On your first visit to New York City (or even your tenth), a city pass can be a great way to explore. For the price of one city pass, you’ll gain access to dozens of attractions in the area. The passes are “smart cards,” much like credit cards, with computer chips inside. This means you’ll get cash-free entry to an abundance of walking tours, and other attractions without the need to purchase a separate ticket.
Another great benefit of these passes is that by pre-authorizing your entry to so many attractions, you’ll have an easier time narrowing down exactly what you’d like to see during your time in New York. The pass companies provide all kinds of suggestions and guides to make planning easier.
The three main pass plans available to New York City visitors are the New York Pass, the New York Sightseeing Pass, and the NYC Explorer Pass. Each pass has similar benefits, but there are a few key differences between them—especially when it comes to pass fee structure and exclusive deals with particular attractions. Here’s what you need to know to choose which one is best for you.
NEW YORK PASS
The New York Pass allows you to see 90+ New York City attractions. It’s also the only pass that offers unlimited sightseeing to as many attractions as you’d like. It also includes fast track services to skip lines at many attractions. The New York Pass offers admissions on New York City’s double decker Big Bus Tours, which feature hop-on hop-off services.
The New York Pass breaks down its fees by how many days you intend to use it. On each day, you can see unlimited attractions. A 1-day pass is $119 for adults, a 2-day pass is $189, and a 3-day pass is $259. You can go all the way up to a 10-day pass, which is $399.
NEW YORK EXPLORER PASS
The New York City Explorer Pass offers access to 63 New York City attractions, and you can choose which ones you’d like to see as you go. Like previously mentioned pass options, it also offers access to Big Bus New York hop-on hop-off tours.
The New York City Explorer Pass is unique in that you choose your ticket level based on how many attractions you’d like to see, rather than how many days you intend to use the ticket. This provides lots of flexibility for travelers who would like to see attractions at their leisure over a longer period of time. You can choose a pass to see 3, 4, 5, 7, or 10 New York City attractions.
An adult ticket for 3 attractions costs $85, a 4-attraction is $110, and a 10-attraction ticket is $199.
NEW YORK SIGHTSEEING PASS
The New York Sightseeing Pass offers access to 90+ attractions. It’s known for being the only pass that includes entry to the newly opened One World Observatory at One World Trade Center. (The other two passes do provide entry to other observatories, like the Top of The Rock and the Empire State Building, but you won’t be able to use them to access One World.)
The New York Sightseeing Pass also offers the widest range of bus tour options, including access to both Big Bus Tours and Gray Line Tours. The New York Sightseeing Pass offers fast track services to skip long lines as well.
Like the New York Pass above, the New York Sightseeing Pass also breaks down its fees into days of use. You can purchase an adult 1-day pass for $129, a 2-day pass for $189, and a 3-day pass for $259. The options go up to a 7-day pass, which is $349.
If you’re having a tough time choosing a pass, remember that there is no wrong option.
All three passes feature worthwhile savings and access to excellent attractions. The biggest things to consider are how much flexibility you’d like, and whether you want the One World Observatory and Gray Line buses to be included in your pass. No matter which one you decide, you’ll get a fantastic experience of what New York City has to offer. You really can’t go wrong!