31+ Travel Tips for New York City: What to Know Before You Go

I wanted to put together my top travel tips for New York City, ready for you just in case you’re planning a trip there anytime soon. Read on for all the best NYC travel tips advice on the internet…

I’m lucky enough to have been to New York City quite a few times now. I worked as a camp counselor in New York state and so popped in on my days off regularly. It was also the first place I went when I finished school. I’ll remember that trip forever. It was all just so exciting – just like off Sex and the City!

There’s so much to see and do in New York that you definitely need some sort of planning for your trip. I’d recommend you don’t plan too much, or too little, just somewhere in that sweet spot in between.

These travel tips for New York City will help you to have the best trip to one of the best cities in the world – enjoy!

Travel Tips for New York City

Everything you need to know before your vacation to NYC.

1. Plan ahead for NYC

  • Research specific attractions, their opening hours, and any admission fees.
  • Create a daily itinerary, considering the proximity of attractions to one another to save time on transportation. Take a look at my guide to 4 days in New York for all my tips.
  • Make restaurant reservations, especially for popular dining spots. You’ll find all the spots on the ‘best restaurants in NYC’ lists will be full, especially at peak times. But of course, this then ties you to the restaurant – you might prefer to mix up bookings with going with the flow.
  • In restaurants and taxis you need to calculate the tip based on the total bill before tax, typically 15-20%.

2. Choose the right accommodation in New York

  • Manhattan offers convenience, but neighborhoods like Brooklyn’s Williamsburg or DUMBO provide a more local experience. Explore Harlem for its jazz clubs, Brooklyn for its artisanal food scene, and Queens for its diverse cuisine.
  • Consider factors like the view, amenities, and proximity to subway stations. Especially if you’re going out at night.
  • Airbnb options can offer unique experiences but make sure they are legal and safe. I basically stayed in someone’s cupboard when I booked an Airbnb in December in NYC. It was weird.

3. Visit top NYC attractions early, and prebook

  • Broadway show tickets for shows like The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera and Rent can be purchased through websites like HelloTickets.
Travel Tips for New York City
  • For attractions like the Statue of Liberty or Empire State Building, arrive at least 30 minutes before opening to avoid long lines.
  • Plan popular attractions on weekdays when they are typically less crowded.
  • You can prebook ‘jump the line’ tickets, which I’d definitely recommend to maximise your time in NYC.
  • Popular attractions like the 9/11 Memorial Museum often have timed-entry tickets. Buying in advance secures your visit and stops all the waiting around.

4. Use public transport in NYC

  • Buy a MetroCard at the subway stations, and remember to swipe both in and out when using the subway. You can get daily and weekly tickets to save money on travelling in NYC. If you’re using a pay as you go, make sure to top up before you attempt the turnstiles.
  • Subways and buses have maps and route information posted, making navigation easier.
  • Check the MTA website for service updates and planned maintenance.
  • Download the official MTA app for real-time service info, including delays and subway maps.
  • And plan your route on Google Maps too.

5. Don’t plan every NYC minute – walk and explore!

  • One of my top travel tips for New York City would be to wear comfortable walking shoes. Think about doing a guided walking tours to learn about the history and culture of different neighbourhoods too.
New York for Christmas
  • Explore unique streets like the High Line Park, a former railway line turned into an elevated park. This is a great way to get some perspective on the city.

6. Visit NYC museums on free days

  • The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) offers free admission on Fridays from 4pm to 8pm.
  • The American Museum of Natural History suggests a general admission fee but allows you to pay what you wish.

7. Eat widely in New York City

  • And by that I mean across the city, for all budgets and all cuisines. Try iconic New York street foods like hot dogs from Gray’s Papaya or pretzels from a street cart, as well as booking into fancy restaurants (if the budget allows).
  • Food markets like Chelsea Market or Smorgasburg offer a variety of culinary delights.
  • A food tour is a great idea to try a little bit of everything.

8. What to pack for NYC

Travel Tips for New York City
  • Make sure to bring a battery pack as you’ll be smashing through your phone battery with all the maps, photos and tickets finding you’ll be doing. I’ve written all about the best phone chargers here if you need some inspiration for which one to buy.

9. NYC insider information

  • Avenues run north and south (example 5th Avenue). Streets run east and west (example 42nd Street).
  • Airport type security is common at NYC attractions.
  • Check the weather before you go – winter in NYC is freezing!
  • With all the taxes and tips you’ll spend more than you thought you would – you’ve been warned.
  • Don’t stop on the sidewalks!

Travel tips for NYC

These travel tips for NYC will help you to enjoy the concrete jungle of joy.

In New York, remember to explore not just the iconic landmarks but also the rich tapestry of neighbourhoods, each offering a unique flavour and culture. Indulge in street food, delve into art and history at world-class museums, and savour the city’s renowned culinary scene.

NYC travel tips

With these New York travel tips, you’re well-equipped to make the most of your time in The Big Apple. Enjoy!

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