They are an instantly recognisable sight in just about every major city – the brightly coloured double decker tourist bus. But are they worth it? We look at the pros and cons of this travel option.
Easy, easy, easy
If you like your travels to be simple, then these tours are the way to go. There’s virtually no chance you can get lost. You’ll get your ticket, a map of the stops and a friendly driver calling out the location over the loudspeaker. Some even come with an audio tour that will guide you along the route. No muss, no fuss.
Public transport can be expensive in many cities, especially when you are just buying single trips. A hop on, hop off bus will usually cost no more than $30 for a 24 hour pass and allow you to see the whole city.
Time is of the essence
If you have limited time in a destination, then these buses are a great way to pack everything in. They will hit all the highlights that will be on your list, so you won’t waste time trekking around town looking for them. You will also get to see many others during the drive around. The companies have planned the route to avoid backtracking or delays and the buses come very regularly, so you can do (almost) everything on a tight schedule.
Access all areas
Many cities (especially in Europe in Asia) aren’t set up well for people with mobility issues. It can be a nightmare trying to make your way along cobblestone streets or down endless flights of stairs to the subway. Hop on, hop off buses are great for people in wheelchairs or who just need a bit more help and will give easy access to the best sites.
The crowd crush
Because of the above reasons (and more) these buses are popular. That means they can get extremely busy, especially at key times of day. You could be left struggling to find a seat and have to wait for the next bus to come, which is particularly annoying if you are on a strict timeframe.
Stopping at all the major tourist sites is a good thing, but it can also mean these journeys take a really, really long time. If you are just trying to get from point A to point N (and aren’t that interested in the things in between) you will probably be better off getting public transport or a taxi. Work out what you really want to see and what would be the best use of your time before you buy your ticket.
Are you for or against hop-on hop-off bus tours? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.