Hop On Hop Off Bus in New York

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Hop on Hop off Bus in New York

The Hop on Hop off bus in New York is a good way to explore the city. These buses, also called sightseeing bus tours or HOHO buses, drive through Manhattan and Brooklyn. They stop regularly at various points of interest where you can choose to either hop on or hop off. A perfect option for those who visit New York for the first time!

Which Hop on Hop off bus should I take?

Since there are several Hop on Hop off bus providers in New York, I’ve narrowed it down to a selection of four interesting options for you. If you’re looking for more detailed information, please continue reading below:

  • Option 1 (my favourite): If you want a low-priced package that combines Hop on Hop off bus tours with attraction tickets and that offers you lots of freedom, this option is for you. The bus tickets are valid for 72 hours and you can visit either 3, 5 or 7 attractions.
    More information on this package
  • Option 2: If you want to make use of the Hop on Hop off bus for 1 day, this option is great value for money. It allows you 2 loops during 1 day whereas other providers only offer 1 route for this ticket type.
    More information on this 1 day ticket
  • Option 3: If you want to hop on and off for 48 or 72 hours and see as much as possible without visiting attractions, you should go for this provider. A Hop on Hop off Cruise is included as a bonus and you pay the lowest possible price. 
    More information about this option
  • Option 4: Do you want to explore the city, visit the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock and take a cruise to the Statue of Liberty? Then this is the most interesting option for you:
    More information on this package
  • Extra: Are you considering to buy a discount pass? Then the Sightseeing Day Pass is a good option. With this pass you can use the Hop-on Hop-off bus for the entire duration of your pass. So if you buy the pass for 10 days you can use the bus for 10 days too!

Hop on Hop off Bus in New York - View from the Bus Hop on Hop off Bus in New York 8th Avenue

How does the Hop on Hop off bus work?

You can find Hop on Hop off buses more and more in popular cities. These double-decker buses drive past the main attractions in the city and stop regularly at various stops along the routes. You can decide if you want to hop off to explore the neighbourhood or stay on the bus. You are in control.

During the ride, the guide will tell you all about the attractions you pass by. The guide stands either on the bottom or the top deck of the bus. If you’re not seated close by, the audio system in the bus will allow you to follow everything they explain. In all buses you can make use of free earphones, but you can of course also use your own headset.

All providers offer a variety of routes (or loops). Depending on the ticket you purchase, you can do one or multiple loops.

Hop on Hop off Bus in New York - Sightseeing

Where can I buy tickets?

Online. You can buy tickets for the Hop on Hop off bus that are valid for a certain period of time, usually 24, 48 or 72 hours. Your ticket will be activated when you board the bus for the first time. If you first use the bus at 10:00 in the morning, your ticket will be valid until 10:00 a.m. the next day (or the day after, depending on your ticket). The 1 day ticket for Big Bus is valid for the same day but will be extended in to the next day if you redeem it after 3:00 p.m.

The amount of hours is always consecutive. If you buy a 72-hour ticket, this ticket is valid for 72 hours from the moment it is activated. For instance, it’s not possible to make use of your ticket for 24 hours, then not use it for a couple of days and hop on the bus again during the last 48 hours of your trip.

Eric’s Tip: The Hop on Hop off buses aren’t very suitable to use as a transport means, but they’re perfect for sightseeing. The buses drive quite slowly and sometimes get stuck in traffic. That’s why I recommend making use of these buses particularly during the first day(s) of your trip to New York. If you’re not sure about the amount of days, I’d suggest you purchase a 2-day ticket that will allow you to do several loops.

How many loops are there?

There are different providers that have their own loops and stops. All providers offer the following routes:

  • Downtown Loop (2,5 hours)
  • Uptown Loop (2 hours)
  • Brooklyn Loop (2 hours)
  • Night Loop (2-2,5 hours)

Big Bus also offers an extra route: the Harlem loop.

Hop-on Hop-off Bus in New York - Gray Line Red Bus Hop-on Hop-off Bus in New York - Big Bus

Which providers can I choose from?

There are several Hop on Hop off bus providers in New York. There are some differences in the routes and tickets they offer. If you’re unsure which provider you should choose, please have a look at the options below:

Big Bus

Big Bus in New York is my favourite Hop on Hop off bus provider. They have the nicest buses that are often less crowded than buses of other providers. Another good reason to choose Big Bus is the fact that their 1 day ticket allows you to do the Uptown and Downtown loops, whereas other providers only allow you to take the Downtown loop with the same ticket.

Gray Line Buses (the red buses)

The Gray Line Hop on Hop off bus provider offers 24-, 48- or 72-hour tickets.You can also opt for the Freestyle Package which includes bus tickets and tickets for 3, 5 or 7 attractions of your choice.

CitySightseeing Buses

The CitySightseeing Hop on Hop off bus provider offers pretty much the same loops as the red buses. You can book several packages that include tickets for the CitySightseeing buses. You can purchase a package that combines bus tickets with a harbour cruise, tickets to Woodbury Common and Top of the Rock or tickets for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty plus Top of the Rock or The Empire State Building for instance.

Eric’s Tip: As a New Yorker, I didn’t think much of these buses until I bought a ticket for my website. I have to admit that I saw the city from a different perspective. Sitting on the roof of the bus and listening to the guide is nice and very relaxing for people visiting New York for the first time.

And what about the other providers?

There are indeed other Hop on Hop off bus providers than the ones I’ve mentioned above. When you’re in Manhattan, you’ll probably see double-decker buses of other organisations too. The reason why I don’t recommend these bus tours is because I’ve either had a bad experience with them or because their offer is not as good as the options mentioned above.

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