Sightseeing by Local Bus
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.
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
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 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
Image credit: Harry Vale
Last updated: 27 March 2014