I love New York. But I hate queues.
Like the Brits, Americans seem to really enjoy a queue. It must be the Italian in me that wants to always get around the system.
For many things in New York you should expect to wait, like tourist attractions, restaurants (even with a reservation) and taxis at peak hour.
I’m not that patient. When our friends told us about how good the Express line at the Empire State Building was, we didn’t hesitate to jump the queues.
Normal ticket prices for the Empire State Building are $27 but for $50 you can get behind the velvet ropes and up to the 86th floor in only a couple of minutes.
The best thing about the Express line are the open-mouthed stares from tired tourists waiting in the queue while uniformed guards call a lift just for you.
Especially when you go at sunset like we did. The queues are often the longest just before sunset so the Express ticket is really worth it. You don’t want to miss the sun set over Manhattan because you’re in the queue.
You want to see this view.
The other best thing about the Express tickets is that they allow you to queue jump on the way down too. You might not mind waiting an hour to get up to the viewing platform, but you will go crazy with the queues to get out of the building.
It’s also worth it if you’re only having a short stay in the city and don’t want to waste any time. If it’s your first trip to New York, you’ll want to check out our first-timer’s guide to NYC for our complete city tips.
If you’re cheap and don’t want to pay the extra for the Express tickets, you’ll have to go outside the peak times to beat the queues. The Empire State Building is open from 8am to 2am daily and arrive first thing or after 11pm for the shortest queues.
But the question remains, do you prefer the views from The Empire State Building or Top of the Rock?