Two years ago on the first day of our Europe trip, we enjoyed a fabulous day exploring Dublin with the Hop on Hop off bus. We didn’t realize how lucky we were until later in the trip when Dubliners kept telling us how unusual the warm, sunny weather was. On this beautiful day we explored Trinity College, Grafton Street, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Guinness factory. The pre-recorded audio guide helped us to see more of Dublin than we ever would have on our own and we were free to decide which sites we most wanted to view up close. This hop on hop off experience helped make Dublin one of our all-time favorite spots. Eager to repeat this fun day, we signed up for the hop on hop off bus in Paris a week later. Sadly, this was one of the worst days of our trip. It was sweltering and the crowds were very thick. There were long lines for all of the sites we wanted to see and The tour itself didn’t live up to our expectations. What made the difference? Here are our top five tips to help you decide whether or not to take the hop on hop off bus:
- How is the audio portion of the tour presented? In Dublin we listen to a pre-recorded broadcast in English. In Paris we were issued earphones and could connect to an outlet at each seat which broadcast the tour in the language of our choice. On a tour in Hamburg the next year, we listened to a young man who delivered most of the tour in German but occasionally provided English commentary. Sadly, his English was very poor and we missed most of the information about each stop.
- Could you purchase a city transport pass that would allow you to use their bus system for far less money? Hamburg offers an amazing pass that you can purchase online prior to your visit. We printed out our voucher and showed it to the drivers as we entered each bus. By using city buses we were able to make complete loops of areas that we wanted to see. The buses were clean and comfortable and we saved a bundle!
- What types of sites do you want to see? If you want a general overview of the city and to do a variety of small stops hopping on and off can be a great choice. However, in Paris you may want to spend all day at the Louvre, Notre Dame, or a side trip to Versailles. The Paris bus route highlighted epic sites that take all day to see. There really wasn’t a point in using a hop on hop off bus.
- What sort of day is it? Hot, July days sitting in a crowded bus can be miserable! Can you get an early start to make full use of your pass? If you are travelling in May or September the weather can be beautiful and the crowds are much lighter.
- What is included in the price of your ticket? Will you be able to get into museums for free or at a dramatically reduced price? Is the bus system linked to a ferry or water excursion service? Do they include a second day for free? When does the last bus stop running? These are all valuable things to consider.
When you only have a few days to see a city the Hop on, Hop Off Bus can make or break your experience. We would definitely hop on again but have learned to carefully consider these variables. Have you used the Hop On Bus?