City of London
|

An Amazing One Day In London With a Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour

Do you only have one day in London?  Don’t worry! This 1- day London itinerary will help you decide how you want to spend it.

London is an amazing city with so much to offer!  One day in London is not enough time to explore everything, but it will give you a taste that will make you want to come back.

In this post, we will address why The Original London Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour is the way to go!  As well as what to see at each stop on the hop-on-hop-off London route.

Let’s plan your one day in London sightseeing tour!

If you like what you see pin this to Pinterest for later!

London Hop on hop off tour

This post may contain affiliate links, I will get a commission at no additional charge to you.

Contents hide

Hop On Hop Off London Route – Bus Tourhop on hop off London route

On our recent trip to London, we were able to go on a hop-on hop-off bus tour sponsored by Isango!  We appreciate the experience we had and are excited to share with you why this is a great way to see London in a day.

London Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour Tickets

London Hop on Hop off Bus Tour

The tour starts as you purchase your ticket.   It is best to purchase your ticket ahead of time by going to Isango.com. There is no need to print your ticket.  When you arrive in London just show your ticket on your phone to the bus driver at any of the stops.  The bus driver will scan it and give you a paper ticket and headphones to listen to a tour of London as you ride the bus.

You are given exactly 24 hours to ride the bus. Meaning if you get on at 5:00 pm (17:00) Monday you have until 5:00 pm (17:00) Tuesday to ride.

Hop On Hop Off  London Routes

There are five hop on hop off London routes to choose from!!  London is a big city!  They are color coordinated and list the attractions at each London hop-on hop-off bus stop.

The Original London Hop-On Hop-off Bus Map

The Yellow Original Hop-On-Hop-Off  London Route

The Yellow Route is the most popular Hop on Hop off  London route. It hits many well-known tourist attractions that you would want to visit on your first time in London, such as:

  • Buckingham Palace
  • Westminster Abby
  • Big Ben
  • London Eye
  • Tower Bridge
  • Tower of London
  • St. Pauls Cathedral
  • Piccadilly Circus
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Hyde Park
  • Marble Arch

Blue Royal Borough Hop-On-Hop-Off London Route

The Blue Route hits some of the same tourist attractions that the yellow route hits as well as museums and other locations. All of these museums are free! Donations are welcome.

  • Kensington Palace
  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Royal Albert Hall
  • Science Museum
  • Natural History Museum
  • West End
  • Buckingham Palace
  • St. James Palace and Park
  • Downing Street
  • Westminster Abby
  • Big Ben
  • London Eye
  • Marble Arch
  • Paddington Station

Orange British Museum Hop-On-Hop-Off London Route

The Orange Route provides some fabulous stops that are not available on other routes. The British Museum is a favorite (okay, I am not a big museum person, but my husband loves it!). This museum houses the Rosetta Stone and has other historic treasures to take in. It too is free.

And if you are a Harry Potter fan, no more needs to be said.

  • British Museum
  • Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station
  • Chinatown
  • Trafalgar Square
  • National Gallery

Purple Hop-On-Hop-Off London Route

The Purple Route will take you to places that are on other routes but can get you there quicker.

  • Kensington Gardens
  • Marble Arch
  • Hyde Park

Red Hop-On-Hop-Off London Route

The Red Route is the only shuttle that takes you to Madame Tussauds, which is a wax museum.  This museum does have admission.

  • Madame Tussauds
  • Marble Arch
  • Hyde Park

Our Experience On Our One Day In London Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour

We really liked being able to see the entire city as we took the tour.  The buses were not crowded and we were always able to get on and have a nice seat.  There were people at each stop to guide you on the bus and let you know when the next one would be arriving.  The service was incredible and I highly recommend it especially if you only have one day in London!

One Day in London Tour1-day in London Itinerary

Now that you know the routes, let’s begin planning your one-day in London itinerary.

It doesn’t matter where you start from. We recommend that you purchase your tickets ahead of time, but you can also buy tickets the day of.

We found employees at every stop we came across ready to sell tickets,  help you with directions, and direct you to which bus to get on, but this could be seasonal.

Let’s just start with stop one on the Yellow Line Hop-on-hop-off London route!  There are so many things to do in London in one day.  I am going to list many many options, but you will have to decide which ones you want to add to your London 1-day itinerary.

1. Piccadilly Circus AreaPiccadilly circus

On this one day in London sightseeing tour, Piccadilly Circus is a must-see.

Don’t forget to plug in your headphones for a history tour as you ride along.  I recommended skipping Marble Arch and Hyde Park so that you don’t run out of time, and focus on Piccadilly Circus and other stops.

Piccadilly Circus is a really fun area (similar to Times Square in New York City).  There are some theaters located in the area as well as a box office to buy discounted tickets to a show.  If you love theater you might consider this.

London Tickets in Piccadilly circus

Also, located in this area is a Lego Store, a four-story M&M store, and American fast food such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Pizza Hut!  I found when taking a tween to London, this is the place for them. Some familiarity mixed with the new.

M&M store in London

Chinatown

China Town in London

Chinatown is located in the area as well.  We thought it looked really cool.  This is the place to try some authentic Asian food.  If you walk through Chinatown you will be really close to Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is a large area where many people gather.  There are special events held in this area as well as protests.  The National Gallery is in this area.

National Gallery

National Gallery London

The National Gallery is an art museum.  I’ll preface this by saying that I am not a huge art museum fan. But when I walked into this art gallery I really loved it because I had studied these well-known paintings in high school and they were very familiar to me.

Shopping Near Trafalgar Square

Hardy's Candy Shop London

If you walk less than a mile from Trafalgar Square you will find some fun stores to shop at.

We had looked at Hardy’s Candy Store online before we left on our trip because they sell a special Harry Potter goodie bag.

We loved trying some of the British candy.  The clerk was so nice and told us what his favorite was and we compared American candy to the British variety.  It was fun!  I have to admit that we Americans must really have a sweet tooth.

There are other cool stores, in this area especially if you are a Harry Potter Fan.

Once you explore this area and are ready to move on, jump back on the bus.  Check out your map and plan your next stop!

Recommendation for One Day in London Itinerary

Being that you only have one day in London I would only plan to be in this area for 1-3 hours.  There are so many things to see in London in 1 day.  You have got to plan your time out carefully.

2. The London Eye AreaCoca Cola London Eye

London Eye

The Coca Cola London Eye is located on the south bank of the River Thames.  It is the tallest observation wheel in Europe and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom.

The London Eye is not a Ferris wheel.  It is an air-conditioned observation capsule.  You will be very safe as you get the best view of the city.  It takes about 30 minutes for the wheel to make a complete rotation.

We found that it was best to purchase tickets ahead of time.  We used Isango.com.  This site is great because there are lots of options for different attractions around London.

The Shrek Experience

Shrek’s Adventures is a 4D experience that is great for kids.  We wanted to go so bad!  Our plane was delayed and made it that we arrived too late to go.

The hours of operation are 10:00 am -4:00 pm on most days.  Weekend times vary. so make sure to check beforehand!

It is better to get Shrek tickets ahead of time!

London Dungeon

The London Dungeon

The London Dungeon is a blast into the darkest history of London.  It is an activity that I would recommend for teens and adults.

There are two underground rides, 360 sets, 20 live actors, 19 interactive shows, and 1000 years of history.

Hours of operation are 10:00 am – 4:00 pm on most days. Weekend times vary.

Sea Life Aquarium

Sea Life Aquarium London

The Sea Life Aquarium London is an extremely popular aquarium.  There are really fabulous exhibits including walking with the sharks.

Hours of operation are from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm.  Weekend times vary.

Plan Ahead

If you want to do all 4 attractions listed above, give yourself about 6 hours.  The London Eye takes about 30-40 minutes.  The other attractions can take up to 2 hours each. Totally doable in one day in London.

Combo Ticket Pass

I found that it is much cheaper to buy a combo pass. If you already wanted to go on the London Eye adding these other attractions makes it only $10 more per attraction.  Plus, if you do not purchase your tickets ahead of time you will be waiting in long lines at the ticket office.

