New York City attractions

New York City, the "city that never sleeps" is just as fascinating as it is diverse. In the Big Apple, there is something to discover and experience on every corner. We would like to help you with your bucket list by introducing you to the top attractions of New York City. So before you jump right into the hustle and bustle, check out our tips for planning your journey:

Sightseeing tips for New York

  • Plan in advance: If you want to go sightseeing in New York, you will not only need a large travel budget, you'll probably be up and about all day, too. So, first of all, prepare a carefully thought-out plan for your sightseeing tours. Make sure you choose the optimal travel and walking routes. Also include opening and waiting times in your planning. This will allow you to see more and get the most out of your journey!
  • Take advantage of sightseeing passes: With a New York Pass, you can save big on your discovery tour. The popular "flat rate passes" include admission to various top attractions and museums as well as boat tours, walking tours and hop-on-hop-off buses. However, there are big differences among the various providers. Our big New York Pass comparison guides you through the jungle of offers and shows you which pass is best suited for your travel plans.
  • Buy tickets online: Tickets for the popular New York sights, such as the Statue of Liberty, are often booked out long in advance. Locations where space is limited usually also require the purchase of a time ticket. So get informed early and book from home before you leave.
  • Go bargain hunting: If you have a Broadway show or sports event on your must-do list, it's also worth comparing ticket prices before you travel. Best use the official websites of the venues to do so, as they offer highly discounted tickets for performances and events every now and then.
  • Bring running shoes: You will probably do a lot of walking! Comfortable shoes and clothes are therefore a must in your suitcase. Better take an umbrella with you too, for the weather in New York might change rather quickly.
  • See even more: The city center of New York may have a lot to offer, but don't be afraid to get out of the "Manhattan bubble" and explore one (or several) of the other boroughs of New York.

Thanks to our tips you are now well prepared for your journey. Okay then, curtain up for our 10 top New York attractions:

1. The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

The Statue of Liberty is the American icon and symbol of freedom and democracy. Located in the New York harbor on Liberty Island, the 93 m high statue welcomes travelers with a torch in her right hand and the US Constitution in her left. Yet the self-confident lady was originally a French girl. The Statue of Liberty's head first adorned the Paris World Exhibition of 1878. In 1886, the statue came to New York as a gift from France to celebrate the 100th anniversary of American independence.

Not far from Lady Liberty lies Ellis Island. From 1892, about 12 million immigrants arrived here to fulfill their American Dream. Since about 2% of the potential immigrants were sent back, Ellis Island is also known as the "Island of Tears". The digital immigration archive offers visitors the opportunity to find out for themselves whether they have relatives who once arrived in the United States in this way.

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island can only be reached using ferries operated by Statue Cruises. Both islands are part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, for which a combined ticket can be purchased. The latter also includes a visit to the Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island. If you also want to climb the 354 steps up to the crown of the statue, you need an additional ticket (make sure to book online in advance!).

Our tip
Take the free Staten Island Ferry and pick a seat on the right. The ferry doesn't stop at Liberty Island, but it passes so close that you can take amazing pictures of the Statue of Liberty for free.

  • Address: Ferries from Battery Park in downtown Manhattan
  • Opening hours: Ferries from Manhattan from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, every 40 minutes; last ferries from Liberty Island and Ellis Island at 5 pm and 5:15 pm respectively

Book your Statue of Liberty ticket from Battery Park here

2. Central Park

Whoever had the idea to create a huge park in the middle of the city in the 19th century, New Yorkers owe a lot to him. Central Park in the heart of Manhattan is the perfect contrast to the bustling city life - recreation area, meeting place, venue for outdoor sports and certainly one of the most beautiful sights in New York!

The highlights in Central Park include:

  • Great Lawn: a large lawn area, popular for outdoor sports such as basketball and baseball, free open air concerts in summer
  • Strawberry Fields: John Lennon's favorite spot in the park, nowadays a memorial and symbol for peace
  • Belvedere Castle: a castle built in the 19th century on the Vista Rock
  • Central Park Zoo
  • Sheep Meadow: a large lawn, often used to sit down, rest, picnic and sunbathe
  • Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink: built up ice rinks for skating and ice hockey in winter

Our tip
As a New York visitor you will easily manage to spend a whole day in the vast Central Park. You can explore the park on foot, but due to its size it is probably a good idea to rent a bicycle.

