Ultimate New York Passes Comparison – Best New York Pass 2019

Best New York Pass 2018

Normally a Visit to New York involves a visit to a number of paid attractions. There are a lot of different things to do in New York and the costs can quickly escalate. Especially with families and children constantly asking “can we do this…” One way to limit the expenditure while also saving significant sums of money is by purchasing a “Pass”. There are a number of different Passes on the market all with their own Unique take on the concept with plenty of Pros and Cons for each. But which is the Best New York Pass? Which New York Pass offers the Best Value time savings and Experience?

The simple answer is none of them. They are all best for a different purpose. And in some instances, NO pass is better, like if you only plan on visiting a few attractions or want specific times.  So our New York Passes Comparison post will attempt to highlight the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision as to which pass to choose and if should buy a New York pass at all.

Ultimate New York Passes Comparison 2018
Get this View with the New York CityPASS from the roof of the Empire State Building!
**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Considerations

The first question in your mind when considering these passes should be “Do I want to see the attractions the pass is offering” In other words are you only considering them because they are on the pass? If you only want to see a few of the attractions but know you will squeeze in the others because they are “free” Then a pass probably isn’t for you. Just do the attractions you want and then do something else that you WANT to do on the other days. New York is ram packed with FREE activities and things to do. You are much better doing those than wasting precious trip time seeing something only because you want to get the best value.

But if you were planning to see the things the pass offers anyway why not pay less to see them? Most of the most popular Attractions are included on at least one of Passes and If you are planning a busy trip with lots of expensive attractions it makes sense to try to minimize costs.

Inspiration!

Another good reason to consider a pass is if you don’t really know what you want to see when in the City. For many a trip to New York is a lifetime dream trip. You have spent your childhood growing up seeing the sights and sounds of New York on the big (and little) Screen and now you are finally getting to see the Big Apple. Only you now realize you don’t really know exactly what it is you want to see an do when you are there…You don’t really even know what’s available!

A City Pass can provide valuable inspiration for planning your trip as most of the possible attractions is included on the most passes. We often hear people loving attractions they discovered via a Pass that they didn’t know were available. Even people who think they know the City can still discover something new via a Pass.

Despite being Seasoned New York Travellers we always still make sure we Pack a pass (Metaphorically) whenever we visit the City. We still love seeing the Marquee Sights despite seeing them before and the pass just lets us save so much money it’s a no Brainer for us. Our only decision is which pass too buy!

Overview

Let’s take a quick look at the main contenders. New York is big business for travel companies and everyone wants to get in on the action where Passes are concerned so there is a huge number of options and massive competition. This is good news as it keeps prices low and quality high as everyone is vying for customers. However, it also makes choosing a pass really difficult. There are Six main passes to choose from. These vary wildly in price from $82 right up to $399 but what you get at these different prices point also varies wildly, from just 2-3 attractions to 10 days all inclusive attraction from a list of 100+

As you can see there is a huge amount of choice and getting the right one for your trip can be incredibly difficult. The good news they are all excellent passes. There is no bad pass and choosing the wrong one will not ruin your trip. So the goal of this Article is ensuring you get the pass that suits you best and will return the BEST value and the Best Experience of New York City.

Option 1 – New York CityPASS
New York CityPASS

Best for:

First timers who want the best of New York, Highlights on a tight budget!

Attractions Included:

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

The CityPASS is the simplest of the Passes. You pay one fixed fee. And simply get to visit 6 attractions out of a choice of 9. This is quite limited in the choice but ALL of the attractions are TOP attractions. All Killer no Filler as they say. The price is also very competitive. In fact, it’s far cheaper than any of the other passes when you consider the quality of the attractions on offer.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as a choosing any 6 of the 9. The first 3 are fixed as the Empire State Building, American Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You then Choose Either Top of the Rock or Guggenheim Museum. And Choose between Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island cruise or a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises. And choose between the 9/11 Memorial & Museum or the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. The pass does offer small discounts on the choices you don’t pick also but it’s not a huge amount off.

Visiting all these attractions will save you a large amount of money, up to 41% and really these are all on our must-see list. If you plan on visiting these attractions this pass is very appealing. The $126 outlay is really quite low for a pass that covers most thing you will wish to see.

It works very well in practice too. At most attractions, there were large parts of the queuing process that were completely Bypassed. And even at the attractions where it didn’t help to have the pass. It certainly didn’t hinder and at least we were saving money. The downside was at the attractions that allow timed entry. At the Statue Cruise, we had to wait 25 minutes from exchanging our ticket until the boat left, It took 20 of those 25 to board so not a huge waste of time. And at the Top of the Rock, we had 45 minutes to kill. So it’s not the end of the world. As you will see this is the same with all passes. The only way to prevent this is booking online early individually for each timed entry attraction. Of course, this will cost more but if timings are very important to you it is the only option. Simply turning up and paying full price really did not look appealing at all. The ticket queues at some of the attractions were very long and we just walked right past them!

tyrannosaurus rex

American Museum of Natural History

The CityPASS works best for people with limited time who just want to see the Top Attractions. 3 days is the minimum you would need to get full use out of this without rushing like a loon as the attractions take a fair amount of time to experience properly. We plan for one in the morning and one in the afternoon each day. They are fairly spread out so you will get to see plenty of the city while travelling between sites.

Overall we believe this to be the superior offering in most regards but the other passes may suit you more depending on the nature of your trip.

<<<read Our Hands on Review Here>>>

 

 

Option 2 – New York City C3 Pass

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

Best for:

Those on very short 1 or 2-day trips wanting just 3 top attractions !!

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

The New York C3 Pass is a Cut-down version of the New York CityPASS. The pass allows you to choose just 3 from 10 top New York attractions. It’s cheaper than a one day New York Pass (option3) and Cheaper than 3 attractions on the New York Explorer pass. so offers great value if you are only planning on visiting a few attractions.

The New York C3 is perfect for those planning short trip 1-2 days, or are just planning on seeing lots of the free things the City has to offer. Maybe you are in New York for other reasons but just want to see a few of the City’s highlights? The C3 pass offers you the chance to save some cash will giving you access to the best attractions.

It’s line up id fairly limited compared to the other passes but every attraction is a top quality marquee attraction. Only the Statue Cruise and Ellis island let the pass down slightly as the attraction is very cheap and as such limits how much you can save.

This is the C3’s biggest downside. Due to the limited amount of attractions the pass offers fairly low savings compared to more comprehensive Passes. But if you really only have the time or inclination to visit 3 attractions the C3 does offer the cheapest entry price to any of the New York Attraction Passes.

 <<< Read our full Review of the C3 Pass here >>>

Option 3 – New York Pass

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  • Price Adult: $124 – $319
  • Price Child: $89 – $199
  • Where to Buy: www.newyorkpass.com
  • Number of Attractions: Unlimited from 100+Attractions
  • Time Limit: 1-10 consecutive days
  • Rating: 4.7/5 Stars
  • Full Review here

Best for:

Those who want to see and do EVERYTHING!!

Attractions Included:

  • Empire State Building Experience
  • The Ride
  • New York Water Taxi
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck 
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
  • Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  • Madame Tussauds New York
  • Museum Modern Art (Moma)
  • + Many more, Click here for all activities

Pricing: See Here for up to date Pricing

The New York Pass is quite unique compared to the others in so much as its Unlimited! You pay for the number of days you want and then just fill your boots. The pass is quite expensive and unless you opt for the 3-day pass (where perpetual discounts start, see note*) or more I would say poor value. So really the pass Starts at $191.20 for a 3-day pass. Then adding more days the price rises. Up to an eye-watering $399 for the full 10 days. Expensive! But you do get a lot for your money. Apart from the One World Observatory, I don’t think there is anything in New York you would want to do that’s not covered by this pass?

All the headline Attractions are included. Such as the Empire State, 911 Museum, Statue Cruise, the Museums etc.. But also a whole heap of tours and walks and these are of questionable value. All these can be done for free on your own with a little research. It all depends on the type of person you are. Do you want to find and explore yourself or just be shown by a professional guide?

911 museum

Some of the stated savings are obviously based on these tours and walks included so the huge savings advertised are not necessarily a true reflection of the potential Value. If you are just wanting to see the headline attractions savings will be much lower due to the higher purchase price. You are also in danger of running around trying to fit in activities just because they are on your pass.

This is the best option if you want to do everything. Leaving New York with no stone unturned. You need to do a lot on these passes to get your money’s worth, but if you do you will have seen and done an awful lot! You certainly will be getting a full New York experience! You are going to be wanting to do 3/4 things a day which could mean a hectic schedule! Ensure you plan things close to each other. Charging around New York can be an exhausting business. I felt like I’d run a marathon! (And I do run Marathons so know what that feels like!)



As with the other passes at a lot of attractions, the pass counts as a ticket so Ticket lines can be skipped. When busy the lines in New York can be horrendous, so anything that can save time is a godsend. Don’t expect full VIP privileges where you simply walk straight in but several queue lines can be avoided.

As the New York Pass often acts as your ticket any queue where you need to queue just to buy tickets will be avoided so you can normally just walk straight up to the Turnstiles. With the Pass stored directly on your phone, it couldn’t be easier to use either.

Really the only thing not to like is the pricing it is a big outlay. It will still save you tons of cash though if you really want to see and do everything. We would suggest Lighter users to look at the CityPASS, Explorer Pass or the SightseeingFlexi Pass as these are more geared to seeing fewer sights.

*Note: Pricing for this can be quirky the Pass is ina perpetual sale where cards of 3 Days or over are continually discounted. Be sure to check you are receiving a big discount on cards over 3-Days, Typically around 20% or more. This is a deliberate sales tactic and as such we don’t really recommend the 1 or 2 Day cards as they are priced to make you choose a 3-day card.

<<< Read our Full Practical Review here >>>

Option 4 – New York City Explorer Pass

  • Price: $89 – $209
  • Price Child: $67 – $169
  • Where to Buy: Smartdestinations.com
  • Number of Attractions: Choose 3/4/ 5/ 7/ 11 out of 80+ Attractions, or Pick your own attractions, or Package Deals
  • Time Limit: 30 consecutive days
  • Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
  • Full Review here

Best for:

For people who want a more relaxed trip where the quality of attractions means more than the quantity!

Attractions Included:

  • Empire State Building Experience
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck 
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
  • Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  • Museum Modern Art
  • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus New York Tour – 2-Day Classic Ticket
  • + Many more, Click here for all activities

Smart Destinations are the world leading City Pass providers and offer fantastic city pass options for Cities all over the world. New York is no exception and they offer a number of Pass Options to suit most travellers. They do not offer an All-inclusive option so look elsewhere if that is your prefered choice. The Explorer Pass is a very good option with 80+ really top attractions and plenty of opportunities to save a bundle and get the most out the City.

