Travel Guide

United Nations Headquarters

The United Nations Headquarters

Step into the epicenter of global diplomacy at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. This iconic complex offers visitors a unique glimpse into the workings of international cooperation, featuring stunning architecture, thought-provoking exhibits, and a tangible sense of world history in the making.

The United Nations Headquarters in a nutshell…

The United Nations Headquarters is the official seat of the United Nations organization, hosting international diplomacy and global cooperation efforts in New York City.

Location: 405 East 42nd Street, situated along the East River in Midtown Manhattan

Transportation: Easily accessible by subway (4, 5, 6, 7 to Grand Central-42nd Street) or bus (M15, M27, M42)

Tickets: Free entry to grounds and Visitor Centre; guided tours require tickets purchased in advance through the official UN website

Visiting Hours: Generally open for guided tours on weekdays; hours may vary due to official UN activities. Check the official website for current schedules and potential closures

The United Nations Headquarters stands as a beacon of international diplomacy and cooperation in the heart of New York City. This impressive complex, completed in 1952, serves as the official headquarters of the United Nations, bringing together representatives from 193 member states to work towards global peace, security, and sustainable development.

As you approach the UN Headquarters, you’ll be struck by its distinctive architecture. The 39-story Secretariat Building, with its sleek glass and marble facade, rises prominently along the East River, symbolizing the organization’s global reach and aspirations. Alongside it, the domed General Assembly Hall and the Dag Hammarskjöld Library form a harmonious ensemble that reflects the UN’s mission of fostering dialogue and understanding among nations.

Visiting the UN Headquarters offers a unique opportunity to witness international diplomacy in action and gain insights into the organization’s vital work. From guided tours that take you behind the scenes of key meeting rooms to thought-provoking exhibits on global issues, your visit will provide a deeper understanding of the UN’s role in addressing the world’s most pressing challenges. Whether you’re a history buff, a political science enthusiast, or simply curious about global affairs, the UN Headquarters promises an enlightening and memorable experience.

Practical information

Planning your visit to the United Nations Headquarters requires some preparation, but the experience is well worth the effort. As a center of international diplomacy, the UN complex has specific entry procedures and tour options that differ from typical tourist attractions in New York City.


The United Nations Headquarters is situated on the east side of Midtown Manhattan, overlooking the East River on 405 East and 42nd Street. Its prime location offers easy access from various parts of the city while providing a serene setting for international diplomacy.

How to get there

Reaching the United Nations Headquarters is straightforward thanks to New York City’s comprehensive public transportation system. Whether you prefer the subway, bus, or other options, you’ll find convenient routes to get you there.


The subway is your quickest option for reaching the UN Headquarters. Take the 4, 5, 6, or 7 train to Grand Central-42nd Street station. From there, it’s a short 10-minute walk east along 42nd Street to the UN complex. Alternatively, the E or M train to Lexington Avenue-53rd Street station puts you within a 15-minute walk of the headquarters.


If you prefer to see the city as you travel, buses offer a great alternative. The M15, M27, and M42 buses all stop near the UN Headquarters. Look for stops along First Avenue or 42nd Street. Remember to have your MetroCard ready or use the OMNY contactless payment system for a smooth ride.


For a scenic approach, consider taking the NYC Ferry. The East 34th Street ferry stop is just a short walk from the UN Headquarters. This option offers beautiful views of the East River and the city skyline as you approach.

Hop-on Hop-off Buses

Hop-on hop-off buses are an excellent way to combine your visit to the UN Headquarters with other New York attractions. Most of these tour buses include a stop near the UN complex, allowing you to explore at your own pace while providing informative commentary about the city’s landmarks.

View more sightseeing bus options


While driving in New York City can be an adventure, it’s generally not recommended when visiting the UN Headquarters. Traffic in Midtown can be heavy, and parking near the complex is limited and expensive. The excellent public transportation options make it much easier and often quicker to reach the UN without the stress of navigating Manhattan’s busy streets.


Visiting the United Nations Headquarters requires some advance planning, especially if you want to take a guided tour. While the grounds and the Visitor Centre are freely accessible, entering the main buildings and participating in tours requires tickets.

Visiting Hours

The United Nations Headquarters operates on a schedule that reflects its role as an active center of international diplomacy. The complex is generally open for guided tours on weekdays, with specific hours varying depending on the UN’s official activities.

