November 7

Should You Use a Hop on Hop off New York Bus Tour?

Hop on hop off buses are a popular way of getting your bearings and seeing the key sights of NYC.

There’s no denying that overwhelming whoosh the first time in New York City. It hits you from all angles; it’s huge, it’s loud, the people are loud too, it’s dirtier than you expected and it’s hardly the best organized city in America.

There are plenty of famous sights, but they’re speckled randomly over the vast concrete jungle – itself always chocked with its iconic gray-yellow blur of 24 hour traffic.

hop on hop off bus
nyc bus tour

Yet if you take a deeper look into the traffic, between the gray mush of commuters and classic yellow taxis you may pick out maroon or red buses packed to the brim with comfortable tourists mellowly surveying the chaos around them from a little bubble of serenity.

How Do Hop on, Hop off NYC Tour Buses Work?

Buses run on set routes between major tourist attractions throughout the city, and are accompanied by multi-lingual audio narrations. If a stop interests you, simply jump off the bus and spend as much time as you need at the sight.

Keep track of when the next bus passes using a mobile app, and explore the city at your own pace.

Hop on hop off buses are uniquely suited to New York City, offering good value tours that can really enhance your overall visit. They’re not for everyone, but here we’ll start with some of the best reasons to consider a hop on hop off tour.

kids in new york summer

1. Prices are very good

For one of the USA’s priciest cities, hop-on hop-off tours are reasonably priced, coming in at between $50-80 for a single day ticket if purchased on the day.

Multi-day passes are available, and typically cost between $100-200 for around three to five days, depending on the company. It’s worth noting that since most tourists don’t book in advance, operators offer regular, steep discounts for online reservations.

The company we used, TopViewNYC, often has discounts of up to 50 percent on their website, so it’s well worth booking ahead if you can.

If you’re a family, the savings can be in the hundreds of dollars. 

2. The tours are fast paced and flexible

The distances between major sights are usually fairly short, and most stops can be covered in an hour or so. This means you’re never on your feet too long, but time spent on the bus never gets tedious. It’s perfect if you’re traveling with kids, particularly small ones who need plenty of breaks from walking.

3. The audio guides are informative

You’ll be surprised by how much you learn at each stop, and the best part is most operators offer a dozen or so languages.

4. You also get entry tickets to other attractions

Most hop on/ hop off bust tour companies include entry tickets to other attractions saving you money, the time needed to book them, and the time spent in queues.

TopView includes tickets to the Empire State Building, a Central Park Bike Rental, Statue of Liberty Cruise,  entrance to the Museum of New York and more when you purchase a pass of 48 hours or more.

nyc dinner cruise

On the other hand, a few reasons you might not want to take a hop on hop off tour include;

1. Generic loops

These bus tours usually cover all of NYC’s most notable sights, but they don’t stray much from the beaten track. There are plenty of reasonably-priced tour operators that provide personalized and specialized tours, such as culinary or historical-focused trips.

2. They are sometimes full of tourists

Lone wolves may dislike the fact that NYC tour buses get very popular during peak season. You may be at risk of making friends with the family next to you.

nyc at night from bus tour

So unless you’re dead set on avoiding other tourists in NYC, the hop on hop off buses are an excellent way to spend your first day or few days in town.

They’re especially good for families and first time visitors – not to mention those of us who like to put our feet up a bit during a vacation. 

Lastly, don’t forget to book ahead, especially if you’re arriving in peak season.

Which Company Should You Pick?

Throughout the years we have used the three major companies there are in NYC, namely Big Bus Tours, New York City Sightseeing and , during our last trip in summer of 2022 we used Top View NYC.

Big Bus Tours offers hop on hop off bus tours of NYC with the option to join a Statue of Liberty Cruise and, depending on the ticket, a free Central Park bike rental.

City Sightseeing has pretty much replaced their hop on/ hop off bus tickets to make them all access passes to many attractions (museums, etc), including their hop on/ hop off bus service.

Because of the service, prices and different tours that are constantly updated and renovated Top View NYC is my currently my favorite hop on / hop off company in NYC

Top View NYC though has focused on their hop on/ hop off bus tours, offer entrances to the Statue of Liberty cruises and Central Park bike rentals too, and best of all have themed Hudson River cruises (including dinners!) and bus tours (Octoberfest, fall colors, Christmas, etc) that are updated regularly.  

They have become my current favorite hop on/ hop off bus company in New York.


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