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- April 23, 2017 Snakes, Rugs & Haggling – London to Marrakech as a Family
- May 12, 2016 London Colour Run & Why Colour Matters
- November 14, 2016 BBC Good Food Show Review: Our Picks from London Olympia!
The Best London Bus Routes With Kids
July 5, 2016
Can I possibly say that I love this city even when the weather is bad like it is at the moment. One thing I learned while being a London mum is that kids LOVE London buses, the infernal suffering of adult commuting is a thing of wonder and amazement for our little ones.
I appreciate the convertible double decker experience of the London Bus Tour is a cool to ride but a trip on this for a family of four costs £90! You can’t hop on and off as you please and for the best experience it’s also very much weather dependent. But why miss out the experience of the London bus, an iconic symbol of our city?
the experience is a whirlwind, mind blowing feast for the kids and gets them perfectly knackered for bed
Call me crazy but I recently explored this indulgence with a little more vigour by taking my two kids on long trips through the city, and in each case, selecting only one route number from start to finish. What’s great is you can people watch from the windows (top deck, front seats always!) and freely hop on and off, checking out the sights and things to do along the way. The experience is a whirlwind, mind blowing feast for the kids and gets them perfectly knackered for bed. It also helps them learn about numbers.
This of course begs the question, what then are the best routes for this? Which routes offer the most entertainment with the least hassle and aggro?
So here my picks of the 3 best bus routes to take your little ones around London on, starting from the shortest and easiest to the more adventurous wanting to test their stamina. Pack your bag with the all important essentials, load up on some caffeine and see how far your £4.50 Oyster travel card takes you!
Non stop: 45 mins
The 9 bus is the oldest bus route in London as well as one of the richest because it passes through to some of the most affluent areas in the city. It starts at Aldwych, close to spectacular Somerset House (the summer play fountains are our among our picks of the best in London!).
It continues towards Piccadilly Circus and then towards Green Park, a great stop for a peaceful picnic break.
You’ll go on towards luxurious Knightsbridge passing Harrods and then towards the Royal Albert Hall and beautiful Kensington Gardens.
You can end this lovely Bus ride once you reach Holland Park where you can take your kids to the magnificent Japanese garden and spot the resident Peacocks!
Non stop: 1 hour
Starting in Pimlico, you’ll journey through beautiful stucco front Victorian terraces before reaching Victoria Station.
The bus heads towards Westminster Cathedral followed by Westminster Abbey and Parliament Square. This is where some of the most spectacular sights of London converge – our beloved Big Ben, houses of Parliament and lovely river views of the Thames.
The route then takes you to Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s home, before reaching bustling Trafalgar Square, a great opportunity to get up close to the famous lion statues.
The number 24 Bus also stops at Camden Town, which offers a labyrinth of street markets, eclectic shops and delicious street food. Our last visit here provided us with the much props for our Batman V Superman race. The kids had a fantastic time trying on costumes, and found Zac squeezing his hugely entertaining.
The route ends at Hampstead Heath where a magnificent green park with woodland areas await you to take you a million miles away from the busy city. Make the short trip up the hill to see spectacular views of London and if the weather is showing you blue skies make sure to bring your swimsuit because you can take a splash in the ponds or the lovely lido. What a perfect way to end your busy day!
Non stop: 1 hour 20 mins
Route 23 starts on Great Western Road, by Westbourne Park tube on the fringe of trendy Notting Hill. A few stops away is world famous Portobello, and lesser known but equally vibrant, Golborne Market.
Further into the route is Marble Arch, great for a pop into Hyde Park, or stay on and watch swathes of shoppers on busy Oxford Street.
The route takes you to Piccadilly Circus and then Trafalgar Square, the later of which is a little more child friendly with less of the bustle and more pedestrianized areas.
Next on the stop is Covent Garden, get the kids speechless with some very talented street performers, which by the way are way better than when I was a kid.
I particularly love St Paul’s Cathedral which kids love to run up and down the stairs of. At this point in the journey you hit the financial district around Liverpool Street, which before deciding is too serious – is home to Spitafields Market – a fun stop for street art, food amazing vintage finds for yourself, your home and of course the little ones.
The great things about these designated bus routes are that you can find very helpful maps that will allow to plan your stops . If you are more organized than myself you can download it from the TFL website or better still, open a page on your phone so you can keep an eye on it.
Some important things to know:
Children travel for free. You cannot pay for bus journeys in London with cash, instead you can pay with a Visitor Oyster card or with your bank card directly if you have contactless (our favorite of all payment methods, goodbye feudal chip and pin!).
The fee is always the same, £1.50 per journey. If you travel only on buses, a limit on your spend will be applied at £4.50 per day. If you also travel on the tube on the same day, the price limit will be higher (depending on zones and time of day – see more detailed information here)
You can also pay for your bus journey with a Travelcard. If you have a Travelcard, you can just show it to the driver as you get on the bus. Buses are not zone-specific so you can travel in any area of London with your Travelcard; it will not cost you any extra.
So there is it, I hope you’ll give this a try! If you do, let me know how it goes and of course, what you might do differently.