• Sarah

Which is the best London Ho-Ho bus?


So we have decided that on Thursday May 25th we will use a 1 day pass to explore London on a hop on/hop off bus, because it is the only full day that we have in London for sightseeing.

But there are several to choose from and sometimes these Ho-Ho's can be a bit crap so how do we decide on the best one?

First, what is important in a good Ho-Ho? Is it:

  • Price

  • Route

  • Frequency

  • Location of stops

  • Operating hours

  • Free extras

  • Good reviews

  • Quality of commentary

  • Likelihood of front row, top deck seats being available

  • How close to the apartment is there a starting point

Well that is my list of what's important anyway, but in most cities where I have had the option of taking one of these buses I have ended up not doing it because of concerns about the quality of some of the above things..

And lets be realistic, a Ho-Ho bus is definitely NOT the cheapest way to get around town, so it has to be able to compensate for the price in other ways to be a viable choice, right?

Okay, so what are the best hop-on hop-off bus options in London?

1 - The Original Tour - www.theoriginaltour.com

  • Price - £27 online or £30 on the day

  • Valid - 24 hours from first use

  • Hours - First bus at 8.30am and last full tour at 4.30pm

  • Frequency - every 15-20 minutes

  • Routes - 3, Yellow, Red, Blue

  • Stops - 80+

  • Commentary - Live on Yellow route, recorded on Red and Blue routes

  • Free stuff -

  • hop on hop off Thames River Cruise

  • 3 walking tours - have to be taken same day so time would be an issue

2 - Big Bus Tours - https://www.bigbustours.com

  • Price - £30 online or £30 on the day

  • Valid - 24 hours from first use

  • Hours - First bus leaves Trafalgar Square 8.30am and last full tour at 4.30pm

  • Frequency - every 10-20 minutes

  • Routes - 2, Red and Blue, plus some connector buses for hotels outside the centre.

  • Stops - 50+

  • Commentary - Live on Red route, recorded on Blue route

  • Free stuff -

  • a one way Thames River Cruise - from Westminster to Tower Pier or vice versa

  • 3 walking tours - but will we have time to do any of them?

  • a mobile app so you know where you are and what is there to see - i like this!

  • free wifi onboard bus

  • downloadable pocket guide to do the walking tours on your own

  • voucher book with restaurant and attraction discounts

FAQ's:

How does the 24hrs thing work?

  • If you start at 3pm on Wednesday it is valid until 3pm on Thursday

  • However, the last buses finish 5-6pm so you are not actually able to use it for the full 24hrs!

  • In my opinion using it over 2 days like this would be the best value as I can't imagine having the tolerence to spend an entire day from 8-5/6 jumping on/off buses so this would give us a break.

Is it possible to get to all of the stops in 24hrs?

I think that would be doubtful, is is more likely that you would only do 1 complete route or 2 part routes

For example, on BigBus the Red route takes 3hrs if you don't get off, and on TheOriginalTour the routes take around 2hrs each

Are the free cruise and walking tours worthwhile?

On a 24hr ticket you could maybe do the cruise or 1 tour but unlikely there would be time to do both as they would each take 1-1.5hrs out of an already busy day

Do they get good reviews on Trip Advisor and the like?

It's a mixed bag, those with the right expectations generally say that they do what they say on the tin

But in peak times or bad weather people report a less positive experience

So, Negative Nancy why are you even recommending doing a Ho-Ho bus if they are not that great?

Well with the bad there are also some bug pluses in my opinion,

Like the elevated view from the top deck, which you can't get on foot, or by tube

And the convenience of being able to take photos from that open top deck when the bus stops and without getting off

Also the commentary could be handy as it is always good to know what you are seeing

Finally, because our apartment is in Trafalgar Square the Ho-Ho becomes an even more practical option as they leave from right there, TheOriginaltour even have their office a couple of doors down from us.

WHAT TO DO???

TICKETS - are best bought online, but this could be done as late as the day we arrive as they can't sell out.

BUT - if we are not going to do it then a plan B needs to be worked out to maximise the potential of the day

PLAN B - would need to be worked out before we leave home as it would involve using the tube/bus for transport and research to decide the places that we want to visit, how to get there etc

IS THERE ANOTHER SIGHTSEEING BUS OPTION IN LONDON?

Yes -a night bus tour with guided commentary

3 - See London by Night - http://seelondonbynight.com/tours/

  • Itinerary: Fixed - not hop on and off, see below for map

  • Duration: The tours take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes and are all live guided in English only

  • Transport: Still on an open top double decker bus

  • Departs at: 19.30, 20.00, 20.30, 21.15, 21.45 and 22.15 from the Green Park stop next to the Ritz hotel on Piccadilly

  • Getting to Green Park: an easy 5min bus trip from Trafalgar Square

  • Price: £19

  • The marketing blurb:

  • See the iconic Tower of London and monumental Tower Bridge highlighted together as our open top tour bus drives by, providing you with the best picture postcard in the making!

The standout clock face of the Big Ben glistens radiantly like the beacon of a lighthouse, letting everyone know that they really are in London.

The neon lights and energetic crowds in Piccadilly, reminding you of New Year’s Day and its many thrilling voyages; the magnificent display of lights surrounding Harrods in its stylish, sophisticated touch… It’ll feel like Christmas all over again! And when you finally but surely get a look at the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament glowing under ever-changing lights, you will understand why we call ourselves ‘See London By Night’.

To see the great city of London gleaming under street lights, when it all truly comes to life. It doesn’t get better than this!

The Original Tour tours

The Big Bus tour tours

Night tour

#London #Sightseeing #Transport #explore #Bus #TrafalgarSquare

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Long time travel addict, I love planning trips almost as much as I love taking them. 

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