New York is one of the iconic cities to explore, it is a buzzing metropolis scenic avenues, iconic skyscrapers and boasts an unrivalled food scene. Really, what’s not to love?
With that being said, the ‘big apple’ is a complex geographic area with five distinct boroughs to adventure through and could take a lifetime to fully explore everything this city has to offer. That makes it difficult to know where to begin, hence this carefully curated post; here is your ultimate city guide to help!
When to visit New York City
There isn’t a bad time to visit NYC as each season offers an abundance of events and festivities. Whether it be skating around the ice rink in Central Park and gazing upon the brightly lit Rockefeller tree at Christmas or ticking off some world famous sites from your bucket and capturing some amazing shots from the Empire State Building in summer. There’s something for every age to fall in love with. If you’re travelling on a budget, then I’d suggest opting for flights from mid January through February.
Boroughs of New York City
Manhattan: The smallest of the boroughs yet the most compact and populous, Manhattan is the famous cultural heart of New York we all see in the movies. It is home to the iconic skyline, Broadway, Central Park and Times Square (just to name a few). This is the most visited area of the city and where it’s best to spend most of your time.
Brooklyn: Located east of Manhattan on Long Island this borough is known for its terraced housing, pizza and art scene. Due to its scenic high line and unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline, it often acts as an ideal location for those wanting to appreciate the heart of New York without as much hustle and bustle in addition to watching sunset over the Statue of Liberty.
Queens: Also located on Long Island, Queens is the second most populous borough of NYC. This borough is predominantly residential in addition to playing host to the islanders hockey team and the JFK airport.
The Bronx: Located to the north of Manhattan, the Bronx is on mainland USA unlike the rest of NYC. The borough plays home to the Yankees baseball team, New York zoo and world famous botanical gardens. This neighbourhood is perfect to enjoy in the warmer months and to escape the concrete jungle that is Manhattan. The Bronx has a large hispanic population which brings a brilliantly diverse selection of authentic latin cuisine to indulge in once you have had your share of $1 Manhattan pizza.
Staten Island: As the name suggests, Staten island is adrift south of Manhattan and is connected by a free public commuter ferry which runs 24 hours of the day directly to and from Manhattan. You will find Staten Island zoo, an artsy cultural centre and varied architecture.
Getting around New York City
New York City boasts so many different neighbourhoods that are all begging to be explored. There are various modes of transport to allow you to explore across all boroughs of the City, or even into suburban New York State!
Subway: The subway runs 24 hours of the day reliable and very affordable to use, each journey will cost you the same amount regardless of distance travelled. It’s also a great way to avoid the chaotic traffic on the street which can be overwhelming at certain times. I’d definitely recommend downloading the subway app for tickets, routes and journey information.
Walking: Thankfully a lot of world famous tourist destinations are relatively close together and within walkable distance if you’re willing to rack up a few kms per day. Although you will still be walking a lot, you can take in the cities’ atmosphere and stumble upon unexpected gems in-between pit stops.
Uber/ Taxi: Just like in the movies you can hail down a yellow cab or order an Uber. This is handy if you are carrying luggage or just simply not up to walking around the city. Whilst the yellow taxis are iconic, I recommend ordering an Uber as the cost is more affordable and they offer better quality service; there is no such thing as ‘the knowledge’ like you will find in London.
Where to eat and drink
NYC offers the most diverse melting pot of cuisines you will ever find that come from all corners of the globe; this makes it a foodies paradise! From Italian-American pizza to Mexican-Indian fusion tacos, there’s so much to choose from which makes it hard to recommend exactly where to go. Here are some of my favourite places to eat whilst I journeyed in New York City!
99 cent fresh pizza
New York is one of the pizza capitals of the world and one of the most iconic places is 99 cent pizza where you can pick up a slice for just that or multiple slices of gigantic slices of pizza and a can of soda for a small price.
Located throughout the city, street vendors provide fast foods such as gyros, tacos, giant pretzels and not least the humble NYC hot dog. It’s best to look around each stall to see what they offer as everyone offers different foods with varying prices.
This destination puts a spin on traditional Indian food with a dramatic twist; they serve tacos by baking fresh naan tacos in a tandoor. The latin-Indian fusion truly works for meat lovers and veggies alike – definitely one that all people need to try!
Los Tacos No.1
There are an abundance of taco places to choose from but if you’re looking for a truly authentic experience of what a Mexican taco should be, then this place is the best pick.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The famous Tiffany blue coloured cafe is where you can channel your inner Audrey Hepburn at the newly renovated blue box cafe.
NYC unfortunately doesn’t obviously offer as many vegetarian / vegan options as other cities or towns. Luckily, Avant garden is an all vegan restaurant which provides a cosy yet sophisticated atmosphere to soak up whilst enjoying a creatively presented animal friendly meal.
Where to stay
Pod 51 hotel – Budget & hostel
Located in midtown Manhattan, this affordable yet charming accommodation is the best budget place to stay in. The accommodation has its own rooftop and cafe, making it a truly pleasant hideout for those travelling through NYC on a budget or backpackers alike.
Moxy NYC Times Square – Mid range
Located in downtown Manhattan, this accommodation is ideally situated being just a few minutes walk from time square. The contemporary hotel gives an industrial feel and offers room options from budget to mid range. It is also completed with its own bar and intimate sitting area for you to rest in after spending the day sightseeing.
Love suite & Spa – Mid range
This accommodation is located in Queens near the JFK airport and therefore convenient for a quick stop over to avoid chaotic traffic or if you’re wanting to escape the hustle and bustle that Manhattan and Brooklyn bring. The air B&B is modern and even has it’s own hot tub and outdoor sitting area – making it a luxurious accommodation option within a mid range budget.
The plaza New York – Luxury
If you’re looking to splurge and indulge yourself with luxury fit for a king, then you cannot beat this accommodation. In fact, kings and presidents alike have made residence in this regal plaza hotel. The plaza has also starred in Hollywood films such as the great Gatsby, Home Alone, Bride Wars and Sleepless in Seattle; need I say more?
Home rental – Luxury
Located in Central Manhattan, this air BNB apartment has sweeping views of neighbourhoods such as Hell’s Kitchen, Times Square and Bryant park. The spacious and contemporary accommodation is perfect for enjoying a luxurious weekend away with everything at your doorstep to explore.
I’m an Australian blogger based in Central West NSW who has spent the last few years exploring the four corners of the globe, living as an expat and falling in love with the world just a little bit more everyday. Here you can find my tips, guides and experiences to help inspire you for your next trip!
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