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How to Get to Top of the Rock NY

Are you dying to go up to the Top of the Rock and see the Big Apple at your feet? I'll tell you how to get there with different alternatives to get around.

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

6 min read

How to Get to Top of the Rock NY

The Top of the Rock Observatory | ©Tom Moser

Located in the heart of Manhattan (between 49th and 50th Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues) is the Top of the Rock observation deck at the top of Rockefeller Center. It is such a spectacular place, that I recommend you to book your tickets to the Top of the Rock in advance so you do not miss it in any way.

This tourist attraction is very well connected with the city's transportation, so it will be very easy to get there, but if it is your first time in New York and you do not know what your options are, do not worry, because in this post I tell you how to get to the Top of the Rock in the blink of an eye, wherever you are.

Get to Top of the Rock taking a walk through Midtown

How to get to the Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets
How to get to the Top of the Rock| ©Hellotickets

While you're strolling through Midtown, there's no better time to climb to the Top of the Rock and enjoy the best views of New York. Plus, it's the cheapest and most enjoyable way to hit the sites during a day of sightseeing because it costs nothing and there's always something new to see and be surprised by.

In fact, it is more than likely that the time will fly by and you will arrive without even realizing it because walking is a unique opportunity to explore new routes and places of interest, which is always a pleasure when we are visiting.

Of course, I recommend that you book your tickets to the Top of the Rock in advance to avoid the long lines that form at the entrance.

Walking distances from popular sites in the city

  • St. Patrick's Cathedral: it will take you 4 minutes to walk from this famous temple. See on Google Maps.
  • Times Square: it will take you about 9 minutes to walk from here. See in Google Maps.
  • Grand Central Terminal: it will take you about 16 minutes to get there from the iconic station. View on Google Maps.
  • Central Park: it will take you only 13 minutes to walk to the Top of the Rock from the Big Apple's green lung. View on Google Maps.
  • Chrysler Building: it will take you about 18 minutes to walk from this famous skyscraper. View on Google Maps.

Book your tickets to Top of the Rock

Take the subway to go like lightning to Top of the Rock

Around Rockefeller Center| ©Hellotickets
Around Rockefeller Center| ©Hellotickets

The main subway lines that go to Top of the Rock are:

  • 47th-50th Street Rockefeller Center stop (lines B, D, F and M)
  • 50th Street stop (line 1)
  • 51st Street stop (line 6)
  • 49th Street stop (N, Q and R)

Why take the subway?

If walking doesn't suit you because you're afraid of how your feet will feel at the end of the day, the subway is the best way to get to the Top of the Rock observation deck early and with British punctuality.

The New York subway usually runs punctually except for occasional incidents and there are quite frequent trains so if you are a little pressed for time, I recommend you to take this transport.

And if you want to optimize your time to the fullest, remember to buy your tickets to the Top of the Rock before starting your trip. You will thank me!

Book your tickets to Top of the Rock

On the city bus watching the sights of New York seated

Near Rockefeller Center| ©Hellotickets
Near Rockefeller Center| ©Hellotickets

If you opt for the bus, the lines that go to Top of the Rock are:

  • Madison Avenue (northbound) or Fifth Avenue (southbound): M1, M2, M3, M4 or M5 lines to 50th Street.
  • From Broadway: M7 line.
  • From 49th and 50th Streets: M50 line. Stop between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue.

New York's bus network is extensive and using it is also a good opportunity to enjoy the day to day life of the city while traveling comfortably seated. I recommend that you download the bus map to make it easier for you to find your way around and get around by bus.

How much does a bus ticket cost?

A single ticket is $2.90 but if from your location you need to transfer to another line at some point along the route, then ask the driver for a transfer ticket (free for the next 2 hours).

However, if you are going to use public transport several times during your stay in New York then I recommend you to get the MetroCard, the city's transport pass, you will get a lot out of it!

Book your tickets to the Top of the Rock

I have a tourist bus ticket, can I use it to go to the Top of the Rock?

New York City traffic| ©Hellotickets
New York City traffic| ©Hellotickets

That's right! The Big Bus Red Route covers the center of the city, right where the Top of the Rock observation deck is located. So by purchasing your ticket for the New York tourist bus you can use it to get to this tourist attraction, since this route passes by Rockefeller Center, the building where the lookout is located.

You will kill two birds with one stone! On the one hand, you can use the tourist bus as a means of transportation to move around New York and on the other hand, it will allow you to enjoy the views of downtown quietly and without tiring your legs.

If you still do not have your tourist bus ticket but this option attracts your attention, you can learn more in the post The best tourist buses in New York. Do not miss it!

I want to ride the New York sightseeing bus

Is it difficult to hail a cab to go to the Top of the Rock?

A cab in Manhattan| ©Vivar Nordii
A cab in Manhattan| ©Vivar Nordii

Who hasn't wanted to ride in one of the famous "yellow cabs" at some time? A visit to the Top of the Rock can be a good occasion if, due to circumstances (crowds, tiredness, bad timing, not speaking English...) you do not want to go on foot or by public transport and you prefer to opt for a door-to-door service such as that provided by cabs or Uber or Lyft companies in New York that will make things easier for you.

By cab

Fear not, although in the movies it's mission impossible to find a free one , cabs are not in short supply in the Big Apple. They tend to pass through the streets of Manhattan frequently, so as soon as you see one driving by... flag it down so it doesn't get away from you!

Estimated cab cost from key points in the city

  • Grand Central Terminal: the fare starts at $ 8.52
  • Times Square: the fare is priced from $9.68
  • Upper East Side: the fare starts at $15,45
  • World Trade Center: the fare starts at $27.61

By Uber or Lyft

This is a very interesting alternative to consider to go to the Top of the Rock. They are similar to cabs but have the advantage that the ride has a fixed price before leaving so you know what it will cost you before arriving at Rockefeller Center.

Also, the Lyft Share or UberPOOL versions of the well-known companies allow you to share the ride with other passengers going in the same direction so finding a free vehicle to move wherever you are is even easier. Keep an eye on them!

Estimated cost of Uber from key points in the city

  • Grand Central Terminal: the ride costs from $8.05
  • Times Square: the ride is priced from $8.05
  • Upper East Side: the fare starts at $16.66
  • World Trade Center: the ride costs from $20.18

How to use Uber or Lyft

  • Download the app on your cell phone.
  • Create an account with your email and phone number.
  • Enter your destination address and confirm the pick-up location for the App to assign you a driver.
  • Wait at the location for the vehicle to pick you up.
  • When you arrive at your destination, pay in cash or with any of the payment methods suggested by the App. It's that easy!

Isabel's Traveler Tip

Remember to leave a small tip of 10% to 15% for the cab driver. In New York this is customary.