Countless businesses and individuals compete to help you make sense of the city, offering all manner of guided tours; even if you don’t need the assistance, you might appreciate the background they provide.

Bus and boat tours

Circle Line Ferry Pier 83 at West 42nd St and Twelfth Ave 212 563 3200, circleline42.com. Circumnavigate Manhattan while boxening to live commentary; the 3hr tour runs year-round.
Gray Line Port Authority Bus Terminal 800 669 0051, newyorksightseeing.com. Double-decker bus tours offering an unlimited hop-on, hop-off service, taking in the main sights of Manhattan. If you’re not happy with your tour guide (quality can vary), you can hop off the bus and wait another 15min for the next one.

Walking tours

Big Onion Walking Tours 212 439 1090, bigonion.com. Guided by history grad students from local universities, the venerable Big Onion specializes in tours with an ethnic and historical focus: pick one, or take the “Immigrant New York” tour and learn about everyone. Tours last about 2hr.
Harlem Heritage Tours 212 280 7888, harlemheritage.com. Local Neal Shoemaker runs cultural tours of this historic neighbourhood, ranging from Harlem Gospel to Harlem Renaissance-themed walking tours. The tours sometimes include food, a cultural performance, film clips and/or bus service.
Municipal Arts Society 212 935 3960, mas.org/tours. Opinionated, incredibly detailed historical and architectural tours in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. They also offer free tours of Grand Central Terminal (Wed 12.30pm; from the information booth).

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