On my recent trip to Dublin (trip report still coming!) I thought I'd do a little DE 'research'. This was my fourth trip to Ireland and Dublin and I had not yet experienced either of the Hop On Hop Off bus tours. I decided to check one out, while using it for transportation to sites that I already knew I wanted to (re)visit. So I bought a ticket in advance online from the Dublin Bus version (green bus rather than the red bus which is put on by City Sightseeing) for €12.80 rather than the normal €16. So here are my thoughts…
I don’t think that this has shown up yet on the forums and it's not on their websites either, but about 2 months ago both HOHO tours dropped the 24 hour ticket. They’re now for 2 consecutive days. SO you can get most value for money by starting earlier on the first day of your ticket. Same price as before. I suspect it was just too difficult to manage tickets expiring at all different hours of the day. So easier and better for all.
I rode the tour circuit one time over the course of one day getting off for visits to the National Library, the National Museum of Ireland - Natural History, Royal Hibernian Academy, Marsh's Library, Kilmainham Hospital (Irish Museum of Modern Art), Ryan's Victorian Pub and the Hugh Lane Gallery.
The live commentary buses (2 out of 3 buses) were informative all the way around the circuit. Lots of details, history and helpful tourist info. I did not take a multilingual bus which is accomplished with headsets and prerecorded commentary. Note that all buses are clearly marked so you know which you’re in for. I chose to skip any multilingual bus and wait for the next live commentary one.
Buses are fairly frequent, coming around to each stop approximately every 10 minutes. The multilingual buses are every 30 minutes and the live commentary ones are the remainder. At each bus stop is a sign with the expected times for buses and which type it will be. So it’s helpful when you get off the bus to check the schedule and note approximately when to return and hop back on, especially if wishing to avoid the multilingual buses. (Note that these are approximations, so allow a little time cushion.) BTW I wondered how they maintained the basic on time schedule throughout the day. After completing a circuit (stops 1 through 23), the bus returns to stop 1. Then all riders are asked to get off and reboard on the waiting bus in front of you at stop 1 that will then begin at its appointed time. SO each bus starts its circuit on time.
Overall this was an effective way to get around, epecially for my two places that were further out, Kilmainham Hospital and Ryan's Victorian Pub.
THE NOT SO GOOD NEWS (there's no real bad news)
The HOHO bus CAN be a great way of getting oriented to the city. It can also serve as transportation from site to site. BUT it may not be the best choice. I didn’t learn anything that I had not already learned on my own and on previous trips. The bus commentary, while informative, is fairly dry and matter of fact. Not particularly ‘fun’. The amount of commentary varies by driver. Also, the tour only goes in one direction. It takes 1½ hours to make a complete circuit. If you decide to ride around it once for orientation and then see sites, you’re committing 3 hours more or less to the bus ride and half of that time will be a repeat. Plus, you’ll need to allow time for waiting for the bus. The time investment is less of an issue now that it’s a 2 day ticket, though. Be aware that many of the sites are in easy walking distance of each other and it can actually be far faster to just take the walk. And if you want to go backwards on the tour route, you’ll definitely want to walk. Some sites that are further out, though, benefit from the transportation (although you can do it a lot cheaper and quite easily either on regular Dublin Bus service or the LUAS Tram, depending on your destination).
Personally, I would not take the tour again and could certainly have done without it. (I mainly did it to have an opinion here on TA…how sad is that? LOL)
So who do I recommend the HOHO bus for?
- If you’re looking for an orientation to the city, and aren’t one to read up and do some research on your own, this is as good a way as any.
- If you want/need transportation to some of the farther sites such as Kilmainham Gaol, etc., the HOHO can be a helpful choice (but remember that there are other, far cheaper alternatives).
- If you have limited time in Dublin, this can be a quick, effective way to see the sights.
Regardless of your reason, I would highly suggest at least tentatively planning your stops in advance to make best use of the time (which is what I did), rather than riding around once and then repeating...unless of course, that's what you WANT to do!
I would not particularly recommend this tour if you’re willing to do some reading, planning and research yourself, if you’re comfortable with using local public transport for the farther sights and/or if you’ll be in Dublin for a few days, rather than just a quick 1 or 2 days.
And since I recommend more than just 1 or 2 days in Dublin, the bottom line is that ultimately I suppose I don’t recommend this tour! But it might be just right for you, though! Hope that this helps you decide.
http://www.dublinsightseeing.ie/cityTour.aspx (for the green Dublin Bus HOHO tour, which I took)
www.city-sightseeing.com/index.phtml… (for the red City Sightseeing HOHO stour)