One World Observatory is located at One World Trade Center and is the tallest skyscraper in New York (and the United States) that pays homage to the Twin Towers.
As one of New York's most popular attractions, buying your ticket in advance will save you a lot of queuing. If you don't know how to do it or how to choose between the options, here's a hint about my favourites:
Access to One World Observatory at the best price
General admission to One World Observatory is the most popular way for visitors from all over the world to climb this impressive skyscraper, or you can upgrade and select VIP access.
Located in Downtown, the One World Observatory has one of the most spectacular observation decks in the city right now. With a general admission ticket to One World Trade Center you will have access to the observatory located between the 100th and 102nd floors.
My recommendation is to buy thegeneral admission ticket in advance, as it also allows you to enter the building without queuing, directly accessing the building.
Why I like this option: if you want to enjoy the views of lower Manhattan from one of the most imposing skyscrapers in the city, this is the cheapest way to do it (and it will save you a long queue at the ticket office).
Recommended if... you don't have much time to tour the area or simply prefer to see Ground Zero on your own and pay only for access to the observatory.
How to buy tickets for One World Observatory at the box office
You can buy your tickets for the One World Observatory at the One World Observatory ticket office, which opens at 9am. In general, in New York, I do not recommend buying tickets at the box office, as you will face long queues and you will probably enter One World already exhausted from waiting on your feet.
The best way to buy tickets online is that, instead of waiting to buy your ticket at that time, you can go straight up and watch life begin in New York with the start of the day. You can also compare prices and rates for tickets to One World Observatory and see if there are any discounts for your visit.
New York Pass and other passes including entry to One World Trade Center
With this particular pass, you can choose between 1 and 10 days validity to have an "open bar" of activities. I recommend it if you are one of those people who want to get the most out of your trip and not miss anything at all. However, there are also other passes and if you are considering buying one to complete your visit, I recommend you check out my article comparing each of them: New York Pass and other passes
Where is the One World Observatory and how to get there?
Most visitors usually stay at One World Observatory for about an hour. Tickets do not limit how long you can stay at the observatory, so you can stay as long as you like. If you are visiting with children, it may take a little longer as the interactive displays will keep them busy for a while.
One World Trade Center is visible from almost anywhere in Manhattan. Its height, reflective glass windows and now legendary silhouette make it unmistakable, so getting there on foot or by public transport is easy. Located at Ground Zero, very close to Wall Street, you'll be able to walk from almost anywhere in lower Manhattan.
If you're staying a little further afield, the quickest way to get there is by underground or even city bus (note that the New York City tourist bus also has a stop very close to One World Observatory). To better organise your itinerary and to know the distances, prices and public transport maps, you can take a look at this article on How to get to the One World Observatory in New York.
One World Observatory opening hours
To help you plan your visit, please note that the One World Observatory is open from 9am to 9pm except during the summer, when the skyscraper is open from 8am to 10pm. Throughout the year, you can go up to One World Trade Center every day of the week.
Visit One World Observatory with children
Going up to the One World Observatory with the little ones is a plan you won't regret, as there are activities programmed specifically for them.
In fact, for your visit with children, I recommend that you let them play for a while in the Sky Portal, interactive screens located on the floor that project images of life in New York under the One World Trade Center and give the impression of floating above the air, and the City Pulse, interactive screens that show presentations on icons of New York culture such as its famous cheesecake or its various sports teams.
Check out this article for more great things to do in New York with kids to make your family visit to the Big Apple a success.
Inside the One World Observatory
After entering One World Trade Center, you will begin your ascent to the 102nd floor (where the observation deck is located) in a lift covered entirely by screens that will show you a spectacular time-lapse of the evolution of New York from its founding as a Dutch colony in the 17th century to the present day.
When you reach the top of the skyscraper you will enter the One World Observatory via the See Forever Theater walkway, with another show of stunning visuals of everyday New York.
And now you can finally enjoy what you've come all this way for: breathtaking views of New York from the top. The observation deck is enclosed unlike the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock, giving you a sense of greater distance from the city. Plus, One World Trade Center is the tallest skyscraper in the city, so you'll be able to see New York stretching for miles and miles in the distance.
Before you head up to the observation deck, make a mental list of the sights from One World. In a city as big as New York, and especially on a first visit, it's easy to forget all those famous landmarks you'll love to see in miniature and then recognise on your walks around the Big Apple.
In case you're not into the typical tourist activities, there are many more buildings in New York that you can visit, even if they don't have an observatory. The Woolworth Building, Chrysler Building, Flatiron Building and many others will delight anyone with a passion for architecture.
