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Amazing panorama view of New York city and Brooklyn bridge
Stefan | Adobe Stock

Discover New York City: The Best Tours to Explore the Big Apple

One of the best ways to explore a city is by taking a tour, and New York City is no different. Not only do they allow you to see the city, but you’ll learn new things about it: from history, anecdotes, and other trivia you might not hear if you were to explore it on your own. 

New York hosts millions of tourists every year, and each visitor has their own set of interests and desires when they visit. Because of this, the need for a variety of tours evolved, and now you can find a tour for almost every interest, and by any type of transport as well. From first time visitors to natives, guided tours will shed new light on the city, all led by expert tour guides who can answer your every question. 

Types of NYC Tours

Black Helicopter flying for a City Tour
jovannig | Adobe Stock

There is a wide variety of types of tours you can take during your NYC vacation. Walking tours, bus tours, and even helicopter tours. Once you decide what type of tour you want, you can narrow it down to what topic you’d like to learn more about. 

Different types of tours include: 

  • Bus Tours: Great for getting an overview of the city’s major attractions with the flexibility to explore at your own pace.
  • Walking Tours: Great for seeing specific city neighborhoods; if you visit for several days, you can schedule one for each neighborhood you’re interested in seeing. Walking tours are also fantastic for specific topics: food, ghosts, history- whatever NYC topic you’re interested in; there likely is a walking tour. 
  • Bike Tours: Great for active tourists looking for a way to see the city and get some exercise simultaneously. 
  • Helicopter tours: For those with extra cash wanting a birdseye view of the city and to see the city from a different perspective. 
  • Boat Tours: See the city from the water on a boat tour, where you will see what 

NYC Tour Topics

Once you decide what type of tour you want (walking, bus, bike, helicopter), now you have to decide the kind of tour you want to go on. Here are some examples of tours available in the city: 

  • Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours: Great for getting an overview of the city’s major attractions with the flexibility to explore at your own pace.
  • Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour: Explore these iconic landmarks, learn about immigration history, and enjoy stunning views of the city skyline.
  • Walking Food Tours: Dive into NYC’s diverse culinary scene with guided tours through neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little Italy, or Greenwich Village.
  • Central Park Bike Tours: Discover the beauty and history of Central Park while biking through its scenic paths and famous landmarks.
  • Broadway Walking Tour: Get an insider’s look at the world-famous Broadway theater district, learn about its history, and maybe even catch a glimpse of a rehearsal or backstage activity.
  • Neighborhood Walking Tours: Explore specific neighborhoods like Harlem, SoHo, or the Lower East Side with knowledgeable guides who can provide insight into their culture, history, and architecture.
  • Architecture Tours: Delve into NYC’s architectural wonders with tours focusing on iconic buildings like the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, or the High Line.
  • Street Art Tours: Discover the vibrant street art scene in neighborhoods like Bushwick in Brooklyn or the Lower East Side in Manhattan.
  • Gangster Tours: Explore the city’s notorious past with tours highlighting locations associated with famous mobsters and historic crime scenes.

The Best Tours in New York City

Whether you want a broad look at the city as a whole, are looking to get some exercise while getting educated, or what a tour on a specific topic, there is a tour for you. Here are some of the best tours in NYC. 

Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Open Top Tour

Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Open Top Tour
Viator

Prices From: $54.00

Duration: 1.5 hours

When you’d like to see the whole city but not waste time taking a tour and trying to figure out when to see your favorite spots, or if you aren’t exactly sure where you want to visit, a hop-on, hop-off tour is probably for you. These bus tours are exactly as they sound: you can get off one bus, check out a museum, then hop on another one that stops there later on and continue the tour. Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off is a double-decker bus with an open-top deck for spectacular viewing. 

The tour allows you to hop on and hop off at five stops, including Battery Park, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center. There is an Uptown and Downtown route; it has audio guides in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and German, and even includes live bus tracking through their app, so when you hop off, you’ll be able to see when another bus will be coming. 

