New York, New York ?
You always dreamt of Broadway lights, wanted to get lost in Central Park, discovering the real life of a New Yorker in Brooklyn?
New York has so many mythical places, so how do you plan “the” ideal trip?
When to go, how to plan your trip, when book your flight and hotels, but also what administrative procedures should you do, how to pay and above all, how to survive in the subway?
You will find in this article all my tips to prepare the trip you’ve been dreaming of..
Plan your own trip
Before you go
Plan your own trip
When should you go?
Some dream of New York under the snow to celebrate Christmas at the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, some prefer enjoy the sweetness of spring in Central Park under a cherry blossom tree…
When you choose to travel will obviously depends on your desires. However to enjoy the city I recommend to avoid winter and summer, the temperatures are extreme and if cold complicates visits, high temperatures too, let’s not forget streets are fully covered of bitumen and it warm!
Spring is the ideal time to me, days are long, temperatures are mild, which makes travel and visits more pleasant.
How to plan your trip
When we picture NYC we often think about the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Empire State Building, Times Square, the must-see that we all know, thanks to our favorite series…
You will probably visit them, but be aware that NYC has many other surprises to offer and a thousand trips can be made there.
I went in May and chose to spend two days in Brooklyn and four in Manhattan, although we adapted our day-to-day program according to the weather and our desires, mapping the sites to visit helped us to optimize our days.
For years I have been using the Sygic Maps app to plan my Road Trips. Ergonomic and simple, it store all the points of interest/visits in the city and gives you information on each of them, as well as an indication of the time visit.
You can add/mark your visits day by day, but also your hotels and restaurants and other stops. The app tells you the travel time between each stop of your day (by bus, subway or foot, it’s up to you).
The app can be used on a computer as well as on a phone, which simplify the creation of the Road Book, but also the access to it during your trip.
Beyond being an essential tool for organizing a trip, it is also a very good souvenir to have a look at in a few years, you can either keep it online or generate a PDF .
You can see my itinerary here
Plan and book your activities
Get a City pass
Because NYC is a touristic city and the queues are often long, it is better to plan and book your visits.
NYC has several activity pass. Rather than buying all your tickets separately buy one and have a fast access to the attractions. Choose the one that match the visits you want to do.
Here is an article that compares the pass to help: https://tourscanner.com/blog/new-york-city-pass/
Most of the time, they give you access to three types of visits: observatories, museums, cruises or tourist buses.
This is what I visited thanks to the New York Citypass.
Why this one between of all?
The choice was not easy but for me, this is the one that brings together the most positive criteria:
- It is in the center of Manhattan and it offers you a view on Central Park to the north and the Financial District to the south.
- You can see the Empire State Building very close.
- It’s an outside plateform, where other observatories are certainly very Instagrammable, but leave you inside, behind a glass wall.
If you still hesitate, here is an article to help you choose.
Simply unmissable! Special mention to the breathtaking dinosaur and global warming exhibitions. The visit can last between 3 hours and a day. It is strongly recommended to go there in the morning and off weekends to avoid the crowd.
Circle line Cruise (Circle Line Sightseeing Landmark)
On my first trip to NYC I had chosen to take a cruise only to the Statue of Liberty. This time I chose the cruise that goes around Manhattan and what a great discovery!
Departure Midtown, this cruise allows you to see many buildings from all angles. First you pass along the Hudson Yard district with a hypnotic view of the Empire State Building interlocking perfectly with The Vessel, then on Little Island bearing the Financial District.
After a short detour near the Statue of Liberty, you leave on the eastern side of Manhattan and pass successively under the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges. A not-to-be-missed getaway that allows you to see NYC differently.
Citypass coasted us 87$ for 3 attractions. We would have paid 100$ if we have book them separately.
A night to Broadway ?
Who says New York, says Broadway and its musicals! With more than 23 shows running, choice is hard.
The Lion King, Aladdin, Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera… This article will help you choose among the biggest hits of 2022
A friend living in NYC recommended “Aladdin”, and I did not expect such a surprise. I have seen many musicals in France but Aladdin on Broadway is undoubtedly my best experience.