Explorer Pass:

Offer – For a limited time, the 10 Attractions Pass now offers an incredible 11 attractions for the same Price!

With the Explorer pass, you pick how many attractions you wish to see, from the list of 80+ but you only choose which attractions you visit when you get there. So say you pick a 7 attraction pass every time you visit an attraction and scan the pass, the number left is reduced by one.

  • 3 Attraction pass is $89 adults, $67 children
  • 4 Attraction pass is $119 adults, $84 children
  • 5 Attraction pass is $134 adults, $99 children
  • 7 Attraction pass is $169 adults, $129 children
  • 10 11 Attraction pass is $219 adults, $169 children

The Explorer Pass works well if you really don’t know what it is you are going to want to see. It normally works out best value out of the other Smart Destination offerings (see below) and is our preferred option most of the time.

The Pass is an Electronic pass. A QR Code is stored on your phone or downloaded and printed off meaning there is no messing around with delivery or picking up booklets when you arrive. There are over 80+ attractions included in the card so chances are there will be something for everyone on the Pass.

As you choose the number of attraction as opposed to days it means you can have a much more relaxed trip and spend time doing whatever it is you want as opposed to rushing around only doing attractions that are on your pass simply to get value for money. We Advise only doing a maximum of three attraction per day and more realistically two. so if you are on a 3-day trip a 7 attraction pass may be a bit much. Really you would need 4 days to cram in 7 attractions at least.

The 10 11 Attraction pass really needs a full week in the City to make use of all those attractions.

The beauty of this approach is you don’t need to feel bad about not doing attraction at any point. If you want to spend the afternoon in Central Park you are not losing attraction time like you would be with the all-inclusive passes.

It also offers a lot of flexibility. Not choosing you attractions upfront means you can chop and change your plans based on external factors. Maybe the weather is really bad and you just don’t want to go up the empire state building to look a the inside of a cloud. With the explorer pass, you just visit somewhere else instead.

We really like the Explorer pass and along with the CityPASS, it’s our top pick for the City.

Build Your Own:

Build your own Passes are an “A la Carte” style menu when you pick what attractions are added to your card and you then get a fixed amount taken from the price. Between 10 and 20% off the gate price.

This is a very good way of buying a pass. You are only getting the things you really want and know exactly the cost and the saving up front! What’s not to like? Well, the savings are not as great as some of the other passes. But if the other passes are not offering the choices you want this is a perfect way to get a good discount and only see what you want! However, it is important to check if the savings are greater when using an Explorer pass. It is possible to save up to 50% when using the Explorer Pass and only 20% on the BYO so by picking the exact same attractions on an explorer pass you could save a whole load more.

The Flipside is sometimes the opposite is true the BYO works out cheaper. It is important to do your sums in that case. If you are choosing the more expensive pass optinos the Explorer pass is normally cheaper but if you’re choosing the cheaper attractions look at the Build Your Own Pass.

Finally the Build your own Pass has a few attractions that are just not on the Explorer pass. One of the Headline attractions is the chance to grab a helicopter tour for a reduced rate! Have a look here to see if a Helicopter tour is for you?

top of the empire state

Package deals:

The final option is a package deal. It seems to us that smart destinations are phasing this option out the options are limited and the savings are a little underwhelming. But if the attractions are exactly what you want they can be a good option. The Sight-Seeing Pass option works out cheaper than bother the Explorer Pass and the Build your Own! The Main downside is the options are so limited it’s unlikely they will fit your exact requirements.

<<< Read Our Full Practical Review here >>>

Option 5 – The New York Sightseeing Pass – Flexi Pass

  • Price: $64 – $219
  • Price Child: $49 – $169
  • Where to Buy: The New York Sightseeing Pass
  • Number of Attractions:  Unlimited from over 100+ Attractions
  • Time Limit: Choose 2 /3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7/ 10 Day Pass
  • Rating: 4.3/5 Stars
  • Full Review here

Best for:

People who want maximum flexibility in their trip and want to see attractions in their own time.

Attractions Included:

  • One World Observatory
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck 
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
  • Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  • Museum Modern Art
  • Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Bonus
  • + Many more, Click here for all activities
freedom tower

Freedom Tower – Included on the Sightseeing Pass

The Sightseeing Pass is the new kid on the block in the Pass world. SightSeeing LTD has been operating Open-top Bus tours of cities around the world for decades and has now branched out to Attractions Passes. Their two Passes for new york are compelling offerings and it’s tough to separate them from their rivals.

The Flexi Pass is pretty much identical to the New York Explorer Pass. The Two big differences are the 72 uptown and downtown Hop on Hop off Bus tour that counts as just one attraction and covers pretty much the whole city. Unsurprising from a tour bus operator to include strong Bus tour options on the Pass.

The other BIG news is there is NO Empire State Building! Normally this is big No No for us as we just love the Empire State building but they save themselves by including the One World Observatory instead. The Sightseeing Flexi and Day Passes are the only passes to include the One World Observatory.

This makes the decisions all the more difficult as the View from Midtown is the best view in New York. You can still witness this with the Top Of the Rock. But with the Sight Seeing pass, you also get the View from Downtown from the very flash One World Tower.

The Pass is also of the Digital kind so it’s emailed straight to your phone or device and you simply scan it to gain entry to the attractions or exchange for a physical pass at one of their kiosks. It has a huge line up of Attractions and it covers nearly everything you might want to see in New York.