- Empire State Building
- Hudson River
- East River
- Statue of Liberty
- Brooklyn Bridge
- Manhattan Bridge
- Downtown Manhattan Skyline
Practical information on how to get to One World Observatory
Best time to go up to One World
Thanks to its glassed-in observation decks, any time of the day (and even of the year) is a good time to visit. Sunset will give you spectacular colours in the sky, morning will give you a clear, unobstructed view of the skyscrapers and the Hudson, and nighttime in New York is always special, with millions of lights on the Skyline.
If you can't decide, check out this handy guide on the best time to go up to One World Observatory and choose the time that works best for you.
How to avoid the crowds
The busiest times at One World Observatory are around 4pm and 5pm, when visitors are getting ready to watch the sunset. For similar afternoon views and a less crowded experience, I recommend going at 9am (or 8am in summer), which will give you the whole day to explore the city you've just seen from above.
What facilities does the building have to offer
One World Observatory has a gift shop on the 100th floor and a restaurant, café and ice cream parlour on the 101st floor to end your visit with a break.
Watch out for prices
Be aware that One World Observatory is full of "traps" to lure tourists into spending a little extra on interactive tablets for the tour, souvenir photos, and the like.
What happens if the weather is bad
By buying your tickets well in advance you run the risk of going to One World Observatory on a cloudy day. The trick is to buy them a week or two before your trip to New York, when you can check the weather relatively reliably and choose the best day accordingly. Needless to say, if you go up the skyscraper on a clear day, you'll have spectacular views of New York.
If you go up on a day when it rains a little, the good news is that the observation deck at One World Trade Center is covered. This can also be an advantage if you're visiting New York during a very cold or very hot period.
Alex's Traveller Tip
There are a lot of tourist "traps" at One World Observatory, so be careful if you don't want to end up with a hole in your wallet!
Another way to enjoy the views: the helicopter tour
And if climbing a skyscraper doesn't really appeal to you but you want to enjoy the views of New York from above, you have other options such as taking a helicopter tour of Manhattan or visiting one of the many rooftop bars in the city. But in my opinion, climbing a skyscraper is a breathtaking experience not to be missed, especially on your first time in New York.
Where to eat near One World Observatory
If the heights have given you an appetite, you're in luck: a busy area like Downtown Manhattan is packed with places to eat, from the most luxurious and exclusive to the quickest and cheapest. The only question you'll have is which one to choose, so I've put together a list of the best places to eat near One World Observatory so you can plan your visit without having to improvise on the fly.
Take advantage of being in the area to take a break, recharge your batteries and take shelter from the cold or the heat whether you're in New York in winter or summer and then continue discovering this area that has so much to offer.
Other recommended experiences in the area
Inescapably, One World Trade Center is part of Ground Zero and is linked to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Combining visits to both is very interesting for anyone travelling to New York, as you'll be able to explore in depth an event in recent history that has marked the city like no other.
For this reason, I recommend that you visit the 9/11 Memorial and if you can, enter the Museum to explore one of the most interesting and unique exhibitions in the world, as it tells the story of the Twin Towers attacks with objects directly rescued from the rubble. You can read the chronicle of my experience here: 9/11 Memorial Tickets and Tours in NYC.
You can also book a guided tour of New York with tickets to the One World Observatory: you will learn about the history of the city from an expert guide and then you will see it from the top.
Organise your visit to other skyscrapers
There are also two other skyscrapers in New York where you can see the city from above. Climbing the Empire State Building, an icon of the New York skyline, is a must on any first visit to New York, as it contains a fragment of the city's history within its walls.
And of course Rockefeller Center, whose observation deck known as the Top of the Rock will give you the best views of the city including a spectacular close-up of the Empire State Building. In my experience, the best skyscraper in New York.
The Edge has recently opened its doors, an innovative building with a spectacular observatory whose glass floor will give you a bird's eye view of New York (literally). Made to test anyone's vertigo, be sure to read how to organise your visit here: The Edge New York Tickets: how to buy, prices and schedules.
If you're looking to be on the cutting edge and visit the hippest skyscraper in the city, then consider going up to the new SUMMIT observation deck in New York: its architecture, innovative observation deck and incredible location have already made it a favourite of many New Yorkers and visitors alike.
- Empire State Building
- From £39
- Observatory: Open-air
- Floor: 86
- Views: Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, 5th Avenue and from afar One World Building
- Location: Midtown Manhattan
- Top of the Rock
- From £36
- Observatory: open air
- Floor: 70
- Views: Empire State Building, Central Park and from afar One World Building
- Location: Midtown Manhattan
- Book now
- One World Observatory
- From £36
- Observatory: Indoor
- Floor: 102
- Views: Wall Street, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and from afar Empire State Building
- Location: Southern Manhattan
- Book now
- The Edge
- From £34
- Observatory: open air and glass floor
- Floor: 110
- Views: Empire State, Midtown and from afar One World Building
- Location: Manhattan West
- Book now