New York Explorer Pass

If you're thinking of buying the Explorer Pass, I'll tell you how to use it, how much it costs and whether it's worth it or not. Read on!

Alex Grande

Alex Grande

8 min read

New York Explorer Pass

Views of Manhattan from The Edge | ©Hellotickets

In case you are preparing a trip to New York, the New York Explorer Pass is an option that you should definitely consider to save a lot on your visit so you can do more things. Read on and I'll tell you why!

Tourist card

Go City: New York City Explorer Pass - Choose 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 10 attractions

Choose from over 100 activities and attractions

If you are going to be in New York for several weeks, this pass allows you to choose how many attractions you want to visit and gives you the opportunity to do so for 30 days. It is the pass with the longest duration in the city.

The Explorer Pass can be purchased from $85, although it is a pass that you pay according to the number of attractions you want to visit. Perfect to customize your experience in New York, you can choose 3, 4, 5, 5, 7 or 10 attractions and pay according to the number. From the moment you activate the pass, you have a whole month to visit the attractions you have chosen, an advantage over other passes that are usually valid for much less time.

You can choose to receive it in your email or directly on your smartphone (the most practical way), have it sent to your home, or pick it up at one of the distribution points scattered around New York. In addition, with your New York Explorer Pass you will receive a New York guidebook that will tell you the most efficient way to visit the attractions you have selected.

Why I like this option: besides allowing you to pay only for the number of attractions you want to visit, it gives you a margin of up to 30 days to do so, which makes it the perfect pass if your trip is going to be long.

A tip: If you want to get the most out of it, I recommend that you choose the most expensive attractions to maximize savings. Make a list of the places you want to visit and compare if it is better to buy the tickets separately.

What is included in the Explorer Pass

Views of the Statue of Liberty from the ferry| ©Hellotickets
Views of the Statue of Liberty from the ferry| ©Hellotickets
  • Free choice of 3, 4, 5, 5, 7 or 10 items from over 100 activities and attractions
  • Valid for 30 days
  • Skip-the-line tickets at select attractions
  • New York travel guide to your selected attractions
  • Discounts at stores, restaurants and shows

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Recommended activities

Top of the Rock Viewing| ©Hellotickets
Top of the Rock Viewing| ©Hellotickets

The New York Explorer Pass is perfect for a comprehensive tour of New York, as it allows you to save as much as possible on the most expensive attractions so you can do the rest on your own. So, I've done the math for you and found the two best combinations of attractions for the Explorer Pass to make it as cost-effective as possible. As a general rule, if with the pass you can get each ticket for 25 euros, you are on the right track.

The best combination if you want 3 activities

  • Top of the Rock - the single ticket costs 38 euros.
  • Ripley's Believe or Not - single ticket is 30 euros.
  • NYC TV & Movie Sites - single ticket costs 43 euros.

The best combination if you want 7 activities

  • Hop On Hop Off Big Bus: Classic New York Tour - single ticket costs 45 euros.
  • Big Bus Night Tour: Big Bus Night Tour - single ticket costs 47 euros.
  • Top of the Rock - single ticket costs 38 euros.
  • Empire State Building - single ticket costs 35 euros.
  • NYC TV & Movie Bus Tour - single ticket costs 50 euros.
  • Luna Park 24 Ride Pass - single ticket costs 58 euros.
  • Clipper City Sailing Cruise - single ticket costs 43 euros.

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Attractions included

The sightseeing bus as it passes through Times Square| ©Hellotickets
The sightseeing bus as it passes through Times Square| ©Hellotickets
  • Classic Sightseeing Bus: The Big Bus Classic Hop On Hop Off bus tour lasts one day and is a perfect way to explore Manhattan in its entirety. With stops from Battery Park (south of the island) to Central Park, you can hop on the bus and use it as a form of transportation to visit New York's main sights, or hop on at the end of your trip to see it all one last time.
  • Night Sightseeing Bus: Exploring the City That Never Sleeps at night is an experience that, as you can imagine, you can't miss. What makes this night bus tour of Manhattan so special is that you get to ride through Times Square when all the displays are illuminated, as well as see the Empire State Building and One World Observatory lit up.
  • Top of the Rock: The Top of the Rock has for me the best views of New York: not only will you see the most famous skyscrapers of Manhattan, but you will have a wonderful panoramic view of Central Park guarded by the new skyscrapers being built in the Big Apple. Tickets for Tof of the Rock cost 35 € for adults and 30 € for children. In this case, you can use your pass to get an online ticket with a set schedule, or present the pass at the ticket office to validate your ticket.
  • Empire State Building: It is one of the icons of the New York skyline and a real time capsule, with its impressive art deco interior and its museum dedicated to the construction of the building. However, the main reason all visitors go is for the views from its observatory, which are undoubtedly one of the most impressive ways to see the city. With the pass, you will skip the line to buy tickets for the Empire State Building and just go to the security checkpoint, where you can show your pass and they will let you in.
  • NYC TV & Movie Bus Tour: It's no wonder that New York has been the setting for a million movies and series, and on this tour you'll visit more than 60 locations that have served as the backdrop for them. To name a few, you'll see the apartment from 'Friends', Washington Square Park (you'll know it if you're a fan of 'Girls'), the hotels from 'Home Alone 2' and 'Ocean's 8', and filming locations from 'Avengers: Endgame', 'Mr. Robot', and 'Modern Family'.
  • Luna Park 24 Ride Pass: Luna Park is a waterfront amusement park located in Coney Island, south of Brookyln, with a somewhat decadent and vintage, fairground-like style. With this pass, you can access 24 different rides such as a roller coaster or a merry-go-round. In my opinion, the rides are not impressive at all, so visiting Luna Park is more worthwhile for its retro atmosphere.
  • Clipper City Sailing Cruise: This is a cruise around Manhattan...but on a sailboat! It is a great way to do an activity that I recommend you to take advantage of your New York Explorer Pass. Don't be fooled by how tacky it may seem to ride a sailboat when you could do a normal cruise, because it has a huge advantage: you will enjoy a much quieter, uncrowded experience, avoiding most tourists.
  • Ripley's Believe it or Not: This famous museum with locations all over the world is a must-see if you visit New York with kids. You will find rare artifacts and devices, and curiosities, as well as interactive experiences such as a medieval torture chamber or a simulation of a black hole.

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Before you buy

The Empire State Building| ©Hellotickets
The Empire State Building| ©Hellotickets

After all this information, you're bound to be a little dazed. Choosing the perfect sightseeing pass for your trip to New York isn't easy, but, in a nutshell, here's what you need to consider. The New York Explorer Pass is for you if:

  • You plan your travels in advance.
  • You want to go to New York's top attractions
  • You don't mind seeing a lot of things in one day
  • You have a tight budget for your trip
  • You are going on a long trip to New York

The Explorer for Kids

Children between 3 and 12 years old have their own Explorer Pass at a reduced price. Normally the price difference is between 20 and 50 euros less than the adult pass.

What if I don't want to choose?

The Empire State Observatory| ©Hellotickets
The Empire State Observatory| ©Hellotickets

You may already know that New York is one of the most demanded cities by tourists around the world, and as such, there are quite a few types of passes available for all kinds of tastes. If what you prefer is to have unlimited access to as many attractions as possible (an open bar of attractions), I recommend the New York Pass (you can read my practical guide about the card here: New York Pass).

The New York Pass is booked (and paid for) according to the days you want to use it and as long as the card is active, you can visit as many attractions as you want within the list of 100 available attractions.

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Latest tips

Views of Manhattan from the Hudson River| ©Hellotickets
Views of Manhattan from the Hudson River| ©Hellotickets

The good thing about the New York Explorer Pass, as you already know, is that it is valid for 30 days from its first use, so if you are going to make a long trip to New York you can take it easy... as long as you don't choose 10 attractions and you are going to spend 3 days in the city, in that case you will have to run!

Finally, I would like to remind you my most important recommendation: enjoy your visit to New York! Although the New York Explorer Pass requires you to visit as many attractions as possible to maximize savings, remember to leave a little time each day of your trip to wander the streets of the Big Apple and see what you discover on your own.

Book the New York Explorer Pass

Other available sightseeing passes

The Vessel| ©Hellotickets
The Vessel| ©Hellotickets

In case the New York Explorer Pass doesn't convince you, don't worry because there are other passes available for New York and maybe one of them fits better to the trip you are planning. To make it easier for you to choose, here are the practical guides I have written about other passes available and a comparative compilation of all of them:

New York CityPASS® Reservation