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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About the author

An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 15 years ago and hasn’t looked back since! With a keen interest in History – and a BA degree to match – Margaret prides herself on her knowledge of the amazing city she calls home and she's been guiding here now for nearly a decade. Social history is her real expertise, with sound understanding of the day-to-day lives of Londoners over the past centuries.