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How to Visit the Statue of Liberty from New York: 11 Essential Tips

How to Visit the Statue of Liberty from New York: 11 Essential Tips

Visiting the Statue of Liberty is a quintessential New York experience. To make the most of your trip, a bit of planning goes a long way!

To ensure your trip is smooth, enjoyable, and memorable, we share our experience-based tips to help you plan your first visit to the Statue of Liberty.

These insights will guide you through everything from selecting the perfect ticket- or tour options to maximizing your time on both Liberty and Ellis Islands.

With our tips, you’ll discover the best ways to visit the Statue of Liberty from New York, enjoy breathtaking views, and make the most of your visit. Find out!

Liberty Statue New York
The Statue of Liberty

Here are our top tips for visiting the Statue of Liberty from New York:

1. Figure out what exactly you want to see

Before you even start planning your visit to the Statue of Liberty, you should decide what it is exactly that you want to see. This will determine how you can visit the Statue of Liberty – on your own or with a tour, but also how much time you need for your visit, from where to take the boat, etc.

Here are the best ways to experience the Statue of Liberty from New York:

  1. Round-trip ferry from Lower Manhattan to Liberty and Ellis Islands. Ferry tickets include entry to the Statue of Liberty Museum, Ellis Island Immigration Museum, and audio guides.
  2. All of the above + Pedestal Access.
  3. All of the above + Crown Acces*.
  4. Sightseeing cruises. In this case, you take a boat trip to the Statue of Liberty and travel past it without disembarking on the island. If your time is limited, this is the best hassle-free option. Plus, there are cruises with departures from many different locations in Manhattan, so it’s easier to add this short excursion to any NYC itinerary.
  5. Staten Island ferry. This is a free passenger ferry that connects Manhattan to Staten Island. It passes not too far from Liberty Island so you can see the Statue of Liberty. However, these ferries are huge and they don’t go nearly as close to the island as sightseeing cruises.

Good to know: Statue of Liberty tickets (options 1, 2, and 3) can be purchased on the CityExperiences website. Statue of Liberty ferries from New York depart from Battery Park at the southwestern tip of Manhattan Island. These ferries make a circular trip, stopping at Liberty Island first, then Ellis Island, and then back in Manhattan.

TIP: If you have a few days in New York, you may want to consider the New York CityPASS. It includes access to 5 top attractions in NYC, with several options to choose from. One of them is the Statue of Liberty visit (option 1).

* Crown Access is not suitable for everyone. You can find more information about it further below.

Statue of Liberty Cruise
Statue of Liberty Cruise.

2. Decide if you will go on your own or on a tour

The next thing to decide is if you want to arrange everything yourself or book a guided tour where everything is included and taken care of. If all of the information above already got your head spinning, then do yourself a favor and book a guided tour.

Good to know: The main reason to book a guided tour of the Liberty and Ellis Islands is to learn more about all the landmarks and avoid the hassle of planning. With a guide, you don’t have to research what to see and do at each place, worry about where or when the ferry departs, etc. Plus, you will see more in less time.

Please note that none of the guided tours include Crown or Pedestal Access. So if you want to visit any of those, you will have to go on your own (and book well ahead).

There are also free ranger-led tours on Liberty Island and you can also get complimentary audio guides upon arrival. But this will take much more time and also some research from your side.

TIP: If you decide to go with a guide, we recommend this highly-rated Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island guided tour.

Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration
Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration.

3. Plan ahead & book tickets in advance

Tickets to the Statue of Liberty, especially for the Crown or Pedestal Access can sell out quickly. Booking in advance is crucial. This not only secures your spot but also allows you to plan the rest of your itinerary accordingly.

If you absolutely want to climb to the top of the Crown and are traveling in the high season, you have to plan at least several months ahead.

But even if you just want to visit Liberty Island and choose a time slot that best suits you, do yourself a favor and don’t wait until you get to New York!

Last-minute tip: You can try to get same-day ferry tickets at Castle Clinton National Monument in Battery Park (get there early!) If there are no tickets available or if you are satisfied with simply seeing the Liberty Statue from the boat, book a sightseeing cruise.

Statue of Liberty ticket desk at Castle Clinton National Monument
Statue of Liberty ticket desk at Castle Clinton National Monument.

