I found that the big bus tour was completely worth it for me! I was able to buy the 48 hour special ticket (you buy for one day but get to ride for 2 days). I was staying by the British Museum and there was a stop right near there that I could get on.
I found it to be worthwhile because the tube can be sort of expensive. So rather than spend my funds on the tube and hoping on and off the tube, I was able to hop on and off the bus while I was learning facts! I believe there are 3 routes. One of them is live commentary and the other two are recordings. I found I enjoyed both live and recorded.
I enjoyed the rooftop seating despite it being the winter when I went on the tour.
I understand it's sort of touristy to get on tour buses but really I have found it one of the best ways to get to the scope of the land. It helped me gather my sense of direction and also allowed me the opportunity to see some of the biggest sites quiet quickly.
The Big Bus Tour is a great tour around London on a open top bus, As well as the open top bus tour, a River Thames Cruise and Walking Tours of London are included in the ticket. The Walking Tours are normally seven pounds as well and the River Thames tour is normally £8.78.
The tour sees Big Ben and the Houses of parliament, Green Park, Westminster Abbey and St Pauls as well as much more.
I got on the Original Tour which is a man explaining everything in English, without headphones going around central London, it was very educational and intresting, he explained the story behind Green Park, why we were taking diversions and cant directly pass Buckingham Palace as well as sharing a few jokes and personal stories while stuck in traffic.
If you book the tour online it is £24 an Adult and half price for Children, which is alot cheaper than getting it on the day, it is 6 pound extra an adult and 3 pound a child to make the 24 hour ticket a 48 hour, if you are in London for a few days, as they do have a large amount of tours, it is well worth doing the 48 hour tour.
My tour wasn't the experiance others would get and the same price due to Ride London causing diversions, although the open top bus tour was very good I can not give more than 4 star because of this
They told my husband when he bought our tickets that they were good for 48 hours but when we boarded the first bus at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, we were told our tickets expired at 7:00 p.m. Saturday. Well, that wasn't good because we had already booked a trip to Bath, Windsor Castle and Stonehenge for Saturday and wanted to ride the tour bus a little on Sunday. So we could actually only use the tickets for 14 hours. Very deceiving. My husband was furious. They wouldn't refund his money.
Our first guide was informative and entertaining, but the second one was a crude older man. We had difficulty understanding both of them because of their accents and low voice volume.
Wasn't a great experience.
We booked the 48 hour tour in advance. They have a few routes, but they are all something you could get done with the 24 hour pass. Certain buses have live commentary, which was a really nice perk. Try to get on one of these buses, they make the your more fun! The buses without this still have head phone tours, so you still get the history lesson. I never felt like the buses were overcrowded, it was a beautiful day when we went and we got to sit upstairs no matter when we got on.
The only dislike was that the bus was very hot downstairs, so there wasn't really any relief from the sun.
Ensure you book online the day before if you choose to go, as it will save quite a bit. The majority of these guides need rebooting. Only one t of four chaps we had was halfway decent. Everyone else was so monotone and boring it was flat out miserable.
Traffic today was horrible which added to it, but honestly the guides sound like they are delivering their own eulogy. Find a job you are passionate about. We also noted that misinformation was being passed along to us, which is a disservice to this great city and the company.
Bottom line, I spent a great deal for a miserable experience today.
Update - went back today and had a much better guide, unfortunately didn't have the time to make use of more than one stop. We advised to contact the company to attempt to get some type of a refund.
I'm bummed reading some of these reviews because we had a GREAT experience! Red bus is the way to go for the live commentary tour as opposed to the blue bus tour which is audio. We made the mistake of not hopping on & off enough as we took it to get the lay of the land & see everything quickly. In hindsight we should have got off at Harrod's just to do a quick look see & we didn't get off at Notting Hill Gate or Kensington Palace so we wound up having to go back to those. This bus is way better than the overcrowded underground train. & we took the River cruise that comes with your bus ticket & LOVED it!
