On Rick's advice we took the Redbus City tour. Stay away. It's awful. Really awful. This was one of those things that I thought would be fine and so I didn't check with Tripadvisor. Should have. It's cheap. Narration is out of sync. Tour is actually less than an hour. You can do better!
We also took the Red Bus tour from in front of the Mozart Cafe (which was lovely). We had some time to kill and our feet were sore so though we would jump on this bus. It was terrible! We zoomed around to badly narrated information and then stopped for 1/2 hour to "shop" in basically what was a side street with a few basement shops run by what appeared to be relatives of the bus driver. We had no interest in this stop and didn't want to get off the bus but were basically told to, so we sat on a bench and waited it out. Absolute junk and crap, then back on the bus to zip around and head back. A review from the RS group on this tour is needed ASAP, before others take it!
So far, it doesn't sound like this description is very far off. Is this a case where Rick should suggest to skip the narration?
"Red Bus City Tours’ convertible buses do a 1.5-hour loop, hitting the highlights of the city with a 20-minute shopping break in the middle. They cover the main first-district attractions as well as a big bus can, along with the entire Ringstrasse. But the most interesting part of the tour is outside the center--zipping through Prater Park, over the Danube for a glimpse of the city’s Danube Island playground, and into the “Donau City” skyscraper zone. If the weather’s good, the bus goes topless and offers great opportunities for photos. Tours start one block behind the Opera at the main TI--see the map on page xx for the location (€14 ticket from driver, €2 discount with this book if purchased from “office” in the souvenir shop at Operngasse 2--right by where the tour begins; pretty good recorded narration in any language, your own earbuds are better than the beat-up headphones they provide)."
Strong defense but I'm not sure the point of the reviews was understood.
Thanks for the heads-up, Linda. We are heading for Vienna in May. We've often done some kind of bus tour when starting off a visit to a new city. Now I'll know to avoid this one.
I have to say, this is more than a question of leaving the narration off and continuing the the bus tour. We finished our RS tour and then traveled on to Vienna with several people from the original tour, all of us now going independant of each other, yet it worked out that we went on the same train to Vienna. Arrangements were made to meet for dinner several days later, which we did and shared stories, etc of our days in Vienna. We all had a lovely time, used our fabulous RS Vienna book and talked about how crappy the Red Bus Tour was. From the dirty bus, the dirty ear phones, to the sullen bus driver and the bad shopping stop, it was a complete waste of time. I might add that possibly when under scrutinity from tour operators,they smarten up, but under regular circumstances ,they have failed miserably and should lose the Rick Steve's endorsement.
Just checked the reviews on Trip Advisor. Must be one of the worst tours around. Ranked #39 out of 47 tours in Vienna with some of the most consistent bad reviews I think I have ever seen for a tour and they go back several years? Why would RS even have this tour in his book, let alone recommend it? Don't the editors read tour reviews? I am sure they can't go on every tour that is listed, so using the review system on Trip Advisor would be a helpful way to at least sort out the good from the bad.
Thanks, Judy, for that additional detail. I'll pass it on to the book editors, who will consider whether they want to revise or delete the listing. FYI, the best way for readers to get comments directly to us is through this link: http://www.ricksteves.com/forms/guidebook-feedback-form.
P.S. These concerns have been forwarded to the tour company, as well.