the Yellow Route at Marble Arch.
  • Multilingual commentary.
  • First bus: 9:30 am. Frequency: Every 30-60 mins. 

See the timetable for all routes here.

Reviews of Original London Sightseeing Tour

Much like their competition, The Original London Sightseeing Tour has received a 4 out of 5-star rating on TripAdvisor.

Reviews for their hop-on-hop-off bus tours are mostly positive, but they have had some unhappy customers from time to time.

Some guests complained that they didn’t learn a lot and the trip took too long, but many others were pleasantly surprised by everything they experienced.

Several visitors were very impressed by their drivers and the additional walking tours that they offer for free.

 


Golden Tours

Although this service is worth mentioning, it’s important to note that Golden Tours has only been given a 3 ½ out of 5-star rating on TripAdvisor, but 4 out of 5 stars on Get Your Guide (see the reviews).

Reviews for their hop-on-hop-off bus tour are very mixed, and several customers have come to the conclusion that the service was not very good.

 

 

Some guests complained about their bus driver while others were displeased with how infrequently the buses ran.

Those who enjoyed their trip felt that it was a great value which made it a lot easier to explore London. 

24-Hour Hop-on-Hop-off Ticket Price

  • Adult – £34
  • Child – £16
  • Family – £90
  • Includes boat ride & walking tour.

72-Hour Hop-on-Hop-off Ticket Price

  • Adult – £49
  • Child – £23
  • Family – £134

Purchase tickets or learn more.

NOTE: The 24-hour ticket is included for free with the London Explorer Pass and the London Pass.

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

Route Duration: 1 – 3 hours

Extras: FREE riverboat cruise. FREE Royal or Beatles walking tours.

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

Times

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

 


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LONDON NIGHT BUS TOURS

Many of the above-mentioned bus tour companies offer night bus tours, and we will detail those services below.

Most of these are not hop-on-hop-off tours, but they do take place in the same open-top double-decker buses that are used during the day.

 

 

Be sure to also check out our post on night tours of London for walking, bike, boat, and Segway tours.

There is also a Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes night bus tour.


The Original London Night Tour

This company offers its yellow route as a night tour, and it includes a variety of popular landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London and more.

Unlike other companies, this is essentially just an extension of their hop-on-hop-off bus tour during the day, but the night bus tickets are only valid after 6:30 pm. Think of it as a discount ticket for the end of the day.

That said, this night bus tour does not include any of the additional activities that you can get with other services provided by the Original London Sightseeing Tour.

Regardless, being able to hop on and off at your own leisure will make this a much better option for anyone who wants to get some good pictures after the sun goes down.

Ticket Prices

Times

  • Last full tour starts at 9 pm
  • Tickets become valid at 6:30 pm
  • Tour lasts for up to 2 ½ hours

In addition to offering the opportunity to jump off and explore at your leisure, this is also the most affordable night bus tour in London and it’s available year-round!

 


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, including the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Piccadilly, Trafalgar Square, Harrods and more!

 

 

This company has received an overall 4 out of 5 star rating on TripAdvisor and a 4.7 out of 5 star rating on Get Your Guide (see the reviews).

An overwhelming majority of reviewers were very pleased with their service, some going so far as to say that this was an excellent experience.

Although they have been given a few negative reviews, none of them indicate any serious issues with the tour bus.

Ticket Prices

Times

  • 19:30, 20:00, 20:30, 21:15, 21:45, 22:15 in Summer (Apr-Sept).
  • 19:30, 21:20 in Winter (Oct-Mar)
  • Tours last around 1 hr 15 min.

Location: Tours begin from Green Park next to the Ritz Hotel, Piccadilly.

Commentary Type and Language: Live commentary in English.

 


Big Bus Tours

This night tour will take you past notable and historic sites such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye after the sun sets.

The tour is offered three times per night and you can start the tour at one of three different stops. Hotel return service is provided at the end of your outing.

Pre-recorded commentary is available in 12 languages, as it is on their hop-on-hop-off bus tours.

Ticket Prices

Times

  • From the London Eye: 7:30 pm, 8 pm, 8:30 pm
  • From Victoria: 7:45 pm, 8:15 pm, 8:45 pm
  • From the Marble Arch: 8 pm, 8:30 pm, 9 pm

This night bus tour is only available for a limited time from April – September. That said, you can purchase tickets ahead of time and use them on any day within 6 months of purchase.

 


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DISCOUNTS AND DEALS

The following section will cover all of the different ways you can save money on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.

We include information about tourist passes, combo packages and more.


Tourist Attraction Passes

Most of the tourist attraction discount passes available to you in London include free tickets to at least one hop-on-hop-off bus tour, but not all of these services are the same.

Each of these tourist passes includes a variety of attractions for one flat price, allowing you to save up to 55% depending on the card that you choose.

