Fifteen fabulousOpen-top bus ridesaround the UK

Feel the salty sea wind or lakeside breeze in your hair, the sun on your face and the world at your feet with these open-top bus rides. Passing famous cityscapes, ruined abbeys and aqueducts, these open-top bus routes also take you through woods and valleys, up cliffs, and along the varied British coast.

  • County: around the UK
  • Great for: beaches | boat trip | castle | family | good cafés and pubs | nature reserve | scenic bus |
  • Refreshments: pubs, cafes and more
  • Please note: researched/updated in November 2023. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch:
  1. Beachcombers, Yorkshire

    Ride the Bridlington Beachcomber along the Yorkshire coast to the chalk cliffs at Flamborough, with their lighthouses and huge seabird colonies. Or hop on the Scarborough Beachcomber along the town’s iconic seafront.

    • Where do they go? From Bridlington to Flamborough Head or between Scarborough’s huge castle-topped North and South bays.
    • What will I see? Bridlington’s sweet factory and animal park (discounts with your bus ticket), the beaches and headlands, with dramatic shifts of scene. The Beachcomber also stops outside Sewerby Hall, a Georgian mansion with a zoo and fifty flowery acres of garden.
    • Find out more here and explore the area with our car-free guide to Scarborough.
  1. Atlantic Coaster, Cornwall

    Miles of craggy Cornish coastline are the backdrop for the Atlantic Coaster. Cornwall has several great open-topped buses now, including a trip to Land’s End with views of The Lizard and a circular tour of Falmouth.

    • Where does it go? The Atlantic Coaster runs from Padstow to Newquay along the rugged North Cornish cliffs, including wild Bedruthan Steps.
    • What will I see? Padstow’s popular harbour and cafes, breathtaking coastline, grassy headlands, hedges of honeysuckle and banks topped with frondy tamarisk, sandy coves and whitewashed villages. While cars wind blindly through the sunken Cornish lanes, the Atlantic Coaster’s open-top vistas take in views that stretch for miles, making it much more than just a means of getting from A to B. Don’t expect to arrive in a hurry, but be ready for great scenery.
    • Find out more here and discover the area with our car-free guides to NewquayFalmouth, Cornish towns and around Cornwall.
  1. Isle of Wight Breezers, Hampshire

    Beaches and green headlands with the Downs Breezer or a vertigo-inducing climb up the road from Alum Bay to the National Trust’s Battery on the Needles Breezer? There are some show-stopping sights on these open-topped Isle of Wight buses.

    • Where do they go? The Downs Breezer runs in a circuit from Ryde Bus station via Dinosaur Isle and Whitecliff Bay, while the Needles Breezer takes a circular route from maritime Yarmouth.
    • What will I see? All kinds of classic island landmarks, including thatched St Agnes church and the Dimbola gallery, a museum in the house where Victorian photographer Julia Cameron used to live. Get off near the Needles to take a closer look at these three unmistakable chalk stacks, with a lighthouse on the end; the closest views are accessed via a tunnel through the downs.
    • Find out more here.
  1. Llangollen routemasters, Denbighshire

    Two classic hour-long summer tours leave Llangollen on vintage open-toppers.

    • Where do they go? Up into the wild hills of North Wales to a café near the Horseshoe Pass or along the valley to Britain’s longest, highest aqueduct.
    • What will I see? The UNESCO-listed Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, carrying the Llangollen Canal over the pretty River Dee, was built by Thomas Telford and opened in 1805. The bus stops there for half an hour, giving those brave enough time to walk along the aqueduct’s stomach-dropping towpath, 40 metres above the wooded valley below.
    • Find out more here
  1. Skegness Seasiders, Lincolnshire

    Eleven candy-coloured, characterful open-top buses ply the seafront at Skeggy each summer. There’s music onboard, linked discounts to local attractions, and the buses are painted to match their names (Rocky is striped like a stick of rock, Sandy sports sandcastles…)

    • Where do they go? Their 20-minute route passes Fantasy Island theme park, with its screaming rollercoasters, and the first ever Butlin’s resort, still going strong after more than 80 years.
    • Find out more here.
  1. Whitby Town Tour, North Yorkshire

    An hour-long sightseeing tour around Whitby. BBC North West’s John Mundy voices the weekday commentary, with live guides at weekends, to tell visitors about the Bram Stoker and Lewis Carroll connections and other local stories.

    • Where does it go and what will I see? The bus starts near the arch of replica whalebone and the bronze statue of Captain Cook, overlooking the harbour, and heads west along the clifftop North Terrace before turning inland towards Whitby’s evocative museum and art gallery in sloping Pannett Park. Then over the River Esk and up onto the Yorkshire cliffs to visit the ruined abbey, with its new visitor centre.
    • Find out more here and explore the area with our car-free guide.
  1. Thanet open-top route 69, Kent

    Ramsgate boasts elegant gardens and restaurants by the harbour and this open-top bus runs along the coast to Dickensian Broadstairs. Bus 69 is regular at weekends and is great for sightseers or walkers who want to hike back along the coast.

    • Where does it go and what will I see? Starting from Ramsgate’s boating pool near gothic St Augustine’s Church. Nineteenth-century architect Augustus Pugin built it, lived next door and was buried there. The bus goes on past a maritime museum in a quayside Clock Tower, a big network of wartime tunnels, and the house that Charles Dickens based Betsey Trotwood’s cottage on in David Copperfield.
  1. Somerset's Coaster

    A twenty-minute bargain jaunt along the Somerset coast in a half-open-topper, bus 1 runs from the centre of Weston-super-Mare to Sand Bay.

    • Where does it go and what will I see? It starts on Weston’s Royal Parade, looking over the sands towards the rebuilt pier. It trundles along the seafront past the new stone arch and, soon after, there are top-deck views across the Bristol Channel towards Glamorgan. From the last stop, stroll on beside the bay to Sand Point, a grassy promontory with salt-swept summer flowers and rising skylarks.
    1. Find out more here
  1. New Forest Tour, Hampshire

    Ride through ancient heathland and shady woods past grazing ponies and miles of heather on these seasonal open-toppers. One day ticket entitles you to ride on three different routes around the New Forest National Park.

    • Where do they go and what will I see? The Red Route runs through the wilder northern woods, over blooming heath and through pretty villages like Burley. The Green Route takes in popular attractions like Beaulieu Abbey and Exbury Gardens and the Blue Route heads to the coast.
    • Find out more here.
  1. Clacton Breeze, Essex

    A seasonal open-top trip along the coast in Clacton-on-Sea, bus 134 runs every half an hour, Monday to Saturday.

    • Where does it go and what will I see? From Clacton Pier, past some of the seaside gardens, the bus heads for Holland on Sea and then back to the pier, via Clacton railway station.
    • Find out more here. And explore the area with our car-free guide to Colchester.