London Big Bus Tour questions

Old Feb 10th, 2006, 01:00 PM
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London Big Bus Tour questions

I've read a few threads on this tour but I still have some questions.

My husband and I will be in London for four full days - we will arrive on Thursday morning and depart on Monday morning. I was thinking that we can spend the first day hopping on and off the Big Bus, seeing the big picture, etc. because we'll probably be tired from the flight and somewhat jetlagged. Is this a good idea?

I know from the Big Bus website that the ticket is 20 pounds and can be used for 48 hours (including a river cruise and sped up entry into Tower of London). Would it be good to use the ticket again the next day to get around or should we buy the 3-day tube pass instead and get around that way? I was thinking that since we've paid for 48 hours, we should use it for 48 hours - are there any downsides to using the tour as transportation around the attractions? I know it would take longer than the tube but the upside is that it's not underground and that we'd get to see the city while traveling to our destinations.

FYI, we're staying in Bayswater and want to see all the outdoor major sites (probably not the museums since we have such limited time) such as the Tower of London, Big Ben/Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's, Harrod's (I'm dying to go there!!), Buckingham Palace, see a show, do an afternoon tea. My thought is that with the tour we can see a lot of those in the first day (or second if we use the bus again, like I mentioned above) and then pick and chose ones we liked best to see more in depth - good idea or not?

Any other thoughts on itineraries?

My biggest issue with planning such a short trip is that I have no clue how far things are from each other and how many we can see comfortably given the 4-day time period. Ideally, I'd love to walk all over to see as much as I can but alas, I doubt that will happen.

Any help will be appreciated!
alinae is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2006, 01:44 PM
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If your lodging is within central London, I don't recommend a Tube pass at all - you can get where you want to go just as fast by bus in most cases, plus you don't have to go down in the ground and back up again, plus you don't have to walk hundreds of yards to change lines, plus you get to see the city from the windows as you go by.

As far as distances are concerned - the sights are somewhat clustered around Kensington, Whitehall, and the City, and once you've moved from one of these clusters to another, everything is within a ten- or twenty-minute walk. But hopping on the next bus is often convenient. There is an excellent map of tourist attractions that you can download and print out here:

A one-day bus pass costs £3.50 and is valid for all of Greater London (no "zone" nonsense). Any transport pass will get you a 30% discount on a river cruise.

You might even find that the Big Bus tour is unnecessary.
Robespierre is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2006, 01:45 PM
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Alinae, you'll love london! But you won't have time to see everything. The best overview is using the Big Bus/Red Bus which allows hop on/off. Use it for as long as it takes you to get situated. Not only is it transportation but the commentary can be highly informative and entertaining. We used it for two days and then switched to the tube. But we still enjoyed walking above ground. So the need for a tube pass wasn't worth it. If you like to walk then don't spend $ for a pass. But if you're only interested in the destination, use the tube.

Near the theaters are all sorts of discount offices for shows. They're a good place to buy tickets for that night. Personnally, I like to go to the theatre where a show is playing that I want to see and buy it directly from them. Last minute tickets sell for quite a bit less.

Also, don't forget to walk through Covent gardens and Trafalgar square (this is near the theatre district).

Warning: check with your hotel staff which day Harrod's is closed. It closes 1 day a week if I remember right. The day we planned to go there it was closed.

Have one at a pub for me!
maldonado is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2006, 01:55 PM
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Its 20 pounds for 24 hours, so itís very expensive. You should also know that it can be longer than a twenty minute wait for a bus to arrive, so you might waste a lot of time if you get off. Only one route has a live speaker the others use headsets. Itís nice to ride the full circuit with the live speaker and not get off, then hop on and off the rest of the day.

If you are on the top of a half covered bus and it rains, itís not much fun. The city busses are good and cheap and fully covered.

Also, donít go to Harrodís on Saturday; too many people.
TerryG is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2006, 02:06 PM
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A quick note on Harrods. i was by there the other day and on saturdays portions of the food halls open at 8am. I know krispy kreme opens earlier, but now the fod halls do as well. Must be for those neighbors who use it as their corner shop.

Harrods is also open on Sundays from 12 onwards. If your husband does share your passion for Harrods, there is a nice pub not too far away on Montpelier Square. If you have your back to Harrods it's accross the street and to the left. There is a Pret on the corner. Husband could have a pint or two and you could wander Harrods!!
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Old Feb 10th, 2006, 02:21 PM
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That's interesting; the ticket used to be 15 GBP for 24 hours. Now they are getting an extra 5 pounds out of everyone. I've always thought that the BB Tour is a great thing to do on the first day. Particularly if it's sunny and you can ride on top. Don't ride downstairs. You can't see enough. It's a great way to get a good overview of the City and you can hop on and hop off as you wish. If you get on at 3:00 your ticket will be good til 3:00 two days hence. That means, you can get on the bus at 3:00. We always plan our longest trip for the last ride, hopping on just at the end of our ticket time.

