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Should I Do a Bus Tour in New York?

To be clear, there is nothing like experiencing New York City on ground level, where the city's energy and unique vibe are captivating. The vibrant tapestry of sights, sounds, and smells is unique and exciting. Every block in New York seems to tell a different story. From the iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building, Flat Iron Building, and Grand Central Terminal to the charming brownstones, quaint cafes, and artistic vibes of West Village, to the bustle and intensity of the Wall Street and business district, to the cultural uniqueness of Chinatown and Little Italy, to the storefronts and LED screens of Times Square, the city is captivating to experience. The subway system pulses beneath the streets like the lifeblood of the metropolis, its trains coursing under the city like arteries, ensuring the city's vital energy flows to practically every corner. So, the purpose of this blog isn't to take anything away from experiencing New York by walking the streets and using the city's public transportation.

With that said, the purpose of this blog is to help you decide if you should make a bus tour part of your schedule in New York City by giving you some pros and cons to consider. New York bus tours can be a cost effective and easy way to see many of the city's greatest landmarks and attractions without the stress and physical toll of walking the streets and trying to figure out how to navigate the underground infrastructure of the subway. Big Bus Tours and Gray Line New York both offer options that allow for short, guided tours in which you simply ride and enjoy seeing the sites and learning a little about each place you are seeing. They also offer longer tours that will stop at each site and allow you explore the location for yourself off of the bus. The options vary, and you would need to research which option would work best for you.

So, here are some pros of a bus tour in New York City:

Comprehensive and convenient sightseeing. On a bus tour, you can see most major attractions without the hassle and physical effort of navigating the city yourself. If you don't want to walk mile after mile to move from place to place, or find it stressful to figure out the schedules, connections, and locations of the subway system, a bus tour is an easy way to navigate New York.

Guided Experiences. Whether you have a human tour guide or utilize one of the recordings on the bus tour, you have the opportunity to learn historical facts, hear unique stories, learn about the city's cultural diversity, find great dining locations, and much more.

Photo Opportunities. Many of our best pictures were taken from the top of the tour bus. Great street views, bridge views, iconic building views, and city skyline views were taken on a tour.

Climate Control. The buses are cool in the summer and warm in the winter, offering an escape from the weather if it bothers you. If you are there during rainy days, a tour could offer you an alternative way to view the city.

Safety. Traveling in large groups is usually a safe option in big cities.

Variety of routes and packages. There are daytime and nighttime packages. There are packages that include getting on and off the bus at your leisure. There are guided and unguided tours. There are tours that last as little as one hour and as long as one day. So, you have options.

Stress reduction. The bus tour ensures you don't have to worry about fighting traffic, trying to figure out public bus and subway schedules, or reading maps. On one of the bus tours, just show up and ride.

Accessibility. Most buses are equipped to handle people with disabilities. If you have a disability or are just do not have the physical conditioning to walk mile after mile, a bus tour is a great way to relax and still see the sights and sounds of New York City.

Short Schedules. If you only have a day or two in New York City, a tour is a great way to comprehensively see most of the major attractions at a much quicker pace. A well-chosen tour could allow you to not miss out on some of the iconic landmarks you'd want to hit while visiting the city. It could keep you from having to make difficult choices about what to cut out.

To be balanced, here are a few cons of a bus tour in New York City:

Lack of spontaneous exploration. Part of what we liked about the city is there is something different to do and see on just about every block. If all you do is a bus tour, you miss the opportunity to find some pretty unique places and make memories that only come when you allow for time for a little spontaneous adventure in your schedule.

Crowded buses. In busy times and seasons, the buses can be full of people. If you don't like crowds in confined spaces, you may not like a bus tour. However, if you hate crowds, why New York lol.

Expenses. Public transportation may be more time consuming and difficult to figure out. However, it is considerably less expensive.

Weather Impacts. We found the upper, open deck on a night tour to be a great option. However, weather would definitely impact if you could enjoy the upper deck of the bus. If the weather is rainy, and you were looking for photo opportunities, shooting through a rainy window is not a good option.

Generic "Touristy" Experience. Like I said earlier, there is nothing like experiencing New York City by exploring its streets like the locals. If all you do are bus type tours, you will miss out on the vibrancy and authenticity of New York City by replacing it with a more commercial experience.

Short Stops. If you schedule a bus tour that allows for you to get on and off the bus at iconic locations, you may not have as much time to explore as you would like. The buses are forced to keep a tight schedule to make sure that every stop advertised is visited. If you want to truly immerse yourself in every location and take in every detail, you may want to experience each location in a way that allows for you to travel at your own pace.

In summary, we really enjoyed our two-hour nighttime bus tour. We learned a lot about the city itself and saw most of the iconic landmarks the city has to offer. The evening and nighttime views of the lights, buildings, streets, bridges, and skyline was breathtaking. I would say that a bus tour is a great and quick way to introduce yourself to the city or see a lot of sights if you have a limited schedule. However, it doesn't replace experiencing the city at ground level using the subways and walking the streets. If you are able, that is something you should definitely experience for yourself.

We hope you get a chance to visit New York City for yourself.


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