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Big Bus Tour in June - Will traffic ruin it?

So I know that the Big Bus Tours are not transportation and I've been to London and plan to use the Oyster card.

That being said, I'm bringing my two teenage sons on their first trip to Europe in June and we are spending several days in London. In 2004 I did a big bus tour while in London for work (my first time) and it was great, it was off-season and traffic was not a problem and I really enjoyed the narration and history pieces.

My question is are the busses locked in horrible traffic at all times of the year or just peak? Is it worthwhile to do one mid-June or will we be stuck in traffic more than not? Are we better off with a good guidebook?

Posted by
10086 posts

Take a guidebook, get a sense of the congestion. Buy Oyster cards for the Tube and buses. Perhaps take a Big Bus tour. We saw them all over London last year.

Posted by
6113 posts

Most London traffic is everyday folks getting to and from work, buses and van deliveries etc. London gets tourists all year round so June traffic will be no different to that in say March.

Buses are more interesting than the Underground, but slower. There is always a chance that you will get snarled up in traffic, as routes are often blocked by delivery vans or broken down vehicles.

Posted by
8038 posts

Much has changed in 15 years. Traffic congestion is much worse.

June is the height of the tourist season. Expect large crowds.

Get the RS guidebook and share with your sons now. Have them make a list of things they truly want to see.

Upon arrival get your Oyster Cards (each of you will need them).

Once you have checked into where ever you are staying (Use Google street view maps to see where the closest bank ATM, Market and Tube Station are located) visit the ATM for your "cash." Walk to the tube station, buy your Oyster cards from the machines (15 pounds should be uploaded on each) and make your way to Westminster station. Walk outside and although Elizabeth's Tower is covered in scaffolding I can imagine they will enjoy seeing Parliament and the near by Westminster Abbey. Walk up Birdcage Walk to Palace.

Always a good first few hours in London seeing the above. They are the most iconic spots.

Posted by
610 posts

If by Big Bus- you mean the Hop On Hop OFF. I say go for it. We do on in every city just to get the lay of the land, to see everything and because the commentary can be informative and tacky at the same time. Great for your first day/evening as they are so little effort .

Posted by
826 posts

I used to love the hop-on-hop off bus in London, but the traffic for me makes it unbearable. Now, I focus on walking tours and I highly recommend London Walks: You can pick an area that is of interest to you and your teenage sons. I would recommend the Classic London which provides a great overview of the top London sites. Your teenagers might also like the Harry Potter and Jack the Ripper walks.


Posted by
305 posts

I was on the Big Bus the Friday before Harry and Megan's wedding. It was miserable, especially around the Palace. If you are there on a Sunday maybe the traffic will be less? I would stick with walks of London and guidebooks.

Posted by
1065 posts

Depending on the age of your teenage sons, you can get a "young persons discount" added to their oyster card by a TFL employee.

Posted by
738 posts

I love hop on hop off and I did one in Sept of 17 and it was good (traffic caused some issues but not much)
I went back in Sept of 18 and traffic was HORRIBLE. I could have walked faster. And construction messed up the route as well. At this ooint I won’t do another ho ho buss in London.

If you just want the tour bit and not the ho ho function then consider an evening buss tour. I did one both in 17 and 18 and those are really fun. You get a live guide. And a fun group. You leave and return to the same place, if you chose the right time you can do it after dark. The traffic while bad is not horrible like during the day and you don’t lose time sitting still at the stops.

So I would skip the Hop on Hop off. Use the tube as much as possible, walk when it is reasonable or if I have no other option take a bus or taxis.
And I would take an evening Bus tour to see the city.
I stumbled on the evening bus tour when I was looking for something to do the first year and enjoyed it so much I did it again last year.