I love walking around a city, especially one that I’ve never been too before, you get to explore so many of the city’s sights, smells, sounds etc. However during our winter trip to NYC we didn’t have much time to explore and didn’t want to waste precious time walking around a city we had both been to before. In spite of this there were still things we wanted to see and do in the city and we needed some way of getting around. I didn’t want to be hauled up on the subway for half the day so exploring the city by open top bus seemed perfect, not only that but we could hop on and off all over the city. This way we could still hear the sounds of the city and really feel like we were experiencing everything New York had to offer but with the speed a bus offers over walking.
In New York City there are a lot of hop on, hop off bus companies to choose from and it can be overwhelming when trying to decide on which company is best. I used to typically go for one of the cheapest companies and make my final decision by reading reviews. However over the years I’ve learnt that you get what you pay for and now often go for the company I have been recommended or have heard of. Big Bus was a company I saw at WTM14 and knew from seeing them on the streets of London as well as hearing positive reviews from several bloggers who had taken the London tour.
New York City with Big Bus Hop On Hop Off Tours
The Big Bus Company offer three main tours: the downtown route, the uptown route and the Brooklyn tour, while we were there over the holiday period they also ran a holiday lights tour. These three main tours are all available on single day tickets, multi-day tickets or multi-tour tickets. We went for the multi-tour option as this allowed us as much freedom as possible and the ability to use the bus over two days. All the busses are double deckers however the styles on top varied from half open top/half covered with heaters with solid roof to fully covered with a glass roof over head. For anyone stuck outside in the rain they provided ponchos however outside was the place to be for photo opportunities.
I was a little hesitant about choosing to explore the city via bus, I get very travel sick and normally can’t stand taking a bus. However due to the hop off option and the top deck having plenty of fresh air I was relieved to find I didn’t hate it and didn’t get sick, even on the holiday lights tour which was nearly two hours long. We also found the uptown tour took much longer than we expected, so I certainly wouldn’t recommend trying to slot the full tour in to a small time frame.
On each tour the stops were perfectly located for the tourist attractions around the city and if they weren’t the tour guide didn’t hesitate to give you directions to where you wanted to go. Talking of the tour guides they were brilliant, each guide we had excelled in different ways whether it was food recommendations, humour, story telling or just the high level of knowledge every guide had. We got to know each guide as they provided commentary through head phones on each bus we took, there personalities and own knowledge of their home city was a real highlight of the tours for me. (Recorded commentary was also available in other languages)
Did you know it is illegal to honk your horn in New York City in a non emergency situation? No me neither but Brian did know that.
I found we were never waiting too long for the next bus on the downtown tour however couldn’t comment for the uptown tour as we stayed onboard the whole time. The street agents for Big Bus were also a huge help, they quickly changed our vouchers for ‘real tickets’ pointed us in the right directions for the stops we needed and could answer any question we had. I found them to be particularly on top of things when it came to organising the line for the holiday lights tour which proved very popular! Location wise all tours leave from Times Squares expect the Brooklyn tour which leaves from a spot on the downtown tour (near to the Brooklyn bridge).
The Big Bus tours fitted perfectly into our days plans during our time in New York and allowed us to see the city as well as get around and do all the activities in our short time. The hop on hop off experience allows you to work the tour into a day of sightseeing (and save on having to take any other transport). The tour guides were an absolute highlight of the bus especially Brian on our holiday lights tour who managed to fill a lot of stuck in traffic time. I throughly enjoyed our experience with the Big Bus company and would 100% percent recommend exploring New York City with Big Bus.
The most popular tours are the following three and we had tickets for the deluxe 2 day all loops tour which cost $59/£39 – I would say as long as you plan to use all that trip offers you then the money is well spent, otherwise I would suggest just buying a one day ticket.
Please Note – I was provided with complimentary tickets for the Big Bus Tour after connecting with them at WTM 14 however all love of the tour guides and service is my own opinion. They are a great company and I would happily pay for their tours in NYC again or in other locations they run tours.