city-walks London

London Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tours

Looking for the best and cheapest hop-on hop-off bus tour for your sightseeing in London? Learn all about the top 4 hop-on hop-off providers in London with this review and comparison 2024. In the 3 sections you will find following information:

1.) The Comparison Table with 4 providers. This is the perfect support for your selection. See the differences and prices in the comparison table at more than 20 positions on numerous topics. That means you can immediately recognize the crucial differences on the various positions like the routes, bus stops, cancellation options, ticket prices ...

2.) In the section Top Hop-off Stops you will find some recommendations for a sightseeing stop at the routes of the 4 reviewed providers. Discover the top stops and take a closer look at your favorite attractions in London. See which sights you can reach with a short walk.

3.) The Short Description and Review Conclusion summarizes the main points of the various bus tours. Read the review conclusion with the pros and cons and learn how the different hop-on hop-off offers distinct from each other. So it will be easy for you to find the best city sightseeing bus tour for your needs.

My tips on buying:

  • Big Bus Offer: Book online now and get 20% discount on hop-on hop-off bus tours. With the promotional code CITYWALKS10LDN, you can get additional up to 10% off. Just enter the code at following Big Bus website* in the field promotional code before you finish your order.
  • Tootbus Offer: The Headout ticket store is currently offering special prices for Tootbus hop-on hop-off bus tours. There you can buy Tootbus tickets with up to 25% discount. And that with full flexibility due to the included free cancellation option: Headout Tootbus Tickets*

1. Comparison Table

Hop-on Hop-off Bus: Big Bus Tours* Tootbus* City Sightseeing* Golden Tours*
Tickets for: 24h, 48h 24h, 48h, 72h 24h, 48h 1 day, 24h, 48h, 72h
Number of sightseeing routes: 2 lines 2 lines 2 lines 3 lines
Additional shuttle routes:
Stops: approx. 50 approx. 40 approx. 35 approx. 60
First and last departure on main line: 8:15 / 18:00 o'clock ¹ 8:30 / 17:00 o'clock ¹ 8:30 / 16:50 o'clock ¹ 9:20 / 18:30 o'clock ¹
Bus intervals main line: 10 min ¹ 15 min ¹ 15 min ¹ 20 min ¹
Duration of the center tour - main line: approx. 150 min – red route approx. 120 min - yellow route approx. 150 min – red route approx. 100 min – blue route
Link to bus route map: Big Bus Route Map* Tootbus Map* City Sightseeing Map* Golden Tours Route Map*
Bus with free WIFI on board:
Audio guide and headphones incl.:
Number of languages: 5 5 10 11
Audio guide for kids in English:
Tour with live commentary in English:
Mobile app with routes, maps and info: Big Bus Tours App* Tootbus App* Golden Tours App*
Open top buses:
Guided walking tour incl.: ²
Night tour incl.: ³
Thames river cruise incl.: ² ² ²
Included in sightseeing pass: Explorer Pass, London Pass, City Pass Explorer Pass, London Pass
Mobile ticket on the smartphone:
Validity of standard online tickets: pre-defined date / rebookable² pre-defined date 12 months pre-defined date
Free cancellation option:
Approx. prices for online orders: hours
24: £ 44.00
48: £ 54.00
Explore 48: £ 64.00
Now -10% Discount!
24: £ 41.40
48: £ 47.70
72: £ 54.00
Discovery 24:
£ 35.10
Now -25% Discount!
24: £ 45.00
48: £ 55.00
Iconic 24:
£ 39.00
24: £ 45.00
48: £ 53.00
72: £ 59.00
1: £ 39.00

¹) Departure times depend on the season.
²) Not included in Big Bus 24h Discover ticket, Tootbus Discovery ticket, City Sightseeing Iconic ticket and Golden Tours 1-day ticket.
³) Only included in Big Bus 48h Explore ticket.
⁴) Must be exchanged into a paper ticket on-site.

Prices & info as of May 24, 2024

2. Top Hop-off Stops

Westminster Bridge:

The Westminster Bridge offers an excellent view of the Big Ben Clock Tower with the neighboring House of Parliament and the impressive London Eye at the opposite river bank. If you have the time and desire, you may enjoy the view on a short walk along the Thames.

  • Big Bus Tours: Red route stop 11
  • Tootbus: Yellow route stop 3
  • City Sightseeing: Red route stop 20
  • Golden Tours: Blue route stop 12

Buckingham Palace:

The hop-on hop-off buses do not pass directly in the front of Buckingham Palace but stop near a side entrance of the palace, in Buckingham Gate street. From there you have to walk about 300 m towards the Victoria Memorial if you want to have a nice view on the front of the palace. However, a good view of the palace can be difficult if you go down in the crowds of people during the Changing of the Guard. So you should avoid the times during the Changing of the Guard if you only want to see the palace.

