If you're walking around central London and happen to see a strange yellow vehicle that looks like a duck, swims like a duck but doesn't necessarily quack like a duck... then it's probably the highly-raved about London Duck Tour bus.
Unlike London's many other bus tours, the London Duck Tour bus, (which is essentially half-boat, half-truck), provides passengers with the unique opportunity of being driven through the streets of central London before being taken on a picturesque, 30-minute ride down the River Thames. During the tour, passengers can listen to a live tour guide as they point out the various London landmarks to be seen during this unforgettable ride.
The London Duck Tour buses were actually originally used in World War II (when they were known as The DUKW), and played a crucial role during the allied invasions of the Pacific, Sicily, and D-Day. The DUKWs were designed to load cargo onto the beach (as they could run on both land and in water), and helped carry supplies to soldiers from ships to different parts of the shore during invasions.
London Duck Tours Highlights
There are several different London Duck Tours, and although some are only available for private hire, there are three which run on a regular basis. The seven different London Duck Tours to choose from are:
The Classic Sightseeing Tour: (which takes approximately 75 minutes) and covers:
- The London Eye
- The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
- Westminster Abbey
- 10 Downing Street
- Horse Guards Parade
- Trafalgar Square
- St. James's Palace
- The Ritz hotel
- Buckingham Palace
- The Mall
- Tate Britain
- The MI5 and MI6
The James Bond Tour: This fascinating tour takes passengers to various locations which were used in classic James Bond films, (such as Ian Fleming's house, where “Q” worked and where Bond bought his boxer shorts). The tour lasts for about 75 minutes and only operates on the third Sunday of every month.
The D-Day Duck Tour: Led by a tour guide dressed up as Winston Churchill, passengers will learn more about the Duck's role in World War II, the Normandy beach landings, and various important World War II sites in London (like the Cabinet War Rooms). The tour takes 75 minutes, and only operates on the first Sunday of every month.
The Pirates of Westminster Treasure Hunt Tour: This part tour, part treasure hunt allows children, teenagers and adults to solve various pirate-themed challenges in Westminster during a tour around central London. The tour takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours, and is only available as a private hire.
The Code Breaker Challenge Tour: Passengers on this “brainy” tour will have to solve code-breaking challenges in secret tunnels and hidden bunkers around London. The tour lasts for 2.5 to 3 hours and is only available for private hire.
The Pirate Adventure Tour: This tour is designed specifically for children aged seven and over so they can go aboard the Moby Duck ship and solve various pirate-themed challenges while touring around London. The tour lasts for about 75 minutes and is only available as a private hire.
The City Tour: This tour is only offered as a private hire and/or when road closures divert the bus away from its regular Westminster route. Some of the many landmarks and sights you can expect to see during this 75-minute tour include:
- Covent Garden
- Fleet Street
- The Royal Courts of Justice
- Ludgate Hill
- St. Paul's Cathedral
- The Bank of England
- The Royal Exchange
- The Tower Bridge
- HMS Belfast
- Imperial War Museum
- James Bond's headquarters
- If you want to get a quick history lesson before you go on a tour, the London Duck Tour's official website has a four-minute documentary (which was filmed for the 50th anniversary of D-Day) and depicts how the Ducks assisted the Normandy landings.
- If you want to have a bite to eat after your tour, the London Duck Tours offer discount vouches for various restaurants in London.
- Try to arrive as early as possible so you can get a window seat and enjoy better views of London's landmarks and the River Thames.
Prices and Hours
Tickets for The Classic Sightseeing Tour cost:
- £26 for adults
- £18 for children/youth (between the ages of one and 17)
- £22 for students, seniors and people with disabilities
- £75 for families (consisting of two adults over the ages of 18, and two children/youth; or one adult over the age of 18, and three children/youth).
- Free for babies under the ages of one
Tickets for The D-Day Duck Tour and The James Bond Tour cost:
- £28 for adults
- £20 for children/youth (between the ages of one and 17)
- £24 for students, seniors and people with disabilities
Pricing information for all private tours are available upon request.