Ahh New York! The city that never sleeps, the city of light, of the American Dream and the movies! With over 50 million annual visitors, New York is the most visited city in the United States! With 47 % of inhabitants speaking a foreign language other than English, the Big Apple is a cosmopolitan city whose wealth and modernity shine at all times of the day. We love New York City, so we want to share with you our 6-day itinerary to explore this exciting place.
Where to sleep in New York
You will find different types of housing in the city, of different sizes, prices and quality. From luxury hotels to poky little rooms, the offer is abundant. The best is to find a hotel in one of Manhattan’s neighborhoods. The Hotel Pennsylvania is located near Madison Square Garden, and it’s got a great location! This is the hotel we chose and recommend. Great location, quality-cost relationship is reasonable.
If you do not find interesting offers, you may consider searching a little further away from Manhattan, like Brooklyn or other cities on the other side of the Hudson River and New Jersey. The best option is in the center to be able to visit everything on foot or subway.
How to move in New-York ?
First, when you arrive at the airport, there are different ways to reach the city center. We chose the shuttle service. Leaving the airport (JFK for us) we crossed two roads and asked where the shuttles were; they’ll tell you the way. The shuttle is like a taxi shared by travelers, which will leave you at your hotel at very attractive prices!
To move within the city we decided to walk (yes, this is the best way to visit) and we took the subway twice, to go to Brooklyn which is a little further.
The city of New York is organized in a very logical way! With its grid structure, it is almost impossible to get lost. The avenues cross the city from south to north, and the streets from the east to west. Instead of names, roads have numbers (except in lower Manhattan, where they keep the old original structure of the city and the traditional numbers). With this information the next time you hear that a restaurant is located between the 10th and the 25th, you will know it is at the intersection of these two roads!
Our itinerary to discover New York
Day 1 in New York: Upper East Side and Midtown
The day starts early to explore the neighborhood of Upper East Side. Known for its museums, we recommend you the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s downright impossible to visit it in one day, but it’s worth it to spend a few hours and visit at least some collections which are very interesting. Admission is $25. This is one of the largest museums in the world, it is near Central Park and Fifth Avenue. Besides there is a beautiful view from the terrace over Central Park with skyscrapers in the background, it’s amazing!
We continue the tour with the most famous park in the world, Central Park, which with its 3.5 km2 is larger than the principality of Monaco! Central Park is a nice place to expore. We really enjoyed the contrast between the green of the trees and the skyscrapers on the sides.
In the park, there is also the Zoo of New York, perhaps a nice visit if you have a little more time to spend in NYC.
Then you can walk along Madison Avenue, and see the Guggenheim Museum and the Temple Emanu-el, a beautiful synagogue near Central Park.
After topping up our energy with a good lunch, in the afternoon we went to the Midtown neighborhood, where some of the symbols of the city are located :
- Grand Central Terminal, which is a train station for trains and subways. It is well known thanks to the numerous films and series filmed in this location. It is the largest station in the world with no less than 67 tracks! You can find cafés, restaurants, a fresh food market and an Apple Store.
- The Chrysler Building, which is located between Lexington Avenue and the 42nd. It’s easily recognizable by its arrow on its uppermost part, it measures more than 319 meters high.
- The inevitable Times Square between the 42nd and Broadway, this is also one of the most famous places in NYC and the world. It’s always busy, and its nickname is “Crossroads of the World”. You will find many shops like M&M’s, Hershey’s etc … This is also where you can see all the advertising screens: there are so many that even at night you feel like it’s noon! Not far from there, you’ll find the Broadway theaters and music shows. The avenue is alive day and night.
- The Empire State Building, among the highest in NYC. It measures 381 meters and it has 102 floors. It is possible to climb to the 86th floor for a panoramic view of the city. It was the highest in the world for many years and today it remains known for its art deco style and King Kong movies or series like Gossip Girl.
- The Rockefeller Center is a building between the Avenue of the Americas and Fifth Avenue. It is a commercial complex which also contains an auditorium. It’s well known because it’s in an area with lots of shops but also because during the Christmas holidays there is a giant ice rink installed in front of it with a huge Christmas tree! On the top floor you will find the Top of the Rock, where there is a magnificent 360-degree view of the city. On one side you will see Central Park and, on the other, the city with the Empire State Building. It is possible to climb to the 70th floor, for more: information. If you want a view from a skyscraper, there is Rockefeller Center or the Empire State building. Both are spectacular and worth it, but if you must choose between one of the two, we recommend Rockefeller! Simply because from the terrace you will see Central Park on one side and the Empire State on the other. We let you judge by yourselves from our pictures taken in the two places. Little tip: plan your visit in the late afternoon to enjoy the sunset and then take night photos, as the color changes, the reflections on buildings and city lights are just beautiful !