Small Bus Tours Sightseeing Bus Tour

Small Bus Tours Sightseeing Bus Tour
Viator

Prices From: $197.00

Duration: 6 hours

This six-hour bus and boat tour is perfect for anyone visiting the city for a short time but wants to see all the important sights. See the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, and 9/11 Memorial, and pass through SoHo, Chinatown, and Central Park. It includes a boat ride around the Statue of Liberty and Governor’s Island, as well as walks on the Brooklyn Bridge and around Grand Central Station. 

“Hamilton” Walking Tour 

Hamilton Musical Walking Tour
Viator

Prices From: $63.00

Duration: 3 hours

Dive into the history of Alexander Hamilton’s life and New York City during the Revolutionary War era during the Hamilton Walking Tour. Visit significant sites related to Hamilton’s life, such as Trinity Church, Fraunces Tavern, and the site of the Hamilton-Burr duel. This tour syncs its stops to the music from the musical for a truly unique experience. 

Not only will you see the spots highlighted in the musical, but you will also get background information on the history that is not included in the musical. It’s a three-hour tour and requires good weather. In the case of bad weather, you will be offered an alternative date or a full refund.

Harlem Gospel Tour

Harlem Sunday Morning Gospel Tour
Viator

Prices From: $80.00

Duration: 4 hours

A Harlem Gospel Tour allows you to experience the soulful sounds of gospel music with a guided tour of Harlem’s historic venues. This four-hour tour on Sunday morning brings you to the top spots in one of NYC’s most culturally rich neighborhoods.

This tour includes a tour of the Apollo Theater, walking by the oldest house in Manhattan, and stopping at a church for a traditional Sunday morning service. Upgrade your tour for a soul food brunch at a local-favorite restaurant for a truly immersive experience. 

NYC TV & Movie Tour

NYC TV & Movie Tour
Viator

Prices From: $61.00

Duration: 3 hours

Let’s be honest: most people’s ideas of what NYC is like are thanks to the countless TV shows and movies that take place there. If you’ve always wanted to visit filming locations from popular TV shows and movies while cruising through NYC’s streets in a comfortable bus, this is the tour for you. See iconic sites from Friends, Sex and the City, Seinfeld, and more, and hear behind-the-scenes stories from your guide. 

Watch clips from the movies and TV shows as you wind your way through the city, visiting some of the most famous landmarks from the big and small screens. Get your picture in front of the Friends building, see the Ghostbusters headquarters and more. 

Secret Food Tour

New York Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours
Viator

Prices From: $85.00

Duration: 2.5 hours

Embark on a culinary adventure through NYC’s hidden gems with a secret food tour. Sample delicious dishes from local Greenwich Village or Chinatown/Little Italy eateries while learning about the area’s history and culture. 

This is a walking tour- and for good reason! With each stop, you’ll sample delicious food, which is included in the price of the tour. Past samplings have included handmade dumplings, fresh mozzarella, and, of course, bagels. 

Ghost Tour of Greenwich Village

New York City Ghost Tour of Greenwich Village
Viator

Prices From: $36.00

Duration: 2 hours

Delve into NYC’s supernatural side with a walking ghost tour of Greenwich Village. Explore the neighborhood’s haunted history, hear spine-chilling ghost stories, and visit notorious sites rumored to be haunted. This two-hour tour takes place at night, so make sure you dress appropriately. 

You’ll visit Poe House, where horror writer Edgar Allen Poe lived, see where the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory burned down, visit Washington Square Park, one of the city’s most haunted places, see an old speakeasy and other spooky spots. 

Central Park Photography Tour

Central Park Photography Tour with Local Photographer
Viator

Prices From: $100.00

Duration: 2.5 hours

For any photographer wishing to capture some of the most iconic spots in Central Park, but don’t want to waste time trying to find them yourself, the Central Park Photography Tour is for you. Capture stunning photos of Central Park’s picturesque landscapes and landmarks with the guidance of a professional photographer. 

Your guide will show you photography techniques and composition tips while exploring one of NYC’s most beloved green spaces. This two-and-a-half-hour tour only allows a few participants to guarantee a hands-on experience with your guide, making it a truly unique experience.

