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New York City is an incredible place to visit, and with so much to see and do in the city, it makes sense to buy a sightseeing pass.
A sightseeing pass covers entry to many of New York City’s top attractions and saves you money compared to buying individual tickets. It’s a bit like getting a bulk discount! This is a great way to save money when visiting New York and something we really looked into before our first visit.
There are a few different options available: the CityPASS®, the New York Pass, and the Pass by Go City. All three passes are designed to save you money on entry to New York’s top attractions. I know they all sound similar, but each pass is unique and covers a different set of attractions, so it’s important to figure out which one will be the right fit for your trip.
All three options for sightseeing passes will save you some cash, but the best one for you really depends on the kind of traveler you are and how long you’re staying in NYC. To help narrow it down, we’ve created this guide comparing the top three NYC passes so that you can decide which one works for you!
What is a NYC Pass?
A NYC pass is a sightseeing pass that includes entry to a certain amount of tourist attractions. These passes exist to save you money and make visiting multiple attractions easier.
When you buy a NYC pass, you pay one flat fee for the pass, which costs less than purchasing tickets to each attraction separately. You can actually save up to 50% on your sightseeing costs with a pass in New York City! This is huge because visiting New York is expensive, so saving a few dollars means you have extra cash to put towards your hotel or splurge on a few more slices of New York pizza!
The price of NYC passes is either based on the amount of time they’re valid for or the number of attraction visits included, but we’ll get more into that in a moment.
What are the best NYC passes?
The New York CityPASS® is awesome because it’s nice and simple, and includes entry to the best sightseeing attractions in the city. Depending on which attractions you visit, you should save 30-40% on admission – not bad!
Some passes have different tiers available depending on how long you want them for or how many attraction visits you want to include, but there’s only one “level” of CityPASS®. It costs $138 USD, is valid for nine days, and includes entry to five attractions.
Two of these attractions are already chosen for you: the Empire State Building Observation Deck, and the American Museum of Natural History. It’s also worth noting that you get AM/PM tickets to the Empire State Building, meaning that you can go up twice on the same day. This is awesome because you get to admire NYC in daylight and then be dazzled by the city lights after dark as well!
Then, in addition to the Empire State Building and the American Museum of Natural History, you get to choose three more attractions to visit from a list of six.
You can purchase the New York CityPASS® up to a year before you plan to use it. It’s activated the first time that you use it and then valid for nine days after that.
When you visit the attractions it covers, all you need to do is show the pass on your phone on your way in, so you don’t need to queue up for tickets! This was one of my favorite parts as there are a lot of lineups in NYC, so skipping out on waiting for tickets meant we got to enjoy the experience more.
New York Pass
The New York Pass covers a TON of attractions – over 100, in fact!
You choose how long you want your pass to be valid for, and then you can visit as many of the attractions that it covers as you can during that time. This is a fantastic sightseeing pass for anyone who wants to see as much as possible while in the Big Apple!
This pass includes entry to four of New York City’s observation decks, tons of museums, cruises, walking tours, bike rentals, and hop-on hop-off bus tickets. So if you’re ready to do a ton of sightseeing, this could be the perfect pass for you. It’s priced like this:
- $149 USD for 1 day
- $204 USD for 2 days
- $249 USD for 3 days
- $289 USD for 4 days
- $319 USD for 5 days
- $339 USD for 6 days
- $359 USD for 7 days
- $399 USD for 10 days
We wrote a full guide on The New York Pass since it’s an amazing option if you’re ready for an action-packed trip to NYC. Especially for first-time visitors, this is a way to pack a lot in without breaking the bank. However, if you’re the type of traveler who likes to take things at a bit of a slower pace (but still wants to tick off the top attractions!) then the CityPASS® or pass by Go City might be a better fit for you.
Pass by Go City New York
The New York Explorer Pass by Go City covers entry to 2-10 attractions in New York City, so it’s the ideal way to tick off your must-dos!
