New York. One of the greatest cities in the world. The city that never sleeps, where you can do anything you fancy at any time of day. Also the travellers dream. New York has every attraction, photo opportunity and amazing skyline you could wish for. The only problem is, New York is one of the most expensive cities to visit. However don’t let NYC’s expensive notoriety put you off adding it to your bucket list though, it is 100% doable on a tight budget. We have complied our list of 10 (in no particular order) budget friendly tips for a trip to the Big Apple.
We think the best way to get around NYC is on foot. You get to see things that you would never see from a taxi or subway and walking gives you the flexibility to go and explore anything you see on the way. See a cute little tea room across the street? Stop, have some tea and cake. See an amazing street art on the wall? Stop and take a pic! New York is split up into various areas, and just by turning a corner or crossing the road you can be in a totally different area with a whole other vibe. The city of Manhattan is made up of grids, which makes it easy to navigate your way around and with so many sights to see and places to stop at, nowhere really feels that far away. Also, did we mention that walking is free?
2. Wear comfortable shoes
Shoes that are okay for a quick walk to the shops are not necessarily going to be comfortable for walking around the city for hours. We learnt very quickly that not having the correct footwear meant we couldn’t keep exploring for as long as we wanted. And it gives you an easy excuse to spend a fortune on cabs to relieve the pain! Invest in some running trainers, or walking shoes and make sure you wear them in before your trip. Also, throw some flip flops into your bag so that if you do get blisters, you can swap shoes – no one wants to walk around New York barefoot!
3. Take the Metro
If you have had enough of walking or want to visit somewhere out of the way, then the New York Metro is a great option and nowhere near as expensive as cabs and Ubers. You can buy a Metro card for $1 and then top it up with either a weekly pass (roughly $32) or just pay as you go. One ride on the metro is $2.75 and you can change trains as many times as you need in that journey. Make sure you keep a subway map on you at all times (we took a picture of one on our phone) and there’s also wifi in most stations. As with most underground stations, the subway can attract some slightly more sinister characters, so make sure you are aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings close.
4. Buy a City Pass before you go
If, like us, you plan on visiting a number of the main NYC attractions, then investing in a prepaid City pass will be cost-effective and ensure that you visit the sights instead of spending all your money on 5th Avenue (easily done!). You can choose between a three-attraction pass (£68) or a five- attraction pass (£92), and there are tons of attractions and experiences to choose from. We decided to do three attractions, and with how much they cost singularly, it was well worth having the pass. Check out our next blog post to see which three attractions we visited – there’s a clue above!
5. Visit Free Attractions
New York has a huge amount of amazing places to go that you don’t have to pay a cent for to enjoy! All of the parks in the city are free and most offer complimentary wifi and great people watching, a particular favourite for us was Bryant Park, we grabbed a breakfast bagel and spent a beautiful sunny morning relaxing here. Brooklyn Bridge with stunning views of the city, endless photo opportunities and free access is also a must-do! Finally Times Square is a great place to sit and soak up the atmosphere and doesn’t cost anything.
6. Take The Staten Island Ferry
On the topic of free attractions, we have to give the Staten Island Ferry a special mention. It runs between Staten Island (obviously) and the bottom of Manhattan and gives you a great view (and photo opportunity) of the Statue of Liberty. Taking it also means you will use one less attraction on your NY city pass, so if you couldn’t choose between the Top of the Rock and the Empire State view, now you can do both!
7. Plan Your Days
If you’re on a tight budget, do some research before you go to places you want to visit. Some attractions offer free entry on certain days, for example, the New York Botanical Gardens are free to visit on Wednesdays. Also, research what is happening in the area for the dates you are visiting. There are always free events and exhibitions running in NYC, and you might only be a few blocks away from a great (and free) experience that you will remember forever. We went into the the Microsoft shop on 5th Avenue to use their wifi and ended up testing out their VR racing game, Blue Whale VR experience and even got a free t-shirts!
8. Eat $1 Dollar Pizza!
We know, not the best option out there, especially in a city with more amazing, delicious and healthy food options than anywhere we have ever visited before. But New York can be crazily expensive ($7 for a small pot of pineapple – really, Whole Foods), and $1 pizza slices can be the perfect budget-friendly, quick lunch or snack on the go.
9. Use Free Wi-Fi
Don’t make the mistake of arriving home to a crazily expensive phone bill. There are so many free wifi spots in the city, you shouldn’t need to use your data at all. Most stations have wifi, as do most parks, attractions and shops. If all else fails, stand outside a Starbucks and use their’s (sorry Starbucks!).
10. Happy Hour’s all around
Finally, let’s talk about HAPPY HOUR. Yes, NY can be ridiculously expensive for food and drinks, but there is nothing we wanted more than an ice-cold beer or cocktail after walking around the city all day. That’s where Happy Hour comes in! Tons of bars and restaurants in the city offer a happy hour – or hours, usually somewhere between 4 and 8pm. You can get much cheaper drinks ($3 beer anyone?) and some places run BOGOF deals too. Also if the bar you are at doesn’t have a happy hour sign, then ask! They may have offers and deals on that they don’t have advertised.
We hope you liked this post and that you join us for our next one -Three Days in NYC. Let us know down below where your favourite place in New York is!