If you don’t want to pay for a sightseeing tour, then try a do-it-yourself version with some of the local buses. You won’t have the benefit of a guide or recorded commentary and it’s not easy to replicate the routes followed by the hop-on hop-off bus tours, but take along a decent map and simple guidebook and you should be fine.
Any Travelcard gives unlimited travel on all London buses for the whole of London. If you don’t have a Travelcard, get a Pay as you go Oyster card— the maximum charge for travel by the bus for the whole day is £4.40.
You see something of interest on most bus routes in central London but the following routes pass some of the major sights:
Bus number 9 from Trafalgar Square to High St Kensington
Bus stop S on Cockspur St,on the south side of Trafalgar Square
- Pall Mall
- Green Park
- Hyde Park Corner (for Apsley House & Hyde Park)
- Knightsbridge (for Harrods)
- Exhibition Rd (for The Serpentine and the Serpentine Gallery)
- Kensington Gore (for the Royal Albert Hall & Albert Memorial)
- Palace Gate (for Kensington Palace & Kensington Gardens)
- High St Kensington (The bus continues to Hammersmith station)
Approximately 25-35 minutes.
View London Bus 9 Route Map in a larger map
Bus number 11 from Victoria Station to St Paul’s Cathedral
Bus Stop S on Grosvenor Gardens near Victoria station.
- Victoria St (for Westminster Cathedral)
- Parliament Square (for Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben)
- Whitehall (for 10 Downing St & Horse Guards Parade & St James’s Park)
- Trafalgar Square (for the National Gallery & National Portrait Gallery)
- The Strand (for Covent Garden)
- Fleet St (for Temple Church)
- St Paul’s Churchyard (for St Paul’s Cathedral, the Museum of London, the Millennium Bridge and Tate Modern)
The bus continues to Liverpool St station
Approximately 25-45 minutes.
View London Bus 11 Route Map in a larger map
Number RV1 from Covent Garden to Tower of London
This is a useful little route route to travel between Covent Garden and the Tower of London via the South Bank. And, you get to ride over Tower Bridge. It’s a single decker, not a double decker bus.
Bus Stop C, Catherine St, Covent Garden
- Waterloo Bridge (for the Southbank Centre/Royal Festival Hall)
- Waterloo Station
- London Eye
- Lavington St (for the Tate Modern)
- The Hop Exchange (for Borough Market and Southwark Cathedral)
- London Bridge Station (for the London Dungeon)
- Tower Bridge
- Tower of London
The route ends at Tower Gateway DLR station.
Approximately 30-40 minutes.
View London Bus RV1 Route Map in a larger map
Routemaster buses – Heritage route
For a traditional London bus experience, a famous old-style Routemaster bus, like the one pictured above, runs on route 15 between Trafalgar Square and Tower Hill (near the Tower of London) every 15 minutes between 9.30am–6.30pm.
New Bus for London Bus routes
Image credit: Harry Vale
Last updated: 5 January 2015