New York is one of our favorite cities we have ever travelled to. It holds special place in our hearts as this is where Ben took me (Sion) to propose on my 25th Birthday. While we could spend a long time in New York, we only managed to squeeze in 4 days in New York during our last trip. This turned out to be the perfect amount of time. We have put together our tips from our trip and what you should do to fill 4 days in New York and create your own 4 day Itinerary for New York.
You can also watch a snapshot of our 4 days here!
Accommodation – New York
New York has a huge range of accommodation options. Hostels, mid-range hotels, guest houses, right up to 5-star hotels on the doorstep of Central Park.
If you are only spending 4 days in New York we recommend staying as Central as possible to make the most of your time. We chose to stay at the brand new Hotel Moxy Times Square, part of the Marriott chain. This is a trendy, funky, hip, niche little hotel. Location couldn’t be better, less than a 10 minute walk to Times Square. There are also 2 subway stops next to the hotel for when you want to visit a little further away.
Best of all was the rooftop bar – the largest in Manhattan. The bar has a direct view of the Empire State Building, at night it is lit up in all its glory. The cocktails were also very good.
Booked enough in advance, you can secure a room for between £100 – £120 a night. The hotel is walking distance to most major attractions. If you want something a bit cheaper, there are heaps of hostels and other options. These may just be located a little further out.
How to get around New York
New York is pretty big and while we are all for walking sometimes we take the easy option and use public transport.
JFK Airport to New York City:
- Yellow cabs: These are the most expensive option. All yellow cabs have a set rate depending on the airport. We landed into JFK, the rate is $52 plus tolls and any applicable surcharges, such as rush hour surcharges. This would probably have been $60+, and we would have needed 2.
- Uber: Great if there was one available. We were a group of 6 and we found an Uber XL for $90, $15 each. Great price but the Uber was miles away at the time we needed!
- Shuttle bus: The prices of these vary, depending on the company. We asked quite a few upon arrival at the arrival, but the cheapest we found was $20.
So in the end, we chose to use the Air Train and the Subway! This came to a grand total of $8 per person, each way.
The air train is really well signposted upon clearing customs in JFK airport. Take the train to Jamaica Station, this is $5. Then, a subway from JFK to most of Manhattans major stations is just under $3.
Getting around New York
For getting from A – B on an average day, New Yorks subway system is easy to use. For those who have done London, Paris etc, it’s almost identical. And it’s also cheap. You can purchase a Metrocard for unlimited journeys over a 7 day period, this is just $32. We much preferred to walk, and so knew that in 4 days we would only take a few journeys. Therefore we opted to just pay as we went, which was only $2.75 for a single journey.
The cheapest transport option is to just WALK! We really love to walk wherever possible; for no other reason than you see so much more! NYC is such a bustling, vibrant city, with highlights and attractions on every corner. It might have taken a little longer to get places but we saved on transport and gained on photo opportunities.
Sightseeing in New York
Without a doubt, NYC is up there as one of the best cities in the world for sightseeing. It’s mind blowing seeing all the iconic landmarks, buildings, monuments with your own eyes after years of seeing them on TV and in movies. But surely visiting all these attractions adds up right? Yes – if you visit and pay for them all individually!
After doing our research, we opted to buy the New York City Explorer Pass in advance. This is a nifty little package that allows you to visit a number of attractions for one low price. It comes in different numbers depending on how many attractions you want to visit, and you just choose as you go from a list.
We suggest spreading the activities out over your 4 day New York itinerary with no more than two per day. Make sure to check for the location of each to match each activity up logistically. For example, do the Statue of Liberty the same day you do the 911 Museum for example.
We knew we wanted to visit 5 of the major attractions, and so bought the Explorer Pass with 5 included. We bought ours along with our flights and hotel from STA Travel, but you can also buy these online, or when you arrive (prices may fluctuate slightly). It wasn’t until we arrived that we realised how much we had saved :
|Empire State Building||$37|
|Top of the Rock||$34|
|Central Park Bicycle Hire Day Pass||$40|
|Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus – Day Pass||$59|
|Total Cost :||$ 194 / £135 – £145 depending exchange rate|
|Cost of Explorer Pass :||£95 from STA Travel|
|Saving with Explorer Pass :||£40 – £50|
We used the bus tour as a way of covering our transport costs for the day, as well as sightseeing.
