New York Itinerary: Ultimate Travel Guide

Photo of a traveler viewing Lower Manhattan in New York
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Planning a trip to New York can be challenging, especially if it’s your first time. There are many things to see and explore in this historic city, and you might miss out on the essential travel spots if you don’t plan your trip well. Hence, I created a New York Itinerary to help you prepare for your trip to the Big Apple. In this post, I will share three itineraries plus tips to make your visit seamless. These itineraries are designed for first-time and seasoned travelers of New York City.

Basic Information of New York City

Photo of Lower Manhattan Skyline in New York City with the USA Flag in the background.

New York City is the most densely populated city in the United States. The city sits at the southern tip of New York State and comprises five boroughs: The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. The city is also known as the Big Apple, and millions of travelers visit this metropolis due to its towering skyscrapers, historic landmarks, diverse culture, and incredible entertainment. Whether you are exploring the streets of New York City or climbing view decks of buildings, this city has a lot to offer, which promises an unforgettable experience.

How to Get Around New York City

New York City is an accessible and walkable city. It is easy to visit from point A to point B. There are several options you can do to get around the city, depending on your budget.

Ride Hailing Apps or Taxi

For starters, this method is the easiest but also the most expensive. You can use a ride-hailing service of your choice and set the destination that you would like to go. However, New York City has a lot of traffic, which can increase travel time, especially during rush hour or the holiday season. This is a comfortable option, but you can check the following method if you want to save more money.

Ride the Subway

Photo of New York Subway

This is the method I used when I visited New York City, and riding the subway is surprisingly reliable and convenient. New York City’s subway system is the oldest and one of the most extensive transit systems in the United States. It covers 665 miles of track with over 470 stations, and the system has been part of the city’s culture and history.

New York City Subway Tips

  1. Use Google Maps or Transit in planning your ride. You need to plan your trip before using the subway. In our experience, we used Google Maps or Transit to plan our ride. These apps are excellent in providing real-time updates and arrival train times.
  2. Purchase a MetroCard. Getting a MetroCard can make your riding experience more convenient. These cards are available at a MetroCard Machine in most subway stations. I recommend purchasing their 7-day unlimited MetroCard, which covers the subway fare for your entire trip if you stay in New York City for a week or less.
  3. Use OMNY to Pay for Transit Fares. I used this method to pay my transit fares in the New York City Subway. OMNY is a tap-to-pay system available at every turnstile. You need to use one mode of contactless payment for your entire trip, and this enables the free ride feature once you paid 12 rides within the week. I use Apple Pay on my iPhone, and I just tapped my phone on the OMNY tap-to-pay terminal before passing through the turnstile. This method is fast and convenient.
  4. Know your Train and Know your Stops. Some subway stations receive multiple trains on several tracks. Pay attention to the train number you need to ride and to the exits you need to go.
  5. Stay Safe. Riding the New York Subway System is generally safe. However, you must be aware of your surroundings, monitor your belongings, and be cautious while using your phones and other electronic devices.

Take the Bus

Aside from the subway, New York City has a comprehensive bus system. Like the subway, you can use the MetroCard or OMNY tap-to-pay system to purchase bus rides. Google Maps and Transit App also have bus integrations, which provide real-time updates and arrival times.

Just Walk

As I mentioned earlier, New York City is walkable. When my friends and I visited New York City, we had an average of 20,000 steps daily. Surprisingly, some tourist attractions in NYC are just a few walks apart. It may be exhausting for some people, but hey, walking is healthy and good for the heart.

New York Itinerary

We are now at the centerpiece of this travel post. Our New York Itinerary will help you in planning your trip. This section will share itineraries for a 3-day, 4-day, and 5-day trip. Now, it is up to you if you would like to follow these itineraries, but you can be flexible and modify them depending on your needs. Each day will start by checking in to your chosen accommodation, and the whole trip will end at standard hotel check-out time.

New York Itinerary 3 Days: The Essentials

This itinerary focuses on visiting the most important tourist attractions in New York City. I also developed a map for this itinerary, and it is posted at the end of this section.

Photo of tourists riding a boat going to Liberty Island in New York City.
Tourists ride a boat going to Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty.

Day 1 of 3: Times Square and Grand Central Terminal

Time Activity
1500H – 1600H Check-in at a hotel or accommodation. Settle and prepare.
1630H – 2200H Visit Times Square.

Visit Grand Central Terminal.

2200H Return to accommodation and rest.

After checking in and settling in the hotel, we will start our New York Trip by exploring Times Square. Possible activities include shopping, dinner, and touring around the area. There are many attractions, street performances, and shops around Times Square, and you will never run out of options.

