How to spend 5 days in New York City

How to spend 5 days in New York City

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


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. You can read more about how to make the most of the pass here.

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.

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

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. 
  • – I LOVE 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
  • Agoda – Although I don’t use it as much as, Agonda is especially good if you are traveling in Asia as they really do dominate there. 
  • Worldpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Worldpackers 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! 
  • Book a Way – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and cars.
  • 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.

Claire Summers

Dancer, producer, traveller, photographer, cake maker, dog lover and knitter of Christmas scarfs.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Stafaine

    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. Claire Summers

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

  2. Rachelle

    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. yukti

    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. Cynthia

    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!

  5. Sonja

    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.

  6. 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.

  7. FS Page

    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.

  8. Abhinav Singh

    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. Claire Summers

      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. Manjulika Pramod

    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. Claire Summers

      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. Alice

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

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