Which New York Bus Tours Are Best?

This post reviews and compares the various different bus tour options available to you in NYC, including hop-on-hop-off, fully guided, themed and night tours.  

TIP: Many of the bus tours mentioned below are included in one form or another with the New York tourist passes.


New York Bus Tours


Traditional hop-on-hop-off bus companies provide transport to major sites all over the city, which can be appealing if the New York subway system seems daunting.  

Typically guests purchase 1,2 or 3-day access passes and can then get on/off the bus at any of the company’s designated stops at any time.

Most multiple-day tickets include a night tour and a boat cruise as well as discount coupons.  

NOTE: Multi-day tickets and night tours are currently unavailable due to the pandemic, but this should change soon following the rollout of the vaccination.



Prices for these combination tickets are sometimes too good to pass up. All offer audio headsets with commentary in multiple languages. Unfortunately, no company offers live tour guides anymore. 

The market is very competitive with companies outdoing each other’s prices regularly. Be sure to check for any deals by clicking the links.

However, there is no information provided when off of the bus, and commentary on board occasionally consists of a recording.

For that reason, these tours are best for those looking for an informational shuttle service between attractions rather than detailed information about the city.  

Leave the detailed touring to our pay-what-you-wish walking tours or to our audio tours, many of which start and end near popular bus stops.

Likewise, during the busy season guests may have to wait for multiple buses to pass through one-stop as seat availability is not guaranteed.

Also, keep in mind that though bus tours guarantee easy transportation around the city, they are not always the quickest as all bus tours are subject to NYC traffic!


Big Bus Tours consist of 35+ stops around New York City on 5 routes, including Downtown, Uptown, and Midtown Manhattan routes, Harlem Routes, and one route in Brooklyn (see map detail).  


Big Bus New York


You can also download their app, which has the maps to help you plan your route.

Guests listen to an audio recording in one of 10 languages while on the bus and they are free to wander around on their own at each stop.  

They also offer a night tour, which is not a hop-on-hop-off tour as well as combo packages.  

If you are also planning on traveling to Washington, DC, Big Bus usually offers a package that combines both cities. This deal is not available as of June 2021, but it may return in the near future.

Review of Big Bus New York

Big Bus is the best-reviewed hop-on-hop-off bus tour in NYC and the company regards itself as the premium hop-on-hop-off bus service in New York City.

This company sports an overall 4 out of 5-star rating on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide. Reading their reviews will help set proper expectations.

Most negative comments focus on the amount of time that it can take to get onto a bus and audio systems not working properly. Negative reviews are more likely in high seasons.

Even those who didn’t enjoy their experience typically reported that this bus service was worth considering. 


Here are just a few of their most popular tickets. Prices are for tickets purchased online. It’s slightly more expensive on-site.

All of the Big Bus routes are included for free with the New York Pass.

Classic Ticket 1 Day

Downtown Tour 1 Day

Uptown Tour 1 Day

Big Bus also offers even more combinations where you can add on attractions (see below), which could include access to the Empire State Building, Madame Tussauds, and much more.

Note: If you are considering a tourist attraction pass, the New York Pass includes the Big Bus Tour. 

Be sure to read our post comparing all the different tourist pass options in NYC.



CitySightseeing NYC (also operating under a Gray Line license) offers a similar open-top, double-decker hop-on-hop-off service as Big Bus. They also offer combo packages.



Like Big Bus, CitySightseeing is a global company and you most likely have seen their red double-decker buses in other cities.  

NOTE: Get 15% off all CitySightseeing bus tours and packages with promo code FREETOURS15.

Reviews of CitySightseeing NYC

When it comes to their hop-on-hop-off service, reviews are mixed. CitySightseeing has earned an overall rating of 3 ½ out of 5-stars.

As with most bus services in New York, the negative comments focused mostly on long wait times and audio systems not working properly.

Those who were pleased with their experience reported that the bus drivers/guides were both helpful and knowledgeable. (NOTE – there are no longer live tour guides).  

Previous guests have complained about experiencing a lot of pressure to tip the guide/driver at each stop, so be prepared to ignore these pleas or carry $1 bills to distribute at each stop.


  • Downtown Tour (Midtown south to the Financial District)
  • Uptown Tour (Midtown north to Harlem)
  • Brooklyn Tour (Currently unavailable)
  • Bronx Tour (Currently unavailable)
  • Night Tour/Holiday Lights (Currently unavailable)


  • Downtown: $49/Adults | $39/Children
  • Downtown + 1 Attraction: $64/Adults | $54/Children
  • Uptown + 1 Attraction: $79/Adults | $69/Children
  • The Uptown tour is currently only available as a combo ticket with 1 additional attraction or activity.
  • Choose 1 attraction from this list to add to your bus tour:
    • Top of the Rock
    • Empire State Building
    • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
    • Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum
    • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    • MoMA
    • Madame Tussauds
    • Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
    • 9/11 Tribute Museum
    • New York Historical Society
    • Museum of the City of New York
    • The Cloisters Museum
    • Central Park Sightseeing Guided Bike Tour
    • Central Park Sightseeing Walking Tour

Learn more and/or purchase tickets here.  

NOTE: Get 15% off all CitySightseeing bus tours and packages with promo code FREETOURS15.

TopView NYC

This is a relatively new company offering hop-on-hop-off bus tours, but they’re definitely giving the competition a run for their money.

Not only are their prices much cheaper, but they also offer a lot of additional activities and attractions for free with each ticket.

In addition to their main Downtown tour, they also provide hop-on-hop-off routes of Uptown & Harlem, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and even a Night tour.

Depending on which ticket option you choose, you can also get access to a Statue of Liberty Cruise, a Central Park Bike Rental, and the Museum of the City of New York.

This hop-on-hop-off bus tour ticket can be used at anytime within 6 months of the original purchase date.

That means you are free to buy tickets when they are on sale and wait until you actually plan to visit NYC to use them. 

Reviews of TopView NYC

Most of the ratings for this service are very positive, but there are a few negative reviews. 

Several guests indicate this is a great way to get an overview of New York City and get from one location to the next. 


Classic NYC Pass

  • 24-hour Hop-on-Hop-off Downtown Bus Tour
  • Also includes the Uptown & Harlem Tour
  • Statue of Liberty Cruise
  • $69/Adults | $59/Kids
  • Save $5 per ticket when you order online.
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

All City Pass (2-Day)

  • 48-Hour Hop-on-Hop-off Downtown Bus Tour
  • Also includes the following routes:
    • Uptown & Harlem Tour
    • Brooklyn Tour
    • Night Tour
  • Statue of Liberty Cruise
  • 2-Hour Central Park Bike Rental
  • Museum of the City of New York
  • $79/Adults | $69/Kids
  • Save $5 per ticket when you order online.
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

All City Pass (3-Day)

  • 72-Hour Hop-on-Hop-off Downtown Bus Tour
  • Also includes the following routes:
    • Uptown & Harlem Tour
    • Brooklyn Tour
    • Night Tour
  • Statue of Liberty Cruise
  • 2-Hour Central Park Bike Rental
  • Museum of the City of New York
  • $95/Adults | $85/Kids
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

In addition to these tickets, TopView NYC also offers each of their routes as its own individual tour which you can purchase on its own.

You’ll save more money by simply purchasing either a Classic NYC Pass or an All City Pass, but if you just want to explore one borough or take a night tour, there are alternatives to their activity-packed tickets.

For more details, make sure to check their ticket options page.



As a company that primarily offers walking tours, we prefer these types of bus tours as they include all the benefits of a bus tour without most of the cons!

The guide accompanies you on and off of the bus at each stop so you get detailed information about all the major sites, rather than just wandering around on your own.



You are also with the same bus, driver, and guide for the entire duration of the tour, so you never have to worry about getting a seat and are able to enjoy the tour in a more intimate setting.  

These are premium tours run in climate-controlled buses, therefore they are more expensive than the traditional hop-on-hop-off variety.

However, you will see a lot more, more in-depth, in a much shorter amount of time. 


Visiting New York can be an exciting and bewildering experience. If you’re looking for a nice overview of the entire city, you might want to consider the NYC Day Bus Tour.

In addition to a fully guided trip throughout the Big Apple, you’ll also enjoy a walking tour and a boat cruise (Apr 1 till Dec 31) around Manhattan.



The full trip will take roughly 5 hours to complete and you will see a lot of significant landmarks along the way. Your tour guides hop off at each stop to help show you around!  

Available daily from 10 AM – 3 PM.

TIP: If you are planning on visiting Washington, DC, you will get 30% off the Discover DC Tour (normally $69) if you purchase it at the same time as your Discover DC Tour.  

You will need to call USA Guided Tours to confirm your NYC tour date.


Reviews for USA Guided Tours NYC

All of the reviews for USA Guided Tours are positive.

With a full 5-star rating on TripAdvisor and Viator, it’s safe to say that this is one of the highest-rated tour companies in NYC (read the reviews).

