The Big Bus Company

My Mum visited me for 4 days last week, so I was looking for something to do. I have to admit that I am usually not a big fan of tourist attractions – I like writing about them but as I live here they’re nothing special for me. BUT as my Mum has never been to London before I needed a solid introduction. I decided to go for the Big Bus Company Bus Tour. 

 

Big Bus Company Bus Stop at Green Park Station

Big Bus Company Bus Stop at Green Park Station

 

I could’ve booked the tickets for the tour online, but as no one mentioned that the price is going to be different if you buy them from uniformed staff at the bus stop. So I ended up paying £24 instead of the advertised £18 on the homepage. That’s a lesson for you to learn: Don’t assume things if it doesn’t say! 

Until 28/02/2009 the ticket is valid for 24 hrs and includes free cruises on the river as well as 3 walking tours departing from Trafalgar Square. There is 2 different big tours (red and blue) and a small one that takes you to the British Museum. The red and blue tour drive past London’s most famous sights and transport links including:

  • Marble Arch and Speakers Corner
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Oxford Circus
  • Piccadilly Circus
  • Trafalgar Square
  • London Eye
  • Waterloo Station
  • Covent Garden
  • St Pauls
  • Tower of London
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Victoria Station
  • Green Park
  • Hyde Park Corner
  • Harrods
  • South Kensington
  • Notting Hill

They also offer reduced prices on entries to their partners such as London Dungeon and Madame Tussauds.

We then got on the bus (the red tour with live commentary) and sat upstairs. Our guide was called David or Dave and the driver was called Jane as we were reminded on each bus stop. The tour was generally fairly interesting, but it was too noisy in Central London around Oxford Street due to other buses and traffic. In the open part of the bus I could barely hear the guide at all.

The free river cruise is definitely worth doing. We went on a boat trip to Greenwich. The commentary on the boat was fun and really interesting.

Unfortunately we didn’t try the walking tours. So I can’t tell you what they’re like. 

In my opinion the bus tour is a good introduction to London. Hop on Hop Off is always a great idea as you won’t miss anything and can just visit the attraction/museum/sight while you’re there. I generally think that £24 was too much. I would’ve paid about £15 or maybe £18 if I bought it online. The river cruise can also be booked without the bus tour and the walking tours cost £5 each if you don’t have a bus ticket.

Other offers are the Original Tour and London Ducktours.

Speaker’s Corner

A place where people can speak freely without having to register anywhere. Speaker’s Corner is located on the north east corner of Hyde Park close to Marble Arch station. Just exit Marble Arch station and walk towards Hyde Park and you’ll find it without problems.

It’s definitely worth a visit on a sunny summer sunday. You’ll hear speeches of religious as well as political nature.

Read more on Speaker’s Corner here.

Hard Rock Café, London

One of the places in London that always seems to be busy is the Hard Rock Café

The London Hard Rock Café is easy to reach by public transport. It is located on Piccadilly. Take the Victoria, Piccadilly or Jubilee lines to Green Park and take the exit for Buckingham Palace. Now walk towards Hyde Park Corner (away from the Ritz!).

For those of you that are lucky enough to carry a map:

Hard Rock Cafe London
150 Old Park Lane
London W1K 1QZ

The London Hard Rock Café was the first Hard Rock Café opened on 14/06/1971. It is known all over the world for it’s great American food and it’s extensive colltection of rock memorabilia. The first item (Eric Clapton’s Red Fender Lead II) was given to the Hard Rock Café in 1979. 

There is loads of seating and they are always eager to squeeze more people in, so even if it looks busy try and ask whether there is more seating. 

Restaurant:
Sun – Thur 11:30AM – 12:30AM
Fri - Sat 11:30AM – 1:00AM
Rock Shop:
Mon - Sat 9:30AM - 11:30PM

Sun 9:30AM - 11.00PM

Bluewalks

I just remembered a page I think could be very useful for London visitors in the near future. It’s called Bluewalks. Buewalks is still a baby but it has got potential to grow over the years to become the number one provider for walking tours.

So, how does it work?

The walking tours on Bluewalks are created by users themselves. So you can see the tours other visitors or locals recommend. 

Definitely worth having a look at.

Covent Garden

 

Where Central London

Transport Covent Garden (Piccadilly Line, can get very crowded), Leicester Square Station (Piccadilly and Northern Lines)

Opening Hours 10am – 6pm

+ + Very cute

– – I always get lost ;)

Price probably all price categories

Feeling Nice especially in summer, simply cute

Guy eating Pasty in Covent Garden

Covent Garden is also well connected by public transport but Covent Garden Station can get overcrowded in busy shopping periods. I recommend combining a visit to Covent Garden with some sightseeing as Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square are all in walking distance. Just remember to bring your map. 

 

Covent Garden is overall very cute looking and has some nice Cafés and Bars (Be@1).The shops are often fairly small and are more like small boutiques. In the old Market Hall you can often enjoy live music and entertainers often wait outside for the public to look at them. 

London Transport Museum is located at one end of the old Market Hall.

My favourite shops: Lush (handmade cosmetics, the best smelling shop in the world) and Cyber Candy.

Regent Street

 

Where Central London

Transport Oxford Circus (Victoria, Bakerloo and Central Lines) and Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly and Bakerloo Lines)

Opening Hours 10am – 6pm

+ + Apple Store

– – Too posh

Price upmarket – expensive

Feeling Shopping for those who can afford it.

Regent Street

Me and a friend on Regent Street.

Regent Street is located just off Oxford Street and leads to Piccadilly Circus. It is very well connected by public transport. It is often visited in combination with Oxford Street and Carnaby Street but does often not represent a proper shopping destination. The street is very nice looking and impressive and 2 of my favourite shops – the Apple Store and Habitat – are located on Regent Street.

 

If you’re hungry visit one of the many restaurants and pubs in the side streets. 

Regent Street is definitely great to see but I would not consider this a shopping street on it’s own. For me personally it’s too expensive and the shops are not really my style. You can also find some chain shops such as Clarks and the Body Shop on Regent Street.

Oxford Street

 

At first I’ll have a closer look at Shopping areas in Central London. I am going to dedicate single articles to them even though they all go more or less into the same category.

so let’s start with Oxford Street

Where Central London

Transport Tottenham Court Road (Central Line), Oxford Circus (Bakerloo, Central and Victoria Lines), Bond Street and Marble Arch (Central Line)

Opening Hours 10am – 6pm

+ + Very well connected by public transport

– – Can be over-crowded

Price Very Cheap to moderate, the east end is cheaper.

Feeling Shopping for everyone

(http://london.diarystar.co.uk/images/oxford-street-christmas-lights1.JPG)

 

Oxford Street is located in Central London and is very well connected by public transport. It convinces with a good selection of shops ranging from cheap to midlevel prices. A visit to Oxford Street can be combined with sightseeing, Marble Arch, Soho and Chinatown are all very close by. 

The best thing to do is to start at one end and just walk up and down both sides. You can’t get lost and you’re not going to miss anything. For a break get some food at the M&S food place in Bond Street shopping centre directly at the station and make your way up to Hyde Park for  a break. 

Selfridges is definitely a must see.

One thing I dislike about Oxford Street is traffic. The road is often congested with cabs and busses which can make it very uncomfortable to shop there. The pavements are not the biggest and it can get very crowded especially at peak shopping times before and after Christmas and during the sales. The crossing at Oxford Circus is often especially busy.

Shops I like: Uniqlo, Accessorize, Next, Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins



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