UK Student Life homepage
Study, work or travel in the UK. British culture and life.
A-Z index
Message Board
Contact us
< Up
Travel / Tours / Company / The Original Tour
Practical details about a London sightseeing bus tour (The Original Tour)

The Original Tour is a company which operates London sightseeing buses. Taking one of these tours is an excellent way to see all of the major sights in a short time.


Click here to buy a ticket online in advance: London sightseeing bus tour.
This method of buying is cheaper, and will save you time.

There are three delivery methods available: Print@Home, Collect from Baker Street & UK/International Postal:
- Print@Home: you print your own voucher (either print it out when you book, or print the e-mail which is sent to you)
- Collect: you collect your ticket from the Original London Visitor Centre, 17-19 Cockspur Street (near Trafalgar Square; map)
- UK/International Postal - your voucher is posted to you (delivery times range from 3-7 working days).

Vouchers need to be exchanged for a timed ticket at one of The Original Tour's kiosks:
(1) Original London Visitor Centre, 17-19 Cockspur Street (near Trafalgar Square; map)
(2) Piccadilly Circus - a short walk from Piccadilly Circus underground station, in Whitcomb Street (map)
(3) Victoria - a short walk from the exit to Victoria train station, in Grosvenor Gardens (map)

The ticket is valid for 24 hours (or 48 hours at some times during the winter). You can get off at many places along the route, and then board another bus (they run every 15-20 minutes between 9am and 5pm in winter, and in some they run more frequently and until later: check the start and finish times when you join the tour).

You will be given a map which shows the routes of the sightseeing buses and the locations of the main attractions.

Tour bus stop: green,
red and yellow routes
will stop here

Press the Stop button
when you wish to
get off the bus

You can use buses on any of the routes, each indicated with a different colour and bus number.

For photos and information about the sights you can see during one of the tours, see: Travel/Tours/London/Sightseeing

Back to top

THE ORIGINAL TOUR (Yellow Route, T1)

The buses with a yellow triangle on the front provide a live commentary in English.

One of the buses
on the yellow route

Live commentary in English
(on the yellow route)

Open deck
on top of one of the buses

Back to top


The buses with a red triangle on the front offer recorded commentaries in the following languages:
English - French - German - Italian - Japanese - Russian - Spanish
There is also a "Kids zone" commentary (in English) for children.
You are given free headphones when you get on the bus, which you should keep with you until you have finished the tour.

Language commentaries are available
on the red route

Back to top

THE LOOP LINE (Green Route, T3)

The buses with a green triangle on the front provide a short circular route around the centre of London.
You can use this service to make convenient connections with the other buses.

Back to top

THE MUSEUM TOUR (Blue Route, T4)

The buses with a blue triangle on the front will take you to Bloomsbury (for the British Museum), Piccadilly and Kensington (for Hyde Park, Kensington Palace, the museums near South Kensington and Harrods).

Back to top


The buses with a black triangle on the front is an hourly service which is only available between 9:40am and 11:40am. It provides a connection to the main sightseeing bus services from the stations at Paddington, Euston, King's Cross and St Pancras. If you get off at Speakers' Corner (part of Hyde Park) you can join the main red or yellow routes.

Back to top


The buses with a purple triangle on the front is only available from 8:15am until 10:15am. It runs from Holland Park, Notting Hill and Paddington station to Baker Street station (where you can join the red route) and on to Piccadilly Circus (where you can join any of the routes). This service is a convenient way to join the main tour if you are staying in a hotel near this route.

Back to top


Your ticket allows you to take a free cruise on the River Thames, using boats operated by the company City Cruises (
For photos and information about the sights you can see during one of the cruises, see: Travel/Tours/London/Cruise

You can join the boat at Westminster Pier, Tower Pier or Greenwich Pier. It takes about 40 minutes to travel from Westminster Pier to Tower Pier (you can then join the red or yellow routes nearby, at Tower Hill). If takes a further 30 minutes to continue from here to Greenwich (make sure that you check the time of the last boat back - if you miss this you can return to central London by buying a ticket on the DLR from Cutty Sark to Tower Gateway or Bank). For more information about Greenwich see: Travel/Tours/London/Greenwich.

