Visiting the Statue of Liberty is a must when in New York. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984, this monument is an important landmark and a testimony of the past of the city and the country, a symbol of what the United States wish to represent: democracy, freedom, hope
Getting good, reliable and update information on how to visit the Statue of Liberty is easier said than done. Many are at a loss not really knowing where to look, what to expect, or how to get tickets (and how far in advance). I sure was last time I went to New York.
So I thought I should come to your help and decided to put together this guide where you will find everything you need to know before visiting the Statue of Liberty.
In a rush? Go straight to the point and book a guided tour for visiting the Statue of Liberty. The small group tours I mention below can be found on Get Your Guide (the best third party reseller) and run by Take Walks (the same as Walks of Italy, in case you are wondering). They and are completely hassle free and take you to the best spots of New York in a day. Given what they include, and that they last between 4 and 8 hours each, they are actually really good value for money.
- Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island early access tour – this 4 hours tour is one of the best around that goes to the Statue of Liberty.
- Statue of Liberty Tour, Ellis Island, & 9/11 Memorial Tour with 9/11 Museum Tickets – an excellent option to see the best of New York.
- Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island & 9/11 Tour with Priority One World Observatory Tickets – another really good tour for incredible views of New York.
What You Should Know Before Visiting The Statue Of Liberty
Some background information about the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Often considered to be one of the symbols of the United States, the Statue of Liberty is technically located in New Jersey, but it within territorial jurisdiction of the State of New York (I know, confusing!). It represents a joint effort between the USA and France to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Its official name back then was Liberty Enlightening The World. Lady Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886.
The statue became a National Monument in 1924 and it is since 1933 that employees of the National Park Service have been caring for it. As I have pointed out at the beginning of this post, the Statue of Liberty is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The statue, which is made in copper, was designed by French sculptor Frederic August Bartholdi. Its metal framework was built by Eiffel – yes, the same person who designed the Eiffel Tower of Paris. It was not always green, by the way! When the statue made it to the United States from France, it was a copper color (so a rich brown). Throughout the years, exposure to air, pollution and water caused a change of color which eventually (in 1906) settled for the current green-blue shade we know it for.
Lady Liberty holds a torch with her right hand; whereas with her left one she holds a tabula ansata (a votive tablet) with Roman numeric inscription that read the date July 4, 1776.
One of the most difficult phases for the Statue of Liberty was that of the building of the Pedestal. Raising the funds for that was quite a challenge and the struggle became such that the mayors of Boston and Philadelphia offered to fund for that, as long as the statue was moved to their city. Eventually, Joseph Pulitzer, who didn’t want the statue to be relocated elsewhere, launched a campaign via his newspaper that led to the raising of the money needed for the pedestal. The trick? He promised that everyone who’d donate would have his or her name printed in his newspaper.
Visiting the Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty Pedestal
The Pedestal literally is the concrete part of the Statue of Liberty. In other words, when visiting the Statue of Liberty this is the main bit you will be going to – provided you have tickets (more about that later). Inside, you will find a small museum with an exhibit about the history and the creation of the Statue.
There are two ways of accessing the Pedestal: via a 215 steps staircase or by elevator.
Statue of Liberty Crown
The Crown is the highest accessible point at the Statue of Liberty. Some would say that there hardly is any point in getting into the Crown when visiting the Statue of Liberty, because the windows are small, almost impossible to take pictures from, and there are too many people fighting over them for the view. I dissent. Sure, the views are actually better from the Pedestal. But in fact, I think it is the whole experience that makes visiting the Crown rather memorable – provided it that you are fit enough for it.
Mind you: the Crown isn’t exactly accessible. There is no elevator going from the Pedestal to the Crown and you will have to push yourself to climb 162 narrow steps on a spiral staircase. It’s frankly a bit claustrophobic, so avoid it if this is an issue for you.
GOOD TO KNOW: Kids need to be at least 4 foot tall (122 cm) to visit the Crown, as they need to walk on their own.
MUST KNOW: Remember to get your waistband to access the Crown. You need to get one once you go through security to access the Pedestal and if you don’t have it, you will be denied access to the Crown.
Statue of Liberty Torch
The original torch or the Statue of Liberty was replaced after renovation works that started in 1984. Back then it was found that the torch had been leaking since 1916, when during WWI the Germans sabotaged it, and it was decided to replace it with a 24-karat gold flame. The original torch was placed in Statue of Liberty Museum, where it can finally be seen.
GOOD TO KNOW: Access to the torch is prohibited.
How long should you factor for visiting the Statue of Liberty?
The amount of time you spend visiting the Statue of Liberty varies depending on what you decide to see and do. Here is a breakdown of the various timings:
STATEN ISLAND FERRY – I talk about this option in more detail below. If you decide to opt for this, you should factor in about 90 minutes.
