New York City is one of the most amazing cities in the world, and for good reason. From dazzling lights to vibrant history and culture, you won’t be short of interesting things to do.
Planning a trip to New York can be overwhelming, especially if this is your first time visiting the city that never sleeps. So here is a complete list of NYC travel tips to help you plan your trip, all tried and true from people who have visited NYC many times!
If this will be your first trip to NYC, be sure to check out my ultimate NYC travel guide! Written for first-time visitors, it contains all the useful information you need to know about the city: how to get around, what to pack, where to stay, and more!
New york travel tips 2022
1. Do lots of research before you travel
One of the best tips for visiting New York City for the first time is to do your research before traveling. The city’s attractions are constantly changing, as are admission times and ticket prices. You don’t want to show up and find out that you can’t visit the place you planned to spend hours!
Take at least an hour or two to write down where you want to go and mark it on a map. This will come in handy for tip #16.
Also pay attention to how much some attractions cost and whether you need to buy tickets in advance. Some of New York City’s top attractions sell out quickly, so be prepared.
New york tips for first timers
2. Keep to the right when walking on the sidewalk
New Yorkers are known for their brisk walks because they always have somewhere to go and people to see. You don’t want to get in their way, especially since the sidewalk traffic is as crazy as it is in the city! This is one of the unmissable New York travel tips.
If you know you’re walking slowly, or if you often stop to check directions or look around in amazement, turn right. This way you don’t go directly in the direction of the faster person.
3. Eat local, skip the chains
It’s tempting to try dining at a chain restaurant when visiting a place because you know you’ll love the food and they’re usually more affordable. However, you really don’t want to miss out on New York City’s local dishes.
One of the absolute best pieces of advice for visitors to New York City is to eat local food. Whether you’re trying the famous Dirty Dog or a homemade bagel, you’re in food heaven. Other popular New York dishes include clam chowder, cheesecake, pizza, gelato, corned beef and pastrami. Take the plunge and eat at least one of these dishes while you’re here!
If you’re trying to find cheaper local food, stay away from touristy areas like Times Square. Generally speaking, the further away you are from a tourist attraction, the more local the place is. If you can, ask a local for advice on where to try the best local food.
4. Visit outside of holidays to save big
New York City is absolutely the most magical during the holiday season. No wonder it’s one of the best Christmas holidays in America – you can find tons of beautiful Christmas decorations in New York, like the Rockefeller Christmas tree, and you can also take part in many holiday events, such as the Christmas spectacle with Radio City Rockettes.
If you’re planning to visit Biggle Apple over the holidays, be sure to check out my 4-Day Christmas New York Itinerary!
However, this is also the most expensive time to visit the city, and one of the most crowded. If you have the money to treat yourself, or can plan your trip in advance, that’s probably fine, but otherwise, plan to visit at different times of the year to save some money.
The off-season, spring and fall, are special times to visit New York City. You can see the city buzzing with excitement during the warmer months when all the flowers start to bloom in spring. On the other hand, if you visit in the fall, you can experience some of the most beautiful and memorable fall colors in the world.
New York City can get hot in the summer, so off-season is a good option. Trust me; you don’t want to be on a sweltering subway! This is one of the most overlooked travel tips for New York City.
5. Get up early to avoid crowds
Although New York City is a city that never sleeps, there are ways to avoid most tourists. Get up early! Yes, you’ll be with the locals, but you can catch some of the best sunrise views during this time, and you can also drop in before some of the most popular spots get too crowded.
Usually these spots are closed at this time, but you can at least get some great photos without the crowds that are in the photos later in the day. The earlier you get up, the better!
6. Always be vigilant
One of the most important tips for visiting New York City for the first time is to stay alert. Fear not, just take the usual precautions you would take when traveling anywhere else.
New York City is a large city with 8.4 million residents. Watch your belongings, stay away from pickpockets, and travel with other people whenever possible. Unfortunately, New York City isn’t the safest place for single female travelers.
7. Take the time to explore more than just Manhattan
When you think of New York City, you probably think of Manhattan. Well, guess what – NYC isn’t just Manhattan! Leave Manhattan and spend time exploring other boroughs on your New York City itinerary.
If you can, check out Staten Island, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. It’s worth it and gives you a better understanding of the city’s culture. Also, other boroughs are not as touristy as Manhattan, so you might even meet some locals while exploring.
8. If you want to visit Staten Island, plan a full day
Many people think they can stay in Staten Island for a few hours and then spend the rest of the afternoon exploring other places. Well, one of the best travel tips for New York City is that you should plan a full day to visit Staten Island.
From waiting for the ferry to exploring all that Staten Island has to offer, you’ll soon find that your day is over. Just make sure you plan accordingly! If you spend the whole day exploring the area, you won’t be disappointed.
9. Take a free walking tour of the city with a local
One of the lesser-known tips for visiting New York City is the free tour. Many locals offer tours for tourists visiting the city. It’s one of the best ways to get to know New York City because you’ll learn from the people who live there.
