A week in New York is just about the perfect amount of time to see what the city has to offer at a leisurely pace. However, with so many things to do in New York, you will want to have at least a rough plan, so you avoid wasting time deciding where to go and what to see.
If you aren’t a master of organizing, don’t worry. I have lived in New York, and I know the city well, so I have done all the work for you. I have created the perfect itinerary to take you to the most famous landmarks, to some lesser-known ones and even out of town for a day.
Continue reading for a bunch of tips, hacks and fun things to do. Don’t have a week in town? Check out this itinerary for 4 days in New York.
A Fantastic Itinerary For A Week In New York
Day One. The Financial District
Map of day 1
Click here to download the map you need to follow.
9/11 Memorial and Museum
If you have a week in New York, 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a must-see.
Made up of twin reflecting pools representing the footprints of the Twin Towers, and home of the largest man-made waterfall of North America, at the Memorial you will also see the inscriptions of the names of the victims of the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks. The Museum will guide you through the history of 9/11.
Book your visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in advance. For the best tour that is also a budget-friendly option, click here. Factor in about 2 hours for your visit.
World Trade Center Observatory
The World Trade Center Observatory is one of the best places to get views of the city. The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, it measures 541 meters (1775 feet). It’s located where the World Trade Center used to be before 9/11.
If you intend to go up, you have to book your tickets in advance. You can get yours here. Factor in about 1.5 hours for your visit.
One of the coolest places to visit in New York, the Oculus was built to serve the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, but it also is a shopping mall. The architecture will leave you speechless. South of it you will find Eataly, a great spot for lunch.
This popular street is where you will be able to admire the statues of the Charging Bull and that of the Fearless girl, as well as the exterior of NYC Stock Exchange. Not far from it you will find the Gothic-style Trinity Church, in whose cemetery Alexander Hamilton is buried.
Staten Island Ferry
A fun thing to do is taking the Staten Island Ferry. It runs between Manhattan and Staten Island – the ride lasts about one hour there and back and you get amazing views of the city.
Tip: Beware of people trying to sell you tickets for the Staten Island Ferry. It’s free!
Day Two. Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Lower Manhattan
Map of day 2
Click here to download the itinerary you need to follow.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
With a week in New York, visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is an absolute must. The symbol of the United States, the statue – which is actually located in New Jersey territory, was donated from France in the 19th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ferries to the Statue of Liberty depart from Battery Park – the first one at 8:30 am. I recommend getting the first ferry out and being there in advance as there is a line to board.
Statue of Liberty Tours
Tours typically make a stop at the statue, where most people visit the Pedestal and – if you picked that added option – climb to the crown. Then they move on to Ellis Island before returning to Manhattan. The overall duration of most tours is 4 hours. You need to book them in advance. You can consider this Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island early access tour. If you’d rather go on a private tour, this tour includes a private tour of the 9/11 memorial.
For a more budget-friendly and quicker option go for the 60 minutes cruise around the statue. You won’t disembark but get beautiful views. You can book it here.
New York has no shortage of great places to eat, but you can miss these two distinct neighborhoods for a great New York dining experience.
Once you get back from the Statue of Liberty tour you can head to lunch in Battery Park or go to Chinatown, one of the most fun neighborhoods in New York where you will find lots of Asian food restaurants, shops and interesting attractions. It’s your chance to shop for Asian goodies.
On the other side of Canal Street from Chinatown, Little Italy is packed with American-Italian style restaurant and a fun, interesting neighborhood.
Day Three. Museums, Central Park and Midtown Manhattan
Map of day 3
Here you can find the itinerary you need to follow. I suggest the MET as your starting point, but you can move the cursor to point to the museum you’d rather visit.
OPTION 1: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Among the most famous museums in New York and the best art galleries globally, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) has a collection spanning from ancient Egyptian artifacts to contemporary art. It’s so big that you need a full day to visit, so I recommend picking a map at the entrance and focusing only on the collections you are most interested in.
At the time of writing, Met opens from Thursday to Monday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Tickets are $25 and you can leave and come back on the same day if you want to explore more. You are better off booking in advance: get your tickets online here.
OPTION 2: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
If you are looking for a museum where you will be able to see some of the most iconic pieces of contemporary art, this is the one to visit. Included in the exhibit are the works of Vincent van Gogh, Warhol, Matisse, Gauguin, Picasso, Dali and Pollock.
OPTION 3: The Guggenheim
If you are looking for a place that combines quirky architecture and an interesting exhibit look no further and go to the Guggenheim. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and first opened in 1959, this is one of the most interesting museums in town. Exhibits change regularly so check if what’s on is of interest before you go.
With a week in New York, you have time, and a walk around Central Park is a must. Grab some quintessential New York food to go for a Central Park picnic, enjoy the atmosphere, scout out the best photo spots, or hop on a bike to get to all the best attractions – places not to miss in Central Park are:
- Strawberry Fields, aka John Lennon’s memorial
- Bethesda fountain and terrace
- Belvedere Castle
- the Lake and Gapstow Bridge.
You can book your bike rental here. As romantic as it may seem, avoid riding the horse-pulled carriages in New York. The ethical treatment of these animals is questionable at best.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
On Fifth Avenue, near the south corner of Central Park, New York’s cathedral is a Gothic style church, dating back to 1878. You can pop in to browse around for a short while.
Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock
Close to the Cathedral you will find the Rockefeller Center, a series of Art Deco style buildings commissioned by oil magnate Rockefeller. Famous for the Christmas tree and ice rink right below, it is connected to the Top of the Rock, a 1930s Art Deco skyscraper from where you can get beautiful views of Manhattan.
Grand Central Terminal
One of the main transport hubs in New York, you will likely go through during your week in New York. Make sure to observe the building, which dates back to 1913. You will find shops, restaurants and a fabulous oyster bar.
Another of the most iconic places in town, It’s central and easy to reach, ad it’s free so you can go as often as you want.
Day Four. The Empire State Building and the Village
Map of day 4
Here is a map you can follow. It’s a lot of walking, but pleasant.
This nice park is less touristy than Central Park. New Yorkers go there to exercise, do yoga, and watch movies on Monday evenings during the summer. It used to be a hub for drug dealing and prostitution but none of that remains now. It’s close to the public library.
New York Public Library
Located on Fifth Avenue, New York Public Library has a magnificent facade. It has an impressive collection of books in any subject you can imagine.
Take a Free Tour: Free guided tours are offered Mondays to Saturdays at 11:00 am or 2:00 pm.
Empire State Building
If you only go up one skyscraper during your week in New York, it has to be this one. From the observation deck, you will get some of the most impressive views of New York. Completed in 1931, back then it was the tallest building in the world.
Pre Book Your Observatory Visit: Book your visit to the Empire State Building Observatory in advance here. The whole experience will take you around 90 minutes – that includes the line for the elevator.
Located on Fifth Avenue, at the end of Madison Square, this building in the shape of an iron was completed in 1902 and measures 87 meters (285 feet).. You’ll pass by it on your way to the High Line and it’s a fun sight.
The High Line is a fantastic attraction. Once a railway viaduct and abandoned in the 1980s, it opened again in 2009, once it was completely remodeled by Dutch landscape architect Piet Oudolf.
The walk cuts through Midtown Manhattan from Chelsea Market all the way to Greenwich.
For a more in depth experience, you can opt for this tour of the High Line and Chelsea Market that lasts 2 hours.
One of New York’s prettiest neighborhoods, you will have seen it in many TV series, such as the popular Sex And The City – it’s where you will find Carrie Bradshaw apartment. It’s a lovely area to explore, and you can do it for free.
Washington Square Park
A lovely place to head once you are done exploring, Washington Square is close to Greenwich Village and a favorite of people living in the area and of street performers.
OPTION 1: Broadway
If you have a week in New York, you should go see a show at least once. With 41 theaters (some with century-old signs) on Broadway, you will have plenty of choices. Shows are not cheap. Check the calendar to see what’s on.
OPTION 2: Metropolitan Opera House
For more sophisticated tastes, the Metropolitan Opera House may be a better pick. The building, located in Lincoln Center, is a modernist one and quite a sight. The stage inside is massive and perfect for state of the art choreographies.
Day Five. Brooklyn
Map of day 5
Here is the itinerary for this day. Bushwick is actually quite far from DUMBO: only go if you are a fan of street art.
Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Heights
Connecting lower Manhattan to Brooklyn across the East River, the bridge was completed in 1883, being the first suspension bridge in the world. You can walk or bike across it for stunning views.
From there, walk through Brooklyn Bridge Park to get to Brooklyn Heights, the first suburb of New York City. It’s a quaint area with Victorian style buildings and historic churches. The highlight is Brooklyn Heights Promenade where you’ll find amazing views of Lower Manhattan.
Take a Guided Bike Tour: For guided tours of Brooklyn, consider this 2-hour Brooklyn Bridge bike tour.
DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is one of the places to visit in Brooklyn. It’s a fantastic photo spot.
If street art is your thing, head to Bushwick to see murals, art galleries and much more.
Opened in 1903 to connect Brooklyn to Manhattan, this bridge can be easily be recognized by its color: it’s bring pink. Walk across it for great views of the city and of Brooklyn Bridge.
