Whenever we visit a major city or town one of the things that we love to do first is a hop on hop off bus tour. London has a few to choose from but we loved our time on The Original Tour bus tours. It was a fantastic first introduction to London for our 6-year-old. It gave him the opportunity to see parts of the city that we just wouldn’t have had time to look around.
We know our way around London well but for anyone new visiting the City, it’s also a great way to get your bearings. London transport can also be a bit daunting at first so if you are a newbie then a bus tour is also an ideal way to get around. Tickets are available for 24 hours, 48 hours of 72 hours, your ticket also includes a river tour boat, within the time period of your bus tickets. There are also discounted options that include visits to certain attractions, which is well worth looking into. Please read on to find out more.
*Disclaimer. We received complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review
Review of The Original Tour London
The Original Tour does change their route itineraries but only every few months. Do check out their website before you head off to start on one of their tours. They have up-to-date route maps plus you can prebook your tickets online. Booking online also saves you money compared to the on the day tickets. Once you have purchased your ticket online you simply print out your voucher which is then exchanged for on the day tickets, you can do this with the driver at any of their stops.
Getting around London
Using their website I pre-planned which coloured route buses we would take and when the first bus was due to arrive at our nearest The Original Tour bus stop. Their online maps are easy to use and you can pick up a large paper map when you are on the bus. The Original Tour has 6 different colour-coded routes and over 80 different stops. Central London is actually a lot more compact than it looks and there will be, more often than not, a bus stop just a short walk away.
We found the blue and yellow routes to be the best for the attractions that we were visiting and wanted to show our son. Highlights to a tour of London include stops near or next to Big Ben and the houses of parliament, the main London museums, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and many more.
Unlike some hop on hop off buses The Original Tour stop at every stop. It’s not a case of having to ring a bell for them to stop or flagging them down they do actually stop. This can mean that getting to places takes longer but it does mean you won’t miss a stop or a bus which is a big bonus. The map also shows which direction the bus goes along each route. This means you can easily work out which side of the road the bus stop will be on. The stops will have a sign on them with ‘The Original Tour’ on.
We visited in early October and the weather wasn’t at it’s best. You do get the best views up on the second level of the bus which is usually open to the elements. At the front of all the buses we went on there was an overhang for the first few rows so you didn’t have to sit out in the elements if you didn’t want to. All of their buses are wheelchair-accessible. There is also free Wi-Fi available on their buses.
When we first got on the bus we were given a set of headphones each. On the buses earlier on in the day these were essential for everyone as there wasn’t a tour guide on the earlier buses. As the day progressed though every bus we got on had a live English commentary which was always excellent and usually amusing.
There is somewhere by every seat to plug your headphones in and they have a great range of languages with audio guides. They currently offer the audio tour in 11 different languages, including English. They are a great way of finding out more about what you are looking at along the routes.
The buses were comfortable and we saw many of them during our 6 days in London. I don’t know if we were lucky but we never had to wait more than a minute for one of their buses. Their website states that they run their service every 5 to 20 minutes between stops, this is usually dependant on the time of year and how busy London is.
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