4 days In New York City Itinerary- Ultimate Guide For First Timers
Known for its iconic skyline, bright neon lights and its lively neighbourhoods, New York City is at the top of many a bucket list. Home to just over 8 million people, it’s really no wonder this bustling metropolis is known as the city that never sleeps. New York was at the top of my very own bucket list for as long as I can remember. It took me a while to make that dream a reality. I finally made it, and it was everything I’d dreamt it would be!
4 or 5 days in New York City is the perfect amount of time to spend in the city for your first visit. You’ll probably want to hit up all the main sights and attractions. I chose to spend a duration of 4 days in NYC based on the fact that A) it’s a huge city with tons to do and B) days 1 and 5 are technically half days/travel days. Since a lot of people will be coming from overseas, jet lag will be something to think about too.
This 4 day New York City itinerary will help you plan your time so that you get to see the best of what this amazing city offers. This itinerary can also be adapted for anywhere from 2 to 4 days in New York.
New York is made up of 5 Boroughs, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx and Staten Island. As this itinerary is aimed at first time visitors, it’s focuses primarily on Manhattan.
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Essential Links For Booking Your Trip To New York City
Top Rated New York City Tours & Experiences:
- Skip The Box Office Statue Of Liberty
- Skip The Line One World Observatory
- SUMMIT One Vanderbilt Experience
Top Places to Stay in New York City:
- Best Budget Hotel: OYO Times Square
- Best Mid-Range Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn Times Square South
- Best Luxury Hotel: The Knickerbocker Hotel
Don’t Forget to Pack: Packing Cubes / Travel Wallet / NYC Travel Guide
How To Get To New York City
Since New York is a major city, there are many options for getting in and out. There are three airports that you can fly into with connections to the city, JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airport in New Jersey.
Laguardia is the closest to Manhattan and the journey time is approximately 40 minutes in a car/shuttle or 1 hour if getting public transport.
JFK is a little further out, taking 1 hour by car or shuttle and just over an hour on Public transport.
Newark Airport is approximately the same amount of time as JFK. I never flew into New York, only out, on my way to Toronto. I flew out through LaGuardia and it was one of the better airports in the States I’ve flown from (10/10)
If you’re already in the States you can arrive by Bus. The Greyhound is the cheapest mode of transport getting into the city. I booked a greyhound from Philadelphia to New York and the journey time was approximately 1 hour. The one-way journey cost a total of $13 – bargain! Greyhound can be reliable most of the time, however my bus into New York was delayed by an hour (hence not booking activities on day 1!). I’ve only used the service a handful of times but I’ve never had a truly terrible experience. It’s not the best but at $13 for an hour journey – you get what you pay for!
If taking the greyhound isn’t your thing, you can always opt to fly internally or take the train. The train must be booked in advance as tickets do sell out. And the further out you book it, the cheaper the fares will be.
I chose to take the greyhound and save money. For example: A one-way journey on the Amtrak from Philadelphia to NYC takes 1.5 hours and can cost anywhere from $55 to $110. For the sake of getting there faster and paying substantially less – I will endure the greyhound!
How To Get Around New York City
The best way to explore New York City is by foot, you’ll often stumble upon things you wouldn’t have otherwise! However, New York is a mah-oo-sive city! After day four my feet looked disgusting. It was all that my friend and I laughed about for the remainder of our trip. They were black because I thought wearing sandals – in a city – was a good idea. It wasn’t.
The New York subway is the other option I’d recommend. Now I’m used to the London tube, and all metro systems that I’ve used through Europe (and Canada actually) have worked in the same way. Pretty straight forward. But no, not the New York Subway *face palms*
If you’re planning on using the subway a lot, I would make sure you do your research beforehand. I didn’t, assuming it would be fairly easy to figure out. So what makes New Yorks Subway so difficult?
Here we go…
When we first used the subway in New York, we headed straight to the Times Square station. You know, that really big one where all lines stop and there are ticket desks. I asked what the price of an ALL DAY TICKET would be – only to be told “that’s not a thing” Seriously? It’s a thing – EVERYWHERE!