Check out our in-depth review of the New York Sightseeing Pass!

Option 6 – The New York Sightseeing Pass – Day Pass

Best for:

For people Wanting to See and Do EVERYTHING!!

Attractions Included:

  • One World Observatory
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck 
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
  • Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  • Museum Modern Art
  • Hop-on, Hop-off Bus for the duration of the Pass
  • + Many more, Click here for all activities

The New York Sightseeing Day Pass is the All Inclusive Rival to the New York Pass. Again the Major differentiators are the Hop On Hop Off Bus tour (this time for the duration of the Pass) and the One World Observatory instead of the Empire State Building.

Also like THE NEW YORK PASS, the pass is in a perpetual sale and you should never pay the top prices for any of the passes. Apart from the 1 or 2-day passes which are pretty overpriced to make you go for a 3-day. Really if you only want 1 or 2 Days, go for the Flexi, Explorer or CityPASS.

Another interesting option on the Sightseeing Day Pass is the option to have dining credit at certain chain restaurants Like Buffalo Wild Wings and Planet Hollywood. While this is available on the Flexi pass too it’s probably not great value, but on the all inclusive it is a really good deal and can get you some free or very cheap lunches! We also notice the Go link Airport Shuttle to take you to the airport on the day you leave. If your pass is still valid on the day of departure your final attraction can be a shuttle to the airport to save you messing around on the subway. This only really works if you are on an evening flight otherwise you will have lost a whole day of the pass. But still, if it works out for your itinerary it’s an interesting idea that isn’t on any other pass.

Overall the Sightseeing Passes are a strong offering and rival the existing passes really well. We honestly find it hard to separate them

Check out our in-depth review of the New York Sightseeing Pass!

So Which Is The Best New York Pass?

As you can see there is a lot of complex confusing choices when it comes to picking the right pass for you. It’s simply not possible to tell you what pass is best. It depends on so many factors. We Find the CityPASS suits us the best, but that’s because it fits in with how we like to see New York. But it only works if the rather limited list of attractions matches your list of must-sees.

People who love to do and see everything they possibly can, will love the New York Pass and the New York Sightseeing Day Pass. But as we prefer to walk and explore our selves the myriad of tours and guided walks doesn’t appeal that much to us and it would be hard to get value from it. And you need to be careful not to overstretch your self as there are only so many hours in the day. We much prefer to have a more relaxed trip and do other free attractions where no pass is needed, like central park, the High Line or just shopping or Exploring.

This leads us to the Explorer pass and the Sightseeing Flexi Pass. These passes offer pretty much all the benefits of the All-inclusive passes but are better suited to people who want to properly explore the city as well as visiting paid attractions. You can happily spend time not using the pass safely in the knowledge you are not wasting precious “pass” time by doing things your way.

The only thing stopping us fully recommending those passes over the CityPASS is the price Which has recently been cut Further by CityPASS. 5 Attractions cost more than the six offered by the CityPASS so if the CityPASS’s limited lineup matched your Wishlist it offers some serious savings over the 5 attraction Explorer Pass and the 5 attraction Flexi Pass. However, the Explorer Pass and Flexi Pass lineups offer some higher priced options that make it really good value if those are the Attractions you wish to see. So as ever base your decision on which Attractions YOU really want to see.

It really is a tough call between those 3 for us and we think most people would be very happy with any choice out of the CityPASS, Explorer Pass or the Sightseeing Flexi Pass.

If you are on a very limited timescale the New York C3 pass offers a very cheap pass allowing only 3 choices so most people can fit this into their plans. While we much prefer the More Comprehensive passes which offer a much more immersive experience we appreciate some people don’t have time for too many attractions or simply want to immerse themselves in the free attractions in the city and just see a few of the headline attractions. For this the C3 is excellent.

Whichever you choose we personally think a Pass is a very good option. Hopefully, the above information can help you choose the pass best suited to your needs. Remember the point of a pass is to save money and make your trip BETTER. If any pass is not going to achieve that it’s the wrong choice. Don’t be a slave to the Pass. Make sure your trip is exactly what you want it to be.

Top of the rock sun

Top Of the Rock – Included on ALL Passes

Have Your Say?

Let us know if you have used a City Pass while visiting New York. Which pass did you use? did you feel you got good value? Feel Free to ask any other questions you have about the passes. Just use the comments section below.

62 thoughts on “Ultimate New York Passes Comparison – Best New York Pass 2019”

  1. Wow! This is a great post for anyone wanting to travel to New York City. We oftentimes travel to NH for the summer, but never venture to NYC because of the cost to see and do all that we want. I am super excited to see this post with all the passes for families!

    I have bookmarked this site and will return when I am ready to travel this next summer. Thank you! I didn’t know all these pass options were available.

    • Hi Kerri that’s Great. NYC Is truly something everyone should see its a great city. It can however get rather expensive so I can understand the reluctance. Hope this pass help with saving money. Of course there is plenty to see and do in New York that doesn’t cost anything at all.

      I’m sure you will love the city. 55+ million visitors a year can’t all be wrong !

  2. Hello,

    I really appreciate all of the info you have provided.

    I’m sure it will help me make my mind up on what me and my family will go and do when we get there.

    I do have a question about option one of the passes.

    $116 is that for each adult and what are the age limit that they consider you an adult?

    The $92 for children, Is that for each child and would you clarify the age limit please?

    Thank you for all your help.

    • Hi Jason thanks for the question. Adults are 18+ Children are aged 6-17 and it is per child. Anyone under 6 can get into most attractions free and some are heavily reduced meaning a pass is no longer good value.

      I’m glad you think My post will be of help. Hope you get to have the best trip you can in New York its such a great City. check back for my full hands review of the CityPASS (option 1) which will be posted in the the next few days!

  3. Wish I had seen this before visiting NY. I paid way too much by seeing them individually. The ‘build your own’ would have been my preference because I wasn’t interested in some of the other places.

    I was thinking of planning a trip with my family which includes people over 60. Do you know if students and retired people get discounts on these passes?

    • Hi Sorry to hear you didn’t know about the passes before hand. I do hear that quite a bit. So hopefully we can help raise awareness and save people some money.

      The Build your own is very good for those who know exactly what they want to see when that itinerary doesn’t fit the other passes.

      Unfortunately the Passes do not offer senior or student discount. the passes are only discounted for children.

  4. I didn’t know there were tourist passes that we can use in New York City. This seems like a great way to save a lot of money, especially if we are planning to visit many tourist attractions.

    I would definitely choose to buy the “Build your own” pass, as it gives me the flexibility to plan out my own trip around the city, according to my budget.

    Great review!

    • Hi Thanks for reading.

      Its a common theme that people don’t know about the passes so Glad we made you aware of them. The Build your own pass is definitely a good option as you only pay for what you really want to see. As you say it provide maximum flexibility.

  5. Hi Steve,

    I think it would be a great experience going to New York. I’ve have never been there. Maybe there may come a time in the future for me to make such a trip. I have a niece and her family who went to New York and she said they did a lot of walking.

    You mentioned a few of the attractions I would love to go, such as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and many of the Museums.

    One museum I just learned about is in NY called Neue Galerie Museum that holds an art portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer covered in gold. It was a painting stolen by the Nazis during the war and recovered years later by Adele’s niece Maria Altmann. The story is in a movie title “Woman in Gold” .

    • Hi Rosa,

      Yes New York is a great experience. I hop you make it one day in the not so distant future. The New York Passes cover most attractions in New York, on either pass or another. Unfortunately the Neue Galerie Museum is not one of the included museums. Its has a $30 suggested entry fee.

      I have seen the Movie and do plan on visiting at some point.

  6. I appreciate that you took the time to write about this from a cost/value perspective. As someone who has never been to New York, it gives me an idea just how big the city is and what’s there to explore.

    Back in 2013, I was making plans to visit because I had a friend who stayed in the city (could get lodging for free). I was thinking about 5 to 7 days and she did mentioned that if I want to see the whole of New York, I need to stay there for a month. Now I understood what she meant, after reading this article.

    Unfortunately, she has relocated to another country so it would be great if you could offer some tips on where to find for budget lodgings in NY for long term stay. Thanks!

    • Hi Your friend is right, and probably even understating it. To see everything would take a lifetime! With effort a short trip can pack in an awful lot, but it tend to be very touristic, a longer stay helps you get a real feel for the city and how people actually live there.

      For long Stay rentals you can look at AirBnB While this is not technically allowed for short stay for over a month it is fine. You can also try HomeAway or VBRO as most people on there will allow longer lettings while still offering the customer some protection. Other than that its down to the old fashioned way Craigslist etc. but this comes with risks. Not overly recommended. To keep costs down staying away from the centre would be beneficial. For short stays it pays to be close, but with more time you don’t need to worry about spending some time on the subway.

      Glad you enjoyed our article Hope you really enjoy your Visit. A month in NYC is a Dream trip for sure!

  7. Hi Steve!

    Wow! That’s some useful information to save some money and make the most of Nwe York City!

    I didn’t know there were some many options to see all the important places there. You can even make your own selection “a la carte”, that’s great!

    Thanks for the info!

    • Hi thanks for reading,

      Yes the market for Pass’s is quite varied and competitive, this is good for the customer as it ensures lower prices and a good offering, each pass having its own Unique Selling Point, so there is sure to be a Pass for every need. Hopefully our guide helps our readers find the right pass for them.

  8. I’m considering coming to see New York in the next month and found your advice on New York passes was valuable advice. I travel on a budget and appreciate your site’s perspective on passes they seem inexpensive in comparison to buying individual tickets. Also, I had no idea there were so many things to do that were free. Thanks
    Wade

  9. I was in New York 24 years ago with my husband, and it’s been on my mind to do the trip back to New York. Sadly, my husband is deceased, but I have fond memories in New York with him.

    I’m more interested in building my own pass so that I can pick and choose what I want. I actually have a friend who just left for New York for 10 days holiday and I wished I had seen your post earlier so I could pass on to her as well.

    Great passes and I’ll let you know when one I choose!

    Thank you! Your article is a great help…

    • hi Monica, glad our guide has been helpful. Sorry you didn’t find it sooner for your friend, but we are sure she will have a great time regardless, it just may cost a little more.

      Yes please let us know which you choose and have a fantastic trip.

  10. I too wish I had known about these on my first couple of visits to NYC as a tourist.
    I have been 7 times now and still haven’t seen all of these attractions.
    I often joke that one could never see all of NYC ‘s best in the first couple of visits. After seeing this post I now believe it IS possible. Many Thanks!

    • Hi Tracy, Sorry you have only just discovered these passes, we really do believe they offer great value. To be Honest, we are not sure you could EVER see everything NYC has to offer, but these passes help you get a fantastic Start!

