How Many Days in New York is Enough? Itinerary & Tips

How many days in New York will be enough?

If you’re planning a trip to New York, keep on reading to discover the answer to this question. I will be proposing New York itineraries that you can adapt, as well as the best tips for enjoying the best of the Big Apple.

So, let’s get started!

new york brooklyn bridge

How many days in New York?

How long should you spend in New York? With 5 days, you will have enough time to visit New York’s main attractions such as Times Square, the Empire State Building, Central Park, and way beyond that. 

When’s the best time to visit New York?

The best time to visit New York is during the spring months when the weather is pleasant and there are fewer tourists. The month of December (especially right before the holidays) is a good time to visit too, as the city doubles in charm for the Christmas season.

Giant Christmas ornaments on 6th Avenue, New York City

New York in 1 day

In need of a 24-hour NYC itinerary? Well, if your schedule only allows for one day in New York, the obvious answer would be to stick to Manhattan. 

You might want to start with a visit to Rockefeller Center, a huge building complex that is commonly featured in films and TV shows. On its 70th floor is the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, undoubtedly one of the best spots for panoramic city views.

View from Top of The Rock
View from Top of The Rock – Picture by pipa__aa

If you’re a fan of art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) isn’t too far away. Considered the best modern art museum in the world, MoMA houses some of the most significant masterpieces. This includes Van Gogh’s “Starry Night“, Salvador Dalí’s “The Persistence of Memory” and Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans“.

Head uptown to Central Park, New York’s largest urban park, and also one of the local’s favorite places for sightseeing, sunbathing, or sports.

Besthesday Fountain, Central Park, New York City
Besthesday Fountain, Central Park, New York City

Next to Central Park is the notorious American Museum of Natural History, with a collection of over 35 million objects, the largest in the world. Due to a lack of space, not all objects are showcased at the same time.

Avoid queues and buy your ticket online, as you’ll surely want to enjoy the view atop the Empire State Building at sunset when the whole city starts lighting up like a Christmas tree.

empire state building

The legendary Times Square is, of course, meant to be visited at night, when the heart of New York city flashes its hundreds of glowing posters and signs. Located at the intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue, this is the liveliest part of Manhattan and a great place to grab a slice of NY-style pizza.

New York in 2-3 days

If you’re planning a New York itinerary for 2 or 3 days, then straying a little further away from the island of Manhattan might be a good idea.

On your second day, I advise you to start your morning by seeing the grand Statue of Liberty, NYC’s symbol of political freedom and independence. It’s located on Liberty Island and to get there you must take the ferry from the Battery Park pier, in downtown Manhattan. If time allows, also consider stopping by Ellis Island (the ferry’s following stop after Liberty) and visiting the Immigration Museum.

statue of liberty face

Whilst in the area, you can visit the World Trade Center, rebuilt after the terrorist attacks of September 11. The main building’s observatory (One World Trade Center) allows you to contemplate a spectacular yet historical and emotionally heavy landscape of its surroundings. There’s also the 9/11 Museum, which pays tribute to all who lost their lives in the attacks, and a remarkable Memorial, where two stunning waterfalls fill the spaces of the missing Twin Towers.

9 11 memorial
9/11 Memorial, downtown Manhattan, New York City

As you’re headed into the Brooklyn district, make sure to walk around Brooklyn Heights where illustrious figures like Truman Capote once lived. A great place to grab a good cup of coffee and take sensational pictures is the DUMBO neighborhood. The epicenter of NYC’s art scene, it’s known for its cobbled streets and converted warehouse buildings.

View of the Manhattan Bridge from DUMBO
View of the Manhattan Bridge from DUMBO

Experience a shopping spree like no other on New York’s popular 5th Avenue, also known as Millionaire’s Row. The most important commercial area on this street is located near Central Park, where you’ll find high-end stores like Tiffany’s or Cartier.

Besides the luxury stores and boutiques, you’ll also find major landmarks on 5th Avenue, such as St. Patrick’s CathedralNew York’s Public Library, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or just the Met), which is home to classical treasures by the hands of legendary artists Monet, Cézanne and Rembrandt.

New York in 4-5 days

When planning an itinerary for 4 days in New York (or the recommended 5 days), it is wise to move away from touristic places and visit places where locals hang instead.

Grand Central Terminal is a great place to start! Opened in February 1913 and renovated in 1998, the Grand Central Terminal is one of New York’s architectural gems. It managed to survive for almost a century while preserving its original style. It’s a mandatory stop; it’s not only one of the most famous train stations in the country but also in the world.

