The 8 Best Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tours of 2019

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The Rundown

Best Overall Tour: Buy Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Guided Tour Tickets with Viator "Hugely popular because of the convenience it offers and the amount of depth provided by the company’s excellent, deeply-knowledgeable tour guides."

Best Small-Group Tour: Buy Small-Group Statue of Liberty Tour and Ellis Island Tickets with Viator "Your guide will show you some of the most fascinating and explain a bit about the history of the southernmost part of the island."

Best Private Tour: Buy Private Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour Tickets with Viator "The tour includes all admissions and skip-the-line access to the ferry."

Best Offbeat Tour: Buy Twisted Statue Tour: Under the Skirt of Lady Liberty Tickets with Viator "Your guide is happy to answer more conventional questions about the statue and how it was built."

Best Combo Tour: Buy Statue of Liberty and One World Observatory Tickets with Viator "This walking tour covers a lot of ground — and a lot of history."

Best Discount Cruise: Buy Circle Line: Statue of Liberty Express Cruise Tickets with Viator "Gives you a fantastic up-close view of the two islands, all while listening to narration from a live tour guide."

Best Traditional Cruise: Buy Statue of Liberty Tall Ship Sailing Cruise Tickets with Viator "You’ll get exemplary views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, many of the city’s iconic bridges."

Best Helicopter Tour: Buy NYC Helicopter Flight and Statue of Liberty Cruise Tickets with Viator "A 15-minute flight that gives you the best possible view of the New York skyline and its most iconic elements."

01 of 08

Best Overall Tour: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Guided Tour

Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, New York Harbor

Louise Heusinkveld/GettyImages 

This group tour is hugely popular because of both the convenience it offers and the amount of depth provided by the company’s excellent, deeply-knowledgeable tour guides. The tour begins at Castle Clinton, at the southern end of Battery Park, where you’ll meet your guide and board the ferry via a special reserved access line.

As the ferry takes you to the Statue of Liberty, your guide will begin explaining the history of the island and the statue itself. Upon arrival, you’ll head straight into the statue’s pedestal and up to the observation decks, where your guide will point out elements of the surrounding New York and New Jersey skylines and tell you everything you want to know about the statue.

The next stop is Ellis Island, via ferry, where you’ll learn about the 12 million people who passed through the immigration process right where you stand. From there, your guide will bid you farewell and you’ll have the rest of the day to explore the island(s) at your leisure, heading back to Manhattan on the ferry whenever you’d like. 

02 of 08

Best Small-Group Tour: Early-Access Statue of Liberty Tour & Ellis Island

The Great Hall at Ellis Island in New York City
S. Greg Panosian / Getty Images

This small-group tour begins in Manhattan’s Battery Park, a well-manicured stretch of green space that is chock full of monuments and recreational sites that many tourists never notice as they rush past to the ferry. Your guide will show you some of the most fascinating and explain a bit about the history of the southernmost part of the island (and the location of its earliest European colony).

After a few minutes of guided exploration, you’ll board the ferry via the priority boarding line and head on over to the Statue itself. Your guide will show you around the statue and into the pedestal and then join you on the ferry to Ellis Island, where they’ll introduce you to the history of the place and show you through some of the many interactive exhibits.

From there, you can return to Manhattan at your leisure, spending a bit more time exploring or soaking in the view before you go. Note that the earlier in the day you book this tour, the less crowded it will be, with the first tour of the day being ideal if you want to spend the maximum time sightseeing instead of standing in line.

03 of 08

Best Private Tour: Private Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour

Aerial view of Ellis Island and Jersey City

 Eloi_Omelia/GettyImages

Having a tour guide to yourself is the ultimate in luxury all the time, but particularly if you’re a real history buff and you’re heading to a place that is so dense with stories, as Liberty National Monument is. Your guide will greet you at Battery Park’s Clinton Castle and then lead you at your own pace on your visits to the two islands.

Feel free to bombard them with questions or simply listen as they illuminate just some of the countless lives that either touched or were touched by these two iconic places. The tour includes all admissions and skip-the-line access to the ferry.

This tour is a particularly good choice for those who have mobility or access issues, as it moves at a self-guided pace, but please note that the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty is not wheelchair-accessible. The rest of the tour, including the ferry, of course, is fully accessible.

04 of 08

Best Offbeat Tour: Twisted Statue Tour: Under the Skirt of Lady Liberty

Twisted Statue Tour: Under the Skirt of Lady Liberty

Courtesy of Viator 

Whether you’ve been on a Statue of Liberty tour before, get bored easily with the same old listings of names and dates, or just prefer to keep life a little quirky, consider this irreverent Statue of Liberty tour. You’ll meet your guide in Battery Park and head over to the statue via ferry.

On the way, you’ll learn about the great Staten Island Ferry giant octopus tragedy (such as it was… or wasn’t), and upon arrival, you’ll get the backstory on the drama surrounding the statue’s design and find out how, when she was first unveiled, New Yorkers didn’t have quite the anticipated reaction.

There’s plenty more lore and background where that came from, and your guide is also happy to answer more conventional questions about the statue and how it was built. The tour ends at the Statue of Liberty, but your ferry ticket includes a trip to Ellis Island, where you can explore the excellent interactive visitor’s center on your own.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best New York City tours.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Best Combo Tour: Statue of Liberty and One World Observatory

OWO-Skyline--c-One-World-Observatory--2.jpg
Photo credit: One World Observatory

Put on your comfiest walking shoes because this walking tour covers a lot of ground — and a lot of history. Your day begins with guided tours of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, complete with ample time for exploration of all the exhibits at both. Ferry and admission are included, of course, as is a handy headset through which you can clearly hear your tour guide as they show you all of the points of interest.

After you’ve thoroughly explored the two islands, it’s back to lower Manhattan on the ferry, and then straight to St. Paul’s Chapel, the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan and an important place of rest and prayer for the recovery workers at the World Trade Center site after 9/11.

From there, you’ll visit the FDNY Memorial Wall and the 9/11 Memorial, and you’ll end your day at One World Observatory. Please note that the One World Observatory ticket is included in your tour but it is not a guided stop — your guide will bid you farewell before you head up and when you’ve finished soaking in the view from the highest observation tower in the city, you can head back to your hotel or out into the city for further explorations on your own.

06 of 08

Best Discount Cruise: Circle Line: Statue of Liberty Express Cruise

Statue of Liberty sunset. NYC harbor, Manhattan.
Michael Orso / Getty Images

If exploring Ellis and Liberty Island on foot doesn’t appeal and you’d rather just sit comfortably while you get a good look at them from the water nearby, consider this affordable one-hour cruise that gives you a fantastic up-close view of the two islands, all while listening to narration from a live tour guide.

The tour begins on a pier on Manhattan’s West Side and then travels down the Hudson, giving riders a look at the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, One World Trade Center, and the other iconic buildings of the New York skyline. Even better? The boat offers a cash bar so you can sip and sightsee to your heart’s content. 

07 of 08

Best Traditional Cruise: Statue of Liberty Tall Ship Sailing Cruise

The Statue of Liberty and ferry, Liberty Island, New York City, New York, USA

Amanda Hall/Robert Harding/Getty Images 

Ahoy, mateys, meet the Clipper City, New York’s only resident tall ship, built from a set of pre-Civil War plans on loan from the Smithsonian Institution. You’ll depart from Slip 2 on the south side of Battery Park and take to the high seas (well, New York Harbor) for a 75-minute sail.

From the schooner’s two decks, you’ll get exemplary views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, many of the city’s iconic bridges, the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines, and so much more. If you’re not a scurvy scalawag, you might even get to help raise the sails or turn the wheel.

This cruise is particularly fun for kids (and adults who like to pretend to be pirates) and is fully wheelchair-accessible. Please note that it does not dock at either Liberty or Ellis Island; all views are from the water.

08 of 08

Best Helicopter Tour: NYC Helicopter Flight and Statue of Liberty Cruise

NYC Helicopter Flight and Statue of Liberty Cruise

Getty Images

This Viator exclusive tour offers two wholly different perspectives on the Statue of Liberty: water and air. Your tour begins at Lower Manhattan’s Pier 6, where you’ll board a luxury chopper for a 15-minute flight that gives you the best possible view of the New York skyline and its most iconic elements — including Lady Liberty herself.

You’ll also get views of Central Park, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, and more. After you’ve touched down, stroll on over to Pier 16, where you’ll board a boat for a ride around New York Harbor. When the boat arrives in front of the Statue of Liberty, you’ll stop and enjoy a champagne toast.

Though this tour does not stop on the island itself, it does give an impressive new perspective on the statue and is very much worth a splurge. 

Check out other reviews with our selection of the best NYC helicopter tours.

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