Why would you get on a crowded tube when you can hop on a sightseeing bus and enjoy the view while you’re exploring London at your own pace! Hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses allow you to explore all the must-see London attractions, letting you discover the capital’s historic landmarks at your convenience.
What is a Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Bus?
Are you new to the concept of Hop-on Hop-off buses?
Basically, these are sightseeing tours on a double-decker bus, where you can hop on and hop off at every stop. You can stop your trip whenever you want and resume it a little later, hence the name “Hop-on Hop-off”, which could be translated as “up, down”.
These sightseeing tours are usually taken by double-decker buses, with the upper deck uncovered, offering lovely views of London’s attractions.
The buses are all equipped with headsets with audio commentary in numerous languages. Some London routes even include an onboard guide, who provides commentary on the progress of the route.
Is it worth it?
Hop-on hop-off buses are now standard among the tourist offerings of many metropolises. In London, three tourism companies are fighting to win the favour of the 30 million tourists who visit the English capital each year.
But which should be preferred? And are these Hop-on Hop-off sightseeing bus tours really worth it when conventional buses also have two floors?
Hop-on Hop-off buses are a great choice if you want to:
- Enjoy the ride with awesome views!
- Travel at your own pace
- Hop on and off as many times as you like
- See the best of London with a single ticket
- Avoid complicated routes and timetables
Hop-on Hop-off buses are not for you if you want to:
- Get from A to B as quickly as possible
- Are travelling on a shoestring budget
Each tour company offers several services with various add-on attractions. You can compare the ticket prices of each torus hour and day format tickets below.
A 1-day ticket means your ticket will expire at the end of the calendar day and cannot be used the following day even if it’s still within a 24hr period.
|Tootbus London||Big Bus Tours||Golden Tours|
|1-day bus only||N/A||N/A||Adult: £29.00|
|24-hrs or 1 day||Adult: £29.00|
|48-hrs or 2 days||N/A||Adult: £62.10|
|72-hrs or 3 days||N/A||Adult: £66.60|
Tootbus London (formerly The Original London Tour)
The Original London Tour, as many may know it has since rebranded to Tootbus. They offer one route (the Yellow Original Route) which has 10 stops in front of and close to famous tourist sits in Central London.
When it comes to tickets, they currently only offer a 1 day London Discovery pass if you just want a Hop-on Hop-off tour. However, if you opt for their Must See London ticket (which includes both a Hop-on Hop-off tour and a Thames river cruise) you then have the option to choose a 1 or 2 day pass.
The London Discovery ticket is a good choice if you are only looking to travel from morning to night. It’s also more ideal if you are not interested in the river cruise and it’ll save you some money too.
Audio headsets are also provided, giving you key facts about London and the landmarks you pass (available in English and French).
Tickets are valid for redemption up to 12 months from the moment of purchase. This is great if you do not know exactly when you want to participate. This leaves a lot of flexibility, and therefore makes a great gift idea.
Big Bus Tours London
The Big Bus company offers sightseeing bus tours around the world, from Paris to New York. With one main route (the Red Tour), these dark red buses serve around 50 tourist sites in London. As with Tootbus London, you can take a guided city tour and enjoy a boat ride on the Thames.
You have a choice of 1, 2 and 3 day tickets. Depending on which option you choose, Big Bus tickets can also come with a panoramic night tour and fast-track entry to the London Eye.
Bus tickets are valid for six months, which is not as long as Tootbus tickets but still very useful.
As with the other operators, an audio commentary and the use of a headset are included in the price.
Golden Tours has a service offer similar to Big Bus, with two different routes to choose from (for around 30 stops in total). Buses run to all famous sites, from the London Eye to the Tower of London. A guided walking tour through London and a boat ride on the Thames are also included in their ticket offerings.
Golden Tours offers the following packages to choose from, day ticket, 24 hours, 48 hours and 72 hours.
A slight drawback: the tickets are valid for a specific date, unlike Tootbus London and Big Bus. At the time of booking, you will have to decide on the day on which you will participate in the tour.
A guide is on board the buses that follow the main route. They will present the different sites crossed in English. You can also opt for an audio guide, available on all routes, which will provide you with a commentary in various languages.
All three companies offer different, yet very similar tour routes taking you around the heart of the city and passing London’s top landmarks.
Tootbus London offers one route, the Yellow Original Route, which has 10 stops. Similarly, Big Bus Tours offer one route, the Red Tour, but has 22 stops at which you can get on and off.
Golden Tours offer two routes, the Classic Tour (Red route), which has 21 stops and covers the main sites in Central London and a Pick-Up/Drop Off Route (Yellow route) with 8 stops that travel through Londons popular hotel district.
Note, Golden Tours yellow route only operates in the morning.
|Tootbus London||Big Bus Tours||Golden Tours|
|Tickets||1 day||1 day, 2 days, 3 days||1 day, 24h, 48h, 72h|
|Incl. in London Pass*||No||Yes||Yes|
*Please note: London pass holders can only choose between Big Bus Tours OR Golden Tours for the duration of your 1-Day pass – You can pick which of the two services you wish to use.
Best London Tour Companies
Can I use an Oyster card on a Hop-on Hop-off bus?
No. You cannot use an Oyster card on Hop-on Hop-off buses or any tourist buses. Oyster cards can be used on public transport.
What is the best Hop-on Hop-off bus in London?
Tootbus London, Big Bus Tours, and Golden Tours are the 3 best Hop-on Hop-off tour companies.
How long does the Hop-on Hop-off bus take in London?
One complete lap of a Hop-on Hop-off bus will take around 2 to 3 hours. The length in time depends on how much you intend to get on and off and explore areas on foot. If you want to just see the sights without getting off, Golden Tours offers a one-lap ticket with no Hop-on Hop-off.