Empire State Building at Sunrise: VIP Ticket and Tips

VIP ticket: Empire State Building at sunrise

New in the program is an exclusive tour at sunrise on the Empire State Building. Experience from the 86th floor how the city comes to life. Beautiful photographs, magical moments and an absolutely stress-free enjoyment of the view are included. We recommend booking online in good time, as tickets are limited to a small number of participants. The price is, of course, higher than the regular entrance fee, but it is definitely worth it.

Our 10 best tips for the Empire State Building

1. When is the best time to go to the Empire State Building?

The best time to visit is daily between 8 and 11 am or after 10 pm. That’s when the waiting time is shortest. So the Empire should be at the top or bottom of your itinerary. The viewing platform is open daily until 2 am, so you can enjoy the spectacular skyline and view even at night or sunrise. Dress warmly if it is not yet summer, as it is quite windy up there. In all other cases: Don’t forget your sunscreen 🙂


Highlight in the summer months: Live music is played on the Empire State Building from Thursday to Saturday between 21:00 and 01:00.

2. Opening hours of the viewing platforms and lifts

The viewing platform is open from 8:00 am until 2:00 am. The last lift to the platform leaves at 1:15 am.

Opening hours on public holidays differ only slightly:

  • New Year: 8:00 am to 2:00 am
  • Thanksgiving: 8:00 to 2:00
  • Thanksgiving weekend : 8:00 am to 2:00 am
  • 24 December: 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
  • 25 December: 8:00 am to 2:00 am
  • 26 – 30 December: 7 am to 1 am
  • New Year’s Eve: 7:00 am to 10:00 pm

3. Which viewing platform is worth going to?

The Empire observation platforms are located on the 102nd and 86th floor. There is a glazed area on the 102nd floor at 373 m and another terrace is on the 86th floor at 320 m. Normally you would drive up to the terrace and then climb 1,800 steps to the 102nd floor. The open viewing platform offers some binoculars, a wheelchair-accessible promenade and an indoor area for those who find it too cold outside. Sixteen floors above, you are at the highest public viewing point in all of New York.

Until the 102nd floor was rebuilt, we long advised against paying the extra charge for the highest floor because it wasn’t worth it for us personally. However, as you have read above, we have changed our mind somewhat since the 2019 renovation.


With the New York Discount Passes, where the Empire State Building entrance fee is included in the price, you always travel to the viewing platform on the 86th floor.

If you also want to go to the 102nd floor, you will have to pay an extra charge on site.

4. Don’t want to wait? Buy your tickets online!

If you want to go to the Empire, you have to pass 3 queues: at the security check, when buying your tickets and one in front of the elevators. You can’t get past the security check, but you can leave the queues at the ticket sales and the elevators behind with the respective online ticket. With a normal ticket, you have shorter waiting times in front of the lifts between 8:00 and 10:00 and after 22:00 (for me it was 20 minutes).

The fast access with the VIP Express Experience ticket is especially worthwhile on holidays and for all extended weekends. The number of Express Tickets is limited, so if there’s still one left, you should buy it quickly!

5. How much time should I allow?

Even if you bought your tickets online, you should plan about 2 hours for your visit. Sometimes there are long lines before the check. Luckily, it is faster afterward with online or express tickets. By the way, the waiting lines are built so that people are almost always on the move so that it doesn’t get boring. With the monitors, you can also pass the time a little bit.

6. Think about employment for the children

Children love the view of the city from the Empire and find the elevator totally exciting. Less fun, however, is waiting in the queues. So remember to pack something to paint or toys. By the way, prams are allowed in the elevators.

7. Where can I get cheap tickets?

You can find cheap tickets online all year round, where you can take advantage of huge online discounts on a variety of tickets! Admission for children under 6 is free at the Empire State Building and if your little ones need a stroller, you can take it upstairs. However, it should be folded up, so when you get to the viewing platform you can unfold the stroller again!

8. Security check – what do I have to do?

Every visitor to the Empire State Building must pass through the security checkpoint. Glass and bottles are not allowed in the building. Costumes, masks, weapons, spray cans, skateboards and tennis balls are also not allowed. Cameras and cameras are allowed, tripods are not. There is no cloakroom or luggage storage, so you must carry (or throw away) anything you take there.

9. Can I bring or buy food and drink?

On the Empire, you are even allowed to eat and drink a little. There are no restaurants at the top of the viewing platforms, but there is a lobby downstairs with snacks etc. Nearby you will find cafés and bistros (e.g. the Heartland Brewery or Starbucks).

10. How do I get to the Empire State Building?

You can’t miss the Empire State Building – it stands out far too prominently from the many buildings in Manhattan. You will find it at 5th Avenue and 34th Street.