Review: Sydney hop on hop off bus tour is a top way to see the sights

Get a ticket to ride to the Harbour City's tourist hot spots on this Sydney hop on hop off bus tour. With open air seating and clever commentary it's the savvy way to sightsee, and you can hop off and on at designated stops as often as you like. Review: Barry Johnson

Sydney hop on hop off bus tour

Sydney hop on hop off bus tour. Image: Barry Johnson

4.5 stars

Sydney hop on hop off bus tour with Big Bus Tours

This hop on hop off bus tour is a fabulous way to explore Sydney. You’ll get a superb view of many of the city’s key sights from the upper deck, and plenty of information from the on-board commentary. Visit the Opera House, Kings Cross, Darling Harbour, Chinatown, The Rocks, Bondi Beach and more. There are two routes to take, and 33 stops in total. Duration: 24/48 hours

As you make your way into Sydney’s CBD, its famed landmarks stretch across the city-scape.

As varied as they are, must-sees like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Tower, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and the Powerhouse Museum all have one thing in common. They’re all visited by the city’s double-decker hop on hop off tour buses, operated by Big Bus Tours. Passengers sit high above the crowds and cars, snapping perfect photos as their bus weaves its way through the city streets. What a way to travel!

With our tickets booked, we start planning. There are two tour routes to choose from — the city circuit and a loop out to Bondi Beach. While we can hop on for the first time at any of the 33 stops across the two routes, the interchange at historic Central Railway Station seems a handy spot.

Sydney hop on hop off bus tour

Sydney hop on hop off bus tour. Image: Barry Johnson

We settle in for the ride. At each stop the freedom to hop off is tempting, but it’s well worth doing the two 90-minute circuits in full to build a short-list of must-visits. The on-board commentary (provided in eight languages) gives us plenty of information on everything we see along the way, while the free WiFi makes additional fact-finding a breeze.

Once we’ve done both loops, we hop onto the Bondi tour for a better look at the fashions of Paddington and the flash mansions of Double Bay, and to wiggle our toes in the warm sand on Bondi Beach.

Sydney hop on hop off bus tour

Sydney hop on hop off bus tour: Harry’s Cafe de Wheels

Back on the city loop and Kings Cross turns up the volume with colourful neon signs and even more colourful characters lighting up its flamboyant streets.

It’s nearing lunch time, so we join the queue of people hopping off at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels for a classic pie with mash, gravy and peas. These tasty pastries are a hit with celebs too. Autographed photographs cover the walls of the famous Woolloomooloo pie stand.

Circling back towards the city, we pass the prestigious Art Gallery of New South Wales — where the winning portraits in the annual Archibald prize are on show, along with Brett Whiteley’s giant match sticks: one pristine with a red tip; the other a burnt ember.

Choice is something you have plenty of on this Sydney hop on hop off bus tour. From here we could hop off at The Star for a flutter or head next door to Darling Harbour to sip tea in the serene surroundings of the Chinese Garden of Friendship. An underwater journey of discovery beckons at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium.

Sydney hop on hop off bus tour

Sydney hop on hop off bus tour: Barangaroo Reserve

We complete the loop around Pyrmont and Darling Harbour and take a tip from the commentary to hop off at Barangaroo and do the walk along the harbour’s edge and under the famous Coathanger to Circular Quay. We pass a massive cruise ship as it sails into town, and we’re drawn to the giant white harbourside sails of the Sydney Opera House, which offers a packed calendar of music, dance and theatre.

Sydney hop on hop off bus tour

Sydney hop on hop off bus tour: Sydney Opera House

Hopping on for the last time, we ride the bus back to Central, wondering how we managed to pack so many highlights into such a short space of time. This Sydney hop on hop off bus tour will fast-track you to everything the city has to offer.

Additional images: Bigstock


Barry Johnson

About the writer

Barry Johnson is a freelance writer living in Sydney, but with a trail of Aussie souvenirs scattered throughout previous homes in Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East. Barry believes travelling is an adventure where the highlights push you on to the next trip and the lowlights can be laughed at with hindsight. Without a passport, he’d have missed getting lost in the Californian forest a week after the Blair Witch Project went viral, building a giant Buddha on a Cambodian mountain, camel racing in an Egyptian desert and teaching English to Peruvian children as they taught him Quechua, the language of the Incas.