The 6 Best New York City Bus Tours

Let a trained driver worry about the traffic while you enjoy the Big Apple's best sights.

By Holly Johnson, ContributorMay 24, 2019
By Holly Johnson, ContributorMay 24, 2019, at 2:53 p.m.
U.S. News & World Report

The 6 Best New York City Bus Tours

Best New York City Bus Tours

The Ride offers tourists a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience through the city.(Courtesy of The Ride)

As one of the largest cities in the world, New York City has so much to see and do. That's why many visitors start their trip off with a bus tour to see iconic sights and neighborhoods and get the lay of the land. To help you find the tour that's best for you, U.S. News reviewed traveler sentiment and expert input to determine the six top bus tours in New York. Read our suggestions below for some of the top bus tours you can book for your next trip to the City That Never Sleeps.

The Ride

This dynamic company offers a bus ride that boasts its own onboard theater. Comedic hosts keep you entertained during the 75-minute ride through midtown Manhattan and Times Square while ballet dancers, rappers, hip-hop artists and other entertainers bring the city streets to life right in front of your eyes. Buses feature large windows along one side of the bus and stadium-style seating. Reviewers call the ride amazing and entertaining. Tickets start at $69; you can book the first row for around $80, though prices may vary by season. Rides depart at several times daily. The company also offers a multimedia sightseeing tour and a downtown tour that incorporates virtual reality, among other options.

Big Bus Tours

Big Bus New York features a hop-on, hop-off tour that features more than 30 stops at major attractions like Bryant Park, Broadway and the Frick Collection, with live commentary provided along the way. Buses frequent stops every 15 to 20 minutes. The Classic Ticket, which is valid for one day, grants you access to the 90-minute uptown and downtown routes and lets you add on extras like tickets for Madame Tussauds, the Empire State Building or a harbor cruise. You can also book a two-day pass that includes tours of Brooklyn and Harlem, among other extras. Big Bus New York is a hit with travelers who appreciate the ability to tailor the tour to their interests. One-day passes start at $49.50 per adult if you buy online, but you can purchase them on the street for approximately $55.

On Location Tours – "Sex and the City" Hotspots Tour

Fans of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda can relive all their favorite "Sex and the City" moments during this New York bus tour, which features more than 40 popular locations from the show and movies. During the 3 1/2-hour tour, you'll view iconic filming locations, such as the restaurant where Carrie and Big's rehearsal dinner was held, the bar owned by Steve and Aidan, and the cafe where Samantha invited the other women to Abu Dhabi. You'll also walk past Carrie's brownstone, Charlotte's gym and many New York spots that helped make this show one-of-a-kind. Reviewers peg this tour as worth experiencing, fun and fabulous. Tickets start at $56, but you can pay another $10 for priority boarding. Tours generally depart daily at 11 a.m. with an additional tour on Saturdays at 3 p.m. On Location Tours gives other entertainment-based tours, such as a TCM Classic Film Tour and a superhero-themed tour.

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours

This hop-on, hop-off tour makes it easy to see New York's finest monuments and neighborhoods in a convenient, cost-effective way. The downtown loop, which runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., services each stop every half-hour. Stops include Times Square, the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center, among others. Travelers enjoy the ease by which this tour lets them see the city, but complain about wait times, poor audio during the onboard commentary and inconsistent customer service. Still, reviewers recommend the tour if you don't want to see the city's top sights without navigating traffic or public transportation. A basic 24-hour ticket for the downtown tour route costs approximately $35 per person. Several other ticket options, including two- and three-day combo packages, as well as a hop-on, hop-off cruise, are available.

A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours – The Best of Brooklyn Tour

Brooklyn has so much to see and do (and eat!), but it's hard to do it all in a day. A Slice of Brooklyn focuses specifically on Brooklyn and all it has to offer. The Best of Brooklyn tour, which reviewers describe as good clean fun and a great experience, lasts 4 1/2 hours and takes travelers throughout the borough to see famous sights like Prospect Park and Green-Wood Cemetery. You'll also see filming locations for movies like "The Godfather" and "As Good As It Gets." The tour includes lunch at Junior's on Flatbush Avenue. Tickets cost approximately $80 for adults and $70 for children ages 11 and younger. A Slice of Brooklyn also leads chocolate- and pizza-themed Brooklyn tours.

USA Guided Tours – Discover NY Tour

On this six-hour tour, you'll drive through some of the city's most famous neighborhoods and most-visited areas. In an air-conditioned bus, you'll enjoy expert commentary and a history lesson as you cruise past Times Square, Madison Square Park, Central Park, Rockefeller Center and more. A 15-minute stroll through each of the main stops is included, as is a boat cruise that takes you to see the famous NYC skyline (available April to December) or a tour of Grand Central Terminal (available January through March). Many travelers call this tour a must-do in New York and a fantastic day. Tours depart at 10 and 11 a.m. daily. Tickets start at $89 for adults and $79 for kids. USA Guided Tours also offers a night tour of the Big Apple.

Holly Johnson, Contributor

Holly Johnson writes about travel, credit cards, personal finance and frugality for a wide ...  Read more

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