A couple blocks away from Times Square is the Grand Central Terminal. You’ll be surprised at how close these tourist attractions are in New York City. The Grand Central Terminal offers different dining options and shops as well. It is also a great place to admire its history and beautiful architecture.

Day 2 of 3: Historical Tour

Time Activity
0800H – 1200H Liberty Island and Ellis Island Tour: This tour requires you to register in advance for a seamless experience.
1200H – 1300H Lunch Time
1330H – 1630H Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum: Visiting the memorial pools does not require any reservations. However, an advance ticket reservation is recommended to visit the museum.
1700H – 1900H Visit Dumbo and Brooklyn Bridge.
2000H – onwards Dinner and free time

The second day of our tour includes a historical visit to the most important tourist attractions in New York City. We will visit Liberty Island to see the iconic Statue of Liberty and explore more about the immigrant history of the United States through Ellis Island. We recommend booking a tour in advance to prevent inconveniences during your vacation.

Photo taken at 9/11 Memorial Reflection Pools in New York.

The second half of the day involves commemorating the tragic 9/11 event through its memorial and museum. You don’t need any reservations to visit the 9/11 memorial pools. However, if you prefer to visit the museum, you need to purchase a ticket in advance to avoid any hassle. On the other hand, you can also see several attractions around the area, such as the Oculus and the One World Trade Center. Finally, we will conclude at DUMBO with a walking tour of the Brooklyn Bridge. This area has many food places to try, and you can sit and relax at the Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Day 3 of 3: Good Morning, New York!

Time Activity
0630H – 1000H Morning Coffee and Tour at Starbucks Reserve at the Empire State Building.
1100H Hotel check-out.

On the third day of the tour, we need to wake up early and experience sunrise with coffee at Starbucks Reserve in the Empire State Building. This tour happens on the 86th floor of the historic Empire State Building, and visitors have early access to the viewing deck. It’s a great way to conclude your tour with the amazing panorama of New York City!

New York Itinerary 4 Days: Essentials + Broadway

This 4-day itinerary in New York is an enhanced version of our 3-day itinerary. It has the same places to visit from our previous example but with an added twist of entertainment and physical activity.

Photo taken at the top of Empire State Building with the view of East River in the background. Part of New York Itinerary.
I took this photo of the east side of the Empire State Building’s view deck with the East River in the background.

Day 1 of 4: Feel the Energy

Time Activity
1500H – 1600H Check-in at a hotel or accommodation. Settle and prepare.
1630H – 2200H Visit Times Square.

Visit Grand Central Terminal.

2200H Return to accommodation and rest.

Day 2 of 4: Historical Tour

Time Activity
0800H – 1200H Liberty Island and Ellis Island Tour (Statue of Liberty, Liberty Museum, and Ellis Island Museum). Book a tour here.
1200H – 1300H Lunch Time
1330H – 1630H Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and explore the area (One World Trade Center and The Oculus). Purchase tickets in advance.
1700H – 1900H Visit Dumbo and Brooklyn Bridge (Rest and people-watching at Brooklyn Bridge Park)
2000H – onwards Dinner and free time

Day 3 of 4: Central Park and Broadway

Time Activity
0800H – 1000H Explore Central Park.
1100H – 1300H Visit the Empire State Building.
1330H – 1400H Quick Lunch
1430H – 1530H Visit Flat Iron Building and Madison Square Park
1600H – 1800H Shop at Chelsea Market
1900H – onwards Watch a Broadway Show.

Free Time.

The third day of this 4-day itinerary is jam-packed. We begin by exploring Central Park’s amazing landscape, winding trails, and calm atmosphere. Central Park is also an excellent place for those who would like to have fresh air away from the fast-paced and busy environment of the city. From Central Park, we will go up high, visit the Empire State Building, and see the city in its glorious panorama. Remember, you must reserve a ticket in advance to prevent any hassles to your trip.

Photo taken in Central Park New York

After lunch, we will walk a little south and visit the iconic Flat Iron Building with Madison Square Park nearby. The Chelsea Market is also added to this itinerary to shop for souvenirs and other goodies. Finally, we will end the day by watching a theatrical show on Broadway. There are a bunch of shows available in New York City, and you can purchase your tickets online or right at the ticket stand in Times Square. Similarly, purchasing Broadway tickets in advance can help you score a discount.

Day 4 of 4: Thank You, New York!

Time Activity
0700H – 1000H Free Time
1100H Hotel check-out.

The last day of this 4-day itinerary has no specific activities. After a busy and entertaining night at the Big Apple, it’s time to rest a bit and prepare for your hotel checkout. You can have breakfast in your hotel’s breakfast bar or a nearby restaurant. Overall, you will go home with great memories and a happy heart.

