Big Bus Tours

Big Bus Tours[1] is an largest operator of open top bus sightseeing tours, touring in 23 cities, across four continents.[2]

Big Bus Tours
Big Bus London passing St Paul's Cathedral
ParentExponent Private Equity
Merlin Entertainments Group
Commenced operationBig Bus Tours was established in 2011
Service areaAbu Dhabi, Berlin, Budapest, Chicago, Darwin, Dubai, Dublin, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, London, Miami, Muscat, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Rome, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Vienna, Washington, D.C.,
Service typeOpen top bus operator
Alliance"Les Cars Rouges" and "Big Bus Company" merged in 2011 and formed "Big Bus Tours"

Big Bus Tours was founded in 2011 when two sightseeing businesses merged: the Big Bus Company Ltd (based in London) and Les Cars Rouges (based in Paris). The company offers a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing service.


"Les Cars Rouges" was founded in 1990 by Aref El-Yafi and Abdallah El Azm in Paris, France. Over the course of two decades, it grew its operation launching in Paris, Rome, Washington DC, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Miami, and Istanbul. The "Big Bus Company" began operating in London, England in June 1991 with just three buses by the Maybury family, under the motto think global and act local. It later expanded to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Philadelphia, and many more cities thereafter.[3]

"Les Cars Rouges" and "the Big Bus Company" merged in May 2011, and formed "Big Bus Tours". Les Cars Rouges was the larger of the two companies, but for international namesake purposes, the name "Big Bus" was retained.[4]

In May 2007, the Abu Dhabi company the Al Fahim Group purchased a 30% shareholding.[5][6]

In February 2015, the business was sold to Exponent Private Equity.[7][8] In February 2016, Merlin Entertainments bought a 15% shareholding.[9]


Open-top buses are used, with pre-recorded commentary via headphones guiding passengers. Some tours also have onboard guides.

Larger cities have more than one bus route, with river cruises and walking tours included with selected tickets. Big Bus Tours also offers tickets to popular attractions.[10]

Operations by country



China (no longer in operation)

In April 2010, Big Bus Shanghai was established, operating a fleet of eight Ankais.[11][12]



Hong Kong

On 15 December 2008, Big Bus Hong Kong was established. With the largest fleet of open-top buses in the city,[13] it serves three sightseeing routes: Hong Kong Island (Red Tour), Kowloon (Blue Tour) and Stanley (Green Tour). The tour offers a wide range of packages which include free travel on the Peak Tram, entry to the Sky Terrace on Victoria Peak, a traditional Sampan ride, and a Star Ferry harbour tour.




In August 2018, Big Bus Dublin was officially launched with the most up to date fleet in the city. It offers 2 separate tours: Red Tour (city centre and Phoenix Park) and Blue Tour (city centre including Docklands, Glasnevin Cemetery and Croke Park Stadium).[14][15]



Operates 6 routes and 2 shuttles, established on 14 January 2011 using Scania L94UB, Scania K230UB double-decker buses. Big Bus Tours bought over local sightseeing tour operator Duck & Hippo in September 2018. [16][17]


United Arab Emirates

In 2002, Big Bus Dubai was established with traditional open-top double-decker buses. The tour visits numerous sights throughout the Emirate, including the Wafi Mall, Dubai Creek, Creekside Park, Dubai Museum, The Old Souq, Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, Heritage & Diving Village, Dubai Gold Souk, Deira City Centre, Jumeirah Mosque, Souq Madinat Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab, the Palm Dubai Mall, and the Burj Khalifa.

United Kingdom

Big Bus London operates four routes with stops at these tourist destinations: Madame Tussauds, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Westminster Bridge, London Eye, Covent Garden, St Paul's Cathedral, London Bridge, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Harrods, Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens.[18][19]


Originally, the fleet was built up with former route service double-deckers that were converted to open-top for a second life. AEC Routemasters, Daimler Fleetlines, Leyland Atlanteans and Leyland Titans were all used during the 1990s. These were replaced by 3-axle Dennis Condors, Leyland Olympians and MCW Metrobuses purchased from Hong Kong. The depot is in Wimbledon.

In 2008, 10 East Lancs Visionaire bodied Volvo B9TLs were purchased. These were followed by 26 Optare Visionaire-bodied Volvo B9TLs and 3-axle Ankais.

United States

See also


  1. Companies House extract company no 1360202 The Big Bus Company Limited
  2. "Sightseeing Bus | Hop-on Hop-off Bus | Big Bus Tours". Archived from the original on 27 June 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  3. "Big Bus Tours International | About Us". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  4. "Big Bus Tours wants investors on board | The National". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  5. Al Fahim Group acquires 30 percent equity interest in the Big Bus Company Archived 4 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine 29 May 2007
  6. Al Fahim Group buys 30% stake in Big Bus Company Gulf News 29 May 2007
  7. Private equity firms line up for 400m ticket to Big Bus Tours City A.M. 12 January 2015
  8. Double decker deal for Exponet Private Equity as group snaps up Big Bus Tours City A.M. 25 February 2015
  9. Merlin eyes Big Bus Tours takeover following £24.6 million state deal The Daily Telegraph 25 February 2016
  10. "Hop-on, Hop-off Bus | City Bus Tours | Big Bus Tours". Archived from the original on 18 June 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  11. Big Bus Tours (The Big Bus Company, London, England) Archived 10 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine The Open Top Bus Site
  12. Ltd, Ctrip com International. "Ctrip and Big Bus Tours Signs Strategic Agreement". Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  13. WebsiteBuilder, 1&1. "OPEN TOP BUS TOURS - HONG KONG EXTRAS3". Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  14. "Dublin gets a new Big Bus Tour - 'learn the meaning of The Craic'". Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  15. "Dublin joins Big Bus Tours portfolio". Breaking Travel News. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  16. Homegrown tour company Duck & Hippo acquired by international operator TODAY 5 September 2018
  17. "Big Bus Tours acquires Singapore's DUCK & HiPPO Group - ChinaTravelNews". Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  18. London Stops List Archived 24 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine Big Bus Tours April 2012
  19. Map Big Bus Tours Archived 21 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine February 2013
  20. Retrieved 23 September 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. "Big Bus Tours launches Partner Support Portal for travel trade". UKinbound. 24 May 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  22. "L.A.'s largest tour company faces a Big Bus challenger". Los Angeles Times. 9 April 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
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