Hop on & off more, that's my best advice
I wasn't a fan.
I paid for 4 people for 2 days. I feel I wasted a ton of money. It would have been cheaper for 4 to have used a taxi each time i wanted to go someplace. We picked the bus up at Harrods as i was staying close by. It defiantly stopped often, however they were not at any major points and no one got either on or off at them. It seemed to waste time. Then it makes a stop each time at Baker Street where you have to switch busses and show your tickets. So you end up loosing a decent seat. Finally we jumped off and walked from Trafalgar Sq to Buckingham Palace then on to the London Eye. We got off the eye and went straight to the bus stop. Although it said they picked up till 8:30 they don't really. At 8:15-8:30 we saw no buses. We took a taxi back.
Took the bus from Harrods to Westminster. We then walked to the London Tower along the Thames (great walk but much longer than you would think). We picked the bus back up at the London Tower to head back to Harrods. At 6:15 we were asked where we were heading, we told them. We were then told no buses were going there tonight and they would do their best to get us as close as they could. They dropped us off in the middle of a street we didn't know. We wandered for a while then finally asked directions. We were several blocks from the Victoria Albert Museum. It wouldn't have been bad except that we had walked for a very long time already.
Needless to say... i found them unreliable and a huge waste of time. I spent hours on the bus and still didn't make it a single ride around the route.
It wasn't for us. We wouldn't do it again.
My boyfriend and I were in London for a short trip and as such had only a limited amount of time to see the city. We decided the best way to see as much of the city as possible was to take a bus tour.
We chose BBT for the price, the number of stops (upwards of 40), the ability to hop on and off, and that one of the stops was right outside our hotel.
I was a bit skeptical at first but this tour is fantastic! It hits all the major tourist spots and has pleasant commentary if you choose to listen. You are free to hop on and off the tour as often as you'd like without worrying about waiting for the next bus since they come every 5-15 minutes.
We didn't realize the day we booked our tour was the day of the London Marathon which, at first, seemed unfortunate since some of the stops were diverted. Luckily customer service came through and we were given an extra day free. This was wonderful since we were able to use the busses to get around the city the following day instead of paying for a taxi/bus/Underground.
All the drivers and employees were extremely friendly and eager to help with the questions we had. Our last driver of the day even went out of his way to drop off the last few passengers directly in front of their hotels.
We saw nearly the entire city in one day. Once you figure out the Big Bus routes, it's a no brainer. The staff at each stop are extremely helpful in guiding you to your next stop amd recomending local spots.
This company needs to hire some new employees. We found the majority of them to be unprofessional and they seem to hate their jobs and tourists, which is interesting considering their occupation. We did have one excellent guide today. His name was Jess and he seemed to really enjoy showing people the city. As a side note, their maps are horrible and difficult to read because they're so out of scale. I would not recommend this bus company to anyone visiting London.
We did this tour our first day in London. It was informative, but it also makes the sites seem much farther apart then they actually are. If you have an extra day while in London this tour can help you see some sights that you would not necessarily know about or have time to explore in depth that are interesting.
There are 3 different buses within the Big Bus Tour. The blue line runs the longest route but doesn't have a live speaker only a recorded audio guide and can have long periods without any information given. The red line in my opinion was the best line it is almost as long as the blue line and runs along a similar route but does have a tour guide speaking. If you are planning on doing a full loop of the red or blue line be prepared for it to be most of your day. It can take 20 min for a red bus to come and the loop was around 3 hours. It doesn't give you a lot of time to hop off and back on at multiple stops throughout the day. The green line is the shortest line, but I didn't have time to go on that route.
I enjoyed my tour very much. Being able to hop on and off was great. But...some of the stops are a bit tricky to find, so I wandered around a little looking for the stops, which wasted time. The company has a phone app which shows the map and what tourist attractions are close to each stop. It would be amazing if the app showed when the next bus arrived (maybe it does do this, but I wasn't able to find this feature). The red bus has a real person giving the tour-two of the three guides I heard today were fantastic- very personable, funny, and with great tidbits about each stop. The third was also good, just not quite as interactive.
