Comparison: Sightseeing Bus Tours in London

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After many years organising our friends’ and relatives’ trips to London, one of the questions we have answered many, many times is which one of the different sightseeing bus tours in London is best, and if they are actually worth the money.

First of all, I have to say that I highly recommend going on one of the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tours in London, especially if it’s your first trip to the British capital. It is an easy way to get round the city making sure you actually get to see London’s most important landmarks, and being able to hop on and hop off as many times as you want to during the day makes visiting London very easy. The open top buses definitely add something special to the experience too, as you still get the feeling of being outdoors and it’s certainly the best way to get pictures of London’s iconic buildings.

Another good point to have in mind is that you can sometimes buy combined tickets for a sightseeing bus tour in London + one of London’s most important attractions, and this is one of the best ways to get more for your money. Most of the London Attraction Passes also include one of the hop on hop off sightseeing bus tours in London.

Are the Sightseeing Bus Tours in London worth it?

If it´s your first time in London I personally think that it´s definitely worth thinking about going on one of the sightseeing bus tours available. It´s definitely the easy way to see London´s most important attractions and you also have the opportunity of hopping on and off at the different stops during the day.

As there are different companies that offer this service, we have done all the hard work for you here. Here you will find a brief explanation of what each one of the different companies that offer hop on hop off sightseeing bus tours in London include in their ticket and we have also compared their fares for you.

There are 4 main companies that operate open top hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tours in London, and we are going to compare what they each offer as well as their prices in this article, hopefully allowing you to make an informed decision if you decide to buy tickets for one of the sightseeing bus tours in London.

Sightseeing Bus Tours in London Compared

There are currently 4 main bus companies that offer hop on hop off sightseeing bus tours in London: Big Bus Tours, The Original Tour, Golden Tours and City Sightseeing.

Sightseeing Bus Tours in London: What’s included

They all include:

  • FREE RIVER CRUISE: One of the things I would recommend doing when you visit London, so definitely important to keep in mind if you can get it included with your sightseeing bus tour tickets.
  • GUIDED WALKING TOUR
  • RECORDED / LIVE COMMENTARY (recorded commentary available in different languages)
  • FREE HEADPHONES
  • FREE PONCHO if it rains

The timetables are usually quite similar, normally starting in between 8 and 9 in the morning and ending at around 5.30 or 6 in the evening.

IMPORTANT: When buying tickets for the different sightseeing bus tours in London, keep in mind that all companies will have different prices depending on whether you buy the tickets online or if you do it on the day in the street or at one of the stops. Online tickets are normally 10 or 15% cheaper, and you don´t normally have to choose a specific day which makes it easier.

Big Bus Tours

Big Bus Tours started touring the streets of London more than 25 years ago, with only 2 buses in London. Nowadays they are one of the biggest sightseeing bus tours companies in the world, and currently have more than 400 sightseeing buses distributed all around the world, so with all this experience, it´s no surprise that Big Bus Tours is one of the most important sightseeing bus tour companies in London. Their buses are burgundy and cream and say BIG BUS LONDON on the side, so they are easy to recognise straight away. The Big Bus Sightseeing hop on hop off bus tour is also included in the London Pass.

Their buses have free Wi-Fi on board and most of them have USB chargers if you wish to charge your mobile phone during the tour.

Available routes: Big Bus Tours has three different sightseeing day bus routes and one Night Tour.

  • The Classic Tour (Red Route): The classic tour is one of the main routes that will take you through London’s most important landmarks, such as the Big Ben, the London eye, Westminster Abbey, Marble Arch, Oxford Street, Tower of London, Tower Bridge…
  • The Blue Route: The blue route is one of the main routes that will take you through London’s most important landmarks, such as the Big Ben, the London eye, Westminster Abbey, Marble Arch, Oxford Street, Tower of London, Tower Bridge…
  • The Green Link: Connects Trafalgar Square with the British Museum and King’s Cross – St Pancras.
  • Night Tour: Available until the 30th of September 2018. There are three night tours per evening that depart from the London Eye, stopping to pick up people at Victoria Station and Marble Arch. The first night tour departs at 19:30 h, and this is not a hop on hop off service. The night tour is included in their premium and deluxe tickets or it can be bought separately if you do not wish to go on a hop on hop off tour during the day.

⇒ See Big Bus London Route Map

Number of stops: Big Bus Tours has more than 50 stops across their 3 different day bus routes into account. You can hop on and hop off at every one of these stops.

