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Getting around New York City can be very easy or you can make it quite adventuresome.
Here are the various ways of getting around,their prices, and their advantages and disadvantages. These are general guidelines for Manhattan but you can use these suggestions to explore Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, too!
If you have a smart phone, you can use apps to plan your trip. There are many good free ones, such as Moove It and TripGo. The latter provides multi-modal transport options, combining public and private modes to give you the most suitable plans depending on your priorities (budget or convenience)..
This is probably the best method to get around New York City if you are in a group of 2-4 people, but it's not always the fastest. NYC is notorious for traffic, and you can get stuck in it in a taxi. You can easily get anywhere in Manhattan for no more than $10 - $15, split between a group, this is not much more than a subway ride ($2.25 per person), and it eliminates your chances of getting lost. When at your hotel, ask your concierge or a doorman for a taxi and they will get one for you. When on the street, simply look for taxis with their light on top lit but no “off duty” marked.
If traveling solo or in a small group, a new online platform, "Cab With Me" allows New Yorkers to find other people nearby with whom they can share the taxi and save money.
For more information and instructions, read the Travelers Article "How To Hail a Taxi" page.
Walking. New York City is the world’s greatest walking city. All five boroughs can be explored on foot, but Manhattan is probably the easiest and most popular for pedestrians.
Manhattan is easiest for first-time visitors because all streets north of Houtson St. are laid out in a numbered grid pattern, with streets travelling east-west and avenues going north-south. Streets are numbered low to high going north, and avenues are numbered low to high going west. Twenty "street" blocks (e.g. 40th St to 60th St) equals one mile (1.6 km) and usually takes 20 – 30 minutes to walk. Fifth Avenue is the longitudinal meridian of Manhattan, and street numbers are prefaced with "East" and "West". For example, at 7th Avenue, New Yorkers say "West 35th Street" but at 3rd Avenue, say "East 35th Street."
Walking is best for people who want to see all the details - the architecture, people, businesses, and street life. If you walk around New York City, there is a good chance you will stroll past movie stars, television personalities, music icons, and models – whether you notice them or not. If you are going to walk, and you don’t want to get lost, ask locals for directions. Most New Yorkers love giving directions, but be prepared to be quick and specific! Just ask where you want to go. Anyone will gladly help you, but they'll always be in a hurry! Don't take it personally if someone curtly say, "3 blocks that way" and keep walking.
Walking tours. There are countless walking tours available in NYC. You can find walking tours focusing on food, history, architecture, neighborhood, music, Broadway, TV shows and films, and many other themes.Many are free, but most cost a nominal amount. Many tour companies post pages on Trip Advisor describing their services.The all-volunteer Big Apple Greeter service is free, but reservations way in advance are required.
Limousine and Car Service. To travel in ultimate luxury around New York City you will pay around $30-50 for a car service or up to $175 for a limousine. This allows you to travel door to door to any venue in the city. If you want to do this once or twice for a particularly stylish occasion, or every time, you can easily arrange it through your concierge. Services like Dia7 allow you to book and pay for your car in advance. Groundlink offers a smartphone app where you can request and pay for a car anywhere in the city.
Subway. Besides walking, this is the most economical way to travel, and the fastest. If you want to get a real sense of New York, the subway is a great way to go. MIllions of people use it every day, and it runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You will find it crowded at 2 AM , encounter random street performers/buskers, and observe real New Yorkers in their element.
Despite popular movie lore, the subway is very safe. The one main drawback for subways is construction and re-routing over the weekends and overnight. As a result, many tourists can find themselves going the wrong way or overshooting their stop due to being unfamiliar with the system. If this happens, you might waste a little time finding your way back, but don't worry about it. Just ask a local passenger for help. But some travelers enjoy the adventure, and actually enjoy getting lost . If you are going to use the transportationsystem, be sure to get a map and confirm your route with your concierge!
Bus. You can also use the bus system for cheap "un-narrated tours" of NYC! Buses, like taxis are subject to traffic jams, and they make frequent stops, but they are good for people who have trouble with stairs or walking, or if you have a chunk fo time to fill and want to see the city from the outside. All public buses "kneel" - i.e. they lower themselves to the ground or easier boarding - and are wheelchair accessible.
Manhattan bus map is very useful because it is drawn to scale and shows both bus and subway routes. You can get one for free at the tourist centers, libraries and most hotel lobbies. This
New York Times article provides great examples of how to use the public buses to see the city.
Hop-On-Hop-Off (HOHO) Bus: These buses are great for those who want to get a general survey of city sights, but they are not useful as reguarl transportation. Most first-time visitors enjoy the HOHO buses, especially in good weather.