View from up top – why tour buses are worth doing

We see those red open-top buses going round Sydney city all the time. Every time I see one, I wonder who on earth would want to go on one of those things?

Mr and Mrs Romance - Paris bus tour

Well, I used to think that until I actually went on one. On our recent trip to Europe, we had a few days in Paris. We’ve been to this beautiful city a few times before, but this was the first time we’d seen Paris from so high up – and from the road.

Paris is an incredible walking city, and you can spend hours and days just wandering around its streets. But being driven from the Champs Élysées to the Eiffel Tower then all the way back across town to Notre Dame – it’s a much better way of doing things.

les cars rouges map

It’s more relaxing for one thing. Also you’re right up high so you get some very different views of the city. There’s also a running commentary on the history and architecture of the city if you want to use the headsets. I mean it’s not the Chicago architectural and historical river cruise, but it’s pretty good.

Mr and Mrs Romance - Paris tour by bus

I think it’s a great way to experience a city – especially if you’re only there a few days. You can ride as much as you like and – as the name suggests – you can hop on and hop back off whenever you want to see something a bit closer up.

There are tours like this all over the world, Sydney, London, Colchester… Apparently the Barcelona one is really great. One year we drove to the beautiful city of Bath in south west England. We didn’t know where to go so we followed one of these open-top buses around, ticking off the points of interest on back of the bus as we went.

In the end it went down a bus lane and we had to stop shadowing it, but the route the bus took gave us a good idea of the city’s geography and its main points of interest.

I’m half inclined to jump on the Sydney Explorer and see what I can learn about my hometown! I’m sure I’ll be surprised.

Mr and Mrs Romance - See Paris by bus

Our trip on Les Cars Rouges hop-on hop-off tour was hosted by Creative Holidays. Check out their website for more information.

Have you ever gone on an open top bus tour?

Images by Mr and Mrs Romance. Map courtesy of Les Cars Rouges.


  • Reply November 7, 2013


    During the first week of our honeymoon, we did a 2 day hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Paris. It was fantastic! Not only did we get to see all the major sights, but it also helped us get our bearings around the city. We also did it in Rome and enjoyed it thoroughly. I’d recommend them to anyone!

    • Reply November 7, 2013

      Mr Romance

      Hi Sonia. Glad you agree! Yes, it helped us understand Paris (and Bath) much better too. I reckon the Rome one would be really handy. So much to see, and crossing streets in Rome is… an adventure!
      Cheers – Jim

  • Reply November 8, 2013


    I’ve never done one of these before. Thinking of doing one in NYC, but the thought of being exposed to the elements in winter is a bit of a turn off. The experience just won’t be the same if you’re not on that open rooftop! What do you guys think, go for it or not?
    Daisy xo

    • Reply November 8, 2013

      Mr Romance

      Hi Daisy. Good question. Mrs Romance said ‘no’ outright, but she’s a bit of a wimp when it comes to the cold. I had a quick look on Trip Advisor and there are very mixed reviews about the NYC hop-on hop-off bus. It’s run by Grayline, which is an okay bus company. Seems there are actual guides on the buses, and that can be a bit hit and miss with regards to the each person’s knowledge. The Paris one is an automated recording.
      The top deck of the buses will be open during winter, but they’re covered with a fabric tarpaulin and plastic screens. One review said the ‘windows’ were quite scratched and the downstairs windows had a tint on them.
      If I were you, I’d leave it till you’re back in the summer (of course you’ll be back – NYC is awesome!) and get a weekly subway pass this time. The subway’s pretty comprehensive – otherwise taxis are pretty cheap and everywhere.
      We’ll be posting a first-timer’s guide to NYC next Wednesday (fingers crossed) so keep an eye out for that. Hope this makes sense – and sorry if it’s a bit long-winded! Simply put: don’t do it in the winter, but definitely a good idea for when it’s warmer. 🙂 Jim

      • Reply November 12, 2013


        Thanks for that Jim (and Mrs Romance!). I too am a massive wimp when it comes to the cold, so I think we’ll give the bus a miss!

        Can’t wait for your first-timer’s guide to NYC!

        Daisy xo

  • Reply November 12, 2013


    Great post. Like you, I’d never done a Hop On Hop Off bus tour until my most recent trip to Europe. My hubby and I were travelling with my parents and we thought it would be a good way to see a lot of London in a day as we only had a short amount of time to spend there. We all loved it – and ended up taking the HOHO (as we started to call it) in lots of places – Bath, Llandudno, York, Stratford-Upon-Avon and Paris. I guess you could say I’m now a convert! Although I really enjoy walking around a city to really discover it, the Hop On Hop Off bus is a great way to get your bearings and check out things that you might like to return to later. I imagine there will be HOHO rides for me in other cities in the future 🙂

    • Reply November 12, 2013

      Mr Romance

      Thanks Carolyn – sounds like you’re a real ‘HOHO’ aficionado (love the name btw)! Totally agree – they’re not the only way you should see a city, but they’re an excellent way to get your bearings or to see the most important parts of a place if you’re in a hurry and don’t want to miss anything. Thanks for stopping by! Jim

  • Reply November 14, 2013

    Take Me to Paris: Part 1

    […] Discovering all the major sights in Paris is so easy if you do what we did: a 2 day hop-on-hop-off bus tour. In fact, it’s such a good idea that the super cool duo, Mr and Mrs Romance reviewed this very same tour on their website. […]

  • […] spotted the bridge from the top of the open top bus tour we were on and as we returned on the other side of the Seine, I suggested we hop off and take a […]

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