london bus

Touring London By Bus

I know London pretty well, I’ve lived here for over 8 years on and off and I’m able to navigate my way around the city easily by foot, by car and by tube. Buses are a bit of a mystery to me, although my various travel passes (currently Oyster) have included buses, I’ve very rarely had any need to use them. London is small, easy to walk and the tube system is great, so why take a bus? We had a chance today to try The Original Tour open-top bus sightseeing tour as their guests, an opportunity that we grabbed with both hands. The tour sounded fun and we always like a new experience, what can beat cruising round London on an open-top bus?

There are several bus companies offering similar hop-on hop-off tours around London, but as the name suggests, this is the original one. We were happy to be guests of the company on this day, all thoughts are entirely our own, we are never under any pressure to leave good reviews.

When you buy your Original London Tour tickets, you’re not just buying 24 hour access to their four hop-on hop-off bus routes. A river cruise along the Thames is included in the price, as are three London walking tours.

It’s a great deal, unfortunately we couldn’t possibly have squeezed it all in. We did one bus route, the T1, yellow, route, hopped off a few times for a leisurely coffee and a few photos, and hopped back on again. That was all we could manage. Our ticket was valid for the next day too, but our plans to return were foiled by a house-sitting difficulty.

It’s a shame, we’d love to try the other routes and walking tours, particularly the Jack the Ripper tour (3.30pm daily). The yellow route is the only one with a live tour guide, that’s what made us pick that particular route. You can find the 4 bus tour routes here. See for more on this and other tours.

There was a great mix of fun facts, history and modern narrative. We all came away knowing more than we did. Child 1 particularly enjoyed hearing about the Great Fire of London, in sufficient detail for me to consider that topic done and dusted. We’re giving the tour a big thumbs up for education and entertainment. Here are some things I didn’t know this morning, that I do now:

  • Buckingham Palace has a delivery door, it’s around the side next to The Queen’s Gallery and the Her Majesty still has her groceries delivered by horse and cart with particular royal livery.
  • Prince Philip has his hair cut at a particular barber on St James St.
  • Australia House was Gringotts in the Harry Potter films.
  • Daniel Radcliffe went to school on the banks on the Thames.
  • Monument station is so called because the monument to the Great Fire of London is there.

Do your research! Study the maps and tours, pick what you want to see most. I really don’t think anybody could do everything included in the ticket within the time limits unless they really wanted to get optimum bang for their buck. We recommend the T1, yellow route, for it’s live commentary and guides. Ours were highly entertaining.