3. Tower of LondonTower of London

As you jump back on the bus you will pass St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Monument(built to commemorate the Great Fire of London), and The Shard. Stop if these are on your bucket list. Otherwise, you’ll have to settle for a quick window view on the bus.

There are plenty of opportunities to get great shots of these landmarks from the top deck of the bus.  One exciting landmark is Tower Bridge.  The Bus will cross this bridge before you arrive at the Tower of London.

Tower Bridge in London

Next on the one day in London tour is the Tower of London!  The Tower of London is a historical castle that houses the crown jewels.  It is really quite amazing that this beautiful castle is in the heart of London.

It is recommended to stay at least 2 hours at this site.  If it is a busy time of year you may want to allow more time.  We loved our visit!

Hours of operation are from 10:00 am – 4:30 pm.  Weekend times are slightly different.

Tickets are best purchased ahead of time!

4. Buckingham PalaceOne Day in London Buckingham Palace

Since we are talking about a one day in London trip, you will probably only want to hit the most iconic sites.  Buckingham Palace is on the top of the list!

Buckingham Palace is the London residence of the Monarch in the United Kingdom.

Tickets

In the summer months, you can purchase tickets to see the State Rooms, The Queens Gallery, and the Royal Mews (stables) Ticket prices range from 26-49 pounds.

You can purchase tickets on the actual website.

Hours of Operation

9:30 am- 7:30 pm (only in summer)

5. Museum’s of London – Blue Royal Borough RouteScience Museum London

Now, if you did everything suggested on the yellow line you probably don’t have time to do anything else. But, if you are wanting to experience a different part of London this route may be for you.

The first time we went to London, we had an 18-month-old baby and were in school. So while we did some of the most popular attractions, we opted for the free museums.

There are over 23 Museums in London that are absolutely free!  I don’t think we knew that before arriving. We were so happy! The exchange rate was atrocious the first time we went.

After seeing Buckingham Palace it is very easy to jump to the blue line.  From the bus, you will get to see Queen Elizabeth’s Gate.  I would recommend staying on the bus and not getting off at this point.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Victoria and Albert Museum

Victoria and Albert's Museum in London
Image Courtesy of Linkedin

The Victoria and Albert Museum is dedicated to decorative arts, design, and sculpture.  It houses a collection of 2.27 million objects.

Admission

Free

Hours of operation

10:00 am – 5:45 pm

Science Museum

Science museum in London
Image Courtesy of science museum

We loved going to the science museum with our little one.  There were a lot of hands-on interactive exhibits.   My family loves museums so taking this route is a win for us.

Admission

Free

Hours of operation

10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum in London

The Natural History Museum in London is most famous for its dinosaur exhibit.  One of the best things about all these museums is that the building themselves are so beautiful.  Plus, you get to see some pretty awesome exhibits.

Admission

Free

Hours of Operation

10:00 am – 5:50 pm

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert One Day in London Tour

Royal Albert Hall is a beautiful concert hall.  If you don’t have time to see a show, daily tours are available starting at 9 am.

Tour Admission

Free

Recommendation for your 1-Day London Itinerary 

If you love museums, I highly recommend going to this area. However, your one day in London may consist only of museums because of the time it will take to view them.  They are amazing and beautiful and big! 

6. Kensington Palace1- day in London Itinerary -Kensington palace

Kensington Palace is another residence set in the Kensington Gardens.  Tours are available for around 17 pounds. If you love history and beautiful buildings this is a 1 day in London must-see.

Hours of operation

10:00 am – 4:00 pm

7. Madame Tussauds – Red Bus RouteMadame Tussauds in London

Image Courtesy of Visit Britain Shop

After viewing Kensington Palace jump on the blue line until you get to the Hyde Park stop.  You can catch the red shuttle and visit Madame Tussauds.

Madame Tussaud’s is a wax museum full of famous celebrities!  You might really enjoy taking a picture with the Queen.

Admission

Tickets to Madame Tussaud’s start around 25 pounds and go up if you want to buy a combo pass.

Hours of operation

10:00 am – 4:00 pm most days of the week.  Weekend times vary.

8. British Museum and Kings Cross – Orange Route

There is not really an easy way to jump to the orange line from the red shuttle.  The best bet is to go to Piccadilly Circus and get on there.

