New York Sightseeing Pass
What’s the NYC Sightseeing Pass?
The New York Sightseeing Pass is one of New York’s most important city passes. The pass covers 100+ attractions, including the One World Observatory, Top of the Rock and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. In addition, the pass covers several Hop-on Hop-off buses, boat trips, walking tours and bicycle tours. At some attractions, the Sightseeing Pass allows you to skip the lines at the ticket office.
There are two types of this city pass: With the Sightseeing DAY Pass you can visit as many attractions as you want in a limited time of up to 10 days. With the Sightseeing FLEX Pass you decide at the time of purchase how many attractions you want to visit and you have 60 days to do so. You can visit up to 12 attractions with this pass.
The DAY Pass is suitable for travellers who want to see a lot in a short period of time. The FLEX Pass is suitable for visitors who know exactly what they want to see and who want to take it easy on their sightseeing. With both types, significant savings are possible compared to individually purchased tickets.
How the Sightseeing Pass works
Decide on one of the two options when buying:
- DAY Pass: for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 10 days
- FLEX Pass: with 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10 or 12 attractions
You can buy the Sightseeing Pass online. You will then receive your ticket digitally, which you can either print out or use on your smartphone.
The Sightseeing Pass is activated when you use it at the first attraction. There you show your pass at the ticket office, the pass is scanned and you get free admission. To take part in a guided tour, you reserve your place online in advance and “pay” with your Sightseeing Pass.
A digital travel guide is available upon purchase. The guide contains all relevant information about the attractions included in the Sightseeing Pass and the necessary reservations.
Benefits of the New York Sightseeing Pass
- Visit 100+ attractions free of charge
- Hop-on Hop-off bus in Manhattan and Brooklyn
- Free walking and cycling tours
- DAY Pass: valid up to 10 days from activation
- FLEX Pass: up to 12 attractions in 60 days
- Incl. travel brochure, city map + app
- Available for smartphones or printing
This page contains partner links. This means that we receive a commission when you buy a product through an affiliate link (e.g. the Sightseeing Pass). This does not make the product more expensive for you.
How Much Does the Sightseeing Pass Cost?
The following tables contain the standard prices for the DAY Pass and the FLEX Pass. However, the company is running ongoing discount campaigns, so the daily prices on the official website may be significantly lower. Especially the longer running DAY Passes are often offered at reduced prices.
The prices for the FLEX passes are more stable. Often only the prices for children are significantly reduced.
Saving tip: The Sightseeing DAY Pass is also available in another shop under the name “Turbopass”. The Turbopass is nothing else than the Sightseeing DAY Pass, but it is offered a bit cheaper. However, it is only available for 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 days.
In addition to the already lower prices, you can save another 10% on the purchase price in the Turbopass shop with the voucher NY10.
What’s Included in the Sightseeing Pass?
The following table contains all the attractions included in the Sightseeing Pass that you can visit for free. We have researched the cheapest available price for each sight. The indicated prices are often somewhat odd numbers, because in the United States often VAT is added to the advertised prices. Where this was obvious to us, we have taken the value added tax as well as booking fees into account.
Last updated: 08/2020New York City Passes (UK) - Sightseeing Pass
It is difficult to quote prices for an attraction in New York, as there are almost non-stop discount campaigns, so that there is often not one fixed price. However, the table above should provide a good indication of the approximate cost of each attraction.
In addition to the free attractions listed above, the Sightseeing Pass offers discounts and savings at some museums, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Broadway shows. You can view these special offers here.
All benefits of the Sightseeing Pass can also be found in the travel guide that comes with the pass. You can even download it without having already purchased the pass. All you have to do is enter your data here. The manual includes a map for the metro as well as for the Hop-on Hop-off buses and a city map showing all the attractions. You can also find most of this information in the free Sightseeing Pass app.
Our Assessment of the Included Attractions
The New York Sightseeing Pass is one of the most comprehensive city passes for the Big Apple. Almost all of the city’s top sights are among the 100+ free attractions included in this pass. The selection of walking tours, bike tours and Hop-on Hop-off buses is also very good.
