Whilst in the Rome, I experienced something I’ve never done before, and that was to take a ‘hop on, hop off’ city bus. You know the kind – double-decker, open topped buses full of people wearing ear plugs with cameras at the ready….and yes, I know I’m all about ‘getting lost’ and ‘not having a real set agenda’ on my travels, but there are times when you’ve not got a huge amount of time to spare and there are sights that you ‘must-see’ – it would be tragic if you returned home from Rome and someone asked ‘did you see The Colosseum”’ and you replied ‘no’ – I think I’d actually cry if someone told me that!
So, when I was offered the chance to hop on one of the Big Bus Tour of Rome, I thought ‘why not’…. And, it opened my eyes up to an alternative way of seeing the city from a different perspective.
Unperturbed by the rain and a little chill in the air, I joined a handful of other Big Bus visitors and climbed up to the top deck. Heading off on the bus, listening to the commentary and passing by sights like The Colosseum, Villa Borghese, the Aventine Hill, Roman Forum, and The Vatican made me think how spectacular Rome is. Imagine you’ve been around for over 2000 years, and people still come from all over the globe to see and take your photo…it’s what happens to the Pyramids of Giza and The Great Wall of China. Rome has its fair share of modern and trendy shops, bars and cafes, but there are few cities in the world where the sense of history, world changing events, spectacles and political intrigue is so indisputable that your imagination is naturally intrigued. I stopped to take time to listen to the bus commentary – which was really interesting – and I’m not just saying that. The speaker mentioned the ‘passeggiata’ as being a Via del Corso tradition, and that made me smile.
Here’s a few reasons why I think a Big Bus Tour is worth while…
It’s a great way to see the city in a short space of time, especially if you’re only in a city for a couple of days – plus by purchasing a 24-hour ticket, you’re saving on public transport costs and seeing the city from above ground – rather than being stuck on a public local bus or stuck underground).
Even though I’d seen the main sights on foot, it was great to see the city from a higher vantage point. The staff on board were also friendly and helpful, offering discounts at other attractions and advice. Also, something I’d totally forgotten until I was reminded on board was that it was the last Sunday of the month, and on this day Rome offers visitors the chance to enter any museum free! Amazing right….as you can imagine, queues are ridiculously long, so ‘note to self for next time or if you’re reading this and planning a trip over the last Sunday’: remember to set an alarm and get up super early…and be prepared for the queues. But, it’s good to know and totally worth it.
As tickets are purchased on a 24 or 48-hour basis, you can choose to either do a complete loop, and then return to a place that takes your fancy, or you can just hop on and off whenever you feel like it. Also, the Big Bus offers various different routes and depending on the ticket you purchase. For example, on a 2-day ticket, you can do one route day one and another route seeing different sights on day 2.
Navigating your way around a new city can be stressful. Not everyone is confident using the local metro/bus – or able to walk long distances – or wanting to use up valuable data with online maps or phone battery. Hopping on and off a Big Bus Tour leaves the driving to someone else while you learn a little of the history, see the sights and get to sit back and relax.