London is a big place. There’s a lot to see, and the best way to get an overview of some of the main sights is to go on a bus tour. The commentaries are interesting (especially if you manage to get a route and time with a live commentary), but whenever I’ve taken them I haven’t felt like I’ve got good value for money. They’re very expensive (£25-£39 per person, depending on whether you buy online or in person on the day), and if you do ‘hop off’ to see an attraction, you’re using up a lot of the time you’ve paid for. Plus there’s all the waiting for indeterminate times at bus stops hoping the route you want is going to come by sometime soon. I’ve always found them frustrating, and some friends who tried one recently experienced the same.
They run two-hour-long circular tours, starting from either Tower Hill, the London Eye or Park Lane, with prices starting at just £5 per person. (Sorry I didn’t tell you about this earlier – they used to be just £1!) The pricing is variable, which is a bit strange – and I can’t work out what causes prices to rise and fall, but the website has a banner showing the lowest prices per day for the next week, so you can avoid the pricier days.
The commentary is really interesting – I saw and learned things that I’d never noticed or heard before, and even though the route had been considerably changed due to climate change protestors blocking Parliament Square, they had managed to adapt the commentary to include information on the new areas we were travelling through, which I thought was pretty impressive.
The staff are really lovely – friendly, kind and helpful – and there was no wasted time as I turned up minutes before my scheduled departure time and off we went.
I asked about things like an induction loop and options to listen in other languages, and was told that those things are definitely planned for the future, but this was the company’s first year of running the tours, so they were doing a simple service first just to see if it would take off.
I really hope it does, as I thought it was an excellent solution to the negatives of the other companies’ offers.
Tickets must be booked online, but you can do that right up to the time of departure – so you can wait to see what the weather’s doing before you commit yourself!
What: Take a 2-hour Megabus tour of London
When: Daily, every hour between 10:00 and 17:00
Where: Pick up points at Tower Hill (not all days – check schedule for details), Hyde Park Corner and Belvedere Road (behind the London Eye)
How much: Prices start from £5 per person – adult and child seats are the same price.