Day 2 in New-York : Lower Manhattan
For the second day we wanted to visit lower Manhattan, an area full of contrasts. To start the day we recommend you to go to the Statue of Liberty. For this, there are two possibilities : Paying a ticket and visit Liberty Island with the Statue and Ellis Island and its wonderful immigration museum; or take the free ferry to Staten Island and pass by the statue to take pictures but not stop there.
If you have the time, take the tour of Ellis Island, the museum explains very well the history of immigration to the United States through the experience of a migrant, so you can understand the selection process and where they made the decision to let the immigrants in. Ellis Island was for years the only entry point for European emigrants, so it is a place filled with impressive history.
After these visits, we went to see the financial district of Wall Street.
Did you know that in this area they keep 25% of gold ingots of the world? It’s also at this place where the economic future of the world is decided.
The best way to discover Lower Manhattan is to get lost in the avenues and streets !
Being in this area we also had the opportunity to visit the 911 Memorial, erected in memory of the attacks on the twin towers. It’s an impressive monument with two large bottomless pools It’s a very respectful place, moving in a way that only the Americans could make it. To visit the Memorial you should first book on the official website, but do not panic it’s totally free! Besides, since some years ago, you can also visit the museum which is $24. If you have time, stop by Trinity Church, between Wall Street and the Memorial, but above all St Paul’s Chapel, which was used as a hospital during the attacks, and is now a museum in honor to the rescuers.
For a change of atmosphere, if you like shopping, we stumbled on Century 21 which is a huge store of several floors with brand products at low prices! There are a lot of people but if you like shopping you will really do good business! We got out of there with handbags and Ray-bans.
In the afternoon we went for a walk around Chinatown, Little Italy, Nolita, Soho and Noho. We were disappointed about Chinatown and Little Italy (ust a few streets and nothing really interesting), in contrast loved Noho, Nolita and Soho. They are very nice neighborhoods with lots of shops, bars and trendy restaurants! We recommend you walk it, it’s the fashion area of the city, it’s a former industrial area rehabilitated by artists.
Day 3 in New-York : Brooklyn and the East
To start our third day in the Big Apple, we went to East Village, a very typical area of New York, with its red brick buildings and fire escapes outside the façades, as we have seen in many movies! Tompkins Square Park is the center of the neighborhood, and in the streets you will find nice bookstores and cafes.
Then we went south to Essex Street to reach the magnificent Brooklyn Bridge. We stopped in the Essex Street Market Hall because we had seen positive reviews for this market, but we didn’t find anything special. The Brooklyn Bridge connects Manhattan to Brooklyn across the East River. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the symbols of the city, and not just because it’s awesome and very characteristic, but because it was the element that favored the ancient city of Brooklyn to become a part of New York. Since its construction in 1883, the bridge has inspired musicians, poets, writers and photographers. We recommend to cross it on foot, because the view is spectacular and the bridge itself is worth it! When you get near the bridge, if you want a fancy coffee, there is a Starbucks where we enjoyed some rest.
In the afternoon, we went for a walk in Brooklyn, a beautiful area of the city where you will find the botanical garden, the area of Brooklyn Heights and Prospect Park. Brooklyn is very nice to walk around and have a good time, with people of all kinds and a nice atmosphere. We recommend it!
And to finish the day in the East River, we watched the sunset from the small park on Main Street and Pebble Beach. Located between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge, this little corner unknown to tourists is a great place to photograph the lights of the city with a spectacular sunset in the background! Don’t hesitate to get there in the late afternoon and stay until evening to see the lights of the city turn on gradually.
Day 4 in New-York: Upper West Side, Chelsea and 5th Avenue
The Upper West Side is located in the west of Central Park and there are many interesting things to do. If you are interested in nature, don’t hesitate to visit the American Museum of Natural History! In this museum, when you go to the ticket counter to buy tickets, you can pay what you want … i.e. don’t pay full price and put whatever you want! It’s important to know it because we saw it too late! If you like shopping, you can go shopping around because this neighborhood has many stores. If you follow Columbus Avenue, you will arrive at the shops in Columbus Circle (between the 59th and Broadway). You can also find the store Century 21 (between Broadway and 67) where you will find designer clothes at low prices (try to arrive early as there are a lot of people).
Then we continued south to the Chelsea quarter, but there is not much to see except the impressive Flatiron Building, one of the symbols of the city. Its shape is due to the intersection of 5th Avenue and Broadway which is the only intersection in New York who does not respect the alignment pattern with crosses at right angles to the other roads. Therefore, they had to build a building with a characteristic pointed shape.
On the way to 5th Avenue, you can see the Manhattan Mall, one of the largest shopping centers in the area! Fifth Avenue is the equivalent of the Champs Elysees in Paris or the Golden Mile in Madrid, with its countless boutiques and shops of all kinds. This avenue also holds the beautiful Saint Patrick’s Cathedral!
