How to Visit the Statue of Liberty in New York: Ultimate Guide

For some reason (perhaps the fact that it’s one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world?!) I thought it would be easy to figure out how to visit the Statue of Liberty in New York. But somehow the internet failed me. As did my guidebooks. So, I ended up stitching together the details – Statue of Liberty reservations, where to get my Statue of Liberty tickets, the Statue of Liberty ferry route, Statue of Liberty timings and all the rest of it – from lots of websites and forums.

After researching and visiting, I’m sharing in one easy place all the information I wished I had about how to visit the Statue of Liberty.

It’s a lot of info so I’ve broken it down into:

  • Pros and cons of taking a Statue of Liberty tour versus doing it yourself
  • How to visit the Statue of Liberty with a tour or sightseeing pass
  • How to visit the Statue of Liberty without a tour, including how to get tickets and take the ferry
  • Practical tips for visiting the Statue of Liberty like security and food and how long you need
  • What to see at the Statue of Liberty (the fun bit!)
  • How to see the Statue of Liberty for free (this is at the end because it’s not as good as going to Liberty Island)

Here’s a more detailed list of what’s in this post to help you jump to the bits you need. I think this is a pretty extensive guide but if you want more info, drop me a question in the comments below. And most of all, enjoy. To visit the Statue of Liberty can be a chore to plan but is absolutely worth it. 

What's in this post

Visit the Statue of Liberty – The easy option (TL;DR)

If you’re short on time (research time or time in New York), you’re almost certainly going to want to take a tour. Your guide will sort out the tickets, ferries and take you on a guided tour of Liberty and Ellis Island. All you need to do is turn up at the meeting point. 

My suggestion: book this Statue of Liberty tour. It’s the one I suggest to my friends. The tour has a few options. I reccommend you take the 9 a.m., 4-hour tour with priority line access so you skip the crowds and queues. Also, opt for Pedestal Access if you want to go inside the Statue of Liberty (there is an elevator or 215 steps). Price $49.

You can’t upgrade to Crown Access (take the 162 steps – no elevator – all the way into the Crown) with this tour but I went into the crown and wasn’t that impressed – it’s a lot of steps in a very tight space. Crown tickets are very hard to get hold of so most tours don’t offer it. If you want to access the Crown, you’ll have to arrange the trip yourself, but don’t worry, I have all the info you need below. 

Is it better to take a tour of the Statue of Liberty?

A lot of travel bloggers will tell you that they never take tours, as though its somehow beneath them to travel in such a ‘touristy’ way.

Stuff that.

I’ve been on lots of tours and they very often give a more enhanced experience. However, that’s not always the case and if you’re able to go it alone (and save some dollars in the process), why not?

In the case of visiting the Statue of Liberty, I’d say that either way is fine. Here are the benefits of both.

Benefits of booking a Statue of Liberty tour

  • It’s so much easier – you’ll save yourself a lot of time and stress, especially working out the best timing – your tour guide will give you a meeting time, that’s it. 
  • You get an expert guide to share the history and fun facts about the Statue of Liberty.
  • Although it costs more than booking it yourself, it’s still very affordable (most guided tours are around $60)
  • Tickets sell out fast – booking onto a tour can be a good last-minute option

Benefits of visiting the Statue of Liberty without a tour

  • It’s cheaper.
  • You can wander at your own pace.
  • With my instructions below on how to get tickets and get around the islands, I have everything you need in this article to create your own Statue of Liberty tour.
  • When you get to Liberty Island there is a superb free Ranger tour you can join (details below) that gives even the nerdiest of visitors (puts hand up) the facts and figures they need. 

However, for those who would prefer to keep their visit as easy as possible from the outset, there are also a number of highly-rated guided tours on offer.

Statue of Liberty Tickets: Standard, Pedestal or Crown Access?

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I was so lucky those arrows were flying past when I took this pic 🙂

All tickets and guided tours categorise tickets according to whether you get Standard, Pedastal or Crown access. Here I explain the difference to help you decide which Statue of Liberty tickets to reserve. 

In short:

  • standard access (also known as Reserve Tickets) means you can go to Liberty Island but you can’t go inside the Statue of Liberty
  • pedestal access means you can access the pedestal, the ‘brown concrete’ part of the Statue of Liberty structure
  • crown access is…well, access to the crown, the highest accessible point inside the Statue of Liberty.

How accessible are the pedestal and crown?

To the top of the pedestal: There is an elevator that will take you to the top of the pedestal which you might want to consider taking given the alternative is climbing 215 steps. That said, if you’re fit and able, the climb gives you access to a few more viewing stages compared to the elevator, which spits you out at the top viewing platform.

To the crown: From the top of the pedestal to the crown there is NO ELEVATOR. Instead, you have to climb 162 steps, and they’re not the most appealing steps either – you’re in an enclosed spiral staircase the entire way. I’m not trying to put you off – I’m sure you’ll be able to do it at a steady pace, hold on tight and don’t let impatient idiots rush you. Oh, and if you’re taking kids up there, they must be at least 4 ft tall (to be honest, at 5ft tall I only just fit the height requirement!) and be able to walk unaided.

how to visit the statue of liberty stairs to the crown

This is a picture of the spiral staircase you need to climb from the pedestal to the crown – I’m looking at it from above (against all popular advice to ‘don’t look down!’)

If you’re not feeling in peak fitness, taking the elevator to the top of the pedestal combined with the climb to the crown is a great compromise.

If you have accessibility questions, you can find out more here. For more general questions about Crown Access, see here.

Is Statue of Liberty Crown Access worth it?

Honestly? I’d say not really. Apart from the climb being exceptionally vertiginous, when you get to the top, the ‘peep holes’ for views over Manhattan were i) a lot smaller than I expected; ii) made out of perspex and therefore too scratched for great visuals (or photos); iii) in hot demand, so there’s a lot of pressure to have a look and kindly move on; iv) experienced whilst scrunched into hot, tight spot with a bunch of strangers.

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These are the tiny ‘peep holes’ you get to look out of inside the crown of the Statue of Liberty – don’t they look like they’d be bigger when you see pictures of them? Also, check out the etching on the perspex. Photo ruining vandals are the worst.

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This is one of the views you get from inside the crown – not as impressive as I thought it would be and makes for ‘meh’ photos.

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Now let’s compare that Crown Access photo above to this photo that I took from outside on the pedestal.

All in, I’d say that pedestal access would have done me and I wouldn’t be majorly disappointed if you can’t bag one of the highly coveted Crown tickets for your trip.

Book Statue of Liberty Tours

As I’ve mentioned above, taking a Statue of Liberty tour is a very good option because it’s pretty complicated to plan it on your own and the tours aren’t that much more expensive. If you absolutely must access the crown, you’ll have to plan the trip yourself so you can skip past this section. 

Here are my suggested tour options in order of recommendation (prices might change so check before booking).

Tickets with guided tours of the Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour with Pedestal Access Option, price $49. There are a few options. I suggest booking the 9 a.m., 4-hour, priority line tour with Pedestal Access. All you need to do is turn up at the meeting point and your tickets, ferries and guided tour of Liberty Island and Ellis Island are all included and planned for you.

*Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Early Access Tour, price $74. This is the same itinerary as the tour above so if that one is full, book this one. It doesn’t get you access any earlier than the other tours (it’s just a normal early morning tour) but it is with an awesome company, Walks of… who I love and have used a lot both in New York and Italy. 

*Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Pre-Ferry Tour, price $60. This tour is a little different. You don’t get Pedestal Access but you do get a 30 minute history tour before you board the ferry. You can choose to take the audio guide around Liberty and Ellis Island or upgrade to a guided tour with the same tour guide. This is a good and popular option is you don’t care about Pedestal Access and want to explore on your own but want someone to sort the tickets, ferries and timings for you.

*Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island & 9/11 Memorial, price $115. Similar to the above tours, you get a guide who arranges your tickets, ferries and guides you around both islands. In addition, when you get off the ferry at the end of your tour, you get access to the 9/11 Memorial. I’ve been in the museum and it was harrowing but at the same time an essential part of New York history. As above, I recommend adding the Pedestal Access and taking the 9 a.m. tour. 

Cruise (or helicopter) around the Statue of Liberty

60-Minute Cruise Around The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, price $30. A brilliant compromise if you don’t want (or can’t get hold of tickets) to go to Liberty Island. This cruise will get you within 100 feet of the Statue of Liberty and also takes you under the Brooklyn Bridge. If you’re torn between the Staten Island ferry (free but far away from the Statue of Liberty) and Statue of Liberty tickets, book this cheap tour. Includes a guided history. 

*Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Cruise, price $40. Pretty much the same 60-minute tour as above except you can listen to the sound of silence – there is no commentary on the boat, which might suit some people better. 

City Lights Experience – Helicopter tour over NYC by Night, price $244. If you’re looking to see the Statue of Liberty from a different angle, take a helicopter tour. As well as seeing the Statue of Liberty illuminated at night, you’ll see the Empire State Building, the One World Trade Centre and the Financial District. Great for a special occasion or once in a lifetime experience in New York.

Visit the Statue of Liberty With A Sightseeing Pass

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She eventually used her big flame to burn away those thick clouds.

A number of sightseeing passes include a visit to the Statue of Liberty.

The downside – what the pass gives you is not as good as booking a tour (above) or doing it yourself (below). Why?

  • You get a Reserve Ticket only. That means, you don’t have a time slot – you just turn up on the day and line up at the ticket window to exchange/show your pass for a ticket.
  • As you don’t get priority access in the queues, I’d definitely recommend turning up early.
  • To get Pedestal Access, you’ll need to see what’s available on the day on a first come, first served basis, which doesn’t present a great chance of success, especially not in peak season.
  • Crown Access isn’t included so you’ll need to buy a ticket like everyone else and you can’t deduct the $19.25 Reserve Ticket that’s included in your pass from the ticket price. Out of the passes, only CityPass seems to ‘compensate’ you for this – if you choose not to use the Statue of Liberty element of your pass, *you can swap it for a 2-hour Circle Line Cruise. Yay CityPass!

The upside – you’ve already paid for it, so it’s not a bad option if you just want to go to Liberty Island and see Lady Liberty up close.

Here are some of the main sightseeing passes offering a visit to the Statue of Liberty

*New York City Pass (around $136)

*The Sightseeing Pass (around $69)

*New York City Explorer Pass (around $130)

The New York Pass (around $109)

The passes can be great value if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing for attractions. They typically give free entry to many of the big attractions like the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building as well as discounts on other attractions and tours. I always find the passes encourage me to see more. There are usually also freebies or discounts at selected bars, restaurants and entertainment.

Visiting Without A Tour – Buying Tickets

In this section I’ll cover how to visit the Statue of Liberty in New York by yourself i.e. how to get to Liberty Island – there’s quite a lot of information in here but as you’ll come to realise, getting to see Lady Liberty isn’t quite as simple as turn up, buy ticket, take photo.

Stick with me. I’ll try to make it as painless as possible.

How do I book Statue of Liberty tickets?

Liberty Island and nearby Ellis Island are part of the National Park Service and are therefore free to enter BUT you still need to get there by taking the Statue of Liberty ferry, which is basically what the ticket price covers. By the way – the Staten of Liberty Ferry and the Ellis Island Ferry are the same ferry. I show a map below.

There is only one official ferry company that’s allowed to ‘land’ you on the islands – Statue Cruises.

The official Statue Cruises website is here.

A word of warning about ticket touts…

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I’d highly recommend book directly with statue cruises. If you don’t, you’ll end up paying more dollars for..well, no reason other than the ticket company’s profits. As an example, the above company charges $25 (Reserve and Pedestal) and $28 (Crown) for what should be $19.25 and $22.25 tickets. You don’t even get a free bumper sticker thrown in.

Stick with the official provider: Statue Cruises.

Can I buy official Statue of Liberty tickets offline?

In addition to making Statue of Liberty reservations online, you can buy official tickets:

  • By calling 1-877-LADY-TIX (1-877-523-9849) or 201-604-2800;
  • At Castle Clinton (the Manhattan departure point) in Battery Park (open 7:45 AM to 5 PM).

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What type of Statue of Liberty tickets can I buy?

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There are 3 ticket types to choose from for visiting the Statue of Liberty:

  • Reserve Ticket $19.25 –  This ticket includes the ferry rides to Liberty Island and Ellis Island as well as access to the immigration museum on Ellis Island. You can walk around the grounds of the Statue of Liberty and get excellent photo opportunities but you cannot go inside the statue.
  • Reserve Ticket with Pedestal Access $19.25 – this ticket is the same as above except you are able to go inside the Statue of Liberty up to the top of the pedestal. You’ll notice the cost is the same as a reserve ticket so if this ticket option is available, go for it over the reserve ticket.
  • Reserve Ticket with Crown Access $22.25 – there’s some pun in here about this being the crowning glory of the ticket options…but we’ll gloss over that. However, this is the most highly coveted ticket you can get because you get to ascend the Statue of Liberty all the way into the crown. However, you must, must, must have a stomach for heights, winding stairs and tight spaces. Also, see my thoughts below on whether Crown Access is all that great.

You’re required to book a time-slot of 9 am, 10 am, 11 am, 12 pm and 1 pm (more on that below).

All three tickets offer ‘priority’ boarding/access at the security clearance – it’s not clear, but I presume that this is priority compared to people who have a city sightseeing pass and didn’t book their tickets direct.

With all tickets you get a free audio tour and/or Ranger tour.

A few practical points:

For Crown tickets

  • You can only buy 4 tickets per transaction so be prepared to ‘checkout’ more than once if your party is larger.
  • You can only buy tickets once every 6 months (I guess this is aimed at touts).
  • Tickets have your name on them so you can’t transfer them/sell them if you can’t go.

For all tickets:

  • Concession prices are available for students, elderly and children. Kids under 4 go free.
  • Anyone 17 or under must be accompanied by an adult.

What about Statue of Liberty Flex Tickets?

Honestly, I would see these as a last resort. What is a flex ticket? It’s a ticket you can buy on the day that is valid at any time for 3 days. Sounds ideal. It’s not. Here’s why:

  • There’s no guaranteeing these tickets will be available on the day, which means a ticket queue for nothing, burning through valuable time in New York.
  • Since you don’t have a reserved time to see the Statue of Liberty, you have to join the general admission queue which is the longest line to board the ferry.
  • You cannot go inside the Statue of Liberty and can’t upgrade your access in any way. Fine if you’re not that fussed but a lot of people don’t realise this restriction.

Statue of Liberty Timings – which slot should I book?

Assuming you have the full choice of time-slots for the day you’re looking at, I’d recommend the 9 a.m. slot (and this from the girl who isn’t a morning person). Why?

  • being on one of the first ferries to arrive on Liberty Island, you’ll be able to explore in relative peace and quiet. As the day goes on and people linger, the crowds grow. I’ve got a section on the Statue of Liberty ferries below.
  • you’ll also then be on one of the first Ellis Island ferries, again avoiding the masses.
  • it gives you the best chance of seeing what you want to see without rushing. After visiting both islands, I was back in Manhattan by mid-afternoon. Any later ticket and I’d have been pressed for time.
  • even according to the official Statue Cruises website, booking the 1 p.m. slot will not give you enough time to visit both Liberty Island and Ellis Island.

What does my Statue of Liberty time-slot mean?

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View from the Statue of Liberty ferry looking back over Battery Park – that’s the beautiful new World Trade Centre (with the antenna) if you haven’t seen it before.

This bit really confused me. I had booked a ticket for the 9:00am but it wasn’t in the slightest bit clear what that actually meant. Was it the time I needed to collect my ticket? Was it the time I needed to ‘check-in’ i.e. show my ticket and go through security? Was it my Liberty Island ferry time? Was it the time I needed to be on Liberty Island for my Crown Access slot?

Checking the ferry schedule only confused things further as none of the ferry times corresponded with ticketed time-slots.

Add the fact that the Statue Cruises website recommends that you turn up 30-minutes in advance of your slot and you can see why I was pulling my hair out.

So, what’s the deal?

In the end, I turned up at the Departure Point (in Battery Park) at 8:30am, which turned out to be the right guess. I collected my ticket, had it checked, skipped through security (just kidding – like anyone ever skipped through a USA security check) and then boarded the ferry.

All in, there was little drama surrounding the timing of the ticket, which I came to realise was more indicative than strict. Still, I wouldn’t over or undershoot your time-slot by too much. Plus, by turning up early, you can get a good spot on the ferry.

Top Tip: If you’re after great ‘approach’ shots of the Statue of Liberty, on the Liberty Island ferry from Battery Park, go to the third level on the right .

How far in advance should I reserve Statue of Liberty tickets?

Around 4 million people visit the Statue of Liberty each year, which is a pretty good way of saying – book as far in advance as you can. In fact, at the time of writing, Crown tickets were sold out solidly for the following 3 months. So, booking 3 to 4 months in advance is recommended.

Pedestal tickets, on the other hand, tend to have more availability and can generally be booked for the following week (but don’t count on that over holidays and popular dates).

All that said, don’t let a 3-month ‘sold out’ status deter you. I booked in September and was able to get a Crown Access ticket for just 10 days later. This may have been a fluke and I was booking that rare ticket for one (cue: violins), but it’s still worth checking.

Can I buy Statue of Liberty tickets on the day?

Crown Access tickets are not available on the day. You can buy both the Reserve Ticket and Pedestal Access tickets on the day but Pedestal Access tickets are highly likely to be unavailable on the day. If you do try, make sure you buy them at one of the departure points as they’re not available from Liberty Island.

How do I collect my Statue of Liberty tickets?

How you get hold of your tickets depends on what you’ve booked:

Reserve Access and Pedestal Access: when you book online, you have a choice of receiving your tickets by email to print at home or picking them up either on the day or in advance from the ticket booth (known as Will Call). There is no price difference for either option so I’d recommend printing the tickets yourself as it’s hard to predict how long you may have to queue to collect them in person.

Crown Access Tickets: regardless of how you book, you must collected Crown tickets in person from the Will Call window at your departure point.

Note: if you pick up tickets at the Will Call window, you’ll need photo ID and the credit card you booked with.

Visiting Without A Tour – Statue of Liberty Ferries

To get to the Statue of Liberty, you need to take a ferry. If you’ve booked a guided tour, your tour guide will arrange all of this for you. If you book tickets direct, here’s what you need to know. 

Do I need to book the Statue of Liberty ferry separately?

All of the Statue of Liberty tickets include the cost of your ferry to Liberty Island, Ellis Island and back to your departure point so you don’t need to book ferries separately or pay any extra.

Where does the Statue of Liberty ferry leave from?

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When you buy tickets to visit the Statue of Liberty, you’re offered two departure points:

  • New Jersey (Liberty State Park)
  • New York (Battery Park)

The ferries run to a schedule and basically run in a loop as follows:

  • Battery Park – Liberty Island – Ellis Island – Battery Park
  • Liberty State Park – Liberty Island – Ellis Island – Liberty State Park

Here are the routes in graphic form:

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Credit: Statue Cruises

You can check out the full departure schedule here.

The key thing to check when you re-board the ferry at Ellis Island is which departure point you’re returning too – you don’t want to end up on the wrong side of the water.

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If you’re departing from Battery Park (as most tourists will), head to Statue Cruises LLC as shown on the map above (this is also Clinton Castle on Google Maps, just to confuse you)! It’s a 5-minute walk from Bowling Green Subway or 10 minutes from Whitehall Subway. Broadstreet and Wall Street Subways are also close.

Top Tip: Free New York Subway Map App – You can find my all-time favourite subway map app here for Apple and here for Android. The apps is free, can be used offline and will plan routes for you.

Statue of Liberty ferry timings – things to note

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  • The ferries start at 8:30 a.m. (first ferries leaving Battery Park and Liberty State Park) and run until around 5:45 p.m. (peak season)/ 5:00 p.m. (low season).
  • However, those later timing are for return to your Departure Point. The last Liberty Island ferry leaves at 4:00 p.m. (peak season) and 3:30 p.m. (low season).
  • The ferry service is also limited towards the end of the day with the last ferries offering access to Liberty Island (from Battery Park) or a choice of Liberty Island or Ellis Island (New Jersey).
  • Unhelpfully, the ferry schedules differ between the National Parks Service website and the Statue Cruises website. If you expect to be there late in the day, check with the Statue of Liberty ferry hours with the ferry operators or at the information centre on Liberty Island.

Liberty Island and Ellis Island are open 364 days a year – the exception is Christmas Day. 

New York Travel Tip: If Niagara Falls is also on your bucket list, Consider going from Buffalo (in New York State) for only $5! See how to do it here.

Are Liberty Island and Ellis Island ferries both included in my ticket?

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Ellis Island – the Island of Hope and Tears.

You’ve already picked up on this I’m sure but your ticket to visit the Statue of Liberty actually provides you with access to two islands:

  • Liberty Island – for the Statue of Liberty; and
  • Ellis Island – which, in the words of Statue cruises, “Ellis Island, ‘known as the ‘Island of Hope and Tears’, was the largest gateway for millions of immigrants looking for a new beginning and a new life for their families in America.”

Visiting Ellis Island is obviously as optional extra and if you don’t want to visit, just head straight back to Battery Park or Liberty State Park after you’re done seeing the Statue of Liberty. That said, I’d highly recommend taking the time to see both.

So, that’s what you need to know about visiting the Statue of Liberty without a tour.

If all of that – the ticket buying and ferry planning suddenly feels like too much effort, the tour I recommended above (with Pedestal Access, skip the line priority and a guided tour on both islands) is good value at $50

Statue of Liberty – Practical Tips for Your Visit

Want to get the most of your day, here’s some practical tips for when you visit the Statue of Liberty. Pay particular attention to the security rules. 

Security rules to visit the Statue of Liberty

The Statue Cruises website warns visitors that they’ll need to go through ‘airport grade’ security but don’t worry it’s not nearly as rigorous as what you’ll go through at the airport.

Security to board the Statue of Liberty Ferry

You do need to go through a scanner to get onto the ferry at your initial departure point but it seems like they’re scanning for weapons rather than liquids and iPads. The list of prohibited items is: weapons, scissors, sharp implements or tools, luggage, packages and parcels and face masks or costumes that can conceal your identity (with great regret I put my Batwoman costume back in my suitcase for another day).

Security to enter the statue of liberty 

If you have Pedestal or Crown Tickets you need to go through an additional security check which largely involved checking for ID (for Crown Access) and making sure you put your possessions in a locker before ascending into the statue (both Crown Access and Pedestal Access tickets).

Photo identification for Crown Tickets

For Crown tickets you’ll need to bring photo identification. I used my driving license and passports would be acceptable, too. Beyond that, I can’t find official information about what ID will or won’t be accepted though the main thing that was checked on the day was whether the name on my ID matched my ticket. ID is required for every person with a ticket, not just the person who booked.  However, ‘minors without ID’ apparently don’t need to show ID but again there is no clarity on what ‘minor’ – I’d guess under 18s?

Lockers for Pedestal and Crown Tickets

beware that once again the Statue Cruises website and the National Park Service website give inconsistent details on what you will or won’t be allowed to take inside the statue for Pedestal Access and Crown tickets. The Statue Cruises website says you have to put backpacks, strollers and large umbrellas in lockers. In practice (and according to the NPS website), you can’t take anything inside the statue apart from one camera, drinking water and necessary medication. Fortunately, there are plenty of lockers right there at the entry to the Statue, large and small, costing $2 for 2 hours.

Food and Drink at the Statue of Liberty

Food is a big part of my travels and sadly the only good thing I have to say about the food situation during my visit to the Statue of Liberty was that there was food (the only thing worse than bad food is no food)…oh, and the serving lady on Ellis Island was lovely and cheerful.

On a more objective/factual note, food concessions are available on the ferry and at both islands. As you can imagine, the prices are higher than you’d pay if you were not at a major tourist attraction, but costs aren’t prohibitive.

The food on the ferries was largely snack-based – coffee, coke, chips, hotdogs. I only visited the Ellis Island cafe where a bunch of sandwiches, salads and other lunch food was on offer. It was ok but nothing to write home about.

In hindsight, I’d have packed a picnic of a nice deli sandwich from somewhere in Manhattan and I’d recommend you do the same. Oh, and pack plenty of snacks and water because it can be a long day that requires plenty of refuelling.

You might also like me guide to: Finding Good Italian Food in New York City

How long does a Statue of Liberty tour take?

Visiting both Liberty Island and Ellis Island, climbing into the crown, a quick coffee and sandwich break to refuel and a relatively quick look around the immigration museum on Ellis Island took me about six hours from arrival at the departure point in Battery Park. From the research I’ve done online, that’s about standard. 

However, if you visit during peak season, add extra time (to the tune of hours) for security checks and ferry queues, which can add an extra 90 minutes per ferry ride in peak season (April to September).

If, on the other hand, you visit in low-season and are ‘efficient’ with your time and don’t climb up to the crown, you could probably cut this down to half a day. In other words, don’t dismiss a visit to the Statue of Liberty just because you’re short on time while you’re in New York.

The guided tours will have you done in about four hours (because the guides know the timetables and can navigate the queues like the experts they are) so if you only want to commit to a half-day at the Statue of Liberty, book a tour

Official Statue of Liberty Websites

The two official sites for more information about how to visit the Statue of Liberty are the National Park Service website and Statue Cruises Website. Out of the two, the National Park Service site is much more informative, accurate and up to date.

Highlights of a visit to the Statue of Liberty

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Mr Ranger. Did a top job. And looks like every stereotype I have in my head for what a Ranger should look like, so extra points for that.

  • The ranger tour of Liberty Island was by far one of the biggest highlights of my visit, which surprised me. With just enough facts and figures and history to get you started, I’d opt for this human tour over listening to the audio guide (though both are included for free). Tours leave on the hour from the information office and take only 30 minutes. You can find out more about the ranger led Statue of Liberty tours here.
  • Standing underneath the Statue of Liberty and looking up – you’re not going to get that view anywhere else.
  • Views across New York Harbor towards Manhattan on the Liberty Island ferry – the views across New York Harbor, taking in Manhattan are unlike any you’ll get elsewhere.
  • The immigration museum on Ellis Island – for years and several trips to New York I didn’t bother visiting the Statue of Liberty because I thought my time would be poorly used seeing nearby Ellis Island. Oh, how wrong I was. Even if you’re not fascinated by immigration (as most people aren’t), this is genuinely one fascinating island. Tell yourself you’ll give it just an hour. I bet you end up giving it more. Also great for understanding a lot of US history.

How To See the Statue of Liberty For Free

I mentioned at the beginning that there is an option to see (or more accurately, sail past at a distance) the Statue of Liberty for free. If you’re short on time or on a budget, it’s a valid option. And until around my sixth visit to New York, it’s the only way I’d seen Lady Liberty. All you have to do is sit on the 25 minute (one-way) ferry to Staten Island. You can find full details for how to do that here.

The Staten Island Ferry

I’ve left it until the end to talk about how to see the Statue of Liberty for free. The most popular options is taking the Staten Island Ferry. I did this on my first trip to New York and I was satisfied with it. However, having since visited Liberty Island (the place the lady in green calls home), I’d highly recommend the paid option.

Why? Well, I’ll let the photos answer that…

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Here’s a photo of the best view I got of the Statue of Liberty from the free Staten Island Ferry. This was taken a bunch of years ago on a standard point and shoot digital camera.

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Compare that to this picture which I took from Liberty Island with my iPhone 5. Exactly.

A mid-way option between the free Staten Island ferry and stepping foot on the islands themselves is to take a paid cruise which sails within 100 feet of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

The 60-Minute cruise takes you past the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and under the Brooklyn Bridge while offering great views across the Lower Manhattan skyline from both the east and the west sides. There’s also the option to take the cruise at sunset.

Seeing the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park

Some people also want to know: can you see the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park?. The answer is yes but it’s a very distant view and you’ll want some binoculars (I have a small set of travel binoculars that are perfect for trips – check them out here). If you have time, the Staten Island Ferry will get you closer without having to pay anything. If you do have the time and are happy to pay a bit, definitely go to Liberty Island. 

Fun Statue of Liberty Facts

The Statue of Liberty was officially called Liberty Enlightening the World and was a joint endeavour by France and the USA to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Lady Liberty was a bit late (10 years) but was finally dedicated on October 28 1886.

Did you know that the man who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris is also the man who helped design inside the statue of Liberty, Mr Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel. Meanwhile, Edouard Rene de Laboulaye is know as the father of the Statue of Liberty because he is the French politician who came up with the idea of this wonderful gift in the first place.

I know it’s not polite to discuss a lady’s measurements but the Statue of Liberty has a 35 ft waistline. Must be all that New York strip-steak. Makes me feel a bit better about my exanded waistline post New York.

Emma Lazarus is a New York poet who penned the sonnet that is etched into a bronze plaque that sits on the Statue of Liberty Pedestal. You may have heard the most famous part of her Statue of Liberty poem, which says:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Planning Your Trip to New York

Where to stay in New York

On a budget: HI NYC Hostel Hostelling International hostels are as reliable as they come. As well as a great location and all the usual facilities, there’s a great list of social activities to get you involved. Perfect if you’re travelling solo. (If you’re looking for an up and coming area, check out the Local NYC, a design hostel in Queens.

Want a central location: you can’t get a more central spot that the New York Marriott Marquis. Don’t miss the revolving roof top cocktail bar and restaurant. You’ll find a list of alternative hotels in New York here.

My favourite New York Guide Books

Although my guidebooks failed me when I was trying to figure out how to visit the Statue of Liberty, I love the compact size and condensed information in the Lonely Planet Pocket New York City Guide. If you’re looking for a more detailed guide, Lonely Planet has one.

Otherwise, the DK guidebooks for New York are excellent.

I hope that was useful but if you still have any questions (or extra information to share), drop me a line in the comments below…and have a great timing visiting the Statue of Liberty.

Want to reward the author?

I pay for 99% of my trips out of my own pocket. If you found this article helpful and want to make a small donation, it’s appreciated. Even $1 can help me find a new coffee shop or street food stall to recommend. All funds will be poured back into my travels which will be fed back into this blog. Thanks!



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44 thoughts on “How to Visit the Statue of Liberty in New York: Ultimate Guide”

  1. Before reading your article, I had no clue how to visit the statue of liberty cuz of lack of info as you mentioned. You summed up everything so clearly that i just booked my ticket to go there on this Fri and im super sure how to start! Thank you so much for writing this. It’s informative and so fun to read.

    Reply
  2. Great article. Informative and engaging. Quick question. If I book the crown ticket slot for 9am, does that mean everyone else who booked these tickets have to catch the same time ferries at each location ie from battery to liberty island to Ellis island back to battery park? Or can I go at my own pace and catch whichever ferry and at what time I want from liberty to Ellis to back to battery? I don’t want to be stuck in a group and go at my own pace.

    Reply
    • Hi Raj, you can take whatever time ferries you want but your crown access slot is the one allocated. Hope that helps. Have a great trip!

      Reply
  3. I am curious about the time slot itself for the crown access. Once on the island do you just go to the crown access point (which is where? passed the pedestal?) at your allocated time slot? We have crown access booked for mid December. I thought I read somewhere that the slots were then broken down into smaller groups? As you may be able tell I have issue with specific time slots and panic about missing ferries and things that are booked. I much to prefer to fly by the seat of my pants!!!

    Reply
    • Hi Sally, it is confusing! I treated the ticket time (mine was 9 a.m.) as the time to catch the ferry. I turned up at 8:30 a.m. because I didn’t want to fly by the seat of my pants. When I got to Liberty Island, I went straight to the crown and up. I don’t think the timings are as formal as you might think except if you have an afternoon ticket, I doubt you could access any sooner. I hope that helps?

      Reply
  4. Hi Jo, Thanks for a very comprehensive post in Lady Liberty. We are a family of 5 and I have made 2 bookings for crown access. I am just concerned about the 4 per household rule. Will we risk just getting 4 access at the ticket booth? Would I be better to book one more ordinary access for the same time slot? Thanks in advance

    Reply
    • Hi Siobhan, I’ve not tried to buy more than 1 ticket at a time but so long as you have more than 1 transaction, I don’t see why it should be a problem. My guess is that the 4 ticket rule is designed to stop ticket touts buying 1,000 tickets at once. Have a great trip!

      Reply
  5. Hi Jo!

    Thank you for all the helpful info! I just have one question. My friend and I have the 9:00 am ticket slot. I’m looking at the ferry schedules and it says none of the ferries leave Liberty Island or Ellis Island before 4:00 pm. We have a lot of sightseeing we want to do and something planned that evening, so I don’t want to be “stuck” on the islands all day. I know you mentioned that you can leave early, so I’m asking do the ferries stick to their schedule or do they run every certain amount of time? i.e. every hour, etc.

    And if they don’t, is there any other ferry that does run all day?

    Thank you!!

    Reply
  6. Hello and thanks you for all the information. I will be in NY on September 8,2019. For 4 hours, need to be at th JGK airport at 12.
    How long does it take the ferry to get to the liberty island?. I just want to go, take some pics ( spend maybe 30 minutes there) and come back to the battery Park. How often does the ferry leaves from the liberty island to Battery park?.Thank you for your answer.

    Reply
    • Hi Mati, I really think you’d struggle to get back to the airport and see the Statue of Liberty in 4 hours! In fact, I personally wouldn’t venture into the city with only 4 hours to spare – JFK isn’t so close. A quick map search says it will take about 2 hours each way to get to the island and that is without taking queues and train/ferry waiting times into account. Sorry to be a downer but I think you’ll be really pushed for time to the point I don’t think it’s do-able. By all means come back and tell me I was wrong if you did manage it….

      Reply
  7. Great information. Wife and I are looking into a trip to the northeast this fall. Any suggestions on an easy way in and out of the NY area to see the statue? Not big city fans but would like to see the Lady. Not looking forward to driving to the ferries. Would like to drop a rental car and let someone else do the driving. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Gary, New York has amazing public transport. You could arrive by Amtrak and then use the subway to get around. It will probably save you a heap in parking costs too. Check out Rome2Rio.com – one of my favourite route planning websites. That should give you an idea of your route options. Have a great trip.

      Reply
  8. Hey Jo, just wanted to tell how helpful this post is to someone planning to go to Statue of Liberty! i’m thankful for answering the questions that i’m boggling in my head and for all the details you’ve put in this post. Cheers to discovering more great destinations!

    Reply
  9. Thank you for the fantastic information! We are visiting in July and unfortunately could only get a 3:00 pedestal ticket. What time do you think we should arrive at security? Since we will have to sail past Ellis Island without a stop, what time do you think we would arrive back at Battery Park after our time on Liberty Island? I need to book our return bus ticket.

    Reply
    • Hi Sue, sorry for the slow reply! In July, I’d imagine the queues will be pretty long so I’d give yourself plenty of time. You have the bonus of being able to print your ticket in advance as you have pedestal access. Honestly, if it was me and not wanting to miss out, I’d still dedicate a day to this and go early. You could see Ellis Island in the morning and wander around Liberty Island, taking the ranger tour until the time of your pedestal access. If you don’t want to do that, I’d work in a couple of hours just to be sure – you’d hate to time it wrong and miss out! Have a wonderful trip.

      Reply
  10. Hello Jo,

    Thank you for the information and the humour that made it an absolute joy to read! It was very informative and detailed and I love how you included every single aspect that a tourist might have concerns about and answered them in such a meticulous and comprehensive fashion. I was literally asking myself throughout the article “but how bout..” and then it was answered immediately in the next paragraph. Thank you so much!

    Cheers,
    Jamie

    Reply
    • Hi Jamie, thanks for the kind words. I showed the post to a friend once and they skimmed and said ‘it’s very long’ to which I replied and said, ‘but visiting the Statue of Liberty is somehow very complicated’. So, thank you for affirming that this lengthy piece is helpful. Funny is always a bonus ;p

      Reply
  11. Thanks for the info. You’ve saved me from making a huge mistake! I’ll be in New York overnight on 1-2 June this year on my way to Normandy with two friends for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. It will be my first time in the Big Apple and I would have loved to see the Statue of Liberty, but we would have to take the subway for about an hour from our hotel in Queens, get out to Liberty Island, see the sights, then get to JFK by about 6:00 p.m., in addition to trying to see some other sights in Manhattan such as the Empire State Building, Times Square, World Trade Center, 9/11 Memorial, etc. One big factor is that I’m 52, with moderate disabilities from two spinal cord injuries, so I don’t want to get up at 6 a.m. and be awake for at least the next 27 hours! LOL

    I’ve been all over the western U.S., Washington DC, Dallas, New Orleans, London, Paris, Normandy, Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, and Salzburg, but I’ve never been to the largest, most famous city in my own country, and I don’t know if I ever will again, though I would REALLY like to visit the lady of green. Before I read your page, I read the NPS’s page about the statue and I was thinking we might be able to manage it, but I’m now sure that would have been a catastrophic failure, and par for the course for yours truly!

    Therefore, though I wasn’t able to use your tips for a visit, I do think you saved me from making a costly mistake, and for that I truly thank you. If I am able to get back to NYC someday, I’m going to visit the big bronze beauty and I’m sure your info will come in handy.

    Sincerely,
    Terry
    Las Vegas, USA

    Reply
    • Hi Terry, it’s a shame you won’t be able to squeeze it in this trip but honestly sailing past on the Staten Island ferry was enough for my first trip – just being proximate. And this way, you’ll be able to see more of the city. Have a great time in Europe!

      Reply
  12. I just have to say THANK YOU for this post. I’ve been reading and researching about visiting Statue of Liberty for literally an hour. Your review is the first reference I’ve seen to using the Statue Cruise website directly to book tickets. I was all ready to book on the ‘statue of liberty tickets’ website. You literally just saved my family of five $35. I am grateful!! Thanks!

    Reply
  13. Hi there, how do I book a Pedestal tour that begins at 8.00 or 9.00 am leaving from New York I am looking at these dates the 29th June, 30th June, 1st 2nd or 3rd of July this year. I have gone onto Statue Cruises website and it only gives me 11 am as the earliest time on the 2nd but then says I cannot book 3 ppl. The next time is 12.00 midday. I really do not want to get on the ferry at 12.00 midday as we also want to see Ellis Island. Is there any other site or booking company that I can get on an earlier ferry guaranteed before midday preferably by 9 or 10. I guess I’m trying to find out if the tour to the pedestal in the mornings on those dates is totally sold out? At the moment I can still book the tour thru Statue Cruises departing from New Jersey at 9.00 am but it will take me an hour to get there from where we are staying. So confusing please help, many thanks ?

    Reply
  14. Hi Jo,
    I am traveling to New York from the uk, doing Washington DC first (your guide is excellent), I am disabled and my parents are getting on in years they don’t know about this trip, my question is as they don’t know I can’t ask them if they want to got to the crown but I know my mum doesn’t like heights, however my brother & dad don’t mind. How long would it take them to go to the crown if we wait at the bottom for them? We are going to be in New York from the 31st December until the 5th January, is it likely to be very busy as it’s the holidays?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Bev, sorry for the slow reply. As there is a constant stream of people looking to visit the Crown, you’ll naturally moved along anyway. Also, because of the limited tickets, I doubt you’re talking about hours of queue time. That said, I visited on the first ferry and it wasn’t around the New Year. I’ve not travelled at this time of year but I suspect it will be incredibly busy – New York for New Year is on almost every bucket list I’ve seen. I don’t know about your budget but if you can afford to lose a few dollars, I’d recommend buying the Crown access tickets for those of your party who want to go up and see how it is on the day. In my opinion, the Crown wasn’t that impressive. Either way, there is a small place to grab a coffee and a sitdown so you won’t be waiting out in the cold if some of you do go up. I hope that helps and I hope you have an amazing trip!

      Reply
  15. Hi Jo
    Thank you so much for all the info. I found it very helpful. My husband and two teenagers (14 &16) will be arriving in New York from Sydney, Aust on the 28th of December and will be there until the 2nd of January. We have already booked the 9/11 museum tour for the 29th. My question is… is it worth going through companies like Viatour or Get Your Guide to get a more compressive tour of the two islands or are the Rangers and audio tours just as good. Also which day 30/31 Dec or 1Jan do you think would be a better day.
    Cheers, Luise

    Reply
    • Hi Luise, I’m glad you found my article useful. I was very happy with the ranger tour and probably would have found a more detailed tour a bit too much. However, my suspicion is that a paid guide will just reiterate the same facts as the Ranger but for a fee. As much as I love wandering around museums, I don’t think I would have had the patience for a guided tour of Ellis Island. There is just so much of it that a tour could stretch on for half a day. That said, guides are usually pretty upbeat by nature so they might help, particularly with teenagers, to keep things interesting. It’s a tough call – I’d check the reviews (I had a quick look and this one is popular: https://www.getyourguide.com/new-york-l59/statue-of-liberty-and-ellis-island-4-hour-guided-tour-t53542/?partner_id=DDTNHTE). As for the dates, I’d check the public transport options. I know that in London, transport is more patchy on New Year’s Day than New Year’s Eve so you should check if the ferries are working. Otherwise, I imagine New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to be pretty quiet when other people are out planning or recovering from the New Year celebrations. I’d be interesting to know if this plays out so, if you have time to come back and let me know, I’d appreciate it. Have a great trip!

      Reply
  16. Hi Jo!! Great info, thanks for compiling! We will be there on October 25, I’ve read in a few places to expect to stand in very long lines to both get on a ferry as well as getting into the statue. My thought is to make sure we’re there for the first trip over, thus hopefully missing allot of standing and waiting. Three in our party, only two want to go to the crown and the other just to the pedestal. No interest in Ellis Island this trip…. Think that we can do this in 3-4 hours? We have a very short stay in NYC and trying to do several things before we have to leave, so trying to do a schedule ahead of time.

    Thanks again!!
    Rita

    Reply
    • Hi Rita, if you take the first ferry in October, I think you’ll absolutely be able to do it in 3-4 hours. Queues were low when I was there end of September so you should be fine. Have an amazing trip and say hi to Lady Liberty from me.

      Reply
  17. Thank you for this post! Surprisingly, there’s not as much information about a day at the Statue and Ellis Island as I’d hope, so your post was most welcome! Question: With “reserve tickets for the pedestal” do we also get to go in the express lines at the ferry? I’ve noticed that tour groups advertise that there is a “reserve line boarding on the ferry” and I wonder if that’s also what we have if we have a time on our ticket? We’re going in April so crowd are a concern when we only have two days to run through NYC.

    Reply
    • Hi Angie, I know – I thought there’d be tonnes of sites with comprehensive details for visiting. Glad I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t find it. I’ve just checked and according the the Statue Cruises website: “The Reserve Ticket allows you priority entry into the Screening Facility Queue which saves you time at the departure point. Prior to entering the Statue of Liberty National Monument there is a second security screening.” So, yes. You do get to go in the express line. Hope that helps.

      Reply
  18. Jo,
    Statue of Liberty question,
    I always carry an extra medium lens in a fanny pack for my DSLR camera. In your opinion, would I be able to wear that around my waist going up to the crown and not have to leave it behind in a locker. I look at it as that’s my bottle of water around my waist. Meaning, if you can carry a bottle of water up with you, I should be able to wear a small fanny pack up.

    Reply
    • Hi John, in my view, I think they’d make you take this off. The rule doesn’t seem to be about the size of what you’re taking but more that you can’t take anything other than absolute essentials (a camera and bottle of water). However, if I were you, I’d email them in advance and see if you can get permission then print the email if they say yes. Worth a try? Have a great trip!

      Reply
  19. Hey! Great read. I just have ine question though, can we buy the tickets in cash when we get to the ferry I mean is there an option for people who would like to purchase tickets offline!

    Reply
    • Hi Kanza, sorry for the slow reply – just after New Year I flew to Asia and I’ve been off the grid. To answer your question, you can buy tickets offline in cash on the day at the Manhattan ferry point, which is in Battery Park. The thing to be aware of is that you won’t be able to get Crown Access on the day. You should also be prepared to queue because on-the-day visitors get lowest queuing priority. There is also a phone number you can call if you want to book that way (number above in the post). I hope you have an amazing visit.

      Reply

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