This post is a review and comparison of the various different walking tours of Grand Central Terminal, including our own guided pay-what-you-like tour as well as a self-guided GPS-enabled audio tour. Most Grand Central Terminal tours run anywhere from 1 ½ – 2 hours in length, making them easy to fit into almost any itinerary. Even if you don’t think you have time to explore this historic station, chances are you’ll be able to find time for one of these trips. If you can’t squeeze one of the following walking tours into your schedule, there are also self-guided and audio tours that you can enjoy at any time.
For over 100 years, the Beaux-Arts beauty known as Grand Central Terminal (a.k.a Station) has been a testament to the ingenuity and ambition of a great city, impressing both travelers and visitors with its wonderful architecture and pulsating vibe. Its history is a story of immense wealth, great engineering, a few accidents, a planned sabotage and one terrific ceiling, but most importantly a story of survival and rebirth. Let Free Tours by Foot demonstrate to you how Grand Central went from a land of goat pens and breweries to one of the world’s most fascinating train stations as we uncover the secrets hidden in plain sight. Learn the story of not just Grand Central Station, but of Terminal City as well.
Sights we cover on the Grand Central Terminal Tour:
This tour takes place mostly inside and is a good choice for any weather.
Where: Grand Central Terminal Information Booth and Clock on the main concourse. Please use our Google map for directions to the tour start.
Duration: Approximately 1 hour 45 minutes.
If you can’t make one of our tours, you might consider one of the New York tourist passes, which include free guided tours of Grand Central Terminal. T
Cost: This tour is free to take, and you get to decide what, if anything, the tour was worth when it’s done. A name-your-own-price tour is a tour for anyone’s budget.
Not all Grand Central tours are free, but at least these outings are unique, offering a different experience with the station. From food tastings to a look behind-the-scenes, there are definitely some interesting tales to discover at the GCT. Although one of these trips will cost almost $90, the other two are reasonably priced at only $25-$35 each. These walking tours typically run for between 1-2 hours, making it easy to fit into your itinerary.
Grand Central Official Tours
The Municipal Art Society of New York has teamed up with MTA Metro-North Railroad and Orpheo in order to provide these daily Grand Gentral Terminal tours. With the help of their professionally trained docents, you’ll learn all about the history behind this notable landmark. Clocking in at only 75 minutes in length, this is a much shorter trip than most of the alternatives, but reviews are pretty good. Prices are fairly reasonable, and you can actually save money on tickets through a variety of methods.
Although most of the reviews for this service are favorable, it’s worth noting that at least a few customers gave the outing an average rating. To be fair, even those who weren’t amazed with the experience noted that their docent was very helpful and provided an earpiece to each guest so that they could hear the tour better. Visitors who enjoyed this trek were very impressed with their tour guide, referring to them as passionate and informative. Couples left more positive reviews than any other audience.
Grand Central Partnership
This company is best known for managing the Grand Central Business Improvement District, so you can bet that they probably know a lot about the area. Thankfully, they don’t mind sharing this information for free with their visitors! Although this tour only runs once a week, it is very highly rated and has actually won some awards. Urban historians Peter Laskowich and Madeleine Levi serve as your docent, providing a lot of interesting stories about Grand Central Terminal and the surrounding neighborhood. At 90 minutes in length, it should be fairly easy to fit this into almost any schedule.
With an overall rating of 4 ½ out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor, it’s pretty clear that this walking tour is very well received. Several guests described their tour guides as passionate, knowledgeable and entertaining. Even visitors who have been to Grand Central before were surprised by how much they were able to see and learn on this educational trip. Most customers indicated that this outing exceeded all of their expectations. Couples were the most likely to appreciate Grand Central Partnership’s trek around the terminal.
Untapped Cities – Secrets of Grand Central Tour
Have you ever wondered if there was anything strange about Grand Central? Well, this walking tour will take you behind the scenes for an entirely different view of the station. Discover areas you never knew existed and find out secrets that most locals don’t even know about. With an average duration of 1 ½ hours, you’ll have plenty of time to see a side of GCT that few ever get to explore. Tickets are a little more expensive, but tour groups are also much smaller and more personable.
With an overall rating of 4 ½ stars on TripAdvisor, it’s fair to say that Untapped Cities is a very trustworthy company. An overwhelming majority of reviews for this trip are positive, with guests often taking the time to show a lot of love for their tour guide. Several visitors were especially pleased to discover a lot of information and even locations in Grand Central Terminal that they never knew about. This tour was most popular among customers who brought a friend for the journey, but it was also very well rated by families and those who went on their own.
For those of you who are more interested in how tasty meals shaped New York, this food tour will give you a look at all of the amazing treats available from vendors in and around Grand Central Terminal. All tastings are included in the price of admission, and they even provide you with an additional coupon book for some of the businesses located at the GCT. Clocking in at 2 hours in length, you’ll have more than enough time to explore the grounds while eating some of the more delicious foods found at Grand Central. Tickets are pretty expensive, but reviews indicate that this experience might be worth the higher price tag.
Ratings for this service are quite excellent and most customers were in agreement that the food was amazing. Others were simply pleased with the amount of details they learned about from their tour guides, who were reportedly very friendly and informative. After the tour, several guests suggested that the coupon book they received made it very easy to do some shopping at the Grand Central Terminal. This outing was quite popular with couples and visitors who brought a friend for the trip.
Be sure to check out Free Tours by Foot’s line of pay-what-you-like food tours.
If you’re not interested in a guided tour, it’s still fairly easy to explore Grand Central Terminal on your own. With the help of an audio tour, you can learn all about the station and its history. Alternatively, you can also use a self guided tour to discover the GCT. Whichever option you choose, these opportunities are typically very affordable and you can enjoy them at any time. This is a great way to avoid the crowd and set your own schedule while you find out what makes this historic site so popular.
Free Tours By Foot
We offer two option. Option one is our audio tour. Our audio tour app is free to download, has useful information for when you are out and about in the city and has several audio tours to choose from, including our Grand Central Terminal. We provide all of the information you’ll need to find GST and all of the various sites located in and around the station. This guide to Grand Central even includes a few details that you might not hear about on other outings! Simply load up the page on your smartphone and use it to discover one of the most popular landmarks in New York City. Click here to start your own self guided tour.
Grand Central Terminal Audio Tour
GCT offers their own audio tour at a fairly affordable rate. Clocking in at about an hour in length, this trip around the station might not cover as much as you’ll discover on other tours, but it’ll definitely include a lot of important information. Considering how much money you’ll save in comparison to a traditional walking tour, this might actually be preferable for some visitors. Explore the area at your own pace while hearing all about its history from an audio guide.
TIP: This audio tour is included at no additional cost with the New York Pass.
Ratings for this service are pretty good (read reviews here), with most guests giving them at least 4 stars. Several visitors felt that the audio tour was excellent and easy to use. One customer enjoyed the outing but recommended not to take it during rush hour. Quite a few reviewers appreciated the fact that this tour is offered in a variety of different languages. This opportunity is perfect for anyone going on their own, but it’s also a great option for smaller groups.
In addition to the other Grand Central Terminal tours listed above, there are also several outings which include a visit to the station. Although your trip to Grand Central won’t be the main focus during these outings, you will have the opportunity to spend some time in the area and learn a bit about its history. The following options are great for anyone who only has a passing interest in seeing the GCT.