The boat stop had a long line, and the boat was quite full, but, I did it ayway, and it was nice to be on the water.
I would definitely do this tour again, even though it was $32 pounds (approx $50usd) for a 24 hour pass.
A 12 hour pass would have been perfect.
Excellent way to see the city!
I have always avoided these tours but I was convinced to try one.
We had a great time and I would highly recommend BBT to a first time visitor. You can get your bearings in 3 hours and have a really good idea of what to do. All of the tour guides were highly knowledgeable and each shared unique facts during our trip. We actually did the entire loop twice and did not find it repetitious or boring because the guides each had their own presentation rather than a canned speech.
You cant go wrong!
I recently booked the big bus hop on hop off bus your while enjoying a quick stop off in London. I came in from Kings Cross station and this tour company had a branch line which picks up right outside. The company we booked from also said that this company would have a greater frequency of pickups although there were a few times where I think we waited longer than original advised. I think we were told that busses are every 20 minutes however at stops with both the red and blue lines (most of them), you are only likely to wait 10 minutes between busses.
The tour has two lines - a red line and a blue line. I think the blue has an additional extended line out towards Kensington palace and the red line had a live guide versus a recording which is much more entertaining and usually provided a better commentary. The entire loop takes quite awhile - 4 hours and we were never able to complete the entire loop in the day we had in London.
One of the best selling points of this tour was the fact that you could get off at the Tower of London stop and jump on the City cruises boat tour for free down to the Parliament and Westminster Abbey. This was one of the top highlights of our entire trip to London.
I usually don't come on to Yelp to complain and I'm perfectly willing to acknowledge that this might have just been a one-off thing. But we just had a rotten time with this company.
We were in London for just one day and decided to use Big Bus for hop-on/hop-off. The bus was diverted several times for traffic issues, so we were stuck in the same area for over an hour. I understand that this isn't the fault of the company, but some update or advice from the driver about how long we'd be stuck on this path would have been nice. Instead we heard the same canned bit about the famous black taxi cabs at least twice (it may have been three times, there's some debate amongst my family on that). Additionally, we were given an out-of-date brochure when we got on the tour which resulted in us showing up for a walking tour an hour late. This was a big aggravation because the Harry Potter walking tour was how we'd sold this whole thing to our nine-year-old.
When we expressed our dismay at having been given an out-of-date brochure, the staff member we talked to told is that he "hated" them too.
All in all, it sounds like their staff aren't paid enough? Or treated well enough? Or whatever it is to feel any responsibility for making sure the trip works for you.
When we wrote to complain to the company we got a response, which was quite heartening. But they asked us for our a copy of our tickets... do people really save tickets from a day trip? Since we told them we didn't have our tickets anymore, we haven't heard back. Very disappointing.
Our next trip to London, we'll save ourselves the 70 pounds and just pick out some sites and use the London Underground. That map seems pretty reliable.
Good way to see the sights but its really hit-or-miss. We had one great guide with personality, then one that sounded like a recording. Yawn, put me to sleep.
Also, there are 3 lines. The only one worth taking seems to be the RED tour. Blue and green ARE recorded and are very dry.
Lastly, we were on and it seemed they wanted to close down so they just simply came through and asked us where we were going. We said, "just finishing this loop" and they said the bus was done. (Note this was before the "final bus" time as far as we could tell. So...if you ride late, watch the time.
Lastly, this is NOT a quick tour. It takes you hours to do a loop of the city. It is, after all, running through a lot of traffic.
Also, book online for a discount!!!
10000000000000000 times worth it! Seriously!
Big Bus Tours are having comfortable 2-floor buses with headphones for a 6-languages guide about each sightseeing *-* Or you can listen to the live guide which is much more fun - love British accents and jokes!
