Riding London's Buses

A Visitor's guide to using London's buses to explore the city

Updated on December, 03 2019
A great way to see the city: London's famous Double Decker Buses
A great way to see the city: London's famous Double Decker Buses

Although you can get to pretty much anywhere you will want to go in London by means of riding the Underground, you may want to enjoy a ride or two, especially on the upper deck, of one of London's 'trademark' double decker buses, even if for nothing more than to enjoy the view and explore some of the sights as it winds through the city. Riding the buses is actually an enjoyable way to get an overview of some of London, as you won't see much of anything while riding the Tube.

London buses get around central London efficiently with the help of bus only lanes and the congestion tax reducing the number of cars entering the city. Take a day or so during your vacation and explore some of the sights and sounds of London by bus. Try to get a double decker if you can so you can enjoy views that are unimpeded by the traffic.

Suggested Routes
There are 100's of bus routes criss-crossing London for you to explore. Of course getting a bit lost can actually be fun if you aren't on a schedule and just want to explore. To help you get started we have suggested the following three bus routes. These routes will take you through a variety of historic neighbourhoods, passing a number of historic sites and attractions along the way.

Route #9
This route still runs some of the famous old London Routemaster buses making it a good choice if you want to experience a little bit of London nostalgia. Starting on The Strand just North of Temple Station you will head wast past the London Transport Museusm, Saint Paul's Cathedral and Trafalgar Square, before heading up Regent's St. to Piccadilly Place near Piccadilly Circus. From there it heads west along the northern boundery of Green Park and the grounds of Buckingham Palace. It then continues around Hyde Park Corner and follows Kensington Road all along the southern edge of Hyde Park passing right in front of the Royal Albert Hall.

Route #11
The eastern end of this route originates at Liverpool Street Station and takes you right next to Saint Paul's Cathedral before heading down Fleet Street and along The Strand to Trafalgar Square. It then travels south along the famous Whitehall Street passing around Parliament Square near Big Ben then along Victoria Street by both Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral. It then continues through Victoria Station to Sloane Square and along King's Road into the historic neighbourhoods of South Kensington and Chelsea.

Route #24
This scenic, north-south route starts by Hampstead Heath Station just south of the beautiful Hampstead Heath wilderness area, and takes you past the famous and bustling Camden Market. It then continues down Tottenham Court and Charing Cross Road to Leicester Square and, then Trafalgar Square. From there it goes south along famous Whitehall Street passing around Parliament Square near Big Ben then along Victoria Street by both Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral, throught Victoria Station and then continues into Pimlico.

You may pay for you bus fare as you go with a contactless payment card or device (credit or debit card) or with an Oyster Card which you can purchase at the airport, Tube Stations and London Travel Information Centres. Both payment methods offer the benefit of daily and weekly fare caps. If using a contactless payment card, you will only be charged once per day for your day's travel. Whatever fare medium you use, simply touch it onto the yellow card reader as you enter the bus. Double decker buses must be boarded through the front doors, but the articulated buses can be entered through any door. Yellow card readers are located at each door. Cash fares are not accepted. For more information visit our London Transport Fares page.

You can download a helpful PDF Visitors Brochure from Transport for London which includes a simplified and illustrated Bus Route Map covering central London. This is the simplest and best Bus Route Map I have found for tourists exploring London. Download it from the link below and you can print it out at home.

PDF Download: London Visitors Brochure and Route Maps

London Bus Map

View or download a schematic London Bus map showing the main bus routes and popular attractions and landmarks throughout Central London.

Next London Bus Near Me

Find the time of the next London bus, train, or ferry from your location.

  1. Click the location icon or search for your location in the search bar below.
  2. Hover over any route to see the next 3 departure times.
  3. Click on any route to see times for the opposite direction.

Photos



A look at some the famous old Routemaster buses. You can still find a few restored ones running on routes 9 and 15. Ride one if you get the chance!

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