TRIP TO NEW YORK CITY
New York is a dream destination for so many people. Having visited New York 2 times in the past – I am sharing the best NYC Itinerary for First Time Visitors in just 2 days. This itinerary includes visit to all the major attractions in Manhattan, New York.
ABOUT NEW YORK CITY
Comprising of 5 boroughs sitting on the Hudson River is New York City. Out of these boroughs, Manhattan, being the most popular and populous, attracts thousands of people all around the world. The high rise, unique and modern structured skyscrapers of Manhattan is admired by one and all. New York is the largest city of USA. It is also the biggest commercial, financial, cultural and fashion hub of USA. It is one of the must visit city for every tourist visiting USA.
New York is the home to one of the very beautiful monument – The Statue of Liberty – A Symbol of Freedom and other attractions like The Empire State Building, sprawling Central Park, Broadway theatres at Times Square, iconic Brooklyn Bridge and numerous Museums the city hosts.
People of New York are always admired for their cosmopolitan lifestyle, modern outlook and high talent. The latest fashion trend can be seen very prominently from the clothes of the people casually walking on streets of Manhattan. It is the art, culture, fashion, food and architecture of New York that makes it very different and one of its kind. This is the reason why New York is featured on so many Hollywood movies and series.
DURATION OF THE NEW YORK TRIP
It is really hard to cover New York City in two days when even months are short to explore it completely. Here, in two days, I am guiding how to cover some of the major attractions, which might not be enough, but at least one gets a glimpse of the city.
NEW YORK TRIP COST FOR 2 DAYS
- Hotel: 214-350 US$ / Day
- Attractions: 146-220 US$ / Person
- Food: 100-200 US$ / Person
- Local Transport: 100-200 US$ / Person
- Total Approx: 560-960 US$ / Person for 2-3 days stay excluding flights
WHERE TO STAY IN NEW YORK
Midtown Manhattan – For tourists, Manhattan Midtown is the most convenient and preferred choice to stay because it is located centrally and is at a walking distance to Times Square, Central Park, Rockefeller Centre, Empire State Building, 5thAvenue etc. It has a good connectivity via Subway making it easily accessible to all other areas. Some of the Hotels in Midtown offer amazing view of the Central Park. If want to enjoy the flashy lights, big billboards, broadways shows and 24-hour hustle and bustle on the street, then stay close to Times Square in Midtown. Also the hop on and hop off bus tours starts from Times Square only.
Following are some of the Hotel suggestions for Midtown Manhattan ranging from $200 – $350 / Day –
- Radisson Hotel New York Midtown Hotel
- Renaissance Times Square Hotel
- Courtyard by Marriott New York Manhattan/Central Park
- Novotel New York Times Square Hotel
- Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel
- New York Marriott Marques
Greenwich Village & East Village – If someone wants to see the real New York with brown brick buildings, fun Café’s then Greenwich is the place to be. It is also famous because Carrie Bradshaw’s in the series “Sex in the City” is shown belonging to this area only.
Soho & Lower Manhattan – It is the luxury shopping area so if someone is looking for luxury shopping can stay here.
Tribeca – The area of High Executives and Celebrities is Tribeca.
Meatpacking – If someone is looking forward to enjoying late nights, night bars and dance clubs, this is the area for you. It is extremely popular among teenagers and youngsters.
Upper East Side – If someone wants to enjoy the Central Park and the Museums then you should prefer putting up in this area. It is mostly the preferred choice for people with kids.
Williamsburg Brooklyn – If someone wants to stay away from Manhattan then this area is the best. It is perfect for budget travellers. One can also enjoy wonderful view of Manhattan Sky Line from here.
BEST TIME TO VISIT NEW YORK
Best months to visit New York are from April to June and September to November when weather is warm and pleasant. December to February is quite cold and July and August are very hot.
HOW TO REACH / HOW TO TRAVEL WITHIN NEW YORK
New York is main city in United States and is very well connected to all major cities in the world. For travelling within Manhattan it is very easy to understand its routes and map as it is very well planned like a grid. The parallel lines running north to south are called Avenues and the horizontal lanes running east to west are called Streets.
It is easy to go around from one place to another as the city offers amazing network of public transport in form of Subway, covering every nook and corner of the city running 24 hours. Subway is the best and the most convenient way to travel as it kills road traffic, is very fast, easy to hop in and hop off as there are umpteen number of stations and most importantly is very economic. Apart from Subway, one can use Public Buses as well. Then Uber, Lyft and Taxi’s are also available. Mostly, all attractions are in Midtown and Lower Manhattan, so one can easily cover these using Cabs, if one is finding Subway system complex.
