How to Visit the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

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Last Updated on March 22, 2021 by Sophie Nadeau

If there’s one place which is most well-known in NYC, it’s probably the State of Liberty on Ellis Island. Towering at 93 meters when including the base and torch, the colossal Statue dates back to the 19th-century and can be seen from all across New York Harbor. Here’s your ultimate guide on how to visit the Statue of Liberty, as well as what tickets to purchase and travel tips you should know about prior to your visit.

How to Visit the Statue of Liberty NYC USA

Editor’s note: If you are looking for the easiest way to visit the Statue of Liberty, in the least amount of time, then I highly recommend booking a guided visit. This will save you planning time, and a single price tag will cover the cost of a ferry, island visits, and all the timings will be planned for you. Book a guided visit of the Statue of Liberty here.

Otherwise, if you want to plan your own visit, then a simple ferry ticket for Liberty Island and Ellis Island can be booked here.

There are two places to take the ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island from the land. Ferries from Battery Park, New York stop at Liberty Island first and then at Ellis Island; meanwhile ferries departing Liberty State Park, New Jersey stop at Ellis Island first and then Liberty Island second.

How to Visit the Statue of Liberty NYC USA

Fun facts about the Statue of Liberty

Before diving into exactly how to visit the Statue of Liberty, I thought it might at first be fun to cover exactly what the statue is and why it is where it is in the New York Harbor. Many visitors don’t know this, but the official name for the Statue of Liberty is actually “Liberty Enlightening the World”.

The Statue of Liberty represents the Roman goddess of freedom known as Libertas and was actually a gift to the United States from France in 1886. Indeed, several Statue of Liberty replicas can be found across the French capital city of Paris today.

Located on Liberty Island, New York City, the only way to visit the symbol of freedom statue is via a cruise run by Statue Cruises from Battery Park in New York City and from Liberty State Park in New Jersey. No other companies are permitted to take passengers to Liberty Island.

The cost of ferry tickets also cover the cost of a ferry ticket to Ellis Island, which was once the first port of call for around 12 million immigrants arriving in the United States of America. Today, Ellis Island operates as a museum.

The price of some Statue Cruises’ tickets give you access to ferries, the grounds, the museums, and audio guides on the island. If you are travelling with children, then kids between the ages 0-3 can visit the Statue of Liberty for free. Rather interestingly, Liberty Island is actually closer to New Jersey rather than New York state.

The Statue of Liberty free of tourists

When is the best time to visit the Statue of Liberty?

Before visiting, you should know that, as one of the most popular attractions in New York (third only to the World Trade Center Site and the Empire State Building), the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are busy all year ’round, with Crown access tickets being booked out up to six months ahead of time (but more on that later).

The ferry to the islands can be breezy and so it’s essential that you wear layers. While the summer can be incredibly hot, and being the school holidays is also the busiest time of the year to visit, the winter can be bitterly cold. I personally think that the best time to visit the Statue of Liberty is in the late spring or early fall. This way, you’ll have better weather, albeit it with fewer crowds than those of the summer months.


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

Crown access to the Statue of Liberty

First things first, if you want to visit the Crown of the Statue of Liberty, you should know that tickets for this are never available on the day itself and must be purchased in advance. Tickets are so popular for this Liberty Island activity that tickets can sell out up to six months in advance, especially for peak season (i.e. during the summer months).

In order to climb to the top of the crown, you will need to be able to climb up to the crown unassisted (there are approximately 393 steps to reach the top, which is approximately the height of a 27-story building) and children must be at least 4-feet tall to climb the crown on their own.

Only ten people are allowed inside the crown at a time. It’s also worth noting that there is no elevator access within the crown and some of the steps can be narrow in places. Visitors should also note that the temperature inside the crown can get very hot during the summer months and so you should bring along water for the climb. Purchase a crown ticket on Statue Cruises website here.

Pedestal access to the Statue of Liberty

Unlike the crown access to the Statue of Liberty, there are usually some tickets available for purchase on the day of your visit from ferry offices for pedestal access. However, there are very few and these tend to sell out fast. as a result, I highly recommend booking your visit to access the pedestal up to three or four months before your planned trip.

The pedestal is directly under the statue’s feet, which contains a museum. There are 215 steps between the base of the statue and the top of the pedestal. Alternatively, there is elevator access. The Pedestal also rewards visitors with one of the most beautiful views of the New York City skyline to be found anywhere in the city. Purchase a pedestal ticket on Statue Cruises website here.

Standard (ground only) access to the Statue of Liberty

Standard Access is the cheapest option to see the Statue of Liberty and means that visitors can tour Liberty Island and Ellis Island but won’t be able to go inside the Statue of Liberty itself. These tickets are more readily available than crown access or pedestal access and won’t require planning several months out of your visit.

All visitors can visit the Statue of Liberty Museum, which has been opened since 2019, included in the price of their entrance/ ferry ticket. The standard access tickets are available as both timed ticket and flexible ticket, which will give you a little more flexibility when it comes to planning your visit.

Free audio tours are available to everyone with Standard access to the Statue of Liberty and come in various different languages. In order to get an audio guide for Liberty Island, you simply need to head to head to the booth as soon as you enter Liberty Island. Purchase a standard access ticket to the Statue of Liberty here.

Visit the Statue of Liberty on a tour vs self-guided

There are pros and cons to both visiting the Statue of Liberty as part of a tour, as well as doing it by yourself (i.e. self-guided). Some of the greatest benefits of embarking on a tour of the Statue of Liberty include that it will be less planning on your part in terms of time and stress.

For example, booking a tour will ensure that you will have an expert guide with you who can answer any of your historical questions. Booking a tour can also be a good last-minute option if you want to visit the Islands but have left it until the last minute. With thing being said, going self-guided can save you money and will allow you to wander the islands at your own pace.

Statue of Liberty tours: which ticket should I buy?

If you’re looking to visit the Statue of Liberty with a tour, then you’ll find a list of tickets below, as well as the pros and cons of each ticket and option. If you’re planning to go the self-guided route for visiting the Statue of Liberty then read on as I cover how to visit the Statue of Liberty on a self-guided tour directly below. Otherwise, a large selection of Statue of Liberty tickets can be found here.

NYC: Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island & Pre-Ferry Tour

If you are looking for a visit to Liberty Island where all of the planning has been done for you, then you may well want to book this tour. Included in the price of a ticket is a guided walk of Battery Park (one of the best vantage points to see the Statue of Liberty), expedited access to the ferry, and ferry tickets to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Book your tickets here in advance.

Statue of Liberty Tour w/ Express Bus from Midtown Manhattan

If you are staying in Midtown Manhattan (which is where I suggest most first-time visitors to NYC stay at), then booking this tour will save you from the stress of having to reach the ferry port terminal for yourself.

Included in the ticket price is VIP reserved access to the ferry, rerry tickets to Liberty Island and Ellis Island, a guided walk around Liberty Island (exterior of the Statue of Liberty), Ellis Island and the 9/11 Memorial pools, and bus transportation between midtown Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty ferry. Book your tickets here in advance.

How to visit the Statue of Liberty on a self-guided tour

Whether you prefer a more independent travel experience, want to save some money, or simply prefer to enjoy attractions at your own leisure, then visiting the Statue of Liberty as part of a self-guided tour may well be the best option for you.

In order to go on a self-guided tour, you’ll need to plan your voyage yourself, which can easily be done. Though you can purchase tickets on the day, you can also book your tickets in advance for the ferry (which includes Ellis Island and Liberty Island access), which can be done here.

Tips for visiting the Statue of Liberty

The most important tip I would give anyone looking to visit the Statue of Liberty would be to book your tickets well in advance! It may come as a surprise to many visitors, but you’ll need to book pedestal and crown tickets months in advance, especially during busy times of the year (i.e. the summer).

Even during the off peak in NYC (winter), tickets can often sell out weeks in advance and so it’s best to plan well ahead of time if you want to be able to go inside the Statue of Liberty itself. As one of the most famous tourist attractions in the entirety of the USA, let alone in New York State, there are strict airport-style security protocols in place before you board the ferry.


You can’t bring along anything you wouldn’t be allowed to bring on an aeroplane so plan accordingly. Visitors who hold tickets to visit the pedestal and crown are also required to go through secondary screenings once on Liberty Island. You must also have a government issued ID which matches the name of your ticket.

If you want to make the most of your visit, then I recommend starting your day as early as possible. Indeed, tickets for ferries departing after 2PM in the afternoon don’t even allow visitors to stop on Ellis Island due to the fact that there is so much to see on Liberty Island itself!

Long lines are a given when you’re visiting one of the most visited attractions in the US and the Statue of Liberty is no exception. When picking a specific ferry time, plan to turn up at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled departure time. Furthermore, if you are going to pick up your tickets on site, then you’ll need to factor in a further ten minutes. 

All ferries are wheelchair accessible, and service animals and authorised guides are also welcome aboard. There are bathrooms available on land as well as aboard all ferries. Ferries take around fifteen minutes between stops, and so if you want to visit both Ellis Island and Liberty island in one day, you’ll want to set aside at least four to six hours of your time. 

Though food options are available on the island, these can be a little on the pricier side of things (as is usual with touristic locations) and so I personally recommend packing along a picnic so as to save queuing time on the island, as well as some money! Be sure to also come prepared for the weather (i.e. sun cream in the summer and a warm jacket in the winter).

Don’ts of visiting Liberty Island and Ellis Island

Though the animals which roam the islands are adorable (namely the squirrels and chipmunks), you should not feed them for health reasons. Do not bring oversized bags or suitcases as these are not permitted to be taken to the islands and do not bring any weapons.  

How to see the Statue of Liberty for free

When I first read that visiting Liberty Island is free, I was really happy. However, since you need to pay for the ferry to access Liberty Island and Ellis Island, this is not strictly true! However, if you’re planning to visit New York City on a budget, then you may well instead want to skip out on visiting Liberty Island itself and instead indulge in one of the best views the city has to offer of the Statue. 

Battery Park

One of the best views of the Statue of Liberty from New York can be found at Battery Park. 

Battery Park

The FREE Staten Island Ferry

If you fancy going onto the water via a ferry but a paid ticket is not within your trip budget, then you’ll be delighted to discover that the Staten Island Ferry is completely free. The ferry departs at regular intervals during the day from Whitehall Terminal and passes pretty close to the Statue of Liberty, offering beautiful views of the iconic landmark. Over 60,000 people ride this route on a daily basis!

staten island ferry

One World Observatory

Although this Statue of Liberty viewpoint isn’t technically free, if you’re not willing to pay to visit Liberty Island but would otherwise like to ascend one of New York’s other vantage points, then the One World Observatory offers one of the best and unparalleled views of the Statue that you’ll find anywhere in the city.

How to save money when visiting the Statue of Liberty

If you really want to visit the Statue of Liberty up close, and don’t want to opt for one of the free options, then there are still ways to save money during your trip to New York if you’re planning on visiting a lot of attractions.

There are several city-wide passes which include a number of popular destinations. One such pass is the New York Pass, which will save up to 45% on over 100 top attractions. Check prices and extra information for the New York Pass here.

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How to Visit the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island in New York USA

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