New York - Brooklyn Bridge
How many days in New York City

Globetrotters

4+ days

Vacationers

5-6+ days

Culture buffs

7+ days

When it comes to NYC, where does one start? I think the best and most accurate answer to how long one should stay in New York is “however long you can afford”. It’s so true. It’s impossible to take in everything that this city has to offer in a single trip, let alone such a short amount of time. Travellers are always saying you could go many times and still have so much left to explore. So, let’s just say here are the essential things that as a first time visitor, you should experience at the bare minimum!

Globetrotters

DAY 1 – Midtown

Morning Midtown sights
Afternoon Rockefeller Center
Evening Times Square & Broadway
Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal

A logical place to start exploring this mammoth city is to get an overview from a great height. Either the classic view from the Empire State Building for views over Midtown & to the Financial District, or from the Top of the Rock Observation Centre in the Rockefeller Center, for the best views of the Empire State Building and Central Park. Lines for these attractions will undoubtedly be quite long.

Head over to 42nd street for the trio of well known sights: Grand Central Terminal, New York Public Library (check out the reading room) and the Chrysler Building (you can’t get any further than the lobby though). Heading further north, get your first glance at Times Square. If you’d like to see a Broadway musical stand in line early for the TKTS discount booth for heavily discounted last minute tickets. Spend the afternoon around the Rockefeller Center, passing by St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Radio City Music Hall, NBC Studios, the ice rink in winter, etc.

In the early evening check out the incredible shops around the Rockefeller Center and Times Square, including the Toys ‘R’ Us 60-foot indoor ferris wheel. You can’t miss M&M’s World or the Hershey’s store. See the Broadway musical you bought tickets for earlier in the day.

DAY 2 – Lower Manhattan

Morning Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island
Afternoon Financial district
Evening Brooklyn Bridge
Wall St - Financial District

Wall St – Financial District

There’s a number of different ways to see the Statue of Liberty. You can either join an organised tour or get a ferry package that will take you to Liberty & Ellis Islands, or to just see the statue from a distance, the free 25min ride on the Staten Island Ferry is very popular (get on from South Ferry Terminal near Battery Park). You can then opt to spend some time in Staten Island or simply get the next ferry back to Manhattan.

Spend the remainder of your day in Lower Manhattan, the only part of the city which doesn’t follow the numbered street system. After checking out Battery Park, the iconic bull statue indicates you’re entering the Financial District. Wander down the infamous Wall St to see the New York Stock Exchange, Federal Hall & Trinity Church. Then head a few blocks north to the 9/11 Memorial site, its Museum and the new World Trade Center. Continue heading a little North to the New York City Hall.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Late in the day is one of the best times to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Not only is the bridge itself a picturesque and architectural work of art, but you’ll also get great views over the Manhattan skyline. You could either opt to spend the remainder of your evening in Brooklyn, or back in Manhattan in the nearby Chinatown or Little Italy neighbourhoods. Take your pick.

 

DAY 3 – Central Park

Morning Museum Mile
Afternoon Central Park
Evening 5th Avenue
Gapstow Bridge in Central Park

Gapstow Bridge in Central Park

I’d recommended saving your ‘Central Park’ day for when you know the weather is going to be good, or you could just spend longer in the museums if it’s too cold out. Head to the Upper East Side for Museum Mile, which gets its name from the several museums all located in the area. However the most popular one which the majority of tourists head to is the Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka. The ‘Met’). Spend as long or as little time here that takes your interest, but it is certainly large enough to spend an entire day. Another nearby museum worth taking a look at if modern art takes your interest is the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. It’s worth walking into the lobby just to admire the jaw dropping atrium.

Directly across from these museums you will enter Central Park. Consider renting a bike if you’d like to get around the park a lot, as it is larger than you can even imagine. There are some sights located within the park worth checking out, such as the Belvedere Castle, Bethesda Terrace & Fountain, Bow Bridge and the Strawberry Fields memorial to John Lennon. Take your time to relax in the park and the enjoy the peace it offers after a few busy days in the city.

After hopefully taking in some sunshine, exit the park at the south west corner to see the Columbus Circle roundabout and make your way toward 5th Avenue. For just an introductory taste of this fashionable and upmarket avenue, duck into the extravagant Plaza Hotel and F.A.O Schwarz (travellers with kids can wave goodbye to the remainder of their day now! Although it’s good fun for all ages really). Continue heading down 5th Avenue, checking out the shops into the evening.


DAY 4 – Neighbourhoods

Morning Wander
Afternoon Greenwich Village & SoHo
Evening East Village

On Day 4 start exploring some of the other faces of Manhattan which can be found in the southern neighbourhoods. If you’re starting your day at Penn Station, wander into the foyer of Madison Square Garden – note, this is not the same as ‘Madison Square Park’. Wander through Chelsea to reach the Flatiron District. This area gets its name from the Flatiron Building, a truly unique building which almost looks 2-dimensional when viewed at certain angles.

Either walk or hop on the metro to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Spend some time in the shops and cafe’s of ‘The Village’ and simply wander around, taking in the atmosphere of this neighbourhood. If you keep heading south you’ll reach funky SoHo which is great for shopping. If you’ve heard of the iconic Katz’s Delicatessen, it’s not far away in East Village. Spend the remainder of your evening in East Village, a neighbourhood known for great nightlife.

Note: If you’re a keen Yankees, Nicks or Giants fan, it’s worth checking out if either of these teams are playing whilst you’re in town and spend one evening at a game.

Vacationers

Cover the same ground as the Globetrotters on Days 1-4, however at a slightly slower pace with more time to go into the attractions and time for shopping along the way, such as…

On Day 1 you might want to consider doing the NBC Studio Tour when at the Rockefeller Center, or heading to the nearby Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Their gift store is worth a visit in itself.

On Day 2, you may want to get the Staten Island ferry and spend some time exploring Staten Island, meaning you will have to leave the financial district for another day.

On Day 3, you could spend longer on Museum Mile or go to the Central Park Zoo.

Follow the remainder of the Globetrotters itinerary but allow an extra 1-2 days at least to cover each area in a bit more detail, and with some more time in between to rest from all of the walking.

If you’d like to check out some of the great NYC shopping, you might want to consider dedicating a few hours for Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Barney’s, plus more time in Times Square and along 5th Avenue. Consider going on a Hudson river cruise too. There will be no shortage of things for you to do in 6 days, that’s for sure!

Culture buffs

Cover the same ground as the Globetrotters on Days 1-4, however space it out over a week approx.

On Day 1, if you want to dedicate a good amount of time to the MoMA you might want to space the Midtown attractions out over two days.

On Day 2, a Culture Buff would not want to miss Ellis Island so don’t go on the Staten Island Ferry.

On Day 3, it’s possible that you may want to dedicate the majority of your day to the MET, and/or the other museum’s along Museum Mile, if not the American Museum of Natural History on the other side of the park. If so, save your visit to Central Park until Day 5 (or the next sunny day).

On Day 4, take some time to seek out the many small art galleries in Chelsea.

Days 6-7

Here are just a few other popular attractions that may take your interest:
- United Nations HQ
- International Center of Photography
- Lower East Side Tenement Museum
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
- Madison Square Garden
- Apollo Theater
- Will one Broadway musical be enough? Return to the TKTS booth in Times Square

Days mapped out

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Ever wondered how long you need to spend in a particular city or place? You can spend hours crawling the web trying to find a well informed answer.

This site aims to answer the question of how long most travelers would need to spend in a particular city or place in a minimum number of days. The idea is to promote discussion on the topic, to help you and other travelers plan for their next adventure.

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