Guide to Visiting the Statue of Liberty


Perched majestically in the heart of New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty stands not just as a towering landmark of New York City but also as a symbol of history and inspiration. Towering at an impressive 93 meters, this iconic figure was a gracious gift from France to the United States in 1886. This grand gesture was more than just a symbol of friendship but also a celebration of the abolition of slavery, echoing the values of freedom and democracy after the tumultuous American Civil War.

Christened ‘Liberty Enlightening the World’ by her French creators, the statue draws inspiration from Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. Lady Liberty, with her torch held high, has stood as a guiding symbol of hope and liberation.

Her strategic placement at the gateway to America’s shores meant that she was the first sight to greet millions of immigrants as they sailed into New York Harbor, embarking on a new chapter of their lives on American soil. Today, Lady Liberty continues to inspire and attract over 4 million visitors annually, each coming to witness firsthand this enduring symbol of liberty.

Getting to the Statue of Liberty

Visiting the Statue of Liberty starts with a simple yet important task: getting to Liberty Island.

To access the Statue of Liberty and the grounds beside it, you will have to cruise in boats and ferries. Fortunately, the journey is part of the adventure, and here are some practical tips to make it seamless and enjoyable.

Ferry Services

A ferry arriving at Liberty Island

The only way to get to Liberty Island is by ferry. Ferries operated by Statue Cruises depart from two primary locations: Battery Park in New York and Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

  • From Battery Park (New York): Located at the southern tip of Manhattan, Battery Park is easily accessible by subway. The closest subway stations are Bowling Green (served by the 4 and 5 lines) and South Ferry (served by the 1 line). Once at Battery Park, follow the signs to the Statue Cruises departure point. It’s advisable to arrive early, especially during peak tourist seasons, as queues can get quite long.
  • From Liberty State Park (New Jersey): For those coming from New Jersey, this departure point offers a less crowded alternative. You can reach Liberty State Park by car, with ample parking available, or via the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail to the Liberty State Park Station.

Ticket Purchase and Boarding

Tickets can be purchased online in advance from the Statue Cruises website, which is highly recommended to avoid long lines and potential sell-outs. Remember, these tickets include access to both Liberty Island and Ellis Island. When you arrive, you’ll go through a security screening, similar to airport security, before boarding the ferry.

Timing and Tips

  • The first ferry typically departs around 8:30 AM, and the last return ferry leaves Liberty Island around 6:45 PM. Timings can vary slightly, so it’s good to check the Statue Cruises schedule beforehand.
  • Weekdays, especially early mornings, tend to be less crowded than weekends.
  • Dress comfortably and be prepared for weather changes. The ferry ride can be breezy, even on warm days.

By following these tips, you can arrive at the Statue of Liberty stress-free and ready to explore.

Ticketing Options and Tips

When planning your visit to the Statue of Liberty, understanding the ticketing options available is key to a hassle-free experience. Here’s a straightforward breakdown of what’s available and some tips on purchasing your tickets.

Types of Tickets

  1. Reserve Tickets: These are basic admission tickets that grant you access to Liberty Island and Ellis Island, including the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a standard visit without any extras.
  2. Pedestal Access Tickets: In addition to what the Reserve Tickets offer, these tickets allow you to enter the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. The pedestal offers a museum with exhibits on the statue’s history and construction and an observation deck with great views.
  3. Crown Access Tickets: These are the most coveted tickets. Along with the benefits of the Pedestal Access Tickets, you get the unique opportunity to climb to the statue’s crown. Remember, these tickets are limited and require advanced reservation. They are also not recommended for anyone with mobility issues due to the strenuous nature of the climb.

Purchasing Tickets

  • Online Purchase: The most convenient way to purchase tickets is online through the official Statue Cruises website. This method allows you to secure your spot in advance, especially for Pedestal and Crown Access Tickets, which can sell out quickly. You’ll also skip the long ticketing lines at the departure points.
  • In-Person Purchase: If you haven’t booked in advance, you can buy tickets at the Statue Cruises ticket booths located at Battery Park or Liberty State Park. However, this is riskier, especially during peak seasons, as tickets, particularly for crown access, may be sold out.

