How to see the Statue of Liberty

Directional sign on Liberty Island
Directional sign on Liberty Island

The Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic monuments in the world and was the symbol of hope and that welcomed millions of new arrivals to New York and America as the sought a new life. For Australians travelling to New York visiting the Statue of Liberty is one of the few certainties to be on everyone’s list of must-do’s including visiting the top of the Empire State Building, experiencing the bright lights of Times Square and spending some quality time relaxing and soaking up all New York has to offer on a lazy afternoon in Central Park.

Tickets to the Pedestal and Crown of the Statue of Liberty sell out in advance – recommends booking your tickets  3 months in advance (6 months for a NY summer visit) to ensure you don’t miss out.

It may be news to some that there is more than one way to see Lady Liberty and depending on your budget, how close you want to get to her and how much time you have will depend on which option you may want to take.

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour

The most popular way to see the Statue of Liberty for Australians visiting New York is to hop on to the only tour that will get you access to Liberty Island, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour. This tour is run by Statue Cruises on behalf the US National Park Service and runs daily departing from Battery Park (just behind Castle Clinton) in Manhattan and from Liberty State Park in New Jersey. The tour operates every day except Christmas Day.

The tour offers a number of different ticket options to visit Liberty Island which include:

  1. Grounds Only
  2. Pedestal Ticket
  3. Crown Ticket
Directional sign on Liberty Island
Directional sign on Liberty Island

Grounds Only

As the name suggest this ticket gives holders unlimited access to the grounds of Liberty Island and visitors can make their way around at their own pace or they can also pick up a free audio tour as they arrive off the ferry from either Manhattan or New Jersey.

Statue Cruises operates the tour to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and departs from Manhattan and New Jersey

Visitors are free to roam around the island and get close to the Statue of Liberty towering over you. You will also have fantastic views of Lower Manhattan from the Northern side of the island. If you have the time, recommends using the self guided audio tour as it will give you amazing insight into the history of the island and the construction and upkeep of the Statue of Liberty. The audio tour can be picked up from a small kiosk that all visitors are guided towards as they get off the ferry. Be sure to remember to drop the tour back before re-joining the ferry (there are plenty of warnings made by island staff, but you would be surprised how many people saw on the ferry still holding their audio tour handsets!).

In addition to the self-guided audio tour, US Parks Service Rangers also offer free guided tours of Liberty Island. These guided tours run throughout the day and last 45 minutes. The tours depart from the Liberty Island Flagpole, a schedule of the days tours can be found in the information centre.

Looking up at Lady Liberty

Pedestal Ticket

Statue of Liberty Pedestal tickets grant visitors access to the granite pedestal upon which the Statue of Liberty sits. As well as amazing views from the top of the Pedestal the tickets also grants access to the Statue of Liberty Museum and Fort Wood level.

For visitors going up to the Pedestal there are two options, first they can take an elevator to the Pedestal, in our experience this can involve anything from a 10 – 30 minute wait, or you can take the stairs which I comfortably did in 7 minutes, although I did pass numerous visitors who had stopped to catch their breath, ranging ages from mid 20s to late 50s (if I had to guess their ages).

The view of the Lower Manhattan Skyline from the Pedestal level

Once atop the Pedestal you will be greeted with amazing views across New York Harbor to the Lower Manhattan skyline, across to Governors Island and south towards Staten Island and the ship yards of New Jersey / Cape Liberty Cruise Port.

Important to note: All visitors to the Pedestal Level & Crown Levels need to pass through a security check-point and will need to leave any backpacks or camera bags in a locker in the Statue of Liberty store directly behind the Statue of Liberty on the ground floor.

Looking South across New York Harbor from the Pedestal Level

Crown Tickets

By far and away the most popular tickets are for  the Crown of the Statue of Liberty. These tickets provide guests with access to everything on Liberty Island and access all the way to the top of the Crown for unbelievable views of New York and her surrounds.

Again you have the option of taking an elevator to the Crown or taking the stairs. While there were only 176 stairs to the Pedestal level there is a whopping 338 to the Crown level, and if you are visiting on a hot New York summer day, recommends taking the elevator – unless you need to work off breakfast!

