New York can be a bit of a chaotic city to visit. There is so much to see and it is easy to get lost in the vastness of the Big Apple and end up not getting the most out of your trip. The New York Pass is a great ally to save time and money on our trip.
New York is not a cheap city to travel to and especially the first time when you want to get the most out of it by visiting as many attractions as possible. Luckily, there are some hacks to organize your trip in a simple way and save a lot of money, which translates into doing more things and enjoying more, for less. One of these hacks has a name: it's called the New York Pass and you can get it From $ 116.
New York's best attractions, at the lowest price
If you want access to New York's best attractions, get this tourist day pass to access the ones you like the most during your trip. You'll save time and moneyFrom $ 116 at Hellotickets
Getting a New York Pass has several advantages: you save money if you make good use of it, you save time since you don't have to buy tickets at the box office for each place you visit (and in some cases, you won't have to wait in line), and it is also very convenient to have all your tickets in one place.
The New York Pass is a day pass, and you pay according to the number of days of validity you choose. You can choose between 1 and 10 days of validity. Be careful, because they are not 24-hour days, but from the moment you activate the pass you have until midnight before it counts as a full day, and your pass leaves the party in a carriage like Cinderella (or simply stops working on the attractions).
When purchasing the New York Pass, all you have to do is directly download their app and have access to the pass immediately. From this point on, you can go to the first attraction on your list and scan your pass at the entrance, at which point the pass starts counting.
However, for some activities, it will be necessary to present your pass and obtain a ticket. This is the case for the Hop on Hop off bus tour, for which you will need to go to a Big Bus ticket booth. Another thing to keep in mind is that all New York sightseeing passes let you into a particular attraction only once (with exceptions).
Why I like this option: One of the big advantages of the New York Pass is that it gives you queue-free entry to several selected attractions. This doesn't save you from waiting in line at certain attractions, and it doesn't get you out of going through security checks at the entrances, but at the end of your trip, you will have saved a few hours of waiting in total.
How to choose between the New York Pass and other passes
It is true that besides the New York Pass, there are other similar tourist cards in New York. Before we go into studying if the New York Pass is the best option for you, the first thing you need to know is that there are two types of passes mainly:
By day: these are passes whose price varies according to the number of days of validity. You can choose if you want to book it for 2, 3, 4 days, etc. and during that time you can visit any attraction included in its list, without limit. They are ideal if you want to go from one attraction to another and experience your trip to New York without wasting a minute. The New York Pass is one of them.
By the number of attractions included: these are passes whose price varies depending on the number of attractions you want to visit. If you already know which places, museums, etc. you want to see, you will pay exclusively for them and you will have more time to visit them. It is ideal if you want to enjoy New York at your own pace.
It all depends on the places you want to visit
The second thing you need to keep in mind is that the best way to decide on a sightseeing pass is to make a list of monuments and buildings you want to see and attractions you want to do in New York. If this is your first visit to New York you may not have a clear idea of what the Big Apple has to offer, so below is a list of highlights from the New York Pass. You can use it as a basis to start organizing your trip.
What's included in the New York Pass
The New York Pass includes skip-the-line access to New York's most popular attractions, and the app has an audio guide in English, a map with the featured attractions, and practical information about each site. To give you an idea, among the more than 100 attractions and activities that you can access with the New York Pass, these are the highlights:
- Empire State Building - individual admission $ 46
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck - single admission $ 41.00
- Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Sightseeing Tour - single ticket $ 55
- Madame Tussauds - single ticket $ 37.00
- Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Ferry - single ticket $ 18.50
- Museum of Modern Art - single ticket $ 25
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum - single ticket $ 28.00
- Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises - single ticket $ 43.00
- THE RIDE - single ticket $ 69
- Marvel & DC Superheroes Tour - single admission $ 35
- Food On Foot Tours - single ticket $ 49
- Radio City Music Hall: Stage Door Tour - single ticket $ 31.00
- Madison Square Garden All Access Tour® - single ticket $ 35
- National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey - single ticket $ 43
- Harlem Jazz Series - single ticket $ 45
Top attractions included in the New York Pass
The Empire State Building is one of New York's skyline icons and a true time capsule, with its impressive art deco interior and museum dedicated to the building's construction that will transport you back to the 1930s.
However, the main reason all visitors to New York go to the Empire State is for the views from its observatory, which are undoubtedly one of the most impressive ways to see the city. Put this visit at the top of your list of things to see in the Big Apple!
- How to get there: The closest subway stop is 34 St. - Herald Square, which most lines connect to. From the subway station, it is a few minutes walk to the corner where the Empire State Building is located. You can also go to the 33 St. subway stop and walk a little further to reach the iconic building.
- Address: 5th Avenue, between 33rd and 34th Streets.
- Price: There are two types of tickets, one that allows you double access for day and night and a visit to the museum on the second floor ($ 67 adult/$ 56 child), and the single ticket with access to the observation deck and the museum on the second floor ($ 45 adult/$ 38 child).
- Queuing time to buy tickets: Between 45 and 60 minutes.
- How the pass works: Skip the line to buy tickets and go directly to the security checkpoint, where you can show your pass and they will let you through. Please note that the CityPass includes two entrances at different times to the Empire State Building.
- About the attraction: it opens from 8:00 AM to 2:00 AM, and a typical visit lasts 2 hours.
Top of the Rock
The Top of the Rock (the name given to the observatory of the Comcast Building in Rockefeller Plaza) offers the best views of New York from a skyscraper: it's from here that all those wonderful postcard photos of the Empire State are taken.
If you're passionate about photography, you'll be amazed at the photos you can take of this icon of New York architecture, especially if you climb to the Top of the Rock at sunset or on a foggy morning. As a bonus, you'll also get to see the One World Observatory and the Statue of Liberty as if it were a toy.
- Address: Between 5th and 6th Avenues and 49th and 50th Streets.
- Price: Admission to the Top of the Rock is $ 35 (adults) and $ 30 (children). Children under 6 years old are free.
- Ticket queue time: 15 to 20 minutes.
- How the pass works: You can use your pass to get an online ticket with a set schedule or present your pass at the ticket office to have your ticket validated.
- About the attraction: Opening hours are from 8:00 AM to midnight (last elevator up is at 11:00 PM). The average visit is usually one hour, but how long you want to stay on the observation deck is up to you.
Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus Tour
The Big Bus tour is one of the most famous sightseeing bus tours in the city, as it takes you around literally all of Manhattan showing you all the sights. Below is a full description of the route of this bus tour, which is a perfect way to visit Manhattan in one day, as you can use the bus as a mode of transportation and do a complete itinerary of downtown New York.
With 25 stops spread between Uptown and Downtown, you can explore all of Manhattan by bus, with stops at the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street, Flatiron Building, Times Square, Central Park, 9/11 Memorial and Chinatown, among others. The schedule of this tour bus is from 9 AM to 5 PM, times of the first and last departure respectively.
The world's most famous wax museum is based in New York and is much more than just a place to take selfies with celebrities like Barack Obama, the Kardashian's or Hollywood's most famous actors and actresses. Inside, you can find an interactive experience in which you will have to escape from a zombie apocalypse, you can be part of the Ghostbusters for a while or visit King Kong Island. It's not an attraction for all tastes, but if you're going to New York with kids this will surely be one of their favorite visits.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum
The Statue of Liberty represents New York City like no other monument to any other city in the world. Seeing it up close is breathtaking, and almost even more impressive are the views of Manhattan from Liberty Island. To visit it, you will have to take a ferry from Battery Park and with the New York Pass, you don't have to worry about the ticket, because it is included.
In addition, it also includes the ferry to Ellis Island, where you can visit the Immigration Museum and explore an exhibition about the times when New York became a place of welcome for immigrants from all over the world in search of a better future. Note that all passes include a ferry to Liberty Island (where the Statue of Liberty is located) and some to Ellis Island, but none include access to the pedestal or crown of the Statue of Liberty.
Because of this, it is often better to buy tickets to the Statue of Liberty directly or to book a tour of Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty. In short: this is the "laziest" experience within the New York passes.
- Address: Liberty Island
- How to get there: The only way to get to the Statue of Liberty is by ferry or boat, and all depart from Battery Park. The closest subway stops to the terminal from which the ferry departs are State St/Bridge St and Battery Pl/West St.
- Price: The ticket with access to the pedestal costs $ 28 per adult and $ 17 per child. The one that includes access to the crown costs $ 32 per adult and $ 25 per child. Please note that it is limited to 4 tickets per person and they are non-transferable, since they must be to your name and you must show them yourself.
- Queue time: There is a ferry to the Statue of Liberty every 90 minutes, so depending on the time you arrive, you will have to wait more or less.
- How the pass works: You don't need to buy a ticket, so head straight to the security checkpoint and wait for the ferry to arrive.
- About the attraction: You can go to the Statue of Liberty from 9:30 AM to 5:25 PM. The typical visit lasts around 4 to 5 hours.
MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)
MoMA is a must-see museum in New York if you want to see with your own eyes an extraordinary exhibition of artworks that have defined the last century. You can enjoy works of art such as the famous 'Starry Night' by Van Gogh, as well as paintings by Monet, Pollock, Mondrian, Hellen Frankenthaler, and Andy Warhol among others.
- Address: Between 5th and 6th avenues and 53rd and 54th streets.
- Nearest subway is 5th Avenue-53rd St, from which you will only have to walk three or four minutes to MoMA. The museum is a 10-minute walk from Rockefeller Center, so you can plan a joint visit.
- Price: Admission for adults is $ 27. Children 12 and under are free. Free admission to the museum is available on Fridays after 4:00 PM.
- Queue time to buy tickets: The queues to buy tickets are not usually very long, but the queues at the security checkpoint can be up to 30 minutes, and even longer if you visit the museum on Fridays when it is free for everyone.
- How the pass works: Simply present your pass at the security line and you can enter the museum.
- About the attraction: It's open from 12:00 AM to 18:00 PM every day, and as for visiting time it's usually two and a half hours on average (although this depends entirely on what kind of visit you want to do).
9/11 Memorial and Museum
The 9/11 memorial and museum tells the story of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. This is a very interesting visit as it will bring a certain historical depth to your trip to New York, and although this experience is not for everyone, it will give you a context about the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers that you may not otherwise have, substantially changing your perspective on New York City.
- Address: Between Liberty St. and Fulton St., near West St., near West St., near the corner of Liberty St. and Fulton St.
- How to get there: The nearest subway stops are WTC-Cortland, Cortland St. Station, and Fulton St. Station, all within a five- to ten-minute walk of the 9/11 Memorial.
- Price: The 9/11 Memorial is free and open to the public. A ticket with a tour of the 9/11 Museum costs $ 42.50 per adult and between $ 32-37 per child, again depending on age.
- Ticket queue time: Between 10 and 90 minutes.
- How the pass works: Skip the ticket line, go directly to the security checkpoint, and present your pass for direct access to the 9/11 Museum.
- About the attraction: Open from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM and until 9:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays. Most people take a 2-hour tour.
Circle Line Cruise
You'll be able to choose from four different boat tours of New York with the New York Pass:
- Best of NYC Cruise: a 2.5-hour tour around Manhattan from Brooklyn to Queens.
- Harbor Lights Sunset Cruise: a two-hour evening tour of Manhattan.
- Landmark Cruise: this will take you around Manhattan in search of the best views of the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, or One World Trade Center in two and a half hours.
- Liberty Cruise: a cruise to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
The Ride is a 75-minute bus tour of Manhattan with an interactive experience and a panoramic window to experience the city in a different way, where comedy, dance, and music accompany you throughout the ride. It's like stepping inside a Broadway musical set on the streets of New York.
Marvel & DC Superheroes Tour
A perfect tour for superhero fans, especially Marvel as you will be able to visit real-life locations that are relevant to Spiderman or Avengers plots. For those who are more Batman and Superman, you can also discover the places that inspired Gotham or the Daily Planet building.
Food On Foot Tours
This food tour will give you a taste of the diverse elements that make up New York cuisine, an amalgam of cuisines from around the world, in local restaurants and bars away from the tourist traps.
Radio City Music Hall: Stage Door Tour
Radio City Music Hall is located in Rockefeller Center and is one of the most famous stages in the United States. Some of its most famous events are the Grammy's or the Rockettes show, and on this tour, you can explore the venue in-depth and learn about its history.
Madison Square Garden All Access Tour®
Who doesn't know Madison Square Garden? Whatever your sport of choice, you'll want to step onto the court on which so many historic New York Knicks games have been played, and the venue that has hosted some of the city's biggest concerts. On this tour, you'll gain access to exclusive backstage areas of Madison Square Garden, such as the locker rooms and VIP area.
National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey
The New York Pass includes admission to this virtual experience of the underwater world, featuring videos and interactive displays produced by National Geographic photographers and cameramen, who tell their stories about the most breathtaking places on Earth.
Harlem Jazz Series
In the Harlem Jazz Series, you can listen to jazz artists perform classics by Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, or Miles Davis in a local Harlem church.
What you should know before you buy
Now that you know what is included in the New York Pass and what are its advantages, this is the summary to help you make a decision. The New York Pass is for you if:
- You want to squeeze the most out of New York and spend all day visiting attractions and landmarks back to back.
- You are going to be in New York for up to 10 days.
- It's your first time in New York.
- New York's most expensive attractions are on your must-see list.
- You are going to take the Hop on Hop off bus tour if you want to.
- You don't want to waste any of your travel time waiting in line to get into places.
You can choose a duration of between one and ten days for this pass, but my recommendation is to avoid the single-day pass, as it will most likely not work out for you. It is best to select three, five, or seven days, which at a rate of 4 or 5 attractions per day will save you quite a bit of money.
Finally, a reminder of my most important recommendation: enjoy your visit to New York! It's easy to forget that you're in a city full of life and things to discover when you have a list of things to do and just focus on crossing them off, which can be the risk of buying a tourist pass.
Other passes to discover New York
If you have not yet decided on the New York Pass and prefer to explore in detail what are the alternative tourist cards that exist, I leave you a list with the practical guides I have prepared on each pass and the comparative article where you can see the pros and cons of each: