Visiting New York by tour bus is a very practical idea, as it allows you to get to know the most important areas of the city in a quick way while comfortably seated.
It's a great option to visit the Big Apple in a short time or even to move between the main attractions to see in New York without having to depend on public transport timetables. I'll tell you everything you need to know to enjoy it to the fullest.
Select between the two-day and three-day passes
Perfect if you want to enjoy the city while taking a break from intense walking and getting around New York while still taking in the sights of its streets and skyline.
This two or three-day pass for the New York sightseeing bus allows you to visit the most famous tourist attractions in New York, such as Times Square, Central Park, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, etc., following the guided commentary on board. The bus is from the famous Big Bus company and has two floors with an open top roof so you can take all the pictures you want from the best angles.
You can choose a Classic ticket for the Downtown and Uptown Manhattan tours or opt for a 2-day Premium pass with Brooklyn tour, Harlem tour, the night sightseeing tour and a free 1-hour Circle Line bike rental on the 1-hour Circle Line.
Alternatively, you can choose the 3-day deluxe pass with all tours included, the night tour and the bike rental option**. There are several different routes and passes to choose from so you can explore New York freely using the bus as transportation, hopping on and off at over 30 stops throughout the city.
This option also has a night sightseeing tour with a Premium or Deluxe pass.
Why I like this option: This is the cheapest and most complete option to enjoy the New York sightseeing bus. You can hop on and off as many times as you like during the tour and you can also enjoy a bike ride.
The Big Bus routes
Downtown - Red Route
The Red Route is two hours long and operates between 8AM and 5PM. This guided tour of downtown New York City can start at any of the stops on this route. The tourist attractions linked by the Red Route are the main attractions you need to see in Manhattan:
- Wall Street
- Statue of Liberty
- Ellis Island
- Little Italy
Uptown - Blue Route
The Blue Route operates between 9 AM and 5 PM. This guided tour of Uptown New York City lasts 2 hours and can be started at any of the stops. Sightseeing attractions that are part of the Blue Route are:
- Madison Square Garden
- Fifth Avenue
- Times Square
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, NY
- Central Park
Brooklyn - Purple Trail
The Purple Route is 1 hour long and runs at 10 AM, 12 PM and 3 PM. This guided tour outlines the best things to see and do in Brooklyn and can be started at any of the 4 stops that make up the route. Sightseeing attractions on the Purple Route are:
- Grand Army Plaza
- Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets Stadium
Harlem - Green Route
The Green Route operates at 10 AM, 12 PM and 3 PM. This guided tour of the best things to see and do in Harlem lasts 1 hour and can be started at any of the stops. Sightseeing attractions that are part of the Green Route are:
- Apollo Theater
- Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine
NYC by Night - Yellow Route
The Yellow Route is 1 hour long and operates from 6 PM to 8 PM. This night tour is non hop-on hop-off, meaning you do not have the option to hop off and hop back on at any part of the tour. It has one stop and the tourist attractions that can be seen on the Yellow Route are:
- Times Square
- Statue of Liberty
- Wall Street
- Brooklyn Bridge
- Empire State Building
- Manhattan Bridge
How much does a New York City Sightseeing Bus ticket cost?
From 39 Euros in Hellotickets you can find a ticket that allows you to access the New York City Sightseeing Bus from any of its stops and hop on and off as many times as you want. If you want to do the night tour, the price is a bit higher, it will cost you around 50 Euros.
Children under the age of 12 get access at a reduced price and only pay 35 Euros, so it's a good option if you're travelling to New York with young children or a family. You can also bring your baby and they don't need a ticket.
Tips for using the New York City Sightseeing Bus
If you're ready to board one of these double-decker buses, it's best to keep the following tips in mind to get the most out of the experience.
Activate your ticket first thing in the morning
Tickets can be activated automatically from the moment you board one of the buses, so it's best to activate your ticket first thing in the morning to make the most of your day. No time? Don't worry, if you have a busy morning you can always activate it after 15:00 and the ticket will last for 24 hours, so you can use it until 15:00 the next day.
Take one of the full routes to make the most of the views
If you get a good spot on the top floor of the bus (which is not always the case because there are usually more passengers wanting to take the same seats as you), take the full route: you can take photos, take a break and use the route as a good way to get your bearings in the city and then decide which stops you want to get off at.
Do it at the beginning of your trip
If you're going to be in New York for a few days and it's your first time in the city, the tour bus is a good way to get your bearings in New York. Take the tour at the beginning of your stay so you can work out distances, discover new neighbourhoods and decide which stops and attractions you'll be visiting for the rest of your travel schedule.
Take advantage of tourist card tickets
Many New York City Sightseeing Cards include a free ticket for the sightseeing bus or a cruise on the Hudson River. Keep this in mind because if you buy one of these New York City Sightseeing Cards you'll get free access and it's worth taking advantage of it.
Use it as public transport
Yes, you read that right. The New York underground is very well connected and its frequency is enviable, but if you want to get from one attraction to another, they are most likely to be well connected on one of the tour bus routes. Make the most of your travels and enjoy the scenery as you make your way from museum to skyscraper or to the next stop on your day's journey.
The sightseeing bus at night
Another of the options offered by the City that Never Sleeps is to take the sightseeing bus at night. This will allow you to end the day in a relaxed way while resting after a long walk and seeing the lights of the city. The New York City night tour bus is also a great option if you're travelling to New York in the winter and want to protect yourself from the cold when the low temperatures are lurking.
It's also a great way to enjoy the Christmas lights if you're travelling to New York at Christmas time, arguably the most magical time of the year. On those days when the crowds take over the streets, sitting relaxed on the sightseeing bus cruising through the city at night will seem magnificent.
Other interesting activities in New York
If you're considering booking a sightseeing bus pass, you've realised that the sheer size of New York City is often beyond a traveller's walking ability. If you'd like to delve a little deeper into all the areas and neighbourhoods of the city, I've put together this guide on 6 Best New York City Neighborhoods so you can get your bearings and start organising your itinerary.
And if you want to discover the most interesting parts of the city with a guided tour, my favourites are the Contrasts Tour and the Upper and Lower Manhattan Tour. Here are the details of both tours: New York Contrasts Tour y Upper and Lower Manhattan Tour.