Travel

Travel Guide: New York City

New York is on a travel bucket list of many people. It is the most populous city in the United States, a city where dreams come true. We moved to New York in summer 2017 and since then, I have collected some tips that I would like to share with you. So where to begin?

What I love the most about this city that never sleeps is its energy and personality. You can find here everything you like – world class food, shops, culture…

Visit the city at the right time

The best time for visiting New York is spring or autumn, even though many tourists tend to visit NYC during Christmas time or summer break. The weather in summer is usually hot and humid, and in winter the temperatures can drop below – 15 °C / 5°F. Keep that in mind.

New York City is busy all year round, but during the peak tourist season and public holidays, hotel prices can increase significantly. Hotels located at Manhattan are notoriously expensive, but try to look for accommodation in other boroughs. I would recommend searching with Airbnb/Booking.com.

Since we already had many visitors, I would suggest to plan your trip for 6-8 days… If you want to take it easy, enjoy walking around different neighborhoods, see a Broadway show and go shopping. So let’s start with the basics:

Transport

New York City has three major airports nearby, JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty in New Jersey.  If you take a taxi or car service from the airport, brace yourself for at least an hour ride into Manhattan.

The New York’s most recognizable symbol of the city is the yellow cab. However fewer people know that NY taxi cabs come in two varieties: yellow and green.

New York’s famous yellow taxis are generally not the cheapest option. The cool thing is that to call a yellow cab, you just simply wave on it. If you are in a rush, using a car will make it about the same (or slower) than the subway. I don’t recommend driving or parking in New York. The public transport is good, but the best option is simply to walk. You can also rent city bikes and take a bike tour.  The price for taxi, or Uber increases in a rush hour and in a bad weather.

Tips

My favorite transit app is Citymapper. It integrates data for all modes of transport in New York. It calculates the transit possibilities and you can choose an option most convenient for you – walking, using the public transport, driving, cycling… it even calculates an average Uber price, shows current traffic conditions and traffic jams.

If you get tired from walking, or if you don’t like the subway and you would love to see Manhattan, this tip is for you. Take the ferry! The cost of a ferry is $2.75 per ride – the same as a subway fare.  For example the East River ferry departs from the 34th Street (Midtown) to the Financial District. In summer you can sit on the roof enjoying the amazing views from the East River.

Sightseeing

Is it your first time in New York? You will definitely want to see the Statue of Liberty. When it comes to seeing the Statue of Liberty, you have two options:

It is absolutely up to your personal preference. If you are on the budget the Staten Island Ferry will save you some money. It leaves every 30 minutes (more often in peak hours) from the Whitehall terminal in South of Manhattan and all you have to do is show up! Since it’s free, there is no need to buy tickets. When choosing the tour option, I also recommend visiting the Ellis Island. Ellis Island served as an United States’ busiest immigrant inspection station for over 60 years.

The Whitehall terminal is close to the Battery park and when you are already in Downtown Manhattan (Financial District) pay a visit to Charging Bull, Wall Street, Ground Zero and newly build One World Center. Oh, and on your way there, be sure to stop inside the Oculus, the train station that meant to look like a dove taking flight.

Since New York is the city of skyscrapers, seeing everything from above gives you a different perspective. There is a plenty of rooftop bars that offer good views, but the most popular viewing decks are the Top of the Rock, the Empire State Building and One World Observatory.

Tip

As a local I have to tell you – don’t buy those tickets. Rather make a reservation at Bar 65. For more information visit my previous blog.

Central park

Central Park is the largest green space in the middle of Manhattan. Many of my friends already told me: “We wanna to go running to Central park, because that what’s people do in all american movies“. Central park offers perfect way to relax in the city. It is much bigger that what people expect. There are lots of paths for walking and running, bike lanes, lakes and a Zoo. My favorite is the Bethesda Fountain, which is one of the largest fountains in New York.

Grand Central Terminal and New York Public Library 

When you are wondering in Midtown Manhattan it would be shame not to visit the Grand Central Terminal and New York Public Library with the adjacent Bryant Park. Grand Central Terminal is one of those iconic New York places that shows up in all sorts of movies. It is the city’s historic train station.