British Museum

British Museum

Admission

Free

Hours of operation

10:00 am – 5:30 pm

This museum is dedicated to human history, art and culture. We enjoyed this museum but it wasn’t a great one for kids.

Platform 9 3/4

Platform 9 3/4 London

If you are a Harry Potter Fan this is a must-see stop.  You can get a special picture of pushing your trolley through the wall.  There is also a really nice store that sells Harry Potter merchandise that is unlike anything we have seen.  There is a real flying golden stitch and unique things that will make your stop here worth it.

From Platform 9 3/4 you can catch a tour bus to Harry Potter Studios.  This is an amazing tour and if you are interested in going you should book months in advance.

Are you Ready for your One Amazing Day in London?Visit London in a Day - Tower Bridge

I hope you are now prepared for your one day in London hop on hop off bus tour. 

I’m excited for you to choose your 1-day in London itinerary.  You can easily spend a day in each section of the city.  Good Luck! If you have any questions just ask in the Facebook Group.

I know we listed a lot of information with tons of fun things to do in London but if you are looking for awesome day trips from London we have you covered as well. Or if you want to take a ride on the Eurostar and get a taste of Paris that is another option!

Facebook Group

If you have any questions be sure to join our Facebook Travel CommunityWe help each other plan trips.

 

Similar Posts

84 Comments

  1. My husband and I are planning a trip to London soon… I think this would be a really great way to see the city and many of the important sites in a short period of time! Thanks for the information

  2. This looks so fun I could stay a whole week! I would want to visit every museum and attraction. The Hop-On Hop-Off bus looks like the way to go. So convenient!

  3. My cousin and I were just discussing how we both want to visit Lindon again. I will save this post for later, great suggestions that you make will be helpful. Thank you for posting this.

  4. We love the hop-on, hop-off bus when visiting places for the first time and/or short on time. Provides such a convenient way to see the best attractions.

  5. This looks like such a fun day! Your pictures are beautiful and your post is very informative. Thank you for sharing this

  6. Wow! What a day! Last year we tried a hop on hop off bus for the first time and found it was an easy way to get a great feel for a city.

  7. I love hop on hop off buses. They really give you the lay of the land plus transportation between the sites. It’s a win-win. It looks like you had a great day in London.

  8. I have always enjoyed the idea of this hop on hop off tour bus idea. I’ve never done it though. Thank you for the insight.

  9. We did this when we went too! It was a perfect way to see the city on a short trip. It rained while we’re there though and we only had the option for the top of the bus! We got so wet! But it was a great memory. Loved reading your post, brought me back.

  10. This looks like the perfect bus tour! I love that they offer different routes depending on what you want to see. I would be hopping off at the Natural History Museum for sure!!!
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  11. I have always wanted to visit London! My husband and I are hoping to plan our trip together sometime soon! Thanks for the ideas!

  12. There is so much to see in London – you covered most of it! Love the hop on hop off – can continue sight seeing from your seat!

  13. Looks like there’s so much to do and see! Sorry you missed the shrek experience. I hope you catch it next time you go!

    1. It was so much fun! We didn’t think we would make it but our train from France ended at Kings Cross! We were so excited!

  14. The absolute best way to see a new city for the first time. It’s how I saw London for the first time as well. Great advice Lisa!

  15. One of the ways to lessen the expense of travel is to take public transportation – something I tend to do more now that I am older, which is strange but true. Thank you for sharing!

  16. I spent four days in London and loved it! We heavily relied on the Tube and hop on/hop off buses. I love getting an overview of the city on the bus!

  17. I have never been to London. 🙁 And I never knew these one day tours were a thing. What a great idea! Thanks, especially for the photos. Some day………

  18. This looks like so much fun. I love adventure and buses so I would have a blast. Platform 9 3/4 would be my first stop.

  19. Pingback: Top Things to Do in London in 2020 – Planning Away
  20. Pingback: 28 Famous London Landmarks You Will Adore! - Leading Fives
  21. Pingback: Day Trip From Paris to London: Eurostar Train vs Flying – Planning Away

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.