The 19 Best New York City Tours


With its never-ending list of must-see attractions, New York City can prove overwhelming for even the most seasoned traveler. In an effort to squeeze in as much sightseeing as possible, why not lean on the assistance of locals to help guide you? Consulting both traveler sentiment and expert opinion, U.S. News identified the top New York City tours, including bus tours, scenic cruises, cycling trips through Central Park and helicopter rides over the skyline.

Note: Some tour providers on this list may be running more limited operations due to COVID-19 or may impose testing or vaccine requirements. Check with tour operator about availability before you book.

Bike Rent NYC – Central Park Bike Tour

Price: From $45
Duration: 2 hours

The Central Park Bike Tour – led by Bike Rent NYC – guides cyclists through about 5 miles of Central Park in roughly two hours, with several stops along the way, including the Bethesda Fountain, Strawberry Fields and the Reservoir. Reviewers generally offer effusive praise for the guides’ knowledge of and enthusiasm for the park. Tours, which travelers say are not strenuous, are available multiple times daily, with the first departing at 9 a.m.

Tickets cost approximately $45 each. The ticket covers use of bicycles as well as helmets, which are mandatory for riders 14 and younger. Prefer to explore on your own? The company also has bicycles available to rent that are perfect for self-guided tours.

Ahoy New York Tours & Tasting – Chinatown and Little Italy Food Fest

Price: From $105
Duration: 3 hours

Eat your way through Chinatown and Little Italy on this three-hour walking tour. As you explore these iconic New York City neighborhoods with an expert guide leading the way, you’ll stop for seven samples of traditional dishes. Tastings may include Chinese dumplings, cannolis and homemade mozzarella, among other dishes. Participants praise guides for their historical knowledge of the area and the amount of food served (many warn that you’ll want to arrive hungry to fully enjoy all of the tour’s offerings).

Tours run Thursday through Monday at 10:30 a.m., with an additional 11 a.m. tour Thursday through Saturday. Tickets cost about $105 per person and cover all food, plus the option to add a glass of wine or beer (for participants 21 and older) at the seated tasting. If you’re still hungry, Ahoy New York Food Tours also offers tours of Mulberry Street.

On Location Tours – “Sex and the City” Hotspots Tour

Price: From $66
Duration: 3.5 hours

New York City offers something for just about everyone, including fans of a certain television show starring four fashionable women. On Location Tours’ “Sex and the City” Hotspots Tour take travelers via bus to more than 40 locations where Sarah Jessica Parker and her co-stars were filmed wining, dining and shopping. Travelers visit famed neighborhoods, such as midtown Manhattan, Greenwich Village, SoHo and the Meatpacking District, stopping for photo-ops along the way. Tourgoers rave about the experienced and amusing guides and assure you don’t have to be a fan to enjoy the tour. The approximately 3 1/2-hour, adults-only outings are generally offered Thursday through Sunday at 2 p.m., though availability may be more limited in the winter months.

Tickets start at $66 per person. The company also offers a variety of other TV- and movie-themed bus tours, including those that visit locations featured in “Gossip Girl.” If you’d rather walk, consider the company’s Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour.

Travelers praise ExperienceFirst’s guides for their in-depth knowledge of the Statue of Liberty, as well as their ability to navigate the crowds.(Courtesy of ExperienceFirst)

ExperienceFirst – Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Price: Adults from $79; kids from $75
Duration: 5 hours

For an in-depth look at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, sign up for this excursion with ExperienceFirst. The five-hour tour includes access to the grounds of Liberty and Ellis islands, the Immigration Museum and the Statue of Liberty Museum, as well as round-trip ferry tickets. What’s more, you’ll enjoy priority line access to board the ferry. Guides win praise from reviewers for their expertise and engaging delivery, as well as their ability to navigate the crowds. Tours depart daily at 8:30 or 9:30 a.m., depending on the month. The guided portion of the tour begins at Castle Clinton in Battery Park (where the tour meets) and ends at Ellis Island. From there, you can continue to explore on your own for as long as you wish or hop back on the ferry to return to Battery Park.

Tickets start at $79 for adults and $75 for kids 4 to 12. ExperienceFirst also conducts three-hour “express” tours of the Statue of Liberty, in addition to walking tours of various New York City neighborhoods, including Little Italy and Chinatown.

Broadway Up Close Walking Tours – Broadway’s Beginnings

Price: Adults from $40; kids from $35
Duration: 2 hours

Theater fans can’t miss the chance to tag along on the Broadway’s Beginnings tour. During the nearly two-hour, half-mile walking tour, you’ll pass by the theaters at the southern end of the Broadway theater district, from 41st Street to 44th Street. Along the way, your expert guide will share tales of Broadway’s early years and detail how Broadway shows evolve from the first rehearsal to opening night. Plus, guides regale you with stories of the ghosts that reportedly haunt the district’s theaters. Reviewers rave about the guides’ passion for theater and the behind-the-scenes scoop they share. Tours are generally available Sunday, Wednesday and Friday at 11 a.m. A maximum of 15 participants are allowed to tour.

Tickets cost approximately $40 for adults and $35 for kids 12 and younger. Can’t get enough of Broadway? The company offers a variety of other themed tours, including one that focuses on “Hamilton: An American Musical” and another one all about the Shubert brothers (best known for their theater empire in the 1900s).

Top Dog Tours NYC – Ghosts of Greenwich Village Tour

Price: From $35
Duration: 2 hours

Hear all about the ghosts that purportedly haunt Greenwich Village on this two-hour stroll. Among the sites you’ll pass by are the Anne Charlotte Lynch House, where Edgar Allan Poe debuted some of his most famous works, the Hangman’s Elm, a more than 300-year-old tree in Washington Square Park that is believed to be the site of many hangings during the American Revolution, and the Jefferson Market Library, a former courthouse. Travelers recommend this tour if you’re a fan of the paranormal and are interested in the history of Greenwich Village. Reviewers give kudos to the guides, who they describe as friendly and captivating. Tours operate nightly at 8 p.m.

Tickets cost approximately $35 per person ages 12 and older. Note that Top Dog Tours NYC says this experience is not suitable for kids younger than 12. If you’re looking for a more family-friendly outing, check out the company’s Marvel & DC Superheroes of New York tour.

9/11 Memorial Plaza

You’ll visit the 9/11 Memorial, a plaza at the former site of the twin towers, during the 9/11 Ground Zero Tour.(Getty Images)

9/11 Ground Zero Tour

Price: Adults from $40; kids from $35
Duration: 1.5 hours

Go beyond the 9/11 Memorial with this 90-minute walking tour, led by New Yorkers with personal connections to 9/11. Tours begin at St. Paul’s Chapel, which served as an impromptu rescue center during the attacks, and then move to the 9/11 Memorial, a plaza at the former site of the twin towers. From there, your tour may also stop at the FDNY Memorial Wall, the “Survivor Tree” or the Oculus at the World Trade Center transit hub, depending on your tour guide. Tour-takers find the guides to be insightful, respectful and passionate. Tours take place daily at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Tickets cost approximately $40 for adults and $35 for children 4 to 12. Packages that combine the 9/11 Ground Zero Tour with a visit to the 9/11 Museum or to the One World Observatory are also available.

New York Media Boat – Adventure Sightseeing Tour

Price: Adults from $100; kids from $75
Duration: 1.5 hours

If you’re looking for a unique (and thrilling) tour of NYC’s top sights, consider this 90-minute speed boat ride. After departing from North Cove Marina in lower Manhattan, you’ll zip across the Hudson River for views of downtown, midtown and the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. You’ll also sail under the Brooklyn Bridge, along the Brooklyn waterfront and around Governors Island. Plus, the tour offers up-close views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Reviewers say this is a fun and memorable way to see the sights and applaud the captain for their interesting commentary and handling of the boat.

Tickets cost approximately $100 for adults and $75 for children ages 12 and younger. Boats depart several times daily, but availability is limited in the winter months. New York Media Boat also operates private tours.

Nice Guy Tours – Lower East Side Tour

Price: From $75
Duration: 3 hours

You’ll want to come hungry to this food tour, which visits a minimum of seven eateries for samples of pickles, pastrami and doughnuts, among other dishes. During the three-hour walking tour, you’ll stop at famous restaurants like Katz’s Deli and Russ & Daughters as your guide regales you with stories about the Lower East Side’s history and culture. Reviewers are particularly fond of the guides, who they describe as friendly, informative and entertaining. Travelers are also complimentary of the generous amount of food offered. Tours are available Wednesday and Friday at 10:30 a.m.

Tickets start at $75 per person. Still hungry? The company also offers food tours of Greenwich Village.

Two women taking a selfie on a tour boat in New York City in front of the Statue of Liberty.

Hop aboard the Landmarks Cruise for up-close views of the Statue of Liberty. (Getty Images)

Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises – Landmarks Cruise

Price: Adults from $37; kids from $31
Duration: 1.5 hours

The Landmarks Cruise offered by Circle Line gives you the opportunity to soak in dramatic views of the New York City skyline from the water surrounding Manhattan. The 90-minute boat ride sails beneath New York’s famous bridges, including the Brooklyn Bridge, cruises past the Statue of Liberty and glides by other famous structures. English-speaking guides, who are characterized by reviewers as informed and entertaining, provide a running commentary about the various sights. Food and drinks, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic, are available for purchase.

Tickets start at $37 for adults and $31 for children 3 to 12. Cruises depart daily at 12:30 and 3 p.m. from Pier 83 at Hudson River Park. Specialized cruises to the Statue of Liberty and evening cruises are also available.

Foods of New York Tours – Heart and Soul of Greenwich Village

Price: Adults from $70; kids from $40
Duration: 3 hours

The Heart and Soul of Greenwich Village tour highlights the diverse culinary offerings of one of the city’s most eclectic neighborhoods. Reviewers enthusiastically praise the varied array of food sampled during the three-hour walking tour, which stops at various cafes and specialty shops for seven tastings – one seated, the rest on-the-go. Specific tastings vary by day and time, but may include artichoke pizza, fresh pasta, empanadas or kati rolls. Tours are offered Thursday through Sunday year-round. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, tours depart at noon; on Thursday, tours start at 2 p.m.

The tickets, which cost approximately $70 per adult and $40 per child ages 12 and younger, cover the food and one bottle of water. The excursions are limited to 16 people. Foods of New York Tours also conducts tours of other neighborhoods, such as Chinatown and Little Italy, as well as Brooklyn.

Tommy’s New York – The Catacombs by Candlelight

Price: Adults from $37; kids from $30
Duration: 1.5 hours

Explore the crypts beneath the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral and enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour with Tommy’s New York. On the 90-minute tour, participants will learn the history of the catacombs, which date back to 1815, and the histories of the people buried here, including bishops, priests and families. Unlike the catacombs in Paris and Rome, there are no visible bones. Tourgoers will also walk through the cathedral and see its Erben pipe organ. Reviewers applaud guides for their engaging and educational delivery and vast knowledge of New York history. Tours are available Friday through Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Ticket prices start at $37 for adults and $30 for children younger than 12.

Brooklyn Bridge at sunrise

Learn all about Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo with Free Tours by Foot.(Getty Images)

Free Tours by Foot – Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO Tour

Price: Free
Duration: 3 hours

For a local’s perspective on Brooklyn history, consider this three-hour walking tour. You’ll start your tour by walking a mile over the Brooklyn Bridge. Then, you’ll explore America’s first suburb, Brooklyn Heights, before stopping to admire the views of Manhattan and New York Harbor. You’ll end the tour in Dumbo. Participants compliment guides for their expertise and friendly personalities, as well as their willingness to answer questions. Because it’s a name-your-own-price tour, participants choose if they want to compensate the guide at the tour’s conclusion.

Though the tour is free, reservations must be made on the company’s website. Tours, which meet at City Hall Park, are offered daily at 9:30 a.m. The company also offers a variety of other themed tours, including walks through Harlem, Chinatown and Little Italy.

Zip Aviation – Big City Helicopter Tour

Price: From $290
Duration: 20 minutes

Escape the crowds and enjoy panoramic vistas of the Big Apple on Zip Aviation’s Big City Helicopter Tour. The route extends from Liberty Harbor up to the Bronx with views of landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Yankee Stadium and New York’s various rivers and iconic bridges, along the way. Reviewers repeatedly laud the exceptional views, the one-of-a-kind flight experience and the professional staff. Plus, prerecorded commentary is provided in multiple languages. Zip Aviation limits tours to six passengers, depending on the aircraft. The tour, which is available Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 or 6:30 p.m., lasts 20 minutes.

Tickets cost approximately $290 per person (plus heliport fees). The company also offers 15-minute flights concentrating on the Liberty Harbor area and nighttime skyline tours.

The Wall Street Experience – Wall Street Insider Tour

Price: Adults from $40; kids from $35
Duration: 75 minutes

The Wall Street Experience’s Wall Street Insider Tour traverses some of the oldest streets of New York City. The 75-minute walking tour goes past (but not inside) the New York Stock Exchange, which is closed to the public, and the Federal Reserve. As you meander the streets of lower Manhattan, guides – many of whom are traders, investment bankers and stockbrokers – discuss the Financial District’s history, architecture and related trivia. Travelers describe guides as funny and extremely well-versed in both finance and New York history. Outings start at Broad Street, just around the corner from Wall Street, at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Tickets start at approximately $40 for adults and $35 for children 4 to 12. The company also offers tours that focus on the 2008 financial crisis.

Best New York City Tours

Circle Line’s Harbor Lights tour gives visitors beautiful views of the New York City skyline at night.(Courtesy of Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises)

Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises – New York City Harbor Lights Cruise

Price: Adults from $44; kids from $37
Duration: 2 hours

The Big Apple shines at night, and a great way to take in the glistening skyline is from the water. The New York City Harbor Lights Cruise allows you to do just that, admiring some of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, including the Empire State Building and the High Line, during the two-hour evening sail. Cruisers relish the expansive views, photo-ops and engaging commentary, and describe the tour as relaxing. The tours, which depart nightly at 7 p.m. from Pier 83, feature narration by English-speaking guides.

Tickets cost approximately $44 for adults and $37 for children 3 to 12. Circle Line also offers daytime cruises, as well as specialized cruises to the Statue of Liberty.

USA Guided Tours – Discover NY Bus Tour

Price: Adults from $99; kids from $89
Duration: 6 hours

For an immersive exploration of New York City, hop on the Discover NY Bus Tour. The six-hour tour departs from Times Square at 9 or 10 a.m. daily and take tourists to top spots like Madison Square Park, Rockefeller Center and Central Park. At each stop, guides will exit the vehicle with the group for short walks and provide detailed information regarding sights, such as the Dakota building (where John Lennon once lived), the Flatiron Building and the 9/11 Memorial. The informative and friendly guides routinely win praise from tourgoers. Reviewers also say the tour is well organized and a great option if you’re hoping to see the top sights in one day.

Tickets for the traditional bus tour start at $99 for adults and $89 for children ages 3 to 12. If you opt for the glass-top bus, prepare to pay about $120 for each ticket. All tickets include a boat ride on the Staten Island Ferry. If you’re hoping to admire the city at night, consider the company’s evening bus tour.

Intrepid Urban Adventures – New York Tenements, Tales, and Tastes Discovery

Price: From $80
Duration: 3 hours

This walking tour of the Lower East Side, Little Italy and Chinatown illustrates how immigration shaped New York’s culture and culinary history. Over the course of the three-hour tour, you’ll sample four ethnic foods (such as knishes, prosciutto and dumplings) with a knowledgeable guide providing information about the cuisine and culture of the area. Stops include restaurants, bakeries, churches and historic sites. Reviewers heap praise on the attentive guides and recommend pairing this tour with a trip to Ellis Island to gain a better understanding of the early immigrant story. Tours are generally offered daily at 10 a.m.

Tickets cost about $80 per person. Groups are limited to 14 people. Intrepid Urban Adventures also leads tours all about Alexander Hamilton, in addition to private outings.

HeliNY – The New Yorker Tour

Price: From $190
Duration: 15 minutes

Soar above the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, Chelsea Piers, Times Square and more on this approximately 15-minute helicopter flight. As you marvel at the sights below, your pilot will point out landmarks and answer any questions. Previous passengers describe the flight as magical and an amazing way to see NYC. Reviewers also praise the staff for their friendliness and professionalism.

Ticket prices start at approximately $190 per person and do not include the additional $40 facility and fuel fees. If you’re looking for a longer flight, consider booking HeliNY’s Deluxe Tour, which lasts up to 30 minutes.

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