Hop On Hop Off Washington DC

This post will cover all of the Washington DC hop-on-hop-off bus tours, providing details about route maps, ticket types, prices, stops, reviews and other important information.

 

 


PROS AND CONS OF A HOP-ON HOP-OFF BUS TOUR

This is the most popular type of bus tour in the world, but there are many factors to consider before purchasing a ticket.

The following section will provide a list of the pros and cons of using a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.


Pros

There are a lot of advantages to using a hop-on-hop-off bus tour in Washington DC. Here are just a few of the more significant benefits you may want to consider.

Great Option for a City Overview

This service is a great way to familiarize yourself with where everything is located in Washington DC.

Whether you want to learn more about the city or just get your bearings, these 2-hour hop-on-hop-off bus tours are a great way to get an overview of the area.

 

Hop on Hop Off Map Washington DC

 

Great Transportation Alternative

Since these services make stops at all of the major landmarks in the city, they’re a pretty great alternative to other methods of getting around.

If you don’t feel like using public transport or taxis, this is a great way to explore Washington DC.

Live Tour Guides

Should you have any questions, most hop-on-hop-off tour bus services have live guides who will provide you with any information you might need.

 

Live Tour Guides Hop on hop off DC

 

These professional tour guides will also point out notable landmarks and tell you about their history and significance.

Reasonably Priced

These bus tours are usually around $40-$50 for a 24-hour pass, which is much more affordable than using a taxi or a Lyft/Uber to get around the city.

If you pay for more than one day of service, you’ll receive a discount that makes it about $30 per day, which is even more affordable.

Sightseeing at Your Speed

If you don’t feel like being rushed around the city just to catch a glimpse of all the famous landmarks, this service will allow you to jump off at various historic locations and take a look around.

Once you’re done exploring the area, you can hop back onto the bus and continue taking their tour.


Cons

Although there are several benefits to using a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, they aren’t necessarily going to be great for everyone. Here are some of the disadvantages of using these services.

Basic Commentary

These bus tours provide a very simple overview of Washington DC. While that may suffice for most people visiting the area, others will want a more detailed experience.

 

Lincoln Tour White House

 

If you’re looking for an extensive tour, you may want to consider an alternative bus tour or our pay-what-you-wish-walking tours.

Not the Fastest Transportation

Since their goal is to both deliver a tour and provide multiple stops at several locations, this service is not always the quickest way to get around town.

If you’d rather see the sights at a faster pace, you may want to consider a different type of Washington DC bus tour or consider using the DC Metro system.

No Guaranteed Seat

While some bus tours guarantee you access to a specific seat, hop-on-hop-off bus tours are first come, first serve.

What this means is that you might not always get a seat next to the window or on the top level.

If you want to make sure that you will always have a place to sit and a nice view of the city, it may be wise to consider another type of bus tour.

 


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HOP-ON HOP-OFF BUS TOURS

This section will provide details about each of the major hop-on-hop-off bus tour services in Washington DC.

 

Hop on Hop off Bus Washington DC

 

In addition to information about ticket types and prices, we will also include notes about how many stops are included, which sites are visited and more.


DC Trails

This hop-on-hop-off route visits the National Mall and the downtown areas of DC to stop at the main sites.

They have stops at 22 different locations that you can explore with either a 24 or 48-hour pass. Tours are led by live tour guides.

 

 

Highlights include the White House, Arlington National Cemetery, FDR and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorials, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and more.

A free night tour is included with every 48-hour pass! 

Get 10% off all DC Trails Tours when you book through us.

With the discount and the free night tour on the 48-hour ticket, DC Trails is probably the best value of all the hop-on-hop-off services.  

In addition to their main service, this company also offers hotel pick-up with advance notice and their buses are wheelchair accessible.

DC Trails also offers non-hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus tours in addition to this service, including their night tour.

 

DC Trails Tickets

 

Ticket Prices

  • 24-Hour Pass: $42/Adults | $23/Children
  • 48-Hour Pass: $59/Adults | $32/Children
  • Kids 4 and under are free with adult supervision

Purchase DC Trails tickets here (10% discount is taken off automatically).

Hours

  • 9 am – 5 pm daily
  • Buses run every 30-40 minutes

Reviews of DC Trails

DC Trails is one of the most respected services on this list with a 4 ½ out of 5 stars rating on TripAdvisor, which is the best of the 4 companies.

Many people describe this tour as a great value, stating that their guides are very friendly and informative.

Others have gone so far as to say that this is the best way to see Washington, DC.

There are a few negative comments here and there, but there aren’t enough of them to suggest many common issues. 

Read our detailed review of DC Trails bus tour.