HOW TO TRAVEL TO MANHATTAN FROM NEW YORK AIRPORTS
New York has three main airports – John F Kennedy (JFK) – Queens, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) – New Jersey and La Guardia (LGA) – Queens. Mostly all International flights land at Newark Airport – New Jersey and domestic flight at John F Kennedy (JFK). All three of them are really far from Manhattan and will cost roughly 65-90 US$ via Taxi/Uber/Lyft. If you are more than 3 people, then it is the best as well as convenient option without a doubt, as cost will split. But if travelling alone then Taxi is the costliest. In such a case, one can take Airport Shuttle Buses and Subway Train. Cost for these options will be approx. 10-20 USD/Person. It is economical but is inconvenient, as one has to drag the luggage along.
MUST VISIT PLACES IN NEW YORK
- Statue of Liberty – Go for Circle Line Cruise which takes very close to the Liberty Island giving a fabulous view of the Statue or you can plan to go to Liberty/Ellis Island and see the museum and the Statue. Avoid going from the Staten Free Ferry or view from Battery Park, as it gives a far off view of the statue and is not at all satisfactory.
- Out of the three Observatories city offers I suggest to visit Top of the Rock (Observation Deck) at Rockefeller Center to enjoy the fabulous view of Empire State Building. Sunset is the best time.
- 9/11 Memorial is a must visit.
- Brookyn Bridge
- Limelight of Times Square in the night.
- Central Park – Zoo, Museums etc in the afternoon.
- Charging Bull of New York Wall Street.
- A walk up to Greenwich area and enjoying some fabulous restaurants and café’s.
- Chelsea Market if anyone is interested in Shopping
- A walk to Little Italy if someone wants to enjoy mouth watering Italian food options. If interested in Chinese food then China Town is the place for it.
- See some of the very Famous Landmarks of New York like Grand Central Station, Washington Square, New York Library, Chrysler Building, Flatiron Building, Federal Hall, The Woolworth Building etc.
TIPS FOR NEW YORK TRIP
- Tipping is quite common, moreover, kind of compulsory in New York, whether it is for the concierge at the hotel managing your luggage or to a server at any restaurants. Be prepared for this small extra cost.
- Mostly every place in New York has an entry charge, be it any show, museum, activity, observation decks etc. You can list down the ones you are interested in and check the prices and go for it.
- There are various types of tourist pass available like Sightseeing Pass, New York Pass, Free Style Pass etc. starting from $70 and goes up to $350. For more detailed information on the different kinds of tourist passes available for NYC click here.
- There is a free walking tour every Fridays at 12:00 PM at The Grand Central by Mr. Justin Ferate. It is a 2 hour walking tour which gives an amazing insight of NYC and the stories are worth listening.
- New York is full of Museums. Most of them always have an entry fee. Few of them are free on special days and some of them are always free.
- MoMA (Museum of Modern Arts) is free every Fridays from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM but you may experience a lot of rush during these hours.
- American Museum of Natural History only accepts donations and has no fixed entry charges.
- The Guggenheim Museum is ‘pay what you wish’ every Saturdays from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
- The Frick Collection is again ‘pay what you wish‘ on every Sundays from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
- 9/11 Memorial Museum has free entry every Tuesdays from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Last Entry at 7:00 PM.
To know about 10 must visit Museums in Manhattan New York click here
TIPS WHILE BOOKING A HOTEL IN NEW YORK
- Almost all hotels in New York charge a compulsory Resort Fee ranging from 24-60 US$/Day, which is not included in the prices of the hotel at the time of the booking. Kindly consider this extra cost while booking any hotel in New York. You can check out the list of hotels in New York which charge resort fees from www.resortfeechecker.com. You can even check the amount they charge per day.
- A few hotels do not offer electric kettle and tea kits in the rooms. Check this before hand and carry it for yourself, if you have the requirement.
NYC ITINERARY FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS
- Day 1: Statue of Liberty – Circle Line Cruise, Central Park, Top of the Rock and Times Square
- Day 2: Big Bus – Downtown Tour and Uptown Tour
NYC DETAIL ITINERARY FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS
Day 1: Statue of Liberty – Circle Line Cruise, Central Park, Top of the Rock and Times Square
When talking about New York the first thing that comes to mind is the Statue of Liberty. So a visit to New York is never complete without visiting this precious gift from France to United States. There are plenty of ways to visit the statue but it totally depends on how much closer you want to get to the statue and experience it.
