London's top 3 sightseeing bus routes

London bus in Westminster

Hopping on a London bus is one of the best ways to see the city on a budget – it’s only £1.50 a ride with your Visitor Oyster card.

Here's our guide to three bus routes which are perfect for a cut-price sightseeing tour, taking in the majority of the city's most famous sights.

Route 24: Pimlico to Hampstead Heath

London Bus Route 24

You can catch the 24 from Victoria, where it passes both Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. The bus then turns down Whitehall and passes Downing Street, the Prime Minister's home, before reaching one of the most famous parts of London, bustling Trafalgar Square, where you can spot Nelson’s Column and the famous lion statues.

The bus continues through the fringes of London’s historic theatre district, passing Denmark Street, known as Tin Pan Alley for its famous music shops.

Delving deeper into rock n' roll territory, the 24 continues to Camden Town – famous for its music scene and labyrinth of street markets. If you hop off here, you’ll find all kinds of things for sale within the market including vintage fashion, books, antiques, street food, and of course, souvenirs.

The route ends at Hampstead Heath, where the lush, green park is waiting to take you a million miles away from the busy city. Make the short trip up the hill to see spectacular views of London – what better way to end your sightseeing tour on a sunny day?

Route map

See our tips on travelling by bus in London

Route 11: Fulham to Liverpool Street

London Bus Route 11

The 11 takes in the luxurious King's Road in Chelsea and the chic streets of Belgravia before it passes Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in quick succession.

Turning onto Whitehall and making its way up toTrafalgar Square, the bus continues along the historic Strand, passes the Royal Courts of Justice, and turns down Fleet Street towards London's financial district, known as the City or 'Square Mile'. 

Look out for the disused Strand tube station on your way - closed in 1994, it's since made an appearance in many films and TV shows including Atonement, 28 Days Later and Sherlock.

Magnificent St Paul’s Cathedral welcomes you into the City, where you'll also see the historic Royal Exchange, the Bank of England - the world's second-oldest central bank, and Mansion House - the London mayor's official home.

The 11 ends its journey at Liverpool Street station, a bustling commuter and tourist hub and the gateway to stylish east London. A short walk away you'll find Spitalfields market, famous Brick Lane and trendy Shoreditch, each dotted with bustling coffee shops, street art and street food stalls.

Route map

See our tips on travelling by bus in London

Route 9: Aldwych to Hammersmith

 Royal Albert Hall from above

The 9 is one of the oldest bus routes in London, as well as one of the "richest," passing through many of the city's most affluent areas. It begins at Aldwych, close to the cultural hub of Somerset House, and continues along the Strand to Trafalgar Square. Travelling down Piccadilly, you can spot leafy Green Park and the world famous Ritz Hotel.

The route continues through Knightsbridge, home to luxury department store Harrods, a must-visit for any discerning designer shopper. The 11 then passes the Royal Albert Hall and the immaculate Kensington Gardens, through which Kensington Palace, once the home of Diana, Princess of Wales, is a short stroll away.

Then it’s on to Kensington High Street; one of London’s most popular shopping streets and a pleasantly quiet alternative to Oxford Street.

Shortly before it ends in Hammersmith, the route passes beautiful Holland Park. More tucked away than Hyde Park, but every bit as pretty, it features a Japanese garden, tennis courts and even a few resident peacocks!

Route map

Getting around London by bus: Our tips 

  • There are hundreds of bus routes in London. Most bus stops display a full route map of every bus that stops there
  • You can only catch a bus from designated bus stops. Only the numbered buses listed on the bus stop will stop there 
  • There are downloadable bus maps grouped by area on the Transport for London website, which also links them with nearby tube stations
  • You can use Transport for London's journey planner to find your way around by bus - just select 'bus only' as the mode of transport
  • The 3 routes we've picked are all New Routemaster buses - find out more about the shiny new Routemasters here

How do I pay? 

  • You cannot pay for bus journeys in London with cash
  • Instead, you can pay for your bus journey in London with a Visitor Oyster card. Simply touch your card on the reader beside the driver as you get on the bus. The fee is always the same, £1.50 per journey
  • If you travel only on buses, a Visitor Oyster card will limit your daily spend at £4.50 per day. If you also travel on the tube on the same day, the price limit will be higher (depending on zones and time of day - see more detailed information here)
  • You can also pay for your bus journey with a Travelcard. If you have a Travelcard, you can just show it to the driver as you get on the bus. Buses are not zone-specific so you can travel in any area of London with your Travelcard; it will not cost you any extra

Buy an Oyster card >

Looking for more inspiration? Check out all our sightseeing bus tours.

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