Did you notice you get a 2 pound break if you buy your ticket online? Then just buy a day pass for the next day if you need it.
Catbert is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2006, 04:08 PM
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The £15 24-hour ticket is still being marketed by
Robespierre is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2006, 08:53 PM
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&quot;<i> all the outdoor major sites such as the Tower of London, Big Ben/Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's, Harrod's, Buckingham Palace</i>&quot;

Of the places you mention, none except Big Ben and Buckingham Palace are &quot;outdoor&quot; sites. Well they are in the sense that they are all bldgs that one can see from outsode.

But the Tower, St Pauls, Westminster Abbey and Harrods all require going inside and each takes a minimum of 90 minutes to see even the highlights.

So you will need a LOT more time then you might think to see everything on your list.

Using the Big Bus or Original tours is great for an overview - but you don't have the time to waste using them for general transport after your initial tour.

re the prices of the two tours: I have not paid full retail for either one in more than 10 years. (I often go on at least part of the tours when taking first timers to London). The tickets can be bought on line, on the buses, or at some of the stops from ticket sellers set up on the pavement (sidewalk). The two companies use the same bus stops so they are in direct competition - and at places like Victoria Station the sidewalk agents will get into bidding wars - I've saved as much as &pound;5 a ticket - depending on how slow the traffic is that day.
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Old Feb 10th, 2006, 09:47 PM
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the bus tour is a great way to see and assimilate the sites. however for the best deal, make sure you ride the London Eye, you can't miss it and you'll see the whole of London and the areas aroud it.
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Old Feb 11th, 2006, 12:59 AM
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We preferred the Original Tour to the Big Bus (better commentary - very amusing! - buses more frequent).

On our first trip, we were staying near Marble Arch and headed to the Original Tour stop, where we were convinced by a Big Bus ticket seller to purchase tickets - &quot;a bus will be right along&quot;. Three Original Tour buses went by before a Big Bus finally arrived after about half an hour, maybe forty minutes. At the end of the day, we waited for a bus that never came and ended up hopping on the Tube to get home.

On every trip, we leave our bags at the hotel then hop on (now) an Original Tour bus and ride around until check-in time. There is just no better way to enjoy the scenery all about than from seats on the open air upper deck. It's also a terrific way to get around to all the &quot;major&quot; sights and attractions, keeping in mind that you must visit them in order.

The &quot;sped up entry into the Tower of London&quot; is that they sell tickets on board, so you can skip the ticket line. But, with the limited hours, it would be difficult to enjoy one or more routes, and the Tower of London, and the river cruise, all in one day.

We much prefer the buses to the Tube (and they're more economical).

A ride around upon arrival will give you a really good idea of how far things are from one another. Also fabulous is the tourist bus routes map at the Tube website.

Not to be missed at Harrod's is the food court and the Egyptian escalators (ride all the way to the top and back down again).

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Old Feb 11th, 2006, 02:48 AM
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We did the Big Bus thing for one day - mostly using it for transportation and because my elderly mother is afraid of finding things on her own. At the end of the day when we were tired, we took the other loop of the Bus and just rode around to get an overview. The narration was far less irritating than other city tours I have taken in other cities.

We did not get the Tube pass - just paid per ride on either Tube or bus and one day did a day pass. If you start out after peak rush hour a one-day pass is discounted.
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 10:31 AM
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We used the bus tour the first day of our visit in London and enjoyed sitting up top in the open although it makes it harder to hear the commentary. We also had to wait for at least 20 minutes and then there was a large press of people trying to get on the bus. For actually getting around, we bought tube passes before we went (special price for tourists) and they were well worth the money. Riding on the tube is a tourist experience all on its own.
We also really enjoyed the Original London Walking tours (white pamphlets) and did 3 tours while we were there. We really enjoyed the Greenwich tour and were suprised that our favourite was the walking tour inside the British Museum. When the tour was done, we stayed another couple of hours and could have stayed longer if our time had permitted. There are so many choices of things to do and see and they are all wonderful.
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 10:44 AM
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I always look for the tour buses like Big Red or Original when I go to a new city. It helps me to orient myself and since I will not be visiting all of the places I want, I would at least like to see them. (I am a museum person) In London, I stayed a week. I purchased the tour for 1 day (24 hours) and central zone passes for the 5 days. We arrived around 11:00am and used the bus until dark - truly sightseeing. The next morning we got back on the bus (same ticket) and used it to sightsee then to drop us off at the Tower. (There are 2-4 routes that go to different areas of the city) Our 24 hours were up after the Tower so we took the tube back to the hotel. I never used the city bus while I was there. We walked and used the Underground. It is easy. My daughter is going next month and she is worried about how to get around and where everything is located - I am giving you the same advice I gave her. For what it is worth.
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 10:53 AM
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We did the Big Bus tour (24 hr ticket) then mostly used the tube. Since your thinking of a 48 hr ticket, you can see how it goes the 1st day with waits and convenience, and decide what you want to do the next day. You can get the multi-day tube pass anytime.

We found the tube great. They are fast and easy and can take you almost everywhere. We also took some buses. We bought daily family passes for the tube. They were the best buy in London! The bus tours are a bit pricey, but London is a big city, and they do give a good overview. Take the included boat ride as well. It's quite pleasant.
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