      Maybe you could try one next time you visit, We are sure if you have been 7 times a few more trips must be on the cards!

  11. I have always wanted to visit New York City but it does seem so incredibly expensive. Typically for holiday I tend to goes places that are cheaper than where i Live like Mexico or something. The passes however would make the attractions much more affordable for my family and more fun for me as I wouldn’t be simply worrying about my checking account!

    • Indeed it is a very expensive place to visit, but as you say careful budgeting and use of attraction passes allows you too keep the costs manageable while having the duel benefit of knowing how much you are going to spend. We are sure your family would love a trip to New York as it is such a great City.

      But we love Mexico too, it’s one of our favourite Relaxation destinations!

  12. New York is one of the cities my partner and I are yet to experience, but definitely high on our list of places to visit. We have heard so much about this great city and its many wonderful attractions. We’ve been told by friends that there is just so much to do in NYC, so knowing about these passes is great because we would love to see them all without breaking the bank! Thanks for breaking it down for us, it’s been very helpful!

    • Hi Alicia, New York is one of those places that no matter how much you here or how big the hype is it still won’t disappoint. It really is the type of place that has to be seen to be believed. Not many places really live up to the hype but NYC really does!

      Hope you decide to make use of a pass on your upcoming visit, as you really can save an awful lot of money if you are planning on seeing everything. We hope you have a fantastic time!

  13. I have often thought about Pass passes when I come to cities I don´t know very well. Most of the time I haven´t got it but on same time don´t understand why I didn´t do it!
    Because I like the idea, but the reason I don´t have so often bought it is that I´m not sure how quick are between places to have the benefit of it. Because I don´t know how much time I spend in each place. I get the feeling, sometimes you are much longer on the special place than expected and visa verse.
    So, I have newer gone to New York but it in my bucket list. If I decided that I want to see 10 places very good (museum, famous places etc) and have 10 days, what New York Pass do you recommended?

    • Hi, I understand your reservations. Buying a pass can mean being tied to it and limiting the flexibility of your trip. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We find the structure required to get the most of the pass means we simply fit more into a day. We only use it as an outline for the trip.

      It sound to us like the best pass for your trip would be a 10 attraction New York Explorer Pass. for $199 pp this would give you 30 days to see any 10 attractions you like from the list in your own time. The New York Pass would also suit you, but 10 days is a whopping $320 and more suited to those who want to do EVERYTHING! We would advise maybe doing more than 1 attraction per day as that way you can have a few “off” days where you can recover and relax. New York can be quite a FULL ON place!

  14. Hi Steve,
    Great article, I really liked the reading!

    I was in New York a few years ago, and I stayed there for about a year. My friend and I wanted to venture to the USA and to be honest; we had such fun. I felt incredibly overwhelmed in New York as it is quite big and there were so many street avenues to remember. I wish I would have had a guide back then:). I did skate ice down the Empire State Building; it was so fun! I knew there were so many things to do in New York, but I didn’t know what to do. So we’ve missed a lot! I will go back, and this time I’ll plan my trip correctly!
    I have bookmarked this article so that I won’t miss a thing anymore!
    Thank you very much for this excellent post!

    • Hi Daniella,

      Thanks for reading Glad you enjoyed it. Sounds like quite an adventure you had! Yes New York can certainly feel overwhelming It is So big and So incredibly Busy. But With proper planning it is a doddle! Glad you plan to use our site to plan your next trip. It can be a completely different experience visiting a city as opposed to living there!

  15. Hello there
    Thank you for providing so much great information about new York City. This article is providing a lot of great insights about the greatest city in the world.
    This pass can really be helpful in getting to know this special city in a affordable way, without being cheated by anyone.
    Thanks a lot for this great information
    Cheers
    Orion

    • Hi Orion,

      Thanks for reading. Yes that is one point we don’t mention. All the companies providing these passes are reputable companies, where as the streets of New York are lined with tout’s and ticket sellers who, while some maybe perfectly legit, can have questionable motives who knows when its just some random guy on the street!

      It always felt reassuring to just walk past them saying a polite no thank you we are all sorted for tickets.

      Thanks again for reading, glad you enjoyed

  16. I visited New York a few years back, and I wish I had known about the passes. The costs can quickly add up for sure if you plan on visiting several of the attractions. I know first hand. So, we ended up not doing a lot of the stuff I wanted to. I would love to go back, and will definitely get a pass this time!

    • Hi, Thanks for reading,

      Yep the Cost of the attraction is certainly quite high, and only going up! The best thing about these passes is not the money saving particularly but the fact that saving allows you to do MORE than you would have without the pass. Some people only get one chance to visit places like New York so it’s essential they leave with no regrets. Having a pass really helps you see everything you really want to a City.

      We Hope you get to go back and experience everything you wanted to the first time!

       

  17. Great write-up about new York City. This article is really helpful for the people who want to visit New York. Touring New Your City is quite costly. You have showed us the way how travelers can save great amount of money by simple choosing ‘Pass’. Choosing the city pass means lots of saving as well as lots of time.
    Do provide us more such informative article.

    • Hi Himbru,

      Glad you agree the passes on offer will off time and money savings. New York is indeed a very expensive City to visit and anything that helps reduce that cost is a bonus. Having a pass really helps make the most of peoples limited budgets and time spent in the city.

      Hope you have a great trip!

