The Hop On Hop Off (HO-HO) tours in Europe can be a boon for most travelers, especially if you are in a city for short duration. But, otherwise, one needs to question if it is really required. We have used it in some European cities primarily to save time and get a quick overview of the city. But I guess that’s where it ends. Do you need it everywhere? The answer will be an emphatic “No” in our case since we like to loiter around in most places and are hardly bound by an itinerary. But this might not necessarily be true for many others..
In this blog, I will tell you about the Hop On, Hop Off experience in London.
In London, there are numerous of service providers of the Hop On, Hop Off experience, amongst which ‘The Original London Tour’ and the ‘Big Bus’ tours are the most prominent ones. (There are many others, but will not recommend them as the frequency of their buses and their service can be doubtful). Both of ‘The Original London Tour’ and the ‘Big Bus’have multiple routes and cover all the major attractions in the city center.
The Original London Tour is rated the best though. Its frequency is very good, although the buses can be very crowded during peak season. The drivers are polite, recorded tour info can be plugged into while there are live commentary is some routes. Note that the tickets for the The Original London Tour have to be booked from only select locations across London. We booked ours from the office at Trafalgar Square. It took us around the usual Westminster Abbey, South Bank, St Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Square etc. And came with freebies like Thames River Cruise (one way) and walking trips. Remember, if you book online, you can get a discount. Further, children above 5 yrs need a ticket.
And now, do you need the The Original London Hop On Hop Off Tour? Frankly, No! For, on our very first day in London, we walked around central London and covered almost everything that was to be seen. Naturally, we regreted buying the tickets. At GBP 25 per head, it’s an expensive mistake for a family of 3!!! And with the Pound pounding us Indians so hard now, think twice before taking the tour!
Worse, The Original London Tour service does not run beyond 7pm and during the summers,when there is daylight until 9.30 pm, this can be very disappointing indeed. Since we had pre-booked the tickets, we had no other recourse but to used it and be done with it. We used it mainly for a quick overview of the city, across 2 routes, only to listen to the commentary and history of some of the places.
What is the alternative if not a Hop On Hop Off tour in London? Walk. Central London sight-seeing is not spread over a large area and can be easily covered by foot or bus/trains at a fraction of a price. Recommend this strongly