Buses in London are plentiful and best of all, if you ride the buses instead of always taking the underground, you get to see more of the city. Some visitors to London are a little scared of using the buses, but there’s no need to be wary.
Another big benefit of taking the buses in London is that, apart from the London Cycle Hire Scheme, it’s the cheapest way to travel around London – £4.50 per day or £21.20 per week for unlimited travel for the whole of London.
London bus route maps
This simplified bus map (pdf) shows London’s main tourist attractions and the most useful bus routes for visitors.
If you want a more detailed guide to the buses, the central London bus map (pdf) shows all the bus routes superimposed on a street map.
Bus spider maps show bus routes to and from a particular area. Scroll down for a list of maps to major tourist attractions.
Paper bus maps
You used to be able to get London bus maps from underground ticket offices but unfortunately, most have now closed. Some underground stations have them in their leaflet racks or you could try asking one of the station staff. They are available from TfL’s visitor centres.
London bus route planner
To find out how to reach a particular destination, use the TfL Journey Planner.
Type in your departure and arrival points. Click ‘Travel Options & Accessibility and deselect all options except ‘buses’. The planner gives you the route number, departure times and estimated journey time.
If you have a smartphone, Citymapper is the best app to plan a bus journey.
London bus times
Many buses in central London run 24-hours. If they don’t, special Night buses (prefixed with an ‘N’) start running after 11.30pm.
Buses in central London run frequently during the day and you normally won’t have to wait more than 5–10 minutes. For early departures or travel at night, check the timetables on the Transport for London website. There are timetables at bus stops as well.
Most bus stops have a screen telling you when the next bus is due to arrive.
You can also find this on the live bus departures guide on the TfL website. Just type in a street, postcode, route number or bus stop code.
Alternatively, use Citymapper. It’s free and very easy to use.
London bus stops
To find the location of a bus stop, use the TfL Bus Map. Type in an area, a place of interest, a street or a postcode and it shows you a map with the nearest bus stops. You can also use it to find the bus stops on a particular bus route.
Each bus stop has a letter at the top of the flagpole. Look at the Destination Finder on the bus stop wall. If the same letter is listed next to where you’re going, you’re at the right stop. If you’re not, it tells you where to catch your bus.
The last stop the bus makes, along with the bus number, is on the front and side of the bus. Check this before getting on, as not all buses travel the full route.
A simpler way to find a bus stop is with a app. Citymapper will find your location and show you the closest bus stop.
Knowing when to get off
This is the main reason that stops some visitors from taking a bus, but it’s really quite easy. Buses in central London have displays and announcements telling you the name of the next stop. You’ll also find time estimates at each bus stop. And if you’re still not sure, ask a fellow passenger. Londoners are very helpful when it comes to giving directions.
If you miss your stop, don’t worry, you won’t have too far to walk. Distances between stops in central London are not that great.
Bus routes to major tourist attractions
The following maps are useful for visitors:
Buses to/from Westminster
For Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
Buses to/from Trafalgar Square
For the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, St Martins-in-the-Fields church and Admiralty Arch.
Trafalgar Square (pdf)
Buses to/from Piccadilly Circus
For Soho and Regent St.
Piccadilly Circus (pdf)
Buses to/from Tottenham Court Rd
For the British Museum and the western part of Oxford St.
Tottenham Court Rd (pdf)
Buses to/from Leicester Square
For Soho and Chinatown.
Leicester Square (pdf)
Buses to/from Oxford Circus
For Oxford St, Carnaby St and Regent St.
Oxford Circus (pdf)
Buses to/from Marble Arch
For Oxford St
Marble Arch (pdf)
Buses to/from Baker St
For Madame Tussaud’s
Baker St (pdf)
Buses to/from South Kensington
For the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), Science Museum & Natural History Museum.
South Kensington (pdf)
Buses to/from St Paul’s Cathedral
For St Paul’s Cathedral.
St Paul’s (pdf)
Buses to/from the Tower of London
For the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.
Tower of London (pdf)
Buses to/from London Bridge
For Borough market, the Shard and Southwark Cathedral
London Bridge (pdf)
Buses to/from Waterloo
For Waterloo station, BFI Imax, the London Eye, the Southbank centre and the London Aquarium.
Buses to/from Southwark
For the Tate Modern and Bankside Gallery.
Buses to/from Victoria
For Buckingham Palace, Westminster Cathedral and Victoria station.
Last updated: 28 January 2016