Day Six. Harlem
This part of town, which in the 20th was a terribly run down borough known for the gang activities, is now a popular place to go see gospel choirs. It’s honestly a touristy thing to do – it became so in the last 15 years. But I promise it’s a lot of fun.
Guided tours of Harlem go to see the Gospel Choir and also take you to Apollo Theater and Columbia University. You can book your tour here.
Day Seven. A Day Trip out of Town
We have a great selection of day trips you can take from New York here. Many are as easy as a train or ferry ride. These are two very popular day trips for visitors to New York:
PHILADELPHIA – A 90 minutes train ride from Penn Station, this is a cool town with lots of history, a fabulous Museum of Art (you will certainly recognize the steps filmed in the movie Rocky) and an incredible food scene.
NIAGARA FALLS – One of the most popular places to visit in New York State, right on the border with Canada. You will have to fly from JFK to Buffalo airport and from there hire a rental car to drive to the waterfalls, where you can take a guided tour. You can book the tour here.
Don’t want to get out of town? Opt to visit one of the museums you have skipped, or spend your day shopping!
Practical Tips To Make The Most Of A Week In New York
Using A New York Pass
If you are spending a week in New York, the New York Pass may help you save on attractions and skip the lines. City passes usually come with a Metro Card, so they are perfect if you plan to use public transportation. There are a choice of passes available such as this 85 Attraction pass or this pass with over 100 attractions and tours.
When purchasing your city pass, you will have to pick the number of attractions to include in it. Don’t forget you’ll have to reserve your visit to each of them separately.
Where to stay in New York
There are plenty of excellent places to stay in New York – but it’s an expensive city. Here are some great places to stay:
- STUDIO IN MIDTOWN MANHATTAN – It’s small, but perfectly organized to fit up to 3 guests.
- BROOKLYN LOVE HOME – Located in Brooklyn Heights, it’s a cozy place for a couple, with stunning views of the bridge.
How to get to New York
There are 3 airports in New York, but the one that is best connected to the city is JFK – so I recommend flying there. Getting from the airport to the city is easy. These are the main options:
TAXI AND UBER – This it the most expensive option, but also the most comfortable. Taxis have a flat fee to Manhattan, which is $52 and to which you need add a $4.50 surcharge during peak hours (4:00 pm to 8:00 pm on weekdays). You also have to pay the tolls. Uber costs more or less the same, but you need data and the app to call a car.
SHUTTLE – A great mid-range option. Prices start at around $20 and you can book your shuttle in advance here.
PRIVATE TRANSFER – Private transfers from the airport to NYC start at around $90 for a group of three people with door to door service. You can choose from a standard car up to a limousine service with add ons. See a full range of pre-book private transfer services here.
AIRTRAIN – Tickets cost $8 USD, so this is the most budget friendly option. There are 3 different lines.
How to move around
The best way to explore New York is on foot, and most of this itinerary is best explored this way. You will need to use public transportation to get to your daily starting point, and to get back to your room in the evening.
The public transport web in New York is fantastic, with many bus lines and the subway, which is the most efficient way of getting around; to which you can add the yellow cabs and Uber. Subway tickets cost $3 USD per ride – unless you have a Metro Card, which you top up when needed and on which a ride costs $2.75. The New York CityPass comes with a metro card.
Other useful tips
Finally, here are some other things that may come in handy:
BOOK YOUR VISITS TO ATTRACTIONS IN ADVANCE – Even if you have 7 days in New York, you surely don’t want to line up at the ticket counter.
WATCH YOUR PACE – I have reported the estimated time for visiting most sites: this itinerary is based on them.
LUGGAGE STORAGE – Found in most stations – Grand Central Terminal, Port Authority Bus Terminal, Penn Station, and Times Square. You need to book it in advance. The best site to use is LuggageHero.
GUIDE BOOKS – If you are a fan of the classic paper-book, you will want the Lonely Planet New York City guide.
SMARTPHONES – Not all companies will cover data when traveling. Make sure yours does so that you make use of apps such as Google Maps.
SCAMS – A common issue in big, touristy cities is scams aimed at travellers. The most common scam in New York happens at Battery Park, where they’ll try to sell Staten Island Ferry tickets – the ferry is free, so don’t fall for this.
Watch out when taking photos in the area around Times Square. Some people may run after you for money if they see taking pictures – even the cartoon characters that seem to be posing. Taxi scams are also a thing, so be on your guard here.
PICKPOCKETS – Finally, always beware of pickpockets in crowded places. We highly recommend trying to blend in when you travel but also being prepared with the right gear to keep you safe. Pickpocket-proof clothing doesn’t scream “tourist” like the old days, and anti-theft handbags and anti-theft backