How to spend 5 days in New York City

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Do you have 5 days to spend in New York? Here is my 5-day itinerary for NYC to help you plan your trip. Although if you have longer then make sure you check out my post full of things to do outside of the city.

Day 1

  • To get your bearings walk the streets a bit figure out the subway system. Get yourself to Time Square for a quick photo then head over to 5th Avenue and then uptown to Central Park.
  • Get lost in Central Park for a few hours, but make sure you take lunch.
  • When you get to the top of the park go into The Met and get lost in there (it’s huge and won’t be hard). The Met operates on a ‘pay what you can’ system, perfect if you are on a budget. If its summer makes sure you take a rest on the rooftop bar! Take a stroll back down the park and if you are ready for food Hells Kitchen is the place to go.
  • Then take a walk back down the park and if you are ready for food Hells Kitchen is the place to go.

Day 2 (New York Pass day 1)

Read about the New York pass here

  • Get up early! Head to 42nd Street to get in the que for The Ride. If you want evening tickets then you need to get there for 8 am. The office opens at 9 am so you will be in for a wait. There is a McDonalds where the queue is so if there are 2 of you take it in turns in having breakfast and warm breaks! 
  • Once you have your tickets then go next door into Madam Tussauds ($26 online), it opens at 10 am. 

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  • From here walk down 7th Ave and take a right on 33rd and you will be at the world famous Madison Square Garden ($26). Go straight in and book a tour, they will give you a time slot. We had 40 mins to kill so went to get a bite to eat. The tour takes 90mins.

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  • Next stop Empire State Building you can walk it pretty easily from there. We lucked out on our visit as it had been raining all day and had poor visibility, just at the time we came out of the tour the weather and visibility cleared up and because of this, there was no queue (the queue was pretty big when we came back down though). We decided to do Empire state in the day and Rockefeller at night).
  • Then our last stop of the day was Discovery Time Square. They have different exhibitions in there which change every 6 months or so. We went to see Body Works ($27), which has been there for 3 years. Fascinating…. but I wouldn’t recommend eating just before.

Budget: Total cost to do without NYP $111

Day 3 (Day 2 NYC pass)

  • We pretty much spent the WHOLE morning picking up tickets! Now I know this was not the most exciting morning as most of it was spent queuing and travelling on the subway/ walking. But it was worth it as we got it all out of the way.
  • After queuing up for  The Ride (I didn’t get manage to get tickets the day before) we then went down to Battery Park to pick up our Statue of Liberty tickets (so we could use them another day).
  • We then went back uptown to Rockerfella to book evening tickets for Top of The Rock (make sure you book don’t just turn up as you may have a very long wait!). It was about lunchtime so we went and picked up our Big Bus tour tickets. 
  • After some lunch we took our trip on The Ride at 2:15 ($75) it’s a 90 min tour, cheesy but fun.
  • Next headed straight for the subway back downtown to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. You will need 2-3 hours here and be warned it’s really emotional. I was exhausted when I came out of there and wished we didn’t have to do anything else.
  • But we had booked Top of The Rock so we got the subway back uptown.

Nb you could do Top of The Rock on day 1 as you would have time and I would recommend this.

Budget: Total cost without NYP $131

Day 4

  • Que up at the TKT booth on Time Square for discounted show tickets
  • Ride the uptown and downtown loop of the Big Bus (around 4.5 hours to do both)
  • Broadway show in the evening if you get tickets. You can expect to pay between $50-$100

Budget: Cost without the NYP (not including show) $47

Day 5

  • Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Get there early between 8-9am.

Budget: Cost without the NYP $25

Budget for the 5 days

Total cost to do everything we did without the New York Pass $314

Cost of NYP $169

Total saving $145

Is it worth getting a New York Pass?

I did a lot of things that weren’t on my to-do list, but they were great to do and without the pass, I wouldn’t have bothered. With my two hacks you can spread the pass out over 4 days instead of 2 and probably the best bit for me was that for most of the attractions you get to queue jump. If we hadn’t had the NYP we wouldn’t have got into the 9/11 museum as they had sold out of general admission by 3 pm!

Would I recommend the New York Pass? Absolutely!

 Do you have 5 days to spend in New York? Here is my 5-day itinerary for NYC to help you plan your trip. Although if you have longer then make sure you check out my post full of things to do outside of the city.

If you need a cheap flight to New York check Skyscanner first! Or download their App here, and don’t forget your insurance!


16 Replies to “How to spend 5 days in New York City”

  1. Woow, this looks really amazing,
    This is really on my have to do list before i get into my 40’s

    Keep posting,
    Kind regards

    1. Oh you really should! It’s one of those places you have to go to at least once in your life!

  2. What a fun post! I’ve only been to New York once, but it was at Christmastime, so getting lost in Central Park and a few other things was super-duper crowded. The Met is amazing and I would do it again for sure! The city pass seems like a great idea and a convenient way to save a little extra for more adventures!

  3. Wow what a great post on New York. I will save this, as in near future I am going to New York. I would like to relax in Central Park and have a view from Empire state Building.

  4. I love NYC. It’s such a fun place to explore on foot and the City Pass is definitely the way to go. You get access to so many various exhibits and can save a ton of money. Glad you had a great time.

  5. Great overview and tips on how to get the most out of New York in 5 days. I bet you must have been tired of all that queuing, walking and getting around by public transport 🙂 Looks like it was definitely worth it though!

  6. This is a great itinerary! I went to body works when it was in Vegas, second the not eating before!! The New York Pass definitely sounds like it’s worth it too, I never had that when I went, unfortunately! I’d also recommend going to the World Trade Center sites if you have time.

  7. I have to say, you seem to have made the best use of your 5 days in new york. And ended up creating a great itinerary for people to be inspired from. Getting lost in the central park is definitely something i look forward to some day.

    1. I could easily spend 5 days just in the park!

  8. This is such a great guide for those who are short on time and know nothing about New York. I am inspired to visit. I think I will use the New York pass. The cost you mentioned makes it all the more appealing.

    1. If you want to hit all of the expensive ‘tourist’ attractions and aren’t afraid of packing your days then the New York pass is the way to go!

  9. Recently, I had a media accreditation for the IIFA that is happening in New York next month. I would have loved to do all the above but sadly I am not coming for it.
    I have heard so much about NYC and I really want to come some day.

    1. It’s an incredible city! I hope you have a great time and get to do a little bit of site seeing while you are there 🙂

  10. You had an amazing 5 days! Looking forward to do the same 🙂

    1. Thanks, Alice 🙂 Hope you have a great time!

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