I used to travel a lot for work and one of the best pieces of advice I got from a co-worker was to take advantage of the local tour buses. She encouraged me to play tourist for a few hours and take advantage of what is available. No matter where we were she would hop on a sight seeing bus and tour the city. Her rationale was that she could see a lot of the city in a short time and she could see what locations or venues she might want to go back and visit.
After getting over my feelings that tour buses were for tourists I came to see that she was right. They are a great way to get a first hand tour of the city, especially if you are short on time, and pick up some interesting facts along the way.
She also suggested that sitting up front by the driver or by the person giving the tour was also a good idea. You can engage them when they weren’t speaking to everyone else and ask questions.
On a recent trip to Boston I tried out the Duck Boats – they do tours on land and in the water. Our guide was a lot of fun and provided significant amounts of background info on the city. It was also fun to see the city from a different point of view namely the middle of the Charles River.
Most tours include a ticket that is good for a certain time period, sometimes more than one day, and allows for hopping on and off. Always make sure you know when the last bus passes so that you don’t end up having to make your way back to the hotel under your own steam. Some cities have more than one tour company so doing a little pre-visit work can ensure that you find the right one for you or ask at your hotel for one they recommend.