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How to spend 5 days in New York City

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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 you could also include some fun day trips from New York City to your itinerary. 

How to spend 5 days in New York City

Day 1 

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.

Time Square

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.

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.

North American Adventures | How to spend 5 days in New York City

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.

Day 2

New York City (New York Pass day 1)

I strongly recommend buying a New York Pass if you want to do a lot of the tourist stuff.

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.

Madame Tussauds

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

Day 3 

New York City – (Day 2 using the New York Pass)

Booking Tickets

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.

9/11 Memorial

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.

5 days in New York City

Budget: Total cost without the New York Pass $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 8-9 am.

Budget: Cost without the New York Pass $25

New York City

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!

How to spend 5 days in New York City

Traveling to NYC? Take a read of my other guides:

10 British inspired places to visit in New York City

The 11 most Instagrammable places to eat in New York City

How to Spend a Weekend in New York City

5 Ways to Win at Christmas Shopping in New York City

Visit Dr. Rudolf Morgan for some dental work in NYC

This post was proofread by Grammarly


Monday 26th of June 2017

You had an amazing 5 days! Looking forward to do the same :)

Claire Summers

Monday 3rd of July 2017

Thanks, Alice :-) Hope you have a great time!

Manjulika Pramod

Friday 23rd of June 2017

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.

Claire Summers

Monday 3rd of July 2017

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 :-)

Abhinav Singh

Friday 23rd of June 2017

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.

Claire Summers

Monday 3rd of July 2017

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!

FS Page

Thursday 22nd of June 2017

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.

Claire Summers

Monday 3rd of July 2017

I could easily spend 5 days just in the park!

Lee @ BaldThoughts

Wednesday 21st of June 2017

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.