Do you only have one day in London?  Don’t worry! This one 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 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.

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London Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour

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 an 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 5:00pm (17:00) Monday you have until 5:00 pm (17:00) Tuesday to ride.

London Hop On Hop Off Bus Routes

There are five routes to choice from!!  London is a big city!  They are color coordinated and list the attractions at each stop.

The Original London Hop On Hop off Bus Tour Route Map

The Yellow Original Route

The Yellow Route is the most popular London Hop on Hop off bus route. It hits many well known tourist attractions, 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 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 Route

The Orange 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 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 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 Tour

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

Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly circus

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 McDonalds, 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 China town your 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 study 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!

The London Eye Area

Coca 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 at.  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.

Next Stop Tower of London

Tower 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 the 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!

Buckingham Palace

one day in London buckingham palace London

Image courtesy of visitlondon

 

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)

Blue Royal Borough Route

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.

Museum's of London

Victoria and Albert Museum

Victoria and Albert's Museum in London

Image Courtesy of Linkdin

 

The Victoria and Albert museum is dedicated to the 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 was a lot of hands on interactive exhibits.   My family loves museum 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

Image courtesy of Visit London

 

The Natural History Museum in London is most famous for it’s 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 Hall London

Image Courtesy of Albert Hall

 

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

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace London

Image Courtesy of Visit Britain Shop

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 must see.

Hours of operation

10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Red Bus Route

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

Madame Tussauds in London

Image Courtesy of Visit Britain Shop

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.

Orange British Museum 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 London

Image Courtesy of Visit London

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 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.

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

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