Brooklyn Bridge Bike Tour

Brooklyn Bridge Bike Tour
Giftory

Prices From: $48.00

Duration: 2 hours

If you’ve always wanted to cross the historic Brooklyn Bridge, and enjoy a bike ride, this two-hour tour is the one for you. Get some exercise while viewing familiar landmarks, getting insight to the rich history of the city from your tour guide. 

Get stunning panoramic views of the city from Brooklyn, spot the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and cycle through Brooklyn Heights- not to mention riding over one of the most recognizable bridges in the world. 

NYC Helicopter Tour

New York City Skyline Helicopter Tour at Night
Giftory

Prices From: $235.00

Duration: 15 minutes

Looking for an experience of a lifetime? A Helicopter tour of New York City will awe and inspire anyone on board. See Central Park, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and more landmarks during this twenty-minute ride above the city. For stunning nighttime views of the city skyline, book the night tour

Helicopters seat up to six passengers, and any passenger over the age of two must sit in their own seat. Only cameras, cell phones, and sunglasses are allowed on the flight- no bags, so plan accordingly for your arrival at the heliport. Flights will be canceled in case of inclement weather. 

New York Media Boat Tour

Manhattan Adventure Boat Ride
Viator

Prices From: $99.00

Duration: 1 Hour

Want to see the city from a different perspective but aren’t a fan of flying? Try this media boat tour. See the city from a boat traditionally used by news photographers, guided by a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain. A bumpier ride, it is not recommended for pregnant people or those with back problems. 

This one-hour tour gives you close-up views of the Brooklyn Bridge (which you will ride underneath), the Statue of Liberty, and breathtaking panoramic views of the city from New Jersey. Capture stunning photos of the Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge, and ride by Governors Island, where you’ll hear tales of the old Army base. 

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

Sex and the City Hotspots Bus Tour
Viator

Prices From: $66.00

Duration: 3.5 hours

Sex and the City has stood the test of time, and the tours are as popular as ever. Cruise around the city and see familiar sites from the series: Carrie’s brownstone, bars the ladies visited, the shops they visited, and more. This three and a half hour tour covers spots seen in both the show and movies. 

Try a cupcake at Magnolia Bakery, made famous thanks to the show. The tour’s final stop is at Onieal’s, used in the show as SCOUT, the bar Aiden owned, where you can pay homage to the show by relaxing with a cosmo (not included in the price of the tour).  

Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise – Landmarks

New York City Landmarks Circle Line Cruise
Viator

Prices From: $44.00

Duration: 1.5 hours

Circle Line tours take you to similar spots as the media boat tour, in a bigger, calmer boat. The leisurely pace of the cruise allows ample time for photography and appreciation of the city’s famous landmarks from different angles. 

As one of the most iconic sightseeing cruises, it circumnavigates Manhattan Island, providing breathtaking views of renowned attractions such as the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Empire State Building. With knowledgeable guides providing informative commentary throughout the journey, passengers gain insight into the rich history, architecture, and culture of New York City.

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

Intrepid Urban Adventures
Viator

Prices From: $79.00

Duration: 3 hours

With this tour, you’ll get a look at the beginnings of what makes New York such a fascinating city: through the food of the immigrants that settled there. Included in the price of your tour are four tastings at four different spots along the way. Try knishes, dumplings and other ethnic foods that were brought to the city from the first immigrants who settled in the Lower East side. 

Your tour begins at the African Burial Ground, and stops along the way at the Tenement Museum, 100-year-old bakeries, Little Italy, Chinatown and more; with your guide giving fascinating insight on the history of each neighborhood and the people who lived there. 

Gangsters and Ghosts Tour

Gangsters and Ghosts Tour in NYC
Viator

PricesFrom: $35.00

Duration: 2 hours

Godfather fans, rejoice! Take a tour of the neighborhoods once riddled with gangsters and speakeasies with this Gangsters and Ghosts Tour. Stroll along Five Points, where the Irish gang made famous in Gangs of New York  lived and operated. Walk the streets that Charlie Luciano, Mayer Lansky and others walked (and committed crimes) on. 

During this two-hour tour, your guide will fill you in on tales of the old mobs, as well as spooky tales of the buildings you pass. Your tour ends at Washington Square Park, which is not without it’s own history and ghost stories.

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