As soon as i entered into the New Amsterdam Theater, the beauty of the place directly amazed me.
Then the curtain rises and the sets follow one another in dizzying fluidity, offering a magical background to the dozens of colorful costumes that beautifully dress the incredible talented singers and dancers.
Special mention for the genius who adds spicy notes of humor on the news. As for the carpet scene when Aladdin picks up Jasmine from the palace: Magical!
We booked our tickets directly on the Ticketmaster website, I opted for tickets in the 1st row of the balcony, I was a little leaning forward to observe the scene but it allowed me to be able to admire all the details.
Practical infos :
Tickets price : 78$/pers
And if it helps, here is the exact placement of my seats : Sec BALC, Row A, Seat 1 / Sec BALC, Row A, Seat 3 tickets
With Ticketmaster, tickets can be exchanged 48 hours before the show ($15 fee per ticket).
If you prefer to do it at the last minute or benefit from reduced rates, I suggest you visit this site which will detail all the options.
Before you go
Book your flight
It’s always a step that seem complicated, but here are some simple tips to get the best price for your flight:
- Book your flight as soon as possible (7-8 months before), even if good promotions can fall in Last Minute.
- Be flexible in order to be able to shift a few days before or after to benefit the best price.
- Don’t wait! We have all experienced it, we look for a ticket, we wait to book it and the price increases a few days later, even with a VPN.
Regarding the companies, no difference in my opinion.
For my trip in May 2022 I booked in September 2021 and left Paris on a direct flight with Air France for 350€ (+50€ for luggage), a really affordable price.
You can also get cheaper tickets if you go in low season (January/February), but you’ll have to get your mittens on!
Booker your hotel
Same as for the flight, the earlier you book your hotel, the lower the prices will be. I booked through Booking in February for May and in April the prices had almost doubled.
Two points of attention regarding hotel booking:
- Booking (or others) offers you to pay your reservation on D-Day, which is a very good option, especially if you decide to cancel last minute. On the other hand, the thing that I had not anticipated was the rate of the dollar. When I booked it was at 0.87 VS 0.95 on D-Day, it may seem minimal but I found myself paying almost 100€ more than expected.
- Hotels take a deposit for the room on your credit card, the same as the one with which you already have to pay with for your hotel, trips, restaurants and believe me, the ceiling is quickly reached. It is generally necessary to count between 30 and 50$ per night.
Do not forget before leaving, to increase your ceiling if necessary.
Practical infos :
Our hotel in Brooklyn: Pod Brooklyn, $532 for 2 nights
Our hotel in Manhattan: Doubletree By Hilton New York Times Square West, $854 for 5 nights
Once your flight is booked, don’t forget:
- A valid passport (note that in accordance with American law, the validity of a foreign national’s passport must cover a period of six months beyond the date of departure from the United States).
- Your ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) application, mandatory since January 2009 in the United States, costs $21.
To be done only on this site https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. Plan a little time, the form is long to fill out. You will hopefully receive your visa a few days later and it will be valid for 2 years.
Withdraw euros or dollars? Change in France or locally? At what rate and how much? We’re not going to lie, it’s often a headache, it’s hard to plan your budget and exchange offices often fill their pockets. From experience in the United States or elsewhere, I choose to use of my credit card.
Direct withdrawal from an ATM on arrival saves time and money. Of course you will have a commission on withdrawal, but at least the fees are fixed.
Another cheapest solution is to have a credit card with no international cost.
For my part, I have the Ultim card from Boursorama which allows payments and the first three withdrawals, free of charge.
Account creation is quick and easy and the card is free if you make a minimum payment of €9/month.
More info on the Ultim card: https://www.boursorama-banque.com/ultim/
Other bank infos :
- Provide a comfortable ceiling for payments during your stay (hotels, deposits, restaurants, outings, shopping).
- Notify your bank of your trip: some banks can block your card
How to transfer and go around?