One happy customer went so far as to exclaim that this is a must for any first-timers in New York. This seems to be a common sentiment, as several visitors left similarly positive comments. 


OnBoard offers both day and night time tours, including an 8-hour Premium See-It-All Tour, which covers the length of Manhattan and comprises a visit past or to the Statue of Liberty. 

Reviews of OnBoard NYC Tours

Reviews for this company are very good, resulting in an overall 4 ½ star rating on TripAdvisor and Viator (read the reviews)

Some went so far as to indicate that they visited locations you wouldn’t typically see on a tour of New York City. 




The Ride is Broadway on a bus! A totally unique experience that, according to their website is “equal parts theatrical show and immersive tour.”



It’s designed to be fun and entertaining, with street performers scattered throughout the tour route.  

The information about the city is rather limited and the route is confined to the area around Times Square, so guests looking for a comprehensive city tour should take a look at “The Tour” or look elsewhere.

Reviews of The Ride

This service has received an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide (read the reviews). Most guests enjoyed their experience on The Ride, but some have said that the quality of this tour has decreased over time.

It would appear that this trip does not appeal to all audiences, but it’s worth noting that hundreds of customers have left positive feedback about their adventures. If you’re looking for something a bit different, many passengers have suggested that this is one of the most original and unique bus tours in New York!

  • Price: $69 per person
  • Duration: 75 minutes
  • Free cancellation up to 24 hours before tour time.
  • Purchase tickets here.

TIP: The Ride is free for those who purchase the New York Pass or the Explorer Pass.

Read our post on NYC tourist discount passes


This fun and educational trip actually comes from the company that brought you The Ride.

The Tour is less about the performance (there are no singers or dancers along the route) than it is about the city itself. 

Clocking in at 15 minutes longer than The Ride, this service is more affordable and it covers a slightly larger area.

TIP: Both the RIDE and the TOUR are free for those who purchase the New York Pass or the Explorer Pass.

Reviews of The Tour

Much like the other services from this company, The Tour has an overall 4 out of 5-stars rating on TripAdvisor. There are a few negative comments, but the overwhelming majority of their ratings are positive.

Some passengers suggest that this is a great option for anyone who might be short on time, while others say it’s the best tour they’ve ever taken.

Several of the negative reviews indicate that they were expecting the same experience that is offered on The Ride, but that simply isn’t the case. Please make sure to select the right bus tour from this company in order to avoid any confusion.

Free for those who purchase the New York Pass or the Explorer Pass.


If you’re a major movie buff, then this is the tour for you! On Location Tours specialize in showing guests where all their favorite movies and TV shows were filmed.



Some of their most popular tours include:

  • NYC TV & Movie Tour
  • Sex and the City Hotspots Tour
  • Gossip Girl Sites Tour
  • Sopranos Sites Tour
  • TCM Classic Film Tour
  • When Harry Met Seinfeld Tour
  • The Real Housewives of New York City Tour
  • and the Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour.

Guides also pepper the tours with history about the different neighborhoods you drive through.

Reviews of On Location NYC Tours

With a 4 ½ out of 5-star rating and over 1,500 positive reviews on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide, it’s safe to say that On Location Tours has impressed a lot of customers.

That being said, about 10% of their reviews are from unhappy passengers, who complain that the tour wasn’t as long as they were promised, while others simply found it uninteresting.

Although these comments may be troubling, it’s worth remembering that there are ten times as many people who absolutely loved their experience with this company.

Several guests recommend this tour for film buffs of all ages, stating that it is both informative and fun for movie lovers.

  • Cost: Varies with tours, but most are between $25-$50.
  • Duration: Tour times vary, but most run between 2-4 hours
  • Visit their website at www.onlocationtours.com.


Whether you are looking to bust a move or bust a rhyme, Hush Hip Hop Tours have the perfect tour for fans of the genre.

They claim to be the only hip-hop tour company in the world with pioneers of hip-hop, DJs, and professional break-dancers leading its tours.



As you travel from one location to the next, some of the people who helped make the movement possible will explain how this art form was born in the streets of NYC.

Their tours will take you to Harlem, the Bronx, and Brooklyn.

Reviews of Hush Hip Hop Tours

This may be one of the highest rated experiences on the list, as Hush Hip Hop Tours have earned an overall 5 out of 5-stars rating from most 

An overwhelming majority of customers have reported that their trip around New York was not only memorable but historically accurate as well.

Some have even said that this tour is great for all audiences, suggesting that you need not be a fan of hip hop to learn a lot about the city while on your trip.

There are only a handful of negative comments, and few of them seem to have anything in common which would suggest any major issues with their service.

TIP: Hush tours are also available for free with The Sightseeing Pass.

NOTE: This bus tour is currently being offered as a walking tour in response to Covid-19. There is no information about when they will offer the bus tour version again.


Scott’s Pizza Tours are the premier pizza tours of New York City.  

Scott’s offerings are primarily walking tours. However, on Sundays, Scott offers a pizza bus tour that reaches the outer boroughs of NYC.  

Reviews of Scott’s Pizza Tours

Everyone loves pizza, and according to reviewers on TripAdvisor, learning about the dish can be pretty fun. An overwhelming majority of the reviews for their bus tour are positive.

This tour apparently takes place on a yellow school bus, so it might not be the most comfortable seating you’ll ever experience.

That being said, almost everyone who has experienced the trip has had an absolute blast. Positive reviews suggest that the entire journey is entertaining, and you’ll even have the opportunity to eat a few slices!

Scott also offers pizza walking tours, including:

  • Greenwich Village Pizza Walk
  • Crosstown Pizza Walk
  • Lower East Side Pizza Walk
  • Brooklyn Pizza Walk

NOTE: This bus tour will be returning to service on July 11th, 2021.


Fans of Seinfeld will definitely want to consider taking this tour. According to Larry David, Kenny Kramer was the actual person who inspired the hilarious character of Cosmo Kramer.

Believe it or not, Kenny still lives in New York and he provides a fabulous tour of the city to give fans a better idea of what life was like for the people that inspired the characters in everyone’s favorite show about nothing.

Visit a lot of the locations you’ve seen in the series and hear about the creation of this concept from Kramer himself!

With the exception of just one negative review, every rating on TripAdvisor is positive. 

Some fans report waiting years to take a tour with Kenny only to have their expectations exceeded in the end. According to many reviewers, this might be one of the more entertaining bus tours in the city, and it’s perfect for any fan of Seinfeld.

  • Cost: $37.50 (plus $2 service charge)
  • Available Saturdays at 12 PM
  • Duration: 2-3 hours

NOTE: As of June 2021, this tour is not currently running. They will likely bring it back shortly after the vaccine rollout is complete and effective.

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If all of the above sounds out of your price range, then you could always take advantage of the public bus system and tour around the city on your own!

The New York Times published a great article a few years back about the best bus lines and routes to see all the major sites in the city.  

For under $10, the public bus system offers visitors a great way to explore the city on their own for a minimal cost.  

Don’t forget that you can also take our free walking tours in combination with this option.

Another option is to download our audio tour app and use it for the neighborhoods that take the bus or subway to get to.


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If you are interested in taking both a boat and bus tour while visiting New York, it’s often cheapest to purchase those two tickets as part of a combo deal.

Many companies offer a variety of combinations, including helicopter tours and museums tickets as well.  

Child prices are even less, but they vary. Click the company links for more details.  

Be sure to also read our post comparing the various tourist discount passes, such as the New York Pass, CityPass and the Explorer Pass, which may be even a better fit for you. 

All passes include some form of bus tour.


In addition to their hop-on hop-off bus tours, this company also offers a variety of additional activities you can combine with their tours to save money.

These combo packages include tickets to some of the most popular attractions in New York City, so there’s a pretty good chance you’re already planning to see them anyways.

Classic Ticket + Empire State Building

Classic Ticket + Madame Tussauds

Classic Ticket + Circle Line Liberty Cruise

Classic Ticket + Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

Downtown Loop + Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

Classic Ticket + Empire State Building + Liberty Cruise

Classic Ticket + 9/11 Memorial Museum

Classic Ticket + Empire State Building + Statue of Liberty

Some of these deals are better than others, and in the case of packages which include the Statue of Liberty or 9/11 Memorial Museum, we recommend reading more about these to find out if you can get tickets for even cheaper another way.

It’s also worth noting that most of these attractions are also included alongside the Big Bus tours with the New York Pass, the New York Sightseeing Pass or the Explorer Pass.


City Sights also offers a number of different combo packages at a discounted rate. Use the coupon code SAVE10 to get an extra 10% off each package.

Big Bus Classic Tour + 1 Attraction

  • 24-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
  • Both Downtown and Uptown Loops
  • Admission to one of the following attractions or activities:
    • Empire State Building
    • Top of the Rock
    • Intrepid, Sea, Air, and Space Museum
    • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    • Madame Tussauds
    • Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
    • 9/11 Tribute Museum
    • New York Historical Society
    • Museum of the City of New York
    • The Cloisters Museum
    • Central Park Sightseeing Guided Bike Tour
    • Central Park Sightseeing Walking Tour
    • MoMA
  • $75/Adults | $65/Children
  • Purchase this combo deal.

Big Bus Classic Tour + 3 Attractions

  • 24-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
  • Both Downtown and Uptown Loops
  • Admission to one of the following attractions or activities:
    • Empire State Building
    • Top of the Rock
    • Intrepid, Sea, Air, and Space Museum
    • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    • Madame Tussauds
    • Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
    • 9/11 Tribute Museum
    • New York Historical Society
    • Museum of the City of New York
    • The Cloisters Museum
    • Central Park Sightseeing Guided Bike Tour
    • Central Park Sightseeing Walking Tour
    • MoMA
  • $129/Adults | $119/Children
  • Purchase this combo deal.

The Sightseeing Pass

  • NYC Bus Tour for 1-10 days
  • One World Observatory
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • Night Bus Tour
  • Admission to 90+ Attractions such as:
    • Madame Tussauds
    • American Museum of Natural History
    • Metropolitan Museum of Art
    • Guggenheim Museum
    • Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
    • On Location Tours – When Harry Met Seinfeld
    • Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
    • The RIDE
  • Prices from $129/Adults | $89/Children

New York Tour Shuttle

This bus tour is perfect for those who only have a limited amount of time in New York.

Over the course of 9 hours, you’ll see several different landmarks and enjoy access to sites such as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

Additionally, you’ll also make a special stop in Little Italy for lunch.

Needless to say, this is a fairly comprehensive day trip which covers most of the bases in NYC.

Tickets are a bit expensive, but ratings indicate that the service may be worth its higher price tag.

  • Ticket Prices: $99 per person
  • Duration: 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Availability: Thursday – Monday at 9:00 AM
  • Click Here to get your tickets
  • Attractions/Activities Included:
    • Statue of Liberty (w/ access to the Pedestal)
    • Wall Street Walking Tour
    • St. Patrick’s Cathedral
    • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
    • Little Italy

Reviews for this service are quite good, as a majority of customers have given the trip a 5-star rating.

Several visitors mentioned their tour guides by name, indicating that they were very friendly and provided a lot of useful information about the city.

Although they enjoyed the experience, some reviewers felt it important to note that you will need a lot of stamina for this all day outing..

If you are interested in day trips such as this, consider checking out our comparison of NYC in a day tours


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Many of the companies listed above also offer evening bus tours. The New York skyline is breathtaking when illuminated after dark, and a bus tour is a great way to see many different areas of the city in a short amount of time.

Night tours do not typically operate as hop-on-hop-off tours, even though many are operated by hop-on-hop-off companies in double-decker buses.

There are also small group shuttle bus night tours.  

NOTE: many of these night tours are included in the multiple-day tickets offered by each company.


In addition to their highly-rated daily tour, this company also provides one of the longest and most detailed night tours in New York.

Clocking in at 4 ½ hours in length, the NYC Night Bus Tour will take you past some of the most popular destinations in the entire city, including locations such as Times Square, Chelsea Market, Chinatown, and Greenwich Village.

This excursion also includes at least one short walking tour. Discover how New York City changes when the sun goes down! Available Daily from 5:30 PM – 10 PM.


Every single review for this particular night tour is 5 stars. Most guests report that this company is very professional and reliable, describing their tour guides as entertaining and knowledgeable


Big Bus offers nightly bus tours that depart between 7-9 pm every 15-20 minutes from Times Square (6 pm – 8 pm in winter months).

Sites include Radio City Music Hall, 5th Avenue, the Empire State Building, the Manhattan Bridge, and the Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn waterfront.

You can view their night tour route map (yellow).  

  • Price: $49/Adults | $39/Children
  • Duration: 2 hours.
  • Included in the price of all multi-day Big Bus tickets.
  • It is not included in the New York Pass.

NOTE: As of June 2021, this tour is not currently being offered. They will likely return to service shortly after the vaccine rollout is complete and effective.

New York Travel Tips and Hacks

About the author

Stephen es el CEO de Free Tours by Foot y ha supervisado la transformación de una compañía local de paseos a pie en una comunidad global de excursiones y una plataforma de consejos para viajeros. Ha dirigido personalmente miles de excursiones en grupos en los EE.UU. y Europa, y es un experto en la planificación de viajes y visitas turísticas, con un enfoque en el presupuesto de los viajeros.

Stephen ha sido publicado y presentado en docenas de publicaciones, incluyendo The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, y más