Our first stop on our 9 month tour of the world begins in one of the most expensive places in the world, yes, we are spending 4 Days in New York City! Even though we currently have a fair bit of cash (as it’s our first week) we definitely wanted to stick to some form of budget while we’re in the USA and a 4 day New York itinerary can sometimes eat up a lot of cash!

We’ve already accepted that it will be far more expensive than some of our other destinations like South East Asia but even so we’ve tried to do things for at the very least a reasonable price where possible.

Update: We’re created a really easy to follow New York City Travel Guide for those wanting to know more about the places to eat, stay and see in New York City!

How much does it cost to travel in New York?

Travel around a big city is either going to tire you out – or drain your wallet. We opted for a mixture of both.

  • Subway (1 week pass – $32 $31 – each as of 2018)
  • Air Train (from the airport – $5 each)

The subway is by far the best way to get around New York – and you can save a bit of money if you get yourself an unlimited pass – they come in at 7 days or 30 days. Even though we were only in New York for 4 days we were doing a lot of travelling between places – we opted for the $31 pass each – rather than paying $2.75 each for every subway journey.

If you’re only spending 4 Days in New York City this probably evened out – but if you’re here for 7 days I’d say it would be thoroughly worth it.

What are the best attractions in New York?

Of course we came to NYC to check out all of it’s main attractions (or as many as we could fit into 4 days). The New York City pass was a god-send for us as it averages at around 40% discount each over the course of 6 attractions. We managed to use all 6 vouchers and a bit of queue-jumping before our 4 days was out.

We also wanted to see some sport while we were here – and being in the off-season for most sports we were left with Baseball – which was great because I actually like baseball quite a bit.

  • New York CityPass ($126 $116 each – as of 2018)
  • NY Yankee Game ($25 each through Stub-hub – cheaper elsewhere)

Where can you stay for cheap in New York City?

As with any major city – accommodation is not cheap, unless you stay a decent journey out from the centre. Well that’s what we did. Approximately 20 minutes subway from the centre of Manhattan, we stayed at a Hostel in East Williamsburg in Brooklyn for $45 per night each. There are loads of cool things to do in East Williamsburg, although it is fairly far away if you’re planning to spend a lot of time in Manhattan.

4 Days in New York City Travel Itinerary:

So we had four days in New York City to do as much as possible. Our main goal was to see everything we wanted to see, but at the same time not kill ourselves too much. This is the first destination after all! So we generally had chilled-out mornings (cracking on at 10ish) and pretty early evenings (getting back to bed pre-midnight).

Day 1

  • Day
    • Subway to Grand Central Terminal
    • View of the Chrysler Building
    • Walk to New York Public Library
    • Walk down to Empire State Building (Use City Pass)
    • Walk down to Madison Square Park and see Flatiron Building (chill)
    • Walk up to Madison Square Garden
    • Walk up to Macy’s Department Store
    • Walk up to Times Square (daytime viewing)
    • Check out the Disney Store / M&Ms world
  • Evening
    • Top of the Rock at Sunset (get those tickets early and choose the best time)
    • Walk around Times Square at night
  • Late Evening
    • Use your free 2nd Visit to Empire State Building (valid after 10pm)

Day 1 was pretty mental if I’m honest, we were jet-lagged and woke up at 4:30am and planned our day until around 9 when we took off. We were “full of beans” and did a lot of walking this day – probably too much but all of the bits inside Midtown are accessible by foot if you have the energy.

People Watching at Grand Central Terminal

A great place – and it’s Free! Simply take the subway to Gran Central Terminal and have a walk around – many iconic films have been shot here and it just feels impressive when you stand overlooking the crowds.

Grand Central Terminal

Admire the Chrysler Building

If you walk out of the south entrance of Grand Central Terminal you’ll see the Chrysler Building on your left. It’s an impressive building, famous for it’s beauty and well worth taking a snap of.

Admire the Chrysler Building

Wander around the New York Public Library

We walked right from Grand Central Terminal to get onto 5th Avenue for our approach to the Empire State Building. As we walked up from East 41st Street onto 5th Avenue we happened across the New York Public Library – we didn’t even plan to go here but we decided to pay it a visit, mainly due to remembering it from the film “The Day After Tomorrow”, where Jake Gyllenhaal gets chased by a monster tidal wave then holes up during a deep-freeze.

New York Public Library

Climb to the Top of the Empire State Building

We used our city pass for a tour of the Empire State Building in the daytime. It’s an awesome building and worth every penny. We managed to get there for around 10:30am – it was starting to get busy but it only took us around 30 minutes to reach the top. On the way back down at around 12pm it was swamped – so plan to go early if you can. Additionally with the NY CityPass you get a Free night tour – after 10pm so make sure you check this out too. If you’re planning to spend 4 Days in New York City and don’t go to the top of the Empire State Building, then you’ve done something seriously wrong!

View from the Empire State Building

Chill around Madison Square Park & Flatiron building

If you turn right outside the Empire State Building you will see the flat iron sitting on 5th Avenue. It’s about a 10-15minute walk (always deceptive these long straight lines) and you can take some pictures of this rather peculiar building. After such a long morning it was nice to spend a half-hour in Madison Square Park which is directly opposite the flatiron building.

Flat Iron Building

Take a look around Madison Square Garden & Macy’s

You can walk up Broadway right up until West 31st Street – you can then head west and appear outside Madison Square Garden – for me also famous from the movies – where Godzilla holes up and hatches many tiny Godzillas – then Leon comes and saves the day (or something like that). Just up the road from MSG is Macy’s – worth a look at it you’re into shopping or just wanted the A/C and bathroom like us!

Prepare yourself for Times Square (Daytime)

Everyone always says visit Times Square twice – once in the day and once at night. I can vouch for this – they’re two separate beasts. Our first visit was in the day and we were blown away by the big screens and enormity of it all (and about NY generally).

Times Square Daytime

Views from the Top of the Rock

You can visit the top of the rock on your CityPass – though the best tip is to get there early and secure a time. You need to use your CityPass in the ticket office which is located downstairs from the lobby (go through the main entrance – walk down the right side until you see “top of the rock” – go down the escalators opposite then turn right and right again – TOTR entrance is up on the left – ticket office is opposite.).

If you have the time available – go to TOTR at dusk/sunset. You can see Central Park while it’s still light – then stay for a bit and watch the lights turn on around the city.

Views from Top of the Rock

Times Square (evening)

If you like noise andlights – Times Square at night is your bag.

Times Square at Night

Day 2

  • Day
    • Central Park Exploring & Boating ($15 each w/ $20 security deposit – 3 hours)
    • American Museum of Natural History (use City Pass – 3 hours)
  • Evening
    • Yankees Game (Friday night vs SF Giants – careful of beer & food costs)

Day two of our 4 Days in New York City was much more chilled yet equally as hard on the feet – we focused on the Uptown area (Central Park).

Take a boat trip around Central Park

We spent an hour boating on the lake in Central park – an absolute bargain on a hot day for only $15 (with $20 security deposit). We then walked around slightly lost for another 2 hours before making our way to the museum.

Boating in Central Park

Visit the American Museum of Natural History

We used our City Pass again here – just for entry though other exhibits do cost extra when you’re there (such as the Dinosaurs Among Us exhibit). There’s so much to see it’s unreal – and is great for anyone at all interested in nature.

American Museum of Natural History

Take in a ball-game at the Yankee Stadium

We met one of Sarah’s friends, Steve, who now lives and works in New York City. We had tickets to the Yankees game on the Friday night against the San Francisco Giants. One massive tip – don’t buy anything! It costs between $8-12 for a pint of beer – if you want a can of Heineken from the stand vendor – that will cost $15. It makes sense when the cheap seats are only $15 each anyway.

Yankee Stadium

Day 3

  • Day
    • Circle Line Cruise
    • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
    • One World Trade Center / Freedom Tower
    • Beer
    • Walk past the Charging Bull and the American Museum of the American Indian
    • Take a walk down Wall Street
  • Evening
    • Brooklyn Bridge walk
    • Brooklyn Bridge Park
    • Pizza Pie & Beer

Day 3 (which is 3/4 of our 4 Days in New York City! Whaah it goes so fast!) we spent in Downtown Manhattan – starting from the cruise location then heading south.

Hop on the Circle Line Cruise

Once more our CityPass to the rescue – it was a choice of either the cruise or the Intrepid museum and we chose the cruise as we wanted to see the Statue of Liberty as well as use our other CityPass tokens for the 9/11 memorial. The circle cruise is well worth taking – what made it great for us was the commentary from the on-board guide – he was a legend.

Statue of Liberty From the Circle Line Cruise

Visit the 9/11 Memorial

Another must visit – just to see where the towers once stood is extraordinary but going down into the museum and seeing the wreckage and listening to the harrowing stories of the events as they happened is something else entirely. Again, use your CityPass for this and you can skin most of the queues. Right next to this is the new One World Trade Center – definitely worth a snap as you look up at it.

9/11 Memorial

Get cheap beer at O’Hara’s

OK, top tip – approximately 4 minutes walk from the museum heading south is the Irish bar O’Hara’s. Here you can get 2 pints of Coors Light for $6. That’s the cheapest we’ve seen during our 4 Days in New York City.

Money never sleeps in Wall Street

From the pub you can then walk south-ish towards the Charging Bull and the American Museum of the American Indian. Quite a nice place and worth a look around. Around the corner from here is wall street – where money never sleeps. It was quite sleepy when we walked through on a Saturday to be honest – but nevertheless the buildings are quite impressive.

You must visit the Brooklyn Bridge at Sunset & Brooklyn Bridge Park

After Wall Street it’s about a 30-minute walk to get onto Brooklyn Bridge – it then takes about 20 minutes (depending on how many photos you take) to make it across. The views from this bridge were breathtaking and this was probably my favourite night of the lot. The Brooklyn Bridge Park is just down from Manhattan bridge funnily enough – but also a really chilled place to visit.

If you've got 4 days in New York make sure you visit Brooklyn Bridge in the evening for a sunset picture

Day 4

  • Day
    • Metropolitan Museum of Art
    • Central Park Zoo
  • Evening
    • Walk through the High Line park

So, the last day of our 4 Days in New York City was more chilled again, we were pretty knackered by this point but wanted to make sure we visited the last museum on our City Pass and finished off with a nice stroll through High Line.

Get your culture on at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

“The Met” rather reminds me of the National Gallery crossed with the Cairo Museum crossed with the Louvre. It is huge and impressive and definitely worth a visit if you are interested in anything that is ancient or painted or sculpted. I was particularly impressed by the modern art section.

Visit the Central Park Zoo

Although small, there is plenty to do at the Central Park Zoo – and a Top Tip is to only pay for the General Admission – you save $6 and you only miss out on an “Ice Age 4D Experience”. Check out the tropical section – we did this in the height of summer and it was actually cooler that outside. But this is a “HeatDome” after all.

Central Park Zoo

Take a walk through the High Line

In the evening we walked through the High Line – a fantatic use of an old abandoned subway (overground). This is a great place to walk in the evening as it’s getting cooler and just watch nature and the city meld together in the most extraordinary way.

The High Line

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Food is sometimes the most expensive part of a city break. Food in New York city is not as expensive as you might fear (especially if you’ve been around a few European cities) but when you’re spending 4 days in New York it can sure add up. The best restaurants are obviously expensive, but if you choose to eat in small delis or famous take-away food venues you might be surprised!

  • Days 1-3
    • Breakfast at hostel
  • Day 1
    • Lunch – Deli Sandwhich near Times Square ($13 for two)
    • Dinner – Pizza and Beer at Roberta’s (5min walk from Hostel) ($14 for 2 beer, $18 for 1 pizza to share)
  • Day 2
    • Lunch – Hotdog & Pretzel in Central park from vendor ($10 for both)
    • Dinner – AG Kitchen – $52 for 2 burgers and 2 beers
  • Day 3
    • Lunch – Gotham West Market – Hells Kitchen – Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop steamed buns & Lemonade ($26)
    • O’Haras beers after 9/11 memorial – $6!!!
    • Dinner – Front Street Pizza Brooklyn – 18″ pizza & Beers $30
  • Day 4
    • Breakfast – Leftover Pizza (3 slices) at Hostel
    • Lunch – Bagels at H&H Midtown
    • Dinner – Leftover Pizza & Pot Noodle

Here’s a few pics of some of the food we have enjoyed!

We like to think we got pretty good at exploring the USA on a budget – so check out these posts on how to visit Las Vegas on a budget and how to have a budget friendly 3 days in Los Angeles!

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