Many people decide to take a long weekend in New York. But with 5 days in New York City, you can see so much more of the city! 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 for a little inspiration to help you make the most of your time in New York City.
How to spend 5 days in New York City
To get your bearings you should walk the streets a little. This is the best way to get your bearings. It’s also a good idea to take some time to figure out the subway system.
Midtown is ‘tourist central’ so don’t be shy and get yourself to Times Square for a quick photo, then head across to 5th Avenue and then turn left and make your way uptown to Central Park.
Get lost in Central Park for a few hours, but make sure you take lunch. You will be able to buy food from the street vendors, but it’s mostly hot dogs and pretzels. So, stop at a nice deli on the way and get a good spread to take with you.
Visit The Met
When you get to the top of the park go to 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.
New York City (New York Pass day 1)
Get up early and head to 42 Street to get in the queue for The Ride. If you want evening tickets then you need to get there at 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.
Once you have your tickets then go next door intoMadam Tussauds ($26 online), it opens at 10 am.
Madison Square Garden
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.
Empire State Building
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 the Empire State in the day and Rockefeller at night).
Discovery Time Square
Then our last stop of the day was Discovery Time Square. They have different exhibitions 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
New York City – (Day 2 using the New York 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 traveling 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.
Lunch and The Ride
After some lunch we took our trip on The Ride at 2:15 ($75) it’s a 90 min tour, cheesy but fun.
Next head 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.
Top of the Rock
Now it’s time to head back uptown to take a look at the night sky view from the Top of The Rock.
You could do Top of The Rock on day 1 as you would have time and I would recommend this.
Budget: Total cost without the New York Pass $131
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
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Get there early between 8-9 am.
Budget: Cost without the New York Pass $25
My budget for 5 days in New York City
The 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!
Traveling to NYC? Take a read of my other guides:
This post was proofread by Grammarly
Book your trip now
Are you ready to book your trip? To help you get the best deals and service here are the companies that I personally use to book all of my travel online. I always shop around before booking anything, but these are my tried and tested starting places.
- Skyscanner – I’m a bit fan of Skyscanner, it is who I use to book all of my flights. I often will check other like Google Flights or Momodo, but I always go here first and it is who I book 99% of my flights with.
- Booking.com – I LOVE booking.com especially when I can book and cancel free up until a certain point, mostly because my plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections.
- Airbnb – I’m not a huge user of Airbnb, but sometimes I do like to use it, and I ALWAYS check it before I book anything else. You can get some really cool places to stay here, and it is especially good in places like Cuba. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
- Hostelworld – If you are looking for hostels then this is a great place to check first. They often have additional places that you won’t find on Bookin.com.
- Agoda – Although I don’t use it as much as booking.com, Agonda is especially good if you are traveling in Asia as they really do dominate there.
- Workpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Workpackers in your life. You can read more about it here. If you click this link to sign up and use the code CLAIRESITCHYFEET then you can get a 40% discount on your membership!
- 12Go – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then 12Go is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and air travel.
- RentalCars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals.
- Welcome Pickups – Very occasionally getting from the airport to my accommodation is a total pain in the butt, or I’m traveling in a group and it makes sense to arrange a pickup. When I do I use Welcome pickups.
- World Nomads – If you are looking for flexible travel insurance then it’s World Nomads all the way. I wrote all about insurance here if you want a more thorough review.
- SafetyWing – AsI’m a Digital Nomad and not moving around quite so much anymore I personally use SafetyWing now for my health insurance. I wrote a full review here.
- Viatour – Sometimes it can be a little expensive, but I like Viatour for somethings, especially if you can get a discount code! It’s also great for inspiration.
- Klook – If you are traveling in Asia, then Klook is great! You can book all kinds of tours, activities, and train tickets, plus they even have sim cards and WiFi.