So we bought a one-way ticket – no problem, we’ll just buy another one-way ticket on the way back! Well… not every Subway entrance has ticket machines, as we came to discover! And the one that did only had one machine and someone had tampered with it so I couldn’t insert my bankcard.
The easy part about the subway is that its a flat $3 rate no matter how many stops your are going or where you’re going. Unlike the London Undergound, the New York Subway has no “zones” so there’s no difference in price! The subway doesn’t have maps readily available like London, so it’s recommended you download a map before you arrive.
The good part about the New York Subway? It’s runs 24-hours! Whoop! When in Doubt – Google maps is your best friend. If you need more info on the New York Subway – this guide is fab! It goes into depth so you don’t make mistakes and can get to where you’re going faster!
Taxis/ Uber/ Lyft
I did use Taxi’s and Uber while in New York. Riding in a yellow cab – even just once – was an experience I really wanted. It’s no different to a normal taxi; it’s just yellow! The traffic + a crazy driver = a unique experience! Taxis are expensive and take longer to get anywhere than a train. I’d only recommend a taking a taxi if it’s absolutely needed. (The only taxi I used in New York was to get to my hotel with a suitcase that held almost my entire life)
As for Uber & Lyft, they are far cheaper than a taxi. I did take Uber a few times just because we were running late some mornings so were able to get ahead of the traffic, and in quiet periods of the day the cost wasn’t too much.
Since my hotel was in Times Square, and many people will be staying in this area for there first time visit to New York, this 4 days in New York City itinerary will focus on leaving from this area each day. You can of course, amend it from any area within the city.
Where To Stay In New York City
One word: Location, location, location. (Okay that was 3 but it still counts) As a first-time visitor to New York, I had my heart set on staying near Times Square. I wanted that “city feel” and to be amongst the crowd. Below are some hotel recommendations by neighbourhood:
- Times Square: Hilton Garden Inn Times Square South
- Financial District: Conrad New York Downtown
- Greenwich Village: Washington Square Hotel
There are far more hotel options in New York City to choose from! Check out more recommendations on where to stay in New York here!
Day 1 Of 4 Days In New York: 5th Avenue – Shopping – Grand Central Station
Day 1 is all about finding your bearings and heading to the paces that DON’T need to be booked in advance! Since your first day in New York City will more than likely be a travel day, I’d recommend not booking anything in advance. Planes can get delayed (or cancelled – eek!) and in my case, my greyhound was an hour late!
Head To Bloomingdale’s For Some Retail Therapy
We would grab breakfast from Pet-A-Manger most mornings as it was on the corner by our hotel. Not only do I miss Pret-A-Manger but I was really missing London and this brought me some home comforts!
Grab a coffee to go and hop on the Subway to Bloomingdales! The fastest route is the N, R or W yellow route. Pick up a Metro Card from the 49th Street Subway Station then ride 3 stops to 59th Street-Lexington Av station. The total journey time is 9 mins!
Bloomingdales is the place to shop in NYC, if you’ve ever seen those iconic “Little Brown Bags” they came from Bloomingdales. Bloomingdales has a section in store where you can purchase re-usable bags or handbags with their iconic slogan on. A perfect souvenir from the Big Apple!
Get Your Sweet Fix At Dylan’s Candy Bar
Dylan’s Candy Bar is a sweet lover’s heaven! This quirky candy store is the largest in the world and sells just about anything. Not only is the place to get cotton candy and jujubes, it’s also an Instagrammers paradise. Head to their café for the most decadent desserts and ice cream!
The Love Sign
When it comes to cities, I love signs (no pun intended!) whether it’s in Philadelphia, Toronto or Mexico – I’ll be taking that cheesy photo of a city sign! The LOVE sign in New York was originally designed by Robert Indiana way back in 1964 as a Christmas card the Museum Of Modern Art. You can find iconic LOVE sign on the intersection of 55th Street and 6th Avenue.
(Currently the sculpture has been removed for cleaning and no date set for it’s return, but you can find the “HOPE” sculpture at 53rd and 7th)
Radio City Music Hall
You’ll probably stumble upon the Radio City Music Hall several times while wandering the streets of New York. It’s instantly recognisable by its Art Deco style exterior. Opening in 1932, the Radio City Music Hall once held the record for the world’s largest auditorium. This was the site of several movie premieres as well as hosting several televised events including the Grammy Awards, Tony Awards and MTV Video Music Awards.
