Perhaps one the most exciting and famous cities in the world. New York is renowned world wide as the city which never sleeps. Hundreds of movies, series and events have taken place in this fascinating city, which in itself has been an incredible and powerful tool of advertising. Even from the beginning of the 1900's New York offered travellers a land of new opportunities, but it was visited for very different reasons than today. People would emigrate from Europe due to the war and establish a new life at an emerging city, the closest to Europe by sea.
As the city grew and grew, so did the services and the need to offer entertainment options in New York.Theatres, Concert halls, Museums, Parks and the most important statue ever erected, The Statue of Liberty, all were reasons to come to New York, to see Manhattan, the financial centre of the city, nicknamed the Big Apple.
Nowadays the city sells itself, just by its name and the typical images of its landmark buildings, which have been showcased in many movies. It seems to feel that everything possible has happened to this city on the scrips. It's one of the most cultured cities in the USA as well, where many international museums and galleries have important art pieces and displays from around the world. It's hosts a modern theatre land, music concerts, gigs, an incredible array of shops and malls, restaurants, bars, clubs, parks and even the taxis are something to photograph in this city which has so much appeal.
Currently it's also one of the biggest metropolis for business, were many famous firms have established New York for their central operations. Its impressive architecture of dozens of skyscrapers reaching into the sky and making you look up constantly in amazement. It is an experience few other cities can replicate. It's a long list of reasons to come to New York, the city definitely won't let you down with plenty to see and keep you busy!
New York weather is very changeable with moderate precipitation all over the year, some heat waves in summer and it can get very cold in the winter and even in the early spring. Snow is concentrated in winter months. Summer should be avoided, as the humidity and high temperatures may turn July and August into very uncomfortable months to visit the city, as the air doesn't circulate much due to the agglomeration of buildings. However, it's high season, contradictory, many tourists are to be expected during the Summer.
The best time to Visit New York would be after the Summer, during September to November. Temperatures are comfortable to walk around in (15-22C) and clear skies to be expected. Spring is also good to travel, (March to June) though it might be rainy and cloudy.
Winters are cold, with temperatures reaching as far below to -10C in January and February. December however can be very interesting to visit due to the heavily decorated streets and shops for the Christmas season. There are also ample ice-skating rings. Snow falls in the city are also common, making it really pretty for photography and walks around the landmarks of the downtown, specially in Manhattan and its Central Park.
The city of New York has a very large, complex at first, but efficient transportation system connecting not only the downtown, but all the outskirts of the city like Queens, The Bronx, Staten Island and Brooklyn. The transportation in New York comprises mostly the subway, trains (railroad), busses and ferries. However, at first, arriving in New York by plane is how most travellers will start a trip in the city. There are numerous other ways to arrive if coming from other states by rail or bus and its possible to travel direct by rail or bus as well from Canada.
To start with, New York has 3 major airports.
Once in the downtown, New York is a very confusing maze of metro lines at the begging, combining with many stations, platforms and going in all different directions. It might sound hard to start with, but once you arrive and get your head around the functionality of the system, it's actually quite easy to ride and follow. Fares are cheap, and if staying for a bit longer, you can get metro cards valid for different periods of time (weeks or months),which saves you a lot of money. The integrated system of Transportation also includes the busses. When travelling central we always recommend to take the subway, as it's the quickest and most reasonable way of moving around. The city gets very congested at times and being stuck in traffic on a bus or taxi is not the best way to enjoy your trip. Single rides are $2.75 and they a have a free transfer if you get a bus/subway within 2 hours.Attention!: The subway runs 24/h on most lines, be aware that riding the subway at the weekends and late at night can be dangerous at times with many reports of theft. Always keep your belongings with you, securely and not exposing any jewellery like watches, wallets in back pockets, mobile phones etc.
In the city there are also numerous ferry services which can take you to other islands near by or connect to areas such as New Jersey or Staten Island. These services are used by locals and tourists alike, offering cheap crossings and a relaxed way to see the city from a sailor's perspective. Great shots can be taken from the Manhattan skyline taking these ferries. Staten Island Ferry is Free of charge.
Below you can find the transport maps for New York city or you can click this link for the official MTA Travel website and check for maps, timetables, fares and travel updates.
Taxis: New York's yellow Taxis are a tourist attraction in themselves for their distinguished colour and how they actually fit in quite smartly with the city when taking a pic. It perhaps a must for many travellers to take shots with one of the bright yellow cars passing by. You can even find portraits, professional pictures for sale and souvenirs featuring the taxis. If you want to ride on them, make sure the journey is short and not in rush hour!
Only yellow taxis are allowed to pick up in Manhattan, NYC yellow taxis are very well recognised with: NYC TAXI logo, Medallion on the hood and a Plate Number. On rush hours and especially in the evening you see all kind of black cars and limos do illegal pick ups. Cars from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and other states do take advantage of people and overcharge people usually triple the fare a NYC yellow taxi would cost you.
As an alternative to the typical yellow taxis, you also have Uber, Lyft and Juno Apps which offer better prices.
When in New York, it's like the world of food is at your fingertips, with thousands of restaurants serving food from around the world! The cultural mix has brought every kind of ethnic food to New York City and the surrounding region. But there are a few things you need to consider and remember when wanting to dine in the restaurants around Manhattan, and in general in the busy cities. Reservations are highly recommended when planning to dine at an upscale restaurant or popular establishment, this includes lunch and also dinner.
But apart from the high end restaurants, delis offering massive sandwiches and hot and cold bars are prevalent throughout the city. New York City street vendors have long been popular among food lovers who seek more casual fare, but such vendors are seeing increasing competition from food trucks, which have become a visible phenomenon in the city. Selling everything from Chinese-style dumplings and Mexican tacos to Dutch waffles and American cupcakes and coffee.
The city's desserts and pastries are also world-famous, and there is no shortage of bakeries. Black-and-white chocolate cookies, New York cheesecake, and Cupcakes are the main sweet cravings to try in New York. You can find a popular Greenwich Village bakery's (Magnolia Bakery) famous for its cupcakes. Another New York State food institution is Buffalo wings, which originated in Buffalo, New York. The classic wings now appear on menus across the USA and beyond,
Other specialities in New York include, steaks, seafood, waldorf salad, Bagels or Deli-style sandwiches.
Other things to remember is that restaurant hours tend not to be as late outside of the city. Also tipping, a big thing in the USA. New York waiters survive mainly to tips, a 15-20% tip is customary for good service in restaurants Additionally, in many restaurants, particularly in New York City, a gratuity will automatically be added to bills or cheques. Be sure to check with your server about the policies of the restaurant where you are dining before leaving an additional tip. Also drinking age is 21, not 18, as in Europe.
As for drinks, the Manhattan cocktail is the star! (whiskey and vermouth cocktail). Also you can try the Cosmopolitan (triple sec, vodka, cranberry juice and lime juice cocktail). New York State wines are also popular but you are able to find wines from all over the world.
From Wall Street's skyscrapers to the neon lights of Times Square and Central Park's calm paths, New York City pulses with an irresistible energy. World-class museums like MoMA and unforgettable icons like the Statue of Liberty are just a few highlights of this never-stopping city where there is so much on offer, both cultural and for entertainment. You will find also many ethnic areas, with traditional cuisine and shops. New York is like a little small "world" so it's not surprising you will need plenty of time to discover the city. The main highlights of the city are listed below:
TIP: Buy your tickets online at Statue Cruises to avoid waiting in line. The Reserve Ticket which also costs $18.50 gives priority access for the security screening and can save you up to an hour of waiting in line, If you choose to buy on the day, with good weather and the weekends, it can take up to 2 hours of waiting, until you get on the ferry.
TIP: If you are visiting and want to take photos with the Empire State Building in the frame, then the best advice is to visit the Rockefeller Centre. (see info below).
The highlight of the building and the main reason to visit is for the three observation decks at Top of the Rock, which showcase the City's spectacular skyline. The observation deck at Rockefeller Center originally opened to the public in 1933 but was closed in 1986. A newly restored and improved Top of the Rock reopened to the public in November 2005. The observation deck offers 360-degree views of the New York City skyline at 850 feet above street level. From the top you can see the city’s most prominent landmarks from the Chrysler Building to the Brooklyn Bridge; from Central Park to the Hudson and East Rivers. You can visit from 8.00 am to midnight, but most visitors choose to go during the sunset to appreciate the changing lights of the city. Tickets cost $38 for general admission with a $10 extra charge if you choose to go up at sunset hours. Check the official page Topoftherocknyc.com for more info. To get there by subway, you can take the B, D, F, M to 47th-50th Street Rockefeller Center Stop.
To access the memorial is FREE from 7.30 am to 9pm but tickets are needed to access the Museum which is open from 9am to 8pm. Tickets cost $26 for adults. Its recommended you book in advance if you go in high season or weekends. The Museum spans across 110,000 square feet and relays the narrative of the attacks through a series of multimedia displays, real-time recordings, authentic artefacts, and an interactive table. TIP: except on Tuesdays, admission is FREE for all visitors between from 5 pm, tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis at the Museum starting at 4 p.m. Closest subway stop is WTC Cortland, which is served by the 1 line.
TIP: It's possible to take a short ferry to Manhattan from the Brooklyn side of the bridge and be able to take good panoramic pictures of the bridge and the city's skyline on a clear day. Take the ferry from Brooklyn Bridge Park - Pier 1.
TIP: In regards to the museums, note that some museums work on a donation admission ticket. This means that you can even enter the museum free, however a paper ticket must be exchanged at the box-office of each museum. The trick is to, give a dollar or two and that way, the cashier will know you are only donating. If you expect to get it for free, then the cashier will think you are willing to pay the full price of normally $25! Then you will find the awkward moment to explain, you have no intention to pay that price and want to go free. Below you will some museums and information about the admision, to be sure what to expect.
