New York City, the capital of the world, the most famous of all city. This place is without a doubt one of the most interesting on the planet, with a cultural diversity like any other. Every traveler should visit it at least onces in their life.
The city is quite big but it’s possible to get around the main places in just a few days. For those with specific interests this is the place where you will find everything you are looking for, from traditional museums to espionage, miniature towns as well as specialize shops all sorts of hobbies and professions.
The city that never sleeps. I would say this is the city that never rest because the ones having fun are only those not living here. The rest of the people is a bunch of busy workers without any rest all day long.
Interesting facts: if it wasn’t because the British took over town some 400 years ago, today this place would be called New Amsterdam.
- Statue of Liberty
- Millionaire’s Row & The Museum Mile
- Central Park
- Where to sleep in New York City
- Transportation in New York City
- How to save money in Nueva York City
- Taxes and tipping
Must-see in New York City.
- Statue of Liberty
- Wall Street & Downtown
- Brooklyn & Dumbo
- NYC from above: Top of the Rock observatory.
- The Vessel
- Time Square*
How many days is enough?
3 full days is the minimum to see the highlights without much rest.
4-5 days is the minimum recommended to enjoy the place.
7 days is best for people who want to see all, specially if the plan includes museum and a relax pace.
When to come?
Spring, Summer and Autumn are the best seasons, specially spring.
Winter is the trap. Everybody think of it as the city covered in snow like the movies but reality is different. Unless you are lucky to see the first snow of the year, most likely you will not see any snow or just melted, piled up on a side and the whole floor wet and dirty. On top of all this you have to consider the cold and the short time of sunlight. The good side: hotels tend to lower the prices more compared to the rest of the year.
Anatomy of New York.
New York is one of the 50 States of USA.
NYC (New York City) is the biggest town of the that State. It is not the capital of the country nor the State.
It’s made of 5 districts: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island.
Manhattan (the famous island) is the main district of the city. It can be subdivided into 3 areas:
- Downtown (or Lower Manhattan) is the lower (south) part of the island. Financial and government buildings.
- Midtown is the central area. Companies, shops, nice hotels.
- Central Park & Upper Sides is the north part. The Central Park and the neighbourhoods on both sides of it. Residential areas.
The best viewpoints of New York City.
- One World Observatory
- Top of the Rock (best)
- Empire State Building (I don’t recommend it)
- Helicopter flights which provides a “similar” view per say.
Other excellent panoramic views.
- From the cost of Brooklyn (Pebble Beach).
- Tourist cruises let you get a similar but more dynamic view.
- Top of the Rock
- The Vessel
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is the most famous icon of New York and the country. There is no need for long introductions but there is enough to say about how to visit it.
The statue is big but almost impossible to see it from Manhattan. It is located on a small island (Liberty Island) in the middle of the sea. The options to see it are:
- Staten Island Ferry: connects Lower Manhattan with Staten Island passing near the statue on its route. This is a ferry, not a touristic service but the high frequency departures and the fact that it’s free makes it the most recommended and popular option. The tourist cruises gives you a little bit better view because they get closer but considering the price most people agree is just not worth it.
- Circle Line Cruises: there are few different options. One sails around the statue, another one adds extra sailing on Manhattan. They departure from two ports: one in Downtown, one in Midtown. If money it’s not a problem this would be my recommendation, specially for the longer tour.
- Statue Cruises: they go to the statue and get off on the island although I think it’s not so important since you cannot see much of the statue itself if you are on the island. Optional: climb to the crown. When you are done you take another boat to Ellis Island where you can visit the Museum of Immigration and later come back to Manhattan.
- Helicopter tours: expensive (200+ USD) and very short time flying but memorable. Besides seeing the statue you will see the city from the air. Even if you choose this option I would not skip the ferry or cruise.
Circle Line Cruises
Port in Downtown: Pier 16.
Port in Midtown: Pier 83.
Price: 31 – 44 USD.
Duration: 1 to 2.30 hours.
Frequency: every ~1 hour.
Working hours: from 10 to 17 hours.
Staten Island Ferry (recommended)
Tip: when you are getting on the ferry to leave Manhattan go to the right side to see the statue, to the balcony or a window (not all ferries are the same). After getting off on Staten Island follow the crows to take the next ferry back (leaving 5 mins. after arriving). This time go to the left side of the boat.
