Best Statue of Liberty tour in New York City in 2023

published: 3/24/2023 | March 24, 2023

I love New York City. I’ve spent a lot of time visiting and living here. For me, it is the beating heart of the world. There is no language spoken or food eaten that you do not find here. There is an endless stream of things to see and do. You can never get bored in this city.

Whenever I want to dive deeper into a place, I take a walking tour.

And when it comes to walking tours, New York City has it all.

Free tours, history tours, pub crawls, food tours, ghost tours – there are plenty of walking tours around the city.

My favorite company – in NYC and beyond – is Woolex. They started in Italy in 2009 but soon spread to other countries and cities in Europe. Then they hopped over the Atlantic, giving guided tours of New York City, Niagara Falls, New Orleans, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, DC.

Although their tours are not free, they are very insightful and balance the enjoyment of learning.

In New York, they put on a handful of shows, including a tour to Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty.

As someone who studied history in college (fun fact: the family came to America via Ellis Island), this tour was particularly interesting to me.

And after taking it, here is my review:

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island review tour

The famous Ellis Island as seen from above with New York City in the background on a sunny day with a blue sky

“Welcome to the real door to America,” our guide said as he opened the front door to the vast recording room. Here, up to 6,000 immigrants a day got a taste of their new life in America.

Between 1892, when the 27-acre island first opened in New York Harbor, and 1954, when it closed, the registration room welcomed more than 12 million immigrants, who soon became New Americans.

The tour group met at 8:15 am in the south end of Manhattan. There were 14 of us plus our guide, Nicola, an Italian-born former criminal lawyer who said he used to fight the mafia in his native Florence before wisely deciding to change his career. He soon led us towards the ferry for a half day stroll around Liberty Island, home to the famous Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island.

As we walked there, Nicola regaled us with stories about the founding of New York City, how it oscillated between the Dutch and the British, and how today 35 percent of Manhattan is in a landfill.

When we got to the ferry in lower Manhattan, there was a huge line to board the boat. But Nicola led us around the army of tourists, much to their annoyance, and we got straight to the front of the line. I don’t know if Nicola is just an experienced and intrepid guide or if it has something to do with the fact that Walks and boat company Hornblower are owned by City Experiences – perhaps giving Walks the extra privilege of skipping the lines.

Whatever it was, not having to wait with the crowd on the boat was well worth the cost of the tour.

Once on the ferry, Nicola directed us to sit in a very specific spot, which we were able to get thanks to the fact that we were the first on the boat. This gave us a great view of the New York City skyline.

After about 20 minutes, you get off the ferry at Liberty Island and walk around the front of the Statue of Liberty where, when the weather is nice, you can learn about the history of the iconic statue and how it was placed here.

When we were on Liberty Island and Ellis Island, Nicola was a wealth of information. He stated that this was his 1,144th tour of the islands. He dropped some amazing facts I’d never heard of, including these three gems:

  • The statue, which was formally erected in 1886, was originally considered for Battery Park in the south end of Manhattan. But then someone with a vision of the future realized that Manhattan’s growing skyline would one day dwarf the statue and lose its imposing presence. After considering placing it in Central Park, they eventually chose the island that would later be called Liberty, in part because you can see it from various points around New York Harbor.
  • When the statue arrived from France in 1885, there was one important aspect they hadn’t considered: the pedestal. After struggling to find funding and a designer—they went with the same architect who designed the Metropolitan Museum of Art—the plinth was ready a year later, and soon Lady Liberty was standing tall.
  • At Ellis Island, they not only had to register 6,000 or so new immigrants a day, but also screen them for diseases. There were only two doctors on staff at one time on the island, so you can imagine how long it took.

After that, you can have about 40 minutes or more on your own to walk around the island, look at the Statue of Liberty Museum, grab a coffee or snack in the island’s cafeteria, and browse in the gift shop.

Overall, this tour would be the perfect primer about the island, the migration during this time, and the statue.

Should you take a guided tour of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty?

The towering Statue of Liberty in New York City on a bright, sunny day

Even if you’ve been to New York City and seen the statue from afar, one of the city’s most impressive sights is seeing the statue up close. You get a different angle and perspective on the statue and the only amazing thing you will notice while you are on Liberty Island is that the statue is not that tall; It’s actually walking, “walking into the future,” as our guide put it.

Now, you can take a self-guided tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on your own for the price of admission ($31.50). And that’s fine if you just want to walk around on your own, looking at things, and not knowing the exact significance of those things.

But, if you want to walk away with a deeper knowledge of Liberty and the Ellis Islands, this Walks tour is invaluable. Its cost starts at $69, but it’s very much worth the price.

While it’s amazing to see the statue up close, the highlight of the tour was our guide. There was a lot of nuance and context added by his expertise, which made all the difference in terms of value.

I have always been a huge advocate of guided walking tours. I have also been a longtime fan of Walks and have taken many of their tours in Europe and abroad. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour did not disappoint.

It also confirmed to me how good the travel experience one has when choosing to pay more money for a guided tour. You learn more. You walk more appreciative of the place. You are putting money into the pocket of a local tour guide. And you may meet some friendly travelers along the way.

Tour tips for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty

Here are some quick tips to ensure you make the most of your visit to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty:

  • Wear comfortable shoes. You will be on your feet for at least 4 hours. Make sure your shoes are comfortable and suitable for walking around.
  • Check the weather. If it’s cold, bring a jacket and scarf. If it’s hot and sunny, bring a hat and water. rainy? Don’t forget an umbrella!
  • Avoid the weekend. Everything is busier on the weekends, so try to visit mid-week if you can.
  • ask questions. Your guide is a wealth of information. Make the most of it by asking any and all questions you have. There are no bad questions in these rounds!


New York City has an endless abundance of attractions and things to do. It is also an expensive city. But chances are you won’t regret spending more on a guided tour. You will come home with some of the most interesting stories and facts to tell and have an unforgettable and insightful experience.

Book a New York City Walking Tour Here!

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Book your flight to New York City: logistical tips and tricks

Book your flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines all over the world so you will always know that no stone is left unturned!

Reserve your accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld because they have the largest inventory and the best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use as they constantly show the cheapest rates for cheap guesthouses and hotels. Three of my favorite places to stay in the city are:

If you’re looking for more places to stay, here’s our full list of our favorite hostels in the city. Plus, if you’re wondering which part of the city to stay in, here’s your neighborhood guide to New York City!

Don’t forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will protect you from illness, injury, theft and cancellation. It is comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Are you looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resources page for the best companies to use when traveling. I list everything I use to save money when I’m on the road. They’ll save you money when you travel, too.

Need proof?
New York has some really interesting tours. My favorite company is Take Walks. They have expert guides and can get you behind the scenes at the city’s top attractions. They are my walking company!

Want more information about New York City?
Be sure to check out our robust New York City destination guide for more planning tips!

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