New York City C3 Pass Review 2018 – is the New York C3 Pass worth it?

The cost of visiting New York City can make it an extremely expensive trip. One way to save money is to invest in an attraction pass. One such pass is the New York City C3 Pass from CityPASS. This is a Cutdown Pass based on the Original New York CityPASS, Geared towards people with less time in the City or people who are only wanting to visit a few attractions. In our New York CityPASS C3 Review we answer the question, is the New York C3 Pass is worth it, and is it is the right pass for you?

is the New York C3 Pass is worth it

If you want to see what other passes are available, see our comparison review here Where we have looked at The New York Pass, The New York Explorer Pass, and the New York CityPASS.

  • Product: New York CityPASS C3New York City C3 Pass Review
  • Price: $82 (18+)
  • Price Child: $62 (4-12)
  • Where to Buy:
  • Number of Attractions: choose 3 of 10
  • Time Limit: 9 consecutive days
  • Rating: 4.3/5 Stars

Attractions Included:

Choose any 3 of the following:

  • Empire State Building Experience
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck 
  •  Guggenheim Museum
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
  • Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  •  Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  • Hornblower Cruises
  • Price
  • Ease of Use
  • Attractions


A very basic Pass that just allows you to see the Highlights of New York City. This is the perfect Pass for very quick 1-2 Day trips where you don’t have the time to see as much as you want but still want a few attractions and a modest saving. Care must be taken when Choosing your attractions as certain combinations work out very badly. We like the Pass but it’s lightweight nature always leaves us wanting more so prefer the other passes. But for those Whirlwind visit’s this is perfect.

What is the New York CityPASS C3:

The New York C3 by CityPASS is a cut-down version of the popular New York CityPASS. It allows you to visit any 3 attractions from a list of 10 of New Yorks’s most popular attractions. This works very well for short trips or where you are on a very tight budget. The price is only $82 ($64 for Children 4-12) which is the cheapest price of all of New York’s passes. However, for this, you are only getting 3 attractions and the value isn’t as great as some of the other more expensive passes.


How Does the New York C3 Pass Work?

Unlike it’s bigger brother the C3 is a Digital Pass meaning it is just a QR barcode that is scanned at the attractions when you visit them. We believe (hope) this is the way all the CityPASS’s are heading and the C3 is being used as a trial. We have used this system for other passes and it works very well. The codes are either printed out or scanned directly from your smartphone.

There is no need to pre-decide which attractions you choose. You simply turn up on the day and use the QR code. No need to pre-book. Some of the Attractions used timed slot systems but you can simply book for the next available time which is normally well within the hour.

 QR code C3

Is the New York C3 Good Value?

The New York C3 Pass doesn’t represent as good value as some of the other passes out there. In fact, in some instances, the C3 can work out more expensive than visiting the attractions separately! This is dependant upon which attractions you Choose. You need to be visiting the more expensive options to get any value from the PASS. However, picking the most expensive attractions is a poor way to choose your attractions. You need to decide which attractions you wish to see and work out if that represents good value. Here are a few examples cost out for you:

  • Empire State Building Experience + Top of the Rock Observation Deck + Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum – $37 + $39 + $33 = $109 Pass $ 82  Saving $27 or 24%
  • Empire State Building Experience + Top of the Rock Observation Deck + 9/11 Memorial & Museum – $37 + $39 + $26 = $100 Pass $ 82  Saving $18 or 18%
  • Empire State Building Experience + American Museum of Natural History + The Metropolitan Museum of Art – $37 + $28 + $25 = $90  Pass $ 82  Saving $8 or 8%
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck + Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island + Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum – $39 + $18.50 + $33 = $90.50 Pass $ 82  Saving $8.50 or 9%
  • Empire State Building Experience + Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island + 9/11 Memorial & Museum – $37 + $18.50 + $26 = $81.50 Pass $ 82  Saving $0.50 or 0%
  • American Museum of Natural History + The Metropolitan Museum of Art + Guggenheim Museum – $28 + $25 + $25 = $78 Pass $ 82  Saving –$-4 or -5%
  • American Museum of Natural History + Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island + 9/11 Memorial & Museum – $28 + $18.50 + $26 = $72.50 Pass $ 82  Saving –$-9.50 or -7%

As you can see there is quite a variation in possible savings from $29 or 37% right down to costing you money. The Big Killer in Value is the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Cruise as this is the cheapest attraction it instantly minimises potential savings. So if this is to be on of your planned attractions, which it often is the C3 may not be for you. Unless of course, you have the time and inclination for 4 attractions as you could just pay for the Statue and Ellis separately. But then you are getting close to the cost of a full New York CityPASS!

