Things to do in Dubai

Dubai Hop On Hop Off Bus (Tours) – City Sightseeing Vs Big Bus Dubai

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Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) tours are the best and most convenient way to explore a city, making it one of the first options any tourist prefers to take. The tours offer you the flexibility and independence of creating your own itinerary, along with the added advantage of a knowledgeable guide. Once aboard the open top double-decker sightseeing bus, you are free to take unlimited trips within the selected time frame. The multiple routes and stops offered helps you plan and pick the best available attractions. You can spend a whole day checking out the best of what Dubai has to offer, or even avail the multiple-day tours and take your time to explore the Jewel of the Middle East.

Types of Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tours in Dubai

When it comes to Dubai Hop On Hop Off tours, there are two main companies that have hop on hop off offerings - Big Bus and City Sightseeing.
Big Bus was born out of a merger of Big Bus Company Ltd. and Les Cars Rouges, each with 2 decades of experience in the tourism industry. By unveiling a city's landmarks along with its culture, the company provide an experience unlike any other.
City Sightseeing was created in 1999, when a need for a global tour brand, with reliable service across multiple destinations, was recognized. Today, City Sightseeing is present in six continents, spanning nearly a 100 cities.

Both operate open air-top double decker buses, and offer audio guides in over ten languages. Both companies also provide extra incentives as mentioned below, including entry into certain attractions.

There are three major types of Hop On Hop Off tours:

  • The Multiple Day tours allow you to pick from tour variations of 1/3/7 days, giving you the flexibility to explore Dubai at your own pace.
  • Then, there are the Night Tours. These are not Hop on Hop Off tours, per se. You do get to travel in the double decker bus, but it's a bus tour that takes you around Dubai. You can watch the city come alive at night and take in the incredible, glittering landmarks, as you sit atop the open-decker bus and listen to your tour guide.
  • The last kind is exclusive to Dubai, as it is the Dubai to Abu Dhabi tour. This HOHO tour allows you to explore both Emirati cities, covering all major tourist spots in both cities.

Big Bus vs City Sightseeing in Dubai

Two of the biggest Hop-on Hop-off tour operators in Dubai are Big Bus and City Sightseeing. In this section, we will compare them based on their offered routes, bus frequency, pricing, reviews, and extra inclusions offered.

Big Bus
City Sightseeing
Route 3 routes 8 routes
Frequency 15-20 minutes, depending on the route. 25 minutes, unless specified otherwise.
Price Starts from AED 252
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Starts from AED 241
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Rating *




Entry into 10 museums, 1-hr Dhow cruise, audio commentary in 12 languages, and more.

Entry into Dubai Museum, guided walking tour of Dubai, audio commentary in 13 languages, and more.

* Based on TripAdvisor ratings

Continue reading for detailed information on each factor for both Big Bus and City Sightseeing.

1. Routes

While Big Bus offers three routes that help you cover the entire city, City Sightseeing has 8 routes, each of which shows you a different side of the city. For those looking to see the best of Dubai, the Big Bus City Tour Red and Blue, and the City Sightseeing’s Historic and Marina tours are the best.

Big Bus Routes

Click here to view the detailed Big Bus Hop-on-hop-off bus route map.

dubai hop on hop off

The City Tour Red Route takes you to 11 popular attractions in the city: Dubai Mall (through which you can visit the Burj Khalifa), City Walk, Wafi, Burjuman, Old Souk, Heritage Village, Spice Souk, Dubai Museum, Gold Souk, Riviera, and Deira City Centre.

Circuit time: Approximately 2 hours

dubai hop on hop off

The Marina Tour Blue Route takes you to 10 popular attractions within the city and the Palm Islands: Mall of the Emirates, Marina Walk, Marina Mall, Marina Promenade, The Beach, Bay Side, Tallest Block, Media City, Al Ittihad Park, and Atlantis The Palm.

Circuit time: Approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes

dubai hop on hop off

The Beach Tour Green Route takes you to five unmissable spots in the city: The Jumeirah Public Beach, Souk Madinat, Burj Al Arab, Mall of the Emirates, and the Dubai Mall. The scenic drive is not to be missed!

Circuit time: Approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes

City Sightseeing Routes

dubai hop on hop off

Click here to view the detailed Big Bus Hop-on-hop-off bus route map.

dubai hop on hop off

The Historic Route takes you to 14 popular attractions, including Dubai Mall, Burjuman, Dubai Museum, Old Souk, Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel, and Sheikh Zayed Road.

Circuit time: Approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes

dubai hop on hop off

The Palm Crescent Route takes you to five popular spots across the Palm Islands: Atlantis, Sofitel, Anantara, and Rixos The Palm, and Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

Circuit time: Approximately 1 hour

dubai hop on hop off

The Modern Route takes you to seven unmissable attractions across the city: Dubai Mall, Etihad Museum, Jumeirah Mosque, Mercato, Open Beach Umm Suqeim, Souk Madinat, and Mall of the Emirates.

Circuit time: Approximately 2 hours

dubai hop on hop off

The Marina Route takes you to 10 popular attractions, including Mall of the Emirates, Souk Madinat, Atlantis the Palm, Palms View West, Dubai Marina Mall, Marina Promenade, The Beach @ JBR, and Dubai Media City.

Circuit time: Approximately 2 hours

dubai hop on hop off

This is one of the shortest routes with just three stops: Dubai Mall, Cruise Terminal 2, and Cruise Terminal 3.

Circuit time: Approximately 25 minutes

dubai hop on hop off

This night tour starts at the Dubai Mall, and then takes you to Deira City Centre, Burjuman, and Dubai Festival City Mall.

Circuit time: Approximately 2 hours

dubai hop on hop off

This night tour starts at the Dubai Mall, and then takes you to Atlantis The Palm, Fairmont The Palm, Mall of the Emirates, Mina Seyahi, and Souk Madinat.

Circuit time: Approximately 2 hours

dubai hop on hop off

Available only from November to April, this tour takes you to the Dubai Mall, Global Village, and the Miracle Garden.

2. Frequency

With both Big Bus and City Sightseeing, your wait for the next bus will be less than half an hour.

Big Bus Routes: The Red and Blue Routes have a frequency of 20 minutes, while the Green Route has a frequency of 15 minutes.

City Sightseeing Routes: Unless specified differently, City Sightseeing tours’ frequency is 25 minutes.

3. Price

The prices for the city tour are in nearly the same range for both Big Bus and City Sightseeing Tours, but both tours offer you different experiences. With City Sightseeing, you can choose the multiple day tickets, and with Big Bus, you can choose from Classic, Premium, and Deluxe versions, each of which come with different inclusions. The City Sightseeing tour is recommended as it offers a 7-day HOHO tour for AED 316.

4. Reviews

Based on thousands of reviews on Tripadvisor, Big Bus scores a 4.5 and City Sightseeing scores a 4, making them two of the best HOHO tour operators in Dubai.

Big Bus Routes: 4.5

“It is a very convenient tour with all tourist spots covered . Our tour guide Mr. Brian gave us detailed information on all aspects of the destinations covered. T[h]e main attraction of this big bus tour is the convenience of hop on hop off. Had a great experience”
- Aruna R.

City Sightseeing Routes: 4

“For someone who comes the first time to Dubai this is a good way of exploring the city. Several lines connect attractions and places to see. It’s good to hop on and off on the places of interest continue the trip with the next bus later.”
- Anja B.

5. Extras

While most HOHO tours do not offer just the bus tour, both Big Bus and City Sightseeing offer you the chance to visit attractions or indulge in various other experiences like the Dhow Cruises, desert tours, museum admission tickets, and much more.

Big Bus

City Tour

  • Audio commentary in 12 languages: English, Arabic French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Hindi, Farsi, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, and Mandarin Chinese.
  • Free entry to over 10 museums (including Dubai Museum and Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum's House) (only on Classic)
  • Walking tour of Dubai (only on Classic)
  • 1-hour Dhow Cruise (Premium & Classic)
  • Dubai Night Tour (Premium & Deluxe)
  • Half day tour to Sharjah (Premium & Deluxe)
  • Marina and Island Lagoon Boat Cruise (Premium & Deluxe)
  • Desert Sunset Tour (only on Deluxe)
  • Full day tour to Al Ain (only on Deluxe)
  • Flamingo Lagoon Discovery (only on Deluxe)

Abu Dhabi - Dubai Tour

  • Entry to Dubai Museum
  • Entry to Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s House (Dubai)
  • Wafi Welcome Card
  • Mercato Advantage Booklet

City Sightseeing:

  • Audio commentary available in 13 languages: English, Arabic, German, Russian, Portuguese, Hindi, Spanish, Mandarin, French, Italian, Turkish, Farsi, and Japanese
  • Dhow Cruise (from Dubai Creek)
  • Night Tour (6 PM - 9PM)
  • Entry to the Dubai Museum
  • Dubai guided walking tour
  • Entry to the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo (With 3 day/ 7 day ticket)
  • Palm Jumeirah Cruise (Only with 7 Day Ticket)
  • 20% discount at Sun & Mediterranean Lounge (Only with 7 Day Ticket)

Advantages of Choosing a Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour

1. Hop on and off whenever you want
One of the most obvious advantages if that you can hop on the bus and hop off whenever you want. This makes it extremely comfortable to plan your trip because of the flexibility you have. If you like a particular attraction, you can stay as long as you want, and if you don’t, you can hop back on and move on to the next one. This allows you to see the city in a short span of time, without missing any of the attractions. Whether you are pressed for time or have a good amount of time on your hands, HOHO tours give you the chance to see the best of a city at your own pace.

2. Free Transport
What could possibly be better than being able to go to every attraction you want to visit in a city without having to repeatedly pay for the public transport systems or a taxi? HOHO tours make your travel extremely comfortable. With buses running frequently between attractions, you can choose the routes you want to take, and visit attractions at your own pace, without having to worry about how you’re going to get there.

3. Engaging Commentary and learning
Every HOHO tour is supported by a friendly and knowledgeable tour guide. The tour guide takes you back in time with a detailed history of the city you are exploring, along with commentary on how the city has evolved. You will find that you can approach the guide about any questions you have about the city and how it has grown over time. The guides also know the attractions which are completely unmissable, and will advise you on the same. And all HOHO tours provide audio commentary in different languages, so you will not miss out on any of the fun!

4. Free Extras
Most HOHO tours provide you with a lot of freebies! Depending on the tour you choose, you can explore neighbouring cities of Abu Dhabi and Sharjah as well. Or, you can see a completely different side of the city by taking a cruise aboard the traditional Dhow. Some tours offer you free walking tours of the city, or free entry into museums. You can also get a taste of the Bedouin culture, as some HOHO tours give you the chance to go dune bashing, followed by dinner at a traditional Bedouin camp.

Hop On Hop Off Bus (Tour) Tips

  • Review the time table and routes offered for you to adjust and get the most of the tour.
  • If travelling between October-March, take something to wrap around yourself because it gets slightly chilly in the evening.
  • Complimentary water is available on almost all tours. Check with your guide regarding the same.
  • Check the timings of the attractions you want to visit, in order to ensure you do not reach the attraction after it has shut down.