I'm going to Rome in late January, so walking may sometimes be difficult/wet/etc. Can anyone direct me to information about the on/off tour buses? And have you found them to be reliable? Any experience info would be welcomed. Thanks.
We went to Rome the beginning of Feb. and the weather was actually quite nice, almost unbutton your coat kind of weather in the afternoon. We had thought about the hop on, hop off bus, but decided on the all day train tickets instead. We found we got to places much quicker and did not have to wait so long, as the buses only come around every 30 min. I believe. The metro also does not get stuck in traffic jams, which also saves time and the metro went to all the tourist attractions too.
City bus #110 from the Termini station leaves every 20 minutes. Ticket is good for 24 hours. It covers over 80 sightseeing destinations with an audio guide. Great overview of the city highlights.
We used a hop on/off bus in Rome based on a recommendation from our hotel, and our experience was terrible. The wait times were advertised as 15 minutes max... in reality, we waited 1.5 hours at our first stop near our hotel, then 1 hour at the Colosseum which was our second stop. We didn't want to "hop off" anymore because we were afraid the bus wouldn't come back for us! We paid for a 2 day pass, but ended up using it for one day only. We planned on using it the next day for the Vatican, but we had a scheduled tour in the morning and did not trust the bus to get us there in time. We took a cab instead.
If you can find a good company, I think it would be totally worth it. Unfortunately, the bus that our hotel recommended for us was not reliable.
I also like the hop on hop off buses in Rome.It gives you a overall view of the city and even in a traffic jam there are things to see on every corner.
The Hop On, Hop Off busses are great. Reasonable priced and a lot to see. Just make sure you find out what time their last stop is and where. The first we took it the last stop ended up to be St. Peter's and our hotel was near Termini. We had to take a cab back to the hotel.
I often use the Hop On / Hop Off Bus tours, and find these a good way to familiarize myself with the general layout of a city and locations of major attractions. They also provide a good way to rest my aching back or feet if necessary.
Rick's books have all the details about Bus tours in each city. There is often more than one firm providing these, and some have a "live" Guide while others (usually the Red Buses) have a recorded audio guide in various languages.
However, as Lois mentioned be sure to check verify the end times on each route, so that you don't get stranded in a distant part of the city. It's a good idea to pack a city Map in your Daypack so that you'll be able to navigate back to your Hotel if necessary.
Sherry, I like to take a bus tour when I arrive in a new city to get oriented. I find it helps me recognize the landmarks and get a feel for the layout of a city. I've done them in Rome, Paris, Munich, New York, etc. and have always found them worthwhile.
However I get the sense that you're planning on using the on/off feature. Can't say I'd recommend that. From what I've seen, at some stops there are so many people waiting that they can't accommodate everyone and people have to wait 20-30 minutes more for the next bus. My suggestion would be to use the metro in Paris or the public transit to get around if you don't want to hoof it. And of course wear your money belt to avoid the chance of a pickpocket ruining your day.
While I generally like the HOHO buses, I did find that in Rome, many of the sights Are in pedestrian areas. The bus then becomes a tool to get you close, rather than see the sights. I think you will find Rome easily walkable, even in wet weather, with a bonus if you figure out the Metro and a few choice buses.
Hop on hop off buses are great. I always use them when I first arrive in any city to get acclimated. I highly recommed them.