To reiterate the tip mentioned in #1, make sure to book your tickets for these tours in advance. They require you to make a reservation or the tour will be packed with people you can’t even hear your guide! Some of the most famous free tours in town are the Walking Free Tour and the Big Apple Greeter.
If you’re looking for more budget tips for visiting NYC, check out these amazing things to do in NYC for free.
10. Wear comfortable walking shoes
New York City is huge. A lot of first-time visitors forget this and try to wear the most uncomfortable shoes, which is a big mistake. Don’t forget that, here’s one of the top New York City travel tips! When it comes to shoes, make sure you wear shoes that will allow you to walk all day without pain.
While you may rely on public transportation to get around the city, you’ll still spend a lot of time on your own feet. Plus, if you’re exploring a neighborhood, you’ll be walking a lot because it’s a lot faster than taking a taxi!
11. Keep an eye out for days off at New York attractions
There are many museums in the city that have closed days, even “do whatever you want” days. The latter means that you can almost pay for entries that are valuable to you. While New York City has a ton of free museums (Bronx Museum, American Folk Art Museum, Waterfront Museum, etc.), there are also some that offer free hours.
If you are interested in visiting the museum in your free time, you should get there early. This is usually the most popular time to visit the museum as it is the cheapest. So the sooner you get there, the better chance you have of getting in and exploring the interior before it gets too crowded.
The Neue Galerie, the Brooklyn Museum, the Staten Island Museum, and the 9/11 Memorial Museum are just a few of the few that offer hours or days of free vacation. This is one of the best money-saving tips for traveling to New York City!
12. Take public transportation instead of taxis to save money
If possible, avoid taking a taxi. In addition to the time you spend in the vehicle and the traffic conditions in NYC, most taxis will charge you for the distance traveled, which can add up significantly.
The average pricing model is an initial fee of $2.50 plus 50 cents per 1/5 mile traveled. It also costs 50 cents per minute in traffic.
New York City’s public transportation is much better than most people think. It’s fast and affordable. If you don’t have a subway card, the subway is only $3. How can you possibly beat it? Also, subways can’t be stuck in traffic like taxis.
New York subway station
13. If you must take a taxi, please say hello
A lot of people visit NYC and try to hail a cab and do it all the wrong way. If you take the time to get a cab, make sure you do it right so you don’t spend hours hailing a cab!
First, you want to make sure you are on the side of the road where traffic is flowing. Then look for available taxis. This means there are no “off duty” lights or any lights at all on the top.
Now this is the fun part. They don’t shout “taxi” like in the movie! This is just for show. You should move slightly off the sidewalk (since the driver cannot fully see you on the sidewalk), stretch your arm in the direction you want, and try to make eye contact with the driver. It’s that easy.
14. Watch out for typical tourist traps
Like any city, New York City has plenty of tourist traps to watch out for. Be careful not to get sucked in by them! The number one tourist trap is Times Square because that’s where all the tourists go. You usually never find locals here.
Look out for people in disguise or sellers of blank CDs. There are also a lot of fake electronics stores here with people dressed up as monks who are not monks but want to take your money. You should be vigilant when you are in town!
15. Suitable for northeast weather
There’s a lot of crazy weather in the Northeast, and yes, it sees all four seasons. Don’t try to dress super stylish, dress appropriately for the weather. This usually means wearing several layers of clothing, as sometimes it can be cold for a while in the morning, but it can get very warm in the afternoon.
If you’re visiting in winter, make sure to bring or plan to buy thick winter clothing. It can get pretty cold in New York City, especially since it’s right on the water and brings that extra breeze. be ready! This is one of the most underrated tips for NYC travel.
16. Try to book accommodation in the areas you most want to explore
New York City is huge. This links back to one of the earlier tips on this list. After doing your research and locating most of the attractions you want to visit, try to book hotels in the area.
You can save a lot of time and money! If you want to explore other areas, you can use it as a base for exploring other parts of the city. Try to book early as accommodation fills up quickly when this is a popular area.
Generally speaking, Manhattan is one of the best areas to stay in New York, especially if this is your first time here. If you want to learn more about NYC neighborhoods, be sure to read my guide to the best neighborhoods in NYC, which includes 10 amazing neighborhoods with lots of helpful tips, hotel recommendations, and facts about each borough information.
17. Bring your camera – New York is amazing!
New York City is a great place to visit any time of the year and to remember. Bring your camera! You’ll take pictures almost anywhere along the way, and maybe even capture extraordinary magical moments.
Some of New York’s most famous photo spots for Instagram are the Brooklyn Bridge, Radio City Music Hall, Channel Gardens, the Flatiron from the top of the Empire State Building, and the Empire State Building’s New York skyline view from the top of the Rock at the State Building.
View of the Manhattan skyline from the top of the Boulder, with the Empire State Building in the center
Now you know the best travel tips for New York City, one of the most amazing places on earth. Even if you don’t like visiting tourist destinations, put New York on your US travel bucket list and come here at least once! There is so much to do in this city, and you will have some unforgettable adventures.
If you have any questions, you can comment below or email me and I’ll be happy to help! Do you know of any other great New York travel tips I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments!