Review: I Took the Big Bus Tour in New York City and Found this Secret

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I absolutely loved the Big Bus Tour in New York City. It’s the best way to go sightseeing in an open-top, hop-on hop-off, top-rated tour and explore the best New York attractions!

If this is your first-time visiting New York and you want to see all the top landmarks, this double-decker tour bus will take you there.

The Big Bus Tour in New York

You may be wondering if a hop on hop off New York bus is worth it. Absolutely, yes!

Taking the downtown loop of the New York tour bus is a convenient way to see many of New York’s top attractions on your sightseeing date.

The Big Bus Tour’s downtown loop service provides an efficient tour of lower Manhattan’s iconic sites without having to navigate the city’s hectic downtown on foot.

If you consider the time and money spent on transportation costs, waiting for buses, navigating the subway (which can be confusing for visitors), and getting from one point of interest to another, it is worth every dollar!

I had a great visit on the NY bus tour. My goal was to show the city to some friends from Italy who were visiting the US for the first time.

Since we only had about two days to spend together, the hop-on hop-off was undoubtedly the best decision.

From our experience, I’ll answer commonly asked questions about the Hop-on Hop-off bus while visiting New York City.

Big Bus Tour NYC Reviews from Google

Big Bus Tours New York
Based on 4991 reviews
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Alexandra BlazquezAlexandra Blazquez
09:17 03 Apr 24
Is a nice place to get an overview of the city and decide what you want to visit if you have not a clear idea before traveling
Christina DickersonChristina Dickerson
00:15 03 Apr 24
Christian was very nice looking. My friend bough the tickets, so lucky for him that I didn't have to download the app because that would of been annoying. WOW, Maura and Rob were great! Maura was entertaining for the night tour. Rob did a fabulous driving those narrow streets and sharing the road. Armond, This man was driving the bus and giving commentary! UNBELIEVABLE able to do both, TOUCHE! AUHHHMAZING JOB!
Tor SandvenTor Sandven
21:10 02 Apr 24
Santana was a terrific driver and guide and we appreciated her added insight and trivia.

TL;DR – Get discounts for the best Hop On Hop Off Bus NYC here.

Why Take the Big Bus Tour in New York

While seeing New York from the open-top deck of the double-decker bus, the city unfolded block by block with panoramic views from every angle.

As we traveled through the streets, the sights were unobstructed and new visual backdrops were revealed.

The towering skyscrapers and colorful billboards filled the air with excitement and as the cityscape continued to change, it gave a grand feeling to the experience.

I especially enjoyed being able to relax from the upper deck of the bus while taking in the energy of city scenes.

Because I also live in a large city, the rhythm felt familiar from the elevated vantage point.

Car horns were honking, crowds traversed through the streets and there was an endless hum of activity.

Fortunately, an online account is not needed for the Big Bus Tour. Be sure to select the downtown loop option if you want to focus sightseeing on the downtown area.

Best of all, the tour gave me the chance to interact with other travelers who were seeing New York while waiting for the tour to began.

While in line, we struck up conversations and exchanged stories, insights, and recommendations for our stay in New York.

How Much is the Big Bus Tour in New York

The regular price of an adult and child ticket is $60.00 and $50.00, respectively. However, you can use the link below for discounted fares.

Get discounts for the Hop on Hop Off New York City tour here.

How Long is the Big Bus Tour in New York

The round-trip NYC bus tours take about two hours from start to finish.

The bus is the perfect solution for visitors worldwide because they offer pre-recorded audio narratives and translations in five languages — French, German, Spanish, Italian, and English.

Are There Toilets on the Big Bus

No. Unlike charter buses, you won’t travel long between stops. So the best thing to do is exit at a stop, find a public restroom, see an attraction, if desired, and then catch the next bus.

If you are not sure where to find one, ask a Big Bus guide on the street. The driver may also have some suggestions.

Charter buses come equipped with a bathroom because travel is expected to be for a much longer period.

New York hop on hop off

How Does the Big Bus Tour Work in New York City

The tour offers three options for purchase — 1-day, 2-day, and 3-day.

When you decide the number of days of your tour and purchase your ticket, the clock starts when your ticket is scanned while boarding the bus for the first time.

The ticket is good for 24, 48, or 72 hours. So, if you have a 1-day ticket and board the bus at 11:00 AM on Monday, it can still be used until 11:00 AM on Tuesday.

We found a ton of touring options for sightseeing in New York.

Aside from the extended period, the 2 and 3-day tickets also offer discounted bike rentals.

The buses run every 20 minutes on average. However, the first stop at the M&M store can be a long wait during peak season.

You can exit or board at any of the designated stops as much as you want.

The only exclusion is the one-loop tour Night Tour which is a panoramic non-stop tour.

Where to Catch the NYC Tourist Bus

On the New York tourist bus, they only stop at designated places along the route.

