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New York City, what a place. I haven’t been to America for 11 years and I’ve never been to the state of New York, so this was a trip I was really excited about. And it absolutely exceeded my expectations!
If you’re thinking of visiting the Big Apple, here’s everything you need to know to help plan your dream trip.
See more: New York City Travel Vlog
Things to know about New York City
Where: NYC is on east coast of America in the state of New York (hence “New York New York, so good they named it twice”).
Currency: US Dollars ($). Take some cash and some money on a card. We used a Monzo travel card for most of the trip and saved the cash for tips.
Tipping: tips are expected, so don’t forget to take enough cash with you (15-20% or $2 depending on the type of service is normal).
What you’ll spend: NYC can be done cheap, but a lot of the food and attractions will be very expensive.
Weather: a bit like England, NYC is scorching one minute, tipping it down the next and freezing in winter!
Getting into the country: you’ll need to purchase an Esta Visa online before you go. It costs $14 (about £11) per person and you’ll get your approved visa via email. This links to your passport but it’s best to print and take with you.
Sightseeing Pass: to save yourself a ton of money on sightseeing, get yourself a New York Sightseeing Pass for access to over 100 attractions. Even if you see just 10 places during your trip you’ve saved around $250! It also gives you discount for tours and restaurants*.
*I was gifted a New York Sightseeing Pass for an honest review and mention on my blog
When to go to New York City
Any time of year is good for this city. The summers are hot, the winters are (really) cold and spring and fall are pleasant. You might find that prices are cheaper in the off seasons, such as spring and fall.
We visited in May and had 30c degree sunny weather for two days, and 20c degree low cloud/wet weather for two days. When it rains there, it really rains. My shoes are still drying out.
Where to stay in New York City
The beauty of this place is that there are things to do all over, so wherever you stay you’ll be close to something worth seeing. Prices vary like any city, but you can definitely snap up a good deal. I’d also recommend booking a room only stay as you’ll definitely want to head out and about to eat.
We stayed at the Freehand Hotel in the Flat Iron District which ended up being the perfect spot, as it was about 30-minutes from everywhere, with a few places right on our doorstep. Plus, its far cheaper than accommodation around the Times Square area.
Top things to do in New York City
This list could go on forever, but here’s a snapshot of the top things to see and do in New York City:
- Central Park (free)
- Central Park Zoo
- Museums (some free)
- Top of the Rock experience at the Rockerfeller
- Show on Broadway
- Times Square (free)
- Empire State Building
- New York Public Library
- Grand Central Station (free)
- Chrysler Building (view only)
- Flatiron Building (view only)
- Madison Square Gardens
- Chelsea Market (free)
- The High Line (free)
- 911 Memorial (free)
- 911 Museum
- One World Observatory
- Boat to the Statue of Liberty
- Boat to Ellis Island
- Brooklyn Bridge (free)
- Dumbo (free)
- Boat cruise
- Shopping on 5th Avenue
- Eating all the food!
Read more: 4 Day New York Itinerary
Getting to and from the airport
New York City has three airports (JFK, Newark and LaGuardia) so it really depends on which one you fly into, but you can get a bus, train, taxi or Uber from all of them.
We got an UberPool on the way there which cost about £40 and a GO Airlink pick up on way back which cost us nothing with our New York Sightseeing Pass (*gifted).
How to get around New York City
The best way to get around New York City is via foot, Subway or taxis/Ubers depending on your budget. We covered 140,000 steps in five days and got a few UberPools (which saves you money by sharing with another traveller).
Each trip only cost around £10-30 depending on the distance, but the Subway is a better option if you’re looking to save some money.
What to pack for New York City
- 2 x comfy trainers
- A light jacket for spring/autumn or a thick coat for winter
- Baseball cap/sun hat for summer or beanie/bobble hat for winter
- Scarf and gloves for winter
- Sun cream for summer
- Various layers depending on the season you choose to visit in
- Camera and charger
- Phone and charger (use Google My Places to get around)
- Portable phone charger
- Headphones for the flight
- Currency and bank cards
- Backpack or shoulder bag
- Global or USA adapters
- Travel documents (including your Esta Visa)
- Travel pillow
What I spent in New York City
As I said, what you spend depends on where you go and how much you choose to splash out. We decided to spend more than usual on this trip as it was to celebrate our anniversary, but it definitely could have been done cheaper.
Here’s what it cost for the two of us:
- £1408 return Virgin Atlantic flights from London Heathrow Airport and 5 nights at the Freehand New York Hotel (room only)
- £66 meet and greet airport parking
- £473 for 2 x 7-day New York Sightseeing Passes (*gifted but included to show a realistic spend)
- £600 spending money
- £22 for 2 x Visas
Total trip cost: £2569 / £1284.50 per person (£256.90 per day for 5 days)
Spending just short of £1300 each on a 5-night / 5-day holiday is a lot, but it’s New York City. It doesn’t get much more ‘bucket list’ than that right? Treat yourself!
If you’ve not guessed by now, I LOVED our trip to New York City and would go back in a heartbeat. In fact, I’m already wondering how soon I can go back firstly for Halloween, and secondly for Christmas. I need to feel like Buddy from Elf just once.
See more on New York City.
Have you been to New York City before? Would you like to go?