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Big Bus vs TootBus London

Updated: May 7

big bus vs tootbus london


If you're planning to explore the vibrant streets of London in style, hopping on an open-top bus tour is the way to go. In this guide, we'll navigate through the offerings of two top players in the game – Big Bus and TooTBus London.

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1. Brief overview of the open-top bus tours

When it comes to open-top bus tours in London, two major players, Big Bus and TooTBus (formerly The Original Tour), have stood the test of time, accumulating nearly a century of combined experience.

While Big Bus has held firm to its traditions and values over the years, TooTBus (formerly The Original Tour) has undergone significant shifts and changes, especially through its latest rebranding. This transformation has brought both positive and not-so-positive aspects. I have to say, I used to be a big fan of The Original Tour. Tootbus still has to win me over.

2. Big Bus

Big Bus has been a part of London for more than 30 years, making it a true London icon. With one of the most frequent bus schedules and their Classic Tour (the flagship route) they've created a truly authentic experience.

The Big Bus experience doesn't end with bus rides alone. All their tickets include an amazing river cruise along the Thames, guided walking tours, and extra perks depending on your ticket choice. They've designed it so you don't need to worry too much; you just get your tickets and surrender to the experience.

If you fancy seeing London at night, they offer a special night tour that departs every evening. You can add it to your ticket or purchase it separately later on.

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. TooTBus

Like I mentioned before Tootbus went through some serious transformation over the last few years, rebranding from the well-known 'The Original Tour'. Their focus has shifted towards sustainability and a more digitalized system, and to some extent, they have succeeded. However, there is still a long way to go.

One thing I appreciate is that they've replaced their entire fleet with eco-friendly buses, something no other tour has done. If you're concerned about your carbon footprint, Tootbus is the company to choose. 

They've also transitioned from the old paper ticket system to digital tickets, which can be used directly on your phone. This is a huge advantage because one of the biggest problems was people losing their tickets and not being able to board the bus.

If you happen to travel with kids, Tootbus has a special kids commentary designed to keep the little ones engaged. This feature dates back to the old days and is something that sets them apart from other companies that do not offer this. For an even more personalized tour for kids, they have a special tour with a few departures a day. These tours have a live guide catering to the kids, and they're much shorter for those who don't want to spend two hours or more on the bus.

For a more in-depth exploration of TooTBus services, head to our dedicated blog post.

4. Head-to-head comparison of Big Bus vs TooTBus London

  • Frequency: They have one of the most frequent bus schedules

  • Partnerships: They are partners with Merlin Attractions, offering discounted tickets to some top attractions

  • Extensive Coverage: Their route covers a wider range of places like Madame Tussauds and Oxford street

  • London Pass Benefit: London Pass holders can use Big Bus for 1 day

  • Walking Tours: When you purchase the Essential ticket you get 3 guided walking tours

  • Eco-Friendly Focus: TooTBus is committed to eco-friendly touring

  • Family-Friendly: Specially designed commentary for kids

  • Affordability: Some of the most affordable tickets in the sightseeing world

  • Later Departures: Depending on the season, they offer later departure times

  • Walking Tours: Complimentary self-guided walking tours

Let's delve into more detail:

Attraction Tickets: If you plan to explore paid attractions in London, Big Bus takes the lead. They not only permit London Pass holders to board their buses for one day but also participate in an incredible package deal covering all Merlin attractions.

Service: Big Bus wins when it comes to bus frequency, especially at major stops like the London Eye and Marble Arch. The blue route also offers a more frequent service compared to its Tootbus counterpart.

Route: While their routes are almost identical, Big Bus covers stops like Madame Tussauds and Oxford Street, which Tootbus does not include. Another advantage for Big Bus is its blue route. It covers both east and west London, removing the need to switch buses.

Commentary: TootBus shines in this aspect, featuring additional commentary specifically designed for kids. This kid-friendly commentary is crafted to entertain and inform young passengers during the journey.

Sustainability: TootBus takes the lead in sustainability with buses running on alternative fuels. They also eliminated printed tickets and transitioned to an app-based system.

Walking Tours: Big Bus offers guided tours included in their Essential ticket, whereas TootBus provides free self-guided tours through their app.

Price: When it comes to pricing, TootBus offers notably more affordable options. The most significant difference is evident in family and child tickets.

Prices as of 12/04/2024. These prices are available online only.

Big Bus












Must See London

5. User reviews

On TripAdvisor, Big Bus has a higher rating of 4 stars compared to TootBus which has 3.5 stars. While the difference is not huge, Big Bus has six times more reviews than TootBus. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

An important observation from my experience and in line with some reviews is that TootBus faces challenges with its commentary, contributing to a less favorable perception among users

6. Summary

If budget is not a concern, I suggest going for Big Bus. However, keep in mind that, like any city, London can throw unexpected challenges your way. No matter what tour you take if you don't take the necessary measures, you can face some unpleasant situations. To avoid this, check the first and last bus timings, download the app, steer clear of rush hours, and be flexible with your expectations.

If you are looking for something more affordable, TootBus is the best choice, especially for families. The kids will love the special commentary, and the family ticket comes at a significantly lower cost.

Pro Tip: For a smooth experience, check with the staff validating your tickets about any potential disruptions and inquire about bus frequency.

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

Check ticket deals online for Big Bus or TooTBus 


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