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London Christmas Light Bus Tour help !

(28 Posts)
Sometimesitsnowsinapril Fri 13-Nov-15 14:38:31

We are planning a weekend in London near Christmas and I am trying organise our timetable to get the most out of our stay. One thing the DCs have asked is a bus trip to see the lights (Oxford Street, London Bridge etc).

I have googled a couple of bus tours but the prices are around the £75-£100 for the four of us which, together with what else we are planning is starting to be out of our price range.

Can anyone suggest a tour company (or even better the normal bus if it is a double decker - DC have never been on a double decker) that will take in the main sights so we can see a bit of London light up at a reasonable price?

Also if anyone knows of a half decent place to eat near Waterloo station (doesn't need to be top notch just a decent pub/cafe) where we can fuel up before we start our stay.

Many thanks in advance.

Dungandbother Fri 13-Nov-15 14:57:36

Blimey. Get a normal bus and sit at the front. Even ask commuters to move for your kids!

I don't have time now but will come back. Someone might beat me to it.

At Waterloo on the south bank are lots of nice restaurants. Book one mind. Gets v busy. Giraffe springs to mind.

How old are children? Thinking of their legs and the walk!

I will help sort you a nice route

Worried83 Fri 13-Nov-15 15:06:17

The Christmas lights bus tour is on groupon, it works out £50 for a family of 4, or £38 if you go earlier in the day (1pm).
That's from London Victoria

Luckything50 Fri 13-Nov-15 15:08:48

Absolutely no reason to pay - get a bus outside Charing Cross off Trafalgar Square which will take you up past Piccadilly Circus, up regent street and left into oxford street. Traffic will be mad so take mince pies (and flasks of mulled wine) and enjoy sitting in it. I think it's a 13 but easy to check. I think young ones are free on buses in town too. Up at the end of Oxford st you've got the fab Windows in selfridges and also libertys on regent street, but avoid hamleys!
Theses a lovely kid-friendly restaurant giraffe on the south bank by the festival hall ( great big building good for cold days) or one of the ones in Gabriel's wharf a bit further along. Have a lovely time

Sometimesitsnowsinapril Fri 13-Nov-15 15:16:41

That is great thank you for the quick replies - Worried - I did see the Groupon offer but it would be cutting it fine with our return train home sad

We are happy to sit in the traffic on the bus and watch the world go by (we live in the sticks so London traffic/double decker/sights will be something new to see.

I will have a look at Giraffe and see if I can book a table.

Your help on this is very much appreciated smile

Sometimesitsnowsinapril Fri 13-Nov-15 15:18:40

Oh yes - DC are 11 and 8 so if the route included Big Ben/London Bridge/London Eye/Buckingham Palace etc that would make their day!

Slingshot101 Fri 13-Nov-15 15:20:34

Another option is the bus route 12. The tfl website is good for checking out routes but this one goes from County Hall (near Waterloo) over Westminster Bridge so you get to see the river and Houses of Parliament, then up to Trafalgar Sq (big Christmas tree), Regent street (lights/Hamleys), ends at Oxford Circus (more lights)!

You can always hop on and hop off different buses as the Oyster will max out at a daily cap (or get a travel-card).

For food how about Wahaca. There is one on the Southbank or one just outside Waterloo station. They do a good kids menu and you can check it out online.

Luckything50 Sat 14-Nov-15 18:35:53

A final suggestion - if you're coming in to Waterloo you could book a 'flight' on the london eye, it's expensive but you can find offers and it does give a really good overview of where everything is and is well worth the money.

KatnissEverdene Sun 15-Nov-15 13:24:47

Second the london eye, it is amazing to do it in the dark at Christmas - lights are fab. There is a christmas market on the southbank just below it. I would recommend wahcca too - there are 2 near waterloo - one on the southbank (in a converted shipping container) and one right by waterloo station, great for kids.

FATEdestiny Sun 15-Nov-15 13:34:15

I'm off to London (from "the sticks") next weekend (Sun-Mon). Four children aged 1, 6, 10 and 11. Me, DH, Mil & FiL. This thread is very useful!

Sorry to hijack - can I ask about Winter Wonderland? Is it going to be too busy to be any fun?

Any recommendations for free/inexpensive Christmassy things to do/see in London.