Get an insiders look at the Radio City Music Hall by booking a guided tour. Or if you are short on time, you can simply admire the famous facade from outside.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner
Ellen’s Stardust Diner is a must do during your 4 days in New York City. Ellen’s is a 50’s style diner, complete with singing servers! Every 2 minutes you’ll hear a different server belt out a classic Broadway hit. Everything about this place is quintessentially New York. If you don’t get the time to see a Broadway show, this is a good alternative, complete with lots of awesome American style food and the best milkshakes ever. There is usually a line to get in as it’s a popular place, but the wait is worth it and isn’t as long as it looks.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
Head back out onto 5th Avenue to see St Patrick’s Cathedral in all its grandeur. Designed in the Neo-Gothic style, this Cathedral was built in 1878 and is a prominent landmark in New York City. The interior of this magnificent Church is even more impressive. The Church is free to visit and tours are available during select times.
Saks Fifth Avenue
No trip to New York is complete without having done some shopping on 5th Avenue! Or at the very least window shopping. Since you’re already on 5th Avenue, you may as well pop into Saks Fifth Avenue and, you know, “window shop“.
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is the second largest library in the United States and the third largest in the world. Although there are a total of 92 locations, the main branch and most recognisable, is the library on 5th Avenue. This site became a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and later designated a New York City Landmark. You’ll no doubt recognise this building from the movie Ghostbusters, but it’s been featured in over 30 Hollywood movies.
The library offers free guided tours of the building at 11am and 2pm Monday through Saturday and 2pm on Sundays. Alternatively you can opt for the audio guide which you can access from your mobile device.
Directly next to the New York Public Library is Bryant Park. Bryant park is a small public park that is the perfect place to take a pit stop and find a place to rest your feet for a few moments.
Grand Central Terminal & The Chrysler Building
Grand Central Station is one of the most visited places in New York City, with an estimated 21.9 million visitors in 2013, not including rail passengers (Wowza!!) Grand Central Station is every bit as busy as it looks, and yet something about it is quite calming. You’ll stare in awe once entering the main concourse. Make sure you look up towards the ceiling to appreciate the constellation murals above you. Head to the lower level to experience the whisper walls. This is an archway that when you whisper into it, can be heard from the diagonal arch. It definitely works! The best way to see Grand Central Station is with a Self-Guided audio tour.
Grand Central Station is more than just a station though – you’ll find all sorts of restaurants and eateries here – including Shake Shack, which I’ve heard is better than In ’n’ Out!
If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the Chrysler building while you’re in New York, there are some fantastic views directly outside of the Grand Central Terminal.
The Rum House
After a full on day 1 and lots of walking, it’s time to treat yourself! The Rum House is a really cool laid back Jazz bar inside the Edison Hotel. We enjoyed a few cocktails here while listening to a live band to end our night before making the short trip back to our hotel.
Day 2 Of 4 Days In New York: Central Park – Rockefeller Center – Times Square
Grab your coffee of choice to go and head out to the Subway Station. Today’s itinerary is a full-on walking day!
Take the grey subway line S from the Times Sq-42 St Subway Station to Grand Central. You’ll need to exit the station to change to Green Subway line 4 to 86 Street Station. From here the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a ten-minute walk.
The Metropolitan Museum Of Art
For all the Gossip Girl fans out there, the Met is obviously a must. For everyone else, it’s still a must do in NYC! The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located in the Upper East Side neighbourhood of New York in Central Park. This is furthest north this itinerary takes you – so start here and slowly head south!
With a collection of over 2million, a trip to 5th Avenue’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is almost like taking a journey around the world, with collections featuring Greek, Egyptian, African and European artwork.
There are an abundance of restaurants and casual eateries near the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You can always grab a sandwich and snacks to go and have a picnic on the many lawns inside Central Park.
Is there anything that screams “New York City!” more than Central Park? For all the 90’s kids out there, who didn’t want to visit Central Park after watching Home Alone every Christmas?
Central Park is massive. You couldn’t possibly do and see everything here in a day. But you can spend a few hours exploring the main must-see sights! I think in total I spent around 2.5 – 3 hours exploring a very small section of the park. It’s so easy to get lost here, and I don’t just mean physically. If you are planning to spend some time in Central Park during your 4 days in New York, I’d recommend making a plan of what you’d specifically like to see.
There are a total of 843 acres that make up Central Park, so it’s easy to see why there’s so much to do! You can always opt to rent a bicycle or take a guided tour if you’re not sure where to start. If bikes aren’t your thing – take a guided Horse-drawn cart tour through Central Park.
My top sights to see are: The Hans Christian Anderson Statue, The Alice In Wonderland Statue, Bethesda Fountain & Terrace, Bow Bridge and Strawberry Fields.
American Museum Of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History may look familiar to you… yep, it’s the museum that features in the movie Night At The Museum. I’m a total nerd and absolutely love that movie, it made me want to visit this incredible museum more than I did before.
The American Museum of Natural History is the largest natural history museum in the world, containing over 33 million specimens. I spent around 3/4 hours exploring this museum, and I never even made it to the dinosaur exhibits! If this museum is somewhere you’d really like to explore, or you have exhibits in mind you’d really like to see, make sure you allocate enough time. Lining up to buy tickets took us close to 30-minutes in total. You can either use the super-fast convenient kiosks and pay the suggested $25 or you can wait in line and pay whatever price you’d like. I personally thought $25 was a little steep, so paid $12.50 instead.
My favourite exhibits in this museum were the Mammal Halls, I love animals so it’s always cool to learn more about them (and these halls featured prominently in Night at the museum)
We also stumbled across this diorama featuring an important part of New York City’s history. The scene in the diorama pictured below shows Native Leader Oratam mediating with Pieter Stuyvesant, governor of New Netherlands (As New York was previously known under Dutch rule) The location of the diorama is situated on what is now Bowling Green in the Financial District.
Top of The Rock At Rockefeller Center
The Top of The Rock is one of New Yorks top attractions. This observation deck is situated inside 30 Rockefeller Plaza, in the Rockefeller Center. This observation deck is often recommended over others due to it’s proximity to the Empire State Building. The highest level offers unobstructed views of the Manhattan Skyline with the Empire State Building sitting in the middle – Views you can’t get anywhere else in the city! It’s also favoured by most people since the perimeter is lined with frameless windows instead of the grate that the Empire State Building has.
Pre-booking the Top Of The Rock is a must in the height of Summer. Tickets must be booked with a entry time. I booked mine for 7:30pm and we arrived early to ensure we could see the city from daytime, through sunrise and into the nighttime. Be aware that sunset is an incredibly popular time to visit the Top Of The Rock and it was already swarmed by the time we got there. In fact, I could barely see the sunset because there were lines of 4/5 people deep! Eventually everyone left after the sunset and you could finally move freely. The top floor is open, making it the perfect floor for photographs, as there’s no glass separating you from the view.
Get Your Tourist On At Times Square
While Times Square may be a tourist hot-spot, it’s still a must-do in New York. Head there at night to get that NYC buzz. We spent a while just soaking in the atmosphere here. If you like to collect tacky souvenirs, or want to bring home an iconic souvenir for family or friends, Times Square is a good place to find it. I love bringing home fridge magnets from each city I visit and I found the best places were near Times Square.
You’ll also find your standard tourist shops, such as M&M world and the Disney Store. While I never bought any in either, I did enjoy wandering through. The Disney store is obviously a must for me in whichever city I happen to be in. As our hotel was a 2-minute walk from Times Square, we’d often stop in to watch the street performers before ending each day.
It’s crowded almost all day, but that’s kind of part of that fun! I wouldn’t recommend using Times Square as a “short cut” even though the attraction you want to see might be just across the road. At busy times it’s near impossible to get anywhere.
Day 3 of 4 Days In New York: Wall Street – Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island
Times Square During The Daytime
You’ve experienced Times Square at night, now it’s time to see it in the daytime. The earliest we left our hotel in New York was around 7:30am. So we dashed to Times Square to take some photos with next to no people there. If you’re heading out earlier than this, you’ll be able to get some better shots with an almost empty Times Square. It was so much different with no one here – it was nice!
Head to the Times Sq-42nd St Subway Station and grab the Red 1 Line to Rector street (Journey time is approx 25 minutes) Today will be all about exploring lower Manhattan and the Financial district.
Wall Street & The Charging Bull
The Charging Bull statue is the most recognised symbol of Wall Street. It’s featured most recently on the “Occupy Wall Street” movement posters. But this famous statue was first designed way back in 1987 by Italian-American artist Arturo Di Modica, after the “Black Monday” events, which saw the stock market crash. Arturo actually illegally dropped the sculpture outside the Stock Exchange and it now sits permanently in its current home at Bowling Green. The Charging Bull was designed to inspire people to carry on through the difficult times for a brighter future.
The Charging Bull is the number one thing everyone wants to see in the Financial District. Getting a photo with it proved rather difficult (Imagine the zombie scenes in the Walking Dead…). If you happen to pass by while there are tour groups here, it’s a free for all – literally. If you want good photos of the Bull I’d wait until later in the day just before it starts getting dark. If you’d like to learn more about Wall St, you can opt to take a walking tour.
The Fearless Girl
In 2017, a second statue was added to Bowling Green, the Fearless Girl. I personally loved this statue and everything it stands for. Designed by artist Kristen Visbal, the Fearless Girl stands defiantly facing the Bull and inspires women empowerment. Interestingly, this statue was relocated in 2018 to stand outside the New York Stock Exchange following complaints from Di Modica.
Upon exiting the Subway in the Financial District one of the first things we noticed was Trinity Church. It’s architecture is a world away from the buildings surrounding it.. Trinity Church is where Alexander Hamilton and his Family are buried. The Church itself is free to visit.
New York Stock Exchange & Federal Hall
Federal Hall is an important part of New York’s history. In fact I first learned about the importance of Federal Hall back in Philadelphia and knew I’d have to visit. Federal Hall is where the very first President of the United States, George Washington, was inaugurated and sworn in as President. Federal Hall now houses a museum and is free to visit.
Did you know New York was previously a Capital City of the United States? It became the capital of the USA in 1785.
Staten Island Ferry
During your 4 day visit to New York you’ll no doubt want to visit the Statue of Liberty. The cheapest way to do this is by taking the Staten Island Ferry, because it’s FREE! The ferry doesn’t actually stop on Liberty Island but it does get fairly close and gives you a good enough view to take photos. If you wish you can either explore Staten Island or just get a return journey.
The Statue Of Liberty was gifted to the United States from France in 1886 to commemorate their alliance during the American Revolution. I’ve had a small replica of Lady Liberty sitting on my bookshelf since I was 12 years old. When I visited Paris, 2 years prior to my NYC trip, I made sure to see the smaller replica and I finally made it to see the original!
Statue Of Liberty
To access Liberty Island itself and get close up views of the Statue, you’ll need to purchase a ticket for the ferry. There is only one official company in which to purchase tickets for Liberty Island and that is Statue Cruises, so make sure you don’t purchase from anyone else. All tickets to Liberty Island include access to Ellis Island and the free Immigrant Museum.
There are three ticket options available when visiting The Statue Of Liberty:
Liberty Island Grounds Access: This ticket gets you a ferry ride to Liberty Island and you are free to roam the grounds as you wish. This ticket does not include entry into the museum or pedestal. $18.50
Pedestal Access: This ticket grants you access to the museum inside the Statue of Liberty and the pedestal/ Fort Wood section of the statue. No Crown Access. I booked this ticket 4 months before my trip and the Crown Access tickets were already sold out. $18.50
Crown Access: This is the only ticket that you can access the Crown of the Statue of Liberty with. Also grants access to the pedestal/Fort Wood section, grounds of Liberty Island and museum. These tickets are the most sought-after and therefore sell out the quickest. If you really want to climb to the top of the Crown I’d suggest booking these tickets at least 6 months prior to your trip. $21.50
Booking your tickets in advance is essential, especially in summer! When we arrived at Battery Park to board the ferry to Liberty Island, we were greeted by one of the longest lines I’ve ever seen. It was a hot sticky day too, and the thought of joining that line was not fun! Luckily for us, I showed our tickets and we were whisked through to security, by-passing that line!
Ellis Island National Museum Of Immigration
A lot of people bypass the Ellis Island Museum, but it’s a super important part of not only New York’s history, but the United States of America too. The Ellis Island Museum of Immigration documents the period between 1982 and 1954, when over 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island.
Included in the ferry admission price is an audio tour that takes you through the hospital section of the museum where the immigrants were screened and processed. The audio guide tells first hand stories from the people themselves and is incredibly informative. In the last section of the museum are displays of personal possessions from the very people that moved here from Europe.
Ellis Island Immigrant Museum is a big museum and the Audio Tour is fantastic. If you’re really into history I’d recommend going through the whole Audio Tour instead of skipping sections. In total I spent close to 3 hours here. There are multiple floors and lots to get through. The museum was near closing when I boarded my ferry back. Allocate yourself at least 4 hours for both Liberty Island and Ellis Island.
Spend the night bar-hopping through New York’s many rooftop bars, or learn the art of cocktail making for yourself!
Day 4 of 4 Days In New York: Brooklyn Bridge – World Trade Center – Greenwich Village
Day 4 of this New York Itinerary takes us back down to Lower Manhattan and the rest of the financial district, then back to midtown via Greenwich Village and the high Line
A visit to the Brooklyn Bridge is a must when visiting New York for the first time. The Brooklyn Bridge connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. The bridge features both walking paths and bicycle lanes. If you’d like to get those instagram Brooklyn Bridge photos, coming earlier in the morning is recommended as mid-morning you’ll find lots of bicycles along the bridge and they aren’t stopping for tourist photos!
Brooklyn Bridge features one of the best views of Lower Manhattans Skyline, with the One World Trade Centre dominating the cityscape.
If you arrive early enough, you’ll have time to explore the borough of Brooklyn and the DUMBO (Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass) neighbourhood. Dumbo is where you can find the iconic Manhattan Bridge photo, located on the intersection between Washington Street and Water Street. Obviously this is now considered THE shot to get in New York, so expect there to be lots of other people there.
One World Trade Center Observation Deck
The One World Trade Center or Freedom Tower is one of the newest skyscrapers in Lower Manhattans financial district. Built as part of the cities efforts to rebuild this section of Manhattan after the awful events of 9/11, One World Trade Center actually sits taller than the original Twin Towers. Standing at 1,778 ft tall, One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the United States and 7th in the world. If you’re wondering why you recognise the number 1,778 it is of course the same year of American Independence!
Purchasing tickets in advance is again recommended for this observation deck. You’ll need to purchase timed tickets for this, but you do get to bypass all the lines again! The elevators taking you to the observation deck, climb 102 stories in 47 seconds – pretty impressive! For anyone who might get motion sickness or has a fear of heights, there are no windows in the elevator and the ride is super smooth. The elevator itself is one big interactive screen that shows the development of New York over the decades.
If you have some time to hang around, there is a really informative talk that happens throughout the day about the buildings construction and the materials used in building it. It is the only building in New York that doesn’t “sway” (or at least you can’t feel it!)
Why choose the One World Observation Deck? I chose this as it’s higher than the Rockefeller, and as it’s located in Lower Manhattan you get an entirely different perspective of the city.
The 9/11 Memorial pays tribute to the 2,977 people who lost their lives in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. The memorial opened in 2011 and sits on the very site of the former Twin Towers. Featuring the name of each person who lost their life that day. While you’re at the memorial, you may happen to come across white roses sitting in the inscribed names. This signifies that victims birthday – the idea behind a volunteer starting in 2013.
9/11 Memorial Museum
The 9/11 Memorial Museum opened in 2014 and is located underground. The museum includes 14,000 artefacts, 3,500 oral recordings, and over 500 hours of video. Among the artefacts is the very last steel column to leave ground zero in may of 2002.
If you’d like to visit the 9/11 memorial purchasing tickets in advance is highly recommended. The line for tickets was super long come midday.