There’s a long list of attractions to choose from, including the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, going behind the scenes at Yankee Stadium, and tons of tours!
This is a fantastic pass to choose if you plan to take lots of tours in New York City. There are so many tours to choose from with this pass including wandering around famous filming locations for shows like Friends, Gossip Girl, and Seinfeld, a ghost tour of Greenwich Village, or exploring the trendy (and tasty!) Chelsea Market.
The Pass by Go City is valid for 60 days after the first time you use it, so it’s really flexible. It allows you to go sightseeing at your own pace rather than worrying about trying to cram everything in!
The price depends on the number of attractions you want to visit, and the options are as follows:
- $79 USD for 2 attractions
- $107 USD for 3 attractions
- $137 USD for 4 attractions
- $164 USD for 5 attractions
- $184 USD for 6 attractions
- $204 USD for 7 attractions
- $264 USD for 10 attractions
We wrote an entire blog on the pass by Go City here if you want to read more in-depth info!
What attractions can you see with each pass?
- Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise
- 9/11 Memorial and Museum
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck
- Ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (including entry to the Statue of Liberty Museum and Ellis Island Immigration Museum, but not the Pedestal and Crown)
- Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum
- Guggenheim Museum
New York Pass
The New York Pass covers entry to over 100 attractions, which is pretty amazing! We’d be here forever if we listed them all, so we’ve arranged them into groups to give you an idea of what’s covered.
- Observation decks: the Empire State Building, The Edge, One World Observatory, and Top of the Rock are all covered by the New York Pass!
- Museums: the MoMA, the Guggenheim, the American Museum of Natural History, Madame Tussauds, and tons of other museums are included in this pass.
- A 1-day hop-on, hop-off bus ticket that can take you all over Manhattan
- Walking tours of areas like Greenwich Village, Little Italy, Broadway, Wall Street, and Central Park
- Circle Line sightseeing cruises
- The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
- Yankee Stadium tour
- 9/11 Memorial and Museum
Pass by Go City New York
The pass by Go City also has a huge list of attractions to choose from. The list is quite similar to the New York Pass, but we think there’s an even better range of tours to choose from.
However do bear in mind that you can only visit a certain number of attractions, whereas The New York Pass gives you unlimited access for a set number of days.
The tours you can do with the pass by Go City New York include:
- Hop-on hop-off uptown and downtown bus tour
- Circle Line Sightseeing cruise (this is a good way to see the Statue of Liberty if you don’t want to take the ferry over to Liberty Island!)
- The Ride NYC interactive bus tour
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral tour
- Candlelight catacombs tour
- Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO walking tour
- Soho, Little Italy, and Chinatown walking tour
- Central Park move sights walking tour
The Go City also includes the same four observation decks that the New York Pass covers, as well as tons of the city’s well-known museums, such as:
- The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
- The Guggenheim
- Madame Tussauds
- Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum
- Fotografiska New York
- Museum of Jewish Heritage
- 9/11 Memorial and Museum
One thing we also really like about the Pass by Go City is that it has some cool exclusive activities, like a sunset cruise around the Statue of Liberty, a Fantastic Beasts filming locations walking tour, and a summertime pub crawl!
Which is the best NYC pass?
Personally, I think that the New York CityPASS® is the best NYC pass of them all! The attractions included with the pass are awesome and you should visit them all anyway, so why not save some money with the CityPASS®?
I really like the fact that the CityPASS® keeps things nice and simple, and it’s really easy to work out how much money you’ve saved. Plus, the fact it’s valid for nine days gives you plenty of time to tick off all five attractions, so you don’t have to rush and can take things at your own pace.
All three of the sightseeing passes are great, but the CityPASS® is the one I would choose for another trip to NYC!
