Take the Hop-on-Hop-off bus!!
Hop on Hop off Bus

When visiting one of the larger cities around the world, one of the first things a visitor has to decide upon, is how to see and experience the city in the most effective way. Driving around by car is mostly impossible; whilst the problems of finding the destination – even with a GPS – as well as a nearby parking space are numerous. Furthermore, driving or commuting through a city from one sight to another in a haphazard way, can be time consuming and frustrating. All these problems are applicable not only to first-timers, but also to seasoned visitors to the city.

The overall impression is that the hop-on-hop-off bus tours are only for tourists who wish to see no more than the most famous sights, and not for those who seek to discover the lesser known places off the beaten track. It may be true that the stops are at the main sights, but in a certain sense a hop-on-hop-off is nothing more than a normal bus, taking you around the city in an easy and affordable way; with them, you can commute through the city, also visiting other nearby attractions or shopping centers, just like you would have done with a normal bus.

Information on the different attractions is either given through live commentary by professional guides on the buses, or through recorded commentary through ear-phones in a choice of languages. This commentary is mostly GPS connected to the appropriate sites.

However, the best reason for hopping on and off these buses is that they create the opportunity of gaining a good overall impression of what a city has to offer. With this holistic background you can decide on which areas and sights to concentrate thereafter. I think every traveller should undertake at least one trip on these iconic buses, even if it is just for the sheer fun and experience of viewing a city and its sights from high up above the rustle and bustle down below.

Hop-on-Hop-off buses are now to be found in more than 100 of the most visited cities in the world. Most of the buses are bright red, but in some cities you will find yellow (like in Lisbon, Salzburg, or Lima), blue ( Barcelona, London’s Saver Combo’s, or New York’s 2 day Savers ), and green buses (like in Edinburgh ), even an orange one in Singapore (the FunVee Hopper).

Furthermore, larger cities offer more than one route, as well as different options, like combining a bus tour with a canal or river cruises, or even walking tours. Combinations are also cost savers, enabling the visitor to see large sections of a city at reduced prices.

In London, for example, the 24 hour Original London Sight-Seeing Tour, has three routes, includes a range of walking tours and a Thames river cruise. The Bug Bus offers two routes, also including walking tours and a river cruise. The Golden Tours Bus offers a 24 hours, or 48 hours hop-on-hop-off service at more than 50 stops, with a walking tour and boat ride included in the price. Combination tickets include entrance to attractions such as the London Eye, Tower of London, Madame Tussauds, the Aquarium or the Dungeon at reduced prices.

In South Africa red Hop-on-Hop-off’s are already to be found in Johannesburg and Cape Town. In Cape Town, for example, two routes are available, stopping at the following places:

The Red Route (Every 20 minutes at each stop): Two Oceans Aquarium (Main Terminus Point) - Clock Tower - Convention Centre - Cape Town Tourism - St Georges Cathedral - S.A. Museum - Mount Nelson Hotel - S.A. Jewish Museum - District 6 Museum - Castle of Good Hope - Gold Museum - Jewel of Africa - Table Mountain Cableway - Camps Bay Beach - President Hotel - St Johns Road - Winchester Mansions - Green Point.

This route enables the visitor not only to become acquainted with the city’s historic centre and Waterfront, and to familiarise him/herself with the city’s rich heritage through stops at some of the best-known museums, but also gives the opportunity to mount Table Mountain by way of the cable way.

The Blue Route (Every 35 minutes at each stop): Two Oceans Aquarium (Main Terminus Point) - Clock Tower - Convention Centre - Cape Town Tourism - Mount Nelson Hotel - Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens - World of Birds & Monkey Jungle - Imizamo Yetho Township tour - Mariners Wharf - Camps Bay Beach - President Hotel - St Johns Road - Winchester Mansions - Green Point.

This route introduces the visitor to sites beyond Cape Town’s historic center, such as the world-famous botanical gardens, an authentic local township, one of South Africa’s most beloved fish ‘n chips destinations, panoramic ocean views, as well as the country’s oldest vineyards in the Constantia Valley.

It can undoubtedly be said that a hop-on-hop-off bus tour must be high up on the bucket list when visiting the large cities of the world.

Manie Wolvaardt

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