Seeing Miami: Miami Open City Tour

You’ve seen them when traveling, big double decker tour buses that shuttle tourists around to see the sights. We finally got on one in Miami and I am so glad we did.

We went with Miami Open City Tour and saw the best Of Miami in just 2 hours.

Rob and I have been to Miami 2 times before this trip. We took a cruise for our honeymoon and took another to celebrate our 10 year anniversary, both times we set sail from the sparkling shores of Miami. We didn’t spend any real time exploring the iconic city when we were here before, we arrived only an evening before we had to board the boat in both instances.

City tour 7
This Norwegian Cruise Line ship was aptly named “Epic”. She was the biggest ship docked in the port!

When we were booking our tickets to Colombia we found many flights went through Miami on route to South American destinations and we saw that as an opportunity to get to know the city better but we are only in Miami for a week.

Our main goal was to photograph South Beach so we booked an Air B&B apartment in the South Beach area. Being on a tight travel budget we walked or took public transit to get where we want to go. Its kind of tough to really see a city on public transit or check out a cities landmarks if your walking and they’re spread out at opposite ends. So Makai found the perfect solution, so we could see all we wanted to see in Miami, The Miami Open City Tour.

Miami open City tour
This was the bus we rode on

The Miami Open City Tour is a tour company that operates red, convertible double decker buses 7 days a week, rain or shine. Mak spotted one when we were walking around South Beach and we thought it looked like a fun way to see the sights.

We were right.

The buses are air conditioned on the lower deck and open air on the top deck. There is a retractable top on the upper deck so it can be top up for shade or rain protection or top down for awesome 360 views. We sat on top with the top up, it was very sunny and hot so the shade was appreciated.

We each were supplied with a set of headphones to plug in at our seat and listen to a prerecorded tour. There is also a live tour guide on board, ours was Hector and we opted to listen to him instead of the recording. He was great, very proud of his city and knowledgeable too.

Miami open city tour


We could choose one of the 2 routes to start: route 1 Miami Beach or route 2 Miami(Downtown, Coconut Grove, and Coral Gables). Both routes are included in the ticket price. We chose to start with route 2 and finish with route 1, Miami Beach, as the bus could drop us almost right outside our apartment when we decided to leave the tour.

miami open city tour
We made a short stop in Little Havana on route 2

The tour is a hop on hop off tour so you can get off the bus at any of the many stop options and get back on when ever you want to rejoin the tour. Another bus will be back around in about every 30 minutes with the last loop beginning at 4:30 pm. You can buy a ticket for 24 hr or 48 hr hop on hop off access. Our tour guide helped passengers hop off , giving them instructions where and when they could get back on, a pretty convenient way to experience all the best of Miami. Here are some of the highlights from both routes:

Miami open city tour
Coco Walk is in Coconut Grove. Coconut Grove began as a Bohemian settlement back in 1873. West Coconut Grove is the oldest part of Miami


City tour 3
Coral Gables Biltmore Hotel. Built in 1926, it is designated a National Historic Landmark. Its style is breath taking.
The Tudor Hotel. One of the many Art Deco style hotels along Collins Avenue.
The Tudor Hotel. One of the many Art Deco style hotels along Collins Avenue.
This vivid mural was just 2 blocks up from our apartment.
This vivid mural was just 2 blocks up from our apartment.

All and all, Miami Open City tour was a great way for us to see the parts of Miami we wouldn’t have been able to see without renting a car and doing a bunch of research. This was the perfect way for us as budget conscious travelers to make the most of a day and see all of the landmarks and attractions we wanted to see in Miami.


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  1. says

    The Hop On/Off buses are great, we’ve taken tours in other cities. I remember taking one in Chicago and it was broiling hot and every time the bus stopped we melted into a puddle in our seats, but we could see so much more by being on the top deck. We visited Miami 25+ years ago and I barely remember much of anything, but it looks as if you’re enjoying your visit. You must be so filled with eager anticipation for the upcoming journey. Safe travels to the three of you, I look forward to reading!
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    • Tracey says

      I am so glad we took the tour. We were in Miami 6 days with no car rental. It was definitely the best way to see a lot of a destination. There is no way we could have seen everything we saw on the tour even if we had rented a car. We just saw the exact same bus here in Cartagena. It would definitely to hot on the upper deck here, the average temp has been 35 degrees Celsius with 90% humidity!

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