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How to Get to the Empire State

The views of New York from the Empire State Building will be a memory of your trip difficult to forget. I explain how to get there from any corner of the city.

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

6 min read

How to Get to the Empire State

Views of the Empire State Building | ©ESBNY

Located at the intersection of 5th Avenue and West 34th Street, the Empire State Building is one of New York's landmarks and an Art Deco gem that has been featured in countless movies. You can't miss it!

All sightseeing requires a bit of planning so in this guide I will tell you all the possibilities at your fingertips so you can climb the Empire State wherever you are.

1. Take a stroll and marvel at the streets of New York City

Walking around the Empire State Building| ©Hellotickets
Walking around the Empire State Building| ©Hellotickets

Walking is the cheapest and most entertaining way to get to the Empire State Building. Some people think that the distances in this city are too long to get around on foot, but the truth is that if it is your first trip to New York the walk will not be too long, on the contrary, you will enjoy it a lot!

Downtown is full of tourist attractions that will entertain you on your way to the skyscrapers and you will feel the time fly by. In its streets there is always something to capture your attention: museums, stores, skyscrapers, monuments, parks ... and a walk around the Big Apple is very enjoyable!

So don't hesitate, if you like to walk and you feel like getting to the Empire State Building with a pleasant stroll, here is the distance to this iconic skyscraper from several of the most popular places in the city to give you an idea of the time you will need.

Walking distances from the city's most important sites

Book your tickets to the Empire State without queues

2. By subway, to arrive quickly and on time

Using the New York subway| ©Hellotickets
Using the New York subway| ©Hellotickets

In case you want to skip the walk downtown or if when it comes to getting around you want to avoid traffic because you value speed and punctuality, then taking the New York subway to get to the Empire State is the best option for you.

The main subway lines that reach the Empire State are:

  • From 34th Street - Penn Station (1, 2, 3, A, C and E)
  • From 34th Street - Herald Square Station (N, Q, R, W, B, D, F and M)
  • From Grand Central Terminal (4, 5, 6 and 7)

How much does a subway ticket cost?

A single ticket to the Empire State Building costs $2.75, but if you plan to use public transportation several times during your stay in New York, you may want to get a MetroCard, a rechargeable card that allows you to ride the bus, subway and Roosevelt cable car.

The MetroCard cannot be purchased before you go to New York, you will have to buy it at the ticket vending machines at any subway station. It's very easy! You can even share it with your companion if you choose to load it with credit instead of unlimited rides.

I recommend you to read my guide about the New York subway as there I explain step by step how to buy the MetroCard, how to find your way around the subway and other tips that will help you to move in this transport like a fish in water.

3. By sightseeing bus to the Empire State Building

The New York sightseeing bus| ©Hellotickets
The New York sightseeing bus| ©Hellotickets

If you have a ticket for the New York sightseeing bus, riding on one of these vehicles to go to the Empire State Building is an option that you should not discard because not only will you be able to see some of the most important tourist attractions of the city during the trip but you can also use it as another means of transportation. It's super practical!

How to go to the Empire State by tourist bus?

The Big Bus Red Route covers the center of the Big Apple and places like the Empire State Building, so you will have it very easy to get to the skyscraper using the tourist bus.

In case you are interested in this alternative and want to know more details, I advise you to read the article Thebest tourist buses in New York.

4. By city bus, cheap and comfortable

By bus on Fifth Avenue| ©Hellotickets
By bus on Fifth Avenue| ©Hellotickets

The bus is a good alternative to go to the Empire State if you don't have a ticket for the tourist bus or don't want to take the subway because you are afraid of going to the wrong stop (it's tricky to find the right one!) or if you are apprehensive about enclosed spaces.

It is also if you prefer to take the opportunity to travel comfortably seated while contemplating the urban landscape because it is quite entertaining. Plus, it's cheap transportation as the single ticket costs the same as the subway $2.75.

Recommended bus lines

The lines that have stops near the Empire State are the M2, M3, M4, M5, M16 and M34. You can have a look at the timetables on the official New York public transportation website.

If you choose to go by bus to the Empire State, my advice is to leave with a little bit of time in case there is a traffic jam on the way and be patient because sometimes the traffic in New York can be a mess.

5. By cab or Uber, for those who are looking for a personalized service

By cab in Manhattan| ©Hellotickets
By cab in Manhattan| ©Hellotickets

For those who don't want to deal with the schedules, transfers or frequency of New York's public transportation, an interesting option to get to the Empire State is the door-to-door service offered by transports such as cab, Lyft or Uber.

In New York cabs are not usually lacking but in case you do not feel like throwing yourself into the streets in search of a free one, a very interesting and comfortable alternative to get to the Empire State that leaves no loose ends are the APPs of Uber and Lyft.

How do they work?

If you have not yet tried this service I recommend it because it is very simple and can get you out of trouble on more than one occasion. To use this type of transportation all you have to do is download the APP on your mobile and register an account.

Then you will have to indicate the address of origin and destination and it will automatically calculate the fare, the itinerary and the time it will take the driver to pick you up. Once you accept, so you can recognize the car that will pick you up, the application will show you the license plate number.

Moreover, using apps like Uber or Lyft you won't have to worry about carrying cash in your pocket or taking out your card to pay as the amount will be charged directly to your account. That's how convenient it is!

6. Get around quickly with New York's public bicycles

Dare to pedal through New York City| ©Hellotickets
Dare to pedal through New York City| ©Hellotickets

One of the most popular forms of transportation used by New Yorkers to get around the city are the public bikes that you will find scattered along many streets.

If you like pedaling, in addition to enjoying the ride you can take the opportunity to explore the city and contemplate the scenery. You'll see New York from another point of view, as a local who uses bikes to get to work or home. And if you're committed to the environment, there's no doubt that this is a great way to get to the Empire State Building.

Citi Bike is one of the companies that provides this service in the Big Apple and is available for both tourists and New Yorkers. Check out the app! Its operation is very simple and intuitive.

How to use Citi Bike?

When you download Citi Bike on your cell phone, the application will show you your location on the city map as well as the nearest bike stations and other features. This way you can rent one wherever you want and get to the Empire State Building in no time. These are the steps to follow from the app:

  • To register, fill in the required fields and indicate a credit card for payment.
  • Choose a voucher and pay for it.
  • To unlock your bike, you can now scan a QR code or use the bike key.
  • You have a few seconds until the bike locks again, so I advise you to take it out quickly to start pedaling.