New York City has one of the most magnificent skylines in the world and admiring it from the air aboard a helicopter tour is a sightseeing experience unlike any other. When it comes to New York City helicopter tours, you can choose from varying flight lengths and departure locations, though many take you over the same key attractions. U.S. News compiled this list of the best helicopter tours in the city, with the help of traveler opinion and expert input.
Note: Some tour providers on this list may be running more limited operations due to COVID-19 or may impose testing or vaccine requirements. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.
HeliNY – The Ultimate Tour
Price: From $260
Duration: 20 minutes
Get a bird’s-eye view of the world-famous Manhattan skyline on this approximately 20-minute helicopter flight with HeliNY. On the Ultimate Tour – the company’s most popular – the pilot will treat you and up to five other passengers to aerial views of many top city sights like the Statue of Liberty, the George Washington Bridge, the Empire State Building, the Palisades and more. Reviewers describe seeing “million-dollar” views on this tour and say the crew was highly professional and informative. However, a few travelers express disappointment in the flight’s short length.
Tickets cost approximately $260 per person ages 2 and older (an additional $40 facility and fuel charge per seat also applies). Children younger than 2 can ride for free and may sit in an adult’s lap. Tours depart Monday through Saturday beginning at 9 a.m.; the last tour takes off at 5 p.m. All tours from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport. HeliNY offers a variety of tours, departing from both Manhattan and New Jersey, including tours that last about 30 minutes and a private helicopter tour option.
HeliNY – City Skyline Experience
Price: From $244
Duration: 30 minutes
On this New York City helicopter tour, which departs from New Jersey’s Linden Airport and lasts approximately 30 minutes, you’ll soar high above Manhattan and over the Hudson River to see attractions like Central Park, the Tear of Grief sculpture, the Chrysler Building and One World Trade Center. Tourgoers call the experience the highlight of their New York trip and highly praise the staff and pilot.
Tickets for this tour cost $244 per person with an additional $30 fuel surcharge per seat. There is no cost for children younger than 2, who may sit on an adult’s lap. Tours, which are limited to six passengers, are available Friday through Monday in the evenings (exact times depend on time of year).
Travelers say a helicopter tour over New York City offers million-dollar views.(Getty Images)
Zip Aviation – Liberty Harbor Helicopter Tour
Price: From $209
Duration: 15 minutes
If you’re short on time or looking for a more budget-friendly option, schedule this tour, which takes only 15 minutes, but flies over most of the major Manhattan attractions. On the flight, you’ll see the Statue of Liberty, the National September 11 Memorial, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building and Times Square, among other sights. As you admire the city’s top landmarks, you’ll hear a prerecorded narration via your personal headset. Reviewers describe it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience and say the ride is smooth.
Tickets start at $209 per person. Tours are available Monday through Saturday approximately every 30 minutes between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and between 9 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on weekends. Flights depart from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport. If you’re looking for a slightly longer flight, consider Zip Aviation’s Big City Helicopter Tour or its Grand Island Helicopter Tour.
Zip Aviation – Grand Island Helicopter Tour
Price: From $349
Duration: 30 minutes
Spend a full 30 minutes seeing the Big Apple from the air on this helicopter ride. Attractions you’ll see from above include key NYC sights like the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and the Empire State Building, as well as Ellis Island, Yankee Stadium, Harlem and the USS Intrepid. Along the way, you’ll hear a prerecorded narration about the sights below. Tour-takers describe the staff as courteous and professional, and say the views are outstanding.
Tickets start at $349 per person. Flights are available to book Monday through Saturday; they depart every half-hour from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. You can also choose from two other tours the company offers, including a nighttime flight of the city skyline.