Tour Buses, New York City
If you are going to waste some money, at least be friendly to the environment! Apart from walking, which is the healthiest, cheapest and most interactive way to experience the city, visitors and residents alike can get the exact same tours for the $2 price of a MetroCard on the local MTA city buses (most of which are clean air electric hybrids). The routes and destinations are exactly the same as the over-priced and fume-filthy red Grayline Tour or blue City Sights buses, as roomy and comfortable (you are NOT exposed to the ever changing elements), and most buses arrive every 10 to 30 minutes...and you can take all the pictures you want and hop on or hop off anywhere along the line that peaks your curiosity. Not sure of your bearings? Ask the driver (most are far more friendly and knowledgable than the tour bus crews). Not sure of a sight? Ask another passenger; contrary to popular belief, New Yorkers are more than willing to offer help, advice or recommendations. Never ever fails. For example, take the M6 local bus from 57th Street & 7th Avenue; travels right through the heart of Times Square, all the way down Broadway (past Herald, Madison, Union, Washington Square Parks) all the way to the tip of Lower Manhattan. Cost: $2 (MetroCard obtained at any subway station in the city; and exact change accepted as well on all buses!). Two thumbs down to the filthy double-decker tour buses, which continually violate parking and traffic rules and literally clog the streets of Manhattan, as well. If you can't walk the city, see the city the way the locals do...and save that money for a boat ride around the island or lunch at any number of fantastic eateries along the way. Or maybe a really good pair of walking shoes! Hope this helps.
Unique Suggestions: Resist every temptation...one look at the hustlers, the prices, and the buses, and this should be easy. If this doesn't help, then think of our fragile environment and do the right thing! New York provides so many services designed just for you to enjoy the city and experience the sights. Do as the locals do...it's much more fun!!!
Fun Alternatives: Again...FORGET the tour bus traps! You can get from the tip of the Bronx, to Coney Island's boardwalk for a mere $2, and see some of the best of New York City along the way. If walking gets to be too much, the MTA bus and the subway are the way to really experience the sights of the city, with plenty of money left over for real treats. Metro-cards can be purchased at any subway station for as little as $2 (with day passes and discounts available), along with easy to read subway and bus maps for all areas of the 5 boroughs (and railroad lines for the outlying suburbs). Buses are fully equipt to accomodate people with disabilities, as well. And with clean-air electric buses and subways, you can pat yourself on the back for being a friend to the environment (and yes, New Yorkers are most concerned about that too). Avoid the hustle and enjoy NYC!
We like to take bus tours of different cities that we go to. We normally make this one of our first activities so that we can get to know the city a little bit. But this time we took the tour after we had stayed in the city a few days. We walked over to the Empire State Building to catch this bus tour and we went for the downtown loop with a company called Gray Line tours. The tickets cost us 37$ per person and you can hop on and of as the bus goes around the downtown area. We got a seat on the top floor of the double decker bus after a few minutes and we were ready to get some in depth information about New York. But we were a bit disappointed. The first guide that we had didn’t speak English that well and we had trouble understanding what she said. On other buses it was hard to hear the guide at all. I was hoping to get something back for the 37$ but the guides did not give us that much information that we hadn’t already read in our guidebook. Well, the bus tour that we took went to places like Greenwich Village, SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown, past Wall Street and the Financial District, Battery Park, South Street Seaport, Times Square etc. If you are going to take it, take it when you first come to NYC.
Unique Suggestions: Make sure to get on a bus that has seats on the top floor so that you can enjoy the view while you travel…remember to put some sunscreen on so that you don’t get fried in the sun…and hold on to your hats…the branches along the route can get pretty close :-)
Fun Alternatives: Get a guide book, prepare your trip and use the subway to travel around town
They say the best way to see Manhattan is to take the Greyhound Double Decker hop on, hop off bus. That's probably because you'll spend a lot of time walking around trying to find the bloody thing. So many streets get closed due to film productions, parades, riots, you name it, that the stops are often rerouted - and good luck finding out about that. We got so hopping mad we actually wrote a letter of complaint - and would have gotten a refund if we'd kept our receipts and ticket stubs. For the full story, check out my travelogues.
Unique Suggestions: When you buy your tickets, ask about any rerouting that might affect you. Make sure you keep your receipts and ticket stubs. If possible, buy your tickets from a hotel conceige - then at least you've got someone to complain to when it all goes wrong.
Fun Alternatives: Just walk! Manhattan is divided into sections, and the sections themselves are actually pretty small. Take a taxi - or the subway - to the section you want to explore and do the rest on foot.