  18. I never got the chance to visit NYC but I always wanted to and will be sure to visit there if I got the chance!

    One thing I certainly have never thought of was having to choose between multiple different passes and seeing the ups and downs for each one makes it a bit hard to decide.

    I can definitely see why you felt the CityPASS suits you best since it is the cheapest and has you satisfied enough with what it offers.

    After doing some thinking, I would probably agree with that since it would be my first visit there and that the CityPASS seems to provide plenty for those who are just visiting there.

    My question is, which attractions have you visited so far with that pass and which of them were your favorite? Also, are there any more in particular you are looking forward on seeing during your next visit?

    • Hi, Arie

      We have visited all the attractions offered on the CityPASS and we must say it is very hard to choose a favourite. The Empire state Building experience is probably the ONE we would say everyone visiting should not miss. The view from up there is just staggering, truly beyond imagination. But missing out on the Statue Cruise would be a big shame! Really the 911 Museum is something everyone should visit once it’s an incredible monument to the victims of that fateful day. Choosing only one of those 3 is very difficult!

      Hope you get to visit soon, Glad you feel a pass would be good value to you. The difficulty in choosing is really a testament to what great offerings the companies behind the passes offers.

      Thanks for reading.

  19. It’s funny that now New York has passes to see multiple different attractions. How long has this been going on? I am from New York and when I saw all of New York’s attractions when I was younger we just went from one attraction to the other and sometimes waited long periods of time. I like Option 2 NY Pass. It appears you get to see a lot of attractions and the price is not bad at all. Although, the build your own seems like a better idea when your time in New York is limited. Great article and great info!

    • Hi Shwana,

      Passes have been a thing in New York for quite a while now and as prices of attractions have continued to grow they have become big business. Glad to here you like some of the options available.

      Nice to hear from a genuine New Yorker.

  20. Hi There
    Thank you for the valuable information you provide about new york city.
    having lived in the city for many years and understanding the system I can appreciate the wide variety of information that you offer.
    Passes comparison can be priceless as there are many on offer and to boil down the options to the best deals can be extremely useful
    Thanks a lot
    cheers

    • Hi Orion,

      It’s great always to hear from real New Yorkers who agree with our comparisons and reviews. Nothing better than a blessing from people on the ground. 

      Thanks for reading

  21. Wow, what a useful guide for exploring NYC. I am comparing options 1 and 2 but the first seems like a much better value. What is the benefit to the second option compared to the first? Also, of all these options, do any include transportation between attractions or just the admission to the attraction? If not, what do you recommend for getting around the city while traveling on a budget? Thanks for the help!

    • Hi Courtney,

      The Second option (New York Pass) is an unlimited card, you can visit as many attractions as you like from and extensive list. It’s great for seeing and doing everything. The First (New York CityPASS) is much cheaper but only has a limited number of attractions available. You have very little choice and can just visit the 6 attractions specified. These are very high quality attractions though and most people have these on their lists.

      Unfortunately no passes offer transport between the attractions. The New York Pass (2) and the Explorer pass (3)  offer a hop on hop off bus for one or two days to get around but really these are not great for transport. To get around the City Cheaply we use the Subway. Its quick, easy and cheap. have a look at our Guide to getting around New York City.

      Thanks for reading

  22. Hi there,

    many thanks for your contributions, I have never been to NewYork and hope to go there soon. I’ll definitely keep your review in mind when going there. I have found the prices to be a bit high, especially that the attractions include many Museums (here in London things are free). But I guess that’s the way things are over there and no one is obliged to visit all attractions. That being said, if once there, my wife will convince me otherwise. Cheers!

    • Hi El,

      Hope you get to visit New York Soon. It is definitely an expensive City to visit but it is well worth it. Yes the Prices for individual attractions are quite expensive, Which is one of the reasons we advocate the pass as it can seriously reduce the cost of a trip. 

      Thanks for reading

  23. Thank you for the breakdown of each pass in NYC. My brother went to NYC recently; I’m sure he was unaware of this option. It would have saved him a ridiculous amount of money.

    Personally, I love museums, so I think the option where you can choose 9 different attractions would be awesome if I had a week, as I do not want to spend all my time having to get my money’s worth.

    Not all that wander are lost, after all.

    • Absolutely, there is so much to see and do in New York that is free. It would be a terrible shame to go and just visit paid attractions. But some of the paid attractions are so goo you should include some. Which is where the pass comes in. Either the New York CityPASS or New York Explorer pass pass are great for this as you are getting a fix number so don’t have to rush about to cram everything in. Giving you ample time to just wander and see what you find.

      A word of caution though, it can be a fine line in New York between wandering and being lost, especially in Central Park lol.

      Shame Your Brother didn’t find out about the pass in time. Hope you have a great trip, and a good wander when you finally make it to New York City. 

  24. I have visited NYC on three separate occasions and just could not figure where to go except shopping around time square. I was just talking to my girlfriend this morning about taking a trip to NYC soon. She travels a lot but she has not been to NYC as of yet so we are going to be planning a trip soon so the NYC passes will definitely be the way to go. I absolutely love this website it gives so much information as far as passes goes. As soon as we finish our trip i will make sure to get back with you and tell you how it goes.

    • Hi Jamillah, 

      Thanks for the kind words, It would be great to hear back from you on how your trip goes and what you think of the Pass!

      New York is a big sprawling metropolis and it really can be hard to plan out a trip, We had the exact same problem when we first visited and that was the inspiration for this site. We knew we wanted to go to New York but had no real idea of what to do and see when we were there and google struggled to give us the answers. Really buying a PASS was the best decision we made and it really helped us see the City. Not just the Attractions but it put us in different areas of the City (to visit and attraction) and we could explore further from there.