At end the day, we recommend getting a drink at 230Fifth bar where you can enjoy its large terrace overlooking the Empire State Building. The atmosphere is super nice and the view… wow!
Day 5 in New-York : MOMA and Greenwich Village
The New York MOMA Museum is among the most prestigious in the world, so it’s better to visit it early in the morning, if you like modern and contemporary art! It has many interesting pieces of art and there is also an interesting photography section. Little tip: it’s free on Fridays from 4pm to 8pm, so if you’re there on a Friday, enjoy it!
After the visit, we had a walk in Central Park which helped us to take a breath of fresh air before continuing to Greenwich Village.
Greenwich Village is a very nice area to walk with shops and cafés. It’s a neighborhood of artists and musicians with large buildings and gardens. In this place, you will recognize many buildings seen in many movies and series (such as Sex and the City among others). We went to the famous High Line that we highly recommend! It’s a suspended linear urban park, built on an old railway line which is 2.3 km long. It offers a unique perspective on west Manhattan, with great originality and good taste, ideal for discovering New York from a new perspective.
Day 6 in New-York : Harlem
For the last day, we decided to go for a walk around Harlem. We walked through Central Park to reach the north and visit this area. Before, Harlem was a place where we should not go because of the high level of crime, but today Harlem experienced a revival and it has become a dynamic place to live, where many afroamerican people left wonderful things such as jazz, gospel and more!
We started by going to a gospel concert that was awesome! Throughout the city there are ticket sales for concerts, but we preferred to go to a smaller church, where there are more locals than tourists (although there were some though!) and it was really a unique experience! We went to First Corinthian Baptist Church, you must go on a Sunday morning, and there are three services that are at 9:30 or 7:30 or 11am. Don’t go too late because there are lot of people. When you’re inside, there is a special place for parishioners and other for tourists. It’s great but you can’t take pictures or videos, so you have to enjoy the moment! Another option we recommend, but not in Harlem, is the Brooklyn Tabernacle, a church whose choir holds more than one hundred voices and which has won many major awards!
After that memorable morning we went for a walk in the neighborhood of Harlem. We went to the famous Apollo Theater, which experienced great success for their programming and which today is a symbol of Afroamerican music.
In the afternoon we did some shopping in the same street where you can find cheap shoes! There are also many places for a manicure or pedicure.
Then, we went to Spanish Harlem, the Latin quarter of the city. It’s nice and different from other neighborhoods, but there is not much to see so we just made a tour to see the paintings on the walls and eat a typical dish! (At the end of the article in the ” yummy ” section we talk about the restaurant).
Leaving the neighborhood of Harlem to return to the center, we visited the Museum of the City of New York, about the evolution of the city of New York and its inhabitants. This is very interesting, as it talks about both the past of the city and the future (how to build more environmentally friendly houses). We recommend this tour which is exciting!
Starbucks : We couldn’t not talk about it, even if everyone knows it. In New York we have to admit we went there at least once a day to take a moccachino! This is our tradition, a starbucks in each country we visit! We liked the one in Brooklyn!
Brazilian Restaurant: One night we wanted to try a different meal and went to Brazil Brazil that we enjoyed. We had never eaten Brazilian before but it was a good surprise. In addition, the staff is very friendly! Try it!
We also ate at a Japanese restaurant in Brooklyn, where you’ll find loads of them offering the same dishes. We chose a bento menu, and it was rather good!
Street food: Burrito, Hot dog and pizza. Being in the business district we decided to try the street food, especially burritos and hot dogs. The burrito was good, but the hot dog not so much, it was very small. We did it because we wanted to try the food from these food trucks that we see everywhere.
Wendy’s : This is a fast food chain that we tried for their famous square burgers! It’s nice although the taste is similar to other burger competitors.
- Although New York is a large city, most areas of interest are located within Manhattan or Brooklyn, so everything can be done on foot.
- A NYC City Pass card for 3 or 6 attractions will save you enough money if you plan to visit the most famous landmarks, including the Empire State Building, Rockefeller, museums or the Statue of Liberty.
- We recommend you not to take a AirBnB but a hotel because there is so much to do around the city that you will not enjoy the place. In addition there are many restaurants to try, don’t bother to cook in an AirBnB.
- The United States you must leave a tip, and it’s recommended at least 10% of the total price. Remember this because we Europeans are not accustomed to this!
|- Going to New York was a dream, it's a beautiful city and a unique one! |
- You never get bored, there are a lot of things to do
- Accessible to all budgets and all tastes
- You can easily get around on foot
- Great for going out
- A wide range of restaurants of all kinds and backgrounds
-Lots of nice views and photo opportunities!
-Americans are very welcoming and have a positive attitude to life.
|- Many people but understandable.
- The relentless noise of the city.