Do Real Travellers Use Hop-on Hop-Off Bus Tours?
10 years ago, rucksack on my back, guide book in my hand and feeling unadventurous I stepped onto a hop-on hop-off tour bus in Berlin. This experience changed my view of bus tours forever, challenging my snobbish view that such tours were for lazy tourists who had no sense of discovery. On that day I found another thing that I am grateful to my partner for. For it was him that nagged me to do the tour.
Until then I had viewed with distaste the huddles of tourists trolling around cities, like my home town of London, on hop-on hop-off tours trying to keep the cheap earphones in their ears to hear the commentary. While the problem of keeping the earphones in your ears is still a problem, I learnt that hop-on hop-off tours are ideal for discovering a city.
Hop-on Hop-Off buses are not just for unadventurous, lazy visitors who cannot be bothered to figure out public transport and mingle with locals. They are for “real” travellers too!
After that trip 10 year ago it dawned on me that they are perfect for immersing you into any new city. They help make sense and give you an overview of a city that no map can do. They give you a potted history, point out what marks the city in terms of significant buildings, memorials and where key events took place. They give you an idea of the position, relative distances and location of all the key destinations. They help give you a perspective on what you want to go back to explore – and what you should try and bundle together in follow up expeditions over the next few hours and days. They have also revealed unusual markets and destinations in the city I would never have found otherwise. They are also perfect when you are in town for a short stay, such as a business trip to get out and see a lot of the city in a short time.
They are also usually the most cost effective way of getting around the city, as they let you jump on and off all day without taxi fares or figuring out the complexities of metro and bus routes.
Virtually every city and major destination I have been to over the years now seems to offer a hop-on hop-off bus tour. It is something that I now see as my “map” and “induction’ to every place that I visit. They can be a really powerful tool for any traveller.
Swallow your pride. Stop being snobbish. Real travellers really should embrace hop-on hop-off bus tours.
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