Planning a trip to New York City? I’ve got you covered. This guide will help you with everything – from finding the best flight deals and sorting out travel insurance to getting a SIM card for your phone. You’ll also get tips on where to stay, how to get around the city easily, and where to eat the tastiest food. I’m here to make sure you see NYC not just as any visitor, but like someone who knows all its cool spots. Ready to start this awesome adventure? Let’s go!

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Planning Your Journey

Booking Your Flight

The first step in your NYC adventure is booking your flight. New York is serviced by three major airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark. Each has its pros and cons, so consider factors like flight availability, airport amenities, and distance to your accommodation. Use flight comparison websites like Hopper,  Kiwi.com , Omio.com to find the best deals or book your whole package or website like LoveHolidays or Expedia 

Check if you need Visa 

Before booking your flight from abroad, it’s essential to verify whether you need a visa to enter the United States. For many countries, gaining entry can be as straightforward as completing an ESTA application online. However, for others, obtaining a visa may require a visit to an embassy or consulate in your home country. Be sure to clarify your visa requirements well in advance to avoid any last-minute complications.

Booking Your Hotel 

Choosing where to stay in NYC can be overwhelming. From the upscale streets of Manhattan to the artsy alleys of Brooklyn, every neighbourhood has its unique charm. Think about what you want to see and do, and pick a location that allows you to explore easily. Remember, New York is well-connected, so even if you’re staying outside the main tourist areas, you’ll still have the city at your fingertips. I always use booking.com or Expedia to book my accommodation and I’ve never had any issues with it. 

Travel Insurance

Next up, let’s chat about travel insurance, a must-have for your NYC trip. When you’re heading to a lively place like New York City, it’s important to be prepared for anything. That’s why I recommend checking out Visitors Coverage for your insurance needs. They offer policies that cover everything from trip cancellations and medical emergencies to lost luggage. It’s a one-stop shop to ensure you’re covered for all the unexpected moments. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and we all know expensive health care is in the USA. Secure your peace of mind before you jet off!

Upon Arrival

Getting a SIM Card

Once you land, staying connected is key. The best and simplest way to do this is by using an e-SIM from Airalo. Forget about the hassle of searching for physical SIM cards at the airport, which can be pricey, or dealing with high fees from your home provider. With Airalo, you can easily purchase an e-SIM before your trip and have it ready to go as soon as you arrive. They offer a variety of plans to fit your needs and budget, making it a convenient and cost-effective option for staying connected throughout your trip. 

Getting to your hotel from the airport 

After you land in New York City, the next step is getting to your hotel. NYC’s airports offer various options to suit every traveller’s needs.

  • Pre-Booking a Taxi

For a hassle-free experience, consider pre-booking a private transfer or  taxi through services like GetTransfer , kiwitaxi or HolidayTaxi. You can choose a vehicle that suits your group size and luggage needs, and you’ll have a driver waiting for you upon arrival. This is a great option if you prefer not to navigate public transport after a long flight.

  • Catching a Taxi at the Airport

Taxis are readily available at all three airports. Each airport has designated taxi stands, offering a fixed-rate service to Manhattan from JFK and metered fares from LaGuardia and Newark. This option is convenient, though it can be more expensive, especially during rush hour.

  • Booking an Uber or Similar Service

Ride-sharing services like Uber are a popular choice. You can book a ride right after you land using the app. Prices vary based on time of day and traffic conditions, but it’s a flexible and reliable option.

  • Travelling by Train

For those looking to save money or enjoy a more local experience, the train is a great choice. Here’s a brief guide on how to reach Times Square from each airport:

From JFK Airport

  • Take the AirTrain JFK to Jamaica Station.
  • Transfer to the E train towards Manhattan.
  • Get off at the 42nd Street-Port Authority Bus Terminal stop.
  • Times Square is just a short walk away.

From LaGuardia Airport

  • LaGuardia doesn’t have a direct train connection.
  • Take the Q70 LaGuardia Link Bus to Roosevelt Ave Jackson Heights Station.
  • Transfer to the E, M, or R train to Manhattan.
  • Get off at the 42nd Street-Times Square stop.

From Newark Airport

  • Take the AirTrain Newark to Newark Liberty International Airport Train Station.
  • Transfer to a NJ Transit train to New York Penn Station.
  • From Penn Station, take the 1, 2, or 3 subway lines to 42nd Street-Times Square.

Navigating the City

New York’s public transportation is key to exploring the city efficiently. The subway, known for its speed, along with buses and iconic yellow cabs, forms the backbone of city travel.

Paying for the Subway

Subway fares can be paid using OMNY, a contactless system, or with a MetroCard. OMNY allows you to tap and pay with a bank card or smart device, while MetroCards are available at station vending machines. Fares are $2.75 per ride, with options for unlimited weekly or monthly passes.

Handy Apps

To navigate the city with ease, my favourite app is Citymapper . It offers real-time updates on subway, bus, and train times, combining different modes of transport for optimal routes. 

Must-See Attractions and Hidden Gems

Exploring New York City offers a blend of iconic sights and undiscovered treasures. From the towering Statue of Liberty to the sprawling expanse of Central Park, there’s no shortage of must-see landmarks. But NYC is also a treasure trove of hidden gems, like the elevated park of the High Line and the artistic vibrancy of Bushwick.

For a comprehensive list of 30 top attractions and landmarks in NYC, CLICK HERE to read my detailed post. This guide covers a wide array of destinations, ensuring you won’t miss out on the quintessential New York City experience.

Booking Tours and Tickets

To further enrich your visit, consider booking tours and experiences. Websites like GoCity offer the best deals for city pass and GetYourGuide and Viator offer a variety of guided tours, giving you insider access and unique perspectives on the city’s famous sites. For convenient ticket bookings to various attractions, Tiqets.com is an excellent resource. And if you prefer an immersive audio experience, WeGoTrip.com provides audio tours that you can enjoy at your own pace.

CityPASS offers access to 5-6 top NYC attractions and is valid for 9 days, providing significant discounts compared to individual tickets. Go City provides two options: an All-Inclusive pass for unlimited attractions over chosen days or an Explorer pass to visit 2-10 attractions within 60 days, offering flexibility and a wide range of activities.

Here are some of my favourite MUST – DO tours in NYC : 

Travelling with kids? Don’t miss those activities :

What do to in NYC when its raining?

  • Visit a Museum: Explore world-class museums like the Met or MoMA.
  • Catch a Broadway Show
  • Wander through indoor markets like Chelsea Market or Grand Central Market.
  • Spend day at the Dreamworks Indoor Water Park 
  • Treat yourself to relaxation with a spa day.
  • Go Shopping: Explore Fifth Avenue, SoHo, or Herald Square.
  • Learn new culinary skills at a cooking class.
  • Attend a workshop or class in arts, crafts, or hobbies.

If you feel like you’ve seen it all, make sure to also check those hidden gems

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Eating Like a Local

New York is a foodie’s paradise, offering everything from street food to Michelin-starred restaurants. Don’t miss out on classic New York pizza, bagels, and the famous New York cheesecake. For an authentic local experience, explore the diverse neighbourhoods like Chinatown, Little Italy, and Harlem to indulge in a variety of cuisines.

Here are few of my favourite places : 

  • Pizza – NY Pizza Suprema, Bleecker Street Pizza,  Prince Street Pizza, Joe’s Pizza
  • Bagels – Liberty Bagels Midtown, Broad Nosh Bagels Deli 
  • Breakfast- Sadelle’s New York, The Grey Dog, Daily Provisions, Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant, Sarabeth’s, Tatte Bakery & Cafe
  • Fast food – 5 Napkin Burger, Fat Fowl,  Chick-fil-A, Los Tacos no.1, Katz Deli, 
  • High End restaurant – Nobu, Ocean Prime, Le Crocodile, 4 Charles Prime Rib
  • Mid-range restaurant – Jacob’s Pickles, O’Hara’s Restaurant, Shoo Shoo Nolita, Skirt Steak, The Lobster Place, 
  • Rooftop bar – the Press Lounge, Westlight, Jimmy, Nubeluz
  • Italian – Carmine’s, Emilio’s Ballato, Don Angie, Eataly NYC Flatiron
  • Chinese – Chow House, Main Noodle House
  • Best dessert – Aubi & Ramsa ( adults only ), Chip City Cookies, Soft Swerve
  • Cocktail bar – Sveta, Patent Pending, Verōnika, Shinji’s

Shopping

Shopping in New York City is a wonderful experience, offering everything from luxury boutiques to trendy fashion stores and vibrant markets.

Luxury Shopping:

  • Fifth Avenue: Flagship stores like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany & Co.
  • Madison Avenue: Designer boutiques such as Chanel, Hermès, and Ralph Lauren.
  • SoHo: High-end brands like Dior and Saint Laurent amid trendy shops.

Fashion Trends:

  • SoHo: Mix of luxury and contemporary brands.
  • Meatpacking District: Trendy boutiques including Diane von Furstenberg and Theory.
  • Lower East Side: Emerging designers and unique fashion finds.

Markets:

  • Chelsea Market: Artisanal foods and crafts in the Meatpacking District.
  • Union Square Greenmarket: Fresh produce and local products.
  • Brooklyn Flea: Vintage clothing, antiques, and handmade jewelry.
  • Artists & Fleas: Independent artists and designers in Chelsea, SoHo, and Williamsburg.

Safety and Etiquette

New York is generally a safe city, but like any major city, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded places, and be mindful of local customs and etiquette.

Useful tips:

  • If you have extra time at the airport and value comfort, convenience, and access to amenities like complimentary food, beverages, and Wi-Fi, get a Priority Pass membership ( UK link ) – ( USA link ), granting you access to a global network of airport lounges regardless of your airline or ticket class.
  • If you planning to visit other places in the USA you take a bus or rent a car. Check rentalcars.com for the best deals!

Final Thoughts

New York City is more than just a destination; it’s an experience. Whether you’re watching a Broadway show, exploring museums, or simply taking in the skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge, every moment here is bound to be unforgettable.

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