Luckything50 Sun 15-Nov-15 17:25:53

Ice skating outside Somerset house or museum or by the eye? Also carol service at one of the various churches - St. Paul's / st martins in the fields at Trafalgar Square. I think there's a big market in Hyde park too

Davros Sun 15-Nov-15 18:27:23

You don't NEED to spend a lot, just walk around the various neighbourhoods. But you do need a plan/route and pick a place for lunch or it will be a disaster and you'll be knackered. I think the Southbank at Xmas with London Eye is brilliant but very busy. Otherwise go up to the London Bridge area where there is a market this year, mill round Borough Market and walk along the river towards Waterloo. But that means missing Covent Garden, Harrods, Trafalgar square, Cable Car, Canary Wharf etc etc!!!!!

FATEdestiny Sun 15-Nov-15 21:04:02

How do I find out when/where the carol services are?

Also, how toddler friendly is the ice rink? My 6 year old uses push-along things on ice normally.

Davros Sun 15-Nov-15 21:11:31

You could look at the Time Out website. There are carol services in Trafalgar Square from early December and St Martin-in-the-Fields usually has them

Luckything50 Sun 15-Nov-15 21:39:39

The rink at the eye has 'push along Penguins' for me the young ones - sure they all do something similar

jopickles Mon 16-Nov-15 08:21:17

how about something like this www.bbbakery.co.uk/afternoon-tea/afternoon-tea-bus-tour/

jopickles Mon 16-Nov-15 08:22:41

sorry hit post before I had finished - I know it might work out more expensive but its food as well so you wouldn't be paying out later to eat

FrancesOldhamKelsey Mon 16-Nov-15 08:27:19

I wouldn't bother doing Winter Wonderland on a rare trip to London. There's so much to see and do for free that you can only do in London that it would be a shame to waste your time on something so generic.

Covent Garden is nice at Christmas (if crowded). They usually decorate it nicely. It's a short walk from Waterloo or Charing Cross.

Download Citymapper onto your phone to help with route planning and Tripadvisor for restaurants.

Trumpton Mon 16-Nov-15 08:36:42

With the ages your children are do climb The Monument. Cheap as chips ( probably cheaper ) fantastic views , 365 steps and history as well. Amazing !

Monument

www.themonument.info

FrancesOldhamKelsey Mon 16-Nov-15 08:46:25

If you do end up going East to the City for a half day (Tower of London/Tower Bridge/HMS Belfast/Shard/Monument/St Paul's) then drop into Leadenhall Market which is extra pretty at Christmas, and book a trip to the Skygarden at the top of the Walkie Talkie (free but needs pre-booking and proof of identity for the adults).

franksidebottom Mon 16-Nov-15 14:32:37

If you use twitter, visit london is a good one to follow. They always recommend 101 things to do in london at christmas time. I am doing the lights bus tour, using a wowcher deal, not sure if it's still running but might be worth a look. The Southbank is great at that time as others have mentioned. There is an ice rink I think by the London Eye, Somerset House ice rink is also close by, the Southbank market is lovely not too big

Dungandbother Mon 16-Nov-15 15:11:27

The BB bakery tour is good, top tip is they don't bat an eyelid if you take a discreet bottle of booze on.

It's expensive for the kids and unless you pay a premium for the front top deck, you don't actually see that much. Plus the buses are old so if it's wet or cold, the Windows steam up making it a useless sight seeing tour.

Yes to walkie talkie building. It's called sky garden and you need to book a slot but it's free. Great views but expect to spend £20-30 on a drink and cake for 4. If you want! Posh cafe high up.

Have a look at this link for central bus maps but it is a bit hmm to read. content.tfl.gov.uk/bus-route-maps/key-bus-routes-in-central-london.pdf

Bus 139 from Waterloo is good for some sights. You could hop off it at Charing Cross for Pizza Express and then get on the 23 to go past Piccadilly (get off at Hamleys to walk up Carnaby St and along to Oxford Circus). Get back on route 10, get off at Marble Arch having gone along Oxford St.

Bus is great, get on or off to see Selfridges or advert lights at Piccadilly.

From Marble Arch on 10 go to Harrods and Royal Albert hall. Then get off and go back the other way on the 9 to Charing Cross and walk to Covent Garden.

If it's wet... The windows will be steamy though.

Dungandbother Mon 16-Nov-15 15:16:49

I'm going to come back later with instructions on how to read bus stops.... It seems difficult but it's not once explained.
And buses are all cash less so you must use an oyster or contactless card or travel card. Again more tonight.

2anddone Thu 19-Nov-15 13:15:17

I am heading to London this weekend to watch Elf. Thank you for the tips on the routes for seeing Christmas lights smile I will be doing that with my dc this weekend as its a fond memory from my childhood. Is the Christmas markets on South bank open yet please?

franksidebottom Thu 19-Nov-15 14:27:19

Southbank market starts tomorrow fri 20 nov

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