Rockefeller Center and 5th Avenue

Featuring 19 commercial buildings in the area between Fifth and Sixth Avenue, Rockefeller Center is the symbol of Midtown Manhattan. It is home to many corporations, offices, headquarters of NBC studios, theaters, shops, and restaurants. Rockefeller center is also popular in winter time, for its ice-skating rink. Directly across the street from Rockefeller Center, you may pay a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a Roman Catholic cathedral and a prominent landmark of New York City. Continue wondering along the 5th Avenue, famous for its upscale boutiques and department stores.

Times Square

Times Square can be described as the busiest place in Manhattan. The best time to visit this crowded tourist trap is after the sun sets. It look much better when you see all the bright and colorful lights at night.

Brooklyn Bridge

One of the most iconic bridges in the world, the Brooklyn Bridge is a must thing to do on many tourists’ itineraries. The best time to go there is early in the morning, when there will be fewer people.

Tip

To give your tired feet a break, I would suggest taking the East River Ferry from 34th Street to DUMBO, Brooklyn. On the way you will see beautiful Manhattan scenery and you can cross the bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan, which may me more convenient.

High Line

Elevated park built upon a abandoned railway is a perfect place to see the city from a different perspective. Depending on the day of week, the High Line can get quite busy, so come early if you want to avoid the crowds. The path offers beautiful views of the Hudson River. It will take you from Chelsea to the Meatpacking District. On the way, you can stop at Chelsea Market, an enclosed urban food court, to get some delicious food. From there, you can walk through the Meatpacking district to the Flatiron Building, next to Madison Square Park.

Museums

When the weather gets bad during your New York trip, you can visit some of the best museums in the world. From art, to history to Museum of Sex, there’s something for everyone. Among the most popular are the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa).

Explore the neighborhoods

If you plan to spend more than 3 days in New York, you will have some time left to explore lesser toured neighborhoods, such as SoHo, Little Italy, East Village, Harlem, Chinatown…. Simply stroll through the neighborhoods and get to know their individual charms. You will find great architecture, local stores and street art around every other corner.

Tips

Are you not a fan of walking around the city the whole day? You can take a helicopter ride. Flying over Manhattan gives you a totally new perspective. Before purchasing the tickets, try to look for some discounts online. Another alternative is a hop-on hop-off bus tour (NYC Sightseeing Bus), meaning that if the bus drives past a place you want to explore more, you can do so freely before getting back on the bus and continuing the drive with a tour guide.

Culture

New York’s choices of museums, galleries, theaters and shows are nearly endless. Before visiting NYC check if your favorite performer is on a tour. You can enjoy a drink at a local jazz bar, or some people head to New York just for the chance to see one of the big shows on Broadway.

Tip

Here are some tips to help you save money. For Broadway shows always check the discount codes, or you can stop by the TKTS Discount Booths at Times Square. If a particular show is not sold out, they offer tickets to musicals, plays, and dance productions up to 50% off regular prices.

If you are already planning your visit to NYC, set an alarm for the first Friday – a month ahead before your planned trip. This is when NBC releases tickets for the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. You can reserve free tickets to see the taping by visiting this site. When you apply for the tickets, you will be automatically placed onto a waiting list. If you get lucky, you will be contacted at least two weeks prior to the taping. So try it, it is definitely worth it! We have been picked twice and it is among my favorite experiences.

For sport fans New York offers several possibilities: Would you prefer watching the baseball game at the famous Yankee Stadium? Cheer at NHL game? Watch basketball at Madison Square Garden? Two famous teams play at the Madison Square Garden – the Rangers and the Knicks. If you like to save some money, book a ticket for Brooklyn Nets, which are housed at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn. We cheer for New York Islanders, who also play at the Barclays Center. The tickets for games outside Manhattan tend to be much cheaper.

Tennis lovers travel to New York for US Open. The US Open Tennis Championship is the final of four tournaments that make up the Grand Slam played at National Tennis Center in Queens’ Flushing Meadows.

However the main national sport is still american football. MetLife Stadium is home to New York City’s two National Football League teams – the New York Giants and the New York Jets.

Food

New York City is a dream destination regarding food and great restaurants. You can find here everything from food truck eats to fine dining. There are many excellent options for every budget. 

Situated in the Meatpacking District, Chelsea Market is a food-lover’s dream. Or, if you are visiting NYC between April and October, you can stop by Smorgasburg, the largest open-air food market . Smorgasburg features dozens of vendors selling delicious  food from around the world.

Tip

A good app for local restaurants recommendations is Yelp.com. It is easy to use, you can pick your favorite cuisine and search the best restaurants near you.

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