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Big Bus vs City Sightseeing London

Updated: May 9

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Exploring this magnificent city from one of the famous open-top double-decker buses is perhaps the best way to experience it firsthand. In this guide, we'll navigate through the offerings of two top players in the game – Big Bus and City Sightseeing London.

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infographic Big Bus vs City Sightseeing

Check ticket deals for Big Bus or City Sightseeing

1. Brief overview of the open-top bus tours

Big Bus has been a London icon for more than 30 years. Since then, they have expanded to many other countries, keeping their reputation for reliability and experience. They are always focused on improving their service and in general keeping a high level of professionalism. 

City Sightseeing is a relatively new addition to London even though they have buses running all over the world. In 2023 they merged with City Tour, which ran tour buses in London for a few years. So, they inherited some city tour experiences, plus they came here with a thirst to prove themselves, evolving extremely rapidly into one of the top tour providers. 

2. Big Bus

Big Bus has an almost perfectly designed tour with tourists' happiness in mind. Their routes, the commentary, attraction tickets and walking tours are all meant to give the best overview of London. In my opinion, trying to figure all this on your own can lead to a lot of delays, so letting them take you on their journey is a much safer bet.

If you want to find out more about the Big Bus services, head to our dedicated blog post. There, we go into much more detail and highlight all the essential aspects.

3. City Sightseeing

City Sightseeing is constantly trying to innovate and catch up with its much more established competitors. You might be up for some good surprises if you give them a chance.

One of the main advantages over their competitors is their commentary. It's just them and Golden Tours that offer commentary in 12 different languages. I cannot overstate how important this feature is for tourists that are not fully comfortable with the English language.

If you want to find out more about the Big Bus services, head to our dedicated blog post. There, we go into much more detail and highlight all the essential aspects.

4. Head-to-head comparison of Big Bus vs City Sightseeing

  • Route: Covers places that City Sightseeing doesn't

  • London Pass: You can board the bus for free if you have the pass

  • Frequency: They are famous for their excellent bus frequency

  • Merlin: Option to add attractions at discounted rates

  • Walking Tours: If you purchase a 48hrs ticket

  • Affordability: They offer a more affordable ticket without the cruise

  • Commentary: Their commentary has 6 additional languages

  • Lively buses: Beautifully colored buses

  • Route: Direct link from London Eye to British Museum

  • Discounts: You get discounts in other cities

Let's delve into more detail:

Service: Big Bus tends to stand out here. They have more buses at important stops and let's not forget that their buses are slightly bigger. This means that there are more seats upstairs.

Route: While they run similar routes, Big Bus has a slight advantage by covering Notting Hill and the Paddington area. They also have the blue route which covers both east and west side of London (no need to change buses).

Attraction Tickets: When it comes to attraction tickets, Big Bus are the clear winners. They have a partnership with London Pass and Merlin Attractions basically covering all the major attractions in London.

Commentary: Here City Sightseeing is a clear winner. They have their commentary in 11 languages while Big Bus only has 5.

Walking Tours: If you purchase the 48 hour ticket with both companies, you get free walking tours. The only difference is that with Big Bus you get actual guides while with City Sightseeing you get self-guided tours, quite a big difference if you ask me.

Price: City Sightseeing has a more affordable option, offering a bus ticket without the river cruise.

5. User reviews

If you check Tripadvisor you will notice that they both have 4 stars. It's worth mentioning that Big Bus has 20 times more reviews. So, in my opinion their stars are way more valuable and they are clear winners here.

Most negative reviews are caused by delays caused by traffic or events. In order to avoid these, make sure you avoid the buses during rush hours. Also be mindful of public and school holidays when buses tend to become overcrowded.

6. Summary of our Big Bus vs City Sightseeing London post

Both companies are a relatively safe choice. If you don't mind the higher price tag, I would go with Big Bus. They are more reliable, their buses have more space upstairs and their drivers are more experienced. They also cover more places and their blue route offers a great way to see all London in one go.

If you are in London for a shorter time, and you are not interested in doing the cruise, City Sightseeing could be a better choice.

If you enjoyed our Big Bus vs City Sightseeing London post, make sure to check our Travel Tips page for other great advice.

Check ticket deals online for Big Bus or City Sightseeing


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