Types of tickets: There are tickets for adults, children (5 – 15 years old) and family tickets  (2 adults + 2 children). Children under 5 free. And there are 3 types of tickets:

  • Classic: 1 day (this ticket is valid for one calendar day, not 24 hours). This ticket includes a one-way river cruise along the Thames from Westminster Pier (near Big Ben) to the Tower of London, or vice versa. This ticket also includes a free guide walking tour.
  • Premium: 2 days (this ticket is valid for two calendar days, not 48 hours). This ticket includes a hop on hop off river cruise along the Thames, with stops at Westminster Pier, the Tower of London and Greenwich. This ticket also includes a free guide walking tour and the Night Tour.
  • Deluxe: 3 days (this ticket is valid for three calendar days, not 72 hours). This ticket includes a hop on hop off river cruise along the Thames, with stops at Westminster Pier, the Tower of London and Greenwich. This ticket also includes a free guide walking tour and the Night Tour.
  • Night tour only: This ticket is valid for one night tour only which isn’t a hop on hop off bus tour. This ticket does not include the river cruise or the free guided walking tour.

Validity of tickets: Tickets online are 10% cheaper than buying them on the street. When you buy tickets online they will be valid for 6 months,  so you don’t need to choose a specific day for your tour. Using our promo code “QVER10” when you buy the tickets online on their official website will give you an extra 10% discount, so this is a 20% discount when compared to on-street prices.

The Original Tour

The Original Tour is also one of the best known and sightseeing bus tours in Londonlong-standing companies that offer sightseeing bus tours in London. It will be easy for you to recognise their buses when you are in London, as they normally have a UK flag on the side of the bus.

Available routes:  The Original Tour has five different bus routes in London:

  • Original Tour (Yellow Route): This is the main route which will take you through London´s most important landmarks, including Hyde Park, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, etc.
  • Royal Borough Tour (Blue Route): The blue route covers the district of Kensington, where you’ll find some of London’s most famous museums as well as the well known department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols.
  • British Museum Tour (Orange Route): This route will take you through London’s famous West End, including Chinatown all the way to the British Museum and King’s Cross.
  • Capital Connector (Black Route): From Marble Arch to Madame Tussauds and Regent’s Park.
  • Capital Connector (Purple Route): From Marble Arch to Notting Hill and Bayswater. Useful if your hotel is in this area of London.

⇒ See The Original Tour London Route Map

Number of stops: The Original Tour has more than 70 stops when you take their different bus routes into account. You can hop on and hop off at every one of these stops.

Available tickets: There are tickets for adults, children (5 – 15 years old) and family tickets  (2 adults + 2 children). Children under 5 free. And there are 3 types of tickets:

  • City Sampler: This ticket is valid for the hop on hop off bus tour for one day, not 24 hours, and it doesn’t include the free river cruise or the free guided walks.
  • 24 hours: This ticket is valid for 24 hours and it includes a free hop on hop off river cruise between Westminster Pier (near Big Ben) and Tower Pier (near the Tower of London) and free guided walks.
  • 48 hours: This ticket is valid for 48 hours and it includes a free hop on hop off river cruise between Westminster Pier (near Big Ben), Tower Pier (near the Tower of London) plus an extension to Greenwich and free guided walks.
  • 72 hours: This ticket is valid for 48 hours and it includes a hop on hop off free river cruise between Westminster Pier (near Big Ben), Tower Pier (near the Tower of London) plus an extension to Greenwich valid for 48 hours and free guided walks.

Golden Tours

Golden Tours has not been offering the sightseeing bus tours in London as long as the previous two companies have, but it is currently one of the biggest companies in London that offer sightseeing tours. Golden Tours buses are blue, and also offer a hop on hop off service. Their sightseeing bus tour is included in the London Pass.

Available routes:  Golden Tours has three different sightseeing bus routes in London:

  • The Essential Tour (Blue route): This route covers all the main sights in central London and it includes live commentary in English.
  • The Classic Tour (Red route): This route covers all the main sights in central London as well as London’s Museum Quarter in Kensington.
  • The Grand Tour (Orange route): This route will mainly take you to Madame Tussauds and King’s Cross.
  • The Pick Up/Drop Off Route (Yellow route): This route travels from the popular hotel districts to Central London in the mornings.

⇒ Golden Tours Route Map

Number of stops: Golden Tours has over 60 stops on 3 different bus routes. You can hop on and hop off at every one of these stops.

Available tickets: There are tickets for adults, children (5 – 15 years old) and family tickets  (2 adults + 2 children). Children under 5 free. And there are 3 types of tickets:

  • London Introduction: 3 hour open top sightseeing bus tour of London’s most remarkable landmarks. This is not a hop on hop off sightseeing tour and it does not include the free river cruise or free guided walking tours.
  • One Day: Ticket valid for one calendar day to use the Hop on Hop off sightseeing bus tour. This ticket does not include a free river cruise or free guided walking tours.
  • 24 hours: Ticket valid for 24 hours. This ticket includes a free hop on hop off river cruise, from Westminster pier (near Big Ben) to St Katharine’s pier (near the Tower of London) and a free walking tour.
  • 48 hours: Ticket valid for 48 hours. This ticket includes a free hop on hop off river cruise, from Westminster pier (near Big Ben) to St Katharine’s pier (near the Tower of London) and free walking tours.

