York Bus Tour Review + Photos

There are two York bus tour options both with hop on and hop off features giving you a quick view and key information about York for tourists.We tried them both and wanted to share with you our personal experience of using them.

We used The Sightseeing Bus for day 1 and Golden Tours for day 2 of our York Pass and this is our review + photos + why one was so much better than the other.

York Bus Tour Review + Photos

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York Bus Tour

I have not been on a tourist bus tour since I was about 10 years old and visiting London with family. Yet here I am in York, excited that there are two different bus tours included in my York City Pass.

You have the bright red and very tourist looking Sightseeing Bus and then you have the navy blue Golden Tours bus.

Both of the York bus tours are included with the York Pass and we decided to do one on each day just to see how they compared.

Would both York bus tours be the same or would one be better than the other? And what would they both be like.

All we really knew ahead of time, is that they both had open top i.e. no roof, was double deckers (kids are going to be so happy), would take you around York and you could also hop on and hop off and therefore also use them as transport to get to your York attractions.

York Hop On Hop Off

If you are new to the idea of the hop on hop off bus service, let me explain how York’s (and other cities) run the tourist buses.

Basically, hop on and hop off means that you can go on the bus as many times as you want and have a 24 hour ticket.

Therefore, if you get a ticket at 1pm on your first day of your York pass, you can then use it until 12.59pm of your second day and keep hoping on and hoping off as you place. Basically turning your York bus tour into a regular bus service too.

York Sightseeing Bus Hack

Because you are paying for 24 hours instead of just a 1 day pass, you can start using it later in the day, then it can become a 2 day pass for you.

For example, get on the bus for the first time at 1.45pm and then the next day you have until this same time the next day to use it. Then you can do the full sightseeing tour on day 1, then use it as a hop on and hop off to get to your attractions for day 2.

Is York A Great City To Visit By Bus?

Yes, York is an amazing city to visit by bus and if you want to take in all the great information York has to offer, then the York city bus is a great way of doing so.

For example, with the red sightseeing bus the lady will talk you through all the main attractions and history of York as you are driven around and also included some things we didn’t know. Plus if you want that amazing picture of York Minster the top of the double decker bus is a great place to get it.

How Long Does York Bus Tour Take?

We were told that the York Sightseeing Bus takes 40 minutes, and we went on it to the full tour an hour before our next attraction (the cocoa works) and we ended up being late and it was 1 hour 10 minutes in total.

But of course, it is a hop on and hop off York service so you can leave at any time. BUT choose wisely when to get off as you don’t want to be getting off quite a walk from where you are going.

York Sightseeing Bus

sightseeing bus york
This is the York sightseeing bus. If you have been to York before, I am sure you have seen it driving around the city.

As you know, there are two sightseeing buses for York. The beautiful red one and the navy blue one. Let’s start with the red sightseeing bus which we did on day 1 of our York Pass experience.

There are various places throughout York city centre where you can hop on and get your ticket.

We got on the sightseeing bus at Clifford Tower, though I know many people prefer the memorial gardens or the museum gardens as the best places to hop on.

Then once on (we went on the top deck of course) you have a lovely lady with a microphone, talking to you about York and all its beautiful history and then telling you when a good time is to take a picture or when a photo opportunity is coming up.

city sightseeing bus
Here she is and wow she was so knowledgeable and so helpful and very friendly too. A total natural with the tourists.

It also felt like as you were doing the tour, you nearly always had York Minster in the distance so if you did want the minster photographed this was a great place to do so.

Even better, there was plenty of space on the bus tour and we were spoilt for choice with where to sit. We were also very tired because we had just got lost and it was nice to have just over an hour, of someone telling us about the great history of York whilst we just admired the view.

space on the york bus tour
Here is a picture showing just how many empty seats there was on the sightseeing bus as we took the tour. We were on the bus during school holidays in mid-afternoon.
york city walls on the york bus
Among the many historical features of York that she talked about was the York City Walls. It was nice getting her take on the York walls when we had done them ourselves the week before.
city cruises to sightseeing bus
Then of course, we had a lovely view of the river ouse, which we were excited to see because one of our planned visits for the next day is the river cruises.

Overall, for York sightseeing you are in an absolute prime position and can sit down and relax and get a real tour of York and learn so much. We also love that you can hop on and hop off the sightseeing bus and use it as much or as little as you want.

Golden Tours York

golden bus tour york
This is the Golden Tours blue bus. We hopped on right outside of Clifford Tour just like you can see its position in the photo.

For hop on and hop off York you also have the Golden Tours York, which I must admit I didn’t have the best of experiences with.

We planned to jump on and do the last tour of the day, on the 2nd day of our York Pass.

As we jumped on the city tour bus in front of Clifford’s Tower, I was told he didn’t have the equipment to convert our York Pass to bus tickets and in the end, he didn’t charge us to come on but warned us we would not get the full tour.

We realised that he had started the last round of the city tour bus earlier than the timetable said and obviously wanted to finish early. So, it was a real shame we only got half a service. 

Also compared to the red sightseeing bus, there was nobody talking, just a machine that was filling you in on everything. But it wasn’t synced to where you were at the time and then he would talk over it with his opinion and then you couldn’t hear what was being played and of course, as he drove it kept stopping and starting.

A real shame and nowhere near the league of the red sightseeing bus.

So, if you are thinking about doing the York open top bus, then make sure you choose red and not blue.

York Bus Tours: Red Or Blue?

For the BEST city tour bus, we recommend that you use the red service. City sightseeing York aka the red bus, has a personal touch with someone speaking as you do the tour and she is also very knowledgeable on the city of York.

The blue York open top bus, known as York Golden Tours didn’t have a person there for the tour and instead was a pre-recorded speaker system. This was such a shame in comparison.

We also felt the red bus covered more of the areas as we went from one place to the next and we felt like we learnt things about York that we didn’t already know. Whilst the blue bus covered general touristy things.

But where the blue bus excels is that it has drop offs to some popular tourist places that the red bus doesn’t have.

If you want to learn about York then we recommend the red bus, whilst if you just want a hop on and hop off service to quickly get you around York then the blue Golden Tours bus is more suitable for you.

Then from a prices point of view, it is cheaper to go on the red York tour bus. The red service is £35 for the 4 of us and £41 if using the blue service. Though this was of course included in our York Pass.

If it wasn’t included in the York Pass, we would have been disappointed paying for the blue city bus tour.

York Hop On Hop Off Bus Stops

As you can imagine, there are a lot of stops around the city as you do the hop on and hop off service.

On the red sightseeing bus tour, you have 21 stops including:

  • Exhibition Square
  • Gillygate
  • Monk Bar
  • Moss Bank
  • Peasholme Green
  • Stonebow
  • Clifford’s Tower
  • Margaret Stret
  • Walmgate Bar
  • Barbican Centre
  • Fishergate
  • Bishopthorpe Road Shops
  • Southlands Methodist Church
  • The Winning Post
  • York Racecourse
  • Mount Vale
  • The Mount
  • Blossom Street
  • York Rail Station
  • Memorial Gardens
  • Museum Gardens

On the blue golden tours bus tour, you have 19 stops including:

  • Exhibition Square
  • Gillygate
  • Union Terrace Coach Park
  • Monk Gate (Monk Bar)
  • Monk Gate (NHS Health Centre)
  • Peasholme Green
  • Stonebow
  • Piccadilly
  • Clifford’s Tower
  • Margaret Stret
  • Walmgate Bar
  • City Arms
  • Fishergate
  • Nunnery Lane (Bish Road End)
  • Nunnery Lane (Carpark)
  • Queens Street
  • York Railway Station
  • Memorial Gardens
  • Museum Street

As you can see from this list, there are a few that double up for both buses but I like that the Golden Tours service does to Piccadilly as that is where you go for the Jorvik Centre and for Hole In Wand.

Bus Tours Of York Review

We just love the idea of the bus tours of York. That like other cities around the world you can see the city via the top of a bus. We liked the red sightseeing bus the most, and loved the pictures we could take as the bus drove us around the city and all the local history we got to learn about at the same time.

If you are on the York Pass like us, then I recommend adding it to your schedule.

Bus Tours In York Visitor Information

  • Rainy day policy. We love that if you have pre-booked your bus tour, that if it rains you can change the date. I.e if you have pre-booked York hop on hop off bus for the Tuesday and it rains, you can easily just turn up and use the bus on the Friday instead.
  • York sightseeing bus prices. If you are using your York Pass then the price is included in the pass. Otherwise, for a family of four you are looking at £35 for the red bus vs £41 for the blue bus.
  • How long do people spend on the bus tour? If you wanted to you could spend all day sat on the bus and do the full tour several times. Most to one full round of the tour, and then use it to hop on and off to for getting to attractions.
  • What is York Pass? I have mentioned our York Pass a few times. Basically, it’s a York ticket where you have access to loads of York attractions for a set price. Kind of like when you get a special pass for theme parks. I recommend you read our York pass review here because we explain how to do it and save money as its easy to waste money on it. Plus, we run through all the attractions we did for the pass including our bus tours.

Pin York Bus Tours For Later!

Well, that’s a wrap, do you have any questions then do ask below and if you want to refer back, to this later for planning your York day out then don’t forget to pin it to your travel board or days out board on Pinterest.

Our Ride On The York Sightseeing Bus

You Should Plan A Ride On The
About the author

Run by Sam, Dom, Kyle, Sofia & Jorge it documents our family’s love for eating out, day trips, road trips and great holidays.

We just love a trip, we love to travel, and here we will show you with a little planning, how to have a great adventure and create new memories along the way!

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