You’re all set to soak up the sights of the Big Apple – you don’t want to miss out on NYC’s iconic attractions. But your longed-for New York City adventure could come with a significant price tag – entry fees to bucket-list destinations such as the Empire State Building, Edge, and Madame Tussauds are sometimes eye-watering.
A day’s sightseeing at these more expensive attractions could easily set you back $150+ per person in ticket prices alone. And that’s on top of airfares, accommodation, camera equipment – on it goes. So if you plan to see New York’s top sights, a money-saving tourist or sightseeing pass makes a lot of sense.
Sightseeing passes are digital multi-attraction tickets that visitors purchase and store on their phones before starting their trip. All the main New York tourist passes offer discounts on ticket prices, plus fast-track entry at specific venues. If you’re a first-time visitor heading for the most popular tourist attractions in New York City, a sightseeing pass can save you both cash and valuable sightseeing time.
Show Table of Contents
- What is The New York Pass?
- The New York Pass Features
- Included Attractions in the New York Pass
- How the New York Pass Works
- How to Maximize the Value of the New York Pass
- Sample three-day itinerary
- Where the New York Pass is not so great
- The New York Pass Alternatives
- New York CityPASS
- New York C⋅ALL
- New York Sightseeing DAY Pass
- New York Sightseeing FLEX Pass
- The New York Pass Reviews
- New York Pass Review: Is the New York Pass Worth the Price?
- What is the New York Pass, and how does it work?
- Which New York pass is the best for tourists?
- What attractions can I visit with the New York Pass?
- New York Pass
What is The New York Pass?
One of the most popular all-inclusive sightseeing passes is the New York Pass. This comes from Go City, the world’s biggest sightseeing pass company. There are options for a one-day pass up to a ten-day pass, and in that time, you can see as many attractions on offer as you can fit in.
But with prices from $149 for a 1-day pass to a hefty $544 for a 10-day pass, you’ll be asking: Should I make this financial commitment? Is the New York Pass worth it?
We’ve put together this New York Pass review to answer those questions. In our in-depth analysis of the pass, you’ll get facts, comparisons, pros, and cons, to help you decide if this is the best New York sightseeing pass for you and one that will maximize your Big Apple adventure.
The New York Pass Features
All the major New York sightseeing passes share key features, such as free entry to New York’s main attractions, like the Empire State Building Observatory and the Top of the Rock, the Rockefeller Center observation deck.
But note that though they all include ferry access to the Statue of Liberty Island and Ellis Island Immigration Museum, you’ll have to buy extra tickets to gain access to Lady Liberty’s pedestal and crown, whichever sightseeing pass you choose.
Another feature all these New York passes offer is a free downloadable map and guidebook, so you can plan your NYC itinerary. And none of the passes allows return visits to individual attractions except in particular circumstances.
But the passes aren’t all the same. There are important differences in cancellation policies, the number of included attractions, access to a bus tour, child discounts, and other features.
So to summarise the key differences between the New York Pass and its main competitors, I’ve compiled the following table. This table shows how many New York City attractions can be visited, whether or not there’s a hop-on-hop-off bus tour if walking tours are included, cancellation policies, and of course, the bottom line – cost.
There’ll be more details about included attractions further down the post. But this table will help you compare the main features of the major New York tourist passes. These are the New York Pass, the New York CityPASS, the New York C⋅ALL, the New York Sightseeing DAY Pass, and the New York Sightseeing FLEX Pass.
|Sightseeing Pass||The New York Pass||New York CityPASS||New York C⋅All (by CityPASS)||The New York Sightseeing DAY Pass||New York Sightseeing FLEX Pass|
|Number of selectable attractions||over 100||8||10||over 100||over 100|
|How many you can visit||All||5||10||All||2 – 12|
|Within||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 10 days||9 days||9 days||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 10 days||60 days|
|1-day Hop-on-hop-off bus tour||✓||❌||❌||✓||✓|
|Cancellation policy||365 days from purchase date to return non-activated passes for a refund.||365 days from purchase date to return non-activated passes for a refund.||365 days from purchase date to return non-activated passes for a refund.||Full refund only if covered by insurance||Full refund only if covered by insurance|
|Advance purchase||Up to 2 years||Up to 1 year||Up to 1 year||Up to 1 year||Up to 1 year|
|Child discount||Ages 3-12||Ages 6-17||Ages 6-17||Ages 3-12||Ages 3-12|
|Group discount||No||No||No||15 or more||15 or more|
|Price(s)||$149 – $544||$117.33||$164||$159 – $509||$79 – $289|
Included Attractions in the New York Pass
The New York Pass is a great option if you want your NYC trip to feature an exciting range of activities, including all the major sights and landmarks. There are over 100 attractions, museums, and guided tours, including entry to four observation decks. Bike rentals and Yankees game tickets are also part of the New York Pass package.
In addition, the New York Pass includes some really good off-the-tourist-trail attractions, such as ARTECHOUSE Digital Art Museum or the Catacombs beneath St Patrick’s Cathedral.
You also have the option to join one of the many specialist tours available, such as the NYC TV & Movie Bus Tour (regular price $61) or the Marvel & DC Superheroes Tour (regular price $35).
But check out this table comparing major attractions the five New York passes offer.
|Sightseeing Pass||The New York Pass||New York CityPASS||New York C⋅All (by CityPASS)||The New York Sightseeing DAY Pass||New York Sightseeing FLEX Pass|
|Number of selectable attractions:||over 100||8||10||over 100||over 100|
|How many you can visit:||All||5||10||All||2 – 12|
|Popular NYC attractions ↓||✓||❌||❌||✓||✓|
|1-day Hop-on-hop-off bus tour||✓||❌||❌||✓||✓|
|Empire State Observatory||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Ferry Access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|One World Observatory||✓||❌||✓||✓||✓|
|Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Madame Tussauds + MARVEL Universe 4D||✓||❌||❌||✓||✓|
|Metropolitan Museum of Art||✓||❌||❌||✓||✓|
|Museum of Modern Art||✓||❌||✓||✓||✓|
|Edge sky deck||✓||❌||✓||✓||✓|
|9/11 Memorial & Museum||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Circle Line sightseeing cruise||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|American Museum of Natural History||✓||✓||❌||✓||✓|
|Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|New York Yankees game ticket||✓||❌||❌||❌||❌|
|The Ride entertainment bus||✓||❌||❌||✓||✓|
|RiseNY ride & museum||✓||❌||❌||✓||✓|
See Related: Best Museums in the United States
How the New York Pass Works
It’s very easy to buy a New York Pass. Pick the days you want your pass to cover on the website – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 10. When you’ve paid, you can download the pass instantly to your smartphone’s official New York Pass app.
If you prefer, you can print the pass at home. Then show the pass at each attraction you visit – it can be scanned for admission. If you’re keeping the pass on your phone, a handy tip is to take a screenshot of it in case there’s no signal or your data runs out.
Be aware that some venues and expensive attractions are where you can’t simply rock up. Many top NYC attractions require reservations, and you must reserve a time slot.
But the website clarifies which attractions this applies to, for example, the Empire State Building Observatory, the Statue of Liberty ferry, and The Ride. To reserve a slot, you’re directed to a “Book online” button or given a link to an email address or phone number.
The pass activates at the first attraction you visit. From then on, the clock is ticking, as the pass is active on consecutive days, concluding at midnight on the final day. And I should point out that the pass covers calendar days rather than 24-hour periods.
See Related: Where to Stay in New York City with Family
How to Maximize the Value of the New York Pass
Plan, plan, and plan some more. But then, the planning and the anticipation are all part of the joy of vacationing! There’s the option to buy the pass up to 24 months in advance, and it pays to be on the lookout for off-season sales. With planning, you could score a significant discount by taking advantage of sale prices, for example, $399 instead of $544 for the top-price 10-day New York Pass – a saving of over 25%.
Planning your itinerary is worth carefully exploring the New York Pass website and scrolling down to the “Know before you go” section. This is full of helpful tips explaining the entry process for each attraction and what you can expect. That way you’ll know where you’ll get fast-track entry, what times to avoid, how long you might be waiting in line, and how to fill your time between admission slots.
And watch out for discount deals on add-ons with your New York Pass. You might be offered a percentage off gifts, drinks, or meals at certain attractions.
You’ll benefit from your New York Pass if you’re up for some active sightseeing, stay three or more days, and visit as many included attractions as you can – three or four attractions daily for the biggest savings. Check out this three-day itinerary, for example.
Sample three-day itinerary
|Sample three-day itinerary|
Paying full price for all these attractions would set you back $514.45, whereas the three-day pass costs $329 – a saving of over 30%. And the more days your pass covers, the bigger the savings.
So with a one-day pass, you must visit high-ticket attractions to save money. But with a ten-day New York pass, you’ll only need to visit attractions worth $54+ per day to enjoy your discounts – or just $39+ if you’ve bought your pass during the sale. Or if you prefer, you could take a few days off from your round of sightseeing.
The free hop-on-hop-off bus tour is the best way to see multiple sites quickly. The bus tour also has a pre-recorded commentary, talking you through the cityscape as you travel.
Buses call at all popular destinations, such as Times Square, Chinatown, and Brooklyn Bridge, with uptown buses every 60 minutes and downtown buses every 20 minutes. You’ll leave the bus at your chosen attraction and hop on the next bus when you’re done. This means you can organize your sightseeing timetable and go at your own pace.
But transportation costs on other days do need to be factored in. Public transit options are much cheaper than cabs – if you use the subway or local buses more than 12 times in seven days, you’ll save money with the $33 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard. And kids under 44 inches tall can often ride subways and buses for free!
Where the New York Pass is not so great
If you’re not interested in bagging bucket-list attractions or have seen the major sights already, the New York Pass is an unnecessary expense. And if you’re in town for an extended stay or can’t face a tight sightseeing schedule, the New York Pass is unlikely to improve your vacation experience.
The New York Pass may not be a good deal for you if you’re on a tight budget. There’s a significant financial outlay, with transportation costs thrown into the mix, too. But New York City isn’t all about the paid attractions. You can still get deep into NYC’s beating heart by sticking to low- or no-cost city venues.
For example, you can stroll around Central Park, cross the Brooklyn Bridge, or soak up the buzz in Times Square without paying a penny. Nobody should miss the free Staten Island Ferry ride, which offers great views of the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline. And if you only want to pay for a few activities and are seeing New York on a super-tight budget, you can save money by looking for multi-attraction bargain bundles.
Museums and galleries offer discounts, too. There’s no charge at the National Museum of the American Indian and the Bronx Museum, while it’s pay-what-you-like for general admission to the Brooklyn Museum. And on the first Friday of each month, there’s free entry to Neue Galerie New York.
Other fabulous museums have weekly voluntary donation slots, for example, the Guggenheim Museum, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Jewish Museum. It’s worth checking their websites for timings, even if you’re not on a super-tight budget! NYC residents should also check out the Free Friday Evening once a month at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), one of the best museums in the United States.
See Related: Best Family Vacations on a Budget
The New York Pass Alternatives
If you’re interested in a different NY pass, there are several good alternatives available, but your choice will depend on the kind of New York sightseeing pass that fits your needs and how many attractions you want to tick off your list.
New York CityPASS
Unlike the all-inclusive New York Pass, the New York CityPASS is an attraction-based pass. Eight major New York attractions are on offer, of which you get to select five. Once activated, the CityPASS is valid for 9 consecutive days, including the first day of use. The very restricted choice makes this sightseeing pass ideal for first-time visitors to NYC, and those with limited sightseeing time.
New York C⋅ALL
The New York C⋅ALL pass is an extension to the CityPASS formula. Here, though, the choice is made for you, and you’re presented with tickets to 10 of New York’s best attractions. Though these include must-sees like the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock, there’s no access to the American Natural History Museum or guided tours.
However, for those with more sightseeing time available, this is a good-value option as the price is only 50% more than CityPASS while including 100% more attractions. As with the CityPASS, there’s a sightseeing window of nine days.
New York Sightseeing DAY Pass
The New York Sightseeing DAY Pass operates in the same way as the New York Pass. You pick your preferred number of sightseeing days and then have access to 100+ attractions.
Like the New York Pass, the Sightseeing DAY Pass offers the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise, excursions, bike tours, and exclusive tickets. However, it has a less straightforward cancellation policy, meaning you’ll only be refunded if the pass is covered by insurance.
New York Sightseeing FLEX Pass
The New York Sightseeing FLEX Pass is another attraction-based NYC sightseeing pass. You can visit 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, or 12 attractions over 60 days. As the name suggests, this gives attractive flexibility. But perhaps owing to the lack of a risk-free cancellation policy, this pass and its sister, the New York Sightseeing DAY Pass, don’t score well in NY pass reviews.