Only one important attraction is missing in the Sightseeing Pass: the UN headquarters. But this sight is not included in any New York city pass.
Fast Track Admission Rarely Available
The company advertises fast track admission at many sights. However, you can skip the lines at very few attractions only:
- Madame Tussauds
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
At all other attractions you will have to queue at the ticket office to have your city pass scanned. You will then receive your free entrance ticket. Sometimes you’ll get a time slot ticket for a later time, which does not necessarily have to be on the same day. At Top of the Rock you should therefore better pick up your ticket the day before.
Even at the attractions with priority admission, there may be waiting times, as there are now many visitors with a city pass. Therefore, you can’t expect to save much time with the New York Sightseeing Pass – but this applies to all New York city passes.
Airport Transfer is Not Very Attractive
With the Sightseeing Pass you can use the Go Airlink Airport Shuttle free of charge. However, this only applies to the one-way journey from the city to the airport. In addition, some customers complain about a very early pickup from the hotel followed by hours of driving across the city to pick up more passengers. We therefore recommend to use the Sightseeing Pass rather for other offers and to take a taxi for the trip to the airport or use the public transport.
Explanation of the Hop-on Hop-off Bus
The New York Sightseeing Pass offers a full package of rides in Hop-on Hop-off and double-decker buses from City Sightseeing New York. To travel on the buses, have your Sightseeing Pass scanned by the staff before boarding and you will be issued a ticket.
There are four offers in total:
- Hop-on Hop-off bus in Manhattan (Uptown & Downtown route)
- Hop-on Hop-off bus in Brooklyn
- Night tour through Manhattan and Brooklyn (no Hop-on Hop-off)
- “Best of Manhattan” Tour (no Hop-on Hop-off) – the tour includes a 60-minute ferry ride and two short walking tours
The Sightseeing DAY Pass allows you to use the Hop-on Hop-off bus in Manhattan as often as you like and for as long as your pass is valid (up to ten days). With the FLEX Pass you can use these buses for a total of 72 hours.
The Brooklyn Tour is valid with both passes for one calendar day only. For the Night Tour and the Best of Manhattan Tour, both passes are valid for one trip each. With the FLEX Pass, each of these offers counts as a separate attraction.
Notice: In our opinion, Hop-on Hop-off buses are not suitable for getting from place to place quickly, as they are slow in traffic and only go in one direction. Those who want to get ahead quickly should better use the subway. The buses are a good option to explore the city in a relaxed way and to get on and off a few times.
You should not have high expectations regarding the quality of the City Sightseeing buses. In online reviews many customers report irregular travel times, unfriendly staff and poorly maintained buses. In addition, some report outdated audioguides on board the buses. You should therefore not make your decision for the New York Sightseeing Pass mainly based on the Hop-on Hop-off buses.
For Most Tours a Reservation is Necessary
For most tours participation cannot be guaranteed, therefore a reservation is almost always necessary. Usually it will be sufficient to book your place one day in advance, but for popular offers you should do it a few days or weeks earlier. Also be aware that some tours do not take place every day, but only on a few days per week.
But don’t worry, making a reservation is easy. It is mostly done online. You will find the corresponding links on the Sightseeing Pass website, in the Sightseeing Pass app and in the travel guide you receive with the purchase of the pass. Although you “pay” with your pass, you still have to provide your credit card details. However, the card will only be charged if you do not show up at the appointed time.
By the way: A reservation does not activate the Sightseeing Pass!
Validity of the NYC Sightseeing Pass
After buying the New York Sightseeing Pass you have 24 months to activate it. The activation occurs as soon as you use the pass for the first time at an attraction or a tour. A reservation does not activate the pass.
The FLEX Pass is valid for 60 consecutive calendar days after activation. The DAY Pass is valid for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 10 consecutive calendar days.
The term “calendar days” is important, as these are explicitly not 24-hour units. The pass expires at midnight of the last day of validity. This means that a 3-day pass that is activated on a Monday evening is still only valid until Wednesday.
You should therefore activate your DAY Pass in the morning to take full advantage of the first day. With the FLEX Pass, activation is less critical as you have 30 days with this pass.
How Much Money Do You Save?
On the official website of the New York Sightseeing Pass some itineraries are suggested for up to seven days in New York. The website calculates how much you would save on these itineraries with the Sightseeing Pass. For example, the 5-day pass can save you over $400.00. However, this assumes that you visit up to five attractions per day. This is certainly too much if you don’t want your trip to be stressful.
Nevertheless, with the New York Sightseeing Pass you can make significant savings without rushing from one sight to the next since hardly any of the top sights cost less than $25 when purchased individually and the guided walking tours and Hop-on Hop-off buses are even more expensive.
From our point of view, the Sightseeing DAY Pass is worth it from a validity of three days. The longer it is valid, the more it is worthwhile. In this section we would like to show you how much you can save with a 3-day pass and a 5-day pass. We’ll also show an example for the FLEX Pass.
Example Itinerary: 3 days in New York with the DAY Pass
Three days is not a lot for a large city like New York, but even in this short time you will be able to visit some of the most famous attractions and save some money with the New York Sightseeing Pass. The less time you have, the more important it is to plan your trip well to make the most of the three days. In our 3-day programme we make sure that the attractions are not too far apart from each other.
- Hop-on Hop-off in Manhattan: $49.00
- Manganaro’s Hero Boy: $25.00
- Radio City Music Hall: $31.00
- Top of the Rock: $41.37
The first day begins with the Manhattan Hop-on Hop-off buses. With the Sightseeing DAY Pass you can travel on the Uptown and Downtown routes as often as you like and as long as your pass is valid. With the FLEX Pass, you have 72 hours to explore the routes in Manhattan. We recommend that you do not use buses as a means of transport to get from A to B quickly, as they are slow in the tough city traffic and therefore the travel times are irregular. The tour will be more relaxed if you use the buses for a sightseeing tour to get familiar with New York.
You will return to Midtown Manhattan for lunch and use the Sightseeing Pass to have lunch at Manganaro’s Hero Boy. With the pass you’ll get a discount on your bill. However, you should not use your FLEX Pass for this purpose, as going to a restaurant counts as one attraction. It’s not worthwhile to use the FLEX Pass for that.
You will then go to Rockefeller Center and join the tour at Radio City Music Hall, which runs daily until late afternoon. Later you will go up to the Top of the Rock viewing platform to enjoy the view over New York. You must pick up your time slot ticket in advance. If you want to make sure you’ll get your desired time and date, you can pick up your ticket the day before at Rockefeller Center.
Tip: We recommend that you visit Top of the Rock in the evening, when it’s already dark, because the view over the illuminated Big Apple is something very special. You will experience a daylight view over New York tomorrow.
- 9/11 Memorial and Museum: $26.00
- One World Observatory: $41.37
- Statue of Liberty Cruise/Sail: $45.00
The second day begins at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Unfortunately, you will have to expect waiting times, so it is worthwhile to be at the museum as early as possible. The queues are a bit shorter in the morning. After visiting the museum, you can go up to the Observatory platform in the new One World Trade Center and enjoy the view of southern Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Statue of Liberty.
In the afternoon you will take part in a sailing trip of Manhattan by Sail. The “Shearwater” pier is right across the street from the World Trade Center. The cruises take place in the early and late afternoon. Please note that you have to book the sailing trip online in advance.
- Hop-on Hop-off in Brooklyn: starting at $39.00
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden: $18.00
- “Best of Brooklyn” Walking Tour: $32.00
On the third day of your New York trip the famous Brooklyn Bridge will take you to another part of the city. In Brooklyn you can enjoy the Hop-on Hop-off tour to get to know this part of town. Escape the big city for a moment by visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.
In the afternoon you will take part in the walking tour “Best of Brooklyn”, which you can also join for free with your Sightseeing Pass. You should book this tour online in advance to guarantee your spot.
With this 3-day programme you should be busy, but still have some free time to take a walk here and there or visit some of the free sights in New York. However, with the Sightseeing Pass you have saved a lot of money, because with this itinerary you will use benefits worth $347.54!
The Sightseeing DAY Pass for 3 days costs $279.00. Since the pass is usually sold at a discounted price, it should only cost $200 to $210. So your savings with the Sightseeing Pass will be even bigger.
Conclusion: With this 3-day itinerary you’ll save about $70.00 to $140.00 with the Sightseeing Pass – depending on how much money you paid for the pass. Your savings can be higher if you do more sightseeing during three days. It can also be less if you choose to visit less expensive attractions or do not take advantage of the lunch offers.
Example Itinerary: 5 days in New York with the DAY Pass
The 5-day programme builds on the 3-day itinerary above, so you should read that one first. We’ll start here on day four:
- Metropolitan Museum of Art: $25.00
- Central Park Bike Tour: $55.00
- Perfect Picnic Lunch Package: $20.69
- Guggenheim Museum: $25.00
Spend the fourth day in Uptown Manhattan and finally get to know the famous Central Park. In which order you’ll do these three activities is up to you. All you have to do is keep to the opening hours of the museums and the times for the bike tour (10 am, 1 pm and 4 pm).
We recommend that you start with a museum first. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) is located on the edge of Central Park. With your Sightseeing Pass you will receive a ticket valid for three days, which is also valid for The Met Cloisters and The Met Breuer. If you like, you can return on one of the following days.
Afterwards you can pick up a picnic lunch package at Perfect Picnic NYC, which is located on the western side of the park. You can do that before or after the guided bike tour through the park, which takes place at lunchtime. Later you will visit another world-famous museum: the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, located on the east side of Central Park.
Tip: There are many other museums around Central Park that you could visit with your Sightseeing Pass instead of the museums suggested here.
- Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum: $33.00
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not: $27.87
- “New York at Night” Bus Tour: from $39.00
The fifth day of your New York trip begins at the Hudson River with a visit to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, which is located on an aircraft carrier. On top of the carrier you will find a submarine, a space shuttle and a Concorde.
In the afternoon you will continue to Times Square where you will visit Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
In the early evening you can join the 90-minute bus tour “New York at Night”. The bus departs near Times Square and takes you past many of the iconic sites in the city to complete your tour.
With this 5-day itinerary, you’ll get to know New York from many different angles and use benefits worth $573.10 with your Sightseeing Pass. This figure illustrates how expensive New York is if you do a lot of sightseeing.
The Sightseeing Pass for 5 days costs $349.00. Often the pass is sold at a much lower rate though. A price of about $260.00 is not uncommon. Therefore your savings with the Pass are about $220.00 to $300.00 compared to buying individual tickets.
Example Itinerary: 6 attractions with the FLEX Pass
Travellers who don’t want to do a lot of sightseeing, but prefer to choose a few specific attractions, are better off with the FLEX pass, as they are not under any time pressure with this 30-day pass.
The FLEX Pass covers both $50 and $10 attractions. To make the pass worthwhile, you should choose the more expensive sights. For example, with the 6-Attractions Pass (worth $164.00) you could take advantage of the following free offers:
- Hop-on Hop-off bus in Manhattan (72 hours): $49.00
- Top of the Rock: $41.37
- Statue of Liberty Cruise/Sail: $45.00
- Central Park Bike Tour: $55.00
- “Best of Brooklyn” Walking Tour: $31.80
- Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum: $33.00
These attractions cost $255.17 when purchased individually. With the 6-Attractions FLEX Pass you’ll save nearly $90.00. If you choose cheaper attractions, your savings will be smaller.
Is the DAY Pass Worth it?
The New York Sightseeing Pass is more worthwhile the longer it is valid. Although the purchase price increases with increasing validity, the price per day decreases considerably:
- 1-day pass: $139.00
- 2-day pass: $199.00 = $99.50 per day
- 3-day pass: $279.00 = $93.00 per day
- 4-day pass: $309.00 = $77.25 per day
- 5-day pass: $349.00 = $69.80 per day
- 6-day pass: $389.00 = $64.83 per day
- 7-day pass: $419.00 = $59.86 per day
- 10-day pass: $459.00 = $45.90 per day
Notice: These are the regular purchase prices for the Sightseeing Pass. You will hardly have to pay this much, as there are discount campaigns all the time, so the pass will be much cheaper. You can usually expect discounts of 20-25%.
The longer the New York Pass is valid, the less sightseeing you have to do per day to recoup the purchase price and even save money. The sample itineraries above show that you can achieve decent savings with the 3-day pass and even much bigger savings with the 5-day pass. If you spend a whole week in New York, you can buy the 7-day pass and you’ll save money by visiting only one or two attractions per day.
The New York Sightseeing Pass is especially worthwhile for the city’s top attractions as well as for sightseeing tours with the Hop-on Hop-off buses and for walking tours and boat trips. These attractions are quite expensive when bought individually, therefore the Sightseeing Pass pays for itself quickly.
Compared to the FLEX Pass, the DAY Pass is worthwhile if you want to accommodate as much sightseeing as possible in a few days to explore New York intensively.
Is the FLEX Pass Worth it?
The FLEX Pass is designed for travellers who don’t want to rush their sightseeing. The FLEX Pass allows you to relax and enjoy your visit to New York.
The more attractions you visit with the Pass, the cheaper the price per attraction:
- 2 attractions: $74.00 = $37.00 per attraction
- 3 attractions: $99.00 = $33.00 per attraction
- 4 attractions: $124.00 = $31.00 per attraction
- 5 attractions: $144.00 = $28.80 per attraction
- 6 attractions: $164.00 = $27.33 per attraction
- 7 attractions: $184.00 = $26.29 per attraction
- 10 attractions: $234.00 = $23.40 per attraction
- 12 attractions: $264.00 = $22.00 per attraction
In contrast to the DAY Pass, you should nont expect discounted prices here.
The more attractions the FLEX Pass allows, the more money you’ll save per attraction you visit. The FLEX Passes with five to seven attractions are purchased most often.
With these you pay between $26 and $29 per attraction. Accordingly, the pass can only be worthwhile for those attractions that are more expensive when purchased individually. Among the most popular attractions in New York there are many that are more expensive than that: Hop-on Hop-off buses, walking tours, Statue of Liberty Cruise, One World Observatory, Top of the Rock, Empire State Building, Intrepid Museum etc.
Conclusion: The FLEX Pass is worth it if your desired attractions cost well over $25. The more attractions you are allowed to visit with your pass, the more worthwhile it is.
When’s the Sightseeing Pass Not Worth it?
Sightseeing DAY Pass: The Sightseeing DAY Pass is least worthwhile with a short validity of only one or two days. To recoup the purchase price, you would have to visit three to four attractions per day. This is possible, but also stressful and therefore less fun. If you’re only in New York for a day or two, it’s better to buy single tickets with priority admission to the sights you’re most interested in.
Sightseeing FLEX Pass: The FLEX Pass is least worthwhile for only two to four attractions, as you would have to limit yourself to the most expensive attractions.
Even the most expensive FLEX Pass with 12 attractions is not worthwhile for offers that cost less than $22 when purchased individually. This means that many museums included in the pass are not worthwhile visiting with the FLEX Pass. If you are interested in these, you should rather choose the DAY Pass or buy single tickets.
Where Can You Get the Sightseeing Pass?
You can buy the pass on the official website SightseeingPass.com. It is worth buying the pass well in advance of your trip to be well prepared and to make the necessary reservations.
You will receive your New York Sightseeing Pass by e-mail immediately after purchase. You can either print it out on paper or use it on your smartphone. To use it on your phone, you can download the optional Sightseeing Pass app (for iOS and Android). This app also contains information about all attractions included in the Sightseeing Pass.
With the Pass on your smartphone, you can start sightseeing immediately. The pass is activated as soon as you scan it at the first attraction or join the first tour.
Alternative tip: Instead of buying the pass on SightseeingPass.com, you can also buy it in the Turbopass shop. There you can only buy the DAY Pass and only for a validity of 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 calendar days. But the pass is cheaper there and you save another 10% with the voucher code NY10. You will receive the Turbopass by e-mail immediately.
FAQ About the Sightseeing Pass
Can I visit the attractions more than once?
No, each attraction can only be visited once with the Sightseeing Pass. Your ticket will be validated electronically upon entry.
On the Manhattan Hop-on Hop-off buses however, you can travel as long as the DAY Pass is valid (up to 10 days). With the FLEX Pass, the ticket for the Hop-on Hop-off buses is valid for 72 hours.
How long is the New York Sightseeing Pass valid?
After buying the Sightseeing Pass you have 24 months to activate it. The activation takes place as soon as you use the pass for the first time at an attraction or a tour, boat trip etc.
After activation, the FLEX Pass is valid for 60 consecutive calendar days. The DAY Pass is valid for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 10 consecutive calendar days.
The term “calendar days” is important because it explicitly does not refer to 24-hour units. The pass expires at midnight of the last day of validity. This means that a 3-day pass that is activated on Monday evening is still only valid until Wednesday.
Can I freely choose the visiting hours?
Basically, yes. However, you should note the opening hours of the attractions you wish to visit. Not all of them are open all year round and not every tour takes place daily.
You must also book your participation in a walking tour or bike tour in advance. Reservations are usually made on the website of the operator. If in doubt, always check the travel guide or SightseeingPass.com.
The reservation does not activate the pass. The pass must be valid as soon as the tour takes place.
Do I need a ticket for my children?
The New York Sightseeing Pass is also available for children between the ages of 3 and 12. They pay a reduced price. Youths have to pay the regular price.
Who can I contact if I have questions?
If you have any questions regarding the New York Sightseeing Pass, please contact the issuing company via the contact form. You should receive an answer within 24 hours.
If you have an urgent question, you can reach the customer service from the UK by phone at +44 (0)20 8089 4019 or, if you are already in New York, you can contact one of the two visitor centers in Manhattan.
Can I cancel my purchase?
The purchase of the New York Sightseeing Pass on SightseeingPass.com can generally not be cancelled. However, the company offers a kind of insurance. For a fee of 4% of the purchase price you can insure yourself against not using the pass. Detailed information can be found here.
If you buy the Turbo Pass New York, you can cancel it up to one day before the first day of validity. However, there is a fee of 30 Euros per pass.
Alternatives to the Sightseeing Pass
If the New York Sightseeing Pass is not suitable for you, the following city passes may suit you better:
Turbopass New York: An alternative to the Sightseeing DAY Pass is the Turbopass New York, because it is nothing else than the DAY Pass, which is sold under a different brand. The Turbopass is only available for 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 days, but it is cheaper than on the official website.
New York Pass: The New York Pass is the second major city pass for New York with 100+ free attractions. It is similar to the Sightseeing DAY Pass, but it is a different product. The New York Pass includes access to the Empire State Building, but not to the One World Observatory. Also, with the New York Pass you can only use the Hop-on Hop-off buses for one day. These are the biggest differences between the two passes. There is no FLEX type.
New York Explorer Pass: The New York Explorer Pass is similar to the Sightseeing FLEX Pass, because again, when you buy it, you choose how many attractions you want to visit and you only pay for this limited number of attractions. You have 60 days to visit them. The attractions included are almost identical to those of the FLEX Pass. However, The Edge is missing from this pass.
New York CityPASS: The New York CityPASS is the smallest of all New York CityPasses because it contains the least attractions. However, these attractions are very attractive: The pass allows free access to six of the nine top attractions and experiences in New York. For many of them, the CityPASS allows fast track admission. For those who only want to do selected sightseeing, this pass could be just right.
Single tickets for top attractions: If none of the New York city passes are suitable for you, you can book individual tickets for the attractions and tours of your choice. Tickets are available online for most attractions and it may be worth buying them in time to get your desired date or to get a ticket at all. Some of the most popular offers are: