Travelers' pro tips for experiencing New York City
Typical tourist sites are spread out so no one location is going to be near everything.
Most first time visitors stay in Midtown and many are convinced they must be in/near Times Square which is not true.
Being near a subway stop is important. Being near multiple subway lines is even better.
Staying a short train ride outside Manhattan is an option for budget travelers, but then it makes a difference which airport you use. Long Island City in Queens is a good area if you use JFK or LGA. Jersey City near a PATH train is better if you use Newark.
Check out more tips here.
In the words of those who've been there before ...
New York is the Capital of the World.
It's a completely different world. Very fast-paced and diverse, but also loud (certain parts) and big! You can easily feel like an ant when staring up at all the tall buildings surrounding you . . . Last, but not least......you'll never get bored in this city!
It's the "City That Never Sleeps" with a vibrant and friendly atmosphere and something for everyone. And it's safe! The stereotype of being a dangerous city is outdated. It's safer than many other big cities around the world.
I leave a part of my heart in New York just to go back to get it later.
New York City is infuriating, agonizing, complicated, confusing, and overwhelming. And all of that makes it the greatest city in the world … The city is always alive and always surprising. And the challenges are always rewarding. It’s the greatest city in the world. And welcome to my home.
What is the best way to get there?
Three major airports serve New York City: Newark, LaGuardia, and JFK.
For travelers who want to take the train, Amtrak offers service into Penn Station.
Additionally bus service is widely available.
If you’re flying, here’s some advice on getting from the three major airports into Manhattan.
If you’re driving into New York, plan ahead for how and where you’ll park.
Do I need a visa?
If you’re visiting New York from overseas, use the government’s Visa Wizard to see if you need a visa.
When is the best time to visit?
Each season offers something different in NYC. Spring is bursting with new foliage and blooms and the air is mild for street fairs and cycling or walking, Summer has the warmth and beaches and outdoor events like Shakespeare in the Park and 4th July fireworks, Fall has the colourful leaf changes with milder weather and big events such as Halloween and the NY Marathon, Winter is considered the best by many because of the very festive Holiday decorations and shopping.
Spring (April / May) and Fall (September / October) generally offer travelers the mildest weather with temperatures between 50°F and 60°F (10-15°C). If you come at the height of summer (July and August) be prepared for steamy weather with highs around 80°F (26°C) and up. Winters (December, January, and February) are chilly with temps averaging between 30°F (-1°C) and 40°F (4.4°C).
Check out this comprehensive month-by-month tip sheet with what to expect, how to dress, and what to do.
The least expensive and one of the most common ways to navigate NYC is on foot. When on foot, a map is handy south of 14th Street in Manhattan. North of 14th Street the city is laid out on an easily navigable grid.
If a location is too far to walk, the NYC subway is the best way to get around. Less expensive than a taxi, the subway allows you to easily bypass city traffic and efficiently make it from uptown to downtown and vice versa. The Metropolitan Transit Authority administers New York’s subway and buses, and their website has all the maps you could need to plan your trip.
New York’s iconic yellow taxis are widely available for street hail, and an Uber or Lyft is always just a tap away on your phone. If you’re open to riding with other passengers Via is a great, affordable ride-sharing option.
Driving into the city, or renting a car? An app like Parkwhiz or Spothero is a lifesaver that will get you in a garage near your destination instead of circling the block looking for a spot.
Check out more tips on getting around NYC here.
On the ground
What is the timezone?
Eastern Standard Time (or Eastern Daylight Time when daylight savings is observed).
What are the voltage/plug types?
110 - 12- Volts / 60 Hz. Plugs are flat pins.
What is the currency?
The U.S. Dollar
Are ATMs readily accessible?
Are credit cards widely accepted?
How much do I tip?
$1 per bag
Salon or spa
$2-5 per person in your group
Get more tipping tips here.
Are there local customs I should know?
If you stop on the sidewalk, move to the side
New York is crowded, and folks are on the go. If you stop to check your phone or look up directions, or want to take in a view, move to the side of the sidewalk. Same thing when you arrive at the top of an escalator. And on escalators New Yorkers stand on the right, walk on the left.
Be mindful of space on the subway
When on the subway, be mindful of how much space you're occupying. Manspreading and putting bags on seats are both considered bad form. If you see a pregnant or elderly passenger, or family with small children, it's expected you offer them your seat on the subway. When you board a train, move to the center of the car so folks can get on and off. It's also expected that when a crowded train reaches a stop, if you're near the doors, you'll step out to let passengers in the center depart.