Different Types of Tourist Passes for New York City

A GUIDE TO CHOOSE BEST TOURIST PASS FOR NEW YORK CITY

As NYC is a big tourist spot, the city offers many types of travel passes, which can be used for convenience and to save some cost. Basically, all New York tourist passes will definitely include a visit to one or all the three observatories (Top of the Rock, One World Observatory and the Empire State Building), Hop On and Hop Off Bus – either Greyline or Big Bus, Cruise to Statue of Liberty, bike and walking tour in Central Park and  free entry to multiple museums to choose from. All passes can easily be purchased online and the confirmation and tickets will be sent to you over e-mail. Here, I am sharing detail of 6 types of best tourist passes available for New York City along with recommendations which will help as a guide to choose best tourist pass for New York.

1. SIGHTSEEING PASS

SIGHTSEEING PASS Tourist PassFLEX SIGHTSEEING PASS Tourist Pass

Buying this pass provides free entry to 100 attractions of NYC, including Go Air link Airport shuttle from La Guardia, JFK or Newark Airport, visits to the Top of the Rock, One World Observatory, Greyline Hop On and Hop Off Bus Tour, Sightseeing Cruise, Madame Tussauds, 9/11 Memorial Museum, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park Zoo, Bike Tour in Central Park etc. Best part of this pass is that it also provides various food tours which can be a treat for someone who loves exploring different varieties of food. Check out the full list from their website www.sightseeingpass.com. They provide both day wise and attraction wise passes. Passes can easily be purchased from the website. Below are the mentioned prices for the passes.

Sightseeing Day Passes (For Adults)

  •  1 Day – $129
  • 2 Days – $179
  • 3 Days – $219
  • 4 Days – $249
  • 5 Days – $279
  • 6 Days – $309
  • 7 Days – $339
  • 10 Days – $359

Sightseeing Attraction Passes – also called the Flex Passes (For Adults)

  • 2 Attractions – $74
  • 3 Attractions – $99
  • 4 Attractions – $124
  • 5 Attractions – $144
  • 6 Attractions – $164
  • 7 Attractions – $184
  • 10 Attractions – $234
  • 12 Attractions – $264

*Please re-check from the website for the recently updated prices*

Recommendation 

Day passes provide a visit to 100 attractions but it is impossible to cover even 50% of them for 2-5 days visit to New York. So, I would suggest picking attraction wise Pass as it will be more useful and also provide a 30 days validity. Best is to decide the places you want to visit and calculate the cost of visiting the attractions exclusively. Compare it with the prices offered in the Pass and if it is more economical, only then do I suggest buying the Pass.

2. NEW YORK PASS

New York Pass Tourist Pass

This pass is very famous tourist pass of NYC. Just like the sightseeing pass, this pass also provides free entry to 100 attractions. All three observatories – Top of the Rock, Empire State Building and One World Observatory are included in this pass. It also includes the Big Bus – Hop On and Hop Off Bus Tour, all Circle Line sightseeing Cruises, Walking and Bike tours of Central Park, Madame Tussauds and visit to various Museums – Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), 9/11 Memorial Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), American Museum of Natural History, Museum of Sex etc. Check out the full list from their website www.newyorkpass.com. They provide only day wise passes. Passes can be purchased from the website easily. Pass once activated, is valid for the consequent days only. Below are the mentioned prices for the passes.

Price of New York Pass (For Adults)

  • 1 Day – $134
  • 2 Days – $180
  • 3 Days – $204
  • 4 Days – $233
  • 5 Days – $257
  • 7 Days – $296
  • 10 Days – $339

*Please re-check from the website for the recently updated prices*

Recommendation 

When compared to Sightseeing Day Pass, New York Pass is definitely better as it covers far better attractions and prices are relatively economical. This day pass is not worth it, if visiting New York for a day or two, as one will not be able to cover most of the attractions listed in the pass, hence making it more expensive than visiting the attractions exclusively. This pass is beneficial for those who are staying in NYC for 3+ days. We recommend visiting the maximum number of attractions to utilise the value of the pass. Although, it is tough to visit all 100 attractions but even if 10-20 attractions are visited via this pass, the cost incurred is properly utilised.

3. FREE STYLE PASS

FREE STYLE PASS TOURIST PASS

This pass clubs 3, 5 or 7 attractions which you can choose, from the 50+ attractions it offers, to be used in 3 days. Best part of this pass is that for 3 days, Greyline Hop On Hop Off Bus – Day as well as Night tour, City Sightseeing Hop On and Hop Off Ferry Tour and entry to the Museum of City of New York or New York Historical Society (any one) comes pre-included, irrespective of whether you take the pass for 3, 5 or 7 attractions.

So you should choose (3, 5 or 7) other attractions apart from the above mentioned pre-included attractions. You can choose from major attractions like Top of the Rock, One World Observatory, 9/11 Memorial Museum, Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island cruise etc. It also includes breakfast, lunch and dinner options at various restaurants. Check out the full list from their website www.citysighnyc.com. Tickets can be bought online from their official website. The Pass has validity for 1 year but once it is activated it expires in 3 days. Below are the mentioned prices for the passes.

Price of Free Style Pass (For Adults)

  • 3 Attractions – $104
  • 5 Attractions – $134
  • 7 Attractions – $154

*Please re-check from the website for the recently updated prices*

Recommendation

Best pass for a 2 to 3 days tour. This pass is really good as Hop On and Hop Off Bus Tour, Ferry and visit to one museum comes pre-included. If we go for 3-attraction pass and club Statue of Liberty Cruise (usually comes at 20-40 USD exclusively), Top of the Rock (40-50 USD exclusively) and one other attraction then paying the price of $104 for the pass is well utilised and beneficial. Compared to all other passes, this pass gives the maximum benefit. One drawback is, it has limited attraction options compared to Sightseeing Flex Pass but as the main ones are included, it is not really a problem. Secondly, this pass needs to be availed within 3 days where as Sightseeing Flex Pass and New York Explorer Pass can be used anytime within 30 days.

4. NEW YORK EXPLORER PASS – BY GO NEW YORK

a guide to choose best tourist pass for new york

Again, this pass comes with 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10 attraction combinations, which one can choose from their 80+ attractions list free to visit any time, within 30 days. Attractions include entry to all three Observatories (Top of The Rock, One World Observatory and Empire State Building), All Circle line Cruises, Statue of Liberty & Ellis/Island tour, Hop On Hop Off Bus – Big Bus etc. Check out the full list of attractions from their website www.gocity.com. Tickets can be bought online from their official website. Attractions included in the Pass can be used any time within 30 days. Pass, if not used is fully refundable. Below are the mentioned prices for the passes.

Price of New York Explorer Pass (For Adults)

  • 3 Attractions – $94
  • 4 Attractions – $126
  • 5 Attractions – $142
  • 6 Attractions – $161
  • 7 Attractions – $178
  • 10 Attractions – $229

*Please re-check from the website for the recently updated prices*

Recommendation

This pass is equally good as the Freestyle Pass. The only difference is that the 3 things (Hop On Hop Off Bus, Ferry Ride and One Museum Visit) which come pre-included in Free Style Pass have to be taken as one of the attractions in Go New York City Pass. The best part of this pass is that there is no compulsion to use this pass consecutively for 3 days. It can be used any time within the 30 days period. Secondly, if unused, it is a 100% refundable.

5. CITY PASS

a guide to choose best tourist pass for new york

This pass has a fixed list of attractions. You do not get a choice to decide the attractions you want to visit. This pass is valid for 9 days. It comes for 136 USD/Person (adult) and the best part about the pass is that one does not have to stand in a queue to visit the attractions. Tickets can be purchased from their official website www.citypass.com. The pass includes a visit to the following attractions:

  1. Empire State Building Observation Deck
  2. AMNH – The American Museum of Natural History
  3. MET – The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  4. Guggenheim Museum or Top of the Rock Observation Deck
  5. Ferry access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or Circle Line Siteseeing Cruises
  6. 9/11 Memorial & Museum or Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Recommendation

If one is only interested in visiting the limited attractions this pass is offering then this is the perfect pass for you. Biggest advantage is that this Pass provides direct entry to the attraction and you do not have to stand in a queue. Biggest drawback is, it does not include Hop On and Hop Off Bus Tour, hence not suitable for tourists.

6 BIG APPLE CITY PASS (Including Airport Transfer – One Way)

a guide to choose best tourist pass for new york

Similar to the City Pass, this pass has fixed limited attractions. Pass comes for $146/Person (adult) and also provides queue-skipping privileges. Tickets can be purchased from www.citypass.newyork.ticketbar.eu. Tickets can only be bought after providing flights details as they require details for Airport pickup. The pass includes the following attractions:

  1. 72 Hours Hop On & Hop Off Bus Tickets
  2. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tickets
  3. The Empire State Building or Top of the Rock Observatory Tickets
  4. One way Airport transfer to your Hotel in Manhattan
  5. 20% discount on all New York’s attractions
Recommendation

If one is only interested in the limited attractions listed in this pass then this pass is perfect for you. Biggest advantage is the one-way Airport pick up which usually cost 60-70 USD/cab. Hop On Hop Off Bus 3 day pass will save on local travel cost as these Buses cover all the main attractions.

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