8 Best Tours In New York City - Updated 2021

best tours in new york

Heading to the iconic Big Apple? Here are some of the best tours available, ranging from a cool helicopter ride over New York to a cruise down Manhattan. Feel free to take your pick from city introductions to the immigration history of America to learning about the 9/11 bombings.

Read on to find out about the best tours you can get in New York City.

1. Join this tour of Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial (from USD 109.0)

The most high profile global terrorist incident occurred on September 11, 2001, leaving America and the world in shock. To learn more about this iconic turning point in the world’s focus on terrorism, take this guided, 90-minute tour of Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial. Walk through the space of the former World Trade Center in New York City, and get a deeper understanding of the events that took place on that day. The guides for this tour are highly informative, and reviews have described them as having “a wealth of information to share about the events of that terrible day”. They are local New Yorkers who have connections to that day, and you can listen to their personal stories and touching accounts of the heroism of the first responders.

The tour first begins at St. Paul’s Chapel, which miraculously survived the falling debris from the 9/11 attacks despite being one block away. It became a makeshift rescue centre during the aftermath, and its iron fence became a bulletin board where family members posted notices of missing loved ones. Today, with the mementos received from people around the world supporting New York, the church serves as a tribute. At the 9/11 Memorial Walk, visit the Reflecting Absence Memorial, a man-made waterfall inside the memorial, mourning the tragedy. Finally, head to the Freedom Tower to visit the One World Observatory, where the view at the observation deck is one to behold–a bird’s eye view of the city skyline of New York. The tour also includes access to the 9/11 Museum. As aforementioned, this allows you to skip the queues, having more time to explore the area.

NYC Ground Zero, 9/11 Memorial, One World Observatory Tour

Duration: 5 hours

1000 reviews

2. Snap your pictures at the famous Manhattan viewing platform, Top of The Rock! (from USD 41.37)

best tours in new york | snap your pictures at the famous manhattan viewing platform, top of the rock!

Get express tickets to the Top of The Rock viewing platform, skipping all queues! After all, time is of the essence on a holiday. Enjoy views that stretch for miles from the Top of the Rock. Besides the panoramic wonders, you can also learn about the history of the building through interactive displays and films. With the country facing economic catastrophe and the world recovering from war in the 1940s, John D. Rockefeller’s vision for his centre never wavered. Rockefeller Center and its observation deck were his gifts to Manhattan: a place for locals and visitors to marvel at the city he loved.

This tour also adapts to your itinerary! The flexible voucher redemption policy means you are not restricted to the date originally selected, so you choose when you’d like to see some of the Big Apple’s best views (up to 1 month either side of your original scheduled ticket date). You can even plan around the weather to ensure you get the most spectacular views of New York City. If entrance is not available immediately, you will be given an entry time and your spot in the line will be held for you. How convenient!

NYC: Top of the Rock Observation Deck Timed-Entry Ticket

2422 reviews

3. Lounge on the cruise deck while admiring 3 rivers, 7 major bridges, 5 boroughs, and 101 sights! (from USD 44.0)

best tours in new york | lounge on the cruise deck while admiring 3 rivers, 7 major bridges, 5 boroughs, and 101 sights!

Lounge on a leisurely 2.5-hour cruise of New York Harbor and Manhattan Island as you sail around the city. The cruise will circle Manhattan, passing 3 rivers, 7 major bridges – including the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge – 5 boroughs, and more than 101 sights in New York’s legendary skyline! Simulate the return of the navy in olden times as you near Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Your tour guides will give introductions about the sights you see, and tell fascinating stories about city that never sleeps.

Some of the attractions you can view up close include the Statue of Liberty, Randall’s Island, High Bridge, Columbia University, Harlem, Gracie Mansion, South Street Seaport, Brooklyn Bridge, Yankee Stadium, The Cloisters, Grant’s Tomb and The Little Red Lighthouse. A quick tip: download the Skyline Navigator App to your smartphone to enhance your cruise experience! The app provides audio and written commentary available in English, Chinese, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese.

New York Harbor: Best of NYC Cruise Skip-The-Box-Office

Duration: 2.5 hour

671 reviews

4. Ride leisurely around New York in a charming horse carriage! (from USD 179.0)

Want to impress your beau? There is nothing more romantic and classic than touring New York in a horse-drawn carriage! The carriage makes a leisurely journey around Central Park, exploring its many bridges, fountains and statues. Pass landmarks including the Imagine Mosaic, the Conservatory Garden, Belvedere Castle and the Central Park Zoo. You can also choose to see the Strawberry Fields, Cherry Hill, the Central Park Zoo, Belvedere Castle, Bethesda Fountain, Gapstow Bridge and much more! A blanket and top enclosure are also provided for warmth if necessary.

The carriage is able to hold up to four guests, which makes it great for families too! Visitors can opt for either the 15-20 or 45-50 minute duration for the horse and carriage ride.

Private Horse and Carriage Ride in Central Park


VIP Horse Carriage Ride through Central Park in NYC with Photo Stops

Duration: 1 hour

18 reviews

5. Experience Broadway history and culture for musical buffs out there! (from USD 35.0)

The iconic Broadway theatrical performances date back as far as 1750, and the legacy has lasted till today. Back in the 1700s, Broadway presented Shakespeare plays and ballad operas, which served as the start of the theatre in New York City. Today, Broadway performances are presented in 40 professional theatres with fully packed seats. Your guide will introduce you to behind-the-scenes at Broadway and the inner workings of theatre! Learn about the history of Broadway and hear some fascinating stories about the performances and stars that have graced the stages. Visitors can also stop at One Shubert Alley, Broadway’s oldest and most exclusive gift store. Eat at Sardi’s restaurant, the toast of Broadway for more than 90 years. The tour is a perfect precursor to seeing any Broadway show.

Broadway Theaters and Times Square with a Broadway Actor

Duration: 2 hours

187 reviews

6. Hop on a ferry and explore the iconic Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island! (from USD 44.0)

Skip past the long lines at the monumental Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with this guided tour! Start the tour by getting Reserve Line Access boarding on the ferry to Liberty Island, saving precious time for more photographs and quick snacks. Once on the island, visitors can head to the observation decks for a stunning aerial view of New York and its surroundings. Then, jump on a quick ferry to Ellis Island where you can learn more about the intriguing history of immigration to America that made the country the melting pot it is today. Your guide will provide detailed information about American immigration and the advent of the country, so feel free to ask away!

A quick note for convenience, only small purses and camera bags are allowed inside the monument, so travel light or bring cash for the lockers at the Liberty Island gift stop. After the four hour tour, you can roam freely in Manhattan!

Downtown Tour + Liberty Cruise


Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Guided Tour NYC

Duration: 3 to 5 hours

3299 reviews

7. Get a bird's eye view of the Big Apple through a helicopter ride! (from USD 217.0)

Soar above the Big Apple on a 15-minute helicopter tour! The helicopter will ride over the iconic monuments of New York, namely, the Statue of Liberty, the Chrysler Building, One World Trade Center, the George Washington Bridge and Central Park. As you go, your pilot will provide commentary on all of the Big Apple’s most iconic attractions. What’s great about this tour is its flexibility, where you can depart from New York’s Downtown Heliport, with a choice of several flight times throughout the day. Marvel at the beautiful skyline of New York and snap multiple photos to commemorate this magical trip across the city!

Although do note, there is an extra fee of 40 USD per person for heliport security, which is not included in the tour fee.

New York City Small-Group Big Apple Helicopter Tour

Duration: 15 minutes

10 reviews

8. Marvel at the monumental Niagara Falls on your boat ride and flight there! (from USD 529.0)

On this Niagara Falls day trip from New York, you will be able to take a quick plane ride to the falls, allowing you a beautiful aerial view and the excitement of flying over the falls! You’ll see the falls from multiple angles as you tour both the Canada and US sides, so take as many photographs as you can to commemorate this special trip. Visitors are also entitled to a Niagara boat cruise or experience the Journey Behind the Falls, depending on the time of year of your tour. The boat will cruise close enough to the base of the powerful cascades to feel the spray of water on your skin! With a return flight to Manhattan, it’s easy to get to and from Niagara Falls from New York in one exciting day of adventure, both in the air and on the water.

There is also an included buffet lunch at a restaurant overlooking the falls, including soft drinks, and tea or coffee, allowing you to dine with a majestic view in the background.

Niagara Falls Day Trip from New York by Air

Duration: 14 hours

10 reviews

Experience the incredibly diverse and entertaining New York!

All in all, the Big Apple is indeed a city that never sleeps! From tours about its immigration and theatrical history to cruises and flights around the city, your itinerary in New York is surely fulfilling and exciting. Book now to experience the most of New York!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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