It’s important to note that the UN Headquarters may be closed to visitors during high-level meetings or special events. Always check the official website for the most up-to-date information on visiting hours and any potential closures before planning your trip.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the United Nations Headquarters depends on your interests and schedule flexibility. If you’re keen on witnessing the UN in action, consider visiting during the General Assembly session in September, when world leaders gather to address global issues. However, be aware that this is also the busiest time, with increased security measures and limited tour availability.

For a more relaxed experience, aim for weekday mornings outside of the peak tourist season (July-August). This allows you to explore the complex when it’s less crowded while still experiencing the day-to-day operations of the organization. Remember that guided tours are not available on weekends, so plan accordingly if a behind-the-scenes look is a priority for your visit.

Guided Tours

Exploring the United Nations Headquarters and its surroundings offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in global diplomacy and New York City’s rich history. From guided tours of the UN complex to scenic cruises and architectural walks, there’s something for every interest.

UN Headquarters Tour

Embarking on a tour of the United Nations Headquarters offers a unique opportunity to delve into the world of international diplomacy and global cooperation. These guided experiences provide invaluable insights into the UN’s crucial work and allow you to see areas of the complex not accessible to the general public.

From the iconic General Assembly Hall to the Security Council Chamber, each stop on the tour tells a story of global decision-making and peacekeeping efforts. Let’s explore the tour options available and what you can expect from this enlightening experience.

Guided tours are available during weekdays, they last around an hour. For security reasons, children under the age of 5 are not permitted to participate in the tour. All participants above 16 years need to bring a valid ID. All tours are wheelchair accessible. There is no coat room to store coats or bags.

These tours are popular and often sell out, so it’s advisable to book in advance through the official UN website. If you’re unable to secure a tour, don’t worry - the Visitor Centre offers engaging exhibits that provide a comprehensive overview of the UN’s mission and activities.

Book your tour directly at the UN website

Circle Line: Complete Manhattan Island Cruise

For a different perspective on the UN and New York’s skyline, consider the Complete Manhattan Island Cruise. This extended boat tour circumnavigates the island, offering stunning views of landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and the UN Secretariat Building.

It’s a perfect way to see the UN complex from the water while taking in the broader context of New York’s architectural marvels.

New York Harbor Brunch Cruise

Combine sightseeing with culinary delights on a weekend brunch cruise aboard a 1920s-style yacht. As you sail around Manhattan, including past the UN building on the East River, you’ll enjoy a prix fixe brunch featuring local New York specialties.

The cruise offers both indoor and outdoor seating options, allowing you to take in views of Ellis Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the UN complex while savoring fresh bagels, smoked salmon, and other local delicacies.

Holdouts: A NYC Architecture Walking Tour

Delve into the lesser-known stories that have shaped Manhattan's skyline on this small-group walking tour. Learn about the “holdouts” - property owners who refused to sell to developers, inadvertently influencing the city’s unique architectural landscape.

As you explore Midtown East, you’ll pass by the UN Secretariat Building, gaining insights into how individual decisions have impacted the surrounding streetscape. This tour offers a fascinating perspective on the interplay between personal stories and urban development.

What to Expect at The United Nations Headquarters

Visiting the United Nations Headquarters is an immersive experience that offers a unique blend of history, politics, and global awareness. As you approach the complex, you’ll be greeted by the iconic row of flags representing UN member states, creating a colorful and symbolic welcome.

Upon entering, you’ll pass through airport-style security, a reminder of the UN’s importance in world affairs. The Visitor Centre is your first stop, featuring interactive exhibits that introduce you to the UN’s mission and global impact. Here, you can explore displays on peacekeeping, sustainable development, and human rights.

If you’ve booked a guided tour, you’ll have the opportunity to step inside the renowned General Assembly Hall, where representatives from all member states gather to debate global issues. The chamber’s distinctive design, with its domed ceiling and golden UN emblem, leaves a lasting impression.

Your tour may also include a visit to the Security Council Chamber, famous for its striking mural by Norwegian artist Per Krohg. This is where crucial decisions on international peace and security are made. Throughout the tour, knowledgeable guides share insights into the UN’s history, structure, and current initiatives.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see the collection of gifts presented to the UN by various member states, ranging from intricate tapestries to unique sculptures. These artifacts offer a glimpse into the diverse cultures represented at the UN.

Before leaving, take a moment to reflect at the Japanese Peace Bell in the rose garden, a symbol of the UN’s commitment to world peace. The gift shop offers a range of UN-themed souvenirs, including the unique opportunity to purchase UN postage stamps.

Remember, the UN is an active workplace, so your visit might coincide with real diplomatic activities, adding an exciting dimension to your experience. Keep an eye out for delegates and staff going about their daily work, bringing the concept of global cooperation to life before your eyes.

Tips to Visit The United Nations Headquarters

  • Book your guided tour in advance through the official UN website to secure your spot, especially during peak seasons or if you have a specific date in mind.
  • Arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled tour time to allow for security screening. Remember, the security process is similar to that at airports, so be prepared to remove metal objects and have your bags scanned.
  • Bring a valid government-issued photo ID, such as a passport or driver’s license. This is required for all visitors aged 18 and over.
  • Dress appropriately for the occasion. While there’s no strict dress code for visitors, remember that you’re entering a place of international diplomacy. Smart casual attire is recommended.
  • Be aware that large bags, suitcases, and certain items like weapons (even replica ones) are not allowed inside. There are no storage facilities available, so plan accordingly.
  • Take advantage of the free audio guides available in multiple languages to enhance your understanding of the exhibits in the Visitor Centre.
  • Don’t miss the opportunity to send a postcard from the UN post office using unique UN stamps. It’s a special way to share your experience with loved ones.
  • Explore the UN gift shop for unique souvenirs, including items made by artisans from around the world as part of UN development programs.
  • If possible, time your visit to coincide with one of the temporary exhibits or special events often hosted at the UN. Check the official website for current offerings.
  • Remember that photography is allowed in most areas, but be respectful and follow any instructions from staff or signs regarding where photos are not permitted.
  • Take time to walk around the UN gardens and enjoy the various sculptures and monuments, including the Knotted Gun sculpture symbolizing non-violence.


Access to the United Nations Headquarters is facilitated by an entrance ramp located at the Visitor’s Entrance on 46th and 1st Street. After completing the security screening, there are designated entrances for persons with disabilities to access the General Assembly Building, clearly indicated by signage.

Inside, an information desk is available to provide additional assistance. Throughout the UN complex, security officers are on hand to direct those requiring assistance to the appropriate turnstiles for accessing various areas.

Frequently Asked Questions

The United Nations Headquarters is the official seat of the United Nations, located in New York City. It serves as the central location for the organization’s operations, hosting meetings of various UN bodies and housing the offices of UN staff and country representatives. The complex includes several iconic buildings, most notably the Secretariat Building and the General Assembly Hall.

The UN Headquarters complex was constructed between 1949 and 1952. The site was designed by a team of architects led by Wallace Harrison, and the project was overseen by the American architect Le Corbusier. The first meetings in the General Assembly Building were held in 1952, marking the official opening of the headquarters.

Yes, the UN Headquarters is open to visitors. However, access to the main buildings is only possible through guided tours, which need to be booked in advance. The Visitor Centre and the grounds are freely accessible to the public during operating hours.

Guided tours of the UN Headquarters typically last about one hour. These tours provide insights into the UN’s work and access to key areas of the complex, including the General Assembly Hall and the Security Council Chamber.

Children under 5 years old are not permitted on guided tours for security reasons. All visitors aged 18 and over must present a valid government-issued photo ID to enter the complex.

Photography is generally allowed in most areas of the UN Headquarters, including the public spaces and during guided tours. However, there may be some restricted areas where photography is not permitted. Always follow the instructions of your tour guide or posted signs.

Guided tours of the UN Headquarters are typically offered in all six official UN languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. However, availability may vary depending on the day and time of your visit. It’s best to check when booking your tour.

Yes, the UN Headquarters is wheelchair accessible. All guided tours are designed to accommodate visitors with mobility needs. If you require any specific accommodations, it’s best to mention this when booking your tour.

Yes, there is a UN Gift Shop located in the Visitor Centre where you can purchase a variety of UN-themed souvenirs, including books, clothing, and unique items made by artisans from around the world as part of UN development programs.

The UN Headquarters hosts numerous special events throughout the year, including temporary exhibits, lectures, and commemorations of international days. The most notable event is the General Assembly session in September, which brings together world leaders from all member states.

Guided tours can be booked directly through the official UN website ( ). It’s recommended to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons or if you have a specific date in mind.

While there’s no strict dress code for visitors, it’s recommended to dress in smart casual attire out of respect for the diplomatic nature of the venue. Avoid overly casual clothing like beachwear or athletic wear.

Yes, the UN Headquarters has its own post office where you can send mail using unique UN postage stamps. This is a popular activity among visitors, allowing them to send postcards with these special stamps.

Yes, there is a café in the Visitor Centre where you can purchase light refreshments. For a full meal, the Delegates Dining Room is occasionally open to the public, offering a unique dining experience with views of the East River.

The UN Headquarters can be visited year-round, but the experience can vary. September is the busiest month due to the General Assembly session, offering a chance to see world leaders but with limited tour availability. For a more relaxed visit, consider weekdays outside of peak tourist seasons (July-August). Always check the official website for current visiting hours and any potential closures.

Where to Stay Near The United Nations Headquarters

Staying near the United Nations Headquarters can be a convenient option, especially if you’re planning to take an early morning tour or want to explore the surrounding Midtown East neighborhood. The area around the UN complex offers a range of accommodations to suit various budgets and preferences.

Many hotels in this area cater to business travelers and diplomats, offering comfortable amenities and easy access to the UN. However, keep in mind that this part of Manhattan can be quieter in the evenings compared to more tourist-centric areas. If you’re looking for a livelier atmosphere or want to be closer to other major attractions, you might consider staying in nearby areas like Times Square, Midtown West, or even downtown neighborhoods neighborhoods for a different New York experience.

Other Nearby Attractions

The United Nations Headquarters’ location in Midtown East puts you within easy reach of many of New York City’s iconic attractions. This prime position makes it an excellent starting point for exploring the city, allowing you to make the most of your visit to the Big Apple.

Grand Central Terminal

An emblem of New York City, Grand Central Terminal is more than a mere transit hub. Its Beaux-Arts architecture encapsulates a stunning celestial mural painted on the vaulted ceiling, showcasing a celestial scene. Within its sprawling confines, the terminal hosts an array of retail stores, dining options ranging from casual eateries to upscale restaurants, and various seasonal events that draw both locals and tourists alike.

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Chrysler Building

Standing as one of the most illustrious examples of Art Deco architecture in the world, the Chrysler Building is a hallmark of New York City’s skyline. While its interiors remain closed to the public, the building’s exterior offers a feast for the eyes with its intricate decorations and the iconic spire. This skyscraper is particularly striking when viewed at close quarters, where one can appreciate the meticulous craftsmanship and artistry of its design

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New York Public Library

Located on Fifth Avenue, the main branch of the New York Public Library, known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, is a masterpiece of Beaux-Arts architecture. This cultural beacon invites visitors to explore its vast collections, enjoy free exhibitions, and seek tranquility in the majestic Rose Main Reading Room, where light streams in through tall windows illuminating the ornate ceilings and wood-carved details.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Amidst the hustle and bustle of Midtown Manhattan stands St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a splendid example of Neo-Gothic architecture. This Roman Catholic cathedral offers not just a place of worship but also a sanctuary of peace with its awe-inspiring interior, highlighted by its towering spires, intricate stained glass, and detailed stone work that draw admirers from around the globe.

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Rockefeller Center

This famous complex, synonymous with New York City, encompasses a variety of attractions wrapped in striking Art Deco style. Rockefeller Center is famed for its seasonal outdoor ice skating rink, the grandeur of Radio City Music Hall, and the panoramic views from the Top of the Rock observation deck. It’s a cultural hub that also hosts the celebrated annual Christmas tree lighting.

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Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

The Museum of Modern Art, known as MoMA, is a pioneer in the collection and exhibition of modern artworks. Its galleries display some of the most famous pieces from the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol. MoMA not only showcases a vast array of paintings, sculptures, and photographs but also serves as a dynamic venue for film screenings and educational programs, making it a central figure in New York City’s art scene.

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Times Square

Often referred to as “The Crossroads of the World,” Times Square is a dazzling spectacle of neon lights, giant digital billboards, and eclectic crowds. This vibrant area is best known for its Broadway theaters, various media headquarters, and the annual New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, making it an essential visit for anyone seeking the pulsating heart of New York City.

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Explore Our Comprehensive Travel Guide

On this page

  1. Introduction
  2. Practical information
  3. Guided Tours
  4. What to Expect at The United Nations Headquarters
  5. Tips to Visit The United Nations Headquarters
  6. Accessibility
  7. Frequently Asked Questions
  8. Where to Stay Near The United Nations Headquarters
  9. Other Nearby Attractions