Empire State Building (New York): tips & best time to visit

The Empire State Building is one of the must-sees and most visited places in New York. Two observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors offer a splendid view of New York City. To visit the mythical Empire State Building, you need to buy tickets, and you need to plan to avoid queues. 

  1. Visiting Empire State Building 
  2. Another great view 
  3. The best time to visit 
  4. How long does it take to visit 
tips for visiting empire state building

1. How to visit the Empire State Building?

Mythical! The height of the Empire State Building is 381 meters. It was built in 1931 and was the tallest freestanding structure in the world until 1967, when the Ostankino Tower in Moscow was built. The movie King Kong, released in 1933, also helped make this building even more famous.

What to see? It is now possible to climb to the 86th and 102nd floors of the building. You will need a combined ticket to visit also the 102nd floor. In addition to these two observation platforms, you can visit the Empire State Building Museum, which traces its entire history, starting with its construction.

The 86th floor is an outdoor platform with a fence. From here, you can see New York in 360 degrees. Tickets to the 86th floor are cheaper: see the prices for going to the Empire State Building.

86th and 102nd floors. It is a glass-enclosed platform, but it also offers an incredible view of New York from an even higher level! Tickets that include the 102nd floor cost more (see prices).

Good to know! If you want to visit the Empire State Building quietly, come early in the morning (before 11 am) or late at night (after 10 pm). Find more tips further down in this article. Prices to visit the Empire State Building vary depending on the time of day. For example, during sunset, entrance tickets are more expensive (compare prices according to the time of day and the observation platforms chosen).

tickets visit empire state building

2. Another view?

Like the Eiffel Tower, when you are on it, you no longer see it. The Empire State Building is the same. So, one of the best ways to experience this New York must-see is to climb another skyscraper!

Top of the Rock. From the Top of the Rock skyscraper, you can see one of the most beautiful views of the Empire State Building and New York! And so get off the beaten track. A perfect alternative to visiting the Empire State Building (see photos and prices to compare).

Fly over New York! Among the best things to do in New York is to take a helicopter flight over the city. It’s another way to discover New York and its significant must-sees, including the Empire State Building. You can choose the flight time. You will even come close to the famous Statue of Liberty. Even just 10 minutes of this incredible flight will make your trip unforgettable (see prices and photos here).

3. Best time to visit the Empire State Building

Day to avoid. The Empire State Building is busiest on Saturday. If you can visit on another day, that’s better. Sunday is somewhat quieter than Saturday.

At what time? Be aware that the worst time of day is from 11 am to 2 pm and from 5 pm to 10 pm (for sunset), especially on Saturdays, but it’s the same on weekdays.

Best time. Thus, the best time to visit the Empire State Building is any day except Saturday, before 11 am or after 10 pm. To make the early or late visit convenient, you can pick a hotel close to the Empire State Building, less than a 10-minute walk. See our best places to stay in New York here.

Sunset. Sunset is one of the best times to visit the Empire State Building if you put aside the crowd. If you want to take advantage of this magnificent moment, take skip-the-line tickets to avoid queues (see prices for skip-the-line tickets). You will save time and get a better experience. On the other hand, tickets to visit the Empire State Building during sunset are more expensive.

4. How long do you need to visit the Empire State Building in New York?

Plan 2 hours to visit both platforms if you have skip-the-line tickets and therefore little or no queue. If you see only the 86th floor, the visit may take less than 2 hours.

Taking tickets in advance (skip the line or not) is recommended, especially if you want to be sure to visit the Empire State Building.

Travel tip. If the Empire State Building is on your list of must-sees in New York, then the New York CityPass is a good option. This pass includes 5 great New York must-sees with discounts on admission tickets (click here to learn more about the New York CityPass).

time to visit empire state building new york

Visiting the Empire State Building in New York is visiting one of the city’s symbols and one of the most touristic places in New York. If you want to get off the beaten path and have already seen the Empire State Building on a previous trip, you can discover other places, such as The Top of the Rock. This skyscraper is also one of the most visited places in New York, but less than the Empire State Building.

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