Greenwich Village & The Friends Building
Hop back on the subway and head to Greenwich Village! Greenwich Village was one of my favourite neighbourhoods in New York City, it’s far less busy than that of midtown. Greenwich Village is the perfect place to grab lunch as there are so many quaint little cafés here.
If you didn’t get a chance to head into Brooklyn and see some of the Brooklyn Brownstones, you’ll be able to see a few in Greenwich Village, they are the most stunning homes.
One of the main attractions of Greenwich Village is the Friend’s apartment building. I don’t know many people who didn’t like this show (If any!) and as a bit of a Friend’s fan nerd, I just really had to see this building! There was no Central Perk coffee shop unfortunately. If you’d like to see the Friend’s apartment building featured on the TV show, you can find it at 90 Bedford Street. It’s a 3-minute walk from the Christopher St Subway Station. Heading to Greenwich Village at night? Join a local pub crawl!
If none of the Cafés in Greenwich Village pulled you in, the food at Chelsea Market will for sure! Chelsea Market hosts a myriad of eateries and vendors. You’ll find almost every type of cuisine here – featuring everything from sushi to grilled cheese and doughnuts! Better yet, taking a food tour is a great way to sample all the different foods on offer.
Fun fact: Did you know Chelsea Market was where the Oreo Cookie was first invented and produced? Thanks Chelsea Market!
The High Line
After having stuffed your face at Chelsea Market, head to the High Line to take a stroll and work off all that food. The High Line is one of the best free things to do in New York City. It is a 1-minute walk from Chelsea Market and can be accessed via W 16th Avenue.
The High-Line is a innovative project in New York, opening in 2009. This disused elevated railway line was due to be demolished when it was saved and transformed into this urban public park. Spanning 1.45 miles, the high Line showcases many a unique view of New York City. You’ll find various pieces of artwork along your walk as well as several thriving wildflowers. On a hot day you can find vendors selling Ice Cream and shady spots to sit and enjoy them!
See A Broadway Show
Spend the last evening of your 4 days in New York at one of the many Broadway shows. Whether it be Wicked, The Lion King or Hamilton, you’re sure to find a show you’ll love. The TKTS booth is one of the best way to snag tickets to a Broadway show. Their booth in Times Square is the most popular but they do have outlets at Lincoln Center and South Street Seaport. The best time of day to purchase tickets is early in the morning when the booth opens, however don’t expect to be the only there! Everyone wants cheap Broadway tickets. Going later in the day can sometimes pay off too though! Tickets can get released for shows all throughout the day, so you may be lucky and get tickets 30 minutes before a show starts!
If you love Disney on Broadway but aren’t able to make it to a show, you can always take a tour behind the scenes.
How Much Does A Trip To New York Cost?
The main expense you’ll need to budget for in New York is food. On average meals were between $25 and $30 and this was for very run of the mill restaurants. Most mornings I wanted to get out early so we skipped a sit down breakfast and would find a coffee shop to grab coffee and a snack to go.
My hotel is Times Square was $850 including all taxes and fees. This is one of the lower priced hotels near Times Square but you can find better deals if you stay a little further out.
My Greyhound to New York was $13 one-way and a flight to Toronto was $194. I budgeted approximately $150 for attractions and around $250 for all food for 4.5 days. I spent around $15 on souvenirs but that was the only shopping I did (amazing!) All in I spent around $1000 for 4.5 days (half on our hotel)
Tips For Visiting New York City
I’m from the city and I love the atmosphere of them – but holy moly was New York busy. For this reason I’d highly recommend sticking to an itinerary (even a loose one) and booking things in advance. While this may not appeal to people who don’t like to plan, if you don’t you’ll lose out. New York is also expensive – like way more than the major cities I’m used to – and if you’re going to spend all that money to visit, you may as well make the most of it!
Buy A 7 Day Metro Card
You know how we all have that one friend that says “It’s not far we can walk!” well that friend is me. Let me give you some advice. You CAN walk a lot in New York, everything is “just around the corner” but do yourself a favour and use the Subway! Buy a 7-day Metro card and you can use it to your hearts content. Got on the wrong train? No problem! You can use the same card to return to that station.
Don’t Stay In Times Square
My first visit to New York I really wanted to stay in the heart of the hustle and bustle. But staying close to Times Square means higher prices for average hotels, and it means getting anywhere can sometimes be difficult. Explore further afield and you’ll find better hotels.
Don’t Eat in Times Square
My biggest advice would be to research your restaurants beforehand. I don’t like to plan where to eat and when because I don’t like being restricted to a certain time. There are so many tourist traps that aren’t worth your money. Avoid eating in Times Square since you’ll pay 2 or 3x the price for a chain restaurant than you would in any other state! The fact that the breadsticks at Olive Garden were NOT free was all the reason I needed to not eat there.
Wear Comfortable Walking Shoes
DO NOT wear open sandals in New York. Unless you’re getting up early for those “Insta shots” then heading back to your hotel to put on some actual decent walking shoes – I’d leave them at home. I walked around for 12-13 hours in open toed sandals and by the end of the day my feet looked like hobbit feet. We laughed about it for the next two days! How did I even think that was good idea?
Moral of the story? Bring good walking shoes!
As a first time visitor, you’ll probably want to do EVERYTHING! But it would take you a lifetime to do everything in New York. 4 days in New York is a good amount of time for your first visit, since this will allow you to do the top sights of NYC. If you can, stretch it out to 5 days to a week in New York, this would be ideal.
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Great itinerary. I’ve been to New York several times, but am already counting down the days until we finally go again (just 135 to go) 😉
Although I’ve done the most obviously tourist things, there are still loads of places I want to go (and other places I really want to revisit).
I’m with you when It comes to staying central, however I really try to avoid staying anywhere near Times Square. I find the area around Grand Central Terminal / Lexington Avenue much more convenient. Still central and well connected, but less tourists / quieter. And still only a 10 minute walk to Times Square (if one really has to go)
I agree! As a first time visitor I wanted the feeling of being in New York with all the hustle and bustle, but now that I’ve done it I wou;dn’t stay in Times Square again.
I’d love to go to New York. It’s really high on my list. Everything you’ve recommended looks great.
I live in Boston so we go to NYC quite often but there is always something new to explore I love it !
I didn’t get to visit the library on my first visit! I want to go back now!
Amazing recommendations! NY is so big it’s hard to know where to go. Next time I visit I’ll have to visit some of these places I haven’t seen!
First time we went to New York, we went for 11 nights. Which was great, as it meant we had enough time to see a lot. However in hindsight, it was actually far too long. As we eventually hit that moment, where we just did not want to go any further.
So yes, totally with you, four to five days is ideal for a NYC trip.
I can imagine it would be a little long, 7 days would be ideal for me since I love stopping to take photos. I don’t recall looking down at any point during my trip – I loved the buildings
wow, this is such a helpful comprehensive post about all the things to do in New York city! I don’t think you missed much. You must have really gotten up early for that Brooklyn Bridge photo, since there aren’t any other people on the bridge with you.
It was around 9am at the time and still VERY busy. I had a lot of patience on the bridge, but that’s okay since we had amazing views to soak in too.
Great post! Even though I’m from the Northeast, I’ve only been to NYC a handful of times. Your magnificent photos have made me want to go back!
Krystianna @ Volumes and Voyages
I love NYC, it reminded me so much of home! But I’d like to stay longer next time, since it’s so busy
Nice info. Thanks for taking time sharing all how-to’s in going to New York. Keep writing great articles!
Thanks for reading!
Love this post! Ellen’s Stardust is a must-do for any NYC visitor, but you rarely see it on blogs – glad you featured it!
I am dying to visit New York so this itinerary is super helpful for planning!
I can see I need to go back and see more!
This is the perfect first timers guide! You covered the best spots and all of your photos are beautiful! 🙂
Great timing for coming across this post as I’m planning an NYC trip for March! Thanks for the super helpful tips
Amazing recommendations! New york has such great vibes and heading there in March 2020, Can’t wait.Saving this post for my pick of destinations!
Thank you for such a thorough New York City guide! Your pictures are amazing, it definitely made me miss the city!
I find this really helpful. Thanks for sharing this. I’m really excited about my travel