Scams: on the entrance to the ferry terminal (and exit of the metro station) there are people looking like security guards informing the ferry is cancelled, delayed or whatever but is not. These people are ticket sellers for the touristic cruises trying to scam people. Another thing they might say is that the ferry takes too long and you have to wait one hour or even longer on Staten Island to come back. Lies. After listening them twice for 10 minutes I took the ferry and guess what… it wasn’t delay and it took me 1 hour to go there and get back. The view of the statue is not bad.
Brooklyn is the neighbourhood across the river from Downtown to the south. The area is well known for its charming style and architecture from the old factories that crowded the place years ago. The main reasons to visit the place are the views of Downtown Manhattan as well as the lovely selfies on Dumbo.
Itinerary: start in the morning on Pebble Beach. Selfies on Dumbo at noon. Lunch? Cross the Brooklyn Bridge on foot then keep exploring Downtown. Distance: 3.4 km | 2.1 mi.
Pebble Beach is mainly a view point to see Downtown with the Brooklyn Bridge in front. Many movies and shows have used this view for their intros and more. It’s worth visiting specially on sunny days. It’s very close to the Dumbo.
The Granite Prospect is another park along the Brooklyn cost where you can get another angle of Downtown without the Brooklyn Bridge in front. Personally I prefer the previous one mention. The view is quite similar so I recommend skipping this one.
Location: Pebble Beach. The Granite Prospect.
Pro Tip: come in the morning or noon. In the afternoon the sun is straight in front which makes impossible to take any picture or even enjoy the view. Sunset could be good option although not my first choice.
Where to eat: The River Café ($$$) luxury restaurant along the cost with this amazing view. Ideal for lunch or a romantic dinner. We decided to skip it this time though…
More options along Old Fulton St. such as the famous Juliana’s pizza place. A typical food in NYC.
Dumbo is the area of Brooklyn where you can take one of the best selfies of New York City. The lovely picture of the Manhattan Bridge with industrial red brick buildings on each side.
Note: this is not the Brooklyn Bridge.
Location: Google Maps.
(Washington St. corner Walter St.)
Pro Tip: the best time to visit is around noon when the sun lights hit one of the buildings directly giving it a nice warm color.
Brooklyn Bridge is the most famous bridge in town. It has a very particular style made with stone bricks and lot of metal. It connects Downtown Manhattan with Brooklyn. A typical attraction for tourist is crossing it on foot which is quite nice.
It’s also possible to cross it on a bicycle but does’t feel so good considering the amount of people walking and stepping on the bike lane all the time. Crossing it by car is totally different experience, vehicles go through the lower level.
Start/end points: in Manhattan. In Brooklyn the stairs near the Dumbo which lead straight to the crossing start (my recommendation) or the start of the bridge which will give you a bit more walking in this neighbourhood and you can extend the walk on Brooklyn Heights.
Duration: 30~60 minutes.
Distance: 2 km | 1.25 mi.
Tip: I recommend crossing from Brooklyn to Manhattan. This way you will have the nice view of Downtown in front of you. Avoid crossing in the late afternoon since the sun will be straight in front of you, blinding you from the nice view.
Downtown or Lower Manhattan is the south part of the island. The historical district of town. Here you will find many European style buildings, irregular streets like those on the old continent, many palaces, stock exchange, government buildings and so on.
Hotels: this is a good neighbourhood to sleep for a fraction of the price of a similar hotel in Midtown. Recommendations: citizenM Bowery and Club Quarters ($) The Beekman, The Bowery and The Ludlow ($$). Detail info at the end of the post.
Itinerary: after visiting Brooklyn continue the walk passing by City Hall Park, Wall Street, lunch or beers in Fraunces Tavern. Statue of Liberty (Staten Island Ferry) Battery Park, Charging Bull, The Oculus, 9/11 Memorial, One World Observatory, Staple Street Skybridge and dinner at Tiny’s & The Bar Upstairs.
Distance: 5 km | 3 mi.
City Hall Park
City Hall Park is a minor attraction but a nice one. City Hall is not very impressive but the park with its lovely and friendly squirrel it’s very pleasant. Around there you can see some European style palaces like those in the picture.
This park is the starting/ending point for those crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.
Foley Square is close by if you want to see two courts of justice but it doesn’t have much touristic appeal. I don’t recommend coming here.