 


Old Town Trolley

These open-air but covered historic trolley cars take you around the city with a driver/guide narrating the entire way.

 

 

They provide plastic window coverings for less than ideal weather, and some of the newer trolleys are raised so you’re sitting above the cars.

From this vantage point, it’s a lot easier to see all of the notable sites around Washington, DC!  

Hotel Shuttle Service is provided at select hotels and times. Tours are only in English.

You’ll have the option to hop on or off at over a dozen different locations on two loops and explore the area at your own pace.

While the blue loop will take you around the National Mall to see all the memorials and downtown DC, the red loop is essentially a shuttle that provides transport to and from Arlington National cemetery.

 

Old Town Trolly DC Route Map 

You can then hop on another of their vehicles for a trolley tour of the cemetery, but this costs extra.

For more on how to visit Arlington National Cemetery once you’re there, check our Guide to ANC.

There are three types of passes: silver, gold, and platinum. The gold and platinum pass options include their trolley tour of Arlington National Cemetery, but the silver pass only offers their shuttle to the area.

You can get a ticket good for one day or a two-day ticket. Two-day tickets do not have to be used on consecutive days.

They also offer a 2.5-hour Memorials by Moonlight tour that begins at Union Station.

Ticket Prices

  • Silver Pass: $49/Adults | $33/Children
    • Includes 24-hour access to the blue loop.
    • Includes shuttle to Arlington National Cemetery.
    • Free for kids 3 and under with parental figure.
  • Gold Pass: $59/Adults | $43/Children
    • Includes 24-hour access to the blue & red loop.
    • Includes shuttle to Arlington National Cemetery.
    • Includes round-trip cruise on the Potomac River.
    • Free for kids 3 and under with parental figure.
  • Platinum Pass: $65/Adults | $50/Children
    • Includes 48-hour access to the blue & red loop.
    • Includes shuttle to Arlington National Cemetery.
    • Includes round-trip cruise on the Potomac River.
    • Free for kids 3 and under with parental figure.

Hours

  • 9 am – 5 pm daily
  • Buses run every 30 minutes
  • Arlington National Cemetery shuttle:
    • 9 am – 4 pm (Oct – Mar)
    • 9 am – 6 pm (Apr – Sept)

Reviews

This tour company has earned a 4 ½ out of 5 stars rating on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide (read the reviews).

Thousands of passengers have had an excellent trip while on the Old Town Trolley, and that’s definitely a good sign.

Although some guests have left negative feedback, few of their complaints indicate a common problem that anyone should be concerned about.

A majority of reviewers have said that their guides provided a wealth of valuable information and made the journey very enjoyable.


Big Bus Tours

Big Bus, which operate double-decker, open-top brown buses, is a company you may have seen in other cities throughout the world.

This tour has three different loops around the city depending on which areas you want to see.

There are many connection points that will allow you to hop on and hop off any of the lines!

 

 

The red loop is their official tour of the National Mall, including stops at all the major Smithsonian museums, monuments and memorials. 

This loop features live, English speaking guides along with alternative pre-recorded commentary in 8 different languages.

The blue loop will take you to the Arlington National Cemetery and Pentagon City. This is a recorded commentary tour, and it is also offered in 8 languages including English.

The yellow loop goes to Georgetown and even further Northwest to the National Zoo and National Cathedral. Commentary is only available in English.

 

Click on map for a larger view

Big Bus DC Route Map
 

There are a few different ticket options for the Big Bus Tours.

Passes come in 1 or 2 days versions. All 2-day passes include free admission to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.

The Deluxe 2-Day Pass also includes a Potomac River cruise.

Ticket Prices

  • Classic Tour: $49/Adults | $35/Children
    • 1-day hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
    • Included in Go DC tourist discount pass.
    • Free for kids 4 and under with parental figure.
  • Premium Tour: $59/Adults | $45/Children
    • 2-day hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
    • Includes admission to Madame Tussauds.
    • Includes walking tour of White House lawns.
    • Free for kids 4 and under with parental figure.
  • Deluxe Tour: $62/Adults | $49/Children
    • 2-day hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
    • Includes admission to Madame Tussauds.
    • Includes walking tour of White House lawns.
    • Includes free cruise or observation deck tickets.
    • Free for kids 4 and under with parental figure.
  • Night Tour: $45/Adults | $35/Children

Purchase tickets or learn more.

Hours

  • 9 am – 5 pm daily
  • Buses run every 20-30 minutes

Reviews

With a 3 ½ out of 5 stars rating on TripAdvisor, it’s fair to say that Big Bus Tours is a bit of a mixed bag for most customers. 

This rating, while lower than the previous two mentioned competitors, is aligned with what most hop-on-hop-off tours receive worldwide.