New York Itinerary 5 Days: Our Ultimate New York City Trip

I called this itinerary ‘just chill’ because five days is more than enough to explore New York City. In fact, this is the itinerary my friends and I used for our trip, and we enjoyed every single moment of it. You can freely modify this itinerary however you want, whichever works for you.

Photo taken during the Best of NYC Cruise with the statue of Liberty in the background.
Passing Liberty Island during the Best of NYC Cruise.

Day 1 of 5: Times Square and Broadway Night

Time Activity
1500H – 1600H Check-in at a hotel or chosen accommodation.
1630H – 1900H Visit Times Square and have an early dinner.
1900H – onwards Watch a Broadway Show

Our first day started with an exploration of the New York Times Square. It’s like soaking yourself in the immense energy of New York City and feeling every second of it. We also ate at a local restaurant and purchased Broadway tickets at the ticket stand. The first day was a blast, but there were more things to discover in the following days of the trip.

Day 2 of 5: Historical Tour and Top of the Rock

Time Activity
0800H – 1000H Visit the Charging Bull at the Financial District.

Explore Castle Clinton National Monument.

1000H – 1500H Visit Liberty Island (Statue of Liberty and Museum) and Ellis Island Museum. Book a tour here.

Quick Lunch at Liberty Island.

1600H – 1630H Quick visit at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
1700H – 1900H Visit Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center. Purchase advance tickets here.
1900H onwards Dinner and free time

The second day of this trip is jampacked and full of meaningful visits. Since we booked our Liberty and Ellis Islands Tour at 1000H, we decided to visit the Charging Bull at the Financial District and the Castle Clinton National Monument. After this, we head on for our Liberty and Ellis Islands tour to meet the iconic Statue of Liberty and learn about the history of Ellis Island. We stayed for almost five hours on this tour because we were so immersed and engaged in the history of this place. We also had a quick lunch at a burger stand located on Liberty Island.

Travel Tip: Aside from making reservations online, you can also save money by purchasing a CityPass ticket. Purchasing a CityPass ticket includes admission to five different tourist attractions of your choice and is valid for nine days. My friends and I availed a CityPass, saving up to 40% compared to making individual reservations. You can check CityPass now through this link:

At 1600H, we went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and walked a few feet away to Rockefeller Center to visit our first view deck on this trip, the Top of the Rock. This view deck offers a breathtaking 360-view of the city. If you face south of the deck, you will see the Empire State Building perfectly centered in this live urban canvas. After visiting the Rockefeller Center, we went for dinner and our free time.

Day 3 of 5: Museum Tours

Time Activity
0900H – 1100H Visit the Empire State Building.
1130H – 1230H Quick tour at the Grand Central Terminal.
1300H – 1500H Explore the American Museum of Natural History.
1500H – 1600H Walking tour (Central Park and Apple at Fifth Avenue)
1630H – 1800H Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
1800H – 1830H Visit the Oculus
1830H onwards Dinner at Eataly in One World Trade Center

Free Time

Similar to our second day, the third day of this trip is also filled with tourist spots to visit. We started our day by visiting the Empire State Building and seeing New York City in its beautiful glory in the morning. The Empire State Building also has a mini-museum, which you have to visit before heading to the elevators going to the view deck. Then, we headed to the Grand Central Terminal for a quick visit and lunch. There are available food places and restaurants in this location, so we grabbed a bite before visiting our following location.

Photo of American Museum of Natural History, a New York Tourist Attraction

Our next museum stop is the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). There are many things to see in this museum, and don’t miss out on their planetarium; it is a one-of-a-kind experience! From the AMNH, we walked through Central Park and visited Apple Fifth Avenue before riding the train to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. This place is our last museum of the day, and we learned a lot. After a full day of museum tripping, we went to Eataly for dinner and enjoyed the rest of the night.

Day 4 of 5: Cruise and The Edge!

Time Activity
0900H – 1230H Best of NYC Cruise (2.5-hour cruise around Manhattan)
1300H – 1400H Lunch at Hell’s Kitchen
1430H – 1700H Visit Dumbo and Brooklyn Bridge.
1800H – 2000H Visit Hudson Yards and The Edge
2030H onwards Dinner Ichiran at Penn Plaza

Free Time

We know we can only visit some tourist spots in New York City for five days. Thus, we decided to take a 2.5-hour cruise around Manhattan with Circle Line’s Best of NYC tour! This is the best way to explore the whole island of Manhattan in a chill and relaxing manner. After the tour, we headed to Hell’s Kitchen for our lunch. As Filipinos, we tried Tradisyon at Hell’s Kitchen. It’s a Filipino restaurant, and their food surely tastes like home.

Photo of the Edge in Hudson Yards New York.

From Hell’s Kitchen, we went to Brooklyn to visit Dumbo and the Brooklyn Bridge. We stayed there for a while before heading to our final spot, the Hudson Yards and The Edge. We went shopping around Hudson Yards and ended our trip with a stunning view of the city at the Edge. It is the highest viewing deck in New York City and offers a beautiful view of Lower and West Manhattan.

Day 5 of 5: See You Soon, New York!

Time Activity
0700H – 1000H Free time
1100H Hotel check-out

Finally, we reach Day 5 of this itinerary. Feel free to modify your last day here in New York City. In our case, we just relaxed in our hotel room before checking out and heading to LaGuardia Airport.

Where to Stay in New York City

Photo from our window of our hotel room at Ink 48 hotel New York
Photo taken from our hotel room at Ink 48 New York.

There are many New York Hotels to choose from depending on the places you will visit. For example, if you will stay mainly in Brooklyn, then you have to find accommodation in that area. On our trip, we recommend the Ink 48 Hotel located at Hell’s Kitchen. Our hotel’s location is perfectly centered on the tourist attractions we planned to visit. It is also a few walks away from the nearest bus stop and subway, so this hotel is convenient for us. If you travel with your friends or loved ones, you can save money by splitting the hotel expenses. Additionally, you can also check our partners at for hotel deals and discounts. Check out their latest offers below:

Where to Eat in NYC

Photo taken inside Dellanima restaurant in New York City.
Dell’anima Restaurant in New York City

You will never run out of food places in New York City. The city is diverse regarding food options, and here are some of the restaurants and cafes we tried in New York City.

  1. Dell’anima at 600 11th Avenue: This tiny Italian restaurant offers big flavors in its pastas.
  2. George’s at 89 Greenwich St: A lovely place for American Breakfast
  3. Eataly NYC Downtown at 101 Liberty St, 3rd Floor: It’s an Italian Market with different Italian food places.
  4. Tradisyon at 790 9th Ave: A Filipino restaurant at Hell’s Kitchen featuring their best flavored Adobo.
  5. % Arabica at 20 Old Fulton St, Brooklyn: This coffee place offers diverse beans and rich croissants.
  6. Ichiran at 132 W 31st St: Simply the Best Ramen I have tried in the United States!
  7. Joe’s Pizza at 7 Carmine St: The famous pizza featured in the Spiderman movie of the 2000s.
  8. Venchi at 233 Bleecker St: A new chocolate and gelato place in town.

Places to Visit in New York

Photo of Top of the Rock, a New York Tourist Attraction.

New York City has many tourist spots, and there is always a place to explore in every corner. Here are the places to visit I mentioned earlier:

  1. American Museum of Natural History
  2. Central Park
  3. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  4. Top of the Rock
  5. Times Square

You can also check our 20 New York Tourist Attractions article here to learn more about other tourist spots.

New York Itinerary: Other Travel Tips

Photo of tourists visiting New York City.

  • You can visit New York City all year round! Visiting New York City in December will give you a unique holiday experience, but be prepared for the cold weather. On the other hand, we visited New York City in late Spring and early Summer. The temperature was just right, and there was not enough precipitation when we visited.
  • Wear comfortable shoes for walking. Visiting New York City involves a lot of walking. My average steps per day in New York was at 20,000! So it is essential to wear shoes with good support and cushioning.
  • Travel Light! There are many security checks in every tourist attraction you will visit in New York City. Avoid bringing a backpack. Instead, put your important items in a small sling/messenger bag. There are stricter security checks when you carry big bags and backpacks, so travel light and don’t let this thing interfere with your trip.
  • Use contactless payment when riding the subway or bus. Remember, you have to use the same contactless payment or device when riding the subway/bus to avail of unlimited rides once you reach more than 12 rides within the week.
  • Stay alert all the time. For safety purposes, be mindful and always check your belongings whenever you travel.
  • Make advance reservations. This step will help you prepare and avoid inconveniences during your New York City trip. You can check our travel partner Viator in purchasing tour tickets in advance for a discounted rate. Check out their best deals and offers here.

New York Itinerary Summary

Photo of Lost and Wonder Author
Just ending this post with a self-portrait because why not? Lol.

So there you have it! In this article, I shared three itineraries to help unlock your travel goals in New York City. Whether you are a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, planning ahead for your trip is crucial, and I believe these itineraries will guide you through a memorable journey in this huge metropolis. As you embark on your next vacation, do not forget to take photos, savor every moment, and share your experiences with your friends and family.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains links to products or services from our affiliate partners in the travel industry. This means that we may earn a commission if you make a purchase or booking through these links. Rest assured that these partnerships do not influence our content, and we only recommend products and services that we genuinely believe will be of value to our readers. Your support through these affiliate links helps us continue to provide valuable travel information and resources. Thank you for your understanding and support.

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