Your ticket is good for as long as the buses operate during the day and it may be used on both the red and blue routes.

When you board, make sure you get a Big Bus New York bus route map!

Big Bus NYC Red Route

The red route sightseeing tour covers lower Manhattan and you’ll see many landmarks like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Wall Street, the Chrysler Building, and General Grant’s Tomb.

Riding the downtown loop is a great way to maximize your time in New York by touring key downtown attractions like the 9/11 Memorial, Wall Street, and the Brooklyn Bridge on the double-decker bus.

You can catch a tour at any one of the following Big Bus New York stops and you can get your tickets in advance of boarding.

1 – M&M’s World – 7th Ave & W 48th St (Outside M&M World & Majestic Deli)

2 – Times Square East – W 42nd St & Broadway (at Knickerbocker Hotel)

3 – Empire State Building / Korea Town – 5th Ave & W 32nd St (at CVS Pharmacy)

4 – Flatiron District – 5th Ave & W 23rd St (at Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop)

5 – SoHo – Broadway and Spring Street (at Nike Store)

6 – Chinatown / Little Italy – 100 Lafayette Street (near the corner at Walker St)

7 – Brooklyn Bridge – Park Row & Beekman St (across from 33 Park Row)

8 – Wall Street / Charging Bull – Broadway & Wall St (Southwest corner near Rector St)

9 – Statue of Liberty / Battery Park – State St and Bridge St (at Subway Entrance)

10 – Circle Line Sightseeing – 12th Ave & 40th St (opposite Pier 81)

11 – Times Square North – 7th Ave & W 50th St (at Majestic Deli)

view of new york from tour bus

Big Bus NYC Blue Route

The blue route covers upper Manhattan, and half of the ride is mostly views of Central Park. You can switch to the blue route at red stop #2.

We recommend changing routes at stop #11 (the Majestic Deli) where you can take a break and have a nice lunch.

2 – Times Square East – W 42nd St & Broadway (at Knickerbocker Hotel)

11 – Times Square North – 7th Ave & W 50th St (at Majestic Deli)

12 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art – 5th Ave & E 83rd St (near 83rd St)

13 – Central Park Zoo – 5th Ave & E 66th St (opposite 845 5th Ave)

14 – Columbus Circle – Central Park & Columbus Circle (SW corner of Central Park)

Get discounts for the Big Bus New York Hop-on Hop-off Tour.

Tips and Things to Know Before You Go

The downtown loop of the sightseeing bus in NYC is a popular choice for first-time visitors to New York who want an introductory tour of the city’s most famous downtown sights and landmarks. There is also a bus night tour.

So, expect a line because this city is the most popular tourist destination in the United States.

The bus has two levels, the upper level offers panoramic views of the city but be careful of overhanging traffic lights and trees. Don’t stand while the bus is in motion.

  • After you find a seat, check the audio to confirm it is working when the tour starts.
  • Snacks are allowed. Bring a frozen bottle of water and protein bites to keep you energized.
  • When on the upper deck, cover up with sunscreen to protect your skin on hot sunny days.
  • If you are a family of 3 or more, take seats across from one another so you’ll have views and photos from both sides of the bus.

When we went, travelers were lined up at stop #1 at least an hour before the first departure time and the line extended the entire block and rounded the corner.

We decided to see other points of interest and returned around 11:00 AM.

The wait to board the bus was about 20 minutes. It was a relaxing ride and we saw so much!

By the time we reached stop #9, we were pumped and ready to exit the bus so that we could explore the city! And you probably will be too.

Here’s the secret sauce that really made the experience memorable. Exit at stop #9 and take a free ferry to Staten Island.

To see the Statue of Liberty, stand on the left side of the boat. When returning, stand on the right side.

Traveling on a budget? Read my review of the Westside YMCA Hotel!

Final Thoughts About the Bus Tours in New York

Overall, the Manhattan bus tour was a pleasant way to see the city and when you are on the upper deck, you hardly notice the traffic.

Some other advantages of seeing the city by bus include:

  • Avoiding parking hassles. I mean, who actually drives in New York while on vacation?!
  • Photo opportunities. With the open-top or large windows, you have excellent photo opportunities as you pass by iconic landmarks and cityscapes.
  • Comprehensive sightseeing of major landmarks and attractions within two hours.
  • You can get local recommendations from the guides who operate the bus.

I usually opt for a hop-on hop-off bus when I am short on time or to get my bearings in the city before deciding what to do.

Either way, when you take the tour bus, it doesn’t appear impossible to take a bite out of the Big Apple.

Happy Travels!

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  1. This is all great information, thank you for sharing! I hadn’t even heard of the Big Bus Tour before this but it seems like a stress free way to get yourself to most of NYC’s big stops. 🙂

    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      It really made the tour of NY incredibly easy, and it is a nice and relaxing ride from lower Manhattan back to stop #1.