Following are the 4 ways to see the Statue of Liberty
1. Statue of Liberty is visible from the Battery Park in Manhattan but it’s a very far off view.
2. One can also see Statue of Liberty from Staten Island Free Ferry, which departs every half an hour from South Ferry Terminal in Manhattan to St George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island (New Jersey). The view is definitely closer than what we see at the Battery Park but not too close enough.
3. Then there are various cruise companies that take us closer to the Liberty Islands giving a fabulous closer look of the statue and Manhattan skylines. The most common ones are the one offered by Circle Line – Liberty Cruise. These cruises charge approx. 31-40 USD/Person (Adult). Tickets can be purchased online or from Hotel concierge or directly at the venue ticket counter.
4. Lastly, is the Liberty & Ellis Island tour, which takes you to the Island where Status of Liberty is standing i.e. Liberty Island and the near by Ellis Island. There is only one company, which do that i.e. Statue Cruise.
Tickets for Liberty & Ellis Island Tour can be booked online from www.statuecruise.com. There are three types of Tickets – Ground, Pedestal and Crown access of the statue. Price starts from 19 USD to 23 USD/Person including cruise. Please note it is better to book pedestal and crown access tickets 2-3 weeks in advance as these usually are always booked.
Yes it is cheaper than the cruise tour, but then Liberty & Ellis Island tour consumes good 5-6 hours, where as cruise tour finish off in 2-3 hours max.
Circle Line Liberty Cruise
We started our tour by visiting the Statue of Liberty. We went for the Circle Line Liberty Cruise, which runs only from Sep to Dec. It starts from midtown and sails up to downtown and then finally gets close to Statue of Liberty and returns. So in this way it also provides an amazing view of all the skyscraper of Midtown and Downtown.
The cost is 31 USD/Person. We bought the ticket from the Hotel Concierge and took an Uber to reach Pier 83 (42ndstreet and 12thAvenue) from where the Cruise departs. It took me roughly 10 mins to reach the pier from my Hotel. Sadly, there is no direct good connection through Subway to reach the pier and hiring a cab is the best option. Tickets can also be purchased online from www.circlelinecruise.com or directly at Pier 83 counter.
Cruise duration is 1 hour and timing is 10:30 AM daily (3rdSep to 27thOctober) and 10:00 AM daily (28thOctober to 31stDecember). We need to reach pier an hour ahead of sailing time. The cruise also provides audio guide. The entire experience was absolutely thrilling and we were able to get some amazing clicks of the skyscrapers and The Statue of Liberty. We went for this one, as we wanted to finish off quickly and explore other parts of New York. However, if you have time, then please go for Statue Cruise, which takes to the Liberty Islands.
After finishing off with the cruise, we went to our second destination for the day – Central Park. You can either take an Uber for this or can take M12 Bus right outside the Pier 83 and get down right outside Central Park (Columbus Circle). Spread across 843 acres of land lays the Central Park of New York. It is said to be the heart of New York City. As the population in New York was growing this park was created in order to balance it out with nature. The Park is 2.5 miles (4 kms) long 0.5 miles (0.8 kms) wide.
Inside it has a lake, a Zoo, Belvedere Castle, place for ice-skating, kids playground, museum etc. This park is huge and covering it entirely is kind of difficult. There are 3 kinds of tours available to cover the park.
1. Carriage Ride
First, is the carriage ride – you can find various carriages lined up as soon as you enter the Park from Columbus Circle. Carriage can accommodate up to 4 persons and the tour is of approx 60 minutes. Price is 57-60 USD + tips. They cover all major attractions in the park and also guide you about the place. It is actually the best part as we could just sit and relax and see the entire park.
2. Bicycle Tour
Second, is the bicycle tour. Rental for Bicycle is 15 USD. If you want a Bicycle tour with a guide then again various tours are available online for Guided Bicycle Tours ranging 30-40 USD/Person.
3. Walking Tour
Lastly, is the walking tour of Central Park. Among all the walking tours available, the most famous is the TV and Movie Sites Tour, which show the locations where famous movies were shot in the park. Price for this is also 35 USD/Person. Tickets can be purchased from www.viator.com.
Here also, as I wanted to save my energy for other activities, I decided best was to take the carriage tour. We went for it and the experience was amazing. We visited the Strawberry Fields, Central Park Zoo, Belvedere Castle and the lake while sitting on the carriage.
Rockefeller Centre – Top of the Rock Observatory
After this we went walking up to the Rockefeller Centre. You can also take Uber or subway for this but we really wanted to walk and admire 5thAvenue – a very famous Shopping street on the way. We also halted to eat at Fresco by Scotto – an amazing Italian restaurant here. There are various food joints options around this area to choose from.