      Hope you enjoy your next visit, but we are sure you will.

      Thanks for reading

      Steve

  25. Hello Steve;

    My friend has been to New York three times in the past year. I am so jealous! I’m determined to go sometime in the coming year.

    I did not know anything about passes. So this is a perfect post to let me compare which would be the best deal and most suitable. I won’t have any children with me, so that narrows it down a bit.

    I kind of like the idea of building my own, but I think I will need to firm up my plans and time limit a bit more before I decide.

    I will def bookmark your info and come back when I have my dates in place to make a decision on which New York pass is best for me.

    Thanks for all the great details! Makes my job easier.
    Stella 🙂

    • Hi Stella,

      You are right to be jealous as New York is a really fabulous destination! We do hope you make it there soon. I can be an expensive place though so it’s great to hear you think the passes will be of use to save some money.

      Remember with the Explorer pass, you choose the number of attractions so this is essentially a build your own pass only with added flexibility. Compare the prices against the build your own to see which is cheaper. Normally Build you own is more expensive but there are some attractions on there that are not on the explorer pass.

      Thanks for reading and let us know if you have any other questions or if we can help in finsing the cheapest way for you to get to New York?

      Steve

  26. Hey Steve,

    All I can say is Wow. This website is exactly what I have been looking for. I love that you have structured these packages in a way that travelers like myself are able to understand. Coming from Germany, I do not have the local knowledge like you have to know what I am getting myself into when planning a trip to the Big Apple. 

    New York can be pretty all year round but in your opinion, what time of year will be the best to make the trip across the Atlantic to visit?

    Thanks for your insider knowledge.

    Rich

    • Hi Rich,

      Glad you like the post.

      Yeah having a pass really can help with planning a trip to New York. The first time we visited we didn’t know what the hell we actually wanted to do, without a pass it would have been a case of wandering around with no real idea!

      New York is best at Christmas. It just is magical at that time of year! But out side of that Autumn is very pretty. Summer is very hot and stifling and winter can be cruelly cold but autumn is still warm but pleasantly so and the autumn colours really standout against the buildings. Spring is nice too but Autumn pips it.

      Have a great trip

      Steve

  27. Wow so much information thats amazing. I never thought about tourist passes. But that makes total sense, no need to get lost trying to find places to go. 

    I think I’d rather make a list of places to visit and visit them myself, Tourist passes are great for people that may have a language barrier, or those that have no clue how to use google maps. Not dissing anyone that loves tourist passes because everyone likes their own thing, but me personally ya know.

    • We think you might be slightly missing the point?

      Speaking English and being able to use Google maps doesn’t enable you to save 55%+ on the entry prices does it ?

      Honestly these Passes have a lot of advantages, but there MAIN selling point is they offer huge discounts over just paying at each attraction. Without that we would not recommend them but they can save you a bundle which means you are far more likely to see and do a whole lot MORE!

      Thanks

      Steve

  28. I would personally choose the New York CityPass as the price and attractions offering match with my visiting plan. 

    I have never visited New York therefore this option allow me to visit 6 of the 9 attractions at reasonable price. New York to me is a big city and I would love to spend my quality times in this city.

    • Hi TYP,

      We think the CityPASS is an excellent choice for first time visitors as it really covers all the “must see” attractions but doesn’t overwhelm and allows a lot of time to explore the city itself!

      Have a great first trip to New York

      Steve

  29. Wow! This is a great post for anyone wanting to travel to New York City. We oftentimes travel to NH for the summer, but never venture to NYC because of the cost to see and do all that we want. I am super excited to see this post with all the passes for families. I wish the way i  love those museums other people should do as well, so I think the option where you can choose 9 different attractions would be awesome.I have bookmarked this site and will return when I am ready to travel this next summer. Thank you! I didn’t know all these pass options were available and i don’t know that their are multiple passes in NEW YORK this is great and wonderful. Thanks once again!!

    • Hi BaraKat, 

      The is no doubt New York is expensive but it’s so worth it. As you say though with families costs really add up. But at least with a pass you know what you are spending up front and it’s a lot less than you would without.

      New York’s Museums are truly world class and everyone should visit them at some point. The pass really helps facilitate this.

      Hope you make it to New York soon

      Steve

  30. Thanks for this Article, I was so confused about the different passes available and it great to see them all laid out for what they are. I was looking at the Build Your own but ultimately the Explorer offers better value for the attractions I  want to visit.

    We have a few older people on our trip, 75+ so I was wondering do they offer Senior Discounts? And are there any Student Discounts?

    Thank you again.

    • Hi,

      Sorry, there are not Senior or Student Discounts. The Passes are already heavily discounted so they don’t offer further discounts for the elderly. 

      Great Choice on the Explorer Pass

      Steve

  31. In the description of the ‘New York Pass’, you mention that ‘the pass counts as a ticket so Ticket lines can be skipped’. What about the ‘New York City Explorer Pass’ i.e. does the skip-the-line feature hold true for this pass as well? Thank you.

    • Hi,

      Yes, its does depend on the attraction, some you need to visit the ticket office first and get a timed ticket (Cruises, Top Of the Rock) others you head straight inside, (Empire State, 9/11 Museum), However it is the attraction that sets the rules, the passes all work pretty much the same as each other.

      Steve

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