Big Bus Tours was established in 2011 when the Big Bus Company of London merged with Les Cars Rouges of Paris to create one single company. In recent years, the Big Bus brand name has become synonymous with large, open-top, double-decker buses. In fact, as they provide sightseeing services in some 20 different locations spread out across 3 different continents, Big Bus proudly hails itself as the largest operator of open-top bus tours found anywhere in the world.
Popular Big Bus Tours
Big Bus Chicago is all about providing hop-on, hop-off tour services for visitors to the Windy City. Their tours are available in several different formats—one-day passes, two-day passes, and daily passes with add-ons like admission to the Chicago Architecture Center and Skydeck Chicago—but the basic premise across all their offerings is flexibility and access. For instance, their most popular tour (the Hop-On Hop-Off Classic Tour) stops at 14 different attractions, including such favorite sites as the Museum Campus, Willis Tower, John Hancock Building, Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, and much more. And, better yet, you get to choose when and where you actually get off the bus!
Though you’ll want to check availability and schedules for the particular timing of your tour, typically the first Big Bus Chicago departure of the day occurs from Stop #1 (the Chicago Riverwalk, corner of N. Michigan Ave. and E. Upper Wacker Dr.) at 10:00am, while the final departure from the same location takes place at 4:00pm. One handy way to keep track of your tour’s schedule and/or the real-time location of any Big Bus vehicle is by downloading the free Big Bus Tours app.
Hop-On Hop-Off Classic Tour: The Classic Tour is the flagship offering from Big Bus Chicago. With a ticket for Big Bus Chicago’s Classic Tour, you’ll be able to hop-on and hop-off anywhere you want along the tour’s 14 different stops. Tickets are good for one entire day. They usually run between $40 and $45 for adults, and anywhere from $20 to $25 for children between the ages of 5 and 15 years old.
Panoramic Night Tour: (NOTE: As of 4/3/19, this tour is not appearing as an actual tour option from Big Bus Chicago.)
Things to Know & Big Bus Insider Tips
- If you’re traveling as part of a group and/or family with small children, please keep in mind that all kids under the age of 5 years old can ride for free on any one of Big Bus Chicago’s tours.
- Every Big Bus Chicago bus features free Wi-Fi service for all guests, so even as you adventure around town you can stay in the loop.
- Big Bus Chicago has partnerships with a number of different local businesses and restaurants. As a result, being a Big Bus Chicago ticketholder entitles you to a variety of perks and discounts at these establishments—just make sure to ask your guide what the current and most up-to-date deals are.
- Your tour ticket does not include any sort of gratuity, so if during any of your Big Bus Chicago tour experiences you find yourself having an especially great time, feel free to tip your driver and/or guide.
Is Big Bus the Tour Company for You?
If you’re interested in seeing as much as you can see around town in a short period of time while maintaining a flexible schedule, then a tour with Big Bus Chicago is a good choice for you. The hop-on, hop-off feature of a Big Bus Chicago tour puts you in control—it lets you sort of design your own tour by picking where you want to actually get off the bus. The only real drawback with a Big Bus Chicago tour experience is that the one-day ticket option doesn’t leave you with a whole lot of time to spend at each individual attraction. Thus, if you want to spend multiple hours exploring a specific attraction, you’re better off looking elsewhere. However, if you want to make it all the way around the heart of downtown Chicago in a single day at an affordable price, you’ll be in good hands with Big Bus.