London is unlike any other place you’ll visit, it’s something far more special. A metropolitan city in the truest sense of the word, London doesn’t shy away from its rich history and heritage, proudly showcasing everything it has to offer. Everywhere you look, there’s a piece of the past and a reminder of the present and the future, all existing in perfect harmony.
From the majestic Big Ben and Tower of London to the iconic London Eye and Buckingham Palace, there’s no dearth of attractions to be visited and experiences to be had! But with a total area of 607 square-meters and a vast collection of tourist attractions and experiences, London is not an easy place to navigate, especially if it’s your first time in the city. This is where a London Hop-On Hop-Off tour comes in handy.
Hop On Hop Off London Bus Tours
If you’re unaware of how Hop-On Hop-Off tours work, here’s the basic idea. Essentially, a Hop-On Hop-Off tour is a tour bus you can take from any of the designated stops and get off at any of the stops, according to your convenience. It’s a brilliant way for tourists to explore the city and offers unparalleled ease of access to the city’s biggest landmarks.
Visit any important landmark in London, and you will find open-top double-decker buses plying around. You will spot the brown and yellow Big Bus, the blue Golden Tour buses, and the Original Tour buses with the Union Jack displayed all over it!
You will find happy tourists taking photographs and selfies as they pass through iconic landmarks of the city, and some others turned into the commentary and plotting their next destination on the map. The Hop On Hop Off buses or the HOHO buses are a favorite choice of tours for millions of tourists in London each year. Tourists vouch by the convenience of pre-set routes, affordable pricing along with comfortable transport that the HOHO buses offer. Here is a guide on how to choose the best HOHO and tips on how to make the most of your HOHO ticket.
Popular Hop On Hop Off London Tour Operators
Golden Tours London
Golden Tours London Hop On Hop Off is one of the best ways to explore the multi-cultured, vibrant city of London. You can experience the dynamic metropolis while enjoying a panoramic view of London from the open-topped deck of Golden Tour’s air-conditioned double-decker buses, which comes with free wifi facilities and a 3D treasure hunting game to keep you entertained.
Golden Tours has 79 stops located near all major attractions and offers 5 diverse routes - the Blue Route covering all essential Central London attractions, the Red Route which will take you through West and Central London, the scenic Orange route which passes through the beautiful Hyde Park and Regent’s Park, the Lilac Route covering all attractions alongside the Thames, and the Green and Yellow routes, which will help you navigate your way from the Hotel District to Central London. Currently, they are offering an extra 24 hours with select tickets.
The Original London
The Original London Hop On Hop Off bus tours are brimming with features to keep you engrossed as you traverse the streets of London. Feel the wind in your air as you discover the beautiful city from the comfortable, wifi-enabled, double-decker buses. Learn about the different attractions from the multilingual onboard commentary. They also have an English speaking guide.
The Original London also offers some complimentary experiences along with the city tour. Some of them include a one-way River Thames cruise ticket, entry tickets to the Coca-Cola London Eye, and tickets to the Tower of London, Madame Tussauds, or London Zoo. They also offer free guided walking tours.
The Original London offers 5 routes - covering all of London’s highlights (Yellow Route), the Royal Borough (Blue Route), the British Museum route (Orange Route), south London (Red Shuttle Route) and a pickup and drop shuttle (Purple/Morning Shuttle).
London Panoramic Night Bus Tour
London Panoramic Night Bus Tour offers you the opportunity to cruise through the glowing London streets after dusk. The magnificent 1 hour and 45 minute-long tour will take you through the glittering streets of London and will cover some of the most iconic tourist destinations. Learn about the attractions from the onboard multilingual audio guide as you witness the grandeur of the lit-up Buckingham Palace in the backdrop of a shimmering skyline. However, it has to be noted that this is not a Hop On Hop Off bus tour.
Why Choose London Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours?
Travel in today’s fast-paced world can be hectic and will barely leave any time for slow exploration. Often, you stopover in a city for a day or two before continuing your journey. In a city like London, the challenge of visiting every attraction and exploring every landmark is humungous given the sheer number of sightseeing spots!
A great way to take a look at all the spots, and conveniently travel from one site to the other is by taking a hop on hop off bus. You will get pre-set routes that traverse the city and align with all the major attractions, plus you can view them from the comfort of a seat. Whether you are in the city for a day, a weekend, or more, the hop on hop off bus will be your best choice. London has three major hop on hop off Bus Tours, and each of them has its own advantages.
Advantages of Choosing a Hop On Hop Off London Bus Tour
1. Overview of the city
The unique advantage of hop on hop off bus tours is the overview they offer of London. The routes are designed in such a way that they wind through all the neighborhoods where the famous attractions and landmarks are located. As you pass through in an open-top double-decker bus you will spot all the monuments and find yourself familiarising with the cityscape. If you are short on time a round-trip on the routes will offer a view of the city’s iconic buildings, which one might watch only on video or print!
2. Ease of getting around
A lot of time on a trip is spent commuting between different attractions. Ideally, a private taxi that will ferry you around is the most convenient option but it can be very expensive, especially in a city like London. Public transportation is affordable and easily available, but you will have to spend time in figuring out the routes, purchase tickets, and wait for the transport to arrive. The best combination of time-saving and affordability is to get a hop on hop off bus ticket. The predetermined routes and comfortable buses will take you to your location within no time.
3. Various routes to choose from
The hop on hop off buses in London all have similar routes. The main areas they cover are – a route through Central London that covers all the major attractions, a route through West London that covers Kensington Gardens, the palace and the museums, a route through Westminster that covers Madame Tussauds and Baker Street and a route that connects King’s Cross station to central London. There are also additional transportation routes that help you get to and fro from your hotel.
