Insider's Guide to Big Bus Tours - Chicago

March 8, 2022

Sparkling azure waters of Lake Michigan, awe-inspiring architecture, and a bevy of world-class art museums make Chicago a perfect getaway year-round.

However, this midwestern metropolis of 2.7 million people can often be overwhelming. Tackle the Windy City at your own pace when you book a Big Bus Chicago Tour. Follow along to discover everything you need to know about Big Bus Tours Chicago!

Feel the fresh air on your skin and soak in panoramic open-top views of the iconic Willis Tower and the Bean. Hop on and off your bus at your leisure for scintillating stops at the Adler Planetarium and the Chicago Riverwalk. 

Take charge of your Second City destiny, and become your own tour guide as you decide exactly how long to linger at each sensational sight. Once you've had your fill of selfies and fascinating facts, simply wait for the next bus and rejoin your tour.

Ready to embrace the flexibility and fun of Big Bus Tours? Read on as we answer every last question and query…

Big Bus Tours

Today’s Big Bus Tour company represents a merger between two of the biggest and most respected sightseeing companies in the world: the Big Bus Company Ltd (based in London) and Les Cars Rouges (based in Paris). 

Utilizing over two decades of tourism experience, these brands came together to create a game-changing bus tour for the modern age. Now available in over 20 cities across four continents, Big Bus Tours is the largest operator of open-top sightseeing bus tours in the world.

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Big Bus Tours aims to put their passengers in the driver's seat. Cover more ground, have more fun and create even more lasting memories when you explore with Big Bus Tours. From the insightful guided narration to the comfort and style of their double-decker buses, they ensure extraordinary sightseeing adventures everywhere from Chi-town to Berlin. 

distant view of Big Bus Tour bus with skyline in background in Chicago, Illinois, USA

Buying Big Bus Chicago Tour Tickets

High key excited to set forth on your Second City sojourn? Before you can sample that delicious deep-dish pizza or swoon over the Skydeck, you’ll need to pre-purchase your Big Bus Chicago tickets

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We highly recommend buying tickets online to save both time and money. However, there is also always an option to purchase tickets from a member of the Big Bus street sales team*. 

Depending on whether you seek to sightsee for one or two days, there are a variety of tickets options including: 

Hop-On, Hop-Off 1 Day Classic Ticket - $44.10 for an adult/ $27 for a child (ages 3-12)

Hop-On, Hop-Off 2 Day Premium Ticket - $53.10 for an adult/ $31.50 for a child (ages 3-12)

Further Premium Ticket options also available include:

Premium Ticket + Skydeck - $79 for an adult/ $45 for a child (ages 3-12)

Classic Ticket + Architecture Cruise - $79 for an adult/ $45 for a child (ages 3-12)

Lap children ages 0-2 years old can ride the Big Bus free of charge. 

*Please note that for current health reasons Big Bus street team members will not be accepting cash payments.

How to Redeem Your Big Bus Chicago Tour Ticket

Wondering how to redeem your Big Bus ticket after purchasing? Easier than riding the L! Simply check your email where you should have received a confirmation message containing a link to print your voucher.

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Please have your voucher printed and ready to present to a Big Bus employee at the beginning of your tour. Your Big Bus staff member will then hand you a ticket receipt that you must carry with you for the duration of your day. This receipt will be presented to the bus driver each time you seek to rejoin the tour. 

Not near a printer? No worries! For a convenient e-ticket option, please select to have your purchased tickets sent to your smartphone or mobile device. You should receive a text message containing a link to your ticket. However, be wary that you will need to have either a Wi-Fi connection or mobile data enabled to open this link and view your e-ticket page.

women at the top of the bus with the Sears Tower in background on a Big Bus Tour in Chicago, Illinois, USAParking for Big Bus Tour Chicago

Bringing your own transportation to the Windy City? We always recommend taking public transit when available. However, if you must drive in Chi-town we suggest pre-planning your parking spot. 

Some nearby parking garage options include:

  • 801 N MacChesney Ct Parking
  • 230 N Michigan Ave Parking

If you have further questions regarding parking or transportation, we encourage you to reach out to a local street team member for advice.

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What to Know Before You Go 

Chomping at the bit to begin your Chicago trek? Prime yourself for a sublime day (or two) of sights, landmarks, and local expertise by following our handy Big Bus Tips:

Download the official Big Bus App. This completely free app is like having your own personal sightseeing guide in the palm of your hand! Easily access tour routes, receive real-time bus tracking and arrival times, and view detailed Big Bus Chicago maps.

Dive deep into your destination’s history and culture with fascinating facts, and take advantage of exclusive offers to top attractions. 

The Big Bus Chicago team kindly asks that you have your tickets printed and ready for a staff member to check. We highly suggest you review the routes map prior to boarding so you can scope out your desired stops. 

two drivers standing beside the Big Bus Tour bus with skyline in the background in Chicago, Illinois, USA

About Big Bus Tours Chicago

Awe-inspiring art museums, serene star gazing at the Adler Planetarium, and brisk strolls through Millenium Park are just a few of the revelatory experiences that await you on your Big Bus Chicago tour. 

Lucky locals and visitors who climb aboard will be treated to the Big Loop (or Red Route) tour. Participation in the full circuit of this entertaining and educational escapade will last approximately two hours.

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Buses run every 60 minutes, with the first bus departing at 10:00 am from Stop #1 at Chicago Riverwalk, 98 E. Wacker Dr. and the Last Bus leaving at 4:00 pm from the same location. 

All Big Bus Tours feature pre-recorded English-language commentary. Listen up to the thoughtful virtual guides who will be leading you with their local expertise and knowledge. Utilize the complimentary Big bus headphones, or bring your own as you tune into the unbelievable heritage, history, and unique culture of the Windy City.

Big Bus Chicago Stops

Ready to soak in every inch of Chi-town-inspired architecture, history, and sublime city views? 

Saddle up because your Big Bus Chicago tour stops in twelve awesome locations and includes such highlights as:

  • Chicago Riverwalk - includes Trump International Hotel & Tower, the Wrigley Building, the Tribune Tower, and Michigan Ave. Bridge
  • The Loop & State St - Chicago Theatre
  • Skydeck Chicago & Willis Tower
  • Millennium Park & The Art Institute of Chicago 
  • Adler Planetarium
  • Museum Campus - notable stops here include the Shedd Aquarium and the nearby Field Museum
  • Navy Pier
  • Water Tower and The Magnificent Mile
  • 360 Chicago - nearby stops include the John Hancock Center (now formerly known as 875 North Michigan Avenue)
  • And more!
Close up of a tour guide pointing to the water on a sunny day on a Big Bus Tour in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: Big Bus Tour

A history peppered with gangsters, great fires, and plenty of Prohibition-era peril, Chicago’s past makes for a searingly entertaining tale.

Combine her checkered origins with first-class attractions such as the Shedd Aquarium, and a world-renowned art museum, and you have a bustling capital that has captured the hearts of millions.

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Witness the architectural prowess of the Wrigley building, scope out the vistas from 360 Chicago, or indulge in some retail therapy along the Magnificent Mile. 

With Big Bus Tours you can take charge of your Windy City destiny. From educational stopovers at the Field Museum to thrilling rides on the Navy Pier’s Ferris Wheel, there are untold ways to wander the White City.

However you choose to experience your Big Bus Tour, you are guaranteed to fall for the charm of Chicago. 

Tell Us, Which Big Bus Chicago Stop Are You Most Excited About? 

Leave us a comment below!

isis with mural in background

Written By Isis Maya

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central America and her love o ...

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