GUIDED TOURS OF THE STATUE OF LIBERTY – These last around 4 hours from beginning to the end.
CRUISE AROUND THE STATUE OF LIBERTY – This budget friendly option doesn’t allow you to disembark. These tours usually last around 60 minutes.
INDEPENDENT VISITS – The duration of the visit if you go for this option varies depending on how much you decide to see and do. If you opt to see the Pedestal, the Crown, and then go to Ellis Island you should factor in around 6 hours from the time the ferry departs from Battery Park.
Should you opt for a guided tour to visit the Statue of Liberty?
Much like for all attractions in New York, when visiting the Statue of Liberty you have the option to go for a guided tour or simple skip the line tickets. What you decide to do is a matter of budget, time and personal taste.
I am a big fan of guided tours as they mean I don’t have to worry about anything other than showing up on time at the meeting point. The guide takes care of all the arrangements; literally holds your hand as you get on the ferry; guides you around the site while sharing relevant information that will help you make the most of the experience.
Guided tours of the Statue of Liberty usually start with a ferry ride from Battery Park, during which you will get and impressive views of both the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan. They continue to the Pedestal to visit the museum. Some will give you the option to climb to the Crown before continuing on to Ellis Island.
These are the best guided tours going to the Statue of Liberty:
- Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island early access tour – the best tour if you’d rather have early access. It costs $59 USD and lasts 4 hours.
- Early Access Statue of Liberty Tour with Statue Pedestal Access & Ellis Island Tour – another good early morning tour, costing $59 and organized by Take Walks.
- Statue of Liberty priority or flexible ticket – this self-guided tour of the Statue of Liberty is very budget friendly, costing just $25 USD.
- Statue of Liberty pedestal, Ellis Island and pre-ferry tour – a very comprehensive tour that also includes a visit to Battery park. It costs $48 USD and lasts up to 5 hours.
Getting Statue of Liberty tickets
Here’s the deal. Theoretically, Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty is located, and Ellis Island, are free to access because they are part of the National Park Service. However, you have to get there by ferry and this means there is a price (sorry!). You must also add the price to get to the Pedestal and the Crown to the ferry price, should you want to visit those.
GOOD TO KNOW: You don’t need to book the ferry separately. This is always included in the price of your ticket.
You have several options to get Statue of Liberty tickets.
The official site to get Statue of Liberty tickets is that of State Cruises. You have three main options to choose from:
Reserve and /or Pedestal tickets – these are the most popular Statue of Liberty tickets. Definitely opt for the Pedestal access if available. It costs $19.25 USD for adults; $14 USD for seniors (62 and above); and $9 USD for children between 4 and 12.
Statue of Liberty Crown tickets: access to the Crown costs $22.25 USD for adults; $17 USD for seniors (62 and above); and $12 USD for children between 4 and 12.
GOOD TO KNOW: You can only buy 4 crown tickets at a time, so not ideal if you are visiting in a group. You can only buy tickets once every 6 months – I suppose this measure is aimed at curbing touts who may resell tickets for a higher price. You need to give your name when buying the ticket, so these aren’t transferable.
Hard Hat tickets – This option includes a 90 minute guided tour of the unrestored Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital Complex, as well as a self-guided tour via audio-guide of both Ellis Island and Liberty Island. It is only available for visitors starting at 13 years of age. Tickets cost $59.25 for adults and $54 for seniors.
GOOD TO KNOW: The prices and options indicated above are for ferries departing from New York Battery Park. Prices vary for ferries departing from Liberty State Park in New Jersey.
Third party sites
I am a fan of getting tickets to attractions from third party sites. Many complain that tickets on third party sites are more expensive than on official sites but I disagree.
First of all, the basic tickets usually cost exactly the same as on official sites. Third party sites are actually way more user friendly than official sites, with no pop-ups and no new page or new window opening for each link you click on. You can get your tickets months in advance, even when they are not available on official sites yet (so perfect if you want to plan well ahead) and – should anything happen – you can cancel in a click up to 24 yours before you are set to visit and get your money back almost immediately.
There are the best skip the line tickets for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island:
- Statue of Liberty priority or standard ticket – sold on Get Your Guide, my favorite third party reseller, this option starts at $25.25 USD ($27.25 if you want Pedestal access) and includes an audio guide. It’s a few dollars more expensive than the official site, but way easier to cancel if you need to.
- Tickets for Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island – you can get this on Tiqets, another reliable third party reseller. It costs less than $25 USD, you get an audio guide in a variety of languages and you can cancel up to 24 hours in advance.
GOOD TO KNOW: these are not guided tours. Should you want a guided tour, you have the options I have mentioned above.
