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Sightseeing by Local Bus

London Bus Number 15If 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.

To be honest, you see something of interest on most bus routes in central London but the following bus routes pass some of the major sights:

Bus number 9 from Trafalgar Square to High St Kensington

Departure point:

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)

Journey time:

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

Departure point:
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

Journey time:

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.

Departure point:

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.

Journey time:

Approximately 30-40 minutes.

View London Bus RV1 Route Map in a larger map

Routemaster buses – Heritage routes

For a traditional London bus experience, the famous old-style Routemaster buses, like the one pictured above, run on the central London sections of routes 9 and 15 every 15 minutes between 9.30am–6.30pm.

The number 15 runs between Trafalgar Square and Tower Hill (near the Tower of London).

The number 9 runs between Trafalgar Square and High St Kensington.

TfL are withdrawing the old routemaster buses from route 9 in July 2014.

New Bus for London Bus routes

The ‘New Bus for London’ bus, a modern version of the Routemaster designed by Thomas Heatherwick, runs on routes 9, 11, 24 and 309.

See also

Image credit: Harry Vale

Last updated: 27 March 2014