If you’re heading to the Big Apple and it’s your first time – or even if it’s your tenth time – New York City is big and it can be a little overwhelming at times with people and cars absolutely everywhere. There’s a reason it’s the most densely populated city in the United States with 8.5 million people…
Most people tend to visit NYC over a long weekend, say four to five days, but there’s a lot to cram in. Covering the ‘must see’ and ‘must do’ attractions can be done though, without ruining your city break with unnecessary stress.
You could always opt for the ridiculously overpriced open-top bus tours but, if like me, you prefer to go at your own pace and use public transport and your trusty legs to see a new city, follow my Top 10 Tips to make the most of it.
- Head to the Rockefeller Centre instead of the Empire State Building – it’s cheaper and it means you can get that all-important iconic shot of the tops of the buildings, with the Empire State in the frame.
- Go on a free walking tour around the city – there’s tonnes available.
- Check out Big Apple Greeter – a voluntary programme where local New Yorkers greet tourists to give them a view of the City through local eyes.
- Head to Brooklyn Brewery on a Saturday or Sunday for a free brewery tour every half hour. You’re welcome.
- Stay off of Times Square – further out in Midtown can be a great option with cheaper hotels but still close to the action. I’ve stayed in Midtown both times I’ve been to the City at Pod 39 and Hotel Metro, both of which I’d recommend.
- Visit the TKTS booths in either Times Square or downtown for up to 50% off the best shows.
- Pay the extra for a tour of the World Trade Centre Memorial. Despite the horrific tale behind the memorial, it’s a really great opportunity to hear the stories from those who were so deeply affected – friends and family of the victims – and learn facts that weren’t written about or televised by the media.
- Head to the Highline – an urban park built on old railway tracks running from Midtown to Chelsea – see neighbourhoods from a new perspective.
- Take the Staten Island ferry from downtown to, well, Staten Island! It goes right past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and the best part is, it’s free. Of course if you want to pay to get right up close to Lady Liberty herself then it’s not for you, but it’s a great way to see it, especially if you’re on a budget.
- Fly to Newark instead of JFK; not only is it cheaper (usually) it’s also a great way to begin the trip with a panoramic view of the city on your drive in.