Central park from TOTR

Central Park From Top Of The Rock

The take-home message is to work out what is really important to you and cost it out to see if the savings are worth getting a pass. Here are is a list of current prices as of Jan 2018(Hopefully they don’t change soon as I’ll have a lot of Maths to re-do!):

  • Empire State Building Experience – $37 Adult – $31 Child
  • American Museum of Natural History – $28 Adult – $16.50 Child
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art – $25 Adult – $12 Child
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck $39 Adult – $32.49 Child
  • Guggenheim Museum – $25 Adult – $18 Child
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island – $18.50 Adult – $9 Child
  • Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises – $31 Adult – $26 Child
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum – $26 Adult – $17 Child
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum – $33 Adult – $24 Child
  • Hornblower Cruises – $31 Adult – $21 Child


While the primary reason for choosing a pass is cost-saving. There are a few good reasons why the C3 pass can enhance your trip beyond just money-saving.

Budgeting – With the C3 you know exactly how much you will be spending on the attraction side of the holiday. There will be no nasty surprises when you get back and no worrying that you have spent too much of your holiday cash. As you have paid upfront for all your attraction costs that part of the planning can be put to bed and you can just focus on enjoying your trip.

Planning Visting a new city can be confusing and intimidating and you don’t always know where to start in planning your trip. A pass can add real clarity to this process and as you pick your attractions you can plan other things to do in the vicinity of the attraction. Like heading into Central Park after the natural history museum. Or heading to Macy’s after going up the empire state building.

Ease – Simply having the QR Code on your phone or printed out certainly helps make things a lot easier rather than carrying around multiple tickets. A quick scan of the code and you are in. While having a few tickets is hardly the most taxing prospect it still stands that the simplicity of the pass is a positive.

Queues – At some Attractions having the pass allows you to either skip certain parts of the queuing process or access priority lines. We go into detail about this in our hands-on CityPASS Review. The C3 works the same in practice so this is a good guide as to where and when you can skip lines.

Flexibility – Because there is no need to choose your attractions ahead of time and you are not booking specific times it gives you the flexibility to alter your itinerary to suit weather or mood. say you are planning the Empire state building first thing but wake to low clouds which will obscure any view? well, head to the 9/11 museum instead and do the Empire state after the cloud has lifted. As the C3 is geared toward shorter stays it doesn’t provide a huge amount of flexibility but it might just get out of a pickle.

the New York Pass review

Manhatten From Top Of The Rock


Timed Tickets – At the 9/11 Museum*, The Top Of The Rock, and the Cruise Options offered a Timed ticket System is used. This means you are allocated a ticket for the attraction at a certain time. The way, the pass works you can’t book these timed slots ahead of time as you can if booking directly with the providers. You simply arrive and then book the next available. For the most part, this is fine and the wait is minimal but at very busy times it can be an issue. meaning you have a bit of a wait until your timed entry. Personally, we have NEVER experienced this and have not had to wait more than 30 mins. But we are aware at very busy times it can be a problem. A simple way to avoid this issue is to attend at less than peak times of the day. early morning or late on. or if you really want a certain time, such as sunset at the top of the rock. Visit the attraction well in advance and get your timed ticket for the later time of your choosing.

*At the 9/11 museum, we actually experienced the opposite and were ushered in Quicker than those needing to buy tickets as we were pass-holders.

Cramming Too Much in – We always mention this when discussing passes as there is always the temptation to Cram too much in to get value from a pass. While this is less of an issue for the C3 as it only has 3 attractions included if your trip is very short it could still be too much! 3 attractions in one day is still a fairly busy schedule depending on the attractions. They can be fairly far apart and require a good amount of time investment to properly appreciate. For single days or long layovers, we don’t really think any pass is the best idea unless you really are intent on seeing the available attractions. Better to Maybe just go up the empire state them just enjoy the City.

Value For Money – We have mentioned this extensively so won’t go on again, but this isn’t the best in value in terms of possible savings.

<<< Buy a New York C3 Pass here >>>

Which Attractions

You will obviously have your own Idea of which attractions you wish to visit when traveling to New York But we do feel some of the C3’s offerings are stronger than others.

Empire State Building Experience or Top of the Rock

top of the rock

View From the Empire State Building

Most people want to do at least one of these. The view of Manhatten from up high is a truly staggering spectacle. We strongly advise anyone visiting New York to visit an Observation Deck. While the C3 Pass allows you to visit both and they are both high value it doesn’t lead to a lot of variety in your trip. We advise choosing only one. But which?

We sum up the pros and cons in our Observation Deck Article but in Brief, it’s a tough choice. The Top of the Rock wins on most levels, it is a far better view and you actually get to see the Empire State Building, however, there is just something so Iconic about going up the Empire State building it’s hard to overlook it. We are just going to have to choose between a superior view or bragging rights or upgrade to a more expensive pass.


There are 5 Museums offered on the C3 pass. People who don’t like Museums may be a little put off by this but they are not all stuffy collections of relics, while some are. The 911 Museum and Memorial is a truly heartbreaking experience that most people visiting New York should experience at least once. This should be top of your list along with an Observation Deck.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

The other 4 Museums are quite different. The Natural history museum is a real world-class museum and well worth a visit for anyone with an interest in nature and the history of life on earth. The Intrepid museum is also fantastic if military hardware is your thing, our only issue with it is it’s not very New Yorky! While it’s fascinating being on the deck of an aircraft carrier moored on the Hudson River, it’s just a bit irrelevant to new york. This can be seen as a bad choice therefore for someone on a whirlwind tour of the city, trying to get the most out of new york on a tight timescale which we feel is the main aim of the C3 Pass.

The Museum of Modern Art houses some of the best artworks in the world and is a great museum but like the intrepid museum, it doesn’t feel that relevant to a new york trip. If this has been on your list for a while as you are an ardent art lover then this is probably the perfect choice. The Guggenheimnhiem is another world-class museum but for most, it’s “an as well as” museum, not a first choice so not most people’s ideal choice. If you are here primarily for the museums the fact it has so many options means you could save a few $while visiting your favorites.

Blue whale natural history museum

Blue Whale Replica – New York American Museum of Natural History

The other issue with choosing Museums is the Metropolitan and the Natural History Museum do have the option of paying only what you want. For the vast majority of tourists paying the suggested donation is the normal way forward. We personally would feel very rude and awkward demanding that the museum wasn’t worth the entry fee and we want to pay less than everyone else. We don’t feel that is the purpose of this system. The museum house some incredibly important works and EVERYONE should have access to. The reduced donation fee is for those who really can’t afford the “entry”. Not a category many New York Tourists fall into. We liken it to Tipping, you don’t have to tip your server but it’s very ill manners not to?

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

As we mentioned this is the poorest value choice on the C3 Pass. While it’s a fantastic option and we highly recommend the trip itself it just isn’t very expensive on its own and as such limits the amount the pass can save you. You would be much better off choosing another option and then book the cruise separately (maybe with a crown access upgrade?) if you want to visit the Statue. Which you should it is a very iconic experience. Another option is the Staten Island ferry which doesn’t actually stop on the island but makes a very close pass. See here for details.

New York City Must Do Sights and Attractions

Other Cruise

The other Cruises on the list offer much better value and are a real joy. We should say they can be less enjoyable during the winter months where it can be VERY cold out on the Rivers. But a relaxing cruise taking in one of the best skylines in the world is a great way to spend your time.

If we were to recommend a perfect itinerary for us it would be:

  • Empire State Building Experience
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • American Museum of Natural History

Even after saying the Top of the Rock is better, which it is, We just love the romance of the Empire State Building, But the two are really interchangeable on the C3 Pass.

Summing Up

tyrannosaurus rex

T-Rex Fossil – New York American Museum of Natural History

The New York C3 Pass is far from the best value pass on offer in New York but it offers a really cheap option for a whistle-stop tour. It is actually the cheapest option for a very short or limited stay. It is also a good option for people just looking to do just a few attractions and then fill their days with the free things on offer in New York.

We prefer the more complete full-fat New York CityPASS as it offers such a complete New York Experience. But if you, for whatever reason can only do 3 of the attractions the C3 is a very good option for a cut-down Pass. The attractions on offer are all really top attractions with only the statue of liberty and Ellis Island the only one to avoid and then only as it reduces the value of the pass. However, as stated Cost should not be the major factor in choosing the Pass. If the selection of attractions you want to visit doesn’t add up to more than the cost of the pass, don’t change your itinerary, just don’t buy the pass.

<<< Buy a New York C3 Pass here >>>

Have Your Say

Let us know if you have tried the C3 Pass? What did you think? Is your experience similar to ours or did you find it disappointing? What attractions did you choose? Just leave us a comment below, we would love to hear from you. Or if you have any questions on the Pass of the attractions themselves again just drop us a comment.

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12 thoughts on “New York City C3 Pass Review 2018 – is the New York C3 Pass worth it?”

  1. The pass looks great with so many things to do on it. I also looked at your other pass that costs more however has even more bang for buck.

    Your review covers so much. I have not been to the USA but will definitely bookmark your site as you have alot of cities and ideas covered.

    • Hi Sharon, 

      Yes we do prefer the more comprehensive passes as they offer such great value. But for really short trips this pass is a great option. Hope you get to New York or somewhere else in the USA soon. It is such a great country to visit with so much variety there is sure to be something for everyone!

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Nice review. New York can be a fun city with friends to visit it with. We really like the sound of the C3 Pass. We don’t tend to do many paid attractions but when we visit with friends who haven’t been they always want to go up the empire state building and stuff like that so this seems a great way to get a discount.

    You know what would be a nice addition to this guide? A bit about the subway/metro system and how to get around the city other than a taxi. Taxi cabs in NY can be expensive, so using the subway would be a useful tool for visitors. Perhaps show them a map and how it works out of Grand Central. Just a suggestion… UPDATE – I see that you already have this subway info on another page on your site! GOOD JOB!

    • Hi, 

      Glad you like the sound of the C3, yes that sort of trip is exactly what the pass is designed for along with short trips. Not everyone wants to see all the paid attractions, many just want to explore central park or do some shopping maybe just hit the bars and restaurants. the C3 is great for this type of trip.

      We have our New York Tavel Guide, however, We are working diligently on our FULL subway guide. We use the subway/Metro for everything in New York. it is save so much money, but more than that it’s often just quicker. We very rarely use Taxi/Uber in New York anymore. Only late at night when dressed up. The Subway can be quite hard to get your head round though so the guide is taking time and will be very comprehensive. 

      Thanks for reading. Feel free to check back for our Subway guide, or like us on Facebook and we will post it as soon as it’s ready. 

  3. Great article! A lot of research being done before you share this with us. I appreciate the detailed calculations of the prices of the attractions so that I will be able to know if the pass if worth it. I also like how you include the pros and cons of the pass, definitely an informative post. I have a friend visiting New York soon, I will share this article with her which well help in her cost planning tremendously! Thanks!

    • Hi,

      Thanks for the Kind words. We hope our article helps your friend with her up coming trip? Do you not fancy a trip yourself?

      Thanks for reading and for sharing our site with your friend. Hope she has a great time in NYC.

  4. This is a great deal. I used to live in NY and let me tell you it’s very expensive to see anything in NYC.
    And there’s so much to see so getting a deal on the cost is awesome.
    It’s nice that you get to pick and choose what you want to see and do.
    This is something to look into and to bookmark for when you travel there!
    Is there a time limit on the passes?

    • Hi Rob,

      Great to hear from someone who actually lived in New York. We agree it can be a very expensive place to visit. Glad to see you think the pass is good value.

      The 3 attractions need to be used within 9 days. Considering this pass is mainly geared at short trips then that’s far longer than needed really.

      Thanks for reading


  5. Well Hello,
    I really enjoyed this article about my hometown. Although, I haven’t been back in several years. When I get a chance to go back to visit, I want to use the C3 when bringing people that never been to New York.

    That fact that I can pick 3 attractions instead of overcrowding my tour with all is great.

    I love that you broke down the saving is awesome too. That helps me and my guests choose where we want to go with a better saving on each attraction.

    However, I may take your advice on the best tour to take.
    Thanks, :-)!

    • Hi Cooki,

      Great to hear from a homegrown New Yorker. We find Locals love the passes for when they have family and friends visiting so they can show them the sights for less. Residents rarely actually visit the tourist attractions thenselves, like in most places, but when they have visitors from out of town they want to see the sights. The pass is great for this as it only has a few attractions so you can see the highlights but not be too bogged down in trekking round to see everything.

      Thanks for reading, Hope you have a great time when you get back to your hometown


  6. City Pass cost me -$20.00 more than if i had made separate purchases. On 7/22/18 I purchased 2 C3 passes for myself and my 17 year old son for $165.
    Lost value right away because we chose to go to the statue of liberty. Most venues require security checks or ticked scheduled time slots. This kills immediately kills supposed line skipping. On the bright side after I complained they offered a partial refund but what a waste of time. Now this is a part of my memory for my dream vacation. Just pay full price. forget the gimmicks and enjoy the city!!

    • Hi,

      Thanks for your feedback

      Yeah, we agree and have gone to great lengths to point this out in our review. Complete with costed examples. It all depends on your choice of attractions and the Statue Cruise is one of the Cheapest and makes it hard to get value from the pass! You need to be visiting at least two of the higher priced attractions to make this pass worthwhile.

      Sorry to hear you only found this out after buying a Pass. But great to hear CityPASS refunded you the difference!

      We found the line skipping to be effective (911 Museum, Empire State) or neutral at most places and only a moderate hindrance at others (totr, statue cruise). The Security checks are a pain but that applies to ALL customers regardless of ticketing purchase method.

      The C3 can be good value but it all does depend on which attractions you want to visit, as you found out by selecting the Statue Cruise you limit your ability to get good value. The Explorer Pass Build your Own can be a great option in this instance!


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