Hop On Hop Off in New York
In New York you will see Hop on Hop off buses mostly everywhere. There are currently 3 providers including 2 large ones. These are recognizable by the large blue and red buses packed with tourists. You can’t miss them!
How to use a Hop on Hop Off bus?
It is very simple. The buses have various routes. You buy a ticket for one or more days and on those days you may make unlimited use of these buses. The buses stop at various places in the city including Times Square, Empire State Building, Wall Street etc. So you can hop on, or hop off at these various attractions and see them without having to look for them. You can also enjoy a tour of the city on the bus. An extra bonus is that the tour guide will tell you all the ins and outs of New York.
How many tours are there?
Both the red and the blue buses have 4 tours:
The Uptown tour, Downtown tour, Night loop and the Brooklyn tour.
How often buses run and how long is one tour?
The buses run approximately every 20 minutes. If you just sit still take during the tours they take:
Uptown tour: 2 hours
Downtown tour: 2.5 hours
Night tour: 2-2,5 hours Brooklyn tour: 2 hours
Where should I hop on?
The Downtown Tour starts in Times Square near the 47th Street for both the blue and red buses. The Uptown tour starts on 8th Avenue and 47th Street for the red buses and blue buses on 8th Avenue and 42th Street. But you can hop on at any stop. The Brooklyn tour starts all the way downtown where you can take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. The Brooklyn tour has no hop off stops in Brooklyn. The Night tour starts in Times Square and also has no other hop on or off stops.
I see that I can buy a ticket for several days Hop on Hop off tour, is this wise?
The Hop on Hop off tours are not really suitable for use as a ‘transport’ means such as a subway and taxi. It is particularly suited for the first day(s) to get to know the city and find your own way around. If you want to do all 4 tours it is wise to take the 2 days (48 hours) ticket. That way you pay one price for all tours. You can then use of all buses unlimited for 2 days. If you choose a 1-day ticket you can only take the downtown tour.
There is also an alternative option: a smaller company offers a 1-day ticket that allows you to take both the Uptown and the Downtown loop. You can book this Hop on Hop off bus tour here.
What is the difference between blue and red buses?
To be honest, not a lot. The red buses are better known and can often be a bit busier but go more often. The tours are no different and the quality is virtually the same, as is the price.
What is the best place on the bus?
As a test, I sat in different places. I thought that the front would be best, but because there is a window you can take less pictures. Eventually I found the back the most fun. In the middle is not that bad. Sitting to the Left or right does not matter, there is plenty to see.
What different tickets can you buy?
There are a few different ticket options.
Your hop on hop off ticket for the blue bus always includes a ticket for the hop on hop off ferry. This hop on hop off ferry departs everyday between 10:00 am and 15:00 pm and has three stops: Dumbo, Pier 11 and World Financial Center. You’ll also have free entrance to the Museum of the City of New York.
With the red bus you can opt to upgrade your ticket to a ‘freestyle package’. With this freestyle package, you can make use of all loops for 72 hours, and choose 3 attractions, cruises or museums. You could for example go to the Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History and take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. See this option here.
If you want to have the ultimate experience then upgrade to a VIP package. With this package you can use both the red and the blue busses for 48 hours and you get to skip the line at selected stops.
Buy tickets online or in the bus?
Online. Tickets are cheaper when you buy them online. This way you can get up to 50% discount!
Eric’s Tip: As a New Yorker, I didn’t think much of the buses until I bought a ticket for the site. I have to admit that I saw the city from a different perspective. Sitting on the roof of the bus in peace and listening to the guide is nice. Very relaxing for people visiting New York for the first time. I would buy the 2-day ticket so you needn’t rush and can enjoy everything in peace.