The double-decker buses are worth the price, in my humble opinion, IF it's not raining. It's hop-on/hop-off and they can be quite informative. You can choose from several different "loops" and you really will see the REAL NYC from above. You'll get some people shaking their heads, and some teenagers (or like-minded folks) heckling a bit, but it's a great way to see a lot of the city with some information. I haven't done a tour yet, but I'm planning on going some time!
Unique Suggestions: Take notes and return to places you liked.
Of course, you MUST take the Brooklyn loop and check out Fulton Ferry Landing. See my Brooklyn pages for shots of the views!
Fun Alternatives: In pleasant weather, walk a lot, too! That's the best way to see the city...walking and stopping to rest at a bar/cafe.
Unless you are in a hurry to see New York in one day, paying $48 for a hop-on hop-off All Loops Tour is a waste of money.
If you have the luxury of time, ride the buses around, you will see a lot of New York at a cheaper price. Go buy a Metrocard, the best deal in town!
Unique Suggestions: Start earliest in the morning since the lines are quite long for each of the loop. Lining up will take no less than 20 minutes. Bring a good hat and a pair of goggles since you must ride on the upper deck to take pictures. Put on your 40SPF suncreen and lip protection too. Bring a good jacket and muffler since it gets chilly around the afternoon.
You need at least 2 days to finish the All Loops tour, that is, if you start early in the morning. Or else, you won't be able to do all 4 loops. Do NOT hop off but finish the entire tour and take note of the places you want to return to another day. That's the only way you can maximize your tour going through the whole route.
Fun Alternatives: Ride a bus! Ride the water taxi! Ride the Staten ferry!
1. Only good for crowded areas.
2. Not worth using for the WHOLE trip. Also do not buy jewelry on the streets or in the shops in Midtown that look like a Radio Shack or Crazy Eddie's for jewelry. Your wasting your money.
Unique Suggestions: 1. Use buses for the main tourist areas like Time Square(the mecca), Grand central, herald square and Lower manhattan (ground zero).
2. limit yourself to bus tours that are only half a day. preferably schedule the Times Square tour during the evening hours so you can see all the lights. save the other one for during the day.
Fun Alternatives: 1. Anything below 20th street should be visitied by foot. Well worth it.
We took the tour of Uptown and Downtown,across to Brooklyn at night, and for the most part felt the tour was worthwhile. While a little on the pricey side, $49.00 per, we saw a great deal that we neither had the time or inclination to see on foot. I was skeptical about the tour bus, but we had 2 great tour guides out of three. One was a virtual enclyclopedia about NY architecture and nightlife. He was terrific! We walked throughout the city and the couple of hours sitting on the bus was a relief for those tired dogs of ours. Don't sit inside, you must get on top of the double decker. Bring an umbrella, and get off whenever the urge strikes you. Highly recommended!
Fun tour but not good value $30 per person
Unique Suggestions: See the Cosby house , Coyote Ugly, Friends Coffe Shop and the building Monica Lewinsky lives in!
I quite enjoyed the double decker buses. There are a few companeis so you have to look for the good one. I believe they are the blue buses from this website http://www.citysightsny.com
Unique Suggestions: stay with the blue buses!
Everyone sees these buses in news or on tv but to truely experience NY you have to WALK with the people and navigating through traffic and other people!
Unique Suggestions: If you do get on these buses do a little research on prices and areas that they cover. If you go the NYC website you will find legit and honest companies.
The only good thing about NY pop-in/pop-out tour busses is the frequency and the stops. Guides are only English spoken and they do not show special consideration to foreign visitors. Even when my English hearing comprehension is fair, I missed most of the explanations. I spent too much time on top of the bus for nothing.
Unique Suggestions: I recomend to chose the best stops for visiting places located on the extremes of Manhattan and have always on hand touristic brochures and a good travel guide!
Fun Alternatives: Walk very much (from East Side to West Side) and take a taxi when needed.
I found that there was a number of different tour bus company's and as you can imagine they all have different prices. If you go in a group most will give you a discount. The tours are hop on hop off and are a good way of getting about but make sure you know the difference between uptown and downtown. This is were we got stumped as we kept getting on the same one so never actually got to the place we wanted most of the time. Make sure you say to the guide were you want to go and they should tell you if you are on the right bus. In my opinion I don't think this company had another bus, but that's just my opinion, so make sure you check where they go before you buy any tickets.
Fun Alternatives: I think this is the best way to get around but you just have to be careful of cheaper company's and make sure you know exactly what parts of th city they travel to.