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.
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
- 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.