Top London sightseeing bus routes


There are hundreds of bus routes in the capital and some offer a great chance to get a unique perspective of the city’s iconic landmarks.

While there are plenty of official bus tours, they can come with hefty ticket prices, so if you are looking to save a bit of money, then travelling on a standard red London bus can be more favourable.

Route 11

Route 11 is regarded as one of the best bus routes for anyone visiting London for the first time as it takes in many of the key buildings that make the capital world famous.

Starting in the upmarket King’s Road in Chelsea, the bus travels through the streets of Belgravia before passing by Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament – giving passengers a chance to admire the stunning architecture.

The vehicle then turns on to Whitehall and heads up to the Trafalgar Square, passing along the Strand, then the Royal Courts of Justice, and Fleet Street. The next stops are all in the famous financial district, known as the City or ‘Square Mile’.

You will see the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral at the start of the city, followed by the Royal Exchange, the Bank of England and the mayor’s official residence Mansion House.

The last stop of Route 11 is at Liverpool Street station, where you can catch a train to another destination or take a short walk to the nearby Spitalfields market, Brick Lane or the Shoreditch area.

Route 388

The 388 bus is ideal for anyone wanting to recapture the memories of London 2012 or are wanting to see how the hosting of the Olympics games transformed East London.

Starting at Blackfriars the route goes through the City and towards Shoreditch – passing close to the trendy area of Brick Lane, which has some fab vintage shops and restaurants.

The landscape then changes as the bus enters the green space of Victoria Park and carries on to the warehouses of Hackney Wick.

At this point the Accelor-Mittal Orbit comes in to view as the bus comes to a stop at the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park. The tower was designed by artist Amish Kapoor. Costing £22 million, the large structure has divided opinion amongst critics and the general public.

Tips on travelling by bus

You can only catch a bus at a designated stop and only the buses on the sign will stop – so make sure you have the right stop.

There are maps of all the bus routes available online at the Transport for London website and you can also use the online journey planner to find out which bus you need.

In 2014, it become no longer possible to pay with cash on a bus, so you will need to get an Oyster travelcard. This prepaid pass allows you to board any bus in London and the fare will automatically be deducted from your account when you touch the payment reader on board the bus.