  • Big Bus Tours: Red route stop 23
  • Tootbus: Yellow route stop 13
  • City Sightseeing: Red route stop 11
  • Golden Tours: Blue route stop 24

Trafalgar Square:

The Trafalgar Square is a huge public square in Central London. Here you can take a look at the approximately 50 m high Nelson's Column, admire the building of the National Gallery or sit down at one of the fountains and watch the hustle and bustle on the square.

  • Big Bus Tours: Red route stop 7
  • Tootbus: Yellow route stop 2
  • City Sightseeing: Red route stop 19
  • Golden Tours: Red route stop 18

3. Short Description and Review Conclusion:

Directly to:
Big Bus Tours    
City Sightseeing    
Golden Tours    

The hop-on hop-off routes offered by Big Bus Tours cover major areas of London's city center and will take you to the most popular sights. Besides the 2 sightseeing routes, Big Bus Tours offers a shuttle route to important transport hubs. The red line is the main route in the center. The comments in different languages about the various sights are available on all trips via the audio guide by using the free headphones.
For the hop-on hop-off bus rides, you can buy a Discover, Essential and Explore ticket from Big Bus Tours. Each of these tickets offers either 24 or 48 hours validity. All these 3 ticket types include a Thames River Cruise*. With the 48h Essential ticket you have the opportunity to attend a guided walking tour through the center of London. The Explore ticket, which is also valid for 48 hours after activation, includes additionally a night tour by bus. If you also plan to visit some attractions such as Tower of London and St Paul's Cathedral, then the London Explorer Pass could be an interesting option for you. With this sightseeing pass, you may use the Big Bus Hop-On Hop-off service for one calendar day and get free entrance to a defined number of attractions.
If you order the tickets directly on the provider website, you will receive a discount of up to 20%. The tickets must be ordered for a predefined date, but the date can be amended if required. The activation of the ticket can be done at the bus stops or directly in the bus. If you have a mobile ticket on your smartphone, you will receive a paper ticket when you activate it. Afterwards, you must continue to use this paper ticket for the rest of your bus journey.

  •   2 sightseeing routes with shuttle route
  •   rebookable ticket
  •   all tickets with river cruise
  •   from Essential ticket with guided walk
  •   Explore ticket with night tour
  •   part of a sightseeing pass
  •   no free cancellation option
  •   no audio channel for children

Price Tip ! Big Bus Tours is a large international provider for city bus tours. These experiences are reflected in the balanced hop-on hop-off offer for London. The Discover, Essential and Explore ticket have a validity of 24 or 48 hours and each type includes a Thames river cruise. The Essential Ticket also includes a guided walking tour and with the Explore Ticket, you will get additionally a bus night tour. These packages offer a favorable price-performance ratio.

Order online straight at the provider and save up to 20% per ticket compared to on-site purchase:   Big Bus Tours*
Now online additional -10% with promotional code CITYWALKS10LDN. Simply click on the link above and enter code at the basket.

The provider Tootbus was formerly known as The Original Tour. The new brand Tootbus has currently 2 sightseeing route through the center of London. The yellow and blue hop-on hop-off route will take you to the well-known tourist landmarks, museums, and squares. As with the other operators, you get some recorded commentaries about the attractions via an audio guide during the bus ride. The headphones for the audio guide are free, and you can get them directly from the bus driver. The Audioguide provided by Tootbus offers a dedicated channel for children. Unfortunately, this children's audio channel is only available in English and French.
The London Discovery Ticket* is the cheapest option and includes the hop-on hop-off bus only for 24 hours. In combination with the long operating times on weekends or in high season, this ticket offers a very attractive price-performance ratio. For a few extra euros, you can get the Must See London Ticket* for 24h or 48h. This ticket includes a free boat cruise on the Thames which gives you the opportunity to admire the London skyline.
You can easily book the tickets online directly at the provider. When you place the order for the tickets, you need to specify a date for your ride. But you can change this date within 12 months or cancel the ticket free of charge.

  •   2 sightseeing routes with lots of attractions
  •   free cancellation option
  •   Must See Ticket with Thames river cruise
  •   audio channel for kids
  •   kids channel only in English & French
  •   no sightseeing pass offer

Solid Offer ! Tootbus offers both a simple low-cost Discovery Ticket and some Must See London packages with a free Thames river cruise. The audio channel for children is especially for families a major advantage over the competitors. Unfortunately, this audio guide is only available in English and French.

