May 28, 2019

101: Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tours

Hop-on-hop-off buses: what are they and how do they work?

You’ll have seen the buses and probably heard the concept. Hop-on-hop-off. But what exactly is it?

When you visit a new city, there are usually two things at the front of your mind: what sights do I want to see; and how will I get there?

With City Sightseeing hop-on-hop-off you don’t need to worry about this. Think of it like a normal bus service, but instead of connecting towns or areas, it connects the sights – taking you to the door of every major attraction in the city.

How does the hop-on-hop-off work?

Unlike normal buses, the best part is hopping on and hopping off – whenever and wherever you want.

You can plan ahead and make a list of the attractions you’d like to see – or you can just stay on if you’re enjoying the ride. The buses travel a set route (normally a circular one), so it’s entirely up to you how you want to do it. There’s also no limit on the number of stops or buses you use within the life of your ticket (we’ll talk about the types of tickets further down).

So let’s say you’re in Paris. Instead of navigating the streets, trying to get from the Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower, you can just hop on one of the buses and it’ll take you there (and you can see some other sights along the way). Or if you’re in New York, instead of walking 50 blocks (which, if you’ve ever been to New York, you’ll know is a massive venture!) you can see the Empire State Building, the Flatiron Building and the Statue of Liberty in half the time – giving you more time for exploring of course.

How do you find a bus?

You’ll find the bus stops all over the city, however, depending on city ordinances there may not be signage (some cities offer real-time Apps to help out with this). And, because it’s a circular route, you can get on wherever is closest to you – whether it’s Stop 1 or Stop 20. Every city has it’s own map/guide, so you’ll find the stops located on that.

Just lookout for the big red buses coming round the corner: the ones with ‘City Sightseeing’ on the side.

Why is it the best way to get around a city?

  1. If you’re visiting a new city, the chances are you want to explore the local sights. Rather than trying to navigate public transport (and probably having to make changes on the subway), the City Sightseeing hop-on-hop-off buses take you to all the major sights – literally right to the door. This way, you don’t miss any major stops or attractions and you won’t have to worry about finding them or getting lost.
  2. It doesn’t just take you to the sights. There’s also an audio guide on the bus. It might be pre-recorded or a live guide (it depends on the individual city) but the perks are the same: you get to hear information, history, culture, and top tips. On a normal bus, you’d pass an interesting building and say ‘Oh, that looks nice, I wonder what it is?” But on a City Sightseeing hop-on-hop-off bus, you’d get to hear “This is the main palace in the city and dates back to 1395. It was destroyed in a fire in 1590, but the government carefully rebuilt it over several years and now it has over 7,700 rooms!” – you see, now you know a little about Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul too.
  3. Out-with the sights themselves – and particularly with a live guide – you’ll get some bonus tips about the city. It might be the best places to eat or where to shop. You can also ask them any questions you have about the city. Such as, where’s the best place nearby to sample a locally brewed beer?

Can young families use the hop-on-hop-off bus?

The buses are for everyone. Whether you’re a solo traveller, travelling with a group, young family, or someone with accessibility needs, the hop-on-hop-off buses are built for every kind of traveller. We also know that travelling with young children can be hard (especially around a new city), but our buses can help ease that stress. Not only are the guides and information interesting, but the kids love being on top of a double-decker bus – especially if they get a front seat. Some cities, like Edinburgh, even have an audio guide just for the little ones.

What about accessibility? All our hop-on-hop-off buses are equipped with wheelchair access. There is a ramp to help you get on and a designated wheelchair spot downstairs. Just let the staff know when you’d like to get off so they can help.

Sounds good! How do you buy a ticket?

You can buy a ticket from our website! For the majority of our cities, you can download an e-ticket straight to your phone and have it scanned when you are ready to hop on.

Depending on which ticket you buy, it will be valid for either 24, 48 or 72 hours. Some cities also offer one-day, two-day, or three-day passes.

We have sightseeing buses all over the world, so why not check if there’s a hop-on-hop-off bus for your next city break? We can’t wait to show you the world.

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