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Hop on Hop off Bus Tours in New York City

How do you decide what to see on a trip to New York City? With so many options, it can be hard to choose and even harder to plan.  A hop-on hop-off bus tour is the perfect way to see the sights of New York, the city affectionately known as the Big Apple. With fixed routes and multiple stops, you can hop off at the locations that take your fancy and then hop back onto the next bus that arrives to carry on touring.  It makes perfect sense to discover the best of New York City by bus at your own pace.

Most hop-on hop-off buses either include an onboard guide, or provide a pre-recorded audio narrative in English and Spanish pointing out landmarks and popular attractions.

A hop-on hop-off bus tour in New York City offers the best value for money as you can catch the buses on your chosen routes for as long as your ticket is valid. Special offers and promotions may be available online, so remember to book your ticket in advance.

Here's all you need to know about hop-on hop-off bus tours, one of the best sightseeing tours in New York City.

What are the best hop-on hop-off New York City bus tours? What are their prices?

There are two primary hop-on hop-off bus operators in New York City: the Big Bus Company and Top View.

The Big Bus Company

The Big Bus Company is one operator of hop-on hop-off bus tours in New York City.


In New York City, the Big Bus Company offers two different route options: The Downtown (Red) Loop and the Uptown (Blue) Loop. The two options follow these routes:

The Downtown (Red) Loop

  • M&M’s World
  • Times Square East
  • Empire State Building / Korea Town
  • Flatiron District
  • SoHo
  • Chinatown / Little Italy
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Wall Street / Charging Bull
  • Statue of Liberty / Battery Park
  • World Trade Center
  • Hudson Yard
  • Circle Line Sightseeing
The Uptown (Blue) Loop

You can start your tour at any of the route’s stops and can end your tour at any time.

Many iconic New York attractions can be found on the Downtown or Red Loop. Times Square, the Rockefeller Center, Macy’s Department Store, the Empire State Building, the 9/11 Memorial Museum and the One World Observatory / World Trade Center are all located along this route. Other famous landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Wall Street and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum are also close to stops on the Red Loop.

On the Uptown or Blue Loop, you can explore some of New York’s most well-known locations, including the Museum Mile, Grand Central Terminal, the Upper East Side and Central Park. Attractions such as Madame Tussauds, Broadway, Fifth Avenue, the Guggenheim Museum and the Lincoln Center are all found along this route.


The Red Loop takes 90 minutes and buses run every 10 to 20 minutes. The first bus of the day leaves the start point at 10 AM. The last bus of the day leaves the first stop at 5 PM and ends with the final pickup opposite Pier 81 just after 6:15 PM

The Blue Loop bus trip takes around 75 minutes, with buses running every 60 minutes. The first bus of the day leaves Hope Sculpture at 10 AM and the last bus for the day leaves this location at 4 PM, with the last pickup at Carnegie Hall at just after 5 PM.


Big Bus New York offers three types of tickets:

Discover Ticket

This 1-day Downtown ticket costs from US$60 per adult and US$50 per child gives you access to the bus for one day. You can start at any point on the route, and hop-off and on again as often as you like. This ticket is flexible and allows you to amend your tour date up to 72 hours before your confirmed tour start date.

You can also book a Discovery ticket plus The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Ferry for US$80 per adult and US$70 per child.

Essential Ticket

The essential ticket costs from US$80 per adult and US$70 per child and gives you a flexible 1-day hop-on hop-off ticket for both the Downtown and Uptown Loops. This tour also offers a special bike package with Unlimited Biking whereby if you rent a bike for 1 hour (minimum), you’ll get an extra hour free.

You can also book an Essential ticket plus a choice between The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Ferry, an Empire State Building standard entry or a Circle Line Liberty Cruise. These packages cost US$100 per adult and US$90 per child. If you want to add the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Ferry and Empire State Building standard entry to your ticket, it will cost US$130 per adult and US$120 per child.

Explore Ticket

An Explore ticket is valid for 2 days and includes the Uptown and Downtown routes. This ticket is perfect if you would like to take your time to take in the sights. Tickets cost US$100 for adults and US$90 for children. This tour also includes the bike hire special offer with a free hour of biking if you rent a bike for 1 hour (minimum) from Unlimited Biking.

Night Tour

A tour hour Night Tour costs US$69 per person and showcases New York City’s best nighttime sights. Tours depart at 7 PM and include a live guide.


TopView also offers hop-on hop-off bus tours in New York City and has a variety of options to maximize sightseeing for passengers.


TopView offers several different hop-on hop-off tour options, most of which also include access to certain attractions.

The Downtown hop-on hop-off route includes 17 stops:

  • Times Square North
  • Times Square South
  • Bryant Park
  • Empire State Building
  • Flatiron Building
  • Union Square
  • Washington Square Park
  • SoHo
  • Canal Street
  • City Hall
  • Liberty Cruise
  • Battery Park
  • Brookfield Place
  • The High Line
  • Hudson Yard
  • West 42nd Street
  • Port Authority

The Uptown route consists of 9 stops:

  • Theater District
  • Dakota Building
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Museum of the City of New York
  • Guggenheim Museum
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Central Park Zoo
  • Central Park South
  • Carnegie Hall

Night tours follow a non-stop circular route from Times Square.


The Downtown hop-on hop-off runs from 8 AM to 6 PM, while the Uptown route departs hourly from the Theater District, with the first bus at 10 AM and the last bus at 4 PM.


TopView has several ticket options available:

NYC Sightseeing Pass

There are 3 options for this pass which include a Statue of Liberty cruise, Brooklyn Tour, night Tour, Museum of the City of New York, Central Park bike rental and the Skyscraper museum.

A 48-hour ticket costs US$120 per person, a 72-hour ticket US$130 per person and a 5-day ticket US$150 per person. If you book online, you can save up to 25 percent on the ticket cost.

Day Pass

A hop-on hop-off same day pass costs US$65 per person for an Uptown ticket or US$80 per person for an Uptown and Downtown ticket. For US$95 per person, your ticket will include a Liberty Cruise.

If you only want a nighttime tour, the ticket will cost US$69 per person for a 90-minute trip.

How do hop-on hop-off bus tours in New York City work? What is included?

With a hop-on hop off tour ticket, you can start your trip at any of the stops on the route. The open-top buses offer a great view of the city, and downstairs seating is available if the weather is poor.

Pre-recorded audio commentary informs you about the landmarks on the route. Buses offer frequent service and pass each stop at regular intervals. You can also download a free mobile app to keep track of bus schedules and plan your day.

Are hop-on hop-off bus tours included in any New York City sightseeing passes?

You can add a Big Bus New York Essential ticket to your New York sightseeing pass for an additional US$80 per adult and US$70 per child. This makes sightseeing in the Big Apple convenient and hassle-free, with access to the Downtown and Uptown loops that stop close to many of the sites accessible with the sightseeing pass.

Travel tips

  • Familiarize yourself with the route in advance to determine which stops interest you the most and to manage your time effectively.
  • Buses can get crowded, especially during peak season. An early start can help you secure good seats and beat some of the crowd.
  • Depending on the weather, bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, or warm clothing if you plan to sit in the open-top section.
  • Bring your own earphones for better audio quality of the guided tour commentary.

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