London sightseeing bus tours are golden opportunities to see a wider picture of London in as little time as possible. The city has so much to offer that most people never get to see and do it all even after multiple trips. Touring on a bus allows you to catch a glimpse of the attractions you may never visit in person while discovering the exact location of attractions that are on your to-do list.
Sightseeing tours can last anywhere from one hour to a full day. Some stretch into overnight or multi-day experiences, especially if they venture beyond London boundaries. The best London sightseeing bus tours for families with kids are on the shorter side, especially those designed to entertain young kids.
Sightseeing Bus Tours That Kids Love
How do you identify the best sightseeing bus tours for your family? Start with our list of 10 London sightseeing bus tours that kids love.
1. The Original London Kid’s Tour
Board an open-top bus and explore the history of London for 45 minutes with a live guide. Conducted in the fresh air and with commentary designed for kids aged 6-12, this is one of the best ways to tour London with kids. Little ones won’t feel couped up in an enclosed bus and won’t have to contain their energy for hours. Child-focused commentary helps maintain their attention.
2. Harry Potter London Bus Tour
Spend three hours cruising by some of the best Harry Potter destinations in London. This tour goes by popular locations featured in the Potter films, including Diagon Alley and Number 12 Grimmauld Place. It also stops briefly at Platform 9 ¾. This is different from the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio tour. Golden Tours does offer a competing tour that provides transportation to and from the studio tour.
3. Golden Tours Afternoon Tea Bus Tour of London
Afternoon tea and bus tours are two experiences that many kids have for the first time in London. Why not combine them with an afternoon tea bus tour? It lasts for 90 minutes and keeps the attention of most kids by serving tea, sandwiches, and sweets. There are also adult beverages if you want to kick back with a glass of wine.
Older children and teenagers often love hearing the dark tales of London’s history. The Ghost Bus Tour will fill you in on stories that aren’t commonly explored on more standard sightseeing tours of London. The tour departs daily from Northumberland Avenue near the Sherlock Holmes Pub and Grand Hotel. You can expect it to last 90 minutes or less, depending on traffic.
5. The Original London by Night Tour
Are you looking for a night London sightseeing tour without the dark content of a ghost tour? The London by Night Tour is a great option that allows children of all ages to participate. It’s a nonstop 75-minute tour followed by a 20-minute Thames River cruise. You’ll see the Shard, Tower Bridge, London Eye, Big Ben, and other attractions lit up in all their glory.
6. Golden Tours London Essentials Day Tour
This is a half- or full-day London sightseeing tour that includes entry into some or all of the following attractions:
- Tower of London
- Paul’s Cathedral
- London Eye
Some of these day tours also include a river boat ride. All tours are conducted on luxury buses and include a live guide offering commentary on the attractions. While this is a longer tour, it includes attraction stops so children aren’t required to sit the entire time.
7. Big Bus Tours Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour of London
Hop-on, hop-off bus tours are kid favorites because they allow more freedom. Your tickets last for at least one day, and you have the option to get on and off at any stop along the route as many times as you want. What you won’t get is the live commentary of a guide that comes with continuous bus tours of London.
8. Brigit’s Bakery Classic Afternoon Tea Bus Tour
Brigit’s Bakery serves one of the most delicious afternoon teas, and you can enjoy it from a vintage bus while touring past some of the city’s biggest attractions. Children over the age of four are welcome to attend with parents. Sandwiches, pastries, and cakes are served along with delicious tea.
9. Golden Tours Open-Top London Bus Tours
Golden is one of the leading tour operations in London, and they have an open-top tour that includes commentary from a live guide. It lasts for 90 minutes and is a continuous tour, so make sure your kids can comfortably remain in their seats that length of time. This is a classic tour of London that will go by most of the big attractions while you enjoy a little fresh air.
10. Christmas Lights London by Night Tour
If you visit London in December, make sure to hop aboard this bus tour to see the twinkling lights. Children of all ages will enjoy the experience.
Preparing for London Sightseeing Bus Tours with Kids
The best thing you can do to prepare your kids for a London sightseeing bus tour is explain what the tour is all about and what they will see along the way. Showing them a map of London and pointing out some of the attractions that will appear on the tour can help. Looking up fun facts about those attractions online is also great because your kids may get excited when they see those attractions on the bus.
You should also set your kids expectations for the London sightseeing bus tours from the start. Let the know that a bus tour requires them to sit still for an extended period of time. Talk to them about guides and commentators so that they understand not to interrupt or raise their hands if they have questions.
If you worry that your children will have trouble sitting still and quiet, consider booking a private tour so that they don’t bother others on the London sightseeing bus tours.
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