NEW YORK CITY TRAVEL GUIDE
This New York City Travel Guide shares everything you need to know before visiting the city, including where to stay, when to go, what to do & how to save.
The city that never sleeps is perhaps the most visited city of the United States. Diverse and exciting, this city is famous for its fashion, food and fast pace. NYC is a great place to visit, with attractions perfect for everyone. It can be a pricey experience but great deals can always be found.
Whilst you are in New York City, make sure you explore the rest of the state and see some of the best things to do in New York.
The sights of New York City are well known for most but here’s my list of top things to do in New York. Make sure you find some time to explore magical Times Square and take your own walking tour of NYC and snap the famous buildings and landmarks across the city that never sleeps.
Budget: Dorm beds cost around $40 – $70
Midrange: Private double rooms cost between $100 – $250 depending on location.
Luxury: Central luxurious hotels can cost anything from $325 +
Bus or subway ride $2.50, 7 day transit pass $30.
Taxi rides will cost around $15-$20 around the city – just avoid rush hour and remember roads are one way, so it may help to walk up or across one block to get a shorter journey.
The average cost of food:
New York City is famous for its food, from its dollar pizza slices to its food truck taco from $2.50. Food is everywhere so it shouldn’t be hard to find a restaurant that suits your budget.
Best time to visit New York City
New York sees visitors all year round but the best time to visit is April to June or November and December. If it is your first time in the city, we recommend sticking with spring. The weather is pleasant and there are less tourists, so you can see all the sights without the long queues.
However, November and December in NYC is magical. The city goes above and beyond with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year celebrations. We would recommend visiting during the holiday period if you love Christmas and don’t mind the crowds too much – it is also a very busy time to visit.
Another good time to visit is August. This one sounds unusual and it is – the weather is incredibly warm but USA schools are starting to go back to school in this month and New Yorkers are out of town – meaning crowds aren’t as crazy as you may think, you can get cheap hotel rooms when you book in advance and you can partner up a trip to NYC with a visit to Niagara Falls during the perfect weather to visit both.
If you are travelling on a budget, April to May and September to October are the months you are likely to find discounted accommodation and better transportation options.
Where to stay in New York City
Harlem Lodge is an affordable apartment offering a little more space and a shared bathroom.
Jazz on the Park Youth Hotel is found in a great location near central park, with dormitory rooms starting at $50.
For me, there is nothing better than waking up and walking through Times Square to start off a day exploring NYC. That is why Hilton Times Square is my favourite place to stay when visiting this great city, with luxury rooms starting at $169.
For longer trips, we favour the Radio City Apartments with kitchen included; helping you save lots of money on food whilst in the city. Studios start at $135 per night with two-bedroom apartments available for $255.
During our first stay in NYC we spent 5 nights at Econo Lodge Times Square as it was a decent price considering its proximity to all the attractions – however, check for good deals as we noticed when planning our second trip, that prices had risen to similar costs of the higher end chains such as Hilton and Crown Plaza.
Located on Times Square, The Knickbocker is a 5-star hotel with a beautiful rooftop terrace and directly above the Times Square – 42nd Street Metro Station, allowing easy access to the whole city with rooms starting at $276.
For those wishing to splurge, The Chatwal Hotel, A Luxury Collection Hotel can be found on West 44th Street; a 5-minute walk to Broadway and 2 blocks from Times Square, with rooms starting at $505.
Save money in New York City
America is not the best place to start if you are travelling on a budget but there are many ways you save money travelling the USA.
- Chain hotels – The USA has many budget chain hotels. These are basic and make sure to check reviews on Yelp and Tripadvisor first, but you can save some serious money staying in places like Econolodge, Travelodge, Days in and Super 8.
- Hotels with kitchenettes – When booking a hotel or motel, check if there is a kitchenette. If there is a room or hotel with a kitchenette, then opt for that choice, especially if you are staying somewhere for an extended period of time. This means you can save loads of money cooking food yourself rather than eating out.
- Farmer markets – Heading to farmer markets or ethnic grocery stores can save you money on snacks and food.
- Early Bird – When eating out, either aim to have a big lunch or head to a restaurant before 5. Many places offer an early bird option, where you can save money when eating between 2 – 5pm.
- Coupons – Pick up the local newspaper to find coupons for attractions and restaurants each week. If you plan on visiting a chain restaurant or cafe (such as Starbucks), check for vouchers or gift certificates on Ebay.
- Reward cards – If you travel a lot, why not get a rewards credit card for your favourite hotel chain. Hilton and Marriott have great sign up offer, so you can collect points each time you spend money on the card and then redeem free stays and upgrades worldwide.
- Compare rentals – If you intend on road tripping, make sure you compare prices for a rental car on websites such as rentalcars.com or hotwire.com.
- Turo – Another option if you are looking to rent a car is by using getaround.com or turo.com. This is a similar concept to airbnb but for cars; you can rent a car from owners and this can work out cheaper than renting from a rental company.
- Avoid checked luggage – If you are flying in or out and visiting for a short period, avoid having checked luggage. You can book budget flights to save money but these don’t always include checked luggage.
- Hotel Tonight – This app can be used in the big cities such as New York, LA, Chicago, Miami and Vegas. It offers last minute rooms, particularly great if you are thinking of a weekend away.
- Download a Wifi Map – This map is fantastic at finding available Wifi Spots in your area. These aren’t just Free Wifi Spots too, they have a database of passwords to make your connection reliable and safe.
- Avoid Public Holidays – Hotel and travel prices rise around the 4th July and Labor Day, so avoiding travelling at this time. If you do want to travel at this time, book everything in advance.
- Avoid hostels – Hostels are a great way to save money accommodation everywhere else in the world but not in the US. There aren’t many hostels and most are overpriced. If you are travelling by yourself, you are better off using a budget hotel or look for a bedroom on airbnb.
- Free attractions – NYC is home to many gorgeous parks, libraries and museums that are free to visit. Also, make sure to visit the iconic landmarks, walk across Brooklyn Bridge and take a self-guided walking tour to see the sites without spending a Penny.
- New York City Pass – Book this pass online and save money when you visit multiple attractions including the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and many exhibitions and museums in the city.
- Broadway – There are many different ways you can get Broadway show tickets for cheaper prices. See our full Broadway tickets guide for discounted rates.
Best things to do in NYC
- Central Park
- Empire State Building
- Statue of Liberty
- Times Square
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck
- Guggenheim Museum
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum
- Brooklyn Bridge
- The MET
- Grand Central Station
- American Museum of Natural History
- Wall Street
- Katz Deli
- Yankees Game
- High Line
- Washington Square Park
- Ellen’s Stardust Diner
How to get to New York City
Fly – Newark Liberty International Airport is often overlooked yet cheap flights from Europe can be found flying to Newark every day.
From Newark you can jump on the NJ transit rail service to Penn Station for $12.50 each way, then take a metro, taxi or walk to your hotel from there. The trip takes 25 minutes and runs between 4.20am to 1.40am every 20-30 minutes.
An express bus is also available that takes you to the Port Authority bus terminal, Bryant park and Grand Central Station; costing $16 one way or a taxi will set you back $45 – $60.
JFK is the most popular airport for those heading to the big apple, from here you can get a yellow taxi at a flat rate of $52, taking 45 – 60 minutes or again the express bus.
The subway is the cheapest option but will take at least 90 minutes with quite a few changes, whilst the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is a popular choice; from the airport you can take the AirTrain ($5) to Jamaica station, then from here jump on a train to Penn Station for $7.50, taking just 20 minutes.
La Guardia Airport is mainly used for domestic flights and a taxi to Midtown Manhattan will cost approximately $42, whilst the express bus NYC Airporter will cost you $13.
Bus – For longer journeys I suggest Greyhound, Peter Pan Railways or Shoreline Bus to take you to and from Port Authority Bus Terminal in Central Manhattan, just a few blocks from Times Square.
Budget buses such as BoltBus, Megabus and Vamoose operate from just outside Penn Station whilst the ever-growing Chinatown Buses can take you to and from Chinatown NYC to Chinatowns across America.
Train – Amtrak trains service at Penn Station from across the East Coast whilst the New Jersey Transit operates trains to and from the suburbs and Jersey shore. The Long Island Rail Road operates services to and from Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island whilst the Metro-North Railroad serves Connecticut, Westchester County and the Hudson Valley.
How to get around New York City
The Subway is the most efficient and convenient way of getting around the city and is fairly inexpensive. Single rides are $2.50 but a 7-day unlimited pass costs $29. However, the metro runs from North to South, South to North of NYC and not across the city. So if you are at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on the far west side of Manhattan, but you wanted to head across to Rockefeller centre, you would either have to walk the 6 blocks across town or jump on a bus or get a cab.
The buses are a great way to head across Manhattan and using google maps is a brilliant way to find out which route is best for you. However, avoid rush hour as buses can get very busy and warm in the summer months.
We loved taking a New York Water Taxi to see the sights on the Hudson River.