It has been sent: 24/03/2023 | March 24, 2023
I love New York City. I have spent a lot of time visiting and living here. To me, it is the heartbeat of the world. There is no language or food that you cannot find here. And there is an endless list of things to see and do. You will never get bored in this city.
Whenever I want to dive deeper into a place, I go for a walk.
And when it comes to walking tours, NYC has it all.
Free tours, historical tours, pub crawls, food tours, ghost tours – there are tours around town.
My favorite company – in NYC and abroad – is Walks. They started in Italy in 2009 but quickly expanded to other European countries and cities. He then hopped across the Atlantic, giving tours of New York City, Niagara Falls, New Orleans, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, DC.
Although their tours are not free, they are very informative and easy to enjoy and learn.
In New York, he runs a few donations, including a trip 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 trip was very interesting to me.
And, after taking it, here is my review:
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour Review
“Welcome to the real door of America,” our guide said as he opened the front door of the main Registry Room. Here, 6,000 immigrants every day get their first taste of America.
Between 1892, when the 27-acre island was first opened in New York Harbor, and 1954, when it was closed, the Registry Room received more than 12,000,000 immigrants, who quickly became new Americans.
The tour group met at 8:15am in southern Manhattan. There were 14 of us including our guide, Nicola, an Italian-born ex-lawyer who said he was fighting militias in his hometown of Florence before he made the wise decision to change careers. They soon put us on board for a half-day cruise around Liberty Island, home to the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island.
While we were walking there, Nicola told us stories about the founding of New York City, how it came to be between the Dutch and the British, and how 35 percent of Manhattan today is waste.
When we got to the ferry in lower Manhattan, there was a long line to board the ferry. But Nicola led us around an army of tourists, much to their annoyance, and we made it to the front of the line. I don’t know if Nicola was a more consistent and bold leader or if it has something to do with the fact that Walks and Hornblower’s boat company are both City Experiences – perhaps giving Walks a chance to skip the lines.
In any case, not having to wait with the crowds to get on the boat was worth the price of the trip.
When we got on the boat, Nicola told us to sit in the right place, which we were able to get because we were the first people on the boat. This gave us an amazing view of the NYC skyline.
After about 20 minutes, you disembark from the ferry at Liberty Island and walk in front of the Statue of Liberty where, weather permitting, you learn about the history of the statue and how it was installed here.
When we were at Liberty Island and Ellis Island, Nicola had a lot of knowledge. He said that this was his 1,144th visit to the islands. He offered some amazing things I had never heard of, including these three gems:
- The statue, officially erected in 1886, was also envisioned as Battery Park in southern Manhattan. But a visionary realized that the growing Manhattan skyline would one day overshadow the statue and overshadow its grand presence. After considering putting it in Central Park, they finally chose the island that would later be called Liberty, probably because you can see it from different places around New York Harbor.
- When the statue arrived from France in 1885, there was one very important part that he hadn’t considered: the pedestal. After searching for funding and an artist – he went with the same architect who designed the Metropolitan Museum of Art – the pedestal was ready the following year and, before long, Lady Liberty was standing.
- At Ellis Island, they not only had to register 6,000 or more people every day but also test them for diseases. There were only two doctors working on the island at one time, so you can imagine how long it took.
Afterwards, you get about 40 minutes or so to yourself to walk the island, see the Statue of Liberty Museum, have a coffee or bite to eat at the island restaurant, and browse the gift shops.
Overall, this trip should be a good introduction to the island, the migration at this time, and the Statue.
Should You Take a Guided Tour of Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty?
Even if you travel to NYC and send the statue far away, one of the city’s most impressive things is seeing the statue up close. You get a different perspective on the statue and the most interesting thing you will notice when you are on Liberty Island is that the statue is not standing still; marching, “Marching forward,” as our guide said.
Now, you can do a self-guided, DIY tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on your own for an affordable price ($31.50 USD). And it’s fine if you just want to walk alone, look at things, and not know what they mean.
But, if you want to walk away with an in-depth knowledge of Liberty and Ellis Islands, the Walks tour is well worth it. The price starts at $69 USD, but it is well worth the price.
Although it is amazing to see the statue up close, the best sight of the tour was our guide. There was a lot of speculation and talk about how its technology was added, which made all the difference in price.
I have long been a big advocate of guided tours. And I’ve also been a long time fan of Walks and have taken many of their tours in Europe and beyond. A visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island did not disappoint.
It also proved to me how good it is to have a guided tour if you want to earn more money to go on a guided tour. You learn a lot. You walk away with a great appreciation for this place. You put money in the tour guide’s pocket. And you might just meet some friendly travelers along the way.
Tips for Your Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty Tour
Here are some quick tips to make sure you get the most out of your visit to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty:
- Wear good shoes. You will be down for at least four 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 going to be hot and sunny, bring a hat and water. Rain? Don’t forget the umbrella!
- Avoid weekends. Everything gets busier on weekends, so try to go midweek if you can.
- Ask questions. Your guide has a lot of information. Learn more by asking any questions you have. There are no bad questions on these tours!
New York City has many attractions and things to do. It is a precious city. But you probably won’t regret spending that much money on a guided tour. You’ll go home with a few interesting stories and points to make and a rich, memorable experience.
Get In-depth Budget Tips for New York City!
For more NYC travel tips, check out my 100+ page guide for budget travelers like you! It cuts through the fluff found in other guides and goes straight to the essential information you need to navigate the city that never sleeps. You’ll find recipes, budgets, ways to save money, things to see and do, non-touristy restaurants, markets, bars, safety tips, and more! Click here to learn more and get your book today.
Book Your Trip to New York City: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Trip
Use Skyscanner to find cheap flights. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines all over the world so you know no stone is left unturned!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have great facilities and great deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they always return the cheapest prices for cheap guesthouses and hotels. My three favorite places to stay in the city are:
If you’re looking for more places to stay, here’s my full list of my favorite hostels in the city. Plus, if you’re wondering which part of town to live in, here’s my NYC neighborhood guide!
Don’t forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellation. It is a complete protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it because I have had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my website for the best companies to use when you travel. I write down everything I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Need a Guide?
New York has the most exciting tours. My favorite company is Take Walks. They have professional guides and can take you behind the scenes of the city’s attractions. It’s my go-to travel company!
Want More About NYC?
Be sure to visit our powerful New York City destination guide for even more planning tips!