Busabout Hop-On Hop-Off, how it works...
The Busabout Hop-On Hop-Off coach network is the flagship tour offered by Busabout giving travelers a unique way to customise the way they wish to travel around Europe without breaking your budget. The Busabout network consisted of three loops that will take you around the continent and from the 2016 season a fourth East Loop was added giving you even more options with Busabout.
Of course starting your journey on one of the loops doesn’t mean you are restricted to just that one loop and you can start, finish and resume your trip anytime with Busabout as long as it falls within their timetable. What’s also great is that you can plan your trip to link up with other tours and festivals operated by Busabout including the Iberian Adventure tour of Spain and Portugal or the La Tomatina Festival or the beer drinking festival Oktoberfest like I did.
Leaving Melbourne late in the evening, I arrived in Barcelona the next afternoon ready to check out all the sights of the Catalonian capital. Arriving from the airport is a breeze using the city’s Areobus connecting to the efficient metro system taking us to our hostel which is centrally located near La Rambla. Whilst in Barcelona we experienced the main tourist sights including the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Magic Fountain and Montjuic Castle.
We then join our Busabout coach for the first time outside the pick up point as we are taken on the Barcelona to Madrid trek to the optional stop of Valencia in preparation for the La Tomatina Festival.
Barcelona to Valencia
Departing Barcelona we board our Busabout coach for the first time, the only thing is that this coach is a Contiki coach. Because so many people are travelling to Valencia for La Tomatina an extra coach has been put on to support Busabout. We arrive in Valencia and walk from the Purple Nest Hostel which is the drop off point and from here we head to our two bedroom apartment in the centre of Valencia.
There is plenty to see and do in Valencia from checking out the cathedral which is the home to the Holy Grail, to exploring the various parks, beaches and the space age City of Arts and Sciences.
Busabout La Tomatina Festival
The great thing about the Busabout Hop-On Hop-Off network of destinations is that they all link up with various other tours and festivals that Busabout also offer trips for. Whilst in Valencia in August you have the opportunity to experience the La Tomatina Festival, basically a massive food fight held every year in the small town of Buñol outside of Valencia.
The three day hotel package from Busabout is defiantly worth it, staying in good quality shared hotels for the duration of the stay including transport to the festival grounds and access to the official La Tomatina after party.
Valencia to Madrid
Back on board the Busabout coach we head west to the capital of Spain, Madrid. He we will spend just two nights and will use Madrid as the launching pad for another side Busabout trip going, the seven day Iberian Adventure Tour.
Whilst in Madrid we check out the Royal palace home to the Spanish monarchy and the impressive Buen Retiro Park which is a favourite destination for both tourists and locals alike.
Busabout Iberian Adventure Tour
Another side trip on the Busabout journey is the Iberian Adventure tour kicking off from Madrid. From here we spend seven days travelling from the Capital to Cordoba and Seville for one night before heading over to Portugal and the town of Lagos for an awesome two nights. We also get to taste a little bit of Africa as we travel across the Strait of Gibraltar to the Moroccan city of Tangier before heading back and making our way to Granada for another two nights.
Our adventure ends by us travelling back to Madrid not before visiting the medieval town of Toledo capping off an amazing adventure around Spain, Portugal and Morocco.
Madrid to San Sebastian
This morning we are back on board the Busabout Hop-On Hop-Off coach and head north to a completely different part of Spain, San Sebastian. Here we spend an impressive three nights in a hotel that is all about location, location, location. Perched on top of the Monte Igueldo hill with stunning views of the entire city and bay, this hotel even has its own old-styled theme park surrounding it.
San Sebastian is a beautiful place to base yourself for a couple of days and is a food lovers delight as you could spend all day going to the various Pintxos restaurants (or Tapas as they are referred to in the south).
San Sebastian to Tours
We depart Spain for the last time this morning and head over to France en route to the French town of Tours in the Loire Valley famous for its stunning chateaux. While staying in Tours we get to experience four of the best known chateaux in the region by taking a Busabout optional activity. This includes a visit to the stunning Chateau de Chambord also home to the famous raspberry liqueur.
Tours to Paris
Today we are off to the city of lights, Paris for three nights however we are doing something a little different today. We leave behind the Busabout coach and opt for a quicker way of getting to Paris by TGV high speed train. We arrive in Paris at around midday and make our way to our hostel which is also the Busabout drop off point for the city.
Whilst here we experience the Eiffel Tower and the underground Catacombs along with taking two Fat Tire Bike tours, one of Paris at night time whilst the other is a day trip devoted to the Palace of Versailles just outside of Paris.
Paris to Lauterbrunnen
As we depart the city of lights we head further east to our next destination, the beautiful village of Lauterbrunnen located an hour away from the Capital of Switzerland, Bern. During our stay in Lauterbrunnen we also check Bern out on what isn’t such a great day weather wise.
Lauterbrunnen is the centre of the Busabout network and is a very popular destination, not only does Busabout come here but so does Contiki and Topdeck. The region is the launch pad for trips up to Europe’s highest train station at Jungfrau and the valley and the Schilthorn are home to the filming location of James Bond’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Lauterbrunnen to Lucern
Our Switzerland adventure continues as we depart the beautiful Lauterbrunnen and take the short journey to the optional Busabout stop of Lucerne. The historic city of Lucerne is home to the Chapel Bridge, an old diagonally crossing bridge built in 1333. It is an impressive structure to look at attracting thousands of tourists every year.
From Lucerne we take a day trip up to Mount Titlis which involves a 40 minute train journey and then a series of gondolas and cable cars to reach the summit. The final cable car also rotates to give everyone 360 degree views of the mountainous terrain.
Lucern to Munich
This portion of the Busabout Hop-On Hop-Off network will be the last for us as we leave Switzerland and the town of Lucerne as we make our way to Munich and the beer halls of Oktoberfest. Along the way we get to make a lunch stop in another country, Liechtenstein and its capital Vaduz.
On arrival into Munich we prepare ourselves for the next four days as we go shopping for our Oktoberfest outfits and navigate our way around the masses of people that come to visit this festival every year.
The moment we have been waiting for has arrived. We check out of the Munich hotel and make our way down to the Wombats City Hostel where we check in for our four day Oktoberfest tour with Busabout. However the festivities won’t start until tonight and in the mean time we explore the sites of Munich by joining a Mike’s Bike Tour taking in all the city sights.
In the evening we meet up with some of our fellow travelers from the Iberian Adventure Tour and join the fun at one of the many Oktoberfest beer halls for a night of drinking, singing, dancing and fun. As part of the Busabout Oktoberfest tour you also have the option to go on a day trip out to Neuschwanstein Castle or continue to drink the days away while squeezing in an amusement ride or two.