4. Avoid weekends and start early

The Statue of Liberty is the most popular tourist attraction in New York. So no matter when you travel, expect it to be busy. That said, there is still a big difference between busy and crazy busy.

Good to know: According to the official website, the busiest times for the ferries to Liberty Island are between 11 am and 2 pm. Weekends are busier than weekdays (surprise, surprise ;)). The busiest months are between June and August, and the quietest months are November to January.

So the best time to visit the Statue of Liberty is on weekdays between 9 and 11 am, or around 3 pm. However, keep in mind that if you start too late, you won’t have the time left to visit Ellis Island anymore.

If you want to visit both – the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, we highly recommend booking the earliest available time slots. Taking one of the first ferries of the day is the best way to beat the biggest crowds and enjoy a more relaxing visit.

Good to know: The time on your ticket is for entry to the security facility, so before you go on the ferry or set foot on Liberty Island. In some cases, like the Crown visit, you will also have to pick up your tickets in person at the Castle Clinton National Monument, which is located in Battery Park, a short walk from the ferry harbor.

Let’s just say that if you book a 9 AM slot and arrive a few minutes before that, you will definitely miss the first ferry. Be sure to arrive at least half an hour before your time slot!

Statue of Liberty New York
Statue of Liberty as seen from a boat in the morning.

5. Allocate enough time and be prepared for delays

Visiting the Statue of Liberty can be a lot more time-consuming than you may expect. You need at least 4 hours to fully enjoy your visit to Liberty and Ellis Islands in the not-too-busy season. If you are planning to have lunch there, you will need to foresee more time.

Keep in mind that security checks, ferry rides, and the sheer number of visitors can cause serious delays. So be sure to build some buffer time into your schedule to avoid frustrations.

During peak season, wait time at the security in Manhattan can easily be several hours. Yes, a few hours before you even take the first ferry!

Plus, the chances that you can just take the ferry you want are also slim. Once they reach a certain number of passengers or when the staff decides it’s time to leave, they just stop boarding. When that happens, you have to wait for the next ferry (usually, 30-40 minutes later). Keep in mind that if you visit both islands, you will have to take a ferry three times.

Good to know: Most guided tours and individual visits will require 4-5 hours. If you don’t have that much time, you can skip Ellis Island (just stay on the boat without disembarking). In that case, you will need 3-4 hours for a visit. Alternatively, if your schedule is really tight and you don’t feel like dealing with crowds and delays all day long, simply opt for one of the scenic cruises which only take about 1 hour in total.

Our experience: We recently visited the Statue of Liberty on a Monday in May (a weekday in the shoulder season). We booked 9 AM Crown tickets and arrived at Battery Park half an hour before that. It was crazy busy already! Due to a series of misunderstandings and a slow line at the security check (despite priority entrance with Crown tickets), we missed the first ferry. They basically just stopped boarding it in front of our noses…

After that, delays just kept stacking up. It was so busy everywhere that we ended up waiting for an extra 30-40 minutes for every single ferry we had to take: to Liberty Island, to Ellis Island, and back to Manhattan. This alone added 1.5 hours to our visit!

Statue of Liberty and USA flag on Liberty Island
The view from the rooftop terrace of the Statue of Liberty Museum.

6. Stand on the right side of the boat

If you want to enjoy the best views of the Statue of Liberty from the boat, go to the top deck of the ferry and stand on the right side.

You could also sit if there are still some places available, but before you know it, the deck will fill up and there will be so many people standing in front of you that you won’t be able to see much.

Tourists taking pictures of Liberty Statue on the ferry from New York
For the best view, stand on the right side of the ferry when traveling from Manhattan.

7. Only visit the Crown if you are fit and have plenty of time

Access to the Crown of the Statue of Liberty is a unique experience. You can walk inside the statue and climb all the way to the top. Small windows inside the crown give you a close look at the structure of Lady Liberty and nice views of the surrounding area and the Manhattan skyline in the distance.

However, this experience involves climbing 162 narrow, steep steps. On the last part, there is really not much space for you to maneuver. While there is some ventilation, it can also get quite warm inside (or very cold in the winter).

Because of this, a visit here is not recommended for those with mobility issues or claustrophobia. If you are really tall or wide, you will also not be comfortable on those narrow spiral stairs.

Good to know: Even with timed tickets and a limited number of people, the line moves very slowly, so you might be standing on that narrow staircase for quite a while. This is because there is limited space at the top. And – understandably – everyone wants to spend some time enjoying the view and the experience before moving on.

View from the Statue of Liberty Crown
View from the Crown.

8. Don’t bring anything you don’t absolutely need

Before boarding the Statue of Liberty ferry, you will have to go through an airport-style security check. Some of the prohibited items include large bags, drones, firearms, knives, sharp objects, etc.

To speed up the security process and avoid having to leave something behind, bring only what you really need. Anything that is deemed inappropriate will be confiscated.

In addition, there are even stricter restrictions for those visiting the Statue of Liberty Monument itself (Pedestal or Crown access). See below for more info.

TIP: Pack some snacks and water. While there are concessions available, bringing your own snacks and a refillable water bottle will save you a lot of time. You can also buy some drinks and snacks on the ferry, but the lines can be insane and the actual boat ride is short. Plus, you may want to stand outside and enjoy the views rather than queue inside.

Spiral staircase to the Crown inside the Statue of Liberty
Spiral staircase to the Crown.

9. Bring cash for lockers

Before you enter the interior of the Statue of Liberty Monument, you will have to go through an additional security check. Here, they have even stricter rules.

For example, backpacks, strollers, or large umbrellas are not allowed inside. You cannot take any food, drinks, or even water inside the monument. If you are visiting the Crown where the space is really limited, you can’t bring much more than your phone or a camera with you.

Good to know: There are lockers at the monument entrance. However, you need 25c coins for them. If you don’t have quarters, there is a machine to exchange bills. In any case, you do need to bring some cash.

Just for clarity – these additional restrictions are only for the Pedestal or Crown visits.

Lockers at the Statue of Liberty Monument
Lockers at the Statue of Liberty. There are a couple of bigger lockers too, but don’t take too big bags!

10. Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly

Visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, you will be spending lots of time outdoors. Needless to say, your experience will highly depend on weather conditions.

In order to enjoy your visit to the fullest, be sure to dress comfortably and suitably for the season. When in doubt, bring some extra layers because it can get chilly on the boats and the islands.

In summer, prepare for the heat and bring sun protection and water. Remember that you may have to wait for ferries for a long time (and there is hardly any shade!). A small umbrella might be a lifesaver!

Good to know: You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so comfortable footwear is essential. Sandals and open-toe shoes are not recommended (and not even allowed on the Hard Hat Tour on Ellis Island).

Big crowds at the Statue of Liberty Ferry
Rain or sunshine, when you wait for a ferry, you might be standing outside for a while…

11. Don’t rush, and make the most of your visit!

If you decide to visit the Statue of Liberty, do all the research, book tickets weeks in advance, get through security lines, and brave the crowds on the ferries, be sure that it’s worth it!

To make the most of your experience, spend some time on both – Liberty and Ellis Islands and visit all the places that are included in your ticket. Explore the museums, watch the free movies, join one of the tours, or get an audio guide and learn some history of this remarkable place!

The Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island is a must-see! It has great exhibits on the statue’s history, construction, and symbolism. They also run a short movie, in three parts, so you walk from one room to another. It’s really well done.

In addition, don’t miss the museum’s rooftop terrace. It provides stunning views of the statue and the Manhattan skyline.

Ellis Island, often overshadowed by its iconic neighbor, is a treasure trove of history. The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration provides a moving narrative of the immigrant experience in America. Take some time to explore its exhibits and reflect on this critical chapter of American history.

We also recommend watching the short film! It seems to be completely overlooked by most visitors. While it was crowded on Ellis Island when we visited, there were just a handful of people at the theater…

READ ALSO: Detailed Itinerary for One Week in NYC

Statue of Liberty foot model at the museum on Liberty Island
The Statue of Liberty Museum is well worth a visit!

Following these tips will help ensure your visit to the Statue of Liberty is as enjoyable and memorable as possible. Whether you’re there to soak in the history, marvel at the architecture, or enjoy the views, a bit of planning truly makes all the difference.

Enjoy your trip!

NYC Travel Guides:

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How to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from New York City, USA

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