Getting Statue of Liberty tickets offline
You can buy Statue of Liberty tickets by calling numbers 1-877-532-9849 if you are already in the United States, or +1-201-604-2800 from other countries.
You also have the option to buy tickets in person at Castle Clinton in Battery Park. It’s open from 7:45 am to 5:00 pm daily.
Getting Statue of Liberty tickets on the day of your visit
You can’t get Crown access tickets on the day of your visit – these need to be booked in advance.
You can get Reserve and Pedestal access tickets on the day of your visit but chances are that Pedestal access tickets will be sold out, so I wholeheartedly recommend booking in advance. In any case, keep in mind that Pedestal access tickets are not sold on Liberty Island, so you need to get them at the departure point – Castle Clinton in Battery Park.
Booking a time slot for visiting the Statue of Liberty
When buying your Statue of Liberty tickets you are requested to book a time slot for your visit. You have the option to go at 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00 am and at 12:00 and 1:00 pm.
I recommend opting for the earliest departure available, so that you can enjoy the site with less crowds and at a slower pace. If you get the 9:00 am ticket you will be back in Manhattan by early afternoon, in time for lunch and to explore more of the city.
I do not recommend the 1:00 pm option. You simply won’t have enough time for visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island properly.
GOOD TO KNOW: You need to be at the ferry departure point at least 30 minutes before your scheduled tour. So, if you picked the 9:00 am slot, you need to be in Battery Park at least at 8:30 am.
How and where to pick up your Statue of Liberty tickets
This depends on what kind of ticket you bought.
If you got your ticket via the official site, for Reserve or Pedestal ticket you have the option to getting your tickets via email. You then have to print them at home. Alternatively, you can pick them up at the Will Call (the ticket booth).
For Statue of Liberty Crown tickets, the only option is to pick them up from the Will Call window.
If you bought your ticket via a third party site, you can either print the voucher or use the mobile one (in this case, you need to download the app).
How far in advance should you book?
I dare say, as far in advance as you can. Keep in mind that more than 4 million people per year have been visiting the Statue of Liberty in the last few years. Crown tickets are sold out up to 3 months in advance (only 500 people are allowed daily), whereas Pedestal access is more easily available.
Another good thing to consider is how large the group you are going with is. If you are a solo traveler like myself, chances are you can more easily get Statue of Liberty tickets (including access to the Crown) even a couple of weeks before actually visiting.
Visiting the Statue of Liberty for free
Ok, I realize this heading is a bit misleading. You can’t really visit the Statue of Liberty for free – not unless you are a child up to 4 years of age. However, if you are not interested in actually getting into the Pedestal or the Crown, and only care for the views, you can get the Staten Island Ferry which passes right by it. It’s not nearly the same thing and I wholeheartedly recommend actually visiting the Statue of Liberty – but if your budget or schedule are tight, you should definitely go for this option.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Staten Island Ferry leaves from the Whitehall Terminal, in southern Manhattan, and runs 24/7 (so a fabulous option if you want to admire Manhattan in all its glory at night) every 30 minutes (every 15 minutes during rush hour on weekdays), on the hour and on the half hour. The Staten Island Ferry ride is 25 minutes one way. Once you reach Staten Island, you can get off and get in line immediately for the ride back. The overall journey can take you between an hour and an hour and a half.
TIP: To avoid the crowds, opt to ride the Staten Island Ferry in the morning, after rush hour (so between 9:30 and 11:30 am) or after 7:00 pm. Depending on the season, that’s also the best time for sunset views!
GOOD TO KNOW: Since the ferry runs back and forth, you are guaranteed great views no matter where you stand.
Visiting the Statue of Liberty with a New York City Pass
I am not a fan of city passes. They are more of a hassle than anything else. You always have to book each and every attraction separately, most of the time you get the most basic option and they are hardly useful to save money. This is also the case for the New York City Pass when it comes to the Statue of Liberty.
Should you still decide to get a New York City Pass, here is what you need to know regarding the Statue of Liberty:
- You only get access to the Statue of Liberty Reserve;
- You can’t book a time slot – you just show up at the Will Call window on the day of your visit and exchange your pass for a ticket;
- It is not a skip the line or priority option – show up early unless you have a fetish for lines;
- For Pedestal access, it works on a first come first serve basis – if you are visiting in peak season, you may well forget about that!
- Crown access is not included – you have to buy it separately and you can’t even deduct the price from the reserve access that is on the other hand included in your pass.
If these details haven’t put you off from getting a New York City Pass, you can get yours here.
Other Useful Things To Know For Visiting The Statue of Liberty
Book in advance
I know, I have said it before but it is worth repeating. You really should book your Statue of Liberty tickets in advance – best if 3 months before you are planning to visit. This is a popular tourist attractions and you if you leave it to the last minute you may end up with no tickets!
What to do if Statue of Liberty tickets are sold out
First of all, do not despair. You probably can manage visiting the Statue of Liberty even when it seems that tickets are sold out. It really depends on what you want to experience.
Here are a few tips and things to know:
DEPART FROM NEW JERSEY: If all Statue of Liberty tickets with ferry departure from New York are sold out, it may be worth checking for tickets with ferry departure from New Jersey Liberty State Park. You can get there via public transportation (discover how here) and on the way back you can opt for the ferry that takes you back to Battery Park or Liberty State Park.
GO EARLY: My first recommendation for last minute Statue of Liberty tickets is to go early. Plan to be at the Will Call window at 7:00 am. The office opens at 8:00 am and you may manage to get lucky and find a ticket.
CONTINUE CHECKING ONLINE: There is always a chance that someone cancels the ticket and this becomes available again. The best place to look is on third party sites such as Get Your Guide.
PRO TIP: Guided tours usually have more availability because they are more expensive. So, if you are stuck with no ticket, you may want to opt for that. This Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island early access tour is one of the best around.
OPT FOR THE RESERVE TICKET: If you are ok just going to the Reserve, chances are that tickets will be available even last minute – but keep in mind that Reserve tickets don’t give you access to the actual monument.
GO ON A CRUISE: If everything is sold out, you still have the option to take a cruise around Liberty Island or to ride the Staten Island Ferry. Ok, they are not quite the same thing but better than nothing.
How to get to the Statue of Liberty
Ferry departure points
Remember that ferries to the Statue of Liberty depart both in New York and New Jersey.
In New York, the ferry departs from Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan, and follows this route: Battery Park, Liberty Island, Ellis Island, Battery Park.
In New Jersey, the ferry departs from Liberty State Park and follow this route: Liberty State Park, Liberty Island, Ellis Island, Liberty State Park.
The first ferry from Battery Park and Liberty State Park to Liberty Island departs at 8:30 am. The last one leaves at 3:30 am in low season and at 4:00 pm in high season.
The last ferry back to Battery Park or Liberty State Island departs at 5:00 pm in low season and 5:45 pm in peak season.
You can see the full ferry schedule here.
Liberty Island and Ellis Island are open every day except on Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November) Christmas day. Depending on the season, the first ferry leaves at either 8:30 or 9:00 am from Battery Park or Liberty State Park. The closing ferry departs Liberty Island at either 5:00, 6:00 or 7:00 pm depending on the season.
Accessibility of the Statue of Liberty
Visiting the Statue of Liberty is possible even for people with limited mobility. Wheelchairs are available free of charge on Liberty Island, and there are elevators going up to the Pedestal. There is no elevator to get to the Crown. Service animals can access all areas of the park except the Crown. Fore more information on visiting Statue of Liberty with a disability, you may want to check this page.
Anybody visiting the Statue of Liberty has to go through several security checks. You will need to go through airport-style security to board the ferry. You will have to do the same to access the Pedestal and the Crown.
Prohibited items include weapons, scissors, knives, large bags and backpacks, packages and parcels. You can’t wear anything that hides your identity.
For access to the Crown, you will also need to show a document – usually your driving license or passport will do. One document per person is needed – so if you booked a bunch of tickets, each person in the group will have to show proof of identity.
You will need to store your personal belongings in a locker before accessing the Pedestal and the Crown. Keep in mind that although there is a list of prohibited items, in fact you can only really take your camera, medications and ticket to the Pedestal and the Crown. Lockers are available for rent at the entrance of the Statue. They cost $2 USD for up to 2 hours.
Facilities at the Statue of Liberty
Toilets are available in the monument and near the food area, as well as at departure points.
Food and drinks
My humble advice is to bring your own snacks or a small lunch with you when visiting the Statue of Liberty, if you can. Food is available on Liberty Island and even on the ferry, but to be honest it is way overpriced and really low in quality (think junk / fast food).
Further readings about the United States
If you are planning a larger trip to the US, these posts may come of use:
- 35 Incredible Things To Do In New York City
- A Wonderful Itinerary For A Day In New York
- The Perfect Itinerary To See New York In 2 Days
- A Fabulous Itinerary For 3 Days In New York
- An Easy To Follow Itinerary For 4 Days In New York
- 5 Days In New York: An Easy To Follow New York Itinerary
- A Great Itinerary For A Week In New York
- A Great Itinerary For 3 Days In San Francisco
- The 10 Best Places To Visit In California (That Aren’t Just Cities)
- 15 Unmissable Things To Do In California
- 10 Things To Do For A Fabulous Trip To Miami
- Seven Adrenaline Filled Things To Do In Yellowstone (With Kids!)
- 10 Not To Miss Hikes Near Denver
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