Best London Bus Tours

This post provides an overview of the various types of bus tours you can take in London, including our free, self-guided options and our almost free GPS-enabled audio tour.

In addition to covering the differences between these services, we will also include details about ticket prices, tour length, availability, and more.

 

 

Disclosure: We think you should consider our free tours, but we have also provided other options. While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.

UNIQUE BUS TOUR EXPERIENCES

The following section will include some of the most interesting and entertaining bus tours available in London, from the supernatural to the tasty and beyond!

In addition to covering details such as ticket prices, we will also provide information about availability, tour durations, and what you can expect to see on each outing.


Harry Potter Bus Tour 

This 2 ½ to 3-hour bus tour features many of the filming locations and inspirations from all 8 movies in the series.

Some of the stops include Kings Cross Station, 12 Grimmauld Place, and the sites used for the Leaky Cauldron.

 

 

There is also an opportunity at the end of the tour to buy Harry Potter merchandise.

NOTE: We also offer a pay-what-you-wish Harry Potter walking tour as well as a GPS-enabled audio tour of Harry Potter sights.

Availability: 

  • Jan – Dec: Saturdays at 2 pm
  • School Holidays and Mar-Oct: Wednesdays at 2 pm
  • School Holidays and Jul-Aug: Thursdays at 2 pm
  • School Holidays and Jul-Aug: Fridays at 2 pm

Ticket Prices: £30 – Adult | £21 – Child (under 16)

Purchase tickets or learn more.


Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter 

There are several tour operators that offer packages that include your ticket to the studio with timed entry and also transportation from London by coach or train.

Typically, these tours cost approximately £80 – £100 per person (less for children).

Some of these companies play Harry Potter movies on the bus ride to warm you up for your studio visit.

 

 

For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on one especially popular option from Premium Tours.

For additional options, make sure to read our post covering Harry Potter day trips from London.

This activity is an absolute must for die-hard fans of the franchise.

Included in the price is admission with timed entry, a dedicated studio tour guide, headsets when appropriate, transportation to and from the meeting point in Central London, and one butterbeer per guest.

It’s best to book a month in advance as this tour sells out.

When: check their calendar for availability

Ticket Prices:

  • £86 – Adult (age 16+)
  • £81 – Child (age 5-15)
  • £35 – Infant (Age 3-4)
  • Free – 2 and under

Purchase tickets or learn more.


Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes Bus Tour

As the name indicates, this tour focuses on the true story of Jack the Ripper and the fictional tale of Sherlock Holmes.

In addition to covering these topics, they also provide information about subjects such as the Elephant Man and Smithfield Market.

This spooky bus tour takes place after dark, ensuring the perfect atmosphere to hear all about some of the most notorious crimes and disturbing legends in London’s history.

Reviews for this service are pretty good with an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars (read reviews here).

Customers indicate that their tour guides are very friendly and knowledgeable, providing a lot of interesting information about Jack the Ripper.

Sadly, some guests were a bit disappointed that there weren’t more details about Sherlock Holmes.

That being said, a majority of people indicate that they had a lot of fun on this trip around London.


Beatles and Rock Tour of London

This is a 3 ½ hour mini-coach tour that will explore the Beatles’ London, including Abbey Road and other rock landmarks related to icons such as Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, the Kinks, Pink Floyd and more.

 

 

With a 4.7 out of 5-rating on Get Your Guide (read reviews here), it’s safe to say this is a pretty popular and reliable bus tour.

TIP: If you’re also interested in a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, it’s worth noting that the Original London Sightseeing Tour includes a Rock n’ Roll history walking tour for free. This could be an interesting alternative!


London Duck Tours

NOTE: London Ducks have suspended services as of September 1, 2017. There is no expected date to restart service at this time.

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!


BB’s Bakery Bus Afternoon Tour

BB BAkery Bus

Afternoon tea with a twist or a sightseeing bus tour with a twist! Either way 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. 

Although the theme of this bus tour may seem strange to foreigners, the 4 ½ star rating this company has received on TripAdvisor indicates that it’s a pretty phenomenal service.

There are a handful of negative reviews, but an overwhelming majority of guests report that this is a lovely trip which includes delicious food.

Some reviewers even went so far as to describe the tour as a great experience, indicating that it was a wonderful combination of English tradition and sightseeing.

Ticket Prices:

  • Lower Deck seats start at £45/Adults and £43/Kids (5-11)
  • Higher Prices depending on seats with better views, Upper Deck, etc.

Times:

  • Depart daily from 8 Northumberland Avenue, off Trafalgar Square:
    • 12:30 pm and 15:00 (3 pm)
  • Depart daily from Victoria Coach Station:
    • 12:00 pm, 14:30 (2:30 pm) & 17:00 (5 pm)
  • Tours last approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Purchase tickets or learn more.

 


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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. 

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

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


Ghost Bus Tours

A spooky sightseeing tour that takes place on a black double-decker bus.

The 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.  

 

 

With an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor, it’s safe to say that most passengers have a lot of fun on the Ghost Bus.

This company has received some negative reviews, but they don’t seem to represent the typical experience. 

A majority of guests report that this bus tour is a lot of fun and can be very spooky.  

TIP: This tour is included for free with the iVENTURE Card tourist discount pass.

Learn more about this and other discounts in our post about London tourist attraction discount passes.

Ticket Prices:

  • Adult – £23.00
  • Child – £15.00
  • Child under 5- Free
  • Student/Concession – £17.00
  • Family – £59.00

Purchase tickets or learn more.

Times:

  • Sunday to Thursday – 19:30 & 21:00
  • Friday – 18:00, 19:30 & 21:00
  • Saturday – 18:00, 19:30, 19:45, 21:00 & 21:15
  • Tour lasts approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

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

Commentary Type and Language: Live commentary in English.


Evening Beatles Bus Tour

This is similar to the longer specialty bus tour during the day, in that it covers a lot of notable landmarks related to the history of these rock icons.

Enjoy a 2 hour and 15 min evening mini-coach tour of Central London. 

Visit 35 locations made famous by the Fab 4 including an opportunity to hop off and walk across Abbey Road!

With a 4.6 out of 5-star rating on Get Your Guide, it’s fair to say that this tour is well-reviewed (read the reviews). 

 


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DISCOUNTS AND DEALS

The following section will provide information about all the different ways to save money on bus tours in London.

We will include details about tourist attraction passes and other discount opportunities.

If you’re interested, we also have a detailed discount section for hop-on-hop-off bus tours as well.


Tourist Attraction Discount Passes

Most London tourist passes include a hop-on-hop-off tour, but there is currently only one pass that offers any other type of bus tour.

The iVenture Card includes the Ghost Bus Tour which covers the paranormal history behind notable landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, the Tower of London, and more.

 

 

This service also includes access to several day trips from London such as Stonehenge, Oxford, Canterbury, Bath, and the Cliffs of Dover.

This tourist pass allows you to pick 3, 5, 7, or 10 different attractions for one flat price.

Depending on how you use the card, you could save 50% or more off general admission prices.

If you’re interested in going on a self-guided bus tour, it’s worth noting that the London Turbo Pass includes an Oyster Card which you can use for public transport.

Big Bus Tours (24-hour ticket)

Golden Tours (24-hour ticket)

London City Tour

Original London Sightseeing Tour

For more information about these services, make sure to read our full post covering London tourist attraction passes.


London 2 For 1

If you’re planning to use the National Rail to get around, you might have the opportunity to take advantage of London’s 2 for 1 program.

This service allows you to get 2 attraction tickets for the price of 1, and it includes both hop-on-hop-off bus tours and specialty bus tours like those listed above.

If you’re trying to save money on this activity, make sure to read our post about the 2 for 1 deal for more information about how it works.


Discount Sites

In addition to the other opportunities to save money, you can also use a site such as Groupon or Discount London.

Both of these services include various London bus tours at lower prices.

These sites often provide coupon codes that you can use to increase your discount by an extra 20% off or more.

Make sure to check the top and bottom of each page for a banner with a special code to use at checkout.

 


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FREE LONDON BUS TOUR

Why not consider taking a tour of London on a public, double-decker bus? It’s possible and we have come up with 2 of our own self-guided, hop-on-hop-off bus tours.

And one of these tours also comes in the form of a GPS-enabled audio tour (Listen to the sample below the video).

With a daily bus ticket of less than £5, you can spend all day hopping on and off public buses. 

 

 

TOUR: Westminster Abbey via Trafalgar Square to City of London

Take the 11 bus from Victoria Station to the Tower of London.  

Here is some of what you’ll cover on this self-guided bus tour.

  • Westminster Cathedral
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Parliament and Big Ben
  • 10 Downing Street
  • Horseguards Parade
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Royal Courts of Justice
  • Fleet Street
  • Ludgate Hill
  • Temple Church
  • St Paul’s Cathedral
  • The Bank of London
  • The Tower of London

Click here for the tour.


This tour is also offered as a GPS-enabled audio tour for just £1.99. 

Here is how it works.

  1. Download our free app on (iTunes) or (Android).
  2. Download any audio tour(s).
  3. Enjoy the tour(s).

 


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.

 
Free London Bus Tours 
 

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.

Route 9 Self-Guided Tour

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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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.