The best guided tours to take in New York

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“I love New York, even though it isn’t mine, the way something has to be, a tree or a street or a house, something, anyway, that belongs to me because I belong to it”.

These are Holly Golightly’s words in the literary masterpiece by Truman Capote, even though in the movie by Blake Edwards, Audrey Hepburn is interrupted by George Peppard’s impulsive comment “So why are you leaving?”.

If it’s true that there’s a little bit of Holly in anyone of us, it is also true that somehow, we all belong to this city, which is so deeply carved in our imagination that we feel incomplete as travellers until we visit it.

There are many ways to visit New York, among which the thousand guided tours I’m now going to tell you about, pointing out the best ones according to my unquestionable opinion.

Let’s start with the tours of classic movies 

Scena dal film "Colazione da Tiffany",

Scena dal film “Colazione da Tiffany”,

If New York is part of our imagination especially thanks to the cinema, one of the best tours to visit New York the way we’ve always dreamt of is in my opinion the TCM Classic Film tour.
Besides the entrance to Holly’s apartment and various stuff from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, you will also have the chance to see the subway grate Marilyn Monroe stood on when her dress was blown up by a blast of air in The Seven Year Itch, the routes in Manhattan as described by Woody Allen, the most important places in the thousand takes shot in Central Park and even the small independent library of You’ve got mail. 

The tour costs 50 dollars for adults and the meeting place is at the crossing between 51st street and Broadway, every Thursday and Saturday starting at 10.30 am.

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

The guided tour of the Empire State Buildingfits perfectly among both movie tours and local history and culture tours.

As a matter of fact, as I’ve already said in the post about the things you can learn from a sightseeing tour in New York, even though it only took 410 days for the building to be ready and it’s the only one in town with its own Zip code, and despite having been the tallest skyscraper in the world for many years, almost no one knew it before the King Kong movie.

On the 89th floor, there’s an observatory where you can admire the view of the most important places in the city, among which Central Park with its perfect shape and remarkable size, the Hudson river, the Brooklyn bridge, Times Square and the East River.

Would you like to find out how to travel (even to NYC) at a very low cost?
Well then, read this post too! 

September 11 memorial

Memoriale dell'11 Settembre

Memoriale dell’11 Settembre, ph. Julie Laiymani, unsplash

Among the suggestions given by Musement, the Italian digital tourist service platform to buy tickets online and visit the hot spots without wasting too much time standing in lines (at times very long), there’s the September 11 Memorial, one of the most touching places for those who have been emotionally involved and showed civic engagement in contemporary history events.
The Memorial complex is more than a simple commemoration and meditation site,  developed along the two crater-fountains where there were once the foundations of the Twin Towers; it’s also a place of historical knowledge and reconstruction by means of a modern museum fitted with scenes and objects of great emotional impact as well as multimedia installations among the best in the world.

Night photo tours

ponte di brooklyn tour fotografico_NYC

ponte di brooklyn tour fotografico_NYC

The city that never sleeps is at its best especially during the night.
The New York by Night Photo Tourwill show you the most photogenic places of the city by night, guided by expert photographers and real connoisseurs of the place.
The tour is also a sort of mini-lesson of photography by night and it’s particularly well organized because it only starts with small groups of people, allowing thus everybody to get the attention they deserve and the right technical information.
If you love photography, this tour proves really special because you’ll be taking it with people who, just like you, are willing to study darkness and get the best creative expression out of it. What’s more, your travel companions will be aware of how complex taking pictures by night may be and you won’t have to worry about them waiting for you.

Photography (especially by night) enthusiasts will also appreciate the Central Park Night Time Photo Tour. More than “by night”, these tours mostly take place during the golden hour and the first part of the evening.

Tour of Soho

Soho, New York, ph.Drew Sullivan-unsplash

There’s no bigger mistake that visitors in New york can make than believing that New York is just Manhattan.
In my opinion, the best neighbourhood is Soho. It’s may be the less representative of the New York we all fancy, but it’s the most real.
It’s a mixed, creole, elegant, snob, radical chic and extremely artistic neighbourhood where I really felt at home.

There are lots of walking tours online, even for free, that combine Soho, little Italy and China Town in a few hours of walk, but I think that taking one over the other actually depends on individual priorities: if you’d like to go shopping and then sit down to rest in some place or if you’d like to stop by independent art galleries that are almost everywhere, forget the guided tours, get a map and GPS and do it yourself.

Jazz tour

Whereas many cities (including New York) have the so-called Pub Crawls, here I believe it is worth taking advantage of the countless evening exhibitions by the best and most important jazz players in the world.
There are two starter packs: the Harlem tour and the tour of the hidden spots in Greenwich Village, both of them organized by BigAppleJazz.

The first tour requires transfers by tube, taxi or walking on foot, just like any New Yorker who decides to spend an evening in Harlem would do (and just like I did) to see live jazz performances in very famous places, like the Smoke (this explains the 100 dollars price for the tour). The tour also including the stages that witnessed the history of great jazz women like Billie Holiday.

The second tour takes instead less time (evening tour) and it’s more underground, which means you will listen to the most modern jazz contaminations in places where nowadays both young and no longer young people hang out, especially independent artists.

Have you been on a special tour in New york that you would like to add to the list?

This post was written in collaboration with


  • Dr. K. Lee Banks

    I went to college the first time (right out of high school) back between 1976-1980 in Nyack, New York. I am from New Hampshire originally, and had never been to any large cities, other than Boston for Red Sox games. Many students who were from NYC or nearby suburbs often organized trips into NYC for those of us country kids who had never been there. It was quite the experience!

  • Jennifer Prince

    I am headed there in 2 weeks! The movie tour sounds like such a fun one. I will have to check it out! 🙂

  • Konstantina

    My online friend was telling me about these sightings yesterday. NY must be a great place to spend any season of the year. Wish I could visit.

  • Cătălina-Iuliana Nini

    NY will always have my heart <3. Once I arrived in New York I knew the hype is real, everywhere you go in the US you get the feeling that you are in a different world. I would love to go back and the jazz tour will be on my list together with a vintage shops tour.

  • fashionandstylepolice

    We visited New York last year but we didn’t get to do any tours. Will keep these in mind for next time.

  • Surekha Busa

    Oh it was so beautiful, yes i get it, loving a certain place because it owns you spiritually. I love the quote.

  • Monidipa Dutta

    Il posto sembra così bello. Devo dire che è una bella cattura e la tua descrizione è adorabile.

  • Chloe

    Amazing tour selection! I wish I had known about them when I visited NY

  • Samantha Donnelly

    I would love to visit New York it is on my bucket list of places to visit and these tours sound great

  • Rhian Westbury

    I’ve done ground zero tour and it was so interesting to hear about some of the people involved and the brave people like the firefighters who did all they could, it’s very emotional though. Next time I go I’d love to do a movie tour as I’v not done one of those x

  • Marysa

    I haven’t been to NYC in a while now. These tours sound very unique, and a neat way to explore the city. I will have to remember these next time we head down to the city.

  • Lori Bosworth

    What a great review of New York City tours! I would probably take the Soho tour and the September 11 memorial tour.

  • Tatiana Barone

    What a city!
    How lovely will be one day to visit it!

  • Laura

    We are planning on visiting New York next year so this is so helpful in order for us to plan our trip! Sounds great!

  • Dalene Ekirapa

    I just love street music and you’d normally find me around such streets over here. So definitely, if I went to New York, I’d appreciate listening to jazz come evenings.

  • Liz Bayardelle

    This is so cool! I lived in New York for a while, but I think I would still take some of these tours. The night photography one seemed especially unique!

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