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Best Bus Tours in London: Top Picks for Sightseeing

London, being a city rich in history and culture, offers a wide variety of bus tours for visitors and locals alike. These bus tours provide an excellent opportunity to explore the city’s iconic landmarks and attractions from the comfort of an open-top bus. With several tour options available, passengers can experience the perfect blend of entertainment, education, and convenience as they journey through the bustling streets of London.

Some of the best bus tours in the city feature live guides who share fascinating stories and facts about each attraction, further enhancing the sightseeing experience. Other tours offer multilingual audio guides, catering to tourists from different linguistic backgrounds. From Buckingham Palace to the Tower of London, these bus tours cover all the essential sights, allowing passengers to fully immerse themselves in London’s rich history and vibrant atmosphere.

Visitors must choose the right bus tour to maximize their London experience. Aspects such as tour duration, route, and additional inclusions, like river cruises or entry to specific attractions, can play a significant role in selecting the most suitable bus tour. With the myriad of options, everyone can find a tour that caters to their preferences, making sure they create lasting memories while exploring this magnificent city.

Best Bus Tours in London

Trafalgar Square tourist attraction, London, UK
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Hop-On Hop-Off Tours

Open top site seeing City Tour bus passes Big Ben
Matt Kay /

These tours allow visitors to explore London at their own pace, with the flexibility to hop on and off buses at various landmarks and attractions. Some of the top hop-on hop-off bus tour providers include Big Bus London and City Sightseeing London. Tours often feature open-top buses, multiple route options, and an informative commentary as you travel through the city.

Some hop-on hop-off tour packages also offer additional perks, such as a Harry Potter Walking Tour and a River Thames Cruise, which further enhances the sightseeing experience.

Classical London Tours

Famous red Double-Decker at Monument bus stop in London
William Perugini /

For those interested in a more traditional approach to exploring London, classic bus tours showcase some of the city’s most iconic landmarks and historical sites. Examples of such tours include Buckingham Palace and Vintage Bus Tour of London and Vintage London Bus Tour Including Thames River Cruise.

These guided tours offer a more structured itinerary, with professional guides sharing fascinating insights into London’s history and culture. Some tours even incorporate river cruises or optional attractions like the London Eye, providing a comprehensive sightseeing experience.

See Related: What is a Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour: Your Ultimate Guide to City Sightseeing

Themed Bus Tours

Famous Big Ben with bridge over Thames and tourboat on the river in London, England, UK
Tomas Marek / Shutterstock

For a unique twist on the traditional bus tour, themed bus tours offer a specialized focus on specific aspects of London’s culture and history. For example, the TOOT Bus offers a London gastro tour, highlighting the city’s culinary delights, while others focus on London’s literary history, famous landmarks, or even a ghost tour.

These themed tours provide an engaging and entertaining way to experience the city, catering to the interests of a wide range of visitors. Whatever your preference, a themed bus tour is likely available to suit your taste.

Best Features of Bus Tours

Big Ben and Houses of parliament at twilight
chrisdorney / Adobe Stock


One of the top features of bus tours in London is their convenience. With numerous hop-on hop-off stops, passengers can easily explore the city’s best landmarks and attractions at their own pace. This allows for flexibility in planning and sightseeing, catering to individual preferences and schedules. Big Bus London hop-on hop-off tour is a popular choice in this regard.


Bus tours offer an affordable way to experience London, as they provide an all-inclusive price for transportation and sightseeing. Compared to hiring a private tour guide or paying for public transport and individual attraction tickets, bus tours can save you money, making them an excellent choice for budget-conscious travellers.

Guided Experiences

Bus tours in London often come with the added benefit of guided experiences. Knowledgeable guides provide insights and information about the city’s history, culture, and notable landmarks, enhancing the overall experience. For example, the Buckingham Palace and Vintage Bus Tour of London includes a guided bus tour and a visit to Buckingham Palace, complete with detailed narration about the site’s rich history.

Choice of Routes

London bus tours offer a variety of routes to cater to different interests and time constraints. Some tours, like the London Tootbus Must See Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour and Thames River Cruise, cover top attractions and also include a scenic river cruise. Others, like the No. 11 Route, are perfect for first-time visitors who want to see the major sights quickly. With several options, visitors can choose the tour that best suits their preferences and schedule.

See Related: Best Paris Double-Decker Bus Tours

Booking Your Bus Tour

Low angle view of multiracial group of young friends enjoying and smiling using their mobile phone
Jose Calsina / Adobe Stock

Online Booking Options

When booking a bus tour in London, there are several online options available. Most tour operators offer an online booking system through their official websites. Customers can browse different tour packages, select their preferred dates, and pay directly on the website.

Another option is to browse and book through online travel agencies, which may provide various bus tour options and prices.

Group Discounts and Special Offers

Many London bus tours offer group discounts and special offers for families and larger groups. You can find these discounts on the tour operator’s website or through online travel agencies. Additionally, some bus tours offer discounted rates for students, seniors, and children. Keep an eye out for seasonal promotions and flash sales when booking your tour to get the best possible price.

Cancellations and Refunds

Understanding your chosen bus tour’s cancellation and refund policy is important, as policies may vary between tour operators. Some companies offer a full refund several days ahead of the tour date, while others may only provide partial refunds, credit, or no refund at all. Be sure to check the cancellation policy before booking and consider purchasing travel insurance to protect against unforeseen circumstances.

See Related: What Is A Tour Bus? Definition, Features, and Benefits Explained

Tips for a Great Bus Tour Experience

Big Ben, Westminster Bridge, red bus in London
Sergii Figurnyi / Adobe Stock

A few considerations can help ensure a delightful experience when planning a bus tour in London. This section will discuss the best time to go, packing essentials, and seating tips for an enjoyable London bus tour.

Best Time to Go

London is a bustling city with various events and attractions throughout the year. However, the best time to embark on a bus tour is during the shoulder seasons, such as spring (April to June) and fall (September to November). These periods generally offer milder weather and fewer crowds, allowing a more leisurely city exploration. World Guides To Travel recommends starting your tour around 8:15 AM for a 5-hour tour or a full-day itinerary.

See Related: What to Wear to the Vatican: Packing Items to Know

Packing Essentials

Hand, woman and suitcase for travel, adventure and holiday on a bed before leaving for vacation
Kay A/ / Adobe Stock

Packing the right items can significantly enhance your bus tour experience. Here are some essentials to consider:

  • Weather-appropriate clothing – London can be unpredictable, so bring a light jacket, scarf or hat, and comfortable shoes.
  • Water bottle – Stay hydrated throughout your tour.
  • Snacks – Maintaining your energy is critical, especially on longer tours.
  • Camera or smartphone – Capture the stunning sights of London’s iconic landmarks.
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen – Protect yourself from the sun’s rays, even on cloudy days.
  • Small daypack – Keep all your essentials organized and within reach.

Seating Tips

Choosing the right seat on the bus can enhance your sightseeing experience. Here are some seating tips for a comfortable and enjoyable tour:

  1. Opt for the top deck of the bus, especially on a double-decker tour, to get unobstructed views of the city’s landmarks.
  2. Arrive early at the departure point to secure the best available seats on the top deck, ideally near the front or on the left side.
  3. If the weather is unfavorable, choose seats inside the bus, near the window for optimal viewing.
  4. If you plan to hop off at multiple stops, consider sitting near the door to save time during disembarking and re-boarding.

Following these tips will help you make the most of your London bus tour, allowing you to fully appreciate the city’s magnificent architecture and rich history.

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