The city, home to over 8.5 million people, is one of the greatest cities in the world. It has energy and personality like no other. There is so much to see and do that on a typical four - or five day visit, you barely scratch the surface of what the city contains. So with endless options it’s hard to know where to start when planning a trip to the city, thats why we have put together our four-day itinerary and maybe it will serve as a good starting point as you plan your trip to the city that never sleeps.
Known for being one of the most visited cities in the world and with that being said, a expensive one as well - like every concrete jungle. It’s not cheap, especially if you live in NYC, but one of the greatest things about NYC is that while there are countless wonderful ways to splurge, there are also plenty of awesome activities that are 100% free.
You’ll need a day or two just for sightseeing, even more if is your first time visiting the city. They are some places you are simply obligated to visit.
- DAY 1 -
Let’s start with the classic’s
Central Park is an oasis of nature in the heart of a chaotic city, and a beloved escape for locals and tourists alike. And while you’re here be sure to do some window shopping around the famous Fifth Avenue. On the short list of things worth doing in the park that are completely free:
Pay your tribute to John Lennon at Strawberry Fields | watch the kids of all ages racing sailboats at the Conservatory Water or scrambling over the Alice in Wonderland statue | watch the lovers rowing boats under Bow Bridge | get lost in The Ramble | search for turtles at Turtle Pond | have a picnic in Sheep Meadow | walk down elm-lined Mall | people-watch at Bethesda Fountain | wander through Shakespeare Garden
Located just below Central Park, Midtown is home to the majority of sightseeing spots in the city. It can be a little stressful at times and doesn’t quite do justice to the “real” New York but there are some fun things to be done here, especially if you’re visiting for the first time.
MUSEUMS - if you have more days then you can visit many, but with little time you’ll barely have time for one. You could spend hours wandering around them all! The best ones are:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art | American Museum of Natural History | The Guggenheim Museum | Museum of Modern Art ( MoMA)
Bird’s-eye view - Choose between or if you have enough time visit both one in the morning and the other one at the sunset/night
Top of the Rock - at the top of the Rockefeller Center. You’ll have one of the best views of the Empire State Building, Manhattan and beyond! You can also see Times Square from above, which will save you the trauma of navigating your way through those crowds. The Top of the Rock can get a little busy around sunset and on the weekends, but it’s certainly a view to tick off your bucket list so just book in advance.
Empire State Building - The 1930s art deco interior is beautiful, was the tallest building in the world for 40 years. The view from the top is breathtaking. You can get a real feel for how densely populated New York is as you stare out at the city. Get here early or during lunchtime to avoid the lines and tour groups.
Times Square - No matter when you go to Times Square, it will be packed with people (usually other tourists). There are pedestrian areas where you can sit and hang out, do some shopping and enjoy the vibe of the most visited attraction in the world. And if you’re into show’s, one from Broadway should be on the top of your list. You definitely have to book a Broadway show, even if you’re into theatre or not. They’re great fun and there’s so many to choose from in New York, so take a look online and book ahead to get the best value tickets.
Grand Central Terminal is the city’s historic train station. It was going to be torn down in 1975 but was saved by Jacqueline Kennedy, who raised money for its preservation. There are free historical tours on Wednesdays
OTHER THINGS TO DO
St. Patrick Cathedral | Radio City Music Hall | Bryant Park | Madison Square Garden | NY Public Library | Madame Tussauds | Chrysler Building | The Cloisters
- DAY 2 -
Let’s start the day with a brunch. When we went, it was Sunday so its kind of obligatory to brunch in New York. We decided to visit Williamsburg. First we went for a coffee to The Blue Bottle and then to Egg. After walking around this amazing area we went to another trendy one, the fun neighborhood full of restaurants and shops - Bushwhick that is home to some great street artwork and that alone is the reason to visit.
After that we went to a street festival in Bay Ridge. While you’re here or even if you don't go, plan a visit Gino’s for dinner. It has been one of the best dinner’s of my life. This place is just mind-boggling delicious.
DUMBO which means Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, is the next stop. Just walk ing around it is fun. It’s definitely one of my favorite places. If you’re visiting on a Sunday be sure to visit the Brooklyn Flea Market to find some very different things and places to see. If you are there, be sure to purchase some french friesand eat some for me! Just thinking about it makes me wanna cry (they are amazing!!!! - I'm a fries lover). To see other amazing places to eat around here be sure to check our where to eat in NYC post. (LINK)
If you’re a GG fan just like me, a picture here is a must. On Washington Street at the end you’ll see the Manhattan Bridge, it can’t be missed it.
Walk around the Brooklyn Bridge and enjoy the sunset at the Brooklyn Bridge Park.
OTHER THINGS TO DO
Coney Island | Prospect Park | New York Aquarium
- DAY 3 -
Village’s Day ( Neighborhoods between Midtown and Downtown )
Today is all about exploring the most beautiful streets of New York, eat delicious and of course do some shopping. We started from East River making our way to the other side - Hudson River. SoHo which means South of Hudson Street is a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan full of artists lofts and art galleries.
The Greenwich Village, as the name may indicate, is located in Lower Manhattan on the West Side of the city, a short walk from the Hudson River. Carrie Bradshaw’s Apartment: If you’re a fan of the Sex and the City movies or series, which most of us are. Wander around 66 Perry Street and you’ll spot a very familiar looking doorway.
Washington Square Park is the unofficial center of NYU, so naturally, the park is full of students, artists, and other interesting people.
Neighborhoods to explore around here: Tribeca (Triangle Below Canal Street) | NoHo (North of Houston Street)
High Line, is one of my personal favorite places, a converted overground railway that runs from the Meatpacking District all the way up to West 30th Street. It is a one and a half mile long suspended green space that allows visitors and residents alike to enjoy plants and car-free space deep within the city.
Chelsea Market | Meatpacking District | Gramercy Park | Whitney Museum | Union Square
- DAY 4 -
Statue of Liberty | Ellis Island - Start the day with a visit to the colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island. Arrive at Battery Park and remember to book your tickets in advance, it will take you around 4h to complete the whole tour.
Charging Bull, which is sometimes referred to as the Wall Street Bull or the Bowling Green Bull, is a bronze sculpture that stands in Bowling Green Park in the Financial District. At Broadway & Morris St after taking your picture with the bull walk to Wall St and from there you will be able to visit the Federall Hall and Trinity Church.
World Trade Center & 9/11 Memorial and Museum it features two enormous waterfalls and reflecting pools, each about an acre in size, set within the footprints of the original twin towers. The Memorial Plaza is one of the most eco-friendly plazas ever constructed. Be sure to visit The Oculus and be amaze by its amazing architecture.
Neighborhoods to explore around here: Chinatown | Little Italy | East Village | Nolita (North of Little Italy)
Bleecker Street/Broadway–Lafayette Street get off at one of these subway stations and start your shopping time, really it has every store you could dream you can walk all the way until you reach Flatiron Building and while here go to Madison Square Park for a Shake Shack.
OTHER THINGS TO DO
Battery Park | Little Germany | Museum of American Finance | KoreaTown
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For your convenience we’ve even created a free printable bucket list (linked at the bottom of this article)
Click in the link below to download our London TO DO LIST so you can have your own check list of the places you must visit during your time in London.
So there you have it! Where are your favorite spots in NYC? If you have your own NYC must-do’s to add to this list… Share them below in the comments!