Top 10 New York travel tips for conquering the Big Apple like a pro!

A blonde girl and brunette girl with one arm around each other and the other in the air at Top of the Rock in New York facing the Empire State Building

Top 10 New York travel tips for conquering the Big Apple like a pro!

New York is a firm favourite amongst travellers and one of my all-time favourite cities too! But if it’s your first time in New York, don’t worry I have you covered 😉. Use these top 10 New York travel tips to help you conquer the Big Apple like a pro!

1) Get a New York City Pass

First and foremost, one of my top New York travel tips is to get yourself a New York City Pass. The New York Pass is a tourist card created by New Yorkers to save you time and money on sightseeing. With a New York City Pass, visitors get free entry to over 100 attractions and skip ticket lines at many of the busiest places.

A three day pass will set you back around £176 (as of 2022) but in the long run it will save you so much more! The website says you’ll save on average £154 during your stay. But this is if you’re being modest with the number of tourist attractions you get through!

I wouldn’t plug a city pass for every city as they do vary on discounts and freebies. But the New York City Pass by far is the best for value! Plus you get a free guidebook on what to check out whilst you’re there.

T-rex skeleton in the American Museum of Natural History in New York
New York’s Natural History Museum

2) Book central accommodation

Don’t skimp on the accommodation to try cut costs and end up wasting time on commuting miles to attractions and paying for additional transport. Save yourself time, money and hassle by staying central!

This New York travel tip turned out to be particularly helpful when the sole of my boot came off whilst getting on the subway on my last trip!* Luckily because I was staying central I managed to drag myself back to the hotel without losing too much time changing my shoes.

Not everyone will agree with me on this as of course you’ll pay less the further out you stay. But you can get some great deals without compromising your location.

I stayed in the New Yorker Hotel the last time I visited, which is only a 10 minute walk away from Times Square – it was perfect! Me and my partner at the time shared a room and we paid around £65 each a night for a beautiful view of the city and decent sized room – not bad for a central location! I loved it and would definitely stay again.

*Note to self, never buy footwear in New Look again!

New York skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge

3) Plan your activities together

Planning your activities together is crucial for time-saving in New York. There is a lot packed into this city! And although you can get around quite quickly on the subway, you don’t want to lose time by going across town after every activity.

For example, if you’re visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art which is within a few blocks of the Guggenheim Museum and Central Park – do all these in one swoop. If these attractions are already on your list anyway, it doesn’t make sense to then go across town to get on the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty!

Save it for another day and plan your sightseeing around that main event.

View of liberty island, the statue and the skyline of New York in the background
Liberty Island looking over Manhattan

4) Pack some good walking shoes

As evidenced in number two on this New York travel tips post, having comfortable and sturdy walking shoes are vital when visiting New York. The average New Yorker walks around five miles a day. So imagine how much mileage you’re going to rack up in just a week-long trip!

Pack the shoes you know you can walk for hours in and not be phased. The last thing you want is to experience blisters or a broken shoe sole when you’re out exploring.

Inside the concourse in Central Station in New York
Grand Central Station

5) Always take the subway

Want to feel like a real New Yorker? Always take the subway. It may seem intimidating at first, especially if you’re used to driving everywhere at home. But the subway is fantastic in NYC!

Cabs will rack up whilst you’re there and with cars being in bumper to bumper traffic a lot of the time, you’ll save time as well as money by just taking the subway.

The joy of the subway is you’re never more than two blocks away from the nearest station. They also run 24 hours a day so you’ll always be able to get back to your hotel after a night out.

New York subway train at West Street platform

6) Utilise your evenings

Ever heard the saying: “New York City – the city that never sleeps”? Well it’s (almost) true! The likes of Times Square and big tourist attractions such as the Empire State Building don’t close until 2am even on week nights. With this in mind, make sure you utilise your time in the evenings as you’ll see a whole other side to the city.

On many city breaks, evenings are generally spent putting your feet up as everywhere has closed – but not in NYC!

On my last trip I did 50% of my sightseeing list in the evening. I went to Times Square, Rockefeller Centre and the Empire State Building and enjoyed the atmosphere and amazing views.

Your evening time is not to be wasted!

View of Times Square with billboards and people in the background at night
A very busy and lively Times Square!

7) Don’t get caught in the tourist traps

Overpriced trinkets and photo traps are my absolute bugbear on city breaks. But unfortunately New York is littered with tourist traps like this!

Now, to be fair, you’ll get this in most big cities. But I swear, the ‘staged’ photos ops take a little bit of my soul each time 😂. Of course you don’t have to buy the photos. But the fact that it’s just another money making scheme and holds the line up in your favourite places just personally irritates me!

The worst is when you’re waiting for a table in popular restaurants like Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood. There’s a normal wait for tables but this also includes time wasted unknowingly queuing for the staged photo op! You can pay anything up to £20 for just one photo so it’s a total rip off.

So be a savvy traveller and don’t get caught in the moment, or the tourist traps!

View of the Empire State Building at dusk from the view point of another building

8) Don’t forget to tip generously

Each of the fifty states has a different minimum wage but it’s usually around £5-£6 an hour. But under federal law, the minimum wage for tipped employees like bartenders and waitresses is just £1.44 per hour!

This is why there is a big tipping culture in America. So be sure to tip around 20% on top of your overall bill.

In the States you’ll find that people in the service industry give you fantastic service so the tips are definitely deserved. Eating out is usually a little cheaper than the UK too I find so you won’t feel a massive pinch during your stay.

People eating pizza in a restaurant in New York

9) Don’t be afraid to wander

Now, this is not me telling you to go to the shadier areas of town! But what I am saying is, don’t be afraid to venture down side roads and off the map. One of the greatest joys of visiting New York is just walking around and soaking up the atmosphere. You never know what you’ll find!

During my last trip, whilst trying to find the Ghostbusters Firehouse, I stumbled upon the wonderful Tiny’s. It’s a bar and restaurant based in a three story townhouse built in 1810 – it was such an awesome find!

The back of the Ecto 1 car at New York's ghostbusters firehouse

10) Be mindful of your city etiquette

Although this is true when visiting most big cities – it’s especially important when visiting New York. Be mindful that although you’re on holiday, the guy attempting to get past you as you take an Empire State selfie is trying to get to work.

Don’t stop in the middle of a busy street to take photos, wait your turn for a cab and move down the carriage when the subway gets busy.

Getting to grips with New York’s city etiquette is crucial when visiting. It’s a city not renowned for its patience and you don’t want to end up in an awkward spot with an agitate local!

Gloved hand holding a phone focussed in on a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge and apartment buildings either side

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Have you ever been to New York? Which New York travel tips did you find most useful? Let me know in the comments below! 😄

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