Hop on hop off buses

Old Mar 26th, 2013, 10:11 PM
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Hop on hop off buses

Have read a lot of positive feedback about hop on hop off buses in Europe. As I am going to many major European cities for approx 4days each with my wife and 2 children during September, October, November, would you recommend this as a high priority considering the time I am in these cities. Secondly, would you recommend I by tickets online before travelling overseas or are they easily accessible once in the city I am visiting?
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Old Mar 26th, 2013, 10:33 PM
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We like hopon-hopoff as they let you see an overview of the locale. Some things you just want a glimpse of and others a return visit. Hoho allows you to buy 1 ticket and get 2 half days,..ie afternoon and then use it the next day in the morning. In Paris and London the ticket also includes the river rides..After a long flight and being tired the first day this mode of site seeing is relaxing and we have always enjoyed it. Many people do not share our opinion but that's too bad for them..The only not great experience was due to traffic gridlock in London, so we got off, went to the Thames and did the water route. Tickets are readily available at the stops and so your trips can be spontanious. If you preorder them are they for a particular day? Most cities have a couple or more routes and I'm not sure but I think the ticket is interchangeable. Should check however. Consider this another positive vote.
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Old Mar 26th, 2013, 10:35 PM
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I, personally do not like them and find most terribly boring and time-consuming. In London, during traffic, you can sit trapped on the bus in places where it would have been faster to walk. In Paris, being stuck on a bus rather than walking to various places is just boring. I'd rather spend that time really seeing one or two places rather than driving by a bunch. Walking areas of Rome are compact enough, you don't need a bus most of the time. I don't think kids enjoy them much either.

In some cities, some people do like them and think it gives them kind of orientation and an overview of the city. So far, I haven't found any I thought were really worth while.
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Old Mar 26th, 2013, 10:59 PM
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You are going in off season. So no need to buy them in advance. Buy them, if you have to, when you reach there.
In Paris, there are 2 circular route public buses in clock wise and anti clock wise, which almost work like HOHO. Forgot the numbers. They are mentioned in Lonely Planet. Much cheaper. Complete one loop in bus till the end. On the way back you can get down at the places you want and walk till the next bus stop. You can buy a Paris Visit Pass for 3 days unlimited travel on public transport. This also takes you till Versailles and France Miniature and Disney. HOHO is not covered in it. Paris has excellent network of metro and buses. It is more rewarding to see it on foot. Frommers has listed very good walking tours.
In London, you can buy an Oyster card. Load it with a few pounds. You can get the balance back at the airport when you leave. The best part is, that you don't need to buy a day pass for unlimited travel. When you reach that value on the Oyster card, it stops deducting the money. Again, the walking tours are great. Check with frommers.
Vienna has a circular tram route as well. Tram 1 and 2 travel in reverse directions.
By travelling in public transport, you know the orientation of the city in a better way, as you need to apply a little more brains. You also travel with the local people and see places that you don't see by HOHO.
In HOHO buses, you are travelling with other tourists.
You take your pick.
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Old Mar 27th, 2013, 12:54 AM
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Positive sides:
- You can see a lot from the upper deck
- It usually goes to all the important sites
- You can jump on and off as many times as you want
- The recorded voice info is nice, a live guide on the bus is much better

Negative sides:
- You can get stuck in traffic
- It's expensive
- It's a tourist thing, filled with other tourists
- During high season the upper deck will be full
- In bad weather you don't want to sit on the upper deck
- If you have any mobility problems it will be very difficult to get to the upper deck and down again before the bus starts driving again

I usually do take the HOHO bus, despite it's negative sides. But I also use public transport and do some walking.
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Old Mar 27th, 2013, 01:31 AM
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Everything anyegr just said!

I avoided HOHO for years, but this past year at Christmas finally used the one in Barcelona. Weather was nice enough we could sit on top and we got to see a lot we would not have seen by foot. My husband had developped a knee problem and HOHO saved the day for us. With 2 small children, it would help you "contain & entertain" them. I'd imagine they might even fall asleep if the conditions were right.

The only downside for us was sometimes having to wait 5-10 minutes at a couple of stops because they are on a timed schedule and need to wait for the intersecting bus from the opposite colored route to pass by, thus allowing "transfers" to take place. Most stops, they just breezed through, though. For us, it was worth it.
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Old Mar 27th, 2013, 02:57 AM
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The great thing about HOHOs in normal major cities is that you're taken round, above the surface, without having to think too much about organising yourself.

Overall, you're no more likely to get stuck in traffic than if you were in a public bus or in a chauffeur-driven car (actually you'd be MORE likely to get stuck in a chauffeured car, which don't have access to "bus only" lanes). You don't get the same overview from a metro - and if you're happy to walk, why get a bus in the first place?

They make most sense in big cities where walking the whole route at one go doesn't just make demands on your brain incompatible with being jetlagged, but is likely to be beyond your physical capacity at any time- like London and Paris (you can't charge a HOHO to your Oyster in London, and I suspect few people coming off an overnight flight from North America or Australia are really up to organising a self-guided tour by public transport).

They make no sense at all, in my view, in smaller historic cities with severe limits on vehicle access (Florence and Oxford are the obvious two examples): in practice HOHOs in these cities spend most of their time going round areas of very disputable interest to most people, and offer a highly distorted picture of the city concerned.

They're iffy in cities where vehicle access restrictions impose weird routes. Rome's the best example of this problem I've encountered.

The net of this is that you just can't generalise, especially in Europe where almost by definition everything visible from a HOHO is easily accesible by public transport and/or bikes. Rather than assuming a HOHO is the best introduction (or rejecting them), I'd suggest you look at the route map. If it's not stopping right outside what you want to see, or spending lots of the route in places you've got no interest in, self-guided walking, a walking tour or public transport are probably better ways of orientating yourself
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Old Mar 27th, 2013, 03:16 AM
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Excellent thread this is. We have pros and cons explained by different type of travelers. To sum it up, If you have just one or 2 days in Paris or London, Take a HOHO to save on time. If you have 3-4 or more days, avoid HOHO and mix with the crowd, explore city on your own with combination of various modes of transport. It is fun, similar to the one that a child gets after solving a jigsaw puzzle...
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