Last Updated on November 6, 2017
There’s no denying in that New York is one of the most expensive cities to visit in the USA, which is why a lot of people put off the dream of visiting. But, it doesn’t need to be this way. In fact, you can visit the Big Apple on a shoestring and still have a fantastic time! Here’s what you need to know in order to take a trip there without drawing down your savings to do it…
Your plane fare to New York doesn’t have to be as expensive as you first think – especially if you’re happy to fly to any one of New York’s three major airports. If you think flying into JFK, New York’s best known and largest airport, to be in the city quickly, you’re wrong: I sometimes even get faster to Manhattan from Newark, all the way over in New Jersey. So be flexible with your arrival airport. There are many budget airlines offering good deals, but you can make it cheaper by choosing to take indirect flight with a stopover or change, as well as considering alternatives to US airlines, such as Air France, IcelandAir and Lufthansa. Make sure to check flight comparison websites to find the best deal.
Find cheap accommodation
The first trick to know is that you absolutely need to widen your search beyond Manhattan, as you’ll pay a premium to stay here. Airbnb isn’t always expensive (particularly if you book well in advance), and you’ll make your stay even cheaper if you’re prepared to rent a room through Airbnb rather than an entire apartment. But what if you want to stay somewhere centrally located without paying too much? There are so many hotels in Midtown Manhattan that you are often able to find a deal through a hotel booking website. I myself stayed in a gorgeous little hotel on the Lower East Side earlier this year for only $100 – an absolute steal!
Taking public transport? Buy a pass
Taking taxis or Ubers is going to deplete your budget fast, so ride the subway instead. It’s quicker anyway – the main thoroughfare’s in Manhattan are always clogged with cars, taxis, trucks and tourist buses and it can be frustrating to sit in traffic for hours. On the subway, you don’t have this problem! If you know you’re going to use the subway more than once very day, consider buying an MTA pass: seven days of unlimited travel will cost you $32. It usually already pays off during a 4-day visit, if you take a minimum of four rides a day. With this weekly pass, you can also use the city buses.
Enjoy free activities
With all the shopping, food and entertainment to enjoy in New York, you could spend a fortune. But thankfully there are plenty of free things you can do if you’re travelling on a shoestring. Take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry for excellent views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan – for free! Lace up your comfiest walking shoes and walk the length of Brooklyn Bridge (reward yourself with a slice of NY pizza on the other side, but skip the long line at Grimaldi’s and stop at Fornino’s instead – you’ll find it in Brooklyn Bridge Park), and enjoy one of the best views over Manhattan. Stroll along the High Line (a park that’s been built over an abandoned freight train line, which is popular with tourists and locals) and check out Chelsea Market, go for a walk in Central Park and go for neighborhood strolls in the West Village and SoHo. Be sure to visit Times Square at night, if only to marvel at the lights, hustle and bustle. Remember too that entrance fees to the city’s museums are generally actually just recommendations, and many will offer free admission during particular hours.
Get discounted entry to paid attractions
Of course, you’re also want to enjoy some attractions that aren’t free, so be smart and book them in advance. For example, seeing a Broadway show is an experience you definitely don’t want to miss, so look online to pre-book tickets for Broadway shows, taking advantage of the early booking discounts. If you’d like to go to the top of the Empire State Building or the Rock Observation Deck, fancy taking a Circle Line sightseeing cruise or paying a visit to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, you’ll get the best deal if you buy a city pass. If you are using all six attractions included in the pass, you save 42%!
Eating out? Do lunch & food trucks
Finally, you can eat out pretty cheaply in New York – it has a ton of food options, and the street vendors, food trucks and independent businesses offer authentic burgers, pizzas, bagels, hot dogs and shakes for a fraction of the cost the big chains are charging. If you’d like to enjoy eating in at least a few restaurants during your visit to NYC, make a reservation for noon: lunch is a whole lot cheaper than dinner, and you usually get a starter and a main for around $10 in a decent restaurant.
Remember these cost-cutting ideas when you’re visiting New York – you’ll have a great time at a fraction of the price!