Getting around a big city when traveling can be expensive and time-consuming, even when there’s a good system of public transportation in place. On buses and trains, you often have to put together a schedule with transfers to get to all of the scenic destinations. And taking a Lyft or taxi is often cost-prohibitive.
But I’ve found that a Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour is great public transportation when I’m traveling. Not only will it get you where you’re going — sometimes to all of the places you want to see on a single ticket — but it will also provide amazing local insight along the way.
I’ve taken the Hop-On Hop-Off buses in places as diverse as Milan, New York City and O’ahu, and I remember fondly the stories I’ve heard from local guides.
Taking the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
In NYC, my daughter and I bought a multi-day Big Bus New York hop-on hop-off bus pass and used it to get to the 9/11 Memorial, the Financial District and the Staten Island Ferry. During our bus trip out to Brooklyn and back, our guide shared with us his first-hand experience as a firefighter from Brooklyn during 9/11. It was powerful, personal and deeply moving.
In Milan, our City Sightseeing Milan bus driver told us why there’s a little piece of a church in what looks like a traffic island on a busy street, and how the walls around the city served various purposes over the centuries. As a solo traveler, I felt more safe venturing to far-flung corners of the city to wander the neighborhoods taking the Hop-On Hop-Off buses, and I had prepaid public transportation when I had to go back to the Santa Maria delle Grazie very early the next morning to get a time slot for viewing the Last Supper.
In O’ahu, our Waikiki Trolley bus drivers shared what it was like to grow up in Hawaii — to swim at various beaches, and where to find the best ice cream. One hop-on hop-off bus driver explained that many of the unusual trees there weren’t native to Hawaii at all. We met fellow Coloradans at one stop, paused with the group to marvel at the Halona Blow Hole, and hopped off by ourselves for an hour at one of the more remote beaches on the east side of the island that would have required a car rental or a very long Lyft ride.
Even in a place as easy to drive as San Diego, I chose a one-day hop-on hop-off bus tour with the Old Town Trolley Tour of San Diego, and I was so glad I did. Parking was impossible in Old Town — cars circled endlessly while I saw the sights — and the same trolley took me all the way out to Coronado Island, with many points of interest and stops in between (including my hotel, where parking in the hotel garage for a rental car would have cost me more than I spent on the hop-on bus and Lyfts through my whole trip, and that’s not counting the cost of a rental).
The Hop-On Hop-Off bus system can offer all this and more in the course of getting about to your sightseeing destinations in clean, reliable transportation with well-marked stops, easy-to-use maps and, quite often, an app that provides real-time trolley arrivals. It’s great public transportation when traveling, with the perks of a much more pricey tour.
If there’s a day in your itinerary that takes you to distant corners of a city, investigate the Hop-On Hop-Off bus system there. Your ride could be a destination itself!
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