Tour the United Nations Building in New York City

Tour the United Nations Building in New York City
I invited my teenage son to join me on a business trip to NYC. We had a few hours free to explore the city, so I had him pick what he wanted to do. He suggested a tour of the United Nations Building, and with a little research, I reserved our guided tour for a Friday afternoon.

The hour-long tour offered glimpses into the workings of the United Nations and their efforts in addressing global issues. If you’re planning to visit New York City and want to tour the United Nations Building, these tips will help you plan your visit.

Tour the United Nations Building in New York City Carltonaut's Travel Tips

Book Your Guided Tour in Advance

When you know you want to tour the United Nations Building, visit their website to book your tour. Guided tours are available Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. There are some holidays the UN Building is closed, so you’re want to check their website to see what is available.

Note that children 5 and under are not permitted on the guided tour.

Pick up a visitor badge for the United Nations Building Tour in New York City Carltonaut's Travel Tips

Get your Visitor’s Badge Across the Street

If you’ve scheduled a guided tour, you’ll want to arrive at the building 45-60 minutes before your tour. It takes some time to get your visitor’s badge, and you don’t want to miss the start of your tour.

The tall, iconic building you see in movies houses the offices of those working in the United Nations. The smaller building to the north of the tall building is where the tour actually takes place. But before you can make your way through the security checkpoint, you have to visit the building across the street (to the west of the entrance) to get a visitor’s badge. That building is on the corner of 1st Avenue and E 45th Street.

Bring a government-issued, picture I.D. (passport, driver license, etc.) for everyone over the age of 18. Your confirmation email will contain additional information about the types of I.D.s that are accepted.

Once you get your visitor’s badge, head across the street to the security checkpoint that will allow you into the United Nations Complex.

Gift from the City of Luxembourg to the United Nations in New York City Carltonaut's Travel Tips

Explore the UN Complex & Visitors Center

Once through security, we took a few moments to explore some of the gifts in the UN Gift Garden. We found a cultured gifted to the United Nations from the City of Luxembourg, which was a revolver with it’s barrel tied up – promoting peace and not violence. Some of the gardens were blocked off, so we could explore everything there is there.

Once inside the visitor’s center, you can explore certain areas of the building without being on the guided tour. This includes a display on the priority areas of the United Nations – like clean water, food, diseases, etc. – and a gift shop so you can grab a souvenir from your visit. This part of the area is free to access. It’s only the guided tours that cost money – but you’re also able to see a lot more, making the tour worth it.

What to Expect on the Guided Tour

Follow the signs in the visitor’s center to where the guided tours take place. If you didn’t purchase your ticket in advance, you can purchase them onsite for whatever tour times still have room.

Check-in roughly 15 minutes before your tour start time and then wait for the tour guides to arrive. The tour takes you to a few notable areas within the building (not the tall offices building). However, if meetings are in session in the chambers, some may be unavailable for tour groups.

Here are the few rooms you’ll be able to visit on the guided tour of the United Nations Building. They aren’t listed in the order in which you’ll see them while on the guided tour.

See the Security Council Chambers on the United Nations Guided Tour in New York City Carltonaut's Travel Tips

United Nations Security Council Chambers

I wasn’t really familiar with the operations of the United Nations prior to the tour. But I discovered that 15 members serve on the UN Security Council. There are five permanent members of the Council (China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly.

Visit the General Assembly Hall on the United Nations Building guided tour in New York City Carltonaut's Travel Tips

General Assembly Hall of the United Nations

The most iconic stage and room inside the United Nations Building is the General Assembly Hall. It’s the room where countries from around the world are represented and where discussions take place to tackle global issues.

Don’t worry, the tour does allow you some time to grab a few photos or selfies in the General Assembly Hall.

Other Chambers at the United Nations Building

There are two other chambers you can visit as part of your tour unless they have meetings in progress: The Trusteeship Council Chamber and the Economic and Social Council Chamber.

Nuclear war on a global scale: Exhibit at the United Nations Building in New York City Carltonaut's Travel Tips

Other Exhibits on the United Nations Building Guided Tour

Between the iconic chambers, there are displays throughout the hallways you’ll learn about during your tour. For example, one of the main purposes of the United Nations in peacekeeping. You’ll learn about their efforts and the locations around the world where they have assigned UN peacekeepers.

There are several gifts from other countries on display as well. But the room that has a meaningful impact is about war. You can see the magnitude of nuclear war and the race to arms around the globe. There’s a stone statue from Japan that was blasted by the atomic bombs dropped near the end of World War II. The front of the statue looks fine – but the back of it is melted. It was interesting to see the effect the atomic bombs had on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Global issues exhibit at the United Nations Building in New York City Carltonaut's Travel Tips

The Details

Address:  46th St & 1st Ave, New York, NY 10017

Hours of Operation:  Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Guided tours are only available Monday – Friday as well.

Costs: It’s free to visit the United Nations Complex and visitors center. However, a guided tour (as described above) is $22 for adults, $15 for students and seniors, and $12 for children, ages 5-12. For security reasons, children under 5 are not permitted on the tour.


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