When your time in a city is limited and you still want to see as many of the major sights as possible, it’s hard to figure out how to get from Point A to Point G and cram as much into your visit as possible. That’s the beauty of the Hop-On-Hop-Off model. It takes you by attractions and lets you decide where and when you want to get off for a more intensive visit.

These companies go by many names in different cities, but if you search on ‘hop on hop off’ and the location, you’ll find the choices in your destination. We’ve been on double-decker busses and sightseeing busses. Don’t be surprised if the conveyance is something with a regional or local flair, like an amphibious craft in a lakeside town or a repurposed trolley car open to the elements.

See the sights from a Hop-On Hop-Off bus

Routes and stops are set, and you can often find maps (and sometimes tickets) at your hotel front desk. Most also have this available online, great for planning your time and sights to see. If you only have one day and want to drive by as much as possible, they usually pass the biggies and offer you a prerecorded explanation via language-friendly earbuds.

Quirky sides of a city are in view too

When the bus reaches a stop, you’re given a choice to hop off and see the sights nearby or stay aboard, going in circles. When you’re ready to continue, go back to the stop and hop on the next bus that comes around. You could do this all day, or for as long as your ticket is still good.

Know While You’re There: Tickets are usually offered by the day or might come in multi-day passes. Sometimes a half day is available, nice for that afternoon jaunt to revive you from jetlag. Each company has its own rules and not all visit every sight tourists want to see, so read up before you go to select the one that best fits your needs.

Views of grandeur in Santiago, Chile

With the advent of almost everyone owning a smartphone, don’t be surprised if you find that a major supplier has an app you can load with tickets ahead of time. Note that many do not run in the evening, so if you plan to stay late at a particular spot, be prepared to find alternate transportation.

The alternative: In some cities, taxi drivers will offer to give you a tour of the major sights. This is best arranged ahead of time through tour companies or through your hotel to find a reputable individual. You won’t be able to stop and get out each time you pass something that interests you, but you will achieve that drive-by look-see and quickly snapped pic to prove you were there.