OK New Yorkers…you may want to get your pitch forks ready. I’m about to say something so un-New York.
Sometimes you want to be a lazy traveler, right? Sometimes you just want to see everything there is to see in a new city without having to do much work. Especially when you’re backpacking like I was!
During my stay in London, I chose to try the Hop On Hop Off bus. I always cringed at these in New York but it was actually a really easy way to see the city and get a feel for its layout quickly. You can get on and off the bus as much as you want. There are bus stops at every major site.
There was also recorded commentary we listened to so it was nice to learn about what we were seeing instead of just staring at it.
We chose the City Sightseeing or Red Tour which also came with a free river cruise on the Thames.
But we struggled to even find the damn bus.
There are a lot of hop on hop off tour companies in London. We chose the original Hop On Hop Off bus. It has stops at most of the major sites in London and one right near our hostel, Generator Hostel.
We found one bus but they told us that it was heading to the end so it would make more sense to walk to the next bus stop. Of course the bus drives by. So two American girls and one Aussie start sprinting down the street after it. Sandals flapping, satchels flopping, sweat coming.
I’m sure every Brit we passed was thinking, “Stupid tourists.” But hey, we needed to get our bus!
And we didn’t even catch it! So we followed it hoping we’d find the next stop.
Finally one bus stopped at a light next to us and we begged the driver to let us on. He really didn’t want to but we finally convinced him.
So if you don’t want to go our route of begging the driver to let us on, I would recommend finding the exact address of the bus stops on their website.
You’ll visit all the palaces on the tour including Buckingham Palace.
It’ll also take you near Kings Cross station where you can see the 9 and 3/4’s platform from Harry Potter!
We stopped at Kensington Palace to say hello to Will and Kate and went on to Tower Bridge where we got on the free river cruise down the Thames. The guide was hilarious. I definitely recommend a river cruise if you’re heading to London!
Even though I’ve always been a hater of the Hop On Hop Off bus, I enjoyed it in London. If you don’t have a ton of time or you just want the easiest way to get around, check it out. You can use it as much as you want in 24 hours so you can even use it to get to lunch, dinner and breakfast the next day!
Have you tried a Hop On Hop Off bus? What did you think?