Tips for planning your first visit to New York

New York

Planning your first visit to New York is an exciting experience, but it can be a bit overwhelming when there are so many things to do and see in just a few days. While you’re not going to be able to see everything in just one mini break, you can maximise your time in the Big Apple in just a few easy steps.

Travel and getting around:

So many airlines now offer flights to New York that prices are quite competitive and there are often good deals to be had, especially if you book far enough in advance. We booked our flights to NYC eight months before our trip, and found return tickets with British Airways for just £330 from London Heathrow.

Be sure to check if you’re flying in to JFK or Newark airport. Flights to and from the latter are sometimes cheaper, but this is located further out of the city and so might cost you valuable time exploring.

Download a subway app before you arrive in the Big Apple. Citymapper is invaluable for helping  to plan journeys around Manhattan and Brooklyn.

If you’re going to be using the subway even a couple of times a day it’s worth investing in a travel card. It’s just $32 for a seven day pass, which includes unlimited rides, as opposed to around $3 per single fare.


Planning your first visit to New York - Statue of Liberty

As is the case with many big cities, accommodation in New York is not cheap, but again doing some research online can save some serious money.

Think about what’s most important to you. Do you want to be close to the main tourist attractions? If so, look for a base in Manhattan. Hotels in Midtown may be a little pricier but offer the perfect base for exploring the city on foot, eliminating travel time each day.

If you don’t mind spending a little longer travelling around you could consider staying out in Brooklyn, where there are hundreds of Airbnb properties available, often far cheaper than a hotel.


Booking your tickets to the main tourist attractions you want to visit in advance will not only save you from wasting a lot of time queuing, but can also spread out the cost of your trip over a few months. We booked one or two things a month in the run up to our trip and found it helped massively in terms of budgeting, meaning all our hard earned spending money could be kept for food, drinks and SHOPPING! 

If you want to access the crown of the Statue of Liberty (which we definitely recommend), this should be one of the first things you book. Tickets are limited and often sell out three months in advance, so book early to avoid disappointment.


Planning your first visit to New York - One World Observatory

A loose plan is essential if you want to ensure you see everything on your list. Group the things you want to see by area; for example, it’s quite easy to get to Wall Street and One World Observatory following your visit to the Statue of Liberty, while you could combine your trips to the Rockefeller Center and Empire State Building with some shopping on Fifth Avenue as they are all in close proximity.

You may also want to book meals at a few restaurants before you go. We can’t recommend Rubirosa’s Italian restaurant highly enough. Book for lunch and then walk off the pizza with a stroll through Little Italy down to Soho afterwards.

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