4. Informative commentary
A hop on hop off bus tour is not just a way to get around the city, it also doubles as a guided tour where you can listen to pre-recorded commentary on what you are viewing at that moment. You will get insights into the history, myths and interesting information about the city’s landmarks. The main Central London route across all HOHO bus tours offer a live guide, while the rest of the routes have pre-recorded commentary in multiple languages. The Original Tour HOHO has kids commentary with customized content to keep them engaged.
A HOHO bus tour will help you save both time and money. Even if you choose to use the Metro to get around the cost of a single one-way ticket from King’s Cross to Tower of London costs £4.90, and you will end up using multiple of these over the course of your trip. Plus, you will also spend on other activities like walking tour and Thames River Cruise which come free with multi-day HOHO tickets. Thus, by buying one ticket you can save a lot of money on transportation. You will also save time from standing in queues for buying tickets; you can simply buy your preferred HOHO ticket online on Headout.
6. Entry ticket discounts
The HOHO tour companies in London – Original Tour, Big Bus Tour, and Golden Tours – all of them have special partnerships with London’s attractions. They offer exciting discounts on entry tickets and offer freebies as well. You will also get perks like skip the line entry or e-ticket entry, which might not be possible otherwise. Some of the popular attractions where you can find discounted tickets are Coca-Cola London Eye, London Dungeon, SEA LIFE London Aquarium, Shrek’s Adventure! London, Madame Tussauds, The View from the Shard, ZSL London Zoo, and Kensington Palace.
Popular Hop On Hop Off London Bus Routes
Hop On Hop Off London - Suggested Itineraries
1 Day Itinerary – Big Bus London
Start your London day trip with a ticket on the Big Bus HOHO Tour. First stop, take a walking tour where you can see the Changing of the Guard and then embark on the popular Big Bus HOHO Red Route where live guides will enthral you with stories of the city. Hop on and off at iconic landmarks like the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey. Make the most of the daytime bus hours by going on a round loop of the Blue Route which will take you through the scenic areas of Kensington Gardens, and Hyde Park. Finish your day with a one-way river cruise from Westminster Pier to Tower of London Pier.
2 Days Itinerary – Golden Tours London
Day 1 - Spend two days in London with the Golden Tours HOHO. Start your day with a walking tour either of The Changing of the Guard or The Beatles London Walking Tour and familiarise yourself with London’s streets. Then get onto the Classic Tour or the Golden Tours Red Route which takes you on a long route across monuments like Tower of London and even the museum district. Disembark at Charing Cross and explore the West End and even catch a show!
Day 2 – Today you can spend the day in taking the Golden Tours Orange Route or the Grand Route which will take you through Hyde Park and Regent’s Park. Stop at Madame Tussauds and then head to the British Museum. Finally, stop at the Tower of London Pier and take the river cruise down to Westminster Pier. Here, you can use the attraction discounts and explore attractions like the London Eye, Shrek’s Adventure and many more exciting experiences.
3 Days Itinerary – Original Tour London
Day 1 – Three days in London will give you enough time to explore each of London’s attractions at your own pace. Start your first day on the Original Tour Blue Route and explore the Royal Albert Hall, Victoria & Albert Museum and the Science Museum. Then switch over to the Original Tour Red Route Shuttle which will take you up to Madame Tussauds and Baker Street. If the weather is right, embark on a pleasant river cruise down the Thames from Westminster Pier to Greenwich.
Day 2 – Witness the epic Changing of the Guard on a free walking tour, and then follow it up with a tour of Buckingham Palace and St. James Palace. Spend the day hopping on and off the Original Tour Yellow Route that is it’s most popular route as it takes you across all the important sightseeing spots in London including Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
Day 3 – Take the Original Tour Orange Route Shuttle today to go see Britain’s treasures at the British Museum. Then jump onto the Original Tour Yellow Route again and have fun at attractions like the London Eye, London Dungeon and Sea Life London, on which you will get exciting discounts.
Hop On Hop Off London Tips
- Check the validity – HOHO tour companies have different validity options. Big Bus Tour HOHO is valid for calendar while Original Tour and Golden Tours tickets are valid for a number of hours. Choose your ticket wisely depending on how long you are going to be in London.
- Use freebies according to bus schedule – All the HOHO tour companies offer walking tours and river cruises with your ticket. Check the timings of the walking tours and river cruises and ideally use them before or after the bus timings, so that you can make the most out of the bus service.
- Sit on the right side – Traffic in London is right-hand side driving and if you want to take a closer look at the monuments and attractions it’s best to sit on the right side of the bus. Also, the likelihood of getting top deck seats is higher when you get on to the bus from the first point of departure.
- Be prepared for the weather – Most HOHO tours offers open-top double-decker buses which are open to the elements. They run all through the year irrespective of the year and hence it’s best to keep yourself protected. Umbrellas are not allowed so pack raincoats instead, plus get warm clothing for the winter.
- Keep your baggage in lockers – HOHO buses do not allow you to bring large luggage or suitcases on board, also a lot of attractions do not have locker rooms for big storage. You can use a locker service instead in prime locations across the city. Some of the services you can use are BagBnB, LuggageHero, or Stasher.
- Advance booking of attraction tickets – London’s attractions have long queues and the only way to avoid them is by booking tickets in advance. You can use the exclusive discounts offered by the HOHO companies or book skip the line tickets from Headout.
- Plan your day ahead – You will have a limited time when the attractions are open and you do not want to waste it getting onto the wrong stop or wrong timings. Make sure you download the maps and bus routes from the website, Big Bus even has a mobile app for the same. Plan your day’s itinerary and the stops you need to use.
- Do the round loop – Sometimes taking a round loop of the HOHO buses is the best way to maximise your time and draw value from the pass. You could hop on and hop off on a longer route and then just on a round trip on a completely different route so you don’t miss out on viewing the attractions.