7 Scenic London Bus Routes For An Impromptu City Tour

Alex Landon Alex Landon - Editor

Bus routes

London has over 700 different bus routes – here are the best of the bunch!

Sod the Hop-on, Hop-off buses, forget the coach trip, and screw the Megabus tour, because there’s a better way to do things. These London bus routes will set you back the grand total of £1.50, and they’ll helpfully drop you off at the most interesting places in the city. Everything from markets to maps, and from palaces to pubs can be found on these journeys. Oyster cards at the ready!

The Tourist Taxi: Route 24 from Pimlico to Hampstead Heath

Bus routes

Equip yourself with a camera and a general lack of urgency, and you’re ready to be a tourist for the day. Catch the 24 from Stop CM on Grosvenor Road, along the Thames. It’ll take you through Pimlico to Westminster Cathedral and onwards to Parliament Square, where you’ll spot Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the House of Commons. A jaunt through Whitehall adds Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery, and the Fourth Plinth to your itinerary. Hop off at Leicester Square if you fancy a trip to M&M World (for the hardcore tourists amongst you), or carry on along Denmark Street, famous for its recording studios and music shops. Further tourism opportunities abound up in Camden, and eventually Hampstead Heath. Unfortunately the bus won’t take you up the hill, but we thoroughly recommend the walk, as the views are payoff enough.

The Historic Hopper: Route 11 from Fulham to Liverpool Street

Bus routes
Photo: @_renmar_

History from West to East on this bus route. Hop on the bus at Walham Green in Chelsea and make your way down the ever-fancy King’s Road towards Sloane Square. You’ll then head towards Westminster – catching a glimpse of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey – and along the Strand into the City, passing St Paul’s Cathedral and The Royal Exchange on the way. Eventually you’ll get to Liverpool Street, which leaves you well placed for the historic Spitalfields Market and the hipster haven that is Brick Lane.

The Fancy Flier: Route 9 from Somerset House to Hammersmith

Bus routes
Photo: @xirfan

Route 9 is one for those who enjoy the finer things in life. Hyde Park, the Royal Albert Hall, and Knightsbridge are just some of the sights thrown into the mix on this trip. Hop on outside Somerset House, and as the day unfolds, you’ll pass Trafalgar Square, Green Park, Kensington Palace, and Harrods before driving alongside the London Design Museum and Olympia. Complete your day with a spot of shopping in Kensington, or just keep on going to Hammersmith if you don’t have the funds.

The Market Mover: Route 35 from Clapham Junction to Shoreditch

Bus routes
Photo: @londonluxurylifestyle

Angling for street food, vintage clothes, and the odd antique? Time to check out London’s markets, starting with the magical melting pot of Brixton Market. Don’t fill up on food too early though, because your next stop is foodie paradise Borough Market, stuffed full of amazing produce every Saturday. From here, you’ll wind your way through the City of London, past historic Leadenhall Market, and taking in Spitalfields Market and the various wares of Brick Lane. Last up is a fab floral affair amongst the blooms and blossoms of Columbia Road Flower Market.

The River Rider: Route RV1 from Covent Garden to Tower Gateway

Bus routes
Photo: @discoverydock

In failing to decide which side of the river it wants to stay on, this bus trundles past a plethora of the best spots in the city. Your departure point is Catherine Street in Covent Garden, before the bus crosses the river at Waterloo Bridge. Next up is the London Eye, and then back around towards the South Bank, showing you the likes of the OXO Tower and the Royal Festival Hall. You recross the river at Tower Bridge and then mosey up towards Monument, and right towards the Tower of London. It also passes St Dunstan in the East, which is well worth disembarking for.

The Booze Bus: Route 17 from Archway to London Bridge

Bus routes
Photo: @eciampi5

It’s almost like TfL read our guide to London’s oldest pubs and decided to design a bus route specifically for it! No fewer than five of our favourite historic boozers lie on or next to this route. Catch it from Euston Road, Stop H, possibly after a jaunt to Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station, and see the Charles Dickens Museum and the famous Gray’s Inn on the way down. But if you’re looking for inns of a different kind, here’s where things get interesting. The Cittie of Yorke (an old Secret London favourite), Ye Olde Mitre, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, and The Seven Stars soon come into view, all prime spots for a bev. See some justice at the Old Bailey, pick up some sustenance from Borough Market, and then relax at your final stop: The George Inn, which was Shakespeare’s London Bridge haunt.

The Allround Adventurer: Route 139 from Waterloo to Golders Green

Bus routes
Photo: @geraci.matteo

Get the best of all worlds with our final route: a little bit of history, a little bit of shopping, and a little bit of music. Climb aboard from Stop J at Waterloo Station, and you’ll see Somerset House, Covent Garden, and Trafalgar Square appearing on the horizon before long. Whether by day or by night, you’ll see the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus up next, before the shopping begins. Hamleys offers an embarrassment of toys (including a magical new Harry Potter department), Bond Street is the place to grab your finery, and Selfridges has, well, pretty much everything. A pair of historic North London spots round off your tour: Lords, the spiritual home of cricket, and Abbey Road, where you can drop a hot new album or just pose for photos on THAT zebra crossing.

Alternatively, see how far you can get across London for just £1.50.

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