New York is the apogee of the American dream. It’s the city of ‘Friends’, ‘Sex in the city’ and the second part of ‘Home alone’. New York captivates everyone with its tempo, people, and incredible diversity. Anyone can find a place for themselves here. Everything is possible in this city, and every day of your trip reminds you of a scene from your favourite film. We have collected some useful tips and have created a big guide to the Big Apple. Save the most interesting points and grab your plane tickets. An unforgettable adventure awaits you!
City districts: New York has five districts: Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Bronx, and Manhattan. Queens is the largest district in terms of area. It’s located on Long Island. Brooklyn is the most densely populated district of New York, situated in the western part of Long Island. The architecture here is quirky, there are interesting museums, and it’s very multicultural. In the south part of the district, there are beaches, where New Yorkers flock on hot days, and the famous attraction park Coney Island. Manhattan is the central district of New York. Manhattan is full of popular skyscrapers – the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building and the tallest building in New York, the World Trade Center. This is precisely the place where taxis can be heard around the clock and where all the action is. In addition, you can also find world-renowned museums in Manhattan, as well as Central Park. For the record, New York used to consist solely of Manhattan. The Bronx district is famous for its zoo, the picturesque botanical garden Wave Hill and the Yankee Stadium. Not so long ago the Bronx was known for its criminal activity but now everything has changed, and it’s a typical bedroom community. Staten Island is the remotest and calmest New York district. It’s located on an island on the Hudson River. There are no skyscrapers here, only small two-storey houses. It’s easy to get from the island to Brooklyn by bus, but most people prefer the free ferry. That way you get to enjoy the wonderful view of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
Airport transfer: the cheapest way to get from the JFK airport to the Jamaica station (in the Queens district) is to take the AirTrain. The trip takes about 20-30 minutes and will cost 7.75$. You can get anywhere in the city from the Jamaica station. Tickets can be bought at the ticket vending machine near the station. The NYC Airport Express shuttle goes straight to the city centre (in Manhattan). The trip costs 19$. A shuttle takes you directly from the La Guardia Airport to the city centres. Tickets are available here.
Public transport: one card, the MetroCard, can be used for all the public transport in New York. You can use it to take the underground, buses, ferries or the cable car. A one-way ticket costs 2.70$. The card itself costs 1$ and can be topped up. The MetroCard for unlimited travel for a week costs 31$. We suggest downloading the apps Transit, Citymapper or Mapway New York Subway Map. It’ll make it far easier to plan your route and check the schedule.
You have to tip everywhere in New York. Get used to the idea that tips are usually included in the bill in many restaurants. New Yorkers usually leave a 20% tip.
Useful applications: Transit – schedules and transport maps available online. Uber or Lyft – apps for calling a taxi. The prices are lower than in the yellow cabs in Manhattan. Time Out New York – an entertainment, event and sightseeing guide to New York. NYTimes The Scoop NYC – a guide to the city from the editors of The New York Times. In the app you’ll find a list of restaurants, bars, cafés, museums, exhibitions, shows, day trips and more.
What to do in New York
Spend the day in museums
The museum queues are long, so buy your tickets online in advance. By the way, the Museum Mile Festival takes place every Tuesday in June, which is when Fifth Avenue is closed and there is free entrance to all museums! We have tried to pick the most unique ones for you from a wide array of interesting locations.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) – the most visited museum in the city and the fourth most popular art museum in the world. In the Met you’ll find paintings by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Picasso, Auguste Renoir, and many other famous painters. Additionally, the local collection of Egyptian art is considered to be the most comprehensive in the entire world. The recommended ticket price for an adult is 25$, and 12$ for a student. By ‘recommended’ we mean that you pay as much as you wish. One ticket can be used for three days, and it is likewise valid for the Met Breuer section with art from the XX and XXI centuries and the Met Cloisters section of medieval art. The latter is located in the building that is stylised as a medieval abbey with an outdoor patio where you can have a coffee. Tickets can be bought here.
The American Museum of Natural History has dinosaur skeletons in 45 different halls, alone with the scenes of everyday life of ancient tribes. Also, after the film ‘Night at the Museum’ was released, there is now the possibility to pay it a visit at night for 150$. The adult day ticket costs 23$, 18$ for a student (the exhibitions can be visited at an additional fee).
The MOMA museum of modern art –one of the first and most famous museums of modern art in the world. There are five floors, each one focusing on a separate exhibition and collection. The works of Dalí, Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, Rousseau, and other painters are kept here. You can find a useful audioguide "If you only have an hour" on the official website of the museum. It will introduce you to the major masterpieces of the MOMA. The museum of modern art also hosts world-class cultural events, the schedule can be found here. The adult ticket costs 25$, students pay 14$. Entrance is free of charge every Friday from 16:00 till 20:00.
9/11 Memorial and Museum – the memorial of the tragedy of the 11th of September can be found at the exact location, where the legendary twin towers stood 19 years ago. Tickets for the memorial or the museum can be purchased here.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum – another popular museum that was created by the American patron and collector Solomon Guggenheim. The futuristic building of the museum is located in the very centre of Manhattan, on Fifth Avenue, and there is a special conception: visitors have to go up to the top floor by lift and then descend in a spiral whilst perusing the exhibits. Here you'll find the largest collection of the works of Kandinsky. An adult ticket costs 25$, a student one costs 18$. On Saturday from 17:00, you can pay as you will.
Whitney Museum of American Art – a modern art museum of American artists. The works of Andy Warhol and Keith Haring can be found here. Drop by if you want to get a better understanding of the US and Americans.
Explore the parks
New Yorkers get tired of skyscrapers and the dynamic city, so they often walk around parks with a cup of coffee. If you want to feel like a local, we suggest popping by…
The legendary Central Park
It’s so immense that it has a zoo, a strawberry field in the memory of John Lennon, hidden waterfalls, fountains, a large pond with ducks that can be traversed by boat, a cute café and much, much more. In the summer there are open-air concerts and an ice-skating rink in the wintertime. Download the Central Park App to get your bearings and visit some of the most interesting places.
High Line Park
This is a unique park in Manhattan that is located at an old railway overpass ten metres above the ground. Walk along the railways that have been planted with bushes, trees, flowers, and moss. Enjoy a wonderful view of Manhattan and East River.
It’s located close to Times Square and the theatre district. Everyone ice-skates here in the winter and goes to the cinema or attends an open-air concert in the summer. Students often relax in the park in the spring. Tables and chairs are placed around the entire territory, so it’s perfectly suitable for a New York lunch.
This is a new park in the hipster neighbourhood of Brooklyn called Williamsburg, picturesquely located along the East River.
Dine well and grab a coffee
Multicultural New York is famous for its vast array of restaurants that specialise in international cuisine. Besides, the coffee culture in the city is quite special. You should definitely try the American pancakes and bagels to go with your drink. Don’t be afraid to grab a bite to eat in the small cafés in Chinatown or in other districts. Give the hot dogs, burgers, pizza and sweet potato dishes a try. You’ll find a list of locations that we recommend below.
New York probably has just about any brand shops you can imagine. There are the trendy boutiques on Fifth Avenue (pop down to Tiffany&Co, which is where scenes from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ were filmed), and Macy’s, the most famous department store in the world, as well as flea markets, designer brands… Speaking of luxury shops, there are outlets in Manhattan where Americans like to buy their designer clothes at a discount. Swing by 21 Century (next to Oculus), for instance or Marshalls. If you’re looking for vintage clothing, then head over to Willamsburg in Brooklyn or West Village. The latter has a lot of vinyl stores, as well as barbershops and craft beer bars, especially on Bedford Avenue.
Look at New York from the city’s skyscrapers
We recommend going up in a skyscraper at sunset. You’ll see the city in all of its lovely evening colours. Here are some of the rooftops that we liked the most in New York:
Top of the Rock – the Rockefeller Center viewing platform that offers a view onto the famous Empire State Building. Tickets cost 36$ and can be purchased online.
Empire State Building – the symbol of skyscrapers in New York. There is a wonderful viewing deck on the 86th floor, but for even better views you can go up to the 102nd. Tickets to the 86th floor cost 43$, and 65$ to the 102nd.
Edge Hudson Yards – this is the tallest open-air observation deck in New York. It’s located on the 100th floor at a height of 355 metres above ground level. This rooftop stands out thanks to its glass floor that leaves visitors weak in the knees. It’s the newest viewing platform in the city. The entrance fee is 38$. It’s best to purchase tickets online.
Take a dip in the ocean
New York lies at the Atlantic coast. An hour’s journey from the financial centre takes you to the sandy beaches. Here are three of the most popular places for relaxing at the ocean:
Coney Island has an attraction park and a funfair. Trying the hot dogs here is an absolute must.
Brighton Beach – the surrounding area around this beach is inhabited by Russians. Here you can take a swim and try some Russian and Ukrainian cuisine in the nearby restaurants.
Rockaway Beach – beach on the peninsula. The open ocean attracts surfers from all over the city.
CHEck out some other famous places
Cross the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset.
Walk along the Brooklyn Heights waterfront with its unforgettable view of the financial centre of New York. Stroll down Wall Street.
Take a free ferry ride down to Staten Island and back, take pictures of the Statue of Liberty up close. The ferry leaves every 20-30 minutes from the South Ferry dock on the very south of Manhattan, and it takes no more than 25 minutes one way.
People watch at the Plaza Hotel.
Walk down the Broadway route from Wall Street, through the one-of-a-kind eateries in Chinatown, through the bohemian SoHo neighbourhood and East Village, the stylish cultural centre of the city. Drop by the famous fashion boutiques on Fifth Avenue. Then take a look at the Flatiron Building (Fifth Avenue, 175), visit the Broadway theatre (make sure to attend a musical!) and go further across Times Square, where the lights of the advertising signs are brighter than daylight. The square, by the way, is named after the headquarters of the newspaper ‘The New York Times’ that is located there. On the next day start your walk off with a morning coffee in Central Park before traversing to the prestigious Upper West Side. Here you’re bound to see some of the houses that would usually appear in Hollywood films set in New York. The sort of houses with beautiful steps that film protagonists walk up to right from the street.
Pop by the Public Library on Fifth Avenue, between 40th and 42nd street. Entrance is free of charge.
Ice-skate on the rink in front of the Rockefeller Center. It’s open from October to April.
Get inspired by films about New York*, don’t be shy to ask locals about their favourite places whilst sitting in cafés, drink a lot of Americano and delicious cocktails, take everything in and let the experience take over from the minute you get to Manhattan. The city will take you where you need to go. It’ll show itself in a way that you’ll never forget. We know for a fact.
What to bring from New York
Sweets from Hershey’s
A numberplate souvenir
Postcards with the city sights
*Get inspired before your trip
These films about New York will give you ideas for walks: