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10 best New York City Tours

The best way to tour the city without missing anything is with a professional guide who will accompany you on the tour.

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

14 min read

10 best New York City Tours

Listening to the guide's indications | ©Hellotickets

New York is much more than Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and Central Park. It is its squares, avenues and neighborhoods. Get to know the history of the Big Apple and the New York lifestyle in the most authentic way with a selection of the best New York tours in English.

1. The ultimate favorite: New York's tour of contrasts

Crossing from Manhattan to Brooklyn| ©Hellotickets
Crossing from Manhattan to Brooklyn| ©Hellotickets

With the New York Contrasts Tour you will avoid making the mistake that many travelers who visit the Big Apple for the first time make: not leaving Manhattan. To get a complete idea of New York City, I recommend this tour that will take you to discover the five major "boroughs" of the city (Manhattan, Harlem, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn) with a guide in Spanish.

As the name suggests, you will be reviewing the diverse cultural identity of the neighborhoods of New York, where the contrasts in the facades of the houses, stores, streets and people are amazing a few blocks from each neighborhood.

With this tour you will discover the true essence of each district and you will get a more complete vision of the city thanks to the comments and anecdotes of the local guide.

In addition, it is suitable for anyone since part of the tour is done by transport, to move between the different districts you are going to visit and another walking. In this Tour of Contrasts you can choose where to finish: in Chinatown or under the Brooklyn Bridge, in DUMBO, to continue with your next plan in your travel agenda.

What you will see

  • Harlem The first stop is this Manhattan neighborhood to learn a bit of its history and pause to photograph the Brownstones. You will also see the Apollo Theater and the Cotton Club, two institutions of New York jazz music in the 1920s, a time of great cultural effervescence in Harlem.
  • The Bronx: This stop will take you on a tour of iconic Bronx landmarks such as Yankees Stadium including film locations and New York's most famous street art. In fact you will visit an entire outdoor art gallery, known as the Graffiti Universe.
  • Queens: New York's largest and most multicultural borough. In this part of the tour the group will enter the luxurious neighborhood of Malba to continue to Flushing Meadows Park where you can see the stadium of the Mets, rival team of the Yankees. You will also see the venue of the US OPEN and the globe from the movie Men In Black. Among other points of interest you will also explore the neighborhood of Little India.
  • Brooklyn: The borough with the most identity in New York. You can explore the Jewish neighborhood of Williamsburg, the industrial charm of DUMBO under the Brooklyn Bridge, and the famous Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Finish in Manhattan, in Chinatown and Little Italy with its rich gastronomy.

Why I like it

Doing this Contrasts Tour will take you only one morning to see many different places in New York that would take you a day or two to see on your own, so you will save time.

Book the Contrasts Tour

2. A bird's eye view of New York: the helicopter tour

Views of the city from the helicopter| ©Hellotickets
Views of the city from the helicopter| ©Hellotickets

Taking a helicopter ride over New York is an experience you can't do without on your trip, especially on a sunny day. Seeing the city from a bird 's eye view is very impressive and you will have an unforgettable memory to tell when you return home.

From the heights you can enjoy the best views of the most iconic places in Manhattan such as the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the One World Observatory, the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the George Washington Bridge or the vast natural expanse of Central Park, among others.

Get ready to admire the imposing skyscrapers from the same height and fly over the Big Apple in an exciting helicopter tour of about 15 minutes.

What you will see

  • Downtown Heliport
  • Ellis Island
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Governors Island
  • Ground Zero and One World Observatory
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Empire State Building
  • Madison Square Garden
  • Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Building
  • Times Square and MetLife Building
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  • Central Park
  • Washington Bridge

Why I like it

Whether it is your first time in the city or you are a regular, this bird's eye view tour will give you the best views of the city as well as a good dose of adrenaline, I assure you that you will never forget it!

Book a helicopter tour

3. Tour the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn by bus

Touring New York| ©Hellotickets
Touring New York| ©Hellotickets

Like the previous one, this Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn Contrasts Tour allows you to get to know other boroughs and neighborhoods beyond the touristy Manhattan in Midtown, where many of us travelers are tempted to stay.