Its a long walk up to the Crown

Tickets for access to the Pedestal and Crown levels are limited in their availability and recommends reserving your tickets a minimum of 3 months in advance for visits from October to May and up to 6 months in advance for visits from May to September.

Tickets can be purchased from Statue Cruises if you are only interested in purchasing Grounds only tickets these can be purchased online in advance or on the day you wish to visit – however this may involve additional queuing. Tickets can be purchased from within Castle Clinton just behind the Manhattan departure point in Battery Park.

Prices for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tours start from:

Crown Access Adults: $21
  Children: $12
  Seniors: $17
Pedestal Access Adults: $18
  Children: $9
  Seniors: $14
Grounds Access Adults: $18
  Children: $9
  Seniors: $14
Ticket booth inside Clinton Castle where you can purchase your tickets

Once you have finished your time on Liberty Island you will then make your way across to Ellis Island and the museum which chronicles the time of America’s most influential immigration processing facilities.

Sightseeing cruise

If you don’t want to spend a couple of hours walking around the grounds of Liberty Island or couldn’t secure tickets to either the Pedestal or Crown levels of the Statue of Liberty another option is to take a Statue of Liberty sightseeing cruise.

Sightseeing cruise just off Liberty Island

These cruises run multiple times during the day and take visitors to within 100meters of Liberty Island providing for great photographic opportunities. These cruises do not allow passengers to disembark onto Liberty Island although they do generally provide a commentary of what you can see whilst on your voyage to Liberty Island.

Prices for  a sightseeing cruise start from $28 per adult

Some of the more popular Statue of Liberty sightseeing cruises include:

  1. Circle Line
  2. Statue of Liberty Express Cruise
  3. International Sightseeing Cruise

Sightseeing cruises around the Statue of Liberty can be a great way to combine a cruise whilst also getting to see the majestic Lady up close and personal. The cruises can run from anywhere from an hour to a 3 hour meal cruise, and if your time in New York is short – it can be a great way to spend a morning, afternoon or watching Manhattan light in the evening.

Staten Island Ferry

The first time I woke up in Manhattan many years ago this ferry ride was the first thing I set out to do. Back then I was a student traveller so anything that I could do on the cheap sounded great, and when I found out I could see the Statue of Liberty and get amazing photos of Lower Manhattan at the same time for FREE I was sold.

The Staten Island Ferry arriving into the Lower Manhattan terminal

Today it is still an amazing way to see the city and Statue of Liberty. The Staten Island Ferry is a commuter ferry transferring passengers (but no longer vehicles) from Staten Island to the southern tip of Manhattan 24hours a day 365 days of the year (the ferry runs on a weekend schedule on major holidays).

The best way to see the Statue of Liberty from the ferry is to sit on the upper deck on the right hand side when you are boarding from Manhattan. During winter it can be bitterly cold, so grab a seat inside the upper deck so that you can quickly grab your photos and then head back inside.

The Statue of Liberty as seen from the Staten Island Ferry upper deck

The journey from Manhattan to Staten Island takes about 25 minutes with the ferry passing in front of the Statue of Liberty about 8 – 10 minutes after leaving Manhattan. recommends that after you have seen the Statue of Liberty and taken plenty of photos, make your way back down to the lower deck and head to the rear of the vessel to get some amazing photos of the Lower Manhattan skyline.

View of Lower Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry

After you have reached Staten Island you will need to disembark from the ferry, however just follow the crowds and as you make your way off the boat you will see where the commuters are lining up to join the ferry for its return leg to Manhattan, simply head through the doors and wait for the main sliding doors to open and jump back on.

An important thing to remember is that the Staten Island Ferry is primarily a commuter ferry and as such can get very busy in the early morning (til about 10am) heading into Manhattan, and in the afternoons from 4pm when tired New Yorkers begin to make their way home after a long day. recommends that if you are planning on using the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty that you go about 10:30 when crowds will be their quietest and you’ll get the best view.

The ferry also has on-board a small concession stand that sells various drinks, food and snacks, and unbelievably you can get a can of Foster’s on-board! Not that I can imagine any self-respecting Australian buying one, but each to their own.

The Staten Island Ferry also offers Fosters…if you’re desperate for a drink

The Statue of Liberty is a must see for any Australian visiting New York and hopefully you will be able to find time to use one of the above recommendations to get up close and personal with a true icon of New York.


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