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How to use London Buses

Buses in London are plentiful and best of all, if you ride the buses instead of always taking the underground, you see more of the city. Some visitors to London are 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 – £5.25 per day or £24.70 per week for unlimited travel all over London (there are no zones for bus travel).

London bus route maps

The simplified bus map (pdf) shows London’s main tourist attractions and the most useful bus routes for visitors.

Bus spider maps show bus routes to and from a particular area.

Paper bus maps

Paper bus maps are now out of date and will not be updated.

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 prefer to use an app, try Citymapper or  TfL Go

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 live bus departures and arrivals on the TfL website, just type in a street, postcode, route number or bus stop code or via the TfL Go app

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 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.

A simpler way to find a bus stop is with an app. TfL Go or Citymapper finds your location and shows you the closest bus stops along with the times of the next buses from each stop.

The final destination of the bus and the bus number is displayed on the front and side of the bus. Check this before getting on. Not all buses travel the full route.

Knowing when to get off

Buses in central London have displays and announcements telling you the name of the next stop. You’ll also find journey 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 far to walk. Distances between stops in central London are not that great.

Last checked: 21 February 2024