25 Top Tips for visiting New York City

I’ve put together a list of tips that will be helpful for anyone visiting New York City . Any trip to NYC will be a blast I’m sure but I think knowing a few of these in advance would have helped us! Exploring a new city is one of my favourite things to do, and my recent travels to NYC were no exception, I fell in love with the place! I think it’s probably the holiday I have researched the most in terms of what to do and how to get around – partly because it’s a pretty big city compared to many and also because I wanted to make the most of our four days and nights there! I hope these tips help others too!

tips for visiting new york city

  1. Most hotels in the city will charge city hotel tax – ours was included in our rate as we booked with BA holidays. We also had a refundable security deposit of around $50 a night, it was returned to my card the same day we left.
  2. Smoke really does rise from the vents in the road because Manhattan is heated by steam. As well as these vents there are often large metal grills set into the pavement and if it’s not too noisy you can hear the subway trains hurtling down the tracks beneath the pavements!staten island ferry
  3. Pavements are a bit wonky in places and curbs can be quite high, we saw a few buggies struggling – if you’re taking a baby maybe a carrier is an easier option! When it rained deep puddles formed, and fast!
  4. Traffic enforcers really do stand in the middle of junctions directing traffic during busy periods, despite there being traffic lights suspended above every junction!
  5. Traffic can turn right on a red, which can be disconcerting when you’re crossing at a crossing (which are on every corner and generally don’t have a button, they’re in sync with the traffic lights)
  6. Jaywalking (crossing the road in the middle rather than at a designated crossing) IS illegal in the US – we asked a cop. He said you’re more likely to get hit by a cab than be arrested for it though!
  7. Cops are generally helpful and happy to answer random questions about directions/great restaurants and to pose for photos, especially around Times Square.
  8. The toilets bowls are longer than ours and public restroom cubicle partitions are lower at the top, higher at the bottom and most doors have a small gap so if someone wanted to they could peer through. There aren’t many public loos around, so if you’re grabbing a drink somewhere use the loo as you might not see another one for a while, hotels are a good option too.tips for visiting nyc
  9. It’s really easy to find your way around Manhattan as the streets are in a grid, streets go from side to side and avenues are vertical, with 5th avenue splitting the east and west sides. If you’re in a cab you let them know the junction, so 54th and 7th for example.
  10. Walking takes longer than you /google maps thinks. We found we had to add about a 1/3 extra time on top to allow for being caught at every pedestrian crossing, and the sheer amount of people that you have to get past, especially if your route is along a major tourist route like Broadway, Times Square or around the lower entrances to Central Park.
  11. The subway is pretty easy to navigate when you are visiting New York City, and cheap too if you get a weekly MTA ticket for $33 which can be used on buses as well as subways. There are however underground trains on the PATH line and you can’t use your subway ticket on them! Also some trains are ‘express’ so don’t stop at every stop on their line, so make sure you check that before you get on. view form one world observatory
  12. Tipping is expected for cab drivers, restaurants, hotel concierge and room attendants, we generally tipped around 15% unless service was exceptional – much like here in the UK.
  13. Talking of cabs, there is a flat fee (currently $65) for a yellow cab from JFK airport to anywhere on Manhattan, and vice versa. We shared a cab to the city with someone we got talking to on the plane so shared the cost and it was a great journey in to the city as you see the skyscrapers gradually getting bigger! We got the subway to Jamaica station on the way back, then got the Air Train from there to our airport terminal.
  14. DON’T give your subway pass away when you get off the subway before the airtrain. There will be lots of people around asking for them (We handed ours over thinking ‘oh good, someone else can get 4 more days out of it’). You need it to put your airtrain fare on, or you need to buy another card for a $1 – not much but when you have no change left because you spent it all a nice favour (to someone who was probably going to sell it on anyway) was an annoyance!statue of liberty
  15. If someone approaches you on the street to buy a cd (and probably other things too, I’ve read about bottles of water in the summer) just walk on and don’t reply. I managed this fine but Sam is way too nice to ignore people! Thankfully I had pre warned him and he didn’t buy anything , but as he stopped to reply two other guys soon had him surrounded whilst the main guy was chatting to him, hovering close by. Who know if they would have picked his pockets but apparently even if you do buy their CD it’ll be blank!
  16. You can pick up a slice of famous New York City pizza for 99c – and it’ll taste good and be a decent size too! There are Dollar Pizza stores dotted about the place, perfect for the peckish!view of empire state building at sunset
  17. It seems quite common for New York City hotels to have a fridge and microwave in the room – this is great for storing drinks and fresh milk for tea, and reheating leftovers – portions are BIG! We stayed in a Hilton Garden Inn, but the other hotels I looked at before we booked also had these facilities in the room.
  18. Buying one of the multi-use attraction tickets might not work out cheaper – so do the maths before you get sucked into a ‘deal’. We didn’t plan on doing any big museums, bus or walking tours so for us it worked out cheaper to book things individually thanks to Group On, where we got One World Observatory, Intrepid Air Space Museum & Museum Of History of NYC tickets at around 30% off each. We only paid full price for our Top of the Rock tickets. times square at night
  19. Times Square is hectic, busy and not that pleasant really, although it is something everyone should do once (and probably only once in my opinion) when visiting New York City! Worth visiting to look around and be blinded by the lights but other than the chance to pay too much money to take a photo with someone dressed up as a character or to buy cheap theatre tickets there isn’t much there to do!
  20. Get off Manhattan! We explored bits of Brooklyn (no where near enough of it!) , as well as Harlem and took a very brief trip to Roosevelt Island too.
  21. You can get a FREE ferry past the Statue of Liberty, should you feel so inclined – the Staten Island Ferry runs 24 hours a day, every half hour from next to Battery Park to Staten Island, going past Lady Liberty, who really isn’t that big! We didn’t bother but were told to avoid paying for boat trips – unless you want to actually see her in person or head up to the crown, then taking one of these tour boats is your only option.bubbles in central park
  22. People watching in New York City is great fun. We saw and heard all sorts, especially on subway trains and in parks – including someone practising a trombone before he headed off to work and someone dressed entirely in cardboard boxes.
  23. Before you go save the places you want to visit (including cafes, cake shops and so on!) to google maps in their own list, then save download your map in google maps on your phone to use offline – this way if you don’t want to use expensive overseas data you can still get around.
  24. However saying that there are display screens boards on many city centre streets that let you connect to the city free wifi, as well as letting you know of any public transport delays, displaying fun NYC facts, artwork and more. Plus restaurants and large shops (stores!) all have their own wifi that you can often connect to just stood outside should you need to – I managed all week without using data.
  25. To avoid being charged extra per transaction when you use your bank card abroad when visiting New York City then a pre-paid card or travel specific account like Revolut is a great option. I used a revolut card multiple times a day and there is no currency exchange fee like there would be if I used my HSBC card for transactions. I could also keep track off all the spending on the app, and cancel the card immediately if I were to lose it . You can also withdraw cash up to a certain amount without the currency exchange fee. If you want a FREE card you can use this link (I don’t get anything from it) Free revolut card.

travel tips you need to know before you visit New York City

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