Free Activities in New York
A trip to New York can get expensive fairly quickly, but during our trip we found may free things to fill our time. Just like any other major city, if you’re happy to walk and just look at stuff, there are plenty of free things to do in New York. Our top 3 recommended freebies are:
Statue of Liberty using the Staten Island ferry
This is a commuter ferry departing from the Southern tip of Manhattan. The journey takes about 25 minutes each way. We literally took the ferry there, got off, got on the next one and came back. The ferry goes directly past the Statue of Liberty. Granted, not as close as actual excursions would, but close enough to see and get some good shots. And best of all, the ferry is totally free! We also used the bus tour to take us to Lower Manhattan, saving on transport costs getting there.
Walk the High Line
The High Line is NYCs only elevated park, and is built along old rail tracks. It’s just short of a 2-mile walk, taking you through areas of greenery and lots of outside modern art. And as it’s elevated, it offers some awesome views.
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
So good we’ve done this both times we visited! We would definitely recommend doing this at sunset. If you don’t want to walk back and forth on the bridge, then splurge on a $2.75 subway to the nearest station in Brooklyn, and then walk back across the bridge towards Manhattan. Views of Brooklyn aren’t overly impressive, but walking towards the NYC skyline at sunset, the views are just breath-taking.
Where to Eat in New York
Just like most cities, food and drink is as expensive as you choose it to be. There are so many eating options across the whole city that you can have anything you can think of!
Most mornings we chose to grab a quick breakfast from Dunkin Donuts next door to our hotel. A coffee and a bagel for less than $5 each was enough to start the day. One day we ate breakfast at a traditional diner, and had a larger breakfast of pancakes, bacon, fruit etc. This was closer to $15 each.
There are heaps of sandwich shops, delis, and little eateries where you can grab lunch for between $5 – £10. This was our preferred option; there’s so much to do we chose to just eat on the go.
We tended to spend slightly more by eating at restaurants or diners. Again, these don’t need to be very expensive. Most diners offer your standard meals, burgers etc for between $15 – $20.
Tip – stay away from the Times Square area for food – prices here are massively inflated! Walk a few blocks down in any direction and prices drop significantly.
One absolute must do though (again to treat yourself) is a visit to Ellens Stardust Diner! It’s an incredible experience. All the waiters and waitresses are aspiring Broadway stars, and work at Ellens to fund their dream. So pretty much the whole time you’re there, they take it in turns to perform actual Broadway musical songs. It’s awesome! Food wise it’s your typical American diner. Prices are slightly higher than usual, but you’re paying for the experience, and believe us – it’s 100% worth it!
Nightlife in New York
We can’t really comment too much on average costs of a night out in New York. We were usually so exhausted after sightseeing all day that we crashed! However, we managed to make it out for one night on a Saturday, and we experienced our first gay cowboy bar! Yes there is such a thing in NYC – Flaming Saddles! Just think, Coyote Ugly but with topless male bartenders wearing jeans and cowboy boots.
The bartenders took it in turns to dance on the bar, and every so often did a group number (Sex Bomb stands out to me). Music was pretty much Western themed all night (Carrie Underwood and Shania Twain on repeat). They even did the trick of pouring shots from the bottle straight in your mouth if you looked at them the right way! There was no cover charge, and drinks were roughly $5 a beer, $7 a generously poured spirit and mixer.
So there you have it. New York is the city that never sleeps and there is plenty to keep you awake and busy during your 4 days in New York. Make your own 4 day itinerary for New York, but ours looked like this:
New York Itinerary: 4 days
Day 1 – Statue of Liberty and walking Brooklyn Bridge. Empire state by night.
Day 2 – Biking Central Park and the Rockefeller Centre by day.
Day 3 – Hop on/off bus and the 911 Museum. Night out!
Day 4 – Hungover in the morning, walk the high line and Ellens Stardust Diner for dinner.
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New York in 4 days? It can be done and you’ll have the time of your life.
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