They do have two routes and attending them, you're gonna end up with check marks opp. all London's showplaces :)
It's really FUN at night )
We took this tour with a desire to cut down on the amount of walking we had to do. The stops were quite a distance from the places we wanted to see. We had trouble with "diversions" or detours on the route, so we could not get near Buckingham Palace. We ended up in a traffic jam...gridlock near Trafalgar Square!
I heard the same info about Mayfair and the Grosvenor family three times. You must transfer to see other routes, something that was not explained well. Also,if you see a pile of earphones, grab some, they are necessary to hear the commentary on the blue route.
Jumped on with a friend to do a proper tour of London.
Overall, it is a great way to get a spread of the land - with the Red tour being the way to go. If English isn't your strongest language, jumping on a Blue tour would be better - as they have recorded narratives in 8 different languages.
The thing with these bus tours is that you get a very "outside looking in" feeling as opposed to actually being a part of the atmosphere feeling. The simple way to solve that is to jump off the bus and walk around. The problem is that there are so many deserving places to do that, that you just have to pick and choose and prioritize.
The staff are nice and friendly and the buses are clean. Be careful though, the uncovered section can get quite drafty - so be sure to bring a scarf or windbreaker if sitting there. Besides that, sit back, relax, and watch London be presented before you in its full glory.
So the first time I came to London I took a tour using The Original London Sightseeing Tour and was VERY disappointed. Here is the big benefit of Big Bus Tours.... if you fly into Heathrow and take the train to Paddington station you can pre purchase your tickets online and hop on the train. With the other company they tell you that you first need to go to one of the main stops.
We can up from the station... and the bus was there in 2 mins... we hopped on and then transferred to a live tour line and enjoyed the rest of the tour. The tour guy was a good mix of informative and funny... the jokes were not bad puns and uncomfortable pauses like many tours. I would do this tour over "The Original".
My review is based solely on just staying on the bus to see the sights from the bus. We also have a 7 day Oyster card, but we wanted some commentary about the sites. My family and I really enjoyed the tour. The guide was very informative and funny. We started at Green Park (Sunday morning - no traffic; I highly recommend that day) and got off at the Tower of London. Then we transferred to their tour boat and went to Westminster Bridge. From there we walked to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards.
Overall, we felt this was a great way to see all the sites from one place. We are doing walking tours throughout London, but we had a fun morning with them.
Here's a little secret . . . . I am not a good tourist in cities that I know. London is just one of those cities. But when colleagues I was traveling with kept asking to go see this and that, I decided some quick orientation was in order. Enter Big Bus Tours.
For 25 pounds (adult) they take you all over the city in about 2.5 hours. While you can go on the audio route- I suggest you ask to find the bus that has the live guide- so much more interesting and they are usually filled with fun facts and tidbits that no audio guide will give you. For me- it's the guides who make it bearable as they are charming and witty.
-You can get off and back on anywhere the bus stops
-The ticket is good for 24 hours
-The commentary is in English (although you can ask and they will tell you what buses are speaking German, French, etc)
-They hit all the landmarks your group is clamoring to see and point out some unique photo opportunities not to be missed
-You can also take part of the tour on a boat up the Thames
Most hotels sell the ticket vouchers at their concierge that you just turn in at your first stop to the person who will turn it into your 24 hour ticket.
Oh and if it's a nice day? Try to sit up top in the doubledecker bus. The pictures are so much better from up there.
Thanks Big Bus Tours. You saved me from being the tour guide and for that I am always appreciative!
Hopped on the Big Bus Tour near the Marble Arch, because it was sprinkling, I was cold, everything else was closed due to Easter, and I just didn't feel like walking anymore. It was 25 pounds for the day, and I think a little more if you wanted a 2-day pass. We chose this one over the red bus tour (you'll see them all over and back to back), because I thought the bus looked "classier" and the side graphics on the bus weren't as cheesy. Yeah, that was the deciding factor.