Wall Street is the most popular street of the financial district. The main spots here are the New York Stock Exchange (on Broad Street) which moves the most volume of money in the whole world. The Fearless Girl Statue is right in front of the building like challenging it. At the end of Wall Street you can see Trinity Church. Everything is within a few meters from each other.
Another popular attraction in the area is the Charging Bull where people tend to make crazy long lines to take a picture with the statue of the bull although it’s on the street. It’s not a must-see in my opinion. When I visited there was a 20 meters line. I recommend just take a look of it, skip the picture and the line.
Across the park you will see the European style U.S. Custom House.
Lastly you will see Battery Park. A decent size park on the waterfront although I recommend skipping it too. This is the departure point for the Statue of Liberty Cruice (the ones getting off there and not just sail around). Not far away is the station for the Staten Island Ferry (the free option) and some meters further away you can get the helicopter ride for those based in Manhattan which I don’t recommend (better take the doors-off leaving from New Jersey).
Where to eat and have drinks?
The area has some interesting taverns such as Fraunces Tavern ($$) where you can eat or have some drinks. Highly recommended. It feels like being inside an old movie.
Stone Street (crn. Coenties Alley towards east) is an alley street filled with pubs and tables on the streets. Perfect for some beers.
The Oculus (World Trade Center Transportation Hub) is not your average metro station. This building is a masterpiece. The design is just beautiful and even if you don’t think so you will surely agree that it’s very unique. It’s located next to the 9/11 Memorial so you will walk by it on your way there. Make sure to take a look inside. It will only take 5 minutes.
Location: Google Maps.
9/11 Memorial was created to remember the people who lost their lives on the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. This place is now a park with two giants holes where water runs like cascades evoking calmness.
There is also a museum although it’s not as popular as the park.
Location: Google Maps.
Price Memorial: free.
Price Museo: 26 USD.
Memorial Opening Hours: everyday from 7:30 to 21 hours.
Museum Opening Hours: Sunday though Thursday from 9 to 20 hours.
Friday and Saturday from 9 to 21 hours.
One World Observatory
One World Observatory is one of the best three viewpoints in NYC. Some people say is the best.
The Observatory: is the highest of all three. Ideal to feel at the top of the city. From there you can see Midtown. It’s all indoor, behind a glass. There is no balcony like in the others, which makes harder to take good pictures of selfies.
Staple Street Skybridge
Staple Street Skybridge is a pretty and little known street of NYC. The skybridge passes over a narrow ally-like street surrounded by lovely red brick buildings and the classic emergency stairs of New York. This place is excelente to take portraits and enjoy a typical architecture of the city. Plus a very unusual bridge.
Midtown is the central part of Manhattan, the most popular area of the city. Here you will find the most interesting things of NYC and if your budgets allows it it’s also the best place to sleep.
DAY 1: start in Washington Square Park then walk along the 5th Avenue passing by Washington Mews, Flatiron, stop for lunch in the area. Skip the Empire State Building. Grab dessert or coffee in Michel Cluizel. Visit The Morgan Library, New York Public Library, Gran Central Terminal, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the ATLAS sculpture. If you have enough time keep walking until you reach the start of Central Park then back. Go up the Top of The Rock to see the city skyline at sunset. Finish in Time Square at night. Distance: 6~7 km. | ~4 mi.
DAY 2: start eating something light in Greenwich Village while explore the neighbourhood. Later walk around the Meatpacking District. Get on the High Line and walk along it. Half way though make a detour to visit Chelsea Market for some tasty meal. Get back on track to finish on The Vessel at sunset. Distance: 4,4 km. | 2.7 mi.
The famous 5th Avenue is an important road the cross Manhattan almost from end to end. This is one of the most recommended streets to walk along because it’s very pretty, it has wide sidewalks and most of the Midtown attractions are on it or just around the corner.
5th Avenue starts in Washington Square Park. It goes across all Midtown until Central Park where it’s known as the Millionaire’s Row because of the pricy residential buildings overlooking the park. Going further away these buildings get replaced by museums. This section is called The Museum Mile.
Washington Park & Mews
Washington Square Park is the starting point to explore the 5th Avenue as well as Greenwich Village. Half a block from here you will find Washington Mews, a charming old alley where you can have a glimpse the NYC from many years ago.
Flatiron Building. Yes! You are right! It looks like the name says. This popular building is a mayor attraction for tons of people. The neighbourhood (with the same name) is lovely, specially on sunny days. It has a nice European style and vibes. Many restaurants have tables on the wide sidewalk or at least looking there to enjoy the the sunlight. Great area for walk on daytime and have a nice lunch.
Empire State Building
We all know the Empire State Building, the most famous skyscraper in NYC. King Kong is always on top it in every poster I can remember. This is, along with the Chrysler Building, one of those buildings that when people see it they know which city you are talking about.
The view: you can see Midtown but is not the best view. You do get a clear view of Downtown although far away. The observatory is not good for selfies. It has an indoor area and an outdoor balcony to go around 360 degrees BUT its all fenced up! You can take clean pictures throw the fence but forget about selfies, it’s imposible. And since you are on the famous building you will not see as part of the view. I do not recommend it. Top of the Rock is much better.
86th vs 102nd Level: the main deck is on 86th floor. There is another observatory on the 102nd floor but you only gain a few meters in hight. The view is similar and it doesn’t have any outdoor area. You will be behind a glass all the time. Plus you have to clue in one extra line to get there and it cost 20 additional dollars.
The Morgan Library & Museum
The Morgan Library is one of the most underrated places in New York City. This place was the residence of J.P. Morgan, one of the most important bankers of the United States years ago. Besides his office where he took care of business he also had one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, worth calling it a masterpiece. Highly recommended.
On the same building there is a museum with exhibitions but the most important part of the visit is the old residence. Start there.
Location: Google Maps.
Entrance: on Madison Avenue.
Price: 22 USD general.
13 USD students.
Free (only to the old residence, not the museum)
Tuesday from 15 to 17 hours.
Friday from 19 to 21 hours.
Sunday 16 to 18 hours.
Duration: 1 hour (old residence).
Audio tour recommended.
Opening Hours: Monday closed.
Tuesday though Thursday from 10:30 to 17 hours.
Friday from 10:30 to 21 hours.
Saturday from 10 a 18 hours.
Sunday from 11 a 18 hours.
Cakes and coffee. Don’t miss the exquisite pastry shop Michel Cluizel ($$).
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is the second largest library in the world. Any book or architecture lover should visit it but if you can only visit one during you stay I would strongly recommend going to the J.P. Morgan Library instead. It’s lot more interesting.
Astor Hall (entrance – 1º Floor)
DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room (1º Floor)
Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division (1º Floor)
McGraw Rotunda (3º Floor)
Rose Main Reading Room (3º Floor)
Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal is a European style commuter rail station. The nice and massively big interior earned it a special interest among millions of tourist who visit it every year. Personally I don’t think it’s a must-see, specially if you’ve been to Europe but it’s near some mayor attractions so it won’t take much time. You will see some similar stations if you go to Philadelphia or Washington D.C. by train.
Location: Google Maps.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral & Atlas
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a gothic style church that contrast highly with the modern surrounding. Across the street can see the Atlas sculpture. Atlas is a Greek God condemned to hold the heaven in his shoulders for eternity.
Location: Google Maps.
Top of the Rock
Top of the Rock is the one of the three viewpoints of NYC and without a doubt the best for selfies. The views are unbeatable and it has a rooftop where you can take obstruction-free pictures, no glasses or fences above the chest.
The view. You can see Midtown and the iconic Empire State Building with some other tall buildings around which gives a it a special touch, a feeling that you are inside the city. To the opposite side you will see Central Park and on another angle you have the Chrysler Building.
The observatory. It has 3 areas. An indoor one with big windows perfect for full body portraits. You can sit right on the window looking at the Empire State Building. Another one which are two balconies covered with tall glasses for the wind. Lastly on the upper floor you get no glasses, only the guard rail to prevent falling, making this great for pictures and selfies.
Morning, afternoon, night?
The best time is sunset. Come in a clear day and stay until night to enjoy both of these great scenes. I recommend coming one hour before sunset minimum to have enough time to get through the lines, controls, etc. which takes 30~60 minutes. Onces up there you can stay as much as you’d like.
Regular vs. sunset price.
Getting a ticket for sunset has an extra cost (+12 USD) but you can get the regular ticket (about 2 hours before sunset) and wait on the top for no extra cost. The waiting will feel long since there is not much to do while waiting. The tickets for this time get sold fast. Plan in advance.
Reservations. Yes! Make sure to book before you get there. It is possible to get same day tickets just don’t wait to get there to but it. I recommend booking online no more than 4 days in advance. Another option is a morning you wake up in NYC with sunny weather and the forecast looks optimistic, book right there.
Time Square, the intersection of publicity. Extremely famous for some unknown reason to me. Every person who visits NYC feel they must come here to see the adds lighting up the place as strong as the sun. Although the place is quite unique in the west many people (including myself) admite not feeling so much appreciation for it but we are not all the same. In any case, if you really want to feel the vibe of this place make sure to come at night
Around Time Square there are many theaters which gives this place the name Theater District.
Greenwich Village is a bohemian town packed with young people and a nice typical architecture style of the small neighbourhoods of New York City. There are no specific landmarks to visit, just walk around random streets. You should start in Washington Square Park or Christopher Park then head towards the Meatpacking District through the streets you find most interesting, either commercial or the more quiet ones.
Meatpacking District is a small area where meat was packed over 100 years ago. Nowadays it’s a touristic attraction because its industrial style with ton of pretty red bricks buildings which lead to the opening of many nice bars and restaurants.
Location: Google Maps.
High Line was an elevated railway now turned into a park that connects the Meatpacking District with Hudson Yards above ground, giving visitors a way to enjoy the city from a different angle. There are many exits along its way as well as many places to sit down and chill. A worthy stop half way though is Chelsea Market.
Chelsea Market is a food court with enough verity to find anything you crave for and try all kind of new dishes. A must-see for all food lovers. You can find all sorts of things from tacos to lobster.
If you are walking along the High Line you can get off on the stairs connecting to W 16th St. then enter the market which takes the whole block.
The main entrances are on 10th Avenue (below the High Line) and on 9th Avenue. The building is straight forward so the best is getting in though one door and exit though the opposite.
Onces you filled up your belly, get back on the High Line.
Location: Google Maps.
The Vessel is a the most interesting landmark in NYC. It’s basically a series of stairs in the shape of a honeycomb going 20 stories high (there is elevator too). It quickly became one of the most important tourist attractions in town even it has just open in 2019. In my opinion is one of the best things to see.
You can come to take a look at this spaceship or whatever you think from the ground but if you plan you visit properly you can also get inside and climb it.
When to visit?
No doubt the best time is late afternoon and sunset. The structure is made with copper plates that give a lovely warm color with the last rays of sun. Highly recommended this time of the day.
Reservations and price.
There is no restrictions to visit the ground area (park).
Climbing The Vessel is free of charge but there is a waiting list up to two weeks long specially for sunset times. You can book online in advance and make sure you get in. If you lost this chance you can come in person to the place and request a same day ticket for the time you prefer. They have extra tickets for people showing up in person but they run out quick. Come in the morning, request a ticket for sunset, explore the city then get back here later. That’s what I did.
Millionaire’s Row & The Museum Mile
The Millionaire’s Row is the section of the 5th Avenue where Central Park start. It’s a lovely walk for sunny days. Elegant residential buildings with wide sidewalks overlooking the massive green park on the other side of the street. The Museum Mile starts a bit later merging itself with the previous one. Here you will find what you expect to:, a ton of museums, mostly fine arts.
- The Frick Collection is a old mansion turned into museum displaying art pieces. The mansion itself is a nice attraction even if you don’t have an interest in art. Recommended.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art or MET is the most famous of all but mostly for the exhibitions.
- Neue Galerie is another mansion turn into museum but not as impressive as the first one. Recommended only for art lovers. Otherwise just take a look from outside while walking on the Avenue or use it as a resting stop and get a drink in the coffee shop inside the building.
- Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum is not very popular and not recomendad for tourists but its garden is lovely for resting. People can come just to relax on the grass looking at the museum building and feel like in a palace. Location. Entrance on E 90th St.
The Frick Collection
Location: Google Maps.
Entrance: on E 70th Street.
Price: 22 USD general.
12 USD students.
Pay-what-you-want: Wed. 14-17 hours.
Duration: 1~2 hours.
Opening Hours: Mondays closed.
Tus-Sat 10-18. Sun 11-17 hours.
Metropolitan Museum Of Art
Location: Google Maps.
Entrance: on the 5th Avenue.
Price: 25 USD general.
12 USD students.
Duration: 2~6 hours.
Sun. though Thu. from 10 to 17:30 hours.
Fri. and Sat. from 10 to 21 hours.