CitySights DC Bus Tours

Much like some of their competitors, this company offers three different loops which will take you to all the most popular areas in Washington DC.

The red loop covers all the monuments and memorials, the yellow loop takes you to Georgetown and the National Cathedral, and the purple loop is a shuttle to the Arlington National Cemetery.

 

Unfortunately, this service does not include a tour of Arlington Cemetery. Check our guide to ANC for details about touring the historic site.

CitySights DC offers a 24 hour and 48 hours loop option. There are also shorter express and night tour options available.

With 41 different stops, the best bet is the 48-hour pass.

These double-decker bus tours offer pre-recorded commentary in 11 languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Japanese, Russian, Hebrew, and Portuguese! 

Use the coupon code “TravelDC” to save 15% off the prices below.

Ticket Prices

  • 24-Hour Pass: $50/Adults | $40/Children
    • 1 day hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
    • Free for kids 2 years or under with parental figure.
    • Included with the SightseeingDC Pass.
  • 24-Hour Pass Combo: $59/Adults | $45/Children
    • 1 day hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
    • Includes admission to one attraction of your choice.
    • Free for kids 2 years or under with parental figure.
  • 48-Hour Pass: $60/Adults | $50/Children
    • 2 day hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
    • Includes admission to Madame Tussauds.
    • Free for kids 2 years or under with parental figure.
  • 48-Hour Pass Combo: $70/Adults | $60/Children
    • 2 day hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
    • Includes admission to Madame Tussauds.
    • Includes cruise or observation deck tickets.
    • Free for kids 2 years or under with parental figure.

Hour

  • 9 am – 5 pm
  • Buses every 10-30 minutes depending on loop.
  • Yellow loop ends at 4 pm.

Reviews

Unfortunately, this company has a far less stellar record than its competitors. 

Complaints range from poor customer service and guides to long wait times. This definitely isn’t a good sign for a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.

That being said, they do have hundreds of 5-star reviews indicating that negative experiences may not be as frequent as they seem.

Those who did enjoy their experience stated that their guides were highly informative. Positive comments also focus on all of the extras that you’ll receive with their 2 and 3-day tickets.

If you’re looking for a good deal and willing to take a chance, CitySights DC could be a good option.

 


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NIGHT BUS TOURS

This section provides details about each of the night tours provided by hop on hop off bus tour companies in Washington DC. 

These are fully guided tours, which means you won’t have an opportunity to hop on and off at your leisure. That said, you will be able to see and learn about the city after dark!


DC Trails

In addition to their hop on hop off bus tours, this company also offers what they call a Twilight Tour. During this outing, you’ll have the chance to see Washington DC after the sun goes down.

 

 

Over the course of 3 ½ hours, this tour will take you past all of the significant and historic locations in the city, giving you plenty of time to enjoy all of the sites.

Although you won’t be able to jump on and off whenever you want, you will be given at least 15 minutes to see the landmarks at 5 different stops.

Guests can expect to see sites such as the Lincoln Memorial, Capitol Hill, the National Mall, and many other notable monuments.


Old Town Trolley

This company also offers a night bus tour which will take you around the most popular landmarks in the city after dark.

 

 

At only 2 hours in length, this tour isn’t quite as long as those offered by their competitors, but it still covers a lot of the same locations.

This is a fully narrated tour, so you might not get as many opportunities to hop on and off at your leisure, but there will be stops at a variety of significant monuments.

Visitors will see points of interest like the Capitol Building, the White House, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, just to name a few.


Big Bus Tours

Much like their competitors, this company also provides a night bus tour in Washington DC which covers most of the important sites in the city.

This fully narrated tour is 2 hours in length, and although you won’t be able to hop on and off at your leisure, there will be a few stops for photo opportunities throughout the night.

 

 

If you’re also interested in a hop on hop off bus tour, this outing can be combined with their other services at a discount. Check our discount section for more details.

While on this bus tour you can expect to see sites like the National Mall, the White House, the Jefferson Memorial, the Capitol Building, the WWII Memorial and more.


City Sights DC

As with the other hop on hop off bus tour companies in Washington DC, City Sights also provides a night tour which includes several notable landmarks throughout the city.

Although this isn’t like their other service which allows you to jump off whenever you want, there will be stops made at sites like the Lincoln Memorial and the Korean War Memorial, as well as a short walking tour of each location.

 

 

This panoramic night tour is fully narrated, and you’ll have several great opportunities to get some great pictures.

Use the coupon code “TravelDC” to save 15% off the prices below.

  • Tickets: $46/Adults | $36/Children
  • Spring/Summer Availability: Daily at 7:30 pm
  • Fall/Winter Availability: Daily at 6:30 pm
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

In addition to the stops you’ll make, this tour will also include highlights such as the White House, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Washington Monument, the US Capitol and more.