So these guys with these credit card machines sell you the pass and basically it's a print out of the receipt. Honestly, I have no idea if they use a different color or not for different days, but the drivers don't really look at the receipt so you could probably reuse it! Don't think I didn't think about it (but didn't do it because we just ran out of time).
So you jump on and there are two different kinds of tours, one is live with a guy like Vince Vaughn in "The Breakup" and the other is a taped recording in which they provide headphones and you can plug in an aux outlet at any of the seats. The latter bus is eerily quiet because everyone is listening to their headphones. We happened to try both, but they do take different routes so be careful if you're using the bus as a form of transportation.
Speaking of which, I would NOT recommend it as transportation because it takes FOREVER to get anywhere. They wait for passengers, and sometimes you're waiting for someone to buy tickets and then you have congestion, so do it if you have patience. Or like us, it's a rainy day, you just got off the plane, and you want to do an overall reconn trip to help plan for later.
We hopped off and walked around, but got back on because all the metro stations were closed due to the holiday and because they're getting ready for the 2012 Olympics, which is a pain in the arse. Be prepared to take replacement buses overground during the weekends, because random stations and stops will be closed. May the transportation gods be with you.
Anyway, if you get a good guide, great. Ours was pretty freakin' hilarious, calling the people on the other bus losers, called Starbucks, St. Arbucks, and other various quips which were probably his way of just giving the middle finger to the world vis a vis the tourists.
However, I was sick as a dog having caught a cold, so the second time we hopped on the bus, it actually took us 1 1/2 hours to get back to our hotel, so I learned nothing about London, but did have a nice, long nap.
It's a little on the pricey side, but a good way to see everything. We didn't get to take advantage of the Thames tour, but I would recommend it since you're paying for it.
Great tour! Got to see almost all of the main sights...Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, The London Eye, Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, and so on and so forth.
So much better having a live guide rather than having everything pre-recorded (unlike some tours).
IF you plan to go to London for a while then take this tour. Be entertained and prepared to learn a lot.
Took this tour with a friend who lives in London. Even with her local knowledge, this was a good way to get an overview, and see a lot fairly quickly.
There are several routes, and you can hop on and off at sites that interest you. We didn't have much time, so we stayed on for about 3/4 of the route and got off near a museum we wanted to see.
We were able to haggle them down on the price, but even full price would be worth it. The commentary was informative and funny, and I learned a lot about London in general.
We were only in London for 3 nights, so we didn't want to waste time on the Tube. We decided to book a double decker tour bus. Honestly, I don't think there is much of a difference between the Big Bus Tour and the Original Bus Tour. They are both plentiful and around the same price. I liked Big Bus Tours because their customer service dept responded to email questions very promptly.
The tours were interesting and the guides were friendly and informative. Go with the 2-day package to save some money. If you know your exact dates, you can purchase online and save even more money.
Keep in mind if you want to get an early start to your day, you will want to get to one of the first stops. Otherwise, you might be waiting for a while for the bus to pick you up.
Did a 2 day tour on this Big Bus, a double decker bus covered on the bottom half and the top half covered only on the front top part with the top back open so it's a bit windy and cold if the temp is 32 degrees. u can jump on and off at all the stops onto the other Big Buses though out the day
The Bus Tour itself starts at 8:30am and ends at 6pm. Red Line Bus takes 2:15 hrs if u were to stay on the bus and never get off and it also has a live person talking about the sites u are seeing (my personal favorite since the live person usually adds fun facts or jokes to the mix.)
The Blue Line Bus take 3:15 hrs and it's a recorded guide, they give u headsets and u can chose from many different languages...they also give u a poncho incase of that sudden burst of a rain cloud.
The day we bought our tickets they had a "Buy one day and get another day free" so that was a bonus.
