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New York CityPASS vs. New York Pass: Which is Better?

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Are you thinking of visiting New York City? If so, then you’ve probably already heard about certain tourist passes that make seeing the best parts of the city easier.

Two of the most popular New York sightseeing passes are the New York CityPASS and the New York Pass. Prior to the creation of these convenient passes, tourists had to buy tickets individually to the city’s top attractions. Luckily, things are a lot more convenient now.

The New York CityPASS and the New York Pass are examples of passes that allow entry to some of the top attractions in New York City.

With each pass, holders gain entry to the best New York attractions, including world-famous museums like the Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art, countless landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and 9/11 Memorial, and several different walking, food, and bus tours, all while saving them time and money.

And these passes are incredibly easy to acquire and use. Both of the selections in this article provide their passes as QR codes, with the option to print out a physical pass if preferred, and entering attractions is as easy as scanning the provided code.

Upon entering your first attraction, the pass becomes activated and is valid for a set number of days after that allowing you to visit as many included attractions as you want, without any additional cost.

New York CityPASS vs New York Pass Graphic

Notably, there are some differences between the New York CityPASS and the New York Pass regarding which attractions are included, as well as cost differences and length of validity. As such, it’s wise to take your time when deciding which one is right for you and your party on your upcoming New York City trip.

What is New York CityPASS?

New York CityPASS Homepage
New York CityPASS / New York CityPASS

The New York CityPASS is a sightseeing pass that allows visitors to explore some of New York City’s top attractions while saving money. First established in 1997, CityPASS made its debut by simultaneously launching programs for both Seattle and San Francisco, and they have since expanded ticket packages to other cities.

New York and Boston were added a year later in 1998, and CityPASS further expanded its offerings by introducing the New York C3 pass and the New York C-All pass.

New York CityPASS vs. New York C3 vs. New York C-All

Table Comparing the three different ticket types for New York CityPASS
Ticket Comparison / New York CityPASS

With their best-selling New York CityPASS, customers get access to five attractions. Two attractions are automatically included, and for the final three, you have some wiggle room.

Two automatic inclusions:

  • The Empire State Building
  • The American Museum of Natural History

Three remaining choices:

  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck OR Guggenheim Musem
  • Ferry Access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum OR Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Note: With the New York CityPASS, you cannot visit the Museum of Modern Art, City Cruises, or the Edge at Hudson Yards.

With the New York C3 pass, you can choose any three of the possible eleven attractions. Interested in one or the other between the Empire State Building and the American Museum of Natural History? No problem. Interested in neither? No problem. Feel free to entirely customize your three-attraction pass.

With the New York C-All attraction pass, you gain one-time access to ten popular attractions: the Empire State Building; Top of the Rock Observation Deck; Guggenheim Museum; Ferry Access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island; Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises; 9/11 Memorial & Museum; Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum; The Museum of Modern Art; City Cruises; and Edge at Hudson Yards.

Note: With the New York C-All attraction pass, you cannot visit the American Museum of Natural History.

What is New York Pass?

New York Pass Homepage
New York Pass / New York Pass

The New York All Inclusive Pass is a sightseeing pass from the company Go City, formerly known as the Leisure Pass Group. Go City has been operating for more than 20 years, and currently has sightseeing passes in 30 destinations around the world, including New York, London, Paris, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Stockholm, and Vienna.

Also known as their All-Inclusive Pass, the New York Pass offers access to over 100 New York City attractions. Similar to the New York CityPASS, the New York Pass also includes access to: the Empire State Building; Top of the Rock Observatory; 9/11 Memorial & Museum; Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Ferry; American Museum of Natural History; Museum of Modern Art; Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises; Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum; Guggenheim Museum; and the Edge at Hudson Yards. However, seeing as it provides access to over 100 major attractions, there’s still much, much more.

In addition to the above, this New York sightseeing pass offers access to the One World Observatory, the Staten Island Museum, the New York Hall of Science, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Museum of Sex, a Central Park bike rental, and so much more.

What makes The New York Pass great
New York Pass / New York Pass

The New York Pass also provides access to a countless variety of tours, including bike tours of Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge, and several walking tours such as the Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour, the Official Chinatown Walking Tour, the How Money Was Made: Wall Street Walking Tour, and the NYC Slavery and Underground Railroad Tour. There are several more unmentioned walking tours, as well as food tours, included with this pass as well.

And if walking isn’t your thing, there are a few different bus tours including the Big Bus Hop on Hop off bus tour, the NYS Bus Tour of Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, and the NYC TV & Movie Bus Tour, which visits locations from Friends, Trainwreck, American Hustle, The Amazing Spider-Man, and more.

New York CityPASS vs. New York Pass: The Costs

Statue of Liberty New York City and 100 Dollar Bills
Alena Yakusheva / Adobe Stock

On to the important question: how much do these New York attraction passes cost?

New York CityPASS

As we outlined, the New York CityPASS comes in three different options: the standard New York CityPASS, the New York C3, and the New York C-All.

  • The New York CityPASS costs $129 for adults (18+), and $109 for children (6-17)
  • The New York C3 costs $92 for adults (13+), and $72 for children (5-12)
  • The New York C-All costs $189 for adults (13+), and $139 for children (5-12)

And if you’re wondering if these passes actually save money, they certainly do. The New York CityPASS saves 44%, the New York C3 saves up to 36%, and the New York C-All pass saves 47% compared to visiting these NYC attractions without a tourist pass.

New York Pass

Compared to the New York CityPASS, the New York Pass is a bit pricier on average. With the New York Pass, you have seven different choices of pass validity length. Keep in mind, these day passes are based on consecutive calendar days from the time of first use.

  • 1-day pass: $147 for adults and $114 for children (3-12)
  • 2-day pass: $219 for adults and $144 for children (3-12)
  • 3-day pass: $299 for adults and $204 for children (3-12)
  • 4-day pass: $334 for adults and $239 for children (3-12)
  • 5-day pass: $374 for adults and $269 for children (3-12)
  • 7-day pass: $434 for adults and $329 for children (3-12)
  • 10-day pass: $499 for adults and $364 for children (3-12)

Ensure that you consider your schedule, pass length validity, and the attractions you’re most interested in seeing when deciding which pass to purchase. But one thing is for sure: if you are interested in seeing a handful of NYC attractions, whichever pass you go with, you’ll save money either way.

New York CityPASS vs. New York Pass: The Length of Validity

Aerial View of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City
dell / Adobe Stock

One of the biggest considerations when choosing a New York City pass is the length of its validity. Otherwise, you’ll just end up wasting your hard-earned money on a pass that’s either too long, too short, or for whatever reason doesn’t fit into your trip schedule.

New York CityPASS

New York CityPASS 9 DAYS Validity
New York CityPASS / New York CityPASS

Are you staying in New York for an extended time? No problem.

The New York CityPASS is valid for up to 9 consecutive days starting with and including the first day it’s used at an attraction. This makes it ideal for those with a bit more wiggle room in their schedules.

The New York CityPASS is excellent if you want to take your time and not be pressed to visit all the attractions. This means that you can shop, visit one attraction, stroll around Central Park, visit another attraction, and do anything you wish at your leisure. You have 9 days to see all the attractions of your selected pass.

And this 9-day period of validity comes on all three of their passes: the New York CityPASS, the New York C3, and the New York C-All pass. The catch is that CityPASS has far fewer total attractions compared to the New York Pass. But that doesn’t make it worse; it’s cheaper, and its attractions are more focused.

With the New York CityPASS, there is no limit to how many attractions you can visit in one day. However, tickets are valid for one-time admission to each attraction unless otherwise noted in the individual attraction’s admission details.

See Related: Where to Stay Outside of New York City

New York Pass

New York Pass website, choose your own attractions
New York Pass / New York Pass

As mentioned in the costs section, the New York Pass has options that cater to both extended and shorter stays in the city. Customers can choose passes with validities of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 10 consecutive days. Of course, aside from determining validity, the tougher part with this particular pass is picking from the many attractions to visit.

Staying in the city for just a few days? Then you can get a New York Pass that fits best with your short schedule. What’s great here is that you can visit as many attractions as you can within the validity you choose. Are you in NYC for a longer stay? Go for the 7 or 10-day validity and make the most out of your visit to the Big Apple.

With the New York Pass, there is no limit to how many non-cruise attractions you can visit in one day. Just scan your mobile pass for entry at as many attractions as you wish, except for Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, which is limited to one cruise per day. And just like the New York CityPASS, when you’re using the New York Pass, you can only visit each attraction once.

