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.
This tourist attraction is very well connected to the city's transportation system, so it's very easy to get there, but if it's your first time in New York and you don't know what your options are, don't worry, because in this post I'll tell you how to get to the Top of the Rock in no time, wherever you are.
1. Get to Top of the Rock with a stroll through Midtown
While you're strolling around Midtown, there's no better time to go up to the Top of the Rock and enjoy the best views of New York. It's also the cheapest and most enjoyable way to see the sites during a day of sightseeing because it costs nothing and there's always something new to see and be amazed by.
If you're not in a hurry and enjoy walking, a stroll to the next tourist attraction on your itinerary is a good idea and won't be a chore.
In fact, it's more than likely that the time will fly by and you'll get there without even noticing, as walking is a unique opportunity to explore new routes and places of interest, which is always a joy when you're visiting.
So don't think twice and take to the streets to explore New York on foot and make your way to the Top of the Rock.
Walking distances from popular sites in the city
St. Patrick's Cathedral: it will take you 4 minutes to walk from this famous church.
Times Square: it will take you about 6 minutes to walk from here.
Grand Central Terminal: it will take you about 11 minutes to get there from the iconic station.
Central Park: it will take you only 12 minutes to walk to the Top of the Rock from the Big Apple's green lung.
Chrysler Building: it will take you about 16 minutes to walk from this famous skyscraper.
2. Take the underground to go like lightning to Top of the Rock
The main underground lines that go to Top of the Rock are:
- 47th-50th Street Rockefeller Center stop (B, D, F and M lines)
- 50th Street stop (line 1)
- 51st Street stop (line 6)
- 49th Street stop (N, Q and R lines)
Why take the underground?
If walking doesn't do it for you because you're afraid of how your feet will feel at the end of the day, the metro is the best way to get to the Top of the Rock viewpoint early and in British punctuality.
The New York underground usually runs on time except for the occasional incident and there are frequent trains, so if you're pressed for time, I recommend taking the subway.
3. On the city bus, seeing the sights of New York City from a seated position
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 to 50th Street.
From Broadway: M7 line.
From 49th and 50th Streets: M50 line. Stop between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue.
The bus is another good option for getting to the Top of the Rock lookout if you'd rather not take the subway because you're not too familiar with it (it looks like one city under another!) and don't want to get disoriented along the way.
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 sitting comfortably. I recommend downloading the bus map to make it easier to find your way around and get around.
How much does the bus ticket cost?
A single ticket costs $2.75 (the same as on the metro) but if 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 getting a MetroCard, the city's transport pass. You'll get a lot out of it!
4. I have a tourist bus ticket, can I use it to go to the Top of the Rock?
That's right! The Big Bus Red Route covers the centre of the city, right where the Top of the Rock observation deck is located.
So if you have your tourist bus ticket, I recommend you to use it to get to this tourist attraction, since this route passes by Rockefeller Center, the building where the observation deck is located.
You'll kill two birds with one stone! On one hand, you will be able to 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 the city centre quietly and without tiring your legs.
If you still don't have your tourist bus ticket but you're interested in this option, you can check out the post The best tourist buses in New York. Don't miss it!
5. Is it difficult to hail a taxi to Top of the Rock?
Who hasn't wanted to take a ride in one of the famous "yellow cabs" at some point? A visit to the Top of the Rock could be a good opportunity if you don't want to go on foot or by public transport due to circumstances (crowds, tiredness, bad time, not speaking English...) and you prefer to opt for a door-to-door service like the one provided by taxis or the Uber or Lyft companies in New York that will make things easier for you.
Fear not, although in the movies it's mission impossible to find a free one, taxis 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 on the road... flag it down so it doesn't get away from you!
Estimated taxi fares from key points in the city
By Uber or Lyft
This is a very interesting alternative to take into account to go to the Top of the Rock. They are similar to taxis but have the advantage that the fare has a fixed price before leaving (goodbye treacherous taximeters!) so you already know what it will cost you before you get to Rockefeller Center.
Also, the Lyft Share or UberPOOL versions of the well-known companies allow you to share rides with other passengers going in the same direction, so finding a free vehicle to get you wherever you are is even easier. Check them out!
Estimated cost of Uber from key points in the city
How to use Uber or Lyft
Isabel's Traveler Tip
Remember to leave a small tip of 10% to 15% for the taxi driver. This is common in New York.