Hop-on, hop-off buses are a great way to get a lay of the land, learn some basic New York City history, and get off your feet for a few hours. Discover the best way to hack the ho-ho buses, so you don’t get stuck in traffic or find yourself waiting in lines to board. You’ll also find out who should take the buses, how long to budget for a ride, and ways to get discount tickets.

Why You Should Take the Hop-On, Hop-Off Buses in New York City

Icons NYC in a Day Iconic: Millions of tourists take the ho-ho buses every year. It’s probably one of the most touristy activities in the city. That being said, I highly recommend using the ho-hos—just in the right way. Check out some of the tips below to get the most out of your ticket.

  Photographic: Despite the fact you’re on  a bus, you can get some great photos from the top deck on clear says.

Empire State Building NYC in a Day Architectural: Ditto for architecture. Sit on the top deck for views of the Empire State Building, Times Square, and other architectural icons.

History NYC in a Day  Historic: Though you won’t get an in-depth history lesson, you can get a great overview of the city’s history in buses that offer live narration.

Kid Friendly NYC in a Day  Kid Friendly: Kids love sitting atop the double-decker buses and taking a break from walking.

Comedic NYC in a Day Comedic: You won’t see Louis CK or Dave Chapelle on the ho-ho buses, but most  live guides are budding comedians and actors and pretty punny.

Celebrity NYC in a Day  Celebrity: I’ve known plenty of ho-ho bus guides who’ve seen their fair share of celebs acting just like us.

Cinematic NYC in a Day  Cinematic: You’ll see most of the iconic sites of Manhattan and some of Brooklyn from the buses—most you’ll recognize from your fave woody Allen and meg Ryan flicks.

Outdoorsy NYC in a Day  Outdoorsy: Sitting atop the double-decker buses won’t offer all the sights, sounds and smells walking the city offers. But from the upper deck, you’ll still be able to enjoy some fresh air.


Cost NYC in a Day How Much Do the Hop-On, Hop-Off Buses Cost in NYC?/Money Savers:


  • Adults: $30-$65
  • Children $20-$55
  • These bad boys are pricey! Check out one of the discount passes to save some serious dough on the ho-ho buses.
  • Check out Groupon for some decent deals on bus tours in NYC.


Time Commitment NYC in a Day How Much Time Do the Hop-On, Hop-Off Buses Take?/Time Savers:

Fly-By NYC in a Day Fly-By: 1.5 hours to 1 day to do the entire loop or to hop on and off all day.

In-Depth NYC in a Day  In-Depth: Several hours to several days if you get the multi-day pass.


Need to Know NYC in a Day  Need to Know:

  • Hop-on, hop-off buses are not a reliable form of transportation in NYC (despite what ticket sellers will tell you). Don’t expect to arrive anywhere on time via ho-ho bus.
  • There are several hop-on, hop-off bus companies in NYC. They range in price, route, and level of service. I personally prefer the City Sightseeing buses run by Grayline. Check out TripAdvisor to make an informed decision on which hop-on, hop-off bus is the best for you.


Why You Should Skip NYC in a Day  Why You Should Skip:

If you completely despise the typical touristy activities in a city, you should skip the tourist buses.


When to Go NYC in a Day  When to Take the Hop-On, Hop-Off Buses:  

  • First thing in the morning before the buses get crowded.
  • My hot tip for the ho-ho buses is to catch the first bus in the morning and ride the entire loop without hopping on or off. You’ll get a great overview of the city, get your bearings, and spot the neighborhoods you’d like to return to.


How to Get to NYC in a Day  How to Get to the Hop-On, Hop-Off Buses:

How you get to your hop-on, hop-off bus greatly depends on the company you choose to ride with. Most of the buses have stops outside some of the larger tourist attractions and offer maps of each stop.


Alternate Ways to See Attractions NYC in a Day  Related Attractions/Other Ways to See: 

NYC MTA Buses: Ride the MTA buses for a cheap alternative! Though I often suggest visitors opt to ride the subways instead of public buses to get to and from attractions, using them for sightseeing is a great way to see the city (without the guided narration).


Need more inspiration on how to focus only on what you love in NYC? Check out a full list of attractions.

Already know what you want to do? Find out the best ways to get to the attractions you love, find a place to stay, or discover New York City’s neighborhoods to round out your itinerary!

Want all the fun without all the work? Check out my New York City itineraries. Or, get a customized itinerary to save even more time.

Don’t forget to read a few articles on how to hack New York City, so you can see more, do more, and stress less!

NYC in a Day

10 Things You Need to Know Before Coming to NYC

Tourists always tell me they wish they'd known these 10 things before coming to the Big Apple. Why did nobody tell me?? They say. Now you know. Boom.


You have Successfully Subscribed!