NYC’s Best Budget-Friendly Sightseeing Passes Compared

Purchasing one of the many New York City sightseeing passes provides a budget-friendly way to explore numerous attractions and enjoy significant savings. However, with almost a dozen pass options available, some visitors opt for the least expensive one. Unfortunately, the cheapest choice may not offer the optimal value for your money. Nevertheless, we’re here to assist you in discovering the perfect sightseeing pass for your trip.

With dozens of combinations, navigating the multitude of sightseeing pass options for New York City has become a challenging task. Striking a balance between the duration of your visit and the number of attractions you want to experience each day requires careful consideration and planning.

Don’t “Wing It”

Organizing your time in the city may become so overwhelming that eventually, you choose to just “wing it.” Our advice? Don’t play it by ear. Not only will you end up overpaying for attractions but you’ll see and do far less. Instead, take a few minutes to read this article and we’ll help you pick out the cheapest and best pass for your visit.

CHEAPEST SIGHTSEEING PASSES FOR NYC

FROM CHEAPEST TO MOST EXPENSIVE

*Click on the pass for more information or to purchase.

TYPE OF PASS

AMOUNT

$84

$84

$104

$131

$146

$154

$154

$154

$219

*Prices are for one adult ticket.

When visiting a major city for the first time, such as NYC, purchasing a sightseeing pass is an absolute no-brainer. It allows you to see the major attractions with discounted pricing and you’re able to get free perks like skip-the-line tickets, complimentary guides and maps, and easy access to pretty much everything.

*All of the prices below are for one adult ticket.

Cheapest Sightseeing Passes for New York City

If you’re looking for the cheapest sightseeing passes for New York City, there are two. Both are currently priced at $84 and provide access to two major attractions at significantly discounted prices. They are:

  1. The Sightseeing FLEX 2 Pass 🥇
  2. Go City Explorer Pass

When it comes to New York City sightseeing passes, the New York Sightseeing FLEX 2 Pass is the clear winner. With it, you’re able to select two major attractions AND pass holders get free access to the NYC Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour. When you consider that one ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus tour alone costs $84, the FLEX 2 pass provides exceptional value.

🎟️ New York Sightseeing FLEX 2 Pass  > Buy Now

New York Sightseeing FLEX 2 Pass

Even more appealing, New York Sightseeing FLEX pass holders don’t have to see or do all of the attractions in one day. They have 60 days to visit the two attractions and take the bus tour once they’ve activated their Sightseeing Pass.

We always enjoy hop-on hop-off bus tours—it’s a great way to get familiar with the city!

We prefer the FLEX 2 Pass because passholders don’t need to rush and can stretch out their admission over multiple days. For example, you could take the hop-on hop-off bus tour on Monday to get oriented with the city. Then, on Tuesday visit the Empire State Building. Finally, on Wednesday you can do the Circle Line NYC Landmarks Cruise. That’s three fun-filled days, all for just $84!

While not the tallest building, the Empire State Building is the most iconic.

With the Go City Explorer Pass, you simply get the two attractions. Also, you have to see them both on the same calendar day (not even being allowed a 24-hour period) which can be difficult for late risers and slower travelers.

Passes Don’t Activate on Purchase

It is important to note that both passes are not activated when purchased. The New York Sightseeing Flex 2 Pass allows holders to use it within 12 months from the date of purchase and activates upon first use.

Taking a cruise in New York Bay is a must-do activity!

The Go City Explorer Pass, on the other hand, is valid for up to two years from the date of purchase and activates upon first use.

If you only have one day set aside to tour New York City’s main attractions then the New York Sightseeing FLEX 2 Pass is the way to go. However, it’s important to note that the Sightseeing Pass does not include the 9/11 Memorial and Museum (the 9/11 Memorial is free and open to the public, the museum requires a fee) or the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), while the Go City Explorer Pass does incorporate these attractions.

🎟️ New York Sightseeing FLEX 2 Pass > Buy Now

Next Cheapest Options

The New York C3 by CityPASS is the next cheapest option with the New York Sightseeing FLEX 3 Pass close behind. Both passes provide access to three attractions. Once again, we prefer the FLEX 3 because it includes three attractions plus the hop-on hop-off bus tour, even though it’s only a few dollars more than the C3 Pass.

C3 by CityPASS vs. Sightseeing FLEX 3

It is highly recommended that you compare attractions on both passes to make sure you are purchasing the one right for you. For example, the two attractions below are included in the C3 Pass but not in the Sightseeing FLEX 3 Pass.

  1. 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  2. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Through personal stories, artifacts, imagery, and interactive technology the story of that fateful day is told at the 9/11 Museum.

Contrarily, these 11 attractions are included in the Sightseeing FLEX 3 Pass but not in the C3 Pass.

  1. One World Observatory
  2. Bronx Zoo
  3. Central Park Zoo
  4. Museum of Broadway
  5. Go Airlink One-way Share-ride Transfer to Manhattan From NYC Area Airports
  6. NY Aquarium
  7. National Lighthouse Museum
  8. The Cauldron NYC – Potion making for Beginners
  9. Buffalo Wild Wings – Brooklyn
  10. LoL Comedy Lounge
  11. LoL Comedy Lounge Magic
The Museum of Broadway is an exclusive attraction of The Sightseeing Pass.

