Kerry and I have visited London on many occasions. We love the diversity, vibrancy and “aliveness” of the big smoke. The spring and summer months are our usual time to hit the streets, strolling along the Southbank, discovering hidden gems, seeking out quirky things to see and do, mostly off the tourist track.
So, this time, during February, we decided to join the tourists and see London from a different perspective – above ground! We abandoned the tube and for 2 days, jumped on and off a Hop on Hop off London bus, choosing Big Bus Tours to whisk us off to those familiar world-famous sights we would normally emerge from a subway to see.
Which route will you choose?
With 4 routes to choose from, a choice of 12 different languages and on the red tour, a live English commentary, we were spoilt for choice. Our platinum 2-day ticket also included a return boat trip with City Cruises and a Sandeman Walking tour, departing daily at 10.30am from Trafalgar Square.
The platinum ticket is priced at just under £40 if bought online. Bearing in mind a return boat trip is approximately £17, walking tours start from around £14 and the tube caps at £7 a day – you do the maths! Oh, and if you are interested, you can bolt on a selection of discounted tickets to top attractions too.
What’s not to love about a Hop on Hop off London ticket with Big Bus Tours! We particularly liked:
The Big Bus staff team – The drivers, tour guides and ticket sellers could not have been more helpful and friendly. Advice on tap, tips and suggestions, shortcuts and how to maximise/upgrade your day, all for the asking. The whole team worked together to ensure we got the best experience, going out of their way to make sure all their customers were happy and relaxed!
The Live Commentary – Always a little bit different, quirky and allowed the tour guides to come into their own, sharing their own personal take of the sights. Included on the red tour, the longest/most extensive route.
The Pre-recorded tour – I loved the rousing soundtrack! (As well as information about the sights of course…) from Land of Hope and Glory to Jerusalem with a snippet of Grieg and a bit of Greensleeves thrown in… a taste of the pomp and circumstance of Last Night at the Proms me thinks is a perfect majestic and somewhat fitting accompaniment as you parade through the city.
The app – great planning tool, information about the different stops/highlights and real-time service updates
The Routes – 4 routes ensure all the top sights are covered
The service – efficient, reliable and frequent!
The Flexibility – with 45 stops to choose from, you can use the app/map and tour guides to help you customise your perfect day. Whether your thing is Cathedrals, Palaces, Parks, Museums, Art Galleries, Aquariums, Wax Works, Ferris wheels or a spot of shopping – it’s all there en route!
Perspective – Having travelled on a Hop on Hop off London bus for 2 days, I was surprised to discover how much my overview and understanding of the city had improved. Back on the tube, I had a better idea of what was above ground. Previously, what lay above many of the subway stations had been a bit of a mystery to me – the experience has definitely provided a new and fresh perspective of the city.
And finally – the weather… we had one beyond wet day and one super sunny! I liked the fact that we could still sit upstairs, in the rain as the front of the bus is partly covered. I had been a little concerned about choosing an open top bus in February but it turned out to be a brilliant way to see the city, despite being a little chilly. (A massive understatement it was freezing!!!)
Check out the Big Bus Tour website here.
Just to let you know… we were guests of Big Bus Tours but as always the opinions are our own.