- American Museum of Natural History, this museum is one of the most popular, and oldest of the city, founded in 1869, over 150 years ago! The museum fills visitors of all ages with a curiosity about the universe and nature. Whether you’re interested in the world below our feet, or the cultures of faraway lands or the stars light-years beyond our reach, you can always learn something new. The highlights of the museum include the displays of the grizzly bear in the Hall of North American Mammals, the 94-feet long blue whale or the prehistoric Barosaurus skeleton. The museum holds 45 exhibition halls including favourites like The Rose Center for Earth and Space, the dinosaurs, the Hall of the Universe and the Butterfly Conservatory (on display from October through May). The Museum is often very crowded, but you'll face fewer people if you visit during a weekday morning as it opens and in Winter. Get there by train B or C to 81st Street Station or the 1 line to 79th Street Station. The museum works on a donation policy. Pay what you like, otherwise they will charge you $25.
In addition there are several other attractions and places of interest which are worth a visit if you have time on your itinerary. Considering New York is a city of culture, you should not miss the opportunity to visit some of the places listed below by their historical and cultural appeal or simply by the stunning views they offer!
TIP: Come here as well to chill, eat a lunch takeaway or read in the Madison Square Park, which is right in front of the Flatiron building. Also you will see important buildings like the Met Life building with its big clock.
TIP: To access the buildings you will need to take a tour. They offer an exciting opportunity to explore the behind-the-scenes at the United Nations. You will need to book online at Visit UN and check-in at the Visitor Check-in Office at 45th Street and 1st Avenue on the day of the tour. Prices cost $22 per adult. Guided tours are 45-60 minutes long. The tour includes the visit to the General Assembly Hall, the Security Council Chamber, the Trusteeship Council Chamber, and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber. Tours are given by professional guides where you can learn about how the United Nations addresses issues such as disarmament, peace and security, human rights, and how you can support the Sustainable Development Goals.
To get to Staten Island, the ferry is the most budget-friendly and certainly the most scenic way to reach it. It’s free and runs 24 hours a day. The ride offers excellent photo ops of the Lower Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. The ride only takes about 25 minutes. There is also a Staten Island subway which is included on the New York metro passes. It runs down the entire Island where you can get off at different locations, see the scenery and visit the smaller residential neighborhoods and towns.
NYC is rightfully known for its nightlife. You can find all types of styles and likes from sophisticated cocktail bars and roof top hotels to friendly downtown bars, Jazz bars, dance clubs, LGBT friendly places for gigs and drag queen shows, relaxed cafes and bohemian places to chat with friends and unwind over nice music. The City’s after-dark entertainment is just as electrifying as the city itself.New York nightlife is non-stop and highly addictive, but it is costly and in some cases you need to reserve before going to exclusive events, gigs, concerts or even clubs. The East Village is famous for its local bars that stay open late and its small live music clubs. The Lower East Side offers a similar nightlife scene and vibe. Soho is the cool capital, with its small chic bars attracting models, poseurs and media types. The gay scene is headquartered in the bars of Chelsea, the West Village and Hells Kitchen. Gramercy, in the 20s on the east side, has a smaller selection of velvet-rope cocktail lounges. The city's best nightclub scene can be found around the Meatpacking District. Normal club closing time is 0400, although many venues are open all night. An ever-changing crop of 'after-hours' places offer entertainment until sunrise, however, alcohol cannot legally be served between 0400 and 0800 or after 2400 on Sunday. The minimum drinking age is 21.
The city is aimed at a wealthy visitor, with plenty of desire to stay central and splash out loads of cash for top venues and entertainment. Unfortunately New York is not the best city to come on a budget. All Hotels and accommodation businesses know how much demand there is, therefore pushing the prices up. Hostels and Motels are also available but as well it can be costly, with the additional warning that you might not get a good rest if you choose areas which are noisy. It's suggested you read reviews online before you book and make sure you stay near some subway station for the ease of moving around.
For cheap hotels the cheapest area would be Chinatown in Manhattan, it's conveniently located and has some attraction in itself as well. Prices can start from $100 per room per night. Take into account that this might be even sharing the toilet and having an interior room! (no window). For more normal Hotel prices they can reach easily to $150-200 per night up to $500!
However you are willing to stay away from the Manhattan area prices can go down easily to about $70 per night. If staying in Hotels is out of your budget, then thanks to Airbnb you can find more reasonable room options, if you are willing to share a private flat. Take notice of room guidelines, location and any extra charges. Rooms which seem cheap at first might have some surprises later on, so make sure you do some homework before booking.
With all the attractions of the city, landmarks, sights, entertainment options, walks and places to visit, New York is a huge city which can't be done in a rush. If you want to take it all in you will need a minimum of one week here, and even then the time will pass really quick. Take time to plan your visit ahead and decide what you wish to do in the days you stay to maximise your time. Consider that there is a lot of time of waiting in line for visits to attractions, and added security also will slow the visiting to certain places. Also transportation is a major factor to take into account. If you are not staying in Manhattan, consider getting a weekly pass to save on transport and travelling often on the subway to visits your desired places will save time instead of walking the long distances from one place to another. Planning in this city in advance is a must if you want to see the most possible!