With the largest operator of open-top sightseeing tours in the world, visitors to Chicago can take a tour around the city in the European style of open-top, double-decker buses. Starting its US branch in 2011, Big Bus Tours offers a flexible approach to discovering the city, with hop-on, hop-off options at a variety of interesting locations. This type of tour is a perfect introduction the Windy City for first-time visitors as it gives a large overview of many different places!
Open-top, double decker buses make seeing Chicago fun in almost any kind of weather. Live guides provide a commentary about the city’s rich history and cultural heritage as guests pass by interesting attractions and landmarks. The freedom of hopping off and back on the bus means that guests can join and rejoin the tour as many times as they like as long as their tickets are valid.
Types of Big Bus Tours
Big Bus Tours provide educational fun, along with freedom for guests who want to explore in their own time frame. Including at least 10 stops along the way, visitors to Chicago can get a comprehensive view of the city from the bus. And those with the freedom or desire can spend more time at specific stops that they find interesting.
Guests of Big Bus Tours will hear informative dialogue from their live tour guide while viewing some of the most iconic skyscrapers, parks, museums, and neighborhoods in the world. Visitors who already have a bucket list of things they want to see and experience in Chicago can easily check off the list when they participate in a Big Bus Tour. Ride on the top deck for a birds-eye view and take some amazing photographs of the city’s attractions, or grab a seat inside the bus if the weather isn’t cooperative.
What You’ll See on a Big Bus Tour
Big Bus Chicago’s sightseeing Big Loop route takes visitors to see the highlights of Chicago’s iconic landmarks, such as:
- Millennium Park
- Holy Name Cathedral
- Old Water Tower
- Palmer House Hilton
- Soldier Field
- Chicago Riverwalk
- The Magnificent Mile
- Wrigley Building
- Grant Park
- Museum Campus
- Adler Planetarium
- Navy Pier
- Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) & Skydeck Chicago
- The Shedd Aquarium
- Field Museum
Big Bus Tour Services
Big Bus Tours does exactly what the name implies—tours on open-top, double-decker buses that function in a hop-off, hop-on style that provides the most freedom to explore the Windy City.
Big Bus Tours also allows for private chartering with different sized parties and various pick-up or drop-off points to suit specific itineraries. Submit an enquiry online or phone the office for more details about private bookings.
For other options of hop-on, hop-off double decker bus tours in Chicago, take a look at City Sightseeing.
Big Bus Tour Timing
Even in Chicago’s weather, Big Bus Tours are able to operate year-round, except for closures on certain holidays (such as Christmas and Thanksgiving). Special event days and severe weather may also affect the tour schedule. Buses run for longer hours and more frequently during peak summer season (May through October).
The entire Big Loop-Red Route tour takes approximately 2 hours in full, with new buses driving by every 15-60 minutes, depending on the season. Schedules are subject to change—guests should check the Big Bus website or app for the most up-to-date information.
Big Bus Tours Considerations
Answers to questions you might be asking about Big Bus Tours:
- Money Saving Tip: If you are seeing any of the sights along the tour route, you can save a significant amount of money by purchasing a tourist pass. Go Chicago Card and The Chicago Explorer Pass both include the Big Bus Tour as well as the museums along the way along with the SkyDeck and other tourist attractions. Even purchasing a CityPASS along with a Big Bus Tour can save some money.
- Big Bus Tours begin at 98 E Upper Wacker Drive but may be boarded all throughout the day at any of 13 other stops.
- The company has a free app that can be downloaded to view timetables, stop locations and even things to do. The best feature of the app is the live location updates on a map.
- Visitors who don’t choose to use the app may take a free map at the beginning of the route in order to plan out stops.
- Child rate tickets may be purchased for children from ages 5 to 15. Children under the age of five may travel free of charge, when accompanied by an adult.
- Tour guide commentaries are available in English only.
- Group discounts may be available—contact Big Bus on their website or at (877) 285-4796.
- Wheelchair accessible vehicles are available to accommodate those with specific needs. Contact Big Bus Tours at least 48 hours in advance in order to make arrangements.
- Refunds may be available if service is cancelled due to inclement weather conditions.
Book a Big Bus Tour
Tickets for Big Bus Tours should be purchased in advance online. Booking with is easy online. Pay for your tour in advance with a credit card and receive an email with all of the information you need about where and when tours meet as well as what to expect.