When it comes to selecting the best and cheapest New York City sightseeing passes, it’s best to figure out how much you want to spend, which attractions you want to see, and how much time you’d like to devote to sightseeing. Of course, check to see if the full admission price for the certain attraction(s) you’d like to visit costs more than the pass—typically, it will but not always.

🎟️ New York Sightseeing FLEX3 Pass  > Buy Now

Top 10 NYC Attractions

Most first-time tourists to New York City want to see the top 10 attractions. If you’re one of them, then purchasing a sightseeing pass makes complete sense. In the chart below, it’s quite easy to see that the Sightseeing Pass, the Go City passes, and CityPASS all provide access to a majority of the top 10 attractions.

ACCESS TO THE 10 MOST POPULAR ATTRACTIONS BY PASS


ATTRACTION

National 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Empire State Building

NYC Downtown Sightseeing Cruise

Ferry/Cruise to Statue of Liberty

Top of the Rock Observation Deck - Rockefeller Plaza

One World Observatory

American Museum of Natural History

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

* Go City includes the Explorer Pass and All-Inclusive Pass

Currently, there are no passes that include The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Best Sightseeing Pass to Enjoy 10 Attractions

By far, the best sightseeing passes to experience 10 attractions are the CityPASS C•ALL and the Sightseeing FLEX 10 Pass. Below is a quick summary of the perks of each pass and things to consider before purchasing.

CityPASS C•ALL

Providing access to 11 iconic attractions, the CityPASS C•ALL is quite the deal. Once activated, the pass allows the user to visit any of the attractions below for nine days. In short, this pass is great for visitors staying in NYC for several days because you’ll need to see at least five to six attractions listed below for this pass to make sense financially.

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum—it’s included in the CityPASS, C3, and C•ALL passes.

However, the one thing the C•ALL Pass is lacking is a hop-on hop-off bus tour. No worries. You can purchase the bus tour separately here at discounted prices.

    1. Empire State Building
    2. Top of the Rock Observation Deck
  1. Ferry Access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  2. 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  3. American Museum of Natural History
  4. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
  5. Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  6. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  7. Guggenheim Museum
  8. City Cruises
  9. Edge at Hudson Yards

🎟️ New York CityPASS C•ALL Pass  > Buy Now

Sightseeing FLEX 10 Pass

The biggest perk to purchasing a Sightseeing FLEX 10 Pass is that holders are granted access to 10 attractions within 60 days of visiting the 1st attraction. This is a great perk over the C•ALL Pass if you’re planning on returning to the city within the two-month window. For example, if you start and finish your three-week vacation in NYC, you can leave and visit Boston for a week and come back and continue to use the pass.

Top of the Rock viewpoint at the Rockefeller Center supplies some of the best views of NYC!

Below are 10 of the most popular attractions in NYC that are included in the Sightseeing FLEX 10 Pass. Nevertheless, there are over 100 different attractions that pass holders can visit in total.

  1. Empire State Building
  2. Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center
  3. Circle Line NYC Landmarks Cruise
  4. One World Observatory
  5. Edge
  6. Museum of Broadway
  7. The Ride
  8. Rise NY
  9. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
  10. Big Bus New York Essential Ticket

🎟️ Sightseeing FLEX 10 Pass  > Buy Now

Of course, there’s one caveat. If you’d like to visit the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), or the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum it may make more financial sense to purchase the Go City Explorer 10 Choice Pass because these attractions are included. They are not included in the Sightseeing 10 FLEX Pass. Also, the Go City Explorer Pass is valid for 60 days from the first use.

🎟️ Go City Explorer 10 Choice Pass  > Buy Now

Don’t be an Easy Target > Use this backpack to keep your things safe, we do!

Understanding Exclusive Attractions

Each pass comes with its own set of exclusive attractions. Essentially, these are tours and/or sites that are included only with one specific pass. For example, the One World Observatory is only included with the Sightseeing Pass while the New York Yankees Game Tickets are only included with the Go City passes (Explorer Pass/All-Inclusive Pass and The New York Pass).

Exclusive Attractions by Pass

Take a look at the exclusive attractions by each pass in the table below. Knowing what attractions are available with each pass will assist you in selecting the best pass for your trip.

The Statue of Liberty at Sunset Cruise is an exclusive attraction of Go City and The New York Pass by Go City.

CHEAPEST SIGHTSEEING PASSES FOR NYC

EXCLUSIVE ATTRACTIONS BY PASS

ATTRACTION

Bronx Zoo

Museum of Broadway

Go Airlink One-way Share-ride Transfer to Manhattan

NY Aquarium

National Lighthouse Museum

LoL Comedy Lounge

LoL Comedy Lounge Magic

Secrets of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island - Walking Tour

See 30+ Top New York Sights Walking Tour

Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO Walking Tour

NYC Slavery & Underground Railroad Walking Tour

Central Park Full Day Bike Rental by Unlimited Biking

Central Park Bike Tour by Unlimited Biking

Brooklyn Bridge Bike Rental (Full Day) by Unlimited Biking

Brooklyn Bridge Guided Bike Tour by Unlimited Biking

Harlem Bike Rental (Full-Day) by Unlimited Biking

Harlem Jazz Series

New York City Sketching Art Tour

Finally, before or after purchasing one of the New York City sightseeing passes, be sure to check the special perks that come with each pass such as discounted shopping, accommodations, restaurants, Broadway tickets, etc.

Need somewhere nice but affordable to stay in Manhattan? Be sure to check out these > 18 Cheap But Nice Hotels in Manhattan, New York.

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