Again, in this tour you will delve into the multiculturalism and the contrasts of the city, the different architecture of its neighborhoods, its people... In short, a complete tour that in my point of view is perfect to kick off our trip.

What I would highlight of this bus tour of the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn is that it takes you away from the center of the city to show you scenes of everyday life in other "boroughs" of New York as Queens, Brooklyn or the Bronx in a comfortable 4-hour sightseeing tour aboard a bus. You will explore the areas less visited by tourists and get to know the authentic side of New York.

What you will see

  • The Bronx: At this stop you will take a tour of The Bronx to see the outside of the world's most famous baseball stadium, Yankees Stadium. You will also pass through Little Italy where you can soak up New York's Italian heritage and grab a coffee.
  • Queens: The most multicultural and extensive borough of New York. In this part of the tour the group heads to Flushing Meadows Park where the stadium of the Yankees' rival team, the New York Mets, is located. It is also the site of the US OPEN and here is the popular Men In Black's Unisphere.
  • Brooklyn: The borough with the most identity in New York. You can go into the Jewish neighborhood of Williamsburg and admire the panoramic view of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge in the charming bohemian neighborhood of DUMBO.

Why I like it

It seems to me a good opportunity to get to know the city and the best neighborhoods of New York if you want to enjoy it as a New Yorker, with the advantage of being accompanied by a professional guide who will tell you the curiosities of each neighborhood in Spanish, which is great if you do not speak English well. And with a plus: he will show you parts of New York that many tourists never explore.

If this is the first time you visit the Big Apple, it is a good first contact. While you listen to the guide's explanations you can contemplate the city through the bus window, get off at the stops and walk around each neighborhood a little to discover some places that have built the history of New York. All in a matter of a few hours.

Book the New York Tour

4. Discover the soul of New York with a tour of Harlem and a gospel mass

Streets of Harlem| ©Philippe Delberghe
Streets of Harlem| ©Philippe Delberghe

The best way to experience New York's cultural diversity and discover the roots of the African-American community is to immerse yourself in the culture of Harlem with a full Harlem tour with gospel mass.

What you will see

On one of the many Harlem tours you will discover iconic sites of the neighborhood such as the Morris-Jumel Mansion (the oldest house in Manhattan dating back to the 18th century), Sylvan Terrace (a peculiar cobblestone street of identical houses), the Cotton Club (a famous nightclub opened during Prohibition) and the legendary Apollo Theater (where music stars such as Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Diana Ross or The Jackson 5 triumphed), among others.

If you also complete your visit with a Gospel Mass in the Harlem Churches, you will stop being a tourist for a moment and become a neighbor of the neighborhood.

The tour of Harlem ends at the Malcolm X Mosque and contemplating the striking graffiti in the area that celebrate African-American culture, you won't stop taking pictures! You will also discover the best places to listen to Jazz in Harlem.

Why I like it

A neighborhood with so much culture and contrast is worth discovering with a guide who will introduce you to the customs and way of life of its neighbors. He will take you to discover the most emblematic enclaves of the area and will give you the best recommendations if you want to continue exploring on your own.

Book a Tour of Harlem with Gospel Mass

5. Salute the Statue of Liberty and visit Ellis Island

Statue of Liberty at Sunset| ©Hellotickets
Statue of Liberty at Sunset| ©Hellotickets

There are many ways to get to know New York: at street level walking among its skyscrapers, flying over the city in a helicopter or aboard a ferry contemplating the Manhattan skyline and heading to Liberty and Ellis Island.

To visit the Statue of Liberty, you can buy tickets and take the ferry to the Statue on your own or take a tour that takes you to the Statue of Liberty to learn about the history behind the great icon of the United States, the Statue of Liberty, along with the Liberty Island Museum and a guided tour of the grounds of Liberty Island.

What you will see

The tour is accompanied by a professional guide with whom you embark in a Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan to avoid the crowds. Since the Statue of Liberty is one of the main tourist attractions in New York, it is usually crowded so my advice is that, if you want to avoid them, take the first ferry in the morning as for the following ferries the waiting time is usually much longer and can reach up to an hour.

During the trip, the guide tells the story of Lady Liberty and how she came to the United States from France to become the symbol of freedom she is today.

Some tours include a visit to Ellis Island and the Immigration Museum, where photographs, letters and personal items from the era are on display. Reading the true stories of those immigrants in search of a better life is awe-inspiring.

Why I like it

In addition to getting up close and personal with the symbol of the city, take a closer look because during the visit you will have an incredible view from the Statue of Liberty:

  • One World Observatory
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Manhattan Bridge
  • Empire State Building
  • Hudson Yards Skyscrapers

Book a tour to the Statue of Liberty

6. Discover movie locations on a "movie tour"

The Friends apartment in Manhattan| ©Wikimedia
The Friends apartment in Manhattan| ©Wikimedia

If you are looking for a fun excursion during your stay in New York, take a tour to visit the best locations of movies and series. How many times have you seen the Big Apple as a big set on TV? Now you can walk its streets and feel like you've slipped into a movie during the almost 3 hours of this tour through the locations that have appeared in shows like 'Friends', 'Seinfeld', 'Girls' or 'Glee', among many others.

If you are a movie buff you will enjoy it a lot because the guide knows a lot about the entertainment industry and tells great anecdotes about 'Ghostbusters', 'I Am Legend', 'How I Met Your Mother' or 'Spiderman' to name a few titles. For this, you can take a guided tour or head out in search of the sets on your own.

What you will see

  • Central Park
  • Wollman Rink
  • Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
  • Fifth Avenue
  • GhostBusters Firestation
  • Macy's Herald Square
  • Friends Building

Why I like it

One of the main factors that makes New York New York is its appeal as the setting for thousands of movies. Going out to walk around the city to look for its most mythical enclaves will force you to wander the streets and discover the secret places of New York.

Book the Movie Locations Tour

7. Central Park Bike Tour

Biking through Central Park| ©Hellotickets
Biking through Central Park| ©Hellotickets

If there is a famous park par excellence in New York is Central Park, the most visited urban park in the world and a real green lung for the city. It is considered one of the best parks in New York and is ideal to visit at any time of the year.

What you will see

Given its size, walking through Central Park will take you several visits because there is much to see and it is huge. It was created in 1857 in the center of Manhattan for the New York elite to enjoy nature in an ever-expanding city.

Renting a bike or touring the park on wheels on your own, you will discover the area in a fun way and see some of the movie locations that have been filmed here, as well as several of the homes of celebrities.

Why I like it

During autumn in New York, biking through Central Park is one of the best things to do when the sun is still warm in the morning. The landscape is tinged with shades of ochre, reddish, brown, orange... It's an explosion of color to admire! Take your camera and get ready to take the most beautiful pictures of your trip.

Book activities in Central Park

8. Hudson River Cruises: the best tour of New York by boat

Night falls and you feel like relaxing, but you don't want to miss anything in New York City. The solution? Continue to enjoy its illuminated skyline while taking a relaxing boat ride on the Hudson River around the island of Manhattan. Can you imagine dining aboard a luxury yacht? Or would you prefer to watch the last rays of sunset from a romantic sailboat?

What you will see

New York offers several Hudson cruises to suit all tastes and (most importantly) all budgets, so whatever time you have or budget you want to invest in this tour, it is worth taking a look at the options and choose yours.

If what you want is to cross the Brooklyn Bridge from the water enjoying Manhattan illuminated, it is best to choose one of the best dinner cruises on the Hudson. Dust off your best clothes and set sail!

Why I like it

It's one of the most relaxing attractions in the city and believe me: after being there for a few days you'll need it. You'll enjoy magnificent views while dining under the stars.

Book a Hudson River Cruise

9. The most comfortable: the sightseeing bus tour of the city

Sightseeing bus passing Times Square| ©Hellotickets
Sightseeing bus passing Times Square| ©Hellotickets

As usual in this kind of tours you will have the opportunity, with the New York sightseeing bus to explore the Big Apple in total comfort and freedom: you will cross the city aboard a double-decker bus with a live guide who will tell you all its secrets and anecdotes. It also includes the option to add tickets to some attractions.

The tour has more than 40 stops and allows you to explore the city at your leisure.

Downtown tour

The downtown tour lasts 3 hours and operates between 8AM and 6PM every 15 - 20 minutes. This guided tour of downtown New York City can start at any of the 18 stops along this route.
Sightseeing attractions on the downtown tour are:

  • Statue of Liberty
  • Flatiron Building
  • Empire State Building
  • Ellis Island
  • Rockefeller Center
  • The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
  • Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Seaport District NYC
  • Fifth Avenue
  • Times Square
  • Radio City Music Hall
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  • SoHo
  • Greenwich Village
  • Little Italy
  • Chinatown
  • Madame Tussauds New York
  • Madison Square Garden
  • Top of the Rock Observatory
  • Lower Manhattan
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not! Times Square
  • 9/11 Memorial
  • 42nd Street
  • One World Observatory

Uptown Tour

This Uptown New York tour operates between 9 AM and 4 PM every 20-30 minutes. It has a duration of 2 hours and the route can be started at any of its 20 stops. Sightseeing attractions that are part of the Uptown tour are:

  • Strawberry Fields, John Lennon Memorial
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • New-York Historical Society Museum & Library
  • Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine
  • Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market
  • Museum of the City of New York
  • The Jewish Museum
  • Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Central Park
  • Central Park Zoo
  • Frick Collection
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Radio City Music Hall

Night Sightseeing Bus

The New York City night tour bus also has its advantages. You will tour the city while enjoying its incredible lighting and taking a rest after a long day of sightseeing. They are available for about 2 hours and usually operate between 6 PM and 9 PM.

These night tours are not "hop-on hop-off", meaning you do not have the option to get off and get back on at any part of the tour. You have 2 stops and this tour can only be done once. Best of all, you will go over the essentials of the city:

  • Times Square
  • Empire State Building
  • Flatiron Building
  • Greenwich Village
  • SoHo
  • TriBeCa
  • Chinatown
  • Little Italy
  • Manhattan Bridge
  • DUMBO
  • Brooklyn Heights Promenade
  • Lower East Side

Why I like it

It's a great way to tour the city from top to bottom without having to worry about public transportation: you'll move quickly and comfortably between the city's main tourist spots while still enjoying the sights and taking the best photos.

Book the tourist bus

10. The most cherished souvenir of your trip: Brooklyn Christmas Tour

If you're visiting New York at Christmas, you're probably familiar with the neighborhood of Dyker Heights: it's the Brooklyn neighborhood where neighbors compete every year to show off the best Christmas decorations and lighting. When you visit, you'll see the most incredible decorations and lighting in New York, beyond anything you've ever seen before.

What you will see

On Brooklyn Christmas tours you'll stroll through the Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge neighborhoods, see all kinds of Christmas decorations, Santa Claus, reindeer, Christmas elves, Nutcracker soldiers, and other stars of the American Christmas imagination.

Of course, this is a night tour to enjoy the lights in all their splendor, and with you will be a local guide who will tell you the amazing stories behind the decorations of each house, and there are some that, honestly, will melt your heart.

If you are traveling to New York with children, this will be the tour they will definitely remember forever, as it will be like being transported to a fairytale world. A beautiful way to discover Brooklyn at this special time of the year. If you want to continue discovering the best of the city at Christmas, do not miss the best Christmas trees and Rockefeller Center at Christmas, a dream location.

Why I like it

Beating the winter cold in New York is not always easy, but these Christmas tours will make you feel the warmth of the lights and the unique atmosphere that characterizes New York at this magical time of year. It's truly a movie experience.

Christmas Tour of Dyker Heights and Brooklyn

Frequently asked questions

  • What is the best tour of New York?

    While there is no one tour that is better than the rest in New York, the guided day tour of New York comes closest to the definition as it is one of the most popular and highly rated experiences in the city. On it, you will see iconic landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the 9/11 Memorial, Wall Street and Central Park.

  • How long does a tour of New York usually last?

    The average duration of a city tour is between 4 and 5 hours, with some exceptions of up to 7 hours. There are also short tours of between 1 and 2 hours that usually focus on a visit to a specific point in New York.

  • How can I see New York from a different perspective?

    Chelsea and High Line walking tour The High Line will take you to visit a former railroad line converted into a park that crosses part of the city. While enjoying a pleasant stroll, you will have a nice view of the city in the background, and then you will visit the Chelsea neighborhood, known for its movie connections.