You know that two-story tour bus? It is known as hop-on hop-off and the main operator in New York is Big Bus Tours. I always find it amazing how busy these buses are in the city and with many tourists taking pictures and enjoying the look. I have many friends who used the Big Bus and enthusiastically told me their experiences, but I have never had an interest in using this type of transport for two reasons:
1) I like the subway and I like to walk around the city;
2) As I know New York, I have never found a reason to go on a city tour.
This summer of July / 16, I received an invitation from Big Bus Tours and decided to break those paradigms. Already it was a very interesting experience, supporting me to write this New York bus tours guide.
How Big Bus Works
Before telling my experience, I think it’s good to explain how the Big Bus works. The bus has two floors, the ground floor is covered and closed with glass and the open floor with panoramic view of the city.
When you enter the bus you get headphones to accompany the tour guide and also free raincoats are available if you need to use them in the middle of the route. The hop-on hop-off mode consists of you picking up the bus at any signposted stop and hopping at any other scheduled stop on the map.
That is, you do not need to get on the bus at the start point and go down (jumping) at the end point.
The points are identified with the sign of indication of the Big Bus Tours New York
If you like a certain region of the city, you can go down, do what you want and then return to the point of the signposted bus to continue the tour (during opening hours). Be aware that in high season (summer) you have a small queue to wait for the next bus, which usually takes 20 minutes or more to pass again. The route is divided into Downtown (red route), Uptown (blue route), Brooklyn (green route) and Night route Tour (yellow route), and each journey takes approximately 2 hours. In total there are 35 stops distributed in the main sights of New York.
My experience with big bus tours
I took out the tickets at the Welcome Center, which is located next to the M & M’s World store in Times Square, and headed to the bus stop that is on the same block. I chose to make the line to Downtown (red route) because it’s the bus makes the most thorough route through Midtown with major attractions of New York, passing through the Financial District and the piers of the Hudson River. Every way was accompanied by the guide Dennis, who showed to know the city of truth and told curiosities about New York. Just put the headset on and enjoy the stories.
I boarded around 3:00 p.m., and I went down only to the penultimate stop at The High Line to enjoy the sunset, so I made it all the way and enjoyed this experience completely to tell you. The entire trip, using the Downtown route, lasted approximately 2h30min because of the traffic at this time of year, but this time passed without realizing so much to enjoy and take photos. Unfortunately, I could not do the Uptown line and neither of Brooklyn that is incredible (a shame).
The tour is very touristy and recommended for value for money for anyone visiting New York City for the first time or do not have time to get to know everything on foot. I was very pleased with every organization offered by the company and the highlight for me was Dennis (tour guide) and his tips live. Do not be embarrassed to take pictures and enjoy the whole journey to see the city from a different perspective.