Estimated to be worth as much as $20 million, the Grand Central Information Booth Clock is the protagonist of the terminal
Estimated to be worth as much as $20 million, the Grand Central Information Booth Clock is the protagonist of the terminal
Estimated to be worth as much as $20 million, the Grand Central Information Booth Clock is the protagonist of the terminal

A few streets up is Madison Square Garden, NYC’s most important stadium. With a capacity for over 20,000 people, the Garden was once the mecca for box aficionados. Nowadays, the most important sporting events here are basketball and ice hockey. There are three professional teams that have this stadium as their base of operations: New York Knicks (basketball), New York Liberty (women’s basketball), and New York Rangers (ice hockey), so it’s not unusual to see swarms of people wandering around sporting their team’s jersey on a match day.

new york knicks
New York Knicks match at Madison Square Garden

Manhattan is subdivided into several distinct neighborhoods, each with its very own charms and personality. Let’s take a look at the 4 most influential!

Chinatown home to most of the Asians residing in New York. It’s where Chinese immigrants came together to defend their rights and protect themselves from racism. The vast majority of the original settlers arrived from Guangdong and Hong Kong. The origin of the neighborhood and its most important street is Mott Street, where you can taste delightful authentic Chinese food.

chinatown street stall

North of Chinatown and separated from it by Canal Street, Little Italy is the small neighborhood where the first Italian immigrants began to settle. The most important street in Little Italy is Mulberry Street, once the epicenter of the Italian mafia, but now home to the best Italian restaurants and cafes.

little italy new york

Soho (South of Houston) is one of the nicest neighborhoods in New York, located west of Little Italy and known for its trendy boutiques and restaurants. With the prohibition of the 20s and 30s, Soho was full of seemingly normal establishments (such as restaurants, barbershops, restaurants, grocery shops) that actually gave way to secret rooms – the speakeasies. Nowadays, these hidden bars have retained their essence and are a great attraction of New York’s Soho.

soho street

In Lower Manhattan, there’s Tribeca (Triangle Below Canal Street), one of the most bohemian and expensive neighborhoods in New York City. It originated when Soho’s popularity and (consequently) rents began to rise, causing artists and young talents to move. Today, Tribeca is considered a trendy neighborhood, filled with shops, art galleries, bars, and restaurants.

tribeca colorful mural

New York in 6-7 days

If your stay in New York amounts to one week, then it might be a good idea to explore all five boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island) and even go beyond those.

Perhaps go see the Niagara Falls, said to be one of the most stunning natural wonders of the world, or try your luck at Atlantic City, also known as the Las Vegas of the East Coast.

Here are a few other options for great day trips:

  • Washington DC
  • Philadelphia
  • Catskills
  • Long Island

Getting around New York

nyc subway

New York’s public transport network is very efficient and allows you to move around the city quickly, economically, and comfortably.

The New York subway is one of the most famous in the world and is certainly the best means of transport in the Big Apple. It has nearly 500 stations in its 26 lines, named with numbers and letters.

Bus lines are composed of a number and a letter. The letter indicates the district where it circulates: Manhattan (M), Brooklyn (B), Queens (Q), Bronx (Bx), and Staten Island (S). They are a very practical option if you do not wish to take the subway.

The famed NYC yellow taxi cabs are spacious, comfortable, and clean. Some even have screens for your entertainment, including a GPS feature so you can make sure your driver is not taking you through the long route.

Although buses still allow cash payments (only the exact amount), to use the subway you’ll need a Metrocard. There are two purchase options: the Pay-Per-Ride or Unlimited Ride Metrocard.

Travel tips for New York

Catch a Broadway show: Make sure to get some tickets in advance as prices get really hiked up and some shows get completely sold out.

Shop at Macy’s: The Herald Square location covers an entire block and it’s a great department store for international tourists to shop at as you can easily get a tax refund just by showing your passport.

Look into free activities: If you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry. There are plenty of free things to do in New York, from walking on the Highline to hunting down murals in Soho.

Get some street food: Hot dogs, bagels, and pizza are commonly seen on street stalls. They’re a tasty and economical alternative to the overpriced restaurants near the main attractions.

Don’t forget to tip: In the United States, tips aren’t really optional but considered mandatory. It’s customary to tip around 10%-20%, and some restaurants even include the tip on the bill! – the so-called “gratuity“.

Get the New York Pass: As most attractions in this city are paid, getting the New York Pass will definitely help you save some big bucks and avoid long, annoying waiting lines.

manhattan bridge

Other NYC FAQ

Is 3 days enough in New York? It’s possible to see the major attractions of New York in just three days. However, you’ll end up doing a fast-paced tour of Manhattan and you’ll miss loads of exciting sights.

Can you do New York in 4 days? 4 days is nearly perfect. You can visit sights around Manhattan and Brooklyn. You can also discover interesting neighborhoods like Chinatown and Tribeca.

Is 10 days too long in New York? It’s more than enough to visit pretty much everything worth visiting in New York, while still allowing yourself some downtime to enjoy the views.

Also Read: 25 Things New York Is Famous For

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