Review: The Original London Sightseeing Tour

I love London. I have lived on the edge of it for about 30 years so I think I know it pretty well. There is an endless amount of things to see and do in London, but like many people living close to somewhere I often take it for granted. Thanks to 365 Tickets we were recently given the chance to review The Original London Sightseeing Tour and it seemed like a great opportunity to take a fresh look at the city. 

When I’ve been away on a city break I often go on a bus or a boat tour. I have explored Dublin, Paris, Barcelona and Edinburgh in this way, but never my home city.  

A view of the city of London from the bus including the Gherkin
Take a better look at London's new buildings...

Why take a bus tour of London?

If you want to explore a city as big as London bus tours are a great way to see a lot in a small amount of time. It gives you a great overview of what the city is like and with audio you get to find out some of the history too.

Bus tours can be great if you have small children (or anyone less able to walk long distances).  Little legs will only walk so far before they start complaining, but with the bus tour you get to see the sights and they get the fun of a bus ride, everyone is happy.

The Thames side of St Pauls Cathedral
...and the old

Why go on a bus tour with The Original Tour?

With 4 main bus tour routes you can choose which area of the city you want to explore: 
The Original Tour and City Sightseeing Tour take slightly different routes, but both take in key tourist destinations such as: The Tower of London, St Pauls Cathedral, The Thames, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and Marble Arch. 
The third main tour is the Royal Borough Tour which covers the west of the city including The Royal Albert Hall, Natural History Museum and Knightsbridge. 
Finally the British Museum Tour goes as far north as Kings Cross St Pancras and goes past the British Museum down to Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square where you can change to the other bus routes.

All 4 of of the main tours have commentaries which you can hear if you plug in the (provided) earphones into a box so you can listen to an explanation of what you are seeing and interesting facts. The Sight Seeing Tour and Royal Borough Tour both have a “Kids Club” channel where they have different characters providing an easier to understand audio tour. Kids can also pick up a quiz and activity pack from the Visitor Centre to keep them entertained.

A collage showing the black bag the ear phones come in and the audiobox for plugging them in to
Earphones are provided so you can listen to commentary
There are 2 additional bus routes called Capital Connectors. These routes don’t have commentary, but provide more flexibility if there are particular things you want to see.

The ticket includes a Thames River Cruise which you can join at Westminster Pier or Tower of London and travel to Greenwich which is a lovely way to see the sights. 

There are also 3 walking tours you can go on each one lasting 90 minutes. Changing of the Guard and Rock ’n’ Roll start at The Original London Visitor Centre on Trafalgar Square. The Jack the Ripper tour starts at the tour stop next to the Tower of London.

The ticket lasts either 24 or 48 hours. This means if you activate your ticket at 2pm one day you can use the buses until 2pm the next day.

A photo posted by Kate Kirk (@essexkate) on

What are the bad bits?

Traffic. London has a lot of it. A bit of planning can help you avoid the worst of it though, for instance before 9am and after 5pm are likely to be particularly bad times on weekdays in the city and tourist areas are often quieter in the mornings.

You need to be able to climb the steps to get upstairs on the buses and really get the most out of the tours. This might not be suitable for people with mobility problems.

There is space for folded pushchairs, but this is limited. At busy times larger pushchairs might be a challenge. If you have a baby you need to be prepared to hold them on your lap, I found Little was entertained repeatedly pulling my earphones out.

Likewise there isn’t the space for large bags so if you have luggage I would recommend you check it in somewhere so you don’t have to worry about exploring the city with it.
The view out the front of the top of the bus surrounded by other big red buses
Bus traffic jam

Our top tips to get the most out of The Original Sightseeing Tour

Just go with the flow. Relax, don’t worry about the time. The buses are so frequent that you can hop off at any of the stops if there is something you want to see or if you are hungry. You can then hop back on when you are ready. There is so much to see that even with a 48 hour ticket you wont see everything, so don’t try. Whichever routes you take you will see something new.

Remember to pick up a pair of earphones when you get on the first bus. They are in the little black bags next to the driver. A number of people missed these on my routes. 

The buses are open topped and we enjoyed sitting on the top deck because the views are so much better. Wrap up warm if, like us, you are visiting in winter. If it is raining or you are too cold you can always go downstairs to warm up.

Enjoy yourself and bring a camera.

A baby in a warm hedgehog coat and woolly robin hat on the top deck of an open top bus
Wrapped up warm

Disclosure: We were provided with a ticket for The Original London Sightseeing Tour by 365 Tickets for the purposes of review. I appreciate them arranging the weather to be cold, but beautiful to help us enjoy the tours.

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The Places We Will Go



  1. Oh I would love to go on a bus tour of London, I've never really got the chance to explore it very much and when we have been down we haven't seen that much in a day so this would be ideal. I will add it to our list of things to do when we go down for the weekend in the spring, the kids will love it. Thanks so much for linking up to #ThePlacesWeWillGoLinky :)

  2. I love these photos and the depth of information you gave is bound to be helpful when choosing a tour of London. We love bus rides and we'd get one if we went to London, though I'm not sure I'd manage to listen to the tour because of that issue you experienced - Little pulling the ear buds out!

    I'm so sorry I missed that you'd joined #daysoutwithatoddler until today :( New linky opens tomorrow - please join! Sorry again, I don't know how I didn't spot your link.


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