Westminster Pier

Back to top


Your ticket allows you to take a free walking tour. The tour details change sometimes, so check what is available. At the start of 2008 the walking tours were:

(1) 10:30 - 12:00 : Changing of the Guard
See Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace and the soldiers who guard them. You can find out more about Buckingham Palace and about the Changing the Guard ceremony here: Travel/Tours/London/BuckinghamPalace.
This walking tour starts at 10:30am at the Original London Visitor Centre, 17-19 Cockspur Street (near Trafalgar Square; map). It lasts about 90 minutes.

(2) 13:00 - 14:30 : Walk on the Wild Side
On this walk you can see some of the places in central London which are connected with British music, films, fashion and food.
This tour starts at 1pm at the Original London Visitor Centre, 17-19 Cockspur Street (near Trafalgar Square; map). It lasts about 90 minutes.

(3) 15:30 - 17:00 : Jack the Ripper
Walk through the streets of Whitechapel in East London, where Jack the Ripper murdered several women in 1888.
This walking tour starts at 3:30pm at the Original Tour bus stop at the Tower of London (on Tower Hill; map).

Back to top


You can buy a Choice voucher at the start of your tour, and exchange these for something to eat and drink near Trafalgar Square. The cost of the vouchers is a discount to the normal prices, and it will save you time deciding where to go! Note that the offers may change from time to time, so check what is available when you buy the vouchers. In 2008 the options are as follows:

(1) Sherlock Holmes pub

Choice menu: Fish and chips
Location: 10 Northumberland Street, next to Craven Passage: map
Original Tour stop: Nelson's Column & Trafalgar Square (yellow, red or green routes) or Sherlock Holmes pub (yellow or green route)
Meal times: Any day of the week, between 12 noon and 6pm
Notes: The Choice meal is served on the ground floor. Choose a table, make a note of the number, and hand in your Choice tickets at the food bar. You can buy a drink separately at the bar. Before getting back on the Original Tour bus, go into Trafalgar Square to have a look at Nelson's Column, and visit the National Gallery or National Portrait Gallery.

Sherlock Holmes pub

Fish and chips

(2) Café in the Crypt

Choice menu: English afternoon tea: Scones with clotted cream and jam, cake and tea or coffee
Location: Under St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square: map (the entrance is on Duncannon Street)
Original Tour stop: Nelson's Column & Trafalgar Square (yellow, red or green routes) or Sherlock Holmes pub (yellow or green route)
Meal times: Any day of the week, between 2pm and 6pm
Notes: St Martin-in-the-Fields is the church on the edge Trafalgar Square, close to the National Gallery. When you face the entrance of the church, go along the road on the right hand side (Duncannon Street) and you will see the entrance on your left (see the photo below). You need to go down some steps to enter the crypt. Take a tray and select the afternoon tea plate, then ask for tea or coffee at the drinks counter. Present your Choice tickets when you get to the till.

Entrance to Café in the Crypt

Afternoon tea

The crypt

Back to top


The newer buses are wheelchair-accessible. A ramp can be unfolded to allow you to get on the vehicle. There is a space on the lower floor where a wheelchair can be secured safely. You need to be able to use the stairs if you wish to go up to the upper deck.

One of the newer
accessible buses

The driver will open the ramp
to allow a disabled person to board

Back to top


Photos from one of the sightseeing tours: Travel/Tours/London/Sightseeing
Photos from a Thames cruise (free when you buy an Original Tour ticket) : Travel/Tours/London/Cruise
Greenwich: Travel/Transport/London/Greenwich

Entertainment in London: Life/Entertainment/London
Transport in London: Travel/Transport/London
Tours in the UK or Europe: Travel/Tours

Home page: Home

Back to top

© UK Student Life 2002-2009