If you're reading this, it's because you're looking forward to eating New York on your next trip. There are a few tricks to simplify your travel arrangements and the New York Sightseeing Pass is one of them.
Get access to New York's best attractions, at a lower price.
With this Tourist Card you'll have access to the best attractions in New York during your trip. You pay for the days you want to use it - recommended for off-road travellers who don't want to miss a thing!
The New York Sightseeing Pass is a sightseeing card that gives you access to the most important attractions and points of interest in New York. The Sightseeing Pass, like other sightseeing passes, has several advantages: you save money and you save time queuing at the ticket booths of each attraction.
If you're visiting New York in a big way for ten to fifteen days, this is the perfect pass for you as it will save you around €30 per day compared to buying an individual ticket for each attraction, not to mention the discounts in shops and restaurants that can help you save even more.
Like the New York Pass, the New York Sightseeing Day Pass works on a daily basis and each day is valid from activation until midnight. It has some differences from other New York Sightseeing Passes, such as including credit to spend at attractions and a free meal at a restaurant of your choice from a list of popular sites in the city.
How to choose the tourist pass that best suits your trip
Depending on the type of trip you prefer
Day Passes: You choose the number of days your pass is valid for and they are ideal if you want to go from one attraction to another and experience your trip to New York without missing a beat. The New York Sightseeing Day Pass is one of them.
2. Attraction Passes: These work for a fixed number of attractions that you choose when you buy the pass. If you want to enjoy New York at your leisure and get lost as you please.
Depending on which attractions you want to visit
The second thing you need to know is what you are going to see in New York, I recommend that you make a list of the places (museums, viewpoints, tourist attractions) you want to visit to calculate how much their entrance fees would cost separately and see if the pass is worth the price of the pass.
That said, if you are deciding between several passes and you know you want to visit the One World Observatory, the New York Sightseeing Pass is the only one that includes the skyscraper. It also includes a 72-hour sightseeing bus ticket, unlike most sightseeing passes which include a 24-hour ticket.
What's included in the Sightseeing Pass
- The only pass that includes the One World Observatory
- Lunch or dinner at a restaurant of your choice (from a list of selected restaurants)
- 40 credit to spend on tours, attractions (such as the Empire State Building), Broadway shows and cruises
- Access to 115 attractions (including One World Observatory, Top of the Rock, Madame Tussauds, Madison Square Garden Tour and Radio City Music Hall Tour)
New York Sightseeing Flex Pass
The New York Sightseeing Flex Pass allows you to pay per attraction rather than per day. Otherwise, it includes the same as the regular version.
I recommend this option if you have a clear idea of what you want to see in New York, or if you like to travel at a leisurely pace without the pressure of having to squeeze as much as you can out of a sightseeing pass. This way, you can visit one or two attractions a day between sightseeing, shopping and visiting free attractions.
One small disadvantage of the New York Sightseeing Pass is that all attraction tickets have a fixed time. Before reading the list of the main attractions included in the pass, bear this in mind as it will take away from the flexibility of your travel arrangements.
One World Observatory
One World Observatory is located at One World Trade Center, the tallest skyscraper in New York (and the United States) that pays homage to the Twin Towers, destroyed in 9/11. In addition to its observation deck, the One World Observatory includes interactive activities, shops, restaurants... You'll see the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty up close, as well as the Brooklyn Bridge.
- Price: General admission is €32 per adult and €27 per child (which includes the Sightseeing Pass). Children under the age of 5 are free. The combined ticket costs €42 per adult and €36 per child, and gives you access to both viewing platforms.
- How the pass works: You won't have to buy a ticket, but you will have to present your pass to be given a timed entry, so be aware that you may have to wait. You will also have to go through security.
- About the attraction: It is open from 9:00 to 21:00, and the visit usually lasts between 45 and 60 minutes.
Empire State Building
It goes without saying that climbing the Empire State Building is a must when travelling to New York: this is one of the most iconic buildings in New York and it also offers the possibility to visit its observatory to get some of the best views of downtown Manhattan.
- Price if you buy the ticket separately: from 35 Euros
- How the pass works: Skip the ticket queue and go straight to the security checkpoint, where you can show your pass and be let through. Please note that the CityPass includes two entrances at different times to the Empire State Building.