If your thinking about riding the whole thing around once before u start to hop off on your own i would say get to the bus before anyone else and grab the top 4 seats in front. these are popular seats!!! how do i know??? cuz i sat in them and had to almost knock people over to get to these seats. you see when anyone who is already seated in these seats start to show any indication that they might be getting off the bus people jump at these seats even if they are in the 2nd row behind the seats. now they are prime seats after all it's a huge window in front of u and your covered from the wind.
Some of the places u see are Big Ben, London Eye, London Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Sherlock Holmes, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge, Downing Street.
Also you ticket includes a FREE river cruise (didn't do) and a few FREE Guided Walking Tours (did do) ...we did a Walking Ghost Tour and it was sooooo fun, started at 4:30 for about 1.5 hrs of walking around to different haunted sites and in between we stopped at a Pub for a quick drink.
This is a must if you are visiting London in a short amount of time. Plug your ear buds into the audio socket and sit in for a historical tour of London--end to end.
Very convenient stops to hot spot locations. You can get off at any point and get back on at any point. Beware that during very cold weather the bus is not heated and the doors remain open during all stops until the driver starts up again.
The best suggestion we received before heading to London was to take this tour. This is truly the best way to see the sights and learn about the sights. A ticket gives you 24 hour access to the double-decker buses. There are three lines--red, blue, and green. The red line makes 30 stops all over town and you are given a live tour guide. The guides are very informative. Some have more humor then others but all provide really great information. The blue line makes the same 30 stops plus I think 8 more stops. The difference is the added stops but also there is no live tour guide. Rather, you get an audio recording. The green line I think had some extra stops. With your ticket, you also get access to the river boats.
What is great about the ticket is you basically have the ability to hit every single tourist mecca and get on and off as little or as much as you like. We got off at the Tower of London, got back on for a bit and got off for lunch, then got back on to go to a museum, and then back on to get to a shopping area.
Two major tips. First, consider buying the 5 pound upgrade, which gives you an additional 24 hours on the bus. You have to make the purchase before you hand in your ticket and are given your travel voucher. Second, the company sells tickets to all of the major attractions. You should buy your tickets from them. The tickets are cheaper than at the door and you get to cut the whole ticket buying line. When we got off at the Tower of London, we bought our ticket with one of the employees and saved ourselves 2 pounds each and cut the line. Before getting back on, we bought tickets to Madame Tussaud and saved a bundle.
The price of the ticket is a bit high, especially when most of the busses do not have guided tours. The audio tour had a BIG problem---when ever I stood up with my earbuds on, a shock was delivered to my ears....!
We were spoiled on our fist journey, as we had a very empty bus, and a live guide. He was excellent, though I forget his name..booo!
I would reccomend this for your first day, to help you plan what you would like to see more of, then get thee an underground travelcard and take the tube for the rest of the time in London.
Not bad if you want a tour of the city, but don't expect speed! I would not recommend using this bus as your transportation, it will take forever. Do the full out bus tour your first day in the city (it will take you about 3 hours) so that you know where everything is located, then go back and explore the places that look interesting.
The commentary is good and tells you about all of the landmarks you pass. The boat tour was ok, not that exciting and pretty slow.
The one huge complaint I have is that at one point, the bus made a 30 minute stop and they made us switch buses...also throughout the route made a bunch of stops, but at least most were quick.
Overall a pretty good bus tour of the city of London.
I have been to London many times and know how to get around efficiently and I have never taken any bus tours until this past summer.
I brought my 17 year old son to London. He had never been before so I thought it would be kind of fun to do the double decker bus tour.
It makes stops all over London and you can get off at any stop and jump on another at any time. During the ride there is a tour guide that tells you the history of places you past by and some fun facts too.
It started to rain a bit so they handed out panchos but you could go downstairs if you would prefer.
I highly recommend taking the Big Bus. Your ticket last all day and it's better than being cramped up in the tube.
I forgot to mention that included with the price of the bus tour is a ride on a boat on the Thames to Greenwich. yelp.co.uk/biz_photos/Ls…
Not a lot of time, but plenty to see so hop on the Big Bus! You can hop on and off all you like! There are also headphones to explain everything you'd want to see in a variety of languages if you're not lucky enough to have one of the great guides.