  • Address: from 59th Street to 110th Street and Fifth Avenue to 8th Avenue
  • Opening hours: always open

Rent a bike for your Central Park tour here

3. Empire State Building

The silhouette of the iconic Empire State Building is unmistakable. There is hardly any other landmark that shaped New York's skyline as much as the skyscraper built in record time in 1930/31. After its completion, the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the city, reaching a height of 443 meters. Because of Hollywood movies like "King Kong" or "Sleepless in Seattle", it eventually became world-famous.

The Empire State Building is particularly impressive during bank holidays. On these days, a large number of LED floodlights illuminate the building in up to 16 million combinations of colors. For example, it lights up in red, white and blue on Independence Day on July 4th.

The famous observation deck on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building will leave you feeling nostalgic. You will have a great view over Manhattan both during the day and in the dark, and since the platform is outdoors, you can take great photos. The only downside is that Central Park cannot be seen from the Empire State Building.

Our tip
You can' t buy time-slot tickets for the Empire State Building. Therefore, try to avoid rush hours, because it may get crowded.

  • Address: 350 Fifth Avenue, NY 10118 New York
  • Opening hours: daily 8 am to 2 am (last elevator 1:15 am)

Book your Empire State Building ticket here

4. Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center

You can't get enough of the spectacular New York panorama? Well, then your next stop is the Top of the Rock observation deck on the 70th floor of the Comcast Building in Rockefeller Center. Also built in the 1930s, the Rockefeller complex is particularly known for its opulent Christmas decorations. The famous black-and-white photograph "Lunch atop a Skyscraper" by Charles C. Ebbets, which shows construction workers having lunch high up on the skyscraper, was also taken at Rockefeller Center.

Today, the Rockefeller Center is still the perfect place for photography lovers. Top of the Rock is entirely outdoors, so you can take beautiful pictures of your surroundings (including the Empire State Building) without interfering glass windows. Architecture lovers will also have a good time, because the construction of the observation deck creates the impression of being on the top deck of a 1930s ocean liner.

Although Top of the Rock is not the highest of the city's viewpoints, its location between most New York skyscrapers offers many advantages. You will have the feeling of being "right in the middle of it all" and being able to literally touch the surrounding buildings. In addition, it is never too crowded, as Top of the Rock stretches over three levels.

Our tip
From the north side of the building, you will have a wonderful view over Central Park. Visit before sunset, as the park is not illuminated at night!

  • Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 10112 New York
  • Opening hours: daily 1 pm to 9 pm (last elevator 8:10 pm)

Book your Top of the Rock ticket here

The American Dream recommends:

Sightseeing in the Big Apple can be quite a strain on your vacation budget. With a New York Pass, you can save big on admission to New York's most popular attractions, museums, and tours!

But the choice of New York Passes is huge. We have compared all the offers: our extensive New York Pass comparison will tell you which New York Pass fits your travel plans best.

Click here for our extensive New York Pass comparison!

5. 9/11 Memorial & One World Trade Center

The area where the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed in 2001, was long known as Ground Zero. After the construction of the 9/11 Memorial and numerous other new buildings, the area gradually transformed back into a bustling business district.

At the same time, the 9/11 Memorial remains a place of silence and remembrance: the Reflecting Pools, two large water basins surrounded by bronze panels with the names of the almost 3,000 victims, mark the outlines of the collapsed towers. In the park area surrounding the pools, the survival tree stands in its original place, where it had been salvaged from the debris in a badly damaged state. Also The Sphere, a golden globe that stood between the towers and survived their collapse largely unscathed, can be found near its former location again.

The newly constructed buildings include the futuristic-looking, light-flooded train station The Oculus and the new One World Trade Center. At 542 meters, the latter is currently the tallest building in the United States and symbolizes the strength, independence and optimism of the Americans.

Our tip
If you want to learn more about the events of 9/11, we recommend a visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. The museum is accessible free of charge on Mondays, but you have to reserve your spot in advance in the museum's website.

  • Address: 180 Greenwich St, 10007 New York
  • Opening hours: 9/11 Memorial daily 8 am - 8 pm; 9/11 Museum Wed - Mon 9 am - 5 pm

Book your 9/11 Memorial & Museum ticket here

6. One World Observatory

The viewpoint in the One World Trade Center is further proof that New York City is always an eye catcher from above. The office tower, which was built between 2006 and 2014, offers three levels between the 100th and 102nd floors for visitors who want to enjoy a 360° panorama of New York from floor-to-ceiling windows.

Yet not only the view, but also the way up is an experience in the One World Trade Center. During the ride up in one of the Sky Pods, you will see an animation of the 500-year long history of the Big Apple in fast motion. After arriving at the top, a 2-minute film about New York will be shown at the See Forever Theater. The actual wow-moment only comes afterwards, when the screen reveals the New York skyline.

Since the One World Observatory is located at the southernmost tip of Manhattan, you will have a fantastic view on the Statue of Liberty and the waterways of New York. However, it lies relatively far away from the other skyscrapers in Midtown Manhattan and photos can only be taken through glass windows.

Our tip
Admission to One World Observatory is included in almost all New York passes. If your sightseeing tour through New York includes several stops, you can significantly reduce your expenses for entrance fees with such a pass.

  • Address: 285 Fulton St, 10007 New York
  • Opening hours: daily 9 am - 9 pm

Book your One World Observatory ticket here

7. Times Square

The most famous intersection of New York City awaits you with large screens and flashing lights, where Seventh Avenue and Broadway come together. Times Square is named after the newspaper New York Times, which moved its offices to the location in 1904. The iconic neon signs became the signature elements of Times Square in the 1950s. Back then, the famous Camel Cowboy blew his clouds of smoke into the air at Times Square. The New Year's Eve party with the Ball Drop at midnight also became a tradition.

Today, Times Square is the home of ABC's Times Square Studios, the MTV Studios and the editorial offices of the fashion magazine Vogue. The Naked Cowboy, a street musician who performs in Times Square in all weathers wearing only underpants, cowboy hat and boots, has been a tourist attraction for several decades.

Our tip
Go to Times Square at midnight to experience the Midnight Moment. All the screens will then show only digital art for three minutes instead of the usual advertisements.

  • Address: 1560 Broadway Ste 1001, 10036 New York
  • Opening hours: always open

Book a ticket for the Times Square Magic Show here

8. Hudson Yards

The area of Hudson Yards in western Manhattan is one of the most interesting emerging New York sights. Located next to the Hudson River and the Javits Convention Center, the site was originally intended for a new sports stadium for the 2012 Olympics. After New York's candidacy failed, a business district consisting of 15 skyscrapers was planned. There is still strong construction activity, but by 2024 Hudson Yards is expected to emerge with new splendor.

One of the highlights opened in March 2020: the viewpoint Edge Skydeck reaches far over the abyss. Here, the brave can walk over a glass floor and look down on the hustle and bustle below.

Our tip
When you have made a tour through Hudson Yards, one of New York's most interesting parks is waiting for you. The High Line Park was created on a former elevated railway line and runs parallel to 10th Avenue right across Manhattan. After the 2.3 km long walk you have earned yourself a cocktail. Luckily, you are arriving at the perfect location: the Meatpacking District, which is known for its vibrant nightlife.

  • Address: 3 Hudson Boulevard, New York
  • Opening hours: Edge Skydeck daily 12 am - 8 pm

Book your ticket for Edge at Hudson Yards here

9. Brooklyn Bridge

This icon of New York is another eye catcher – the Brooklyn Bridge, that brings you over the East River from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Yet the bridge not only serves as a background for a great vacation photo, it is also an architectural masterpiece. When it opened in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world and the first structure to be built using steel, a much more robust material than iron. This innovation became the basis for the construction of New York's skyscrapers.

After nearly 140 years, the bridge still stands tall. The metro is no longer allowed to operate over the Brooklyn Bridge, but cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians can each use separate lanes. You can walk from one side to the other in about 20 minutes.

Our tip
When you reach the Dumbo district of Brooklyn, take some time to explore the many interesting stores, cafés, and restaurants in this neighborhood.

  • Address: New York City, NY 10038
  • Opening hours: always open

10. Grand Central Terminal

Every day, about 1 million commuters and visitors pass through Grand Central Station with its 44 platforms and 67 tracks. This means that the New York hub is the largest train station in the world. However, the station built in 1913 in the middle of Manhattan is not only large, but also impresses with its architecture. The gigantic main hall Grand Central Terminal proves to be particularly impressive, as it is decorated with magnificent chandeliers, a starry sky ceiling and ornaments richly decorated with acorns.

Travellers can pass their waiting time in about 60 stores and 35 restaurants, e.g. the famous Oyster Bar. The 4th floor of the huge Grand Central Station even features a tennis club.

Our tip
If you walk through Grand Central Terminal with a friend, pay a visit to the infamous Whispering Gallery. The acoustics in this room are unique: from one column of the arch, you can hear what your friend at the opposite column says./p>

  • Address: 89 East 42nd Street New York, NY 10017
  • Opening hours: daily 5:15 am to 2:00 am

After your vacation is before your vacation! You have now explored the bustling city of New York, but there are many other fascinating cities in the USA. Get inspired by our top sights in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or San Francisco!

Green Card CheckAre you eligible?