Visiting Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Centre was at the top of our agenda’s for New York as this place provides fabulous view of Empire State Building. We had already bought tickets online while we were roaming around at Central Park from its official website www.topoftherocknyc.com. As we were visiting around sunset it cost us 50 USD/Person (adult) otherwise it is 40 USD/Person. They charge an additional 10 USD for sunset time.
The view was absolutely splendid. From one side we could see the entire Skyline with Empire State Building shinning in the middle and from the other side we could see the fabulous view of the Central Park. As the sun was about to set, the sky had almost turned grey. One can not spell out the beautiful scene with lights being turned on by the buildings below and the darkness of the night. The scene was totally worth for extra 10 dollars.
After enjoying the beautiful sunset, we went to our last stop of the day i.e. Times Square – a place full of the largest billboards in the world, flashy lights, Broadway Show, the place that never sleeps in New York. It is the best place to just roam around and enjoy the limelight. This place is very popular among tourist.
Broadway Show at Times Square
You can also enjoy one of the Broadway shows here. Prices for Broadway Show are usually above 100 USD/Person. Tickets can be bought online in advance from official website www.broadway.com but they are always pricy in this website compared to on sight prices. Tickets can also be bought from TKTS kiosk, if looking for very good discounts (almost half the price), at Times Square. It’s a real task to buy tickets from TKTS kiosk as it is always crowded and is sold out in no time. TKTS has branches in South Street Seaport and Lincoln Centre. It is said that these branches are less crowded. May be one can try their luck at them.
Other than this, a lot of people use www.stubhub.com and get confirmed tickets, flexibility in choosing the seats and good discounts. We were too tired to go for that. We went back to the Hotel after having dinner at one of the very famous food chains – Shake Shack which was at a walking distance from our Hotel. Food is never disappointing at Shake Shack. Our Hotel was at a walking distance from Times Square.
- 08:00 AM: Breakfast at Hotel
- 09:00 AM: Leaving from Hotel for Pier 83 – Circle Line Cruise to see Statue of Liberty
- 10:00 AM: Enjoying Circle Line Cruise & Statue of Liberty
- 12:00 PM: Central Park
- 03:00 PM: Lunch at 5thAvenue
- 05:00 PM: Rockefeller Centre for Top of the Rock visit
- 08:00 PM: Times Square
- 09:00 PM: Dinner
- 10:00 PM: Back to Hotel
DAY 2: Big Bus – Downtown Tour and Uptown Tour
Hop On Hop Off Bus
The best and easiest way to cover most of the attractions of New York is via Hop On and Hop Off Bus. Hop on the Bus and hop off on the spot you like to explore and Hop on again the next Bus from the same spot when you are done. It is not possible to cover so many attractions on your own and hence I recommend this bus tour. Moreover, this Bus also provides tour guides who give out valuable information/stories about each place.
Types of Hop On Hop Off Buses and the Prices
Currently there are two main companies that provide Hop On and Hop of Bus services. One is the Big Bus and the other one is Greyline. Both of them are good and almost follow the same route for the Uptown and Downtown. Prices of both the tours are 59 USD/Person (adult) for Uptown & Downtown. I went for Big Bus as I was getting a discount of 10 USD online (www.bigbustours.com) so it cost me only 49.50 USD/Person (adult). Tour timings are 9 am – 5 pm for Fall/Winter and 10 am – 6 pm for Spring/Summer.
Big Bus also takes you to Pier 83 from their special 8:00 a.m. Bus for the circle line cruise for Statue of Liberty. I already covered it on day 1, so I started my Bus trip at 10:00 a.m. from M&M Store – Times Square, which was just a walk away from my Hotel. You can even start this tour from 8:00 a.m. as well as first Bus starts at 8:00 a.m. from outside Knickerbocker Hotel – Times Square.
I started with the Downtown as it was my 1stpriority and it was left unexplored by me on Day 1. Downtown tour starts from Times Square and takes a tour of Byrant Park, 5thAvenue, outside Empire State Building, Flatiron Building, Union Square, Washington Square then to Greenwich Village.
I first hopped off at Greenwich Village and walked down to see the streets filled with amazing shades of brown brick houses with 6-8 stairs to reach the main gate of the house, exactly like the houses we see on various movies and series based on NYC like How I Met Your Mother and Sex and the City. Infact, you can also check out the Carrie Bradshaw Apartment in Greenwich Village – which is a 15-18 mins walk from the Greenwich Bus Stop. I walked down till there, saw the apartment, refreshed my memories and came back to the Bus Stop.