If you purchase your ticket prior to arrival, you'll manage to save a few Euros. Just remember to take a peek at the color route you're on as well as the color route you'd like to stay on....we saw a few of the same things twice and got back to our hotel later than we expected as we weren't paying attention.
Some buses are covered on the top so you can sit up there comfortably whatever Mother Nature brings! While the buses may be accessible, I never saw one which was. :/
Ok so I don't usually like to walk around screaming "Tourist!!!" when I'm on vacation, but given the time constraints of this trip I think the Big Bus Tour was just the ticket my family and I needed to see all that we could see in London.
They're staff is friendly and knowledgeable and the hop on hop off feature gives you the time you need to browse your favorite tourist spots without worrying about missing your ride.
Sit back and enjoy the sites while listening to one of their tour guides, use their alternating routes without missing a beat. But be forewarned, buses can get really crowded and the ride can feel a bit long if you're far from your desired destination.
I have taken many hop on hop off bus tours and this was by far the best. This company has the friendliest and most caring staff. If you only have a day in London this is the way to go since it will take you to all the main sites. The Manager Ron was amazing and Big Steve was #1 when it came to tour guides. There are many double decker bus tours in the city but this one is the best. I can't imagine having a better experience.
I'm a Yank who has lived in the Uk for a couple years now, and I always encourage friends or fam who come to visit to do the bus tour thing. It's an easy way at the start of a trip to get an eye for what's around and the lay of the land so that you can then go back and do the stuff that really interests you. I've been on both the Original bus tour and the Big Bus Tour, and both have their pros and cons. The Original Bus Tour had more route options, while the Big Bus Tour's routes were basically the same with one small side detour. Yet, I probably preferred Big Bus Tour because the buses were cleaner and newer looking, and we had some issues with customer service on the Orignal Bus Tour. Big Bus workers were very polite and helpful and I felt like their tours were a bit funnier, though of course that really comes down to the person giving the tour.
Both are okay, so you'll be fine either way, but I'm putting my 'name' on this one.
This was one of the best decisions we made prior to arriving in London. This company operates the hop on hop off tours which can be conducted or audio guided. The number of stops varies by red, blue or green lines. The Thames river cruise is also part of the deal. On the morning of April 11, 2012 we walked over to the bus stand near the Ritz on Piccadily. We purchase tickets for the red line and were ushered onto a kneeling bus.
We decided to stay on the bus for its entire route and make notes on the places we wanted to alight at. Then after a break for lunch, we got back on the bus. This time we got off several times. The kneeling buses gave us ample opportunity to hop off and on. This included bio breaks since there are no facilities on these buses. The drivers were extremely helpful getting my wheelchair off and on as were the riverboat staff. We took the river cruise at the end of the day and returned to our hotel. Later, we went to the King's Head for a pub dinner.
Went to London for a 3 day get away. Took the Big Bus Tour on the first day and it was an, experience.
Pros: The bus covers all the major attractions to the city.
You can eat on the bus and hop on or hop off at any point you choose.
Your ticket includes one free ferry ride on the Thames (one way only).
You can also join walking guided tours of the city with your voucher. (Meet up for the guided tours of the Big Bus is located outside of Trafalgar Square on the corner of Suffolk St. and E. Pall Mall. Look for the bus stop past the National Gallery walking westward. I found it after the fact so I missed the walking tour.)
Your voucher is valid for 24 hours from the time that you first board the bus.
All these perks make the online purchase price worth it (purchasing online gives you a small discount).
Cons: The Big Bus is just your average bus that instead of picking up locals as passengers, pick up tourists. You're still limited to the same trappings of traffic jams and people who need to purchase their tickets at the last minute.
So if you're trying to milk your voucher for everything it's worth don't plan to have a time schedule when you ride this bus. The bus is chronically off schedule.
I was on the bus tour with the live guide and he was less than enthusiastic and the drivers are either really polite, rude or politely rude.
Many of the other passengers decided to get off the bus and walk because of the horrible traffic in London, including myself. Make sure you have a whole day dedicated to taking this bus tour to make absolute best use of your voucher. I wish I knew this then.
As with every bus you spend a lot of time standing around waiting for it to come around. You'll need to factor this into your schedule also. Buses are color coded so you'll know if you're getting on the right bus going to your desired destination.
There are attendants at every bus stop to answer questions and process your voucher purchase. If you've purchased your voucher online hand them your printed receipt and they'll give you your boarding voucher.
If you've taken this bus once you'll never do it again. Getting a map and an oyster card for future trips is more effective. You'll make better use of your time if you only have a few days, an itinerary, and lots of destinations planned.
Long layover? Don't bore yourself to tears in the Heathrow airport.
Leave the airport, head to Picadilly Circus and hop a Big Bus.
You'll be able to quickley see a lot of London highlights. Plus you can get on and off the bus as you please. Buses ran frequently, were clean and the staff was fantastic.
So, how do you do this?
First you'll need to go through customs and get your passport stamped. There should be representatives waiting in the "gift shop" type area as you make your way through customs. Buy a round trip ticket for the Heathrow Express (HEX) to Paddington (it's about a 45 minute train ride from Heathrow).
Upon arriving at the Paddington station, find the Bunkaroo Line (Tube). You'll need to walk down a set of stairs. Tickets can be purchased at the bottom of the stairs (you'll need a day pass)
Take the Bunkaroo Line in the direction of Elephant & Castle.
Get off at the train Picadilly Circus and exit on to Regent Street and look for a bus stop. The bus stop signs will tell you where the Big Bus stops.
Within 10 minutes (if not immediately) a Big Bus will pull up. You can buy your tickets right on the bus, then sit back and relax.
As long as you don't get off and on a ton, you should be able to ride the bus completely around the city and back to Picadilly Circus with enough time to grab a bite and get back to Heathrow with plenty of time for your flight.
Some stops I suggest (you probably won't be able to do all of these):
...... Tower of London (where the Crown Jewels are kept & Beafeaters)
...... The Horse Guards (walk through St. James Park to Buckingham Palace - this will take some time)
...... Regent Street for some quick/hectic shopping.
...... Or, included in the price of your ticket is a boat tour and walking tour. I didn't do either of these but I bet they'd be great.
All in all, this was a great way to spend 9 hours in London.
Well, probably they are looking for more money right now, and it changed dramatically....
Do not take this tour, especially if you are a couple or a family / party of four or more. With the same amount of money you all together pay (it costs 25 pounds for one adult), you could take a taxi and see all attractions. And then you go back with public transport to see the ones you are interested. Hopping on and off this dreadful bus will make you lose one full day for very little.
My mother, my wife and my sister and I were in London for a family long weekend in late November 2009. Even if we already knew London rather well, we decided to take the Big Bus Tour for "refreshing our memories".
It was a dreadful experience. It took the bus two full hours on a Sunday morning - when there is less traffic - to go from Gloucester Road to Madame Trussauds. The bus stopped all the time and it took ages for the driver and his collaborators to process new requests for tickets. Passangers were squeezed in the lower deck as if it were a normal public bus and I wonder how one could possibily think about making people do a sightseeing in these conditions.
We tried to take the tour twice and, in both occasions, at the same stop, we were forced to leave the bus as the bus ahead of ours was not completely packed and therefore the Big Bus Company had to sqeeze us all in one bus to earn more money.
It was really a negative experience - certainly not to be repeated.
It is much better to buy a day travel card of London Transport (5.60 pounds for one adult) and to take the buses. Bus number 11 goes via the Westminster Cathedral, the Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Aldwych, St Paul's (for the Tate Modern also), etc. It is a very nice sightseeing.
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