Big Bus was a company that provided sightseeing tours around Vancouver. Today it operates as Hop-On, Hop-Off Sightseeing as part of Westcoast Sightseeing.
The name has changed, but it still does the same thing. There is a Big Bus company in Victoria, BC, however, but no longer in the Lower Mainland.
Vancouver Sightseeing Bus Tours
Hop-On, Hop-Off Sightseeing buses travel around Vancouver, stopping at points of interest, and tourists are able to “hop on” and “hop off” when they like, visit an attraction, and then hop back on the bus when it comes around again and takes them to the next destination.
Tickets good for 24 hours start at around $40 for adults and $20 for children (ages 3-12). There used to be special rates for seniors, students and families too, but not as of the early summer of 2018.
Types of Tours
The Hop-On, Hop-Off bus company offers three different kinds of tour passes – the Park, City and Dual Route passes.
PARK Route Pass
The buses run every 20 minutes or so from May until September and half that frequently between October and April. The entire loop takes about 2 hours and passengers can ride all day and come and go as they like.
In addition to around 20 stops around town, the Park Route tour includes a one-way boat ride to Granville Island with False Creek Ferries.
CITY Route Pass
The City Route tours go by each stop about 3 times an hour during the summer season (from May to September) and once every 40 minutes in the slower season.
DUAL Route Pass
The Dual Route bus tours cost $54 for adults and half price for children (ages 3-12). They include all the stops and destinations included in both the Park and City Route passes.
How the Hop-On Bus Works
Tickets are valid for 24 hours and the timing starts as soon as you “hop on” the bus initially. Buses travel a fixed route and go by every 20 minutes or so in the busy season and about once every 40 to 45 minutes in the slow season.
Informational commentary is provided in English, French, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, German and Korean.
Where does the Tour Bus Go?
Vancouver’s Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour buses go all over town and through many of the city’s most interesting districts including Granville Island, English Bay, Stanley Park, Coal Harbour, Chinatown and Gastown.
The buses go along several of Vancouver’s most interesting streets including Water Street, Robson, Granville and Beach Avenue. The bus also stops at most of the city’s top downtown tourist attractions including Canada Place, FlyOver Canada, Vancouver Lookout, Sun Yat-Sen Garden, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Vancouver Aquarium.
The regular Hop-On Hop-Off bus fare does not include admission into any of the above attractions, but it does include interesting commentary along the way.
In addition to the regular tour route, West Coast Sightseeing also offers special add-on routes to places like Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain on the North Shore, both of which include attraction admission.
Click Bus Route to see exactly where the Hop-On Hop-Off buses go.
Why Use Vancouver’s Hop-On Bus
Using the Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing bus to get around and explore Vancouver has a few advantages. One advantage is that it’s convenient – you don’t have to worry about parking, traffic or figuring out complicated transit bus schedules.
The buses also go to all the places you want to visit within the Vancouver downtown core. Also, while you’re getting from one place to the next you can be entertained and educated about Vancouver with the tour commentary.
Vancouver’s Bus Tour Alternatives
There is more than one way to get around Vancouver. Hop-On, Hop-Off Sightseeing is a great option, but there is also the Vancouver Trolley Company (which is also owned by Westcoast Sightseeing).
Public transit is another option, if you don’t have your own car. And an exceptional way to get around by water is with Pacific Ferries and their Hop On Boat Tours.
Vancouver Trolley Company
An alternative to the Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing bus is the Vancouver Trolley Company, another tour service that gives similar tours to Vancouver’s top tourist destinations for a similar price.
Getting Around with Public Transit
If you are on a budget and don’t mind missing out on the commentary, an alternative option would be to just buy a transit day pass and rely on public transit to get around.
The cost for a day pass is about $10 for adults and $8 for children, and day pass tickets can be purchased from ticket vending machines or authorized FareDealer locations around town.
Pacific Ferries & Tours
Pacific Ferries & Tours is a boat company that offers Hop-on, Hop-off tours of its own. Instead of by land, however, their tours go by water between Granville Island, Coal Harbour and North Vancouver’s Shipyards.
See the official Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing website for more information about Vancouver’s main in-town tour bus company.
Other articles that may be of interest include the following: