Welcome to our NYC Trip Planner. Located on the central Atlantic coast of the USA, New York is one of the world's major financial and cultural centres. It is divided into five boroughs, each one a city in its own rite. In the center of them Manhattan shows off its skyscrapers, including the iconic Empire State Building, which, for decades was the world's tallest building. Surrounding Manhattan are the Bronx to the north, Queens to the east, Brooklyn and Staten Island to the south. Many world class museums, galleries and theatres exhibit their collections and talents in this exciting city, which continues to be one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
When you travel to New York, save some of your hard earned cash by exploring the city's many parks, museums, landmarks, and other tourist attractions using public transit. Whether you're visiting the 'big apple' for just one day or several weeks, you've come to the right place to discover all kinds of fun things to see and do in NYC. You'll find recommendations for dining, shopping and hotels — everything you need for planning your visit to the 'Big Apple'.
All of the attractions in our New York City Trip Planner are easy to get to on transit. Most are just a short walk from a subway station. You'll get a detailed overview of each attraction complete with reviews, photos, video, map, directions and, on mobile, a quick link to real time transit and walking directions, making it easy to plan a route for your own self-guided tours of the city.
If you prefer the extra convenience of guided tours, you'll find a huge selection of guided NYC sightseeing tours — another great way to see the city.
The following NYC tourist attractions are grouped into categories to help you find those that interest you the most.
Our TOP TIPS and lots of FREE things to do in New York City
Below you'll find our very best tips for planning your trip to New York City — Tips on getting around, dining, things to do, hidden gems and free alternatives to some of the more expensive activities.
A 7 Day Unlimited Pass is inexpensive and probably your best option even if you are only visiting for 4-6 days. If your stay is shorter than that you may be better off purchasing individual fares.
Kids under 44 inches tall ride free, so keep em short!
Do not be afraid to use the NYC Subway. It is the quickest and least expensive way to get around and locals are quite willing to answer questions, often more so than MTA employees.
One caveat when riding the subway is try to avoid the morning (8am to 10am) and evening (5pm to 7pm) rush on weekdays. This will result in a more comfortable trip.
Manhattan is easy to navigate with its grid-like system of streets and avenues. Avenues run north/south and are numbered with the East or West suffix as appropriate. Streets cross the island from west to east and from Greenwich Village and East Village their numbers get higher as you go north. In Lower Manhattan the streets are named.
Plan your itinerary to explore the sights and attractions in one district before moving on to another. Many attractions are within easy walking distance from each another which can save you the time spent entering and exiting subway stations and waiting for trains.
Wear comfortable walking shoes. You'll be glad you did.
New York City is very safe, but begging and panhandling has become somewhat of a profession as it has in many large cities. Best advice is to ignore it and keep moving even when they are aggressive. Be mindful of pickpockets and don't wear flashy or expensive jewellery when riding the subway.
When you are out exploring the city, be considerate of those around you. Move to the side when taking in the sights or studying a map so you don't obstruct the locals, who are usually in a hurry to get somewhere. If you are walking in a group, leave room on the sidewalk for others to pass.
Eating out is not cheap in NYC. Count on paying upwards of $15 for lunch and $25-30 for dinner. Restaurants located in and around any places frequented by tourists tend to be the most expensive, so try to get off the beaten path when you're ready to eat. Another tip is to have your biggest meal of the day at lunchtime when many restaurants have a lunch special on. You can sometimes get the same meal as they serve at dinner for much less.
You can use our dining guide to find good restaurants that are within walking distance of most Manhattan subway stations.
If you are dining with young children you can save money by asking for an extra table setting and sharing your meal with them (portions in New York are usually generous).
You should tip servers 20% to 25% if the service was good. Their hourly wage is low and they rely heavily on tips for their income.
Take advantage of the many free things to do in the city some of which are listed below.
Visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for free on Tuesdays and between 10am and noon on most Saturdays.
During the winter months you can enjoy outdoor ice skating in the beautiful setting of Central Park. It's not free, however, the fee reasonable — less than half the rate for skating in the famous outdoor rink at Rockefeller Centre.
During the summer there are many free events put on by NYC Parks including free outdoor movie nights.
You can go kayaking for free including the equipment from 2 locations along Hudson River Park — Pier 40 at Houston St. and Pier 96 at West 56th St. This activity is available from May until October.
A walk along the HIgh Line is another fun way to explore the city. A victim of its own success, it is a very busy park so try to go fairly early in the morning to avoid the throngs of people.
A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge should be high on every visitor's bucket-list. If you only want to walk it in one direction, take the subway across to Brooklyn and walk back to Manhattan. That way you don't have to keep craning your neck around to see the views of the New York skyline.
Visit the famous Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk and enjoy a famous Nathans hotdog.
For a free (if you have a transit pass) sightseeing tour by city bus, ride the M4 bus north from the Empire State Building. It will take you past many beautiful buildings and neighbourhoods, Museum Mile, Broadway and finally up to the the Met and the Cloisters and Fort Tryon Park.
See a live Broadway theatre performance for a substantial discount (up to 50%) by purchasing a same-day ticket from the TKTS booth in Times Square. If you are visiting at Christmas you can get discounted tickets from the same booth for the Rockette's Christmas Spectacular at the famous Radio City Music Hall.
If you are visiting NYC for 3 or more days and plan to visit a lot of the top attractions, get a New York Pass. It gives you free admission to 80 tours and attractions. The list includes all of the 'big name' attractions and numerous guided tours. Obviously you would not have time for anywhere near all 80, but it's still great to have that many to choose from. By purchasing the 3 day pass you can save money visiting just 2 attractions per day especially if they are the higher priced ones. If you are staying longer, and purchase the 5, 7 or 10 day pass, your savings will be even more significant because you will have more time to visit more attractions relative to the cost of the pass which doesn't increase that much more for each additional day. One of the biggest advantages to the New York Pass is that you don't have to worry about lining up to buy tickets and you'll get faster entry into many attractions. That is a huge benefit. The only reason we don't recommend the 1 or 2 day pass is because you would have to cram too many things into each day to really save money and enjoy your visit. For the best value don't pay the extra for the hop-on hop-off bus. The subway and walking are all you need to get around.
Reserve your accommodations in New York City way in advance. You'll get a better deal and have plenty of time to do your research. When you get closer to your arrival date, the best hotels and deals are already booked and the remaining hotels start raising their prices! Last minute deals are not always all they are cracked up to be because the best places are usually booked already, especially in a city as popular as New York.
Do check out the many other things to see and do in NYC on our site. There is just so much to see in this amazing city.
TOP NYC ATTRACTIONS
Central Park A great place to begin your sightseeing in NYC is a visit to Central Park - a pastoral refuge from the chaos and noise of the city. Recognised as a National Historic Landmark in 1963, Central Park is the most ..... read more
Staten Island Ferry Want to enjoy a free NYC sightseeing tour? The free ride on the Staten Island Ferry is a favourite with visitors to New York City, as it provides excellent views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. ..... read more
Empire State Building Completed in 1930, the Empire State Building is a world-famous Big Apple icon and is a must-see on any visitor's itinerary. Standing 1,250 feet tall, the 102-story Art Deco skyscraper is ..... read more
American Museum of Natural History Beyond the dioramas and the blue whale looming over the Hall of Ocean Life, visitors to the American Museum of Natural History can experience interactive exhibits including a life-sized interactive ecosystem that engulfs you in the sights ..... read more