Helicopter tours are a rage with tourists seeking a thrill, and when you book a trip, you must choose a time slot.

You can opt for a sunrise helicopter tour, an afternoon tour, a sunset tour or a night tour.

Of all the options, the sunset helicopter tours, which are also known as the Golden hour tours, are the most popular.

In this article, we will share everything you must know before booking your sunset ride.

1. Why sunset tours are better
1. How to book a sunset tour
2. Cost of sunset helicopter tours
3. Best Sunset helicopter tours

In New York
In Grand Canyon & Las Vegas
In Los Angeles
In Miami
In San Diego
In San Francisco
In Chicago
In Waikiki, Hawaii
In Oahu, Miami
In Maui, Hawaii
Over Uluru mountains
In Sydney
In Melbourne
In Brisbane
In London
In Cape Town
In Santorini


Why sunset helicopter tours are better

When you take off with the sun setting in the background, your aerial adventure becomes genuinely stratospheric.

The sun’s Golden hue touches everything you see around you, and when it dips below the horizon, you see unparalleled, colorful views of the city’s skyline.

If your tour operator times the take-off well and if your helicopter flight is long enough, you can capture the views of the city in daylight, during sunset, and finally at night when the lights come up.

The disadvantage of sunset tours

When you are on a Sunset heli tour over a wildlife area, mountain or glaciers, there is nothing to see after the sun has set because there is no artificial lighting. 

However, this isn’t the case when you are touring over a city because one can see the lights coming up one by one, which in itself is fantastic to watch. 


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How to book a sunset heli tour

In more significant tourist destinations, tour operators have specific tours called ‘sunset helicopter tours’ or ‘Golden hour tours,’ which you can book.

However, in smaller tourist destinations, that may not be the case. 

If you don’t find a specific Golden hour tour, you must first find out the time of the sunset in the place where you are holidaying. Find out here

Then, book a regular aerial tour around the time the sun will go down that day. 

Ensure the duration of the heli tour is 30 minutes or more so that you don’t miss the sunset.

Since there is a massive demand for these end of the day heli tours, you must book them in advance. If you delay, it could become a bit of a gamble. 

Note: Some risky tourist destinations don’t have any take-offs after 4 pm, because they want all helicopters to be back before the sunsets. 


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Cost of sunset helicopter tours

The cost of a regular helicopter tour depends on lots of factors such as the city, time of taking off, duration of the ride, extras such as Champagne, landing and a picnic, etc. 

The price of such regular helicopter tours ranges from 150 USD to 215 USD. 

If the tour operator offers a specific sunset tour, they may price it at a 20% to 30% premium, and thus, the cost could escalate to the 180 USD to 280 USD range. 

When these sunset tours get combined with other activities, they get costlier.


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Sunset helicopter tours with a difference

Image: Serenityhelicopters.com

Some helicopter rides have the word ‘sunset’ in their name, but that doesn’t mean you will see the sun go down from up in the sky. 

Take Grand Canyon Sunset Tour from Las Vegas, for instance. 

During this chopper tour, you leave Las Vegas much before the sun sets and land in Grand Canyon for a picnic.

Even as you are enjoying your champagne and dessert, you will watch the sun go down on the horizon.


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Best sunset helicopter tours

Some tourist destinations are more suitable for sunset helicopters tours.

That’s why most visitors to these destinations take to the air if budget permits.

We list out these destinations and their sunset tours –

Most popular tours in the United States

Best in New York

> New York Manhattan Scenic Helicopter Tour
> New York’s City Lights Skyline Experience

Best in Grand Canyon & Las Vegas

> Grand Canyon Sunset Helicopter Tour with Dinner
> Grand Canyon West Rim Deluxe Sunset Tour
> Grand Canyon Sunset Heli Tour from Las Vegas
> Grand Canyon Flight and Sunset Valley of Fire Landing

Find out more about sunset helicopter tours over Grand Canyon

Best in Los Angeles

> Downtown Helicopter Tour of Los Angeles
> Malibu/Santa Monica Pier Shoreline Tour

*These Los Angeles tours take off between 9 am to 9 pm. Once you book the tour, the operator will get back asking for your preferred time of take-off and that’s when you must tell them your preference for the ‘sunset tour.’

Best in Miami

> The Grand Miami Helicopter Tour
> 60-minute Miami helicopter tour

*While booking one of the above tours, opt for the 5 pm slot to catch the sunset. If you want to fly over Miami’s pristine beaches and shoreline in an airplane, check out this sunset fly past.

Best in San Diego

> Open Cockpit Biplane Sightseeing Airplane ride in San Diego

*Even though it is not a helicopter tour, we recommend this because it is too good to pass. Opt for the 5 pm slot for sunset views.

Best in San Francisco

> Private San Francisco Helicopter Flight for Two

*Opt for the 6 pm slot

> Champagne Flight: San Francisco Seaplane
> San Francisco Sunset Flight in an Airplane

*Amongst romantic couples in San Francisco this Helicopter Tour and Sunset Dinner Cruise, combo is also popular.

Best in Chicago

> Chicago Helicopter Skyline Tour

*Opt for the 6 pm slot

Best in Waikiki, Hawaii

> Waikiki Sunset Helicopter Tour – with Doors Off or On

Best in Oahu, Miami

> Narrated Sunset Helicopter Experience in Oahu

Best in Maui, Hawaii

> Doors-Off West Maui and Molokai Helicopter Tour
> West Maui & Molokai Helicopter Tour with Oceanfront Landing

*Opt for Afternoon Departure, 5 pm slot

In Kauai, Miami the last helicopters take off around 4 pm, and hence there are no sunset helicopter tours.

Most popular sunset tours in Australia

Best over Uluru mountains

> Uluru & Kata Tjuta Grand View Helicopter Flight
> 45-minute Uluru Helicopter Flight

*Opt for the 5.30 pm slot

Best in Sydney

> Private Sunset Helicopter Flight Over Sydney and its Beaches

Best in Melbourne

> Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay Helicopter Tour

*You must book the 5 pm take off

> Private Great Ocean Road Tour with Helicopter return

*This 10-hour tour starts at 8 am, but in the latter part of the day you get a 75-minute sunset helicopter tour

Best in Brisbane

> Brisbane City – Private Helicopter Sunset Flight

Sunset tour in United Kingdom

Best in London

> Central London Helicopter Sightseeing Flight

*Opt for the 20-minute flight at 5 pm

Sunset tour in South Africa

Best in Cape Town

> Cape Peninsula, Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point Scenic Flight
> Helicopter Tour of Atlantic Coast from Cape Town

*Opt for the 4 pm take off

Popular Golden hour rides in Greece

Best in Santorini

> Private Santorini Helicopter Sightseeing Tour
> 30-minute Santorini ‘Honeymooners’ Helicopter Flight
> Helicopter Sightseeing Tour Santorini

*Helicopters in Santorini take off till 8 pm, you just need to book a ride between 5.30 to 6 pm.