Other Things to do While You’re in New York City
While a New York sightseeing pass helps you get into some of the best attractions in the city, there’s no shortage of things to do in New York! I mean you could spend weeks here and still not see a fraction of what the Big Apple has to offer. But if you only have a few days and want some ideas of other must-do activities, here are our recommendations:
- Eat pizza! – New York was home to the first pizzeria in the US way back in the early 1900s and it’s still something this city is known for. I dare say the pizza here is legendary! Top pizza joints include John’s of Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village and we loved 2 Bros Pizza. Food tours are a must to try a variety of treats, so make sure to book a food tour of Chelsea Market aka the birthplace of the Oreo!
- Visit Central Park – This park is basically a movie star! Central Park is huge with great spots like a historic carousel, Belvedere Castle, and even a skating rink in the winter. While some New York passes include bike rentals, you can feel like you’re starring in a rom-com aboard this horse and carriage ride. It’s 45 minutes around Central Park and a fantastic way to travel in style.
- Fly above NYC – Exploring on the ground is fun, but to truly appreciate the New York skyline, take to the air! Joining a helicopter flight in NYC gives you a front-row seat (or hopefully a window seat!) to all the iconic sights like the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. We chose this 15-minute helicopter flight that flew over Manhattan and it was a highlight, if not THE highlight of our whole trip!
- Cross the Brooklyn Bridge – New York can be expensive, but strolling over the Brooklyn Bridge is completely free! The views of the skyline are stellar and there are lots of vendors if you get hungry. We recommend walking all the way across to Brooklyn Bridge Park for the best views of Manhattan.
- Take a day trip – Not only is NYC full of fun, but it’s close to other amazing destinations you can visit for a day! Head to Washington, DC to check out the White House, try some amazing Philly Cheesesteak and see the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, or take a tour from New York to Niagara Falls.
Where to Stay in New York City
New York City is huge – there is just no other way to put it! Even Manhattan (the area you’ll want to base yourself in) is a lot bigger than you think. That’s why choosing the right hotel in the right location is so important during your stay in New York.
Below, we’ve simplified it all for you by choosing a couple of the very best hotels available in the city. All three of these options have ideal locations close to attractions and the subway system. They all have amazing reviews, too, so just choose the one in your budget category and you’ll be ready to pack your bags!
Motto by Hilton – $$$
Motto by Hilton is a gorgeous hotel located in the Chelsea neighborhood only 600 meters from the Flatiron Building. The hotel features modern decor that has “speakeasy vibes”. In fact, they have a beautiful bar onsite that looks like the perfect place to sip an Old Fashioned. There are a variety of rooms on offer including some that are a little more budget-friendly, and some that are pure luxury with city views!
Prices start from about $400 USD per night plus tax. You can check prices and availability for Motto by Hilton online here!
TBA Times Square – $$
TBA Times Square is where we stayed the last time we visited New York, and honestly, we loved it! This hotel is the perfect combination of comfort and value for money. It was clean, modern, and our room had all of the amenities we needed for an enjoyable stay (air conditioning, k-cup coffee maker, steamer, large shower, big windows, etc). Plus, the location is ideal, it’s only a couple blocks from Times Square!
Prices do range, but they do go as low as $200 USD per night plus tax depending on the time of year and day of the week. You can check prices and book the TBA Times Square online here!
Nap York Central Park Sleep Station – $
For those traveling on a tight budget, Nap York is a budget hostel that’s an ideal choice. Although affordable, this property is immaculate and offers a ton of amenities for a great stay including air conditioning and a shared kitchen. The rooms are modern and the location is about as central as it gets! This property only offers dorm rooms, but they are affordable at as little as $150 USD per night.
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
New York was a bucket list place for us and I’m so excited you’ll be visiting here soon too! A city attraction pass is definitely the way to go if you want to take in some of the Big Apple’s iconic sights and save a bit of cash along the way. Hopefully, this breakdown of the most popular NYC sightseeing passes has helped you figure out which one to choose!
Whether you go with the CityPASS®, The New York Pass, or the Pass by Go City, I’m sure your trip will be super memorable. If you have any questions, leave us a comment below or check out some of our other blogs about the USA.