Provider website for direct online orders at following link:    Tootbus*

Order now Tootbus tickets with up to 25% discount at Headout:   More Information

The international provider City Sightseeing operates three hop-on hop-off bus routes in London. The red and the blue line are the sightseeing routes and have together approximately 25 stops. The travel time for a complete round with the red line is about 2.5 hours. In addition to many stops at some famous attractions, you may also get off at Marble Arch. The Oxford Street, which is a famous shopping street, starts there. Another recommended stop is Potters Fields Park from where you can enjoy a gorgeous view of the Tower Bridge. On the bus, you will get some comments about the tour via audio guide. You can choose from 11 different languages.
The ticket offer includes different types. The Iconic and the Essential tickets are certainly the first choice for most of the customers. The Iconic ticket is the simplest and cheapest option. It allows you to use the hop-on hop-off bus route of City Sightseeing for 24 hours. With the Essential ticket you have the choice between a 24h and 48h validity and additionally you will get a free boat trip on the Thames River. Here you will find an overview of all ticket offers*.
When you place your online order at City Sightseeing, you do not have to specify a date of use. You can use the tickets on any day within the next 12 months. If you change your mind, you have the option to cancel free of charge within 3 months of placing the order.

  •   2 sightseeing routes to the attractions
  •   flexible tickets for 12 months
  •   river cruise with Essential ticket incl.
  •   free cancellation option
  •   no sightseeing pass offer
  •   no audio channel for children
  •   no smartphone app

The ticket purchase at City Sightseeing London offers you a great flexibility before and after your order. You can start the trip within 12 months and have the option to cancel for free up to 3 months after your purchase. When selecting your ticket, you can choose whether you only want to use a hop-on hop-off bus or furthermore include a boat ride on the Thames River. Unfortunately, there is no Hop-on Hop-off ticket that includes a guided walking tour or a night tour. There is also no app available to provide some up-to-date information about the hop-on hop-off buses.

The tickets and further information are available online directly from the provider at the following link:   City Sightseeing London*

With Golden Tours you can explore London, like with the other providers, with the help of three sightseeing routes. Additionally, you have the opportunity to use a shuttle route. The blue route will take you to the attractions in the city center. During the ride, you have the possibility to get some information about the attractions via a multilingual audio guide in 11 languages. The audio guide headphones are available free of charge on the bus.
One advantage of Golden Tours is the wide range of different ticket variations. In addition to the usual 24h, 48h and 72h tickets, you will find a 1-day and a 90-minute ticket in the program. With the 90-minute ticket* you get a simple city tour with live English commentary. If you want to have a free Thames boat ride, then you need to buy at least a 24h ticket. The 24h, 48h and 72h tickets include a Thames boat ride. If you plan to visit also some attractions in addition to the hop-on hop-off bus tour, then the London Pass might be an interesting sightseeing package for you. With the London Pass you will get a 1-day bus tour and free entrance to around 80 attractions in London.
For all the Golden Tours tickets mentioned so far, it is necessary to specify the date of the bus tour during the online booking process. However, with the free cancellation option, you will still remain flexible. You are able to cancel the tickets up to one day before the specified date.

  •   3 sightseeing routes with shuttle route
  •   Thames boat ride incl. from 24h ticket
  •   many ticket variations available
  •   free cancellation option
  •   part of a sightseeing pass
  •   long bus intervals
  •   no audio channel for children

If you are only interested in a city tour, then the 90-minute ticket from Golden Tours is a affordable option without a hop-on hop-off possibility. With the other tickets you may hop-on and hop-off, as often as you want, within a certain timeframe. With the 24h, 48h and 72h ticket you will receive a free Thames boat ride. Almost with all ticket types you have to specify the travel date during the online order. But this will not limit your flexibility too much because a free cancellation is usually possible.

All various hop-on hop-off tickets may be bought online directly from the provider at the following link:   Golden Tours*

Hop-on Hop-off Combination Tickets:

The hop-on hop-off bus tours from this review will give you a good overview of London's most important sights. Nevertheless, the experience of visiting an attraction directly cannot be replaced by a bus tour. If you would like to enjoy the stunning views from the colossal London Eye Ferris Wheel, fall into a selfie orgy at Madame Tussauds or scare yourself by hearing spooky stories at the Tower of London, then you should consider to buy a combination ticket. By the combination of the bus ticket and the entrance ticket, you will usually receive a significant price advantage. The city-walks ticket price comparison will make it easy for you to find the best price. Just choose the hop-on hop-off tour together with the desired attractions and you will get a list of the possible ticket combinations with the respective description and prices.

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