Since 1926, Gray Line New York has offered a convenient and flexible way to go around lots of spots, if you are not familiar with the complicated subway system. However, some travelers point out the quality of tour guides varies. While some guides are amazingly funny, friendly, and informative, some others are rude and incomprehensible.
Gray Line New York bus also has a City Sightseeing logo on it. Gray Line New York and City Sightseeing New York refer to the same bus tour.
Downtown Route: Time Square, Macy's, Empire State Building, Union Square, Soho, Chinatown, 911 Tribute Center, East Village, United Nations, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, and 9 other stops. The route includes some of the most famous scenes of the city. According to our research, we think the downtown route is the most popular route of Gray Line New York. Virtually all travelers of the hop-on hop-off bus take the route.
Uptown Route :Columbus Circle, Lincoln Center, Upper West Side, Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, and 18 other stops. Based on our research, we think it's the second most popular route of Gray Line New York, and only slightly behind the downtown route.
Sightseeing Ferry: it's a great way to see New York City's amazing skyline from the water. You'll have plenty of opportunities to snap photos of the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Manhattan skyline in all its glory.
The route is included for free in both All Around Town 48 Hours Tour and FreeStyle Pass New York. So don't miss the highly praised route.
Night Tour: the 1.5 hour twilight tour offers stunning view of the city lights and major attractions. Many tourists take the route and like it.
Brooklyn Route : The route includes 9 stops to hit the must-see spots of Brooklyn. It's one of the less used routes and only a small percentage of travelers take the route.
All Around Town 48 Hour Tour: the 2-day double-decker bus tour pass includes downtown route, uptown route, Brooklyn route, sightseeing ferry, and night tour. The online price is $64 for an adult. The on-street price is $69 for an adult. Based on our research, we find this is the most bought ticket for Gray Line New York.
New York Sightseeing Flex Pass: you can buy a Sightseeing Flex Pass for 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 10 Attractions from 100 options. The adult price of a 2-attraction pass is $64. The adult price of a 3-attraction pass is $89. The uptown and downtown route of Gray Line New York can be counted as one attraction - valid for 72 hours. The pass is such a bargain that it's highly popular among NYC tourists. If you pay only $64 for a 2-attraction pass, and choose Gray Line uptown and downtown loops as one attraction, you can take both routes for 3 days! As we discussed above, these two routes are the most popular loops of Gray Line, so this option is good enough for many travelers, and the price is difficult to beat. The benefit is even greater if you choose the other attraction wisely. For instance, if you choose Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center, regularly priced at $39, as the other attraction, it only costs you $64-$39=$25 to access the two most widely used loops of Gray Line for 72 hours. Isn't the deal phenomenal?
FreeStyle Pass New York: the 3-day pass includes downtown route, uptown route, Brooklyn route, Bronx route, sightseeing ferry, and night tour. The pass also includes your choice of 3, 5 or 7 popular NYC attractions. The online price for the pass with 3 attractions is $139 for an adult. The on-street price for the same pass is $149 for an adult. We find the ticket is very popular, only slightly behind the All Around Town 48 Hour Tour and New York Sightseeing Flex Pass.
All Around Town 72 Hour Tour: the ticket is very similar to All Around Town 48 Hour Tour, but it is valid for 72 hours, instead of 48 hours. The online price is $79 for an adult. The on-street price is $84 for an adult.
All Around Town 24 Hour Tour : the ticket is very similar to All Around Town 48 Hour Tour, but it is valid for 24 hours, instead of 48 hours. The online price is $54 for an adult. The on-street price is $59 for an adult. We find the ticket is less popular and only a small number of tourists buy it.
The tour guide has significant influence on your experience of the bus tour. So if you are on a bus with an excellent guide, you may want to stay on the bus a little bit longer, before hopping off.
Both All Around Town 48 Hour Tour and Free Style Pass New York include free admission to sightseeing ferry and night tour. You may not want to miss these 2 trips, which are considered among the most highly praised parts of the bus tour experience.
