Are you stuck between the New York Pass and the Go New York Explorer Pass? This article will help you figure out which of the two attraction passes is the one best for you. We have compared the New York Pass and the Explorer Pass and fill you in on all commonalities and differences.
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Which is better, the New York Pass vs. Go New York Explorer Pass?
The New York Pass and the Explorer Pass are among the most popular sightseeing passes in New York. While the offer of attractions is almost identical, both passes still feature different strengths and weaknesses, which makes the battle between the New York Pass vs. Explorer Pass even more exciting! There is no general answer as to which pass is the best pass. It all depends on your personal preferences. We will take a closer look at the two passes, which will make it easy for you to spot the differences and make your final decision.
What do both sightseeing passes have in common?
The Go New York Explorer Pass and the New York Pass have two things in common: Both passes can save you a lot of money and their attraction offers are almost identical.
Both passes include over 90+ attractions and tours, including:
- Ferry to the Statue of Liberty
- Top of the Rock
- Empire State Building
- One World Observatory
- Bike rentals for Central Park
- Circle Line Cruises
- Hop-on hop-off bus tours operated by Big Bus
- Major museums such as the Guggenheim, The Met, the MoMA and the American Museum of Natural History
None of the two attraction passes currently include admission to Edge or the Vessel.
How to use both passes:
The handling of both passes is completely the same and very simple. Once booked, you will receive your pass via email. You can then decide to print it or simply have it ready on your mobile phone to present it at your selected attractions. Once scanned for the first time, your pass will be activated. Depending on which pass you choose, you will then have a certain number of days or attractions left to visit. This will also lead us to the major differences between the New York Pass and Explorer Pass.
Differences between New York Pass and Explorer Pass
Even though both passes offer almost identical attractions and tours, there is a fundamental difference in how they are used: The New York Pass is a day-based pass and the Go New York Explorer Pass is an attraction-based pass. Let this graphic help you understand the difference:
- As a New York Pass holder, you choose how many days you want your pass valid for. It is available for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 consecutive days. Let’s say you choose the New York Pass for 3 days. Once you visit your first attraction and your NY Pass is scanned, you have three days to visit many more attractions. There is no restriction as to how many attractions you visit, as long as you stay within the three days. An easy way to describe the New York Pass is “all you can eat”. Just imagine a buffet of attractions that you have a 3-day pass for!
- As a Go New York Explorer Pass holder, on the other hand, you do not decide how many days you want to do sightseeing but how many attractions you want to see. The pass is available for 3, 4, 5, 7 and 11 attractions. If you decide to choose the Explorer Pass for five attractions and visit Top of the Rock, you can still visit four more attractions. After visiting your first attraction, you’ll have 30 days to visit your remaining attractions. The pass allows you to be more flexible in your timing.
How to find out which pass suits you best
If you want to choose between the New York Pass and the Go New York Explorer Pass, you just need to know which type of travel you prefer. Do you like a compact itinerary and want to get a lot of sightseeing done or do you want to stay flexible and have the option to change plans until the day of?
New York Pass: As travel type 1, your itinerary would be very compact. New York visitors identify as type 1 will visit as many sights as possible at once and after that enjoy some free time. You can enjoy about 3-4 attractions a day without stressing yourself. I wouldn’t recommend more than that!
Explorer Pass: Travel type 2 spreads the attractions over a longer period of time. Typically, you wouldn’t visit more than 1-2 sights per day.
Price comparison between the New York Pass and Explorer Pass
Number of days
Number of attractions
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Theoretically, you can save more money with the New York Pass because your savings per attraction increase, the more attractions you visit. The savings with the Explorer Pass, on the other hand, don’t change once you selected your pass. Generally speaking, however, Explorer Pass offers lower prices.
If you have more time in New York and want to see more, the New York Pass might be worthwhile. For example, if you choose the New York Pass for 5 days, you can create 15-20 attractions during this time. With the Explorer Pass, however, 10 attractions are already the maximum.
In addition, with the New York Pass, you can spontaneously visit as many attractions as you can at no extra cost. With the Explorer Pass, the maximum number of attractions remains fixed, but you have 30 relaxing days for your visit.
New York Pass vs. Explorer Pass: which one is the best?
To find out if the New York Pass or the Explorer Pass is better, let’s compare them based on 7 important factors. Here we go, may the battle begin.
Round 1: Number of attractions
When looking closely, the New York Pass offers a few more attractions and tours compared to the Go Explorer Pass. Yet, we have to say that both passes include all major attractions and the difference is only a few tours that may not even be very interesting to first-time visitors. Both passes deserve a point!
Round 2: Number of Fast Lanes
Fast Lanes are express counters that can help you avoid waiting in line. The New York Pass includes more fast tracks than the Explorer Pass and therefore scores another point.
Fast tracks included in the New York Pass:
- Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
- Surrey Rental on Governors Island
Round 3: (Hop-on Hop-off) bus tours
The New York Pass and the Explorer Pass both offer hop-on-hop-off tours operated b Big Bus. You get a 1-day ticket that you can use for the Uptown and Downtown loops. Both passes also offer you a trip to the popular Woodbury Shopping Outlet. Because they include these tours, both passes deserve a point. In addition to the Uptown and Downtown loops, however, you can also do a night tour if you are an Explorer Pass holder. We decided to give the Explorer Pass an extra point for that as the night tour is very popular.
Comparison 4: Cruises
We love cruises in NYC! Both passes work with the largest and best-known cruise provider Circle Line. Sounds good so far, right? Unfortunately, there is a key difference in their offers: with the New York Pass, you can only choose one tour by Circle Line – with the Explorer Pass you are not limited. The result? Another point for the Explorer Pass!
Comparison 5: Making reservations
With both passes, you are completely flexible. You don’t need to know beforehand what you want to see that day. You can always make plans spontaneously. The weather doesn’t play along? Then there will be more museums on the itinerary! The weather is great? Go for a cruise or another outdoor activity!
Comparison 6: Order process & pick up
The Explorer Pass and New York Pass offer mobile pick up, meaning you can simply download your pass onto your smartphone. It only takes a few seconds and you’ll be all set for the rest of the trip. Both passes are easy to order and pick up.
Comparison 7: Pricing
Both attraction passes deserve a point when it comes to pricing. The New York Pass as a huge potential. The more attractions you visit, the bigger the savings. If you only visit one attraction with the New York Pass, however, that will be quite an expensive one! The Explorer Pass also saves you a lot of money. When choosing a pass, divide the amount by the number of attractions and see what the cost per attraction is. Again, the larger the pass, the more money you save.
Our Final Verdict: New York Pass or Go New York Explorer Pass?
The New York Pass
Go NYC Pass
The Explorer Pass wins the battle, though it was a close call.
My personal opinion
Personally, I prefer flexible passes like the Explorer Pass or Sightseeing Pass Flex, as I can spread the attractions over multiple days. I also like to be able to change plans in case the weather conditions aren’t favorable. That being said, however, it doesn’t mean that the Explorer Pass is also the best choice for you. A New York Pass can be particularly useful for first-time visitors that want to make the most of their trip!
If you are uncertain, check out our Savings Calculator. All you have to do is select attractions and tours and the tool will tell you which pass will yield you the largest savings. Isn’t it easy?!
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I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 20 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On this blog, I want to share everything I have learned and discovered, so you can have the best time in the greatest city in the world!