Can you see the top sights of a city in one day? After six weeks touring eight countries and rarely being in the same place for more than a night or two, we have a few tips to share with you.
How to see a city in a day
Okay, it's true that when you visit a city, there is WAY too much to see to fit it all into one day. Still, it's better to get a taste of what a city has to offer and sample its most popular attractions.
For first-time visitors who want to get a quickie overview of a city's highlights, there are a few quick and easy ways to accomplish it. Which one you choose is mainly dependent on your budget and how much time you have.
- If you have only a few hours between flights, you can take a private layover tour (here's the list).
- Seven airports offer free tours (here's the article).
- If you have more time, take advantage of the city's hop on/hop off tour bus. It is an easy way to learn about its history, the “must-see” sights, and how to get to them.
The one-day city tour bus is usually an open-top, double-decker variety that goes on a set loop around the city.
- Passengers listen to a recording that shares history and interesting facts about the city through the provided earphones.
- When one of the attractions seems interesting, you hop off at the nearest stop to check it out. Afterward, you return to the stop and hop on the next bus.
That's how the hop on hop off bus got its name. People call it the HOHO for short.
Tip: Take your earphones with you when you get off the bus. Even better, bring your own earbuds. The ones they provide are uncomfortable.
Why take a bus tour?
- The bus goes to parts of the city you probably wouldn't have time to see on your own.
- The included narration gives you a good overview of the city's history in a short time.
- It helps you understand the layout of an unfamiliar city and better gauge distances as you plan the rest of your sightseeing.
- The route is intended for visitors, not locals, and stops are located near popular tourist locations.
- The stops are varied and appeal to a variety of interests.
Tip: Don't take a bus tour if the traffic is bad; you'll waste too much time. Pop into a hotel and ask the concierge if there's a tourist map.
One-day itineraries made easy
The tour company has already worked out the best way to see the most important parts of the city in the least amount of time. It saves a lot of time and effort by showing those sights that need little more than a drive-by (like Admiral Nelson's statue in Trafalgar Square). It also makes it more fun by taking you by others you may not have known about. The bus will stop at major locations so you can “hop off” to visit a site, then “hop on” another bus when you're ready to move on.
If you don't hop off, the entire route takes about 1.5 – 2 hours, traffic permitting.
These bus tours offer either a taped narration or a live guide. Buses with taped narration offer hookups with multilingual channels while live guides usually give the tour in English.
Tip: If you don't like the tour guide or sound system, take the first opportunity to hop off and wait for the next bus.
This article was featured on The Weekly Postcard.