Big Bus is popular among New York tourists, and it has lots of happy customers. Many travelers said they were impressed by the quality of guides, and they thought the guides were highly enthusiastic, knowledgeable and funny. Some travelers also pointed out the buses were nice and clean.
Downtown Route - Red : Time Square, Empire State Building, Union Square, Greenwich Village/NYU, China Town, Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall, Wall Street / Charging Bull, and 10 other stops. Together with the uptown route, the downtown route includes some of the most famous and highest praised attractions of the city. Based on our research, we find the downtown route is the most popular route of the Big Bus New York. Virtually every guest of the hop-on hop-off tour takes the red route.
Uptown Route - Blue : Central Park, Lincoln Center Plaza, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and 12 other stops. We think the uptown route is the second most popular route of Big Bus New York, only slightly less frequently used than the downtown route.
Night Tour Route - Yellow : of the 5 routes, we'll rank the night tour as 3rd in terms of popularity among travelers. So less people take it. However, a very high percentage of guests taking the downtown tour praise it as the best part of Big Bus New York experience. Therefore, it's like the hidden gem of Big Bus NY. Not many people take it, but people who take it often like it a lot.
Harlem Route - Green: Harlem route is a new addition to Big Bus New York. The route only has 4 stops, including Columbus Circle, American Museum of Natural History, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and Apollo Theater.
Brooklyn Route - Purple: based on our research, we think the Brooklyn loop is the least used one. Many tourists skip it.
Premium Ticket - 2 Day : the ticket includes uptown route and downtown route. You can also choose either night tour, or Harlem route, or Brooklyn route. The online price is $63 for an adult. The on-street price is $70 for an adult. Based on our research, we believe the Premium Ticket is the best-selling ticket of Big Bus New York. It seems many people think the ticket offers all major benefits of the hop-on hop-off bus, without paying extra for something they may not need.
The New York Pass: The New York Pass offers access to over 100 top New York attractions, such as Empire State Building, Top of the Rock Observatory, 9/11 Memorial and Museum, etc. The pass includes 1 day access to the uptown route and downtown route of Big Bus New York. The price of 1 day adult New York Pass is $124 and 2 day is $189. It is more expensive than the other tickets on the list, but, according to the website, the total value of attractions on the pass exceeds $2000, and the pass also helps you skip the lines at some top attractions. We are surprised to find the pass is so popular that it's one of the most frequent ways for tourists to access Big Bus New York.
Classic Ticket - 1 Day: the ticket includes uptown route and downtown route. It doesn't include night tour, Harlem route, and Brooklyn route. The online price is $54 for an adult. The on-street price is $60 for an adult. The ticket is attractive to a good number of travelers. It's the least expensive one on the list, and ideal for tourists with limited time to explore the city.
Deluxe Ticket - 2 Day : the ticket includes all 5 routes. The online price is $81 for an adult. The on-street price is $90 for an adult. The ticket isn't very popular, probably because less people take Harlem route or Brooklyn route.
New York City Explorer Pass : the pass offers access to 3, 4, 5, 7, or 10 attractions and tours from over 80 attractions. You can choose 1 day access to Big Bus New York tour as one choice. It includes the uptown route and downtown route. The price of an adult 3-choice pass is $89, and 4-choice is $119. Some travelers prefer the pass, because you can make your own choices of attractions to visit and save money.
Launched in December 2016, Top View offers six routes: downtown route, uptown and Harlem route, Bronx route, Brooklyn route, night tour and Liberty Cruise. The double decker bus tour has growing fast, and has become a hugely popular hop on hop off tour of New York.
Unlike other hop on hop off tours, Top View doesn't offer a live guide on the bus. Instead, earphones are provided with audio narration.
Some tourists really enjoy the tour, and think it's an inexpensive way to visit various attractions of the city. They especially highly praise the night tour of the spectacular view. However, some other tourists insist a live guide is indispensable to a hop-on hop-off bus tour, so they prefer Grey Line New York or Big Bus New York.
Downtown Route : Time Square West, Macy's, Rockefeller Center, Time Square North, Macys, Empire State, Flatiron, Union Square, and 8 other stops. The route is the most popular route of TopView, as it includes some of the city's most famous attractions.
Night Tour : the 1.5 hour twilight tour offers stunning view of the city lights and major attractions. Many tourists take the route and like it.
Uptown & Harlem Route : Time Square North, Port Authority, Theatre District, Columbus Circle, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and 9 other stops. Based on our research, we think the Uptown and Harlem Route is still quite popular, though behind the Downtown Route and the Bight Tour.
Liberty Cruise : the cruise will bring you with a close look at the Statue of Liberty and the iconic Manhattan skyline.
Brooklyn Route : if you take the route, you'll see various attractions of Brooklyn. Based on the research, we find the route is not popular, and very few tourists take it.
Bronx Route : most travelers don't take the route.
All City Pass NYC 2 Days: the pass is valid for 48 hours and includes downtown route, night tour, uptown and Harlem route, Liberty cruise, Brooklyn route, and Bronx route. A ticket for an adult is $55.75, and a ticket for a child is $47.17. Based on our research, we think this is the most popular ticket for TopView New York.
All City Pass NYC 3 Days : the pass is valid for 72 hours and includes all routes. A ticket for an adult is $59.75, and a ticket for a child is $51.79. The ticket is very popular, only next to 2-day pass.
Classic NYC Pass 24 Hrs: the pass is valid for 24 hours and includes all downtown route, night tour, uptown and Harlem route, and Brooklyn route. It doesn't include Liberty Cruise. A ticket for an adult is $49, and a ticket for a child is $45.
All City Pass NYC 5 Days : the pass is valid for 120 hours and includes all routes. A ticket for an adult is $64.75, and a ticket for a child is $57.14. We think the ticket isn't very popular, probably because the majority of tourists regard two or three days as the ideal time to explore the city with hop-on hop-off buses.
Part 2: 13 Best NYC Fully Guided Bus Tours [UPDATED in 2021]
This highly praised 5.5-hour sightseeing bus tour helps you see top New York landmarks and neighborhoods, like the Lincoln Center, Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenwich Village, Soho, Central Park West, Upper West Side, and Harlem, with lots of photo opportunities.
The tour is one the most recommended tours in New York, and receives an overall rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars, by over 900 travelers. Tourists applauded the tour for its friendly and informative guide, and perfect blend of walking to see sites close & taking photos along. Many travelers think it's a great way to see the entire city.
THE RIDE is an interactive entertainment bus tour.
The buses are equipped with 40 plasma TV screens, over 3000 LED lights, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and stadium-style side facing seating. When you take the tour, it's like you are on a moving theater and the streets of New York City are the stage. You'll listen to hilarious comments of two hosts, watch amazing street performances, and interact and explore the city in a completely new way.
Overall tourists highly praised the tour. They thought the guides were engaging, energetic, and entertaining, and the outside performers were phenomenal. Some even coincided the tour as the best of their trips to the city.
Having said that, we also found a small number of tourists didn't like the tour, mainly for two reasons. First, unlike most other tours on the list, THE RIDE is primarily an entertainment tour, not a sightseeing tour. So if you are looking for a bus tour to visit major attractions of the city, THE RIDE is not for you. Second, the tour is in English, and interaction is an important element of the tour. So if you are not a native English speaker, and don't understand spoken English well, the lack of a translator on the bus may have a negative impact on your tour experience.
THE RIDE tour is 75 minutes long. The price of a ticket is $69.
THE RIDE tour is included in New York Pass, Explorer Pass, and Sightseeing Pass. So you have one of the passes, you can take the tour for free.
New York City is the most filmed city in the world. If you want to follow the footsteps of your favorite characters in movies or TV shows at different NYC locations, you may take a close look at On Location Tours.
Sex And The City Hotspots Tour : if you like the TV show and movie of Sex and the City, you may be interested in joining the tour.