Itineraries: brunch in Asiate (if your budget allows to pay for the views) otherwise start on 5th Avenue Station. Walk along the 5th Avenue heading north stopping at the museums you are interested in. The Frick Collection is recommended for everyone even if you don’t like art. Distance: 2,4 km | 1.5 mi. If you don’t visit many museums (specially the MET) it’s likely you will have enough time to walk back thought Central Park.
Most people imagine New York City as a concrete jungle but reality is that it has enough rivers and parks where to take a deep breath.
Central Park is a massive chunk of nature in the heart of the city. Inside of it’s possible to feel completely immerse in nature and not be able to see even a faith of the urban world or even other people. Pure quietness. Its big size (equivalent to 500 futbol fields) allow it to have enough different areas for everyones preferences. From flat clear fields to forest where you can see people training with their mountain backpacks for their next expedition.
- Lake area
- Oak Bridge: one of the best views of the lake with the city on the back.
- The Lake Viewing Area: lovely postcard view to rest for some minutes.
- Strawberry Fields: you will find John Lennon’s Memorial.
- Sheep Meadow: large grassland ideal for picnics enjoying the sun with NYC skyscrapers on the back.
- The Pond & Gapstow Bridge: a short stop on a bridge to look at the most famous hotel in town from the park.
The American Museum of Natural History or AMNH is one of the biggest and most important museums of this kind in the world. Around the 45 halls you can see some of its 32 million specimens they have. This is a mandatory stop if you are into this. Those with not so much interest better skip it since it takes long and this city is very expensive, every night it’s a burden on the wallet. Instead you can visit the one in Washington D.C. which it’s also free and the city is a bit cheaper than NYC.
Location: Google Maps.
Entrance: on Central Park West.
Price: 33 USD general | 18 USD students.
Pay-what-you-want on the counter.
Duration: several hours to a full day.
Opening Hours: everyday from 10 to 17:45 hours.
Itineraries: start on the American Museum of Natural History, eat lunch and use the toilet before going into Central Park (it’s hard to find toilets there but possible). Walk through Oak Bridge, The Lake Viewing Area, Bethesda Fountain & The Loeb Boathouse. Short detour to Strawberry Fields if you are a John Lennon fan then Sheep Meadow for relaxing on the grass. Lastly cross the Gapstow Bridge before leaving the park. Distance: 3,7 km | 2.3 mi.
If you didn’t visit many museums on the Millionaire’s Row & The Museum Mile you can combine both itineraries into a full day walk. Start on the museums, come to the park after.
Where to sleep in New York City
New York City is the most popular place on earth which is great for visiting but it makes it a ridiculously expensive place. To make things worse, the prices for the same hotel vary a lot depending on when you search. If you see a hotel you like at a good price it could cost double next week. Check for places well in advance and you might end up getting a very nice hotel at the price of the cheapest ones. Avoid weekends.
Airbnb is the best option for couples. Many privates rooms at good prices.
Which neighbourhood to sleep in New York City?
Manhattan is the best but the most expensive. It is safe, everything is close and you will save a lot of time in the metro. Midtown is the best area of all, specially around Pennsylvania Station for the transportation. Here you get the fast trains from JFK, regional trains, long distance trains and even buses from the Port Authority bus station. Downtown is also very good and you can get nice hotels for a fraction of the price of a similar one in Midtown. Upper East and West Side are residential areas. Quiet, safe but without so many lodging options. Harlem (technically Manhattan) is even further away than Queens (not Manhattan).
Brooklyn is the next in the rank, outside Manhattan. It’s very close to the touristic areas (specially Downtown) it is attractive by itself and safe enough.
Queens is closer to Midtown. You can get there very fast and easy but the place is not so safe specially at night. The closer you are to the metro station the better.
The Bronx and New Jersey are quite far away. I don’t recommend any of this two.
Best hotels in New York City
Hostels: HI NYC Hostel without a doubt. If it feels expensive be advice that all the hostels in NYC are expensive and some options are just horrible.
Cheap hoteles (~200 USD). Since prices change highly depending on the dates (for the same hotel) the best thing is just to check which one has the lowest price for your trip. A common option is Hotel Pennsylvania but not recommended if another hotel matches the price. Among the good hotels lowering their prices to the same range you can find…
- traveler style: Pod 39, citizenM Times Square and citizenM Bowery.
- classic: Avalon, Distrikt, HGU, The Gregory and Club Quarters.
Midrange hotels (300~500 USD). On this range you will find excellent hoteles with very interesting styles. My favorites: Hyatt Union Square, The Time, The Assemblage, Renaissance, Freehand, The Roxy, The Ludlow, The Beekman, The Bowery and The NoMad.
Luxury hoteles (600+ USD). Mandarin Oriental for its breathtaking views of Colombus Circle and Central Park. Times Square EDITION for the modern style. The Plaza for the history, the European style and the views to the park. The Whitby for the cozy rooms.
Transportation in New York City
The metro runs 24 hours a day. It reaches almost any point in the city. The card cost 1 USD and it can be used by more than one person. Each ride cost 2.75.
Extra point in favor: it doesn’t get affected by the intense traffic on the streets.
Taxis are expensive. Uber is best for car rides.
How to get to New York City
JFK (John F. Kennedy International Airport) serves international flights. Good connection to the city. Take the Airtrain (5 USD) to Jamaica Station then the metro (2.75 USD). Both are paid with the metro card which can be bought at the airport on the way to the first train. Another option is the LIRR, the fast link to the city, confortable and practical if you hotel is near one of the stations for these trains (there are not as many as the metro). These are regional trains (not metro) it has individual seats and space for luggage. Start by taking the Airtrain then one of the LIRR trains. Price 11~13 USD. You can get the tickets on the exclusive machine for these trains (located next the the metro ticket machines on JFK).
Luggage storage at JFK: Baggage Storage Services is the place to leave your luggage and go explore the city during long connections. They bill on 24 hours periods. It cost 12 USD for a carry-on and 20 USD for a full size luggage. When you leave your stuff they will inspect it, ask for your flight info and more. This office is located on JFK, Terminal 4, First Level. Follow the map, it’s right next to the elevator. You can move between terminals for free with the AirTrain. The office sometimes has the door and window closed, if that’s the case ask in the office next door (API Hotel Reservations/Services).
LaGuardia Airport serves regional flights.
EWR (Newark Liberty International Airport) serves international flights for the New York area. It is located on New Jersey State.
Trains leave mostly from Pennsylvania Station. Confort and fast. Better than planes to go nearby cities such as Boston, Philadelphia or Washington D.C. Also better than the buses but lot more expensive (although in some cases you can get it for the same price). Checked luggage is not available. Only carry-on. Tickets on Amtrak.
Buses are the cheapest option to travel nearby cities. Slower than the train and not so confortable but they allow checked luggage. Depending on the company they can depart from the street or from the bus station Port Authority. I highly recommend stick to the ones operating from Port Authority to avoid waiting in random streets, under the sun and rain. One of companies operating from the bus station is GreyHound.
How to save money in Nueva York City
Time is money and New York City one of the most expensive places in the world. Focus on saving time. Plan an efficient itinerary and avoid bouncing from one part of town to the other in the same day which will translate as less night in hotels.
Avoid good restaurants. Because NYC is a highly competitive place any average restaurant is already quite nice. If you go higher end you will pay a lot more for little nicer. Lastly, since everyone is on a hurry on the city that never rest, you can find great fast food places with good quality meals as well as decent decoration.
Avoid museums if you are not big fan of them. There are other towns which have similar options and you won’t notice much difference if you are not really into museums but you will save money during your stay there. Washington D.C. has a ton of very good museums and free of charge.
New York City Pass and The Sightseeing Pass are packages of attractions you can buy for a cheaper price than paying for all those attractions separately. The problem is that half the items included are not very interesting or at least one person will not be interested in all of them. In the end you will end up saving nothing or you will force yourself to go to all the attractions included on the pass even you are not so excited about it, therefore losing valuable time and nights in hotels.
I recommend you first make a list of the places you want to visit, only then check the passes to see if it fits you. Don’t get tricked by “this and that free” “save money on this” “10 tickets for the price of 4”.
Taxes and tipping
This applies to all United States.
Prices displayed DO NOT include taxes. Even if you ask a seller how much something cost they will tell you the price before taxes.
The tax value depends on the State, the category, etc.
Tipping is option but socially a mandatory. You have to count ~15% for it. They ask for it everywhere, from restaurants to Ubers.
As a general rule you could say if they take your order at your table and pay there at the time of leaving you have to tip, otherwise not.
Example when not to tip: fast food restaurants where people eat at a table but order on the counter and pay at the time of order. No waitress.