The Benefits of Using City Sightseeing Buses When Visiting European Cities

Jackie DesForges is a lifelong dedicated travel lover and a Rail Europe Travel Consultant from our Chicago office.  On her off time, Jackie goes on exciting travel adventures.  We were lucky to have Jackie approach us to write about using our products in exchange for passes and city cards.  We are thrilled to contribute to Jackie’s love of travel and to read about her experiences.  In this blog series, Jackie used the Global Pass, 15 days in 2 months flexi, Barcelona Card, Lisbon Card, Malaga Hop On, Hop Off Sightseeing Tour and Sevilla Card.  If you happen to call our contact center and get Jackie, make sure to mention that you read her blog series!

In general, it seems like there are two types of travelers – there are the ones who like to see the really famous sites, go to the most well-known cities, and take advantage of tour packages; and then there are those who like to get off the beaten track and discover the lesser known places, who prefer to go it alone rather than hire a guide to show them around.

Those bright red Hop-On, Hop-Off City Sightseeing Tours have always been somewhat of an enemy to the latter group of travelers. Stepping onto one of those buses is like slapping the word “tourist” to your forehead; you’ll certainly make your way around the city in a timely manner, but you don’t really stand a good chance of finding anything off the beaten track.

I was always skeptical of these buses. I’m not usually a fan of anyone or anything that requires me to wear earphones against my will. However, my tendency to wear cute rather than comfortable shoes when I’m traveling often leads to giant blisters on my feet, and when every step you take feels like it might actually kill you, buses tend to look much more appealing. Such was the case when I arrived in Dublin about two years ago. I bought myself a ticket for the bright red bus, found a seat by myself in the very back, and talked myself into wearing the earphones.

It turns out that you can actually see much more than is covered on those tours if you know how to use them to your advantage. Not only do they take you directly to all of the really famous places (and admit it, even the most off-the-beaten-track-fanatics amongst you do usually want to see at least one or two of them), but they can also function as any normal bus would – by taking you around the city for a fairly reasonable price. And if you use them as much as possible, you’ll honestly probably spend about the same amount of money that you would if using the regular city buses or renting a bike for the day.

Also, I think we all need to admit that there is a little part of each of us that secretly loves the commentary on tours. Tour commentary is essentially a series of random little fun facts, and who doesn’t love random facts? For example, did you know that the O’Connell Bridge in Ireland is the only bridge in Europe that is as wide as it is long? I tend to pull that one out at parties.