On the guided bus tour, you'll follow the footsteps of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda, and discover where they drank, shopped, and gossiped. The tour includes over 40 locations of the show. The tour takes about 3.5 hours. An adult tickets is $49.
New York TV and Movie Tour : NYC TV and Movie Tour will lead you to the city's best filming sites. The tour features over 60 locations of popular TV shows and movies, such as Girls, Glee, Modern Family, Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother, Spider-Man, the Amazing Spider-Man, and Homeland. The tour is 2.5 hours to 3 hours long. A ticket for an adult is $45, and a ticket for a child is $31.
Gossip Girl Sites Tour : if you like one of the America's most popular television drama, Gossip Girl, you may want to join the tour. On the fun guided bus tour, you'll explore various shops, schools, parks, bars, hotels, and neighborhoods, where the young socialites of the show lived in the elite society of Manhattan. The tour is about 3 hour long. A ticket is $49.
The Super Tour of NYC : on the guided bus tour, you'll see where the comic book heroes from The Avengers, Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, Jessica Jones and more saved the day. The 3-hour tour runs on Friday and Saturday. An adult ticket is $49, and a child ticket is $35.
Sopranos Sites Tour : the tour leads you to filming locations seen on Sopranos. It's about 4 hours long. An adult ticket is $54.
When Harry Met Seinfeld Tour : the tour leads you to filming locations north of Time Square, including sites seen in Seinfeld, Modern Family, When Harry Met Sally, Men in Black, You've Got Mail, How I Met Your Mother, Gossip Girl, Hitch, and more. It's about 2 hour long. A ticket for an adult is $42, and a ticket for a child is $28.
TCM Classic Film Tour : the tour presents you top movie sites around Manhattan in classic films such as King Kong, You've Got Mail, The Seven Year Itch, Superman, and North by Northwest. It's about 3 hour long. An adult ticket is $49, and a child ticket is $35.
The popular bus tour helps you know the different sides of Brooklyn, Harlem, the Bronx, and Queens. On the trip, you’ll visit iconic landmarks like Brooklyn Bridge and Yankee Stadium, and hear about the Hispanic, Muslim, African-American and Jewish cultures, as you travel through various neighborhoods of the city. At the end of the tour, you should have a better understanding why New York is considered one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.
Overall reviewers liked the bus tour. They thought the tour gave you a wonderful taste of the history, culture, and life of New York City out of Manhattan. They also found the tour guide was friendly, knowledgeable, and full of energy.
The tour is offered in two languages, English and Spanish. A small number of tourists complained they signed up for a tour in English, but found the guide frequently spoke Spanish during the tour.
The tour lasts about 7 hours, and price is $57 per person.
The Tour is similar to The Ride, by which you explore New York City with hilarious hosts and through floor-to-ceiling glass windows and stadium style seating.
Here is the difference: The Ride is mainly an entertainment tour, with amazing street performances, by ballet dancers, freestyle rappers, or hip-hop dancers. The Tour is mainly a sightseeing tour, visiting major attractions like Columbus Circle, Lincoln Center, Central Park, Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, the Garment District, Empire State Building, Madison Avenue, New York Public Library, Bryant Park, and the famed Forty-Second Street.
This is one of the most highly praised guided bus tours.
On the tour, you'll hop off with a licensed guide, to enjoy walking tours of New York City's Iconic places: Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Madison Square Park, Wall Street and World Trade Center. You'll also take a boat cruise or visit Grand Central Terminal depending on the season. There are plenty of photo opportunities at each stop.
Many reviewers recommended the bus tour, especially the knowledgeable, friendly, and amusing tour guides, and regarded it as a great way to see NYC's top sights for those who are short on time.
The duration of the tour is about 5 hours and the price of a ticket is $89.99.
The tour is provided by Kenny "The real" Cramer, the across-hall neighbor of Larry David, the Seinfeld co-creator. The 3-hour theatrical muti-media stage, bus, and video tour takes you the sites made famous in the popular sitcom.
The bus provides an immersive guided adventure of New York City's rich hip hop culture, from the site of the first ever hip hop party, to secret battle sites, historic clubs, and some other hip hop's famous landmarks.
On the guided bus tour you'll will visit renowned Harlem. The inspiring tour will present you "the history of the place, the changes it's been through, and the obstacles the people had to conquer." You'll see the famous sights and landmarks, such as the St. John the Divine, Columbia University, City College, the Abyssinian Baptist Church, the Cotton Club, the Apollo Theater, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
The tour is offered on Wednesday and Sunday. On a Wednesday tour, you'll enjoy the wonderful acapella sounds of the ARC Gospel choir and their powerful voices singing songs of praise and share their experience. On a Sunday tour, you'll participate a local congregation for the Sunday worship service and experience the soul stirring power of Gospel music.
The tour is about 4 hours long. The price of an adult ticket is $65 and the price of a child ticket is $49.
Gray Line offers a guided bus tour, called Manhattan Experience. On a double decker tour bus, you'll explore one of the world's most famous boroughs. Along the way, you'll see Central Park, Little Italy, Fifth Avenue, Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the 9/11 Memorial, Harlem, and Brooklyn Bridge. You'll hop off at 4 stops, with the guide, to discover more of Manhattan. You'll also view the city at Top of the Rock Observatory, the top of the famous "30 Rock" building. Finally, a sightseeing ferry cruise will bring you the views of Statue of Liberty. The price of the 8-hour tour is $109 for an adult and $84 for a child.
Gray Line also offers a 6-hour short version of the tour. Ticket prices are $89 for adults and $79 for children.
Overall travelers highly praised the guided tour, and said the guides were entertaining, friendly, knowledgeable, and informative.
on the night tours of Top View, you'll appreciate the true magnificence of New York as the city that never sleeps. The price of an adult ticket is $39, and the price of a child ticket is $35. The tour is also included in the 24-hour, 2-day, 3-day, or 5-day pass.
If you take Big Bus Night Bus Tour, you'll discover the iconic sights of the Big Apple after dark. Tourists praised the lights and the view of the city is amazing and the guides were entertaining.
You'll stay on the bus with a live guide during the whole 2-hour tour. The ticket price is $49 for an adult, and $39 for a child. The tour is included in the Deluxe 2-day Ticket, and can be selected in the Premium 2-day Ticket.
Part 4: 1 New York City Tour by Public Buses
New York City Tour by Public Buses
Tour by public buses is an alternative to hop-on hop-off tours and guided tours listed above. It means you take public buses to tour the city and make your own decisions on where to go and what to see.
Some travelers highly recommend the method, for they think it's flexible, efficient, and less expensive. A MetroCard of 7-day unlimited ride is only $32, and it's also usually faster if you take public buses or subways to visit a specific attraction, than to take a tour bus.
However, many tourists, especially those new to the city, still stick to hop-on hop-off bus tours or guided bus tours for several reasons.
First, the public buses are mainly offered as transportation services, not tour services. So the bus routes are not designed to deliver best views for passengers, and you may find it difficult to secure seats with nice views on some crowded buses.
Second, there are no live guides on public buses. So you need to figure everything out by yourselves.
Finally, some tourists find the public transportation system of the city, especially the subways, too complicated. For instance, some major transportation hubs, like Time Square, connect several subway lines. It's sometimes confusing for travelers to make right transfers.
Therefore, if you are new to the city and want to have an overview of various attractions and neighborhoods, as well as enjoying great views on the buses, you may join a hop-on hop-off bus tour or guided bus tour. But if you have decided to visit a specific location, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it's far more efficient to take public buses or subways. Having said that, we understand some experienced travelers prefer to take public buses in any situation, and to travel like locals has its unique attractiveness.
If you choose to take the tour of the city by public buses, you may find the article of New York Times helpful. You may also want to visit MTA.info for bus fares and maps.