New York CityPASS vs. New York Pass: How to Purchase and Use

Tourist on the Roof in New York City viewing Empire State Building
AboutLife / Adobe Stock

So how are these New York City passes bought and used? Well, gone are the days when you have to physically line up for tickets. Nowadays, it’s often as easy as having a QR code or mobile pass directly on your smartphone. Thus, buying and using both the New York CityPASS and the New York Pass is extremely easy.

New York CityPASS

How to Purchase CityPASS New York
CityPASS New York / CityPASS New York

The New York CityPASS can be purchased anywhere you are in the world. Just visit their official site and click Learn More or Buy on the pass type you’re interested in. Then, enter how many tickets you want and whether they’re for adults or children, then click Add to Cart.

When you purchase from the CityPASS website, you’ll receive an email shortly afterward with a ticket for each individual in your party. You can print the email if you prefer a physical copy. When it comes time to use the pass, depending on the attraction, you will either present your CityPASS tickets, your attraction reservation, or both.

Reservations may be required at certain attractions. For some, you can make reservations through the CityPASS Travel Guide, and for others, CityPASS will provide instructions on how you can reserve a time directly with the attraction. During busy times such as summer, spring break, and holidays, it’s especially important to plan ahead and make any necessary reservations.

New York City Pass

How to Purchase New York Pass
New York Pass / New York Pass

The best place to buy the New York Pass is on their official site. Once there, click on the Prices button or the Buy button at the top. Clicking either button will take you to the page where you choose the length of your day pass. As we mentioned, this New York sightseeing day pass comes in seven different choices, so click the arrows and scroll until you find the length of validity that suits you and your party.

After you click Select, you’ll be given the option of adding adults or children before clicking the Checkout button. As soon as you’ve purchased your pass, you can download it to the New York Pass mobile app. The pass will activate once you use it at your first attraction, and the remaining days will begin counting down until midnight on the final day.

New York Pass Mobile App
New York Pass / New York Pass

Like the New York CityPASS, certain attractions will require a reservation. You’ll find all the booking information you need on their reservation page. Some advance reservations will require a pass number or order reference number to make your booking, so remember to have that handy when you go to make your reservations.

See Related: Top Restaurants in New York City

Why Purchase a New York Attraction Pass?

Street View of Times Square in New York City
Luciano Mortula-LGM / Adobe Stock

Discounts

It goes without saying that buying either of these passes is cheaper than buying individual tickets to the city’s top attractions. Those who opt for the New York CityPASS will save up to 47% compared to buying individual attraction tickets, while those who opt for the New York Pass can save up to 42%.

The New York Pass also includes discounts to certain Broadway shows, shops, and restaurants.

Express lines

Since you have a pass, you won’t have to worry about lining up to buy tickets for entry. You get to save both time and money.

Also, some attractions have skip-the-line access for ticket holders of the New York CityPASS or the New York Pass. This gives you even faster and more convenient access to the included attractions.   

Refunds

Did you change your mind about the pass or did your travel plans shift? If so, getting a refund for your pass won’t be a problem.

With both the New York CityPASS and the New York Pass, you can apply for a refund of any unused pass for up to 365 days after purchase.

Minimal research required

Making an itinerary for travel can be a bit of a hassle, as a great itinerary requires a lot of research. However, purchasing a pass minimizes the research you need to do since only the best attractions are presented to you.

On the New York Pass website, they even provide sample itineraries depending on pass length, as well as showing you how much money you’ll save.

Verdict: What’s the Best New York Sightseeing Pass?

New York CityPASS

The New York CityPASS is good for first-time visitors. Why? Because even though it offers fewer attractions with only eleven possible choices, the pass highlights the must-sees for those who’ve never been to New York City. It’s also the cheaper of the two passes, so if you have been to New York City and you are only interested in seeing some of these eleven attractions, it’s still the better option.

Also, the 9-day validity period comes on all three of its pass types, so that gives a lot more wiggle room in terms of planning than the New York Pass.

New York Pass

On the other hand, the New York Pass offers access to over 100 attractions, but it comes at a steeper price. If you and your party are interested in a much wider variety of attractions, as well as numerous tour options, this pass is for you.

Though it is more expensive, you are not limited by how many attractions you can see during the pass validity period. So with thoughtful itinerary planning, using this pass and visiting as many attractions as possible is a great way to see and do a greater amount while saving more money.

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