- About the attraction: Open from 8:00 to 2:00, and a typical visit lasts 2 hours.
Top of the Rock
The Top of the Rock (located in Rockefeller Plaza) offers the best views of New York from a skyscraper: this is where all those wonderful postcard photos of the Empire State have been taken.
If you're a photography buff, 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.
- Price: Admission to the Top of the Rock is €35 (adults) and €30 (children). Children under the age of 6 are free.
- How the pass works: You can use your pass to get a timed online ticket, or present your pass at the ticket office to have your ticket validated.
- About the attraction: Opening hours are from 8:00 until midnight (last lift up is at 23:00). The average visit lasts about an hour.
Statue of Liberty
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, you'll need to take a ferry from Battery Park and with the New York Sightseeing Pass you don't have to worry about the ticket, because it's included. It also includes the ferry to Ellis Island.
- Price: The ticket with access to the pedestal costs €24 per adult and €15 per child. The crown ticket costs €28 per adult and €22 per child. Please note that you are limited to 4 tickets per person and they are non-transferable, as you have to put them in your name and present them in person.
- About the attraction You can visit the Statue of Liberty from 9.30am to 5.25pm. The typical visit lasts around 4-5 hours.
Hop on Hop Off Sightseeing Bus
The New York Sightseeing Pass includes CitySightseeing's 'Best of Manhattan' tour, where as the name suggests you will see all the main sights of Manhattan in a 6 hour experience. It also includes a sightseeing cruise to continue your visit. See below for details of the main stops on the itinerary. You can read more about the best Hudson River cruises here.
9/11 Memorial and Museum
The 9/11 memorial and museum is undoubtedly one of the most special visits of the trip. For a moment, the chaos and dynamism of the city gives way to a moment of recollection and a historic tribute to the victims of the most notorious terrorist attack in modern history. The Memorial is located on the street, on the perimeter of the Twin Towers, and the Museum, on the other hand, requires an entrance ticket.
- Price: The 9/11 Memorial is free and open to the public. A ticket with tour of the 9/11 Museum costs €42.50 per adult.
- 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 9am to 8pm and until 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Most people take a 2-hour tour.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is the perfect way to round off your trip with a cultural and interesting attraction. Its permanent exhibition is dedicated to the history of Planet Earth, with very interesting spaces dedicated to marine life, fossils and meteorites. If you don't have time to visit more than one or two museums, this is, for me, one of the best.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
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 Van Gogh's famous 'Starry Night', as well as paintings by Monet, Pollock, Mondrian, Hellen Frankenthaler and Andy Warhol among others.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
This museum is an engineering fan's fantasy, offering the unique opportunity to see inside the aircraft carrier Intrepid, whose deck features a variety of aircraft and helicopters from various eras; the submarine Growler, which can be explored in its entirety; and the supersonic Concorde.
Before you buy
Now that you know what's included in the New York Sightseeing Pass and what the benefits are, here's a summary to help you make your decision:
The New York Sightseeing Pass is for you if you:
- You want to visit the One World Observatory
- You want to climb all three of New York's skyscrapers
- You love bus tours
- You're on a tight budget for your trip to New York City
- You like to organise your trips to the millimetre
You can choose a duration of between one and ten days for this pass, but my recommendation is to avoid the one-day pass, as it will most likely not pay off. It is best to select three, five or seven days, which at a rate of 4 or 5 attractions per day will save you a lot of money.
The Flex option is probably the right choice for you if:
- You like to travel without rigid planning
- You will be in New York for many days
- You want to visit a specific combination of attractions in New York City
If you are travelling with children
There is a children's pass for children from 3 to 12 years old that you can buy at a lower price than the adult pass. The one-day children's pass, for example, costs 28 euros less than the adult pass, but if you buy a 10-day pass the difference between the adult pass and the children's pass is more than 150 euros.
Other passes available
If you're still not sure if the Sightseeing Pass is the best fit for your ideal trip, remember that there are three other passes available. I have made a handy guide to each of them and have compiled an article on their advantages and disadvantages so you can easily compare them. Here are the links below: