The White House, as seen from the CitySights DC double-decker bus. — Photo courtesy of Shannon Morgan
CitySights, one of the largest double-decker tour bus companies around, now operates in Washington, D.C. Their recognizable red buses are transporting visitors around the nation’s capital on three tour loops – the red, purple and yellow loops – which comprise the All Loops Tour.
The All Loops Tour is a foot-friendly way to see all of the major monuments and landmarks in Washington, D.C. and capture a bird’s-eye view of city’s diverse neighborhoods.
The red loop, or the Monuments and Landmarks Loop, begins at Union Station and travels the length of the National Mall, from the Capitol building to the Tidal Basin.
The purple loop travels from the Lincoln Memorial, across the Potomac River to Arlington National Cemetery, for which the loop is aptly named.
The yellow loop, or the Washington National Cathedral Loop, circles the White House on its way to the cathedral, traveling through several D.C. neighborhoods, including Georgetown, Woodley Park, Cleveland Park and Dupont Circle.
Washington National Cathedral — Photo courtesy of Shannon Morgan
All three loops intersect at various points throughout the city, allowing passengers to hop on and off as well as transfer loops. Passengers wanting to complete all three loops should board the red loop at Union Station, transfer to the yellow loop at the White House, return to the red loop on completion of the yellow loop, take a side tour of Arlington National Cemetery on the purple loop and then finish the tour back on the red loop.
Buses are not distinguishable by loop – no purple and yellow buses, just red ones. Bus stops are noted on D.C. city bus signs and listed on the tour map available on board and at Union Station. Seating is open air on the top deck and limited on the lower deck. The lower deck offers shelter from the elements, but the view is far less scenic.
CitySights DC's double-decker tour bus — Photo courtesy of CithySights DC
The complete All Loops Tour takes approximately two hours, without stops. It's narrated in eight different languages. Earphones are available by request from the bus attendant at no extra cost.
Tickets for the All Loops Tour can be purchased online (for a $5 savings) or at the CitySights DC kiosk located in Union Station. Tickets are good for either 24 or 48 hours from the time stamped on the ticket; however, buses only run between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
CitySights DC offers a separate Night Tour, a three-hour continuous tour of the illuminated monuments. This tour departs from Union Station every evening at 7 p.m. There’s also a Flexpass option that includes a free Night Tour and admission to attractions like the International Spy Museum.