What else is included with the tickets:  Free Hop on hop off River Cruise + voucher valid for two days for one guided walking tour. Available: The Beatles walking tour or Royal Walking tour.

City Sightseeing London

City Sightseeing has also been operating in London for years, but their service is now supplied by Original Tour, so their routes are exactly the same. Their buses are very colourful, but they are mainly red with colourful pictures of London landmarks, so they are also very easy to identify. One of the main difference when we compare City Sightseeing to other sightseeing bus tours in London is that some of their buses have a removable cover for their upper deck, which can be put on to cover the bus if it´s raining.

Available routes:  City Sightseeing has exactly the same routes as the Original Tour.

  • Yellow Route: This is the main route which will take you through London´s most important landmarks, including Hyde Park, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, etc.
  • Royal Borough Tour (Blue Route): The blue route covers the district of Kensington, where you’ll find some of London’s most famous museums as well as the well known department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols.
  • British Museum Tour (Orange Route): This route will take you through London’s famous West End, including Chinatown all the way to the British Museum and King’s Cross.
  • Capital Connector (Black Route): From Marble Arch to Madame Tussauds and Regent’s Park.
  • Capital Connector (Purple Route): From Marble Arch to Notting Hill and Bayswater. Useful if your hotel is in this area of London.

⇒ See City Sightseeing London Route Map

Number of stops: City Sightseeing has more than 70 stops when you take their 3 different bus routes into account. You can hop on and hop off at every one of these stops.

Available tickets: There are tickets for adults, children (5 – 15 years old) and family tickets  (2 adults + 2 children). Children under 5 free. And there are 2 types of tickets:

  • 24 hours: This ticket gives you 24 hour access to any of the hop on hop off sightseeing routes in London + a 24 hour access the the free hop on hop off river cruise.
  • 48 hours: This ticket gives you 48 hour access to any of the hop on hop off sightseeing routes in London + 48 hour access the the free hop on hop off river cruise.

What else is included with the tickets:  Free River Cruise + 3 free walking guided tours (changing of the guard; Jack the ripper; rock ‘n’ roll walking tour)

Comparison Sightseeing Bus Tours in London: Summary

Number of routes Number of stops Duration of tickets Free river cruise Free guided walks Free Wi-fi
Big Bus Tours 3 daytime hop on hop off routes + 1 night tour (including hotel return service) +50 1 day, 2 days, 3 days, night tour Yes (except night tour ticket) One available (except night tour ticket) Yes
The Original Tour 5 hop on hop off routes +70 City sampler, 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours Yes (except city sampler ticket) Three available (except city sampler ticket) Yes
Golden Tours 3 sightseeing routes + hotel pick up service in the mornings +60 One Day, 24 hours, 48 hours. Yes (except one day ticket) Two available (except one day ticket) Yes
City Sightseeing 5 hop on hop off routes +70 24 hours and 48 hours Yes Three available Yes

Sightseeing Bus Tours in London: Price Comparison

These prices are for ONLINE TICKETS which are normally around 10% cheaper than on-street tickets.

Big Bus Tours 1 Day 2 Days 3 Days Night Tour
> Adult £33.10 £39.60 £45.00 £23.00
> Child £17.10 £19.80 £22.50 £12.00
> Family ticket £93.00 £110.00 £125.00 N/A
The Original Tour 24 Hours  48 Hours 72 Hours City Sampler
> Adult £29.00 £38.00 £48.00 £25.00
> Child £13.50 £18.00 £22.50 £12.50
> Family ticket £71.50 £94.00 £118.50 £62.50
Golden Tours 24 Hours  1 Day 48 Hours Introduction Tour
> Adult £32.00 £28.00 £37.00 £22.00
> Child £16.00 £14.00 £18.00 £12.00
> Family ticket £86.00 £74.00 £100.00 £58.00
City Sightseeing 24 Hours 48 Hours 72 Hours Other
> Adult £32.00 N/A N/A N/A
> Child £15.00 N/A N/A N/A
> Family ticket  N/A  N/A  N/A N/A

* Children under 5 do not need a ticket. Children aged 5 to 15 need a child ticket. Family ticket is valid for 2 adults + 2 children (aged 5 – 15).

IMPORTANT: Remember that you can use our promo code “QVER10” to get a 10% discount if you buy tickets from Big Bus Official Website

Other Bus Tours in London

⇒ Afternoon Tea Vintage Bus Tour

⇒ Vintage Bus Ghost Tour

Hello! We moved to London (Yes, the best city in the world) in 2010, and since then we have been discovering everything that this fantastic city has to offer. We regularly plan our friends’ trips to London, so we thought we would create PlanTripLondon.com and share our suggestions with the world for everyone to be able to plan the perfect trip to London!

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Hello! We moved to London (Yes, the best city in the world) in 2010, and since then we have been discovering everything that this fantastic city has to offer. We regularly plan our friends' trips to London, so we thought we would create PlanTripLondon.com and share our suggestions with the world for everyone to be able to plan the perfect trip to London!

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