Soho/Little Italy/China Town
I hopped on the next Bus and then it took us to Soho/Little Italy and then to China Town. I got off the Bus at the Little Italy spot to enjoy some amazing Italian food for Lunch. We went to Prince St Pizza, which was at 10 mins walk. The Pizza was amazing and after having it I walked down up to Taiyaki at Baxter Street to enjoy some yummy desserts – specially its fish shaped Macha Ice-cream. Taiyaki is most famous for its fluffiest pancakes, which they only serve during morning hours. I missed it this time.
I then hopped on the Bus from the Chinatown Bus stop, which was just a 5 minute walk from Taiyaki. Our next stop was Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall. One World Observatory and 9/11 Memorial can also be covered from this spot. So I got down here and went walking to Brooklyn Bridge, which was just 5 mins away from here.
After this I went walking to 9/11 Memorial site. It was a 15 mins walk from Brooklyn Bridge. I crossed Oculus (White Rib Structure) on the way and it was worth admiring.
On reaching the 9/11 Memorial site I saw the twin waterfall created on the ground at the exact same place where WTC was situated. The waterfall symbolizes paying tribute to the people who died in the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks. All the names of the people who lost their lives on the 26thFeb’1993 and 11thSeptember’2001 are inscribed on the sides of the waterfall.
One can visit the 9/11 Museum as well situated at this site only. Entry price for Museum is 28 USD/Person (adult). On every Tuesdays this museum is free entry from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. (last entry closes at 7 PM).
One World Observatory
One World Observatory is also one of the ways to witness the amazing skyline of NYC from 101st-102ndfloor. Entry charges are 35 USD/Person (adult) and as I always suggest, it is better to buy tickets from its official website www.oneworldobservatory.com. We skipped this one as we had already been to the Top of the Rock. But one can go for it, as the reviews are amazing. There is a glass floor, which gives a thrilling experience. Moreover, one can also see the Statue of Liberty from here. But there is a drawback. This observation deck is covered with glass hence it becomes difficult to click pictures. Photos during the daytime are still better compared to the pictures after sunset, which are mostly ruined due to the reflection coming from the glasses.
After this, instead of taking a ride on the bus, we decided to explore the area on our own. We went to Trinity Church, which was in just a 10-minute walk from 9/11 Memorial. It is a very famous and beautiful structured Church, worth visiting.
Charging Bull of Wall Street
Then ahead of the Trinity Church is the famous Charging Bull of Wall Street. You will always and always find people queued up to take a picture with the Bull. Ahead of it was the Battery Park. We roamed around for some time at the Park and then hopped on the Bus from the stop right outside the gate of Battery Park.
After this, we were taken back to Times Square from where the Bus started. Now, as our pass included Uptown as well, we hopped on to the Uptown route Bus. Uptown basically takes you up to the Upper East side which runs parallel to the Central Park and returns. Central Park we already explored on the Day 1, hence, we did not get down at any stop and just enjoyed the narration of the Bus Guide. They are full of knowledge. At last, we were dropped back to Times Square where this bus started.
Then from Times Square we went walking till Grand Central Terminal (most famous railway station) which was just 10 mins walk from there. We were always very fascinated by Grand Central because of its beautiful architecture and grandness, moreover also because it is shown in so many movies and series. It was beautiful taking a tour of Grand Central.
Later we went back to our Hotel and relaxed for some time. We were totally in love with Greenwich area therefore we decided to go back there for Dinner. For this we took the Subway from 50thStreet Station and got down at 14thStreet station. We badly wanted to eat Indian food and one of my friend based in New York suggested me Rahi – An Indian Restaurant. Ambiance, service and food were amazingly good. We really enjoyed Tandoori Panner (Cottage Cheese), Dal and Naan. After this we went back to the Hotel taking the same Subway route.
- 09:00 AM: Breakfast at the Hotel
- 10:00 AM: Hop in the Big Bus – Downtown Route
- 10:30 AM: Exploring Greenwich Village – Washington Square, Carrie Bradshaw Apt. Etc
- 12:30 PM: Little Italy – for Lunch
- 01:30 PM: Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11 Memorial, Trinity Church, Charging Bull and Battery Park
- 03:00 PM: Back to Times Square
- 03:30 PM: Hop in the Big Bus – Uptown Tour
- 05:00 PM: Back to Hotel
- 08:00 PM: Dinner at Indian Restaurant Rahi – at Greenwich Village
- 10:30 PM: Back to Hotel
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