Have you heard of Hop-on Hop-off bus tours? Have you ever taken one? Here, is a guide with pros and cons of taking a tour of this kind. Also, in the end, you can find a few tips on how to take better photos when you are on a bus tour!
What is a Hop-on Hop-off bus tour?
A Hop-on Hop-off tour is a tour, usually, on a double-decker bus with the upper level left open. The tour involves a free audio guide in different languages. The number and variety of the languages depend on the city that the tour bus operates. In large cities, there are frequent buses during high season and may have more than one route. The special thing about them is that you can hop-on and hop-off from the bus whenever you want throughout your ticket validity. 24h tickets are the most common. However, you can also find 48h tickets in some cities.
When should I take a Hop-on Hop-off bus tour?
- When you have a limited amount of time to spend in a place. Usually, a tour lasts 1 hour, but recently I was in one that lasted 2 hours. You can check this with the bus driver and other people working for the company. You can find operating times and ticket prices from their websites or from advertisements at the city you will be visiting.
- When you want to visit different attractions that are far from each other. There are cases when public transport is not reliable or you simply want to learn something while on the go. In these cases, consider the hop-on hop-off tour bus.
- See the major sights of a city in a small amount of time, while also hearing a few historical facts.
- Connect with the major city attractions.
- Many different languages to choose for the audio guide.
- Liable to the weather conditions. Sun, rain and strong winds can spoil your tour as it can be too hot, too cold or too windy especially when the bus is moving. Not many busses have a covered top, so when hot make sure to bring a hat and wear lots of sun cream or when it rains make sure to bring a waterproof jacket. I don’t recommend sitting on the lower level of the bus, as the view can be limited.
- Not suitable (in most cases) for taking good photos. (see section below)
- Can be expensive.
When to book?
Anytime from the bus driver. Advance booking is recommended especially in high season and in popular destinations. Online prices may also offer a discount. However, for some cities/companies, online booking may not be available. In that case, buying tickets from the driver may be the only option.
How to take better photos when on a Hop-on Hop-off bus tour?
As mentioned earlier, bus tours are not good for taking photos. The main reason is the bus’ movement. When you want to take a photo, the bus will be moving and when it is still either a car or a tree will be blocking the view. If you plan to take some photos on these tours, then read the following and put any suggestions you may have in the comments section below.
- Put your camera in standby mode, so you can act quickly when needed. Secondly, aim to take photos when the bus is not moving, e.g., at traffic lights, before making a turn or at stops. Sometimes, buses may stop at popular viewing points of tourist attractions. This is subject to the city and their regulations. Well, take advantage of all those stops and take a few photos if there is anything special there.
- Choose your seat wisely. On a full bus, this may not be an option. But if you take the bus from its starting point, you may have a few more choices. In the past, I liked sitting on the front row. This is good as you have a full view of what’s ahead. The only disadvantage is that the window at the front is not usually clean and you can also see your reflection when taking photos.
- Keep your camera in a still place, like on the edge of the bus. WARNING: Only do this, if your camera has a stripe that you can wrap around your wrist/neck/shoulder and remember to hold it tightly.
P.S. Some tickets come with discounts for other attractions when you buy tickets at the door and by showing your bus ticket/discount voucher. So, check this in advance.