The New York Pass Reviews
It’s worth noting that the Trustpilot New York Pass reviews regularly award four stars for convenience, value for money, and customer service. So the New York Pass seems to give a good level of customer satisfaction for many travelers to the Big Apple.
User reviews often mention the value-for-money New York Pass pricing and the relative ease of use. Many customers are happy to recommend the pass to others, particularly “given the variety of sights the Pass offers,” as one New York Pass review says.
“Makes budgeting far easier on a trip to NYC,” says another reviewer on Trustpilot. Note, though, that reviewers often recommend thoughtful planning, and using the pass strategically, to get your money’s worth.
For comparison, we’re looking at the other big three passes – the New York CityPASS, the New York Sightseeing DAY Pass, and the New York Sightseeing FLEX Pass. The New York C⋅ALL is a relatively new addition to the CityPASS stable, but it hasn’t yet garnered sufficient reviews.
|PASS||The New York Pass||New York CityPASS||The New York Sightseeing DAY Pass||New York Sightseeing FLEX Pass|
New York Pass Review: Is the New York Pass Worth the Price?
If you’ve set your sights on New York City’s major attractions, with a limited time to get everything done, the New York Pass will save you money. It will definitely take the financial sting out of some of the more expensive destinations. And with some attractions, such as Edge, you can skip the ticket lines – always a big plus.
The New York Pass also offers a fabulous choice of attractions and doesn’t force you to stick rigidly to the tourist trail. So you can tailor your New York City experience and pick activities that match your preferences.
I’d urge you to try a walking tour, as this is an excellent way to get under the city’s skin. Local guides will open your eyes to things the guidebooks don’t find room to mention, adding an extra dimension to your stay. Conversely, if you don’t want the hassle of choosing activities for yourself, you may prefer the New York CityPASS or New York C⋅All options.
I’ve certainly found that purchasing a single ticket up-front removes much of the spade-work when organizing a precious vacation itinerary. All you have to do is make your choices and book up for your preferred time slots. And my experience has been that the New York Pass website is straightforward and full of handy tips and kinks.
Finally, the New York Pass also offers a reassuring no-risk cancellation policy and the option to buy the pass up to two years in advance. All these features combine to make the New York Pass a pretty good deal.
All told, my conclusion is that the New York Pass is value for money for the right kind of traveler to New York. If you’re a first-time visitor, have between 3 and 10 days set aside for seeing all the iconic New York City attractions, value the chance to dig a bit deeper, and have bags of enthusiasm, the New York Pass is worth the price.
See Related: Chicago vs New York
What is the New York Pass, and how does it work?
The New York Pass is a digital multi-attraction all-inclusive sightseeing pass. With a single up-front payment, the ticket gives you free access to the 100+ attractions listed on the New York Pass website. You choose how many days you want your pass to last, from one to ten days.
You can download the pass onto the app on your smartphone or print it off, then scan it at every attraction you visit. The more attractions you visit, the bigger the discount you’ll enjoy.
Which New York pass is the best for tourists?
The New York Pass is the best option for tourists visiting New York City for 3 – 10 days to see all the famous New York City highlights, customize their vacation, and add some off-the-beaten-track activities. If you want to stick to the most high-profile attractions, choose the New York CityPASS for five attractions or the New York C⋅ALL for ten top attractions.
What attractions can I visit with the New York Pass?
There are over 100 attractions, tours, museums, and activities on offer with the New York Pass. The package includes all the major New York must-sees, such as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the Rockefeller Center, Madame Tussauds, Madison Square Garden, the Yankee Stadium, and the Museum of Modern Art. Plus, there are sightseeing cruises, bike tours, and walking tours.
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Sarah Oliver, a London-based travel writer, has garnered widespread acclaim for her evocative storytelling, keen eye for detail, and exceptional knowledge of the diverse cultures and landscapes she explores. Drawing from her extensive travels through countries such as France, Spain, Greece, Canada, and the United States, she has carved out a niche as a highly insightful and engaging travelogue writer.
With a profound appreciation for both history and the natural world, Oliver’s writings capture the essence of what makes travel so enriching – the joy of discovering new places, the thrill of unearthing little-known facts, and the fulfilling connections forged with local inhabitants. For Oliver, travelling is about more than ticking off a checklist of attractions; her innate curiosity and love for the unknown prompt her to venture off the beaten track and create unforgettable experiences.