First and foremost, I want to say I’m sorry for not posting since Sunday. The first week back from a month off work is a bit crazy! Excuses and apologies aside, let’s get down to business!
While making our way through Italy, we decided that try out some sightseeing buses. Out of the many bus tour companies we saw, we tried two: City Sightseeing and Trambus Open. Both are open top buses that take you to the popular tourist attractions throughout the city. Each had its pros and cons, one more than the other, and the clear winner in my book was City Sightseeing. Why? Read on to find out.
We paid €20 for a 24-hour bus pass in Palermo. This took us around the city of Palermo and up to the city of Monreale. If you just wanted to tour the city of Palermo, it was only €15. The staff was very friendly and answered all our questions. It was our first experience with a sightseeing bus, and first city we visited on the trip, so we weren’t sure what to expect.
Once we purchase our tickets, we were handed a set of ear phones. All buses are equipped with headphone jacks that allow you to listen to a prerecorded tour. It follows the route you take and mentions specific buildings and notable historic sites. Added bonus: The tour is given in a number of languages. You just have to find the appropriate channel.
This company is known as the “Hop-on and Hop-off bus” as well. The recorded tour clearly states what attractions are at each stop so you know when to hop off and explore by foot. To get back on you just have to find a clearly marked bus stop and wait for the next bus to come by. The longest we had to wait was about 10 to 15 minutes.
We ended up wanting to take a tour bus around Rome to understand where everything was located. We found the City Sightseeing stop and were going to wait, but the Trambus Open bus pulled up first. The price was €25 for a 48-hour ticket. We thought this sounded like a great deal, so we decided to switch teams and try Trambus.
Just like City Sightseeing, we received a set of headphones and there’s a prerecorded tour in multiple languages. Unfortunately, a lot of the headphone jacks were broken and it was hard to find a jack that worked. Without the tour, you feel like you’re just looking at a bunch of buildings. You don’t know which ones are important and for what reason. It’s key to know what you’re looking at in Rome. Ancient and Modern Rome live among one another. It’s an amazing city and this tour is supposed to help you understand why.
This bus claims you can hop on and off wherever you please, and you technically can. But the recording didn’t clearly state which stop you’re at and what sites are around to see. It kind of felt like a guessing game half the time. You also are forced to get off at the train station and wait for another bus to start the next tour. One time we were asked to get off the bus just to load back onto the same bus we just were told to get off. We also waited nearly 30 minutes for a bus to pick us up. Lastly and most important, the staff was not friendly or helpful.
So there you have it! If I had to recommend one company over the other, it’s clear that I would suggest you use City Sightseeing. Customer service was really the tie breaker here. Both offer the same service, but the people who staffed the buses truly made the difference. When push comes to shove, people who treat you well get the gold start of service, and my money, in my book.