 

 

They can also save you time by allowing you to skip the ticket queue at select tours and attractions. 

With that in mind, this section will provide a breakdown of which bus tour is offered by each tourist pass.

Big Bus Tours (24-hour ticket)

  • The London Pass
  • London Explorer Pass
  • London City Turbopass

Golden Tours (24-hour ticket)

  • The London Pass
  • London Explorer Pass

Original London Sightseeing Tour

  • London City Pass

Make sure to read our full post about which London City Pass is best for you for more details about how to use these services.


Combo Packages

All of the 3 major hop-on-hop-off companies offer tickets that combine various durations of their bus tickets with popular attractions in London.

The Original London Sightseeing Tour

In addition to the free cruise and walking tours included with every ticket, you can also combine the Original London Sightseeing tour with admission to several additional attractions.

This company offers a discount on each attraction or activity you choose when combined with one of their bus tours. Tickets are typically between 15-20% off.

Purchase tickets or learn more.

Here are the combo packages currently available:

  • Bus Tour + Madame Tussauds
    • £61/Adults | £39.50/Kids
  • Bus Tour + Tower of London
    • £58/Adults | £27.50/Kids
  • Bus Tour + KidZania
    • £51/Adults | £59/Kids
  • Bus Tour + London Eye
    • £55.50/Adults | £33/Kids
  • Bus Tour + ZSL London Zoo
    • £59.10/Adults | £32.55/Kids
  • Bus Tour + St. Paul’s Cathedral
    • £50.50/Adults | £23.25/Kids
  • Bus Tour + Westminster Abbey
    • £53.50/Adults | £24.25/Kids
  • Bus Tour + Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE, Shrek’s Adventure
    • £82.50/Adults | £55.25/Kids
  • Bus Tour + Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE, London Eye
    • £82.50/Adults | £55.25/Kids

Purchase tickets or learn more.

The main advantage of these combo deals is that you won’t have to purchase the tickets separately, saving you time at the ticket booth.

 


Big Bus Tours

This service currently offers a variety of combo packages, and they also work with Madame Tussauds to provide discounts through a special London attraction package.

The following deals are available directly from Big Bus Tours:

  • Classic Ticket + Tower of London
    • £55.80/Adults | £35.10/Kids
  • Premium Ticket + Tower of London
    • £61.20/Adults | £39.60/Kids
  • Deluxe Ticket + Tower of London
    • £64.80/Adults | £44.10/Kids
  • Classic Ticket + London Eye (General Admission)
    • £65/Adults | £48/Kids | £201/Family
  • Classic Ticket + London Eye (Fast Track Entry)
    • £68/Adults | £59/Kids | £228/Family
  • Classic Ticket + Madame Tussauds
    • £66/Adults | £53/Kids | £212/Family

Purchase combo packages or learn more.

 


Golden Tours

Much like their competitors, this company also offers a plethora of different combo deals which include their hop-on-hop-off bus tour and at least one additional attraction.

Purchase tickets or learn more.

Here are the deals they currently have available:

  • 24-Hour Bus Tour + London Eye
    • £47/Adults | £27/Kids
  • 24-Hour Bus Tour + Tower of London
    • £49.59/Adults | £24.36/Kids
  • 24-Hour Bus Tour + Madame Tussauds
    • £52/Adults | £32/Kids
  • 24-Hour Bus Tour + View From the Shard
    • £48.40/Adults | £30.80/Kids
  • 24-Hour Bus Tour + Westminster Abbey
    • £49/Adults | £23/Kids
  • 24-Hour Bus Tour + St. Paul’s Cathedral
    • £43/Adults | £18/Kids
  • 24-Hour Bus Tour + London Dungeon
    • £44/Adults | £24/Kids
  • 24-Hour Bus Tour + Buckingham Palace
    • £54/Adults | £29/Kids
  • 24-Hour Bus Tour + Shrek’s Adventure
    • £48.40/Adults | £30.80/Kids
  • 24-Hour Bus Tour + London Eye + Madame Tussauds
    • £79/Adults | £56/Kids
  • 24-Hour Bus Tour + Madame Tussauds + Tower of London
    • £80.10/Adults | £49.50/Kids
  • 24-Hour Bus Tour + London Eye + Tower of London
    • £67.86/Adults | £40.89/Kids
  • 24-Hour Bus Tour + St. Paul’s Cathedral + View From the Shard
    • £39/Adults | £34/Kids
  • 24-Hour Bus Tour + London Eye + Madame Tussauds + SEA LIFE
    • £57/Adults | £46/Kids
  • 48-Hour Bus Tour + Tower of London
    • £52.70/Adults | £24.65/Kids

Purchase tickets or learn more.

While some of these combo packages are an excellent deal, you may want to compare prices for a few of them to the Madame Tussauds Attraction Package and other combination discounts.

 


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