Transfert to JFK airport to Manhattan
There are several ways to transit between JFK airport and Manhattan, in my opinion the two best options are:
- The fastest: Yellow taxi. This is surely the easiest and fastest way to transit. As soon as you exit the terminal, all you have to do is follow the Taxi sign. Be careful, to take yellow taxis, private drivers will be there, but be careful, bill will be high! In general, you have to queue and an airport agent will assign you a taxi.
Price: $70 for Manhattan, $60 for Brooklyn.
- The cheapest: Airtrain + subway
From the airport take the Airtrain, then you can change to take the subway to reach Manhattan via several lines. If you already have a subway card for your trips during your stay, you only have to pay an additional $8 for the Airtrain.
To access Manhattan or Brooklyn you can take the following lines:
– Line E, J, Z Jamaica Station stop
– Line A, stop Howard Beach Station
Example: To go to Midtown Manhattan
Take the AirTran to Jamaica Station then take the E subway to 34 St – Penn Station
Estimated time: 50 minutes
Once in New York, how to get around?
By subway, by bus, by bike, on foot, by boat? what is the best way to get around New York?
I would say all, for tested all of them!
For the subway and the bus I advise you to buy the MetroCard card, you can buy it at the terminals located in the station.
You have 2 options:
– the Regular MetroCard (= Pay-Per-Ride): You only pay for the subway rides you make. You can put the amount you want on a Regular card: between $5.50 and $100. Note that the card can be used by 1, 2, 3 or 4 people at a time: just swipe the card serval time.
– the Unlimited Ride MetroCard: this is an unlimited rides card that you can use for 7 days at $33, for 30 days at $127.
The subway is the fastest way to get around, I had heard a lot about it as being very complicated and in the end it wasn’t that hard.
A few things to know:
- The direction: at the station look for the letter of the line and its direction/terminus, north, south, east, west.
- Several lines pass on the same platform, when you board, make sure you are on the right line.
- Local or express: the same line can serve all stations or just a few. You can identify on the subway map the stops served by express train, these are the stations with a white dot.
I especially tested the buses in Brooklyn, it is quite practical because they serve better all the districts than the subway in my opinion.
Here, no surprise, it work same way as in France, you just have to find your line and its direction, no express version like the subway.
Bicycles are available for self-service on whole the city with Citi Bike. It’s one of my favorite way to go around, even if I admit that in NYC I preferred to walk. It can be a good option if you don’t have much time, for example if you want to see quickly every corner of Central Park.
– Price : $3,99
– Rental period : 30 minutes
– If you exceed 30 min : 0,23$ per additional minute
– Price : $15,00
– Rental period : : unlimited rides of 30 minutes during 1 day
– If you exceed 30 min: $4 more every 15 minutes
It’s probably your shoes that you’ll use the most, strolling is the best way to discover a place.
Just one advice here, bring comfortable shoes, and definitely no new ones!
Here is an example of a budget for a one-week stay in NYC including:
- Air France direct flight from Paris
- Hotels (breakfast not included)
- Restaurants and fast food meals
- Taxi taxi from the airport
- Excursions, outings and Rooftop evening.
Not to mention shopping, of course!
We are around $1900 per week per person.
|Budget for a one week stay in NYC
|Per pers in $
|For 2 pers in $
|Subway 7 days
|Airport transfer (Taxi 70$x2)
|Site New York City
|Doubletree By Hilton New York Times Square West
|Per day (50$ x 7)
|Ceetiz – Citypass NYC
|Other (bike, gospel…)
Checklist : Essentials things to bring with you
Here is an extract of my Checklist that may be useful.
– Plane tickets
– Bookings : Hotels, Citypass, other booking
I advise you to make a photocopy of all these documents and to keep it in your cabin luggage.
To put in your luggage
– Comfortable shoes
– Heavy legs cream (because you will be walking a lot)
– Reusable bottle
– A US-EUR adapter to charge your electronic devices
– An umbrella
– If you need to take medication, take it with you on the plane and don’t forget the prescription, you may be asked for it
– If you have checked luggage, I recommend that you take a few spare clothes in your cabin luggage, so as not to spoil your trip if you lose your suitcase.