Tips for Buying Tickets

  • Book early. Particularly for Crown Tickets, book as far in advance as you can – they can be sold out months ahead.
  • Check for discounts. There are often discounts available for seniors, military personnel, and children. Group rates may also be available.
  • Be mindful of third-party sellers. Purchase tickets exclusively through Statue Cruises to avoid overpriced or counterfeit tickets.
  • Plan your visit. Consider the time and day of your visit. Early mornings on weekdays are generally less crowded.

Best Times to Visit

A visit to the Statue of Liberty is always a memorable experience, but choosing the right time can make a significant difference. Here’s a guide to help you pick the best time for your visit, ensuring shorter lines and a more relaxed experience.

Peak Seasons:

  • Summer (June to August): This is the busiest season. The warm weather and school vacations bring in large crowds, leading to longer wait times for ferries and more crowded experiences on Liberty Island. But if you like crowds, then it’s the perfect time to visit.
  • Holiday Periods: National holidays and school breaks often see a spike in visitors. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break are particularly busy.

Off-Peak Seasons:

  • Fall (September to November): The weather is still pleasant, and the summer crowds have thinned out, making it a great time to visit.
  • Winter (December to February): While it can be cold, winter offers the shortest lines and the least crowded experience. Just be sure to dress warmly!

What to Explore

A trip to the Statue of Liberty is more than just viewing an iconic monument; it’s an immersive experience filled with history, impressive sights, and unique opportunities. Here’s what you can expect during your visit:

Liberty Island

Liberty Island

The famous Statue of Liberty stands on the grounds of Liberty Island. You will be required to clear security upon arrival. Once that is done, you can start exploring the area, starting with admiring the Statue of Liberty from up close. If you are up for it, the Park Rangers on Liberty Island give you free guided tours of the grounds daily. Your kids can enjoy and keep themselves busy with their own Junior Ranger Program offered by the Island. Once the kids are done with their activities, they receive a Junior Ranger badge as a token of appreciation.

However, if you feel a guided tour is not your cup of tea, then you can opt for an audio tour and explore the area at your own pace. Available in 12 languages for adults and kids, the audio tour comes free with your ferry tickets and can be picked up at the Acoustiguide Booth located on Liberty Island. Once you are on Liberty Island, you have the option to explore the Liberty Island Museum, the Pedestal of Lady Liberty, the Crown of the Statue, and Ellis Island.

Statue of Liberty from behind

Pedestal and Crown Access

The staircase to the crown

If you have tickets to the pedestal or crown, make sure to allocate time for these. The pedestal provides a closer view of the statue and houses exhibits. The crown access, a climb of 377 steps, offers a unique view from within the statue but requires a good level of fitness.

Unlike the pedestal, there is no elevator available to access the Crown. You will need to climb up 162 steps of a confined double-helix staircase to access the Crown from the top of the pedestal. This is like climbing a 22-story building. It is for this reason that the National Park management requires the visitors of the Crown to be physically fit and healthy. It is advised for people suffering from vertigo, acrophobia, mobility impairment, heart conditions, respiratory conditions, and claustrophobia to avoid visiting the Crown.

Not only do the tickets to the Crown cost a little extra, but they are very limited too. The excess of people visiting the crown is limited to a few hundred daily. With millions of tourists paying a visit to the monument annually – the tickets to the Crown are usually sold out months in advance. For this reason, it is highly recommended that prior online reservations are made at least three months before your actual visit.

Once you reach the top, take a few seconds to soak it all in. Being the highest accessible point of the statue, it provides unobstructed views of the harbor, Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. Being inside the statue also allows you to witness the internal structure and supporting framework of the statue designed by Gustave Eiffel. It is ideal to carry just your camera, water bottles, and medications (if any) with you while going up to the Crown.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island

Your ferry ticket also includes a stop at Ellis Island, home to the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. This museum offers a profound glimpse into the experiences of over 12 million immigrants who entered America through this station.

Dining and Amenities

There are basic food services and restrooms available on both the Liberty and Ellis islands. Picnic areas are also available if you prefer to bring your own food.

Gift Shop

A visit wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the gift shop, where you can find souvenirs like miniature statues, books, and other memorabilia.

Tips for Your Visit

Catch the early ferry

The Statue of Liberty draws crowds as the day progresses. Beat the rush by taking the first ferry, ensuring a peaceful start to your visit. Join the ferry line at least 10 minutes before departure to avoid the risk of missing a boat due to capacity limits.

Be prepared for a security screening

Just like an airport, there is a security screening before you board the ferry. Be prepared to pass through metal detectors and have your bags checked. It’s best to travel light and avoid bringing prohibited items like large backpacks, scissors, or tripods. Backpacks and food (except water) are not permitted in the pedestal area.

Pre-book tickets

To save time and guarantee your spot, book your tickets online in advance. Often, you can use a digital copy on your phone for entry.

Visit the museum first

Avoid the initial crowd at the statue by first exploring the museum or gift shop. This strategy allows for less crowded photo opportunities.

Find the plaques

There are several plaques and exhibits on both Liberty and Ellis Islands that many visitors overlook. Take your time to discover these hidden treasures.

Know the best photo spot

For a great photo of the Statue, head to the Flagpole Area on Liberty Island. It offers an excellent view of the statue with the city skyline in the background.

For an iconic photo, lay back on top of Fort Wood, located just below the pedestal. This angle offers a spectacular view of the statue towering above.

Download the mobile app

Consider downloading the official Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island mobile app. It offers audio tours, maps, and information that can enrich your visit.

Get special access

Ask about special programs or tours available on the day of your visit. Sometimes there are ranger-led tours or access to areas not usually open to the public.

Photograph the ferry schedule

Keep track of ferry times by snapping a photo of the schedule when you first board. This helps you plan your return without confusion.

Move inside the ferry

Upon boarding, move towards the center or upper decks. This eases the boarding process and gives you a strategic spot for disembarking.

Prepare for the heat

There is quite a bit of walking and exploring involved in this excursion, which can be quite exhausting – especially during the summers. Also, for those of you who would like to visit the Crown area should keep in mind that the inside of Statue of Liberty in not temperature-controlled and can get quite hot and stuffy in there. Considering this, make sure you wear light and airy clothes, hats, and comfy shoes, and carry water bottles at all times to keep you hydrated.

Be prepared to climb

If you’re going inside the crown, don’t forget the 377-step climb up the stairway, so make sure you’re wearing a pair of comfortable shoes.

Consider seasonal events

Sometimes, visiting during special events or holidays can add a unique touch to your visit, though be prepared for larger crowds.

Check the weather

Weather can be deceptive. It’s often windier and colder on Liberty Island than in Manhattan. Dress accordingly and pack sunscreen if needed.

Have a picnic

Although food and beverages are not allowed inside the pedestal and museum, you can eat on the grounds outside of the Liberty and Ellis Islands. Get together with your family and friends and have a small picnic whilst enjoying the epic sights.

Spare some time

If you plan to visit the Liberty and Ellis Islands and visit the museums on both islands, then you need a good 5-6 hours for sightseeing, not to forget the security checks and queues in ticket booths. Hence, it is ideal that you keep a whole day aside just for this trip.

Lesser-Known Facts

Nancy Reagan in the crown of the Statue of Liberty

While the grandeur of the Statue of Liberty is known to many, there are hidden gems and lesser-known facts that can make your visit even more fascinating. Here are some intriguing details and tips to enhance your experience:

  1. Lady Liberty has chains at her feet. Not often noticed, at the base of the Statue of Liberty, there are broken shackles and chains that symbolize the end of oppression and the triumph of freedom.
  2. The crown has seven spikes. Each represents the seven seas and continents of the world, reinforcing the universal concept of liberty.
  3. The statue has undergone a color transformation. Originally, the statue was a shiny brown color, like a penny. Over time, the copper has naturally oxidized to form the green patina that we see today. This process took about 20 to 30 years.
  4. Gustave Eiffel contributed to it. Gustave Eiffel, the same engineer who designed the Eiffel Tower, also designed the statue’s inner support structure, which is a perfect blend of art and engineering.
  5. The gift had conditions. The Statue was a gift from France to the United States, but assembling and erecting the statue required fundraising efforts. Americans contributed to building the pedestal, a true show of collaboration.


As your visit to the Statue of Liberty comes to an end, take a moment to reflect on the experiences of the day. From the anticipation of the ferry ride to the awe-inspiring sight of the statue itself, this journey offers more than just a glimpse into American history—it’s a journey into the heart of what freedom and democracy symbolize.

As you glance back at the towering figure of Lady Liberty while boarding the ferry back, consider the millions of people who, over the years, have shared this same experience, each with their own stories and dreams. The Statue of Liberty is not just a monument; it’s a symbol of hope, resilience, and the shared values that bind us together.

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