This world-famous New York Contrasts Tour takes you to discover the five great boroughs of New York: Manhattan, Harlem, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn.
By taking the New York Contrasts Tour, you'll also be avoiding the number one mistake many people make when they travel to New York: not leaving Manhattan. Want to know what awaits you outside the skyscraper jungle beyond Central Park? Read on!
Discover the city's best-kept secrets with a local guide
New York is much more than Manhattan: the city is home to many different cultures, architectural styles and customs. Take a bus tour of the city's highlights accompanied by an expert guide.
The New York Contrasts Tour will take you on a 5-hour tour of New York in a minivan, discovering every corner of its most iconic neighbourhoods. What I would highlight about this Contrasts Tour over others is the professionalism of the local guides, which is what makes a tour an interesting experience compared to doing it on your own. It's also a bit cheaper than the average tour.
In fact, I recommend that you do this tour as early as possible in your visit to New York, as it will give you a varied taste of the Big Apple and you can return to the neighbourhood or area that caught your attention to explore it in detail.
Why I like this tour: In one morning you can visit many different parts of New York that would take a day or two if you visited on your own.
Recommended if... you want to get a feel for the main districts of the city and understand the diverse cultures and customs that coexist in New York.
How to book a Contrasts Tour in New York City
The Contrasts Tour is a highly recommended experience to discover the cultural diversity of New York City. If you are up for it, you can book it easily through the Hellotickets website. Please note that when booking the Contrasts Tour you will have to indicate the details of each of the people who will make up the reservation.
The confirmation will be immediate and you will receive a confirmation email as soon as you make the purchase in which all the details of the reservation will be indicated.
In addition, if by any chance your plans change, you have the possibility to cancel your booking free of charge. And if you have any special accessibility requests, you can also indicate this so that the guide is aware of everything.
New York City Contrasts Tour prices
The price of the New York Contrasts Tour starts from 50 euros and includes a guided tour of the boroughs of Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. You'll also cross the popular Manhattan Bridge. You'll also see Yankee Stadium and Mets Stadium.
An ideal way to experience the city's urban art in a tour that lasts about five hours. Don't hesitate!
Useful tour information
I recommend that on your trip to New York you don't miss out on a Walking Tour of Contrasts. Here are a few practical tips:
- Getting around: The Contrasts Tour takes place in an air-conditioned minivan or bus so that you can see New York in style during the 5-hour tour. Groups for this tour are limited to a maximum of 50 people.
- Best day of the week to do it: If you want to avoid the big crowds, it's best to go on a weekday, perhaps a Tuesday or Thursday. Weekends tend to be the most popular days, but, paradoxically, Saturdays are the day of religious rest for Jews, so a visit to Williamsburg tends to be a bit lazier, as you won't be able to see any shops or as much activity on the street. Therefore, if you have to choose one of the two days of the weekend, I recommend going on a Sunday.
- Hotel pick-up: This tour hashotel pick-ups at several different hotels in New York, so if you are lucky enough to be staying at one of them, you can just go downstairs and wait to be picked up. Otherwise, you can simply go to one of the hotels listed at the departure time to start your tour.
- Choose the end of the tour: One important thing is that you can choose where in Brooklyn to end your Contrasts Tour: under the Brooklyn Bridge, in the DUMBO neighbourhood, or in Chinatown. My recommendation is to finish in DUMBO instead of crossing the bridge back to Manhattan.
- The tour on your own: You'll be walking quite a bit on this tour, but it's suitable for almost anyone, as part of the tour will be done by shuttle. Remember that you always have the option of going to the sites and monuments on your own, choosing one of the various New York City Sightseeing Passes that are available or taking the typical red bus around the city.
Plan your trip to take the Contrasts Tour
The Contrasts Tours usually start early each morning (around 8am) to make the most of the day before lunchtime, so you'll have to get up a little early, but it's a great way to squeeze every last drop out of your trip to New York.
Your tour will last between 4 and 5 hours, so you can expect to spend about an hour in each district. Is this enough time to see all the neighbourhoods you're going to see in detail? No, but as you know, it's all about nibbling on a little bit of each dish to show you what's in store for you in each area of New York.
Keep the neighbourhood you like best from this tour to come back and explore it in more detail after the tour.
The Harlem stop
On the New York Contrasts Tour you'll stroll through the streets as your guide tells you the story of Harlem's typical brick flats, and the illustrious people who have stayed there. You'll also see the illustrious Apollo Theatre and the Cotton Club, two New York jazz music institutions that were key to Harlem's cultural development in the 1920s.
Should you take a tour of Harlem on a Wednesday, you'll see the neighbourhood in all its glory as religious congregations will be giving their gospel mass services and you can listen to them inside the churches as you stroll around. In fact, there is also a tour of Harlem exclusively that allows you entrance to a gospel service. You can read more about that tour in my article at How to go to a Gospel Mass in Harlem, New York City.
In any case, Harlem is a district that is well worth an individual visit, so I'm sure it will be a place you'll want to return to explore in more depth at the end of the Contrasts Tour.
The stop at Yankee Stadium
On the New York Contrasts Tour you'll visit the legendary Yankee Stadium, one of New York's baseball teams, where you'll have the opportunity to have your photo taken. Although the tour doesn't include entrance to the stadium so you won't have to stop for too long, you will be able to compare the stadiums of New York's two rival baseball teams, the Yankees and the Mets.
Of course, if you are a die-hard fan of either team, I recommend that you return to your favourite team's stadium once you have finished the Contrasts Tour to go inside and explore the inside of the stadium. What's more, if you're a baseball fan, you're sure to already have your ticket to a game of either New York team!
Stop in the Bronx
Don't be afraid to go to the Bronx on a Contrasts Tour, as much of the tour will be done in your vehicle and the places you'll stop are perfectly safe. Although there are still some bad neighbourhoods in the area, you'll only see the touristy parts so you have nothing to worry about. That said, another added bonus of the Contrasts Tour is that you can visit the Bronx at your leisure, as going on your own can be quite dangerous.
At this stop you'll take a tour of iconic Bronx landmarks, including film locations and some of New York's most famous street art. On your walk, you'll see hip hop on every corner, and you'll understand why the Bronx is as much a mecca for hip hop culture as Harlem is a mecca for jazz.
In fact, you'll visit an entire outdoor art gallery, known as the Graffiti Universe. Street art is an indivisible part of hip hop culture along with music, rap and breakdancing, so this tour will put you right in the middle of the history of the Bronx and its art movement.
Stop in Queens
On the New York Contrasts Tour you'll visit New York's largest borough, known for its multiculturalism and for being the city's retail and business hub. You'll see the Mets stadium, the Yankees' rival stadium, the US Open tennis stadium, and the 'Men In Black' globe in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Among other points of interest, you will also explore the Little India neighbourhood.
In addition, you will visit the Malba neighbourhood, one of the richest in New York. If you keep your eyes peeled, you'll appreciate the vast difference between this neighbourhood and the rest of Queens, making the borough an amalgam of contrasts in itself. By the way, don't miss the Queens Museum and its giant model of New York! It won't take you long to visit and is truly impressive.
The Brooklyn stop
Brooklyn is undoubtedly New York's most distinctive borough, with its brick houses with trees lining each side of the street and the famous instagrammer's hot spot overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. If that wasn't enough, the food in Brooklyn is spectacular (especially if you love pizza) and every shop and bar has a converted industrial warehouse vibe that is simply irresistible.
Now that I've made it clear that Brooklyn is my favourite borough in New York, I can continue to tell you about this stop on the Tour of Contrasts, where you can explore the Jewish neighbourhood of Williamsburg where you'll see many Jewish people wearing their typical attire which will probably surprise you. Be careful when taking photos as they may feel uncomfortable if you get them in your picture. Also of note is the industrial charm of DUMBO under the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as discovering the tastes and smells of Chinatown and Little Italy.
The Contrasts Tour doesn't include food, but luckily your itinerary ends in Brooklyn where you'll find the best pizza in New York. If you weren't planning on leaving the city without trying the classic New York slice, this is the place to sample all that's good about the Big Apple's Italian heritage. For your reference, here are some restaurants where you can enjoy a well-deserved meal after a morning of sightseeing.
Whatever anyone tells you, these are the top places in Brooklyn:
- Speedy Romeo - this car repair shop turned pizzeria named after a car from 'Grand Theft Auto' is a culinary homage to traditional Italian pizza, thin crust and wood-fired oven. Don't miss it!
- Vinnie's Pizzeria - here you'll find the typical $1 New York slice in a place that doesn't want to impress anyone. The surprise is in the pizza and the flavour, which you can enjoy to go, which is a good idea if you do the Contrasts Tour on the weekend so you don't have to find a table in a restaurant.
- Totonno's - a pizzeria famous throughout New York, whose signature dish is a simple but delicious margherita. Because it's so popular, you may have some difficulty finding a table, so I recommend this option if you do the Contrasts Tour on a weekday.
What to do after the Contrasts Tour?
Since the Contrasts Tour ends in Brooklyn, I suggest you spend the evening exploring some of the main neighbourhoods. My recommendation would be to take a stroll through DUMBO and Chinatown to get to know these places in depth, and end the day as a local would: having a drink in the cool of the Brooklyn Barge in Greenpoint, or in case it's cold, tasting craft beers in Dekalb Market.
If you still feel like it, you can book another tour of New York's neighbourhoods but this time in a comfortable bus.
And if you feel like rounding off your trip to New York with one of the organised day trips, I recommend you check out my practical guide on 5 Day Trips from New Yorkwhere you can see which are the most interesting ones.
Niagara Falls and the Washington DC tour are among my favourites.