The 5 best alternative city tours to a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus tour

Would you like to discover a city, would you like to learn something about the history, see important sights and get a feel for the city? Then you can get into a vehicle with 30 to 70 strangers and try to understand a speaker. Or maybe you're in the mood for a more individual city tour! Here you can find out what alternatives there are.

Why you should look for an alternative

Many sightseeing buses can be noisy. A crying child, a ringing cell phone, a loud conversation from a couple — and it becomes very difficult to follow what is being said. Often the sound is too quiet and you have to try to understand the missed explanation in another language. That can be annoying when you actually wanted to learn something new.


Buses also have the disadvantage that you can see less downstairs but are exposed to the weather upstairs. When planning a city trip, you often only have a limited time window. If it rains heavily or if the sun burns down on you at over 30 degrees, it's better to take the less popular seats inside the bus.

You don't have to accept these experiences to explore a city and learn something new. Here are 5 great alternatives to make your next city trip a great experience.

What alternatives are there to the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus in Berlin?

  1. Riddle tour
  2. Private city tour
  3. Themed tour
  4. Following in the footsteps of...
  5. Movement and learning

1. City rally puzzle tour: Espionage & escape at the Berlin Wall

Instead of sitting on a bus, you can also explore the city with an outdoor escape tour. In the digital scavenger hunt “Flight & Espionage at the Berlin Wall”, you get a mission and follow the clues that lead through the city. Not only is it fun, but you also learn something about the city's history and sights — all while playing. On your smartphone, you crack codes and collect clues to help your friend, the antique dealer Siegfried, escape to the West as an escape assistant. Work together with your friends so that Siegfried doesn't get caught crossing the border. The story of this mission is based on true events and so you will learn about GDR history, the Berlin Wall and Stasi espionage techniques.

The advantage is that you have a shared experience with your friends and learn about the history of the city yourself instead of listening to the audio on the bus. In contrast to the dry facts, here you can dive into a story and get the feeling of recreating a historical event yourself. This makes sights more lively than if you simply look at them from the outside and a guided tour of the city becomes an exciting event.

2. Private city tour

The advantages of a private city tour over a bus are that the groups are usually smaller. Instead of a variety of foreign tourists, you can book a private city tour for your friends, school class or work colleagues. Here you don't have to worry about not understanding something, because you can simply ask your guide. Here you can also go into more depth on topics that you find particularly exciting as a group and keep less interesting facts shorter.

3rd theme tour

In every city, there are various providers who offer tours on specific topics. How about a coffee tour through the best cafés in town, for example? Passing by sights, you'll get a feel for the city and drink delicious coffee along the way. You are guaranteed not to get tired during this guided city tour. Depending on the city, you can also find guided tours about crafts or a historical period. Learn how people lived in the city in the Middle Ages or for which original purpose the city was founded.

Jugendherberge Berlin-International - Zimmer
Jugendherberge Berlin-International - Zimmer

1. 2. CVJM Jugendgästehaus Berlin

Das CVJM Jugendgästehaus Berlin liegt zentral in Charlottenburg, nur 2 Gehminuten von der U-Bahn-Station Nollendorfplatz entfernt und gut 2 km vom Potsdamer Platz. Die Zimmer sind mit Etagenbetten, Schränken, Schreibtischen und eigenem Bad ausgestattet. Kostenloses WLAN und Bettwäsche sind inbegriffen. Zu den Gemeinschaftsräumen gehören eine Lounge mit Kamin, ein Fernsehbereich und eine Dachterrasse mit Blick über die Stadt. Das kostenlose Frühstücksbuffet ist ein weiteres Plus, das diese Herberge besonders attraktiv macht.

Jugendherberge Berlin-International - Zimmer
Jugendherberge Berlin-International - Zimmer

1. 3. Jugendgästehaus Hauptbahnhof

Nur wenige Gehminuten vom Berliner Hauptbahnhof entfernt, befindet sich das Jugendgästehaus Hauptbahnhof in unmittelbarer Nähe zum Regierungsviertel und zur Spree. Es gibt Einzel-, Doppel- und Mehrbettzimmer mit eigenem Bad für die Einzel- und Doppelzimmer, während die Mehrbettzimmer Gemeinschaftsbäder nutzen. Zur Ausstattung gehören ein Freizeitraum mit Spielzeugverleih, eine Lobby mit Computern und kostenlosem WLAN sowie eine Sonnenterrasse. Ein Frühstücksbuffet wird gegen Aufpreis angeboten. Ein weiterer Vorteil ist der 24-Stunden-Service und der fehlende Jugendherbergsausweis.

Jugendherberge Berlin-International - Zimmer
Jugendherberge Berlin-International - Zimmer

1. 5. Jugendgästehaus St.-Michaels-Heim

Ruhig in einem Park am Herthasee im Bezirk Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf gelegen, bietet das Jugendgästehaus St.-Michaels-Heim schlichte Mehrbettzimmer und private Zimmer mit Gemeinschaftsbad. WLAN ist gegen Gebühr verfügbar. Das gemütliche Restaurant mit Sitzplätzen im Freien und die Konferenzräume machen diese Herberge ideal für entspannte Abende nach einem Tag in der Stadt. Gegen Gebühr wird ein Frühstücksbuffet angeboten.

Fesselnde Geschichten & Rätselspaß
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4. In the footsteps of...

For culture enthusiasts, a guided tour of the life of a famous person from the city's history is recommended. Following in the footsteps of composers, scientists or artists, you can discover a city, get to know the places where this famous person worked and dive into past times.

5. Movement and learning

If you don't want to spend half a day on a bus, but would rather get out and about in the fresh air, you can also rent a bike or a Segway tour. There is an information center for tourists in every city. Here you can inquire about the best routes and take your sightseeing into your own hands. You can often also find information boards at important sights or use your smartphone to find out about the places.

Recommended alternative to the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

Instead of taking a hop-on hop-off bus, you can also discover the most important sights of a city in other ways. In this way, a city tour can be really fun and what you have learned is combined with a great experience and thus stays in your head better.

If you want to find out more about the Berlin Wall puzzle tour, you can find information about the game here:

And now enjoy your next city tour!