 


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DISCOUNTS AND COUPONS

There are several opportunities to save money on various hop-on-hop-off bus tours in Washington DC. 

This section will cover tourist attraction discount passes, combo packages, coupon codes, discount sites and more.


Tourist Attraction Discount Passes

Most of the tourist pass services in Washington DC offer at least one hop-on-hop-off bus tour.

These passes typically allow you to pay one flat price for dozens of different activities.

 

 

While some options have you paying for a set number of attractions, others offer the opportunity to pay per day.

There are also discount passes that provide a flat discounted price on all attractions.

These services also include skip-the-line benefits for some activities, making it easier to save time and get more value out of your pass.

Big Bus Tours are included with the following passes:

CitySights DC is included with the FreeStyle Pass, which features their 2-day hop-on-hop-off bus tour, admission to Madame Tussauds, and your choice of either a cruise or tickets to an observation deck.

In addition to these services, the FreeStyle Pass also provides access to 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 optional attractions. You can choose from the following options:

  • National Geographic
  • Buca di beppo
  • Bike and Roll DC Rental
  • International Spy Museum
  • And more!

For more details on these services, make sure to read our full post covering Washington DC tourist attraction discount passes.


Combo Packages

Most of the hop-on-hop-off bus tour companies offer combo deals which include additional activities for a small additional fee. This allows you to save money on other attractions in Washington DC.


Big Bus Tours

In addition to the premium and deluxe tickets they offer which include extra activities, this company also offers the following combo packages:

  • Washington DC & New York Ticket
    • 1-day hop-on-hop-off bus tour in DC.
    • 2-day premium hop-on-hop-off bus tour in NYC.
    • Perfect for anyone planning to tour both locations.
    • Ticket Price: $99/Adults | $75/Children
  • Premium Ticket & Night Tour
    • 2-day premium hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
    • Washington DC night bus tour.
    • Over $20 off the individual ticket prices.
    • Ticket Price: $74.70/Adults | $61.20/Children
  • Deluxe Ticket & Night Tour
    • 2-day deluxe hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
    • Washington DC night bus tour.
    • Over $20 off the individual ticket prices.
    • Ticket Price: $83.70/Adults | $70.20/Children

Purchase combo packages or learn more.


Old Town Trolley

Aside from the additional activities you can enjoy on their Gold and Platinum tours, this company also offers a variety of combo packages you may want to consider.

  • Trolley Tour & Monuments by Moonlight
    • Silver Pass Combo Price: 
      • $84/Adults | $59.40/Children
    • Gold Pass Combo Price:
      • $94/Adults | $74/Children
    • Platinum Pass Combo Price:
      • $104/Adults | $84/Children
  • Trolley Tour & DC Ducks Tour
    • Silver Pass Combo Price:
      • $84/Adults | $59.40/Children
    • Gold Pass Combo Price:
      • $94/Adults | $74/Children
    • Platinum Pass Combo Price:
      • $104/Adults | $84/Children
  • Arlington Cemetery Tour & DC Ducks Tour
    • Ticket Price: $54.50/Adults | $35.75/Children
  • Arlington Cemetery Tour & Monuments by Moonlight
    • Ticket Price: $54.50/Adults | $35.75/Children

Purchase combo tickets or learn more.


Coupon Codes & Automatic Discounts

Washington DC Bus Tours

One of the best ways to save money on hop-on-hop-off Washington DC bus tours is by using a coupon code when you purchase your tickets.

We have partnered with DC Trails to provide a 10% discount on all tours booked through us. All you have to do is purchase your tickets here and you’ll save a few bucks on every tour!

With this discount, their 24-hour pass $37.80 and their 48-hour pass $53.10, making them one of the most affordable hop-on-hop-off bus tours in the area.

Alternatively, you can save 15% on CitySights DC bus tours by using the coupon code TravelDC

When using this code, their 1-day pass is only $42.50 and their 2-day pass is $51 – which is the cheapest 2 day pass in Washington DC!


Discount Sites

Some Washington DC hop-on-hop-off bus tours are regularly offered at a discount on sites such as Groupon and Living Social.

In addition to the savings provided by the company, these services also often provide additional coupon codes for $5-$30 off or even up to 20% off.

Depending on when you purchase your tickets, this could actually be one of the best ways to save money on a bus tour in DC!

 


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About the author

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with three published books about the city. She has traveled extensively and lived in London, UK where she attended University College London for a Masters in History and in Seoul, South Korea where she taught English. While her family is now based in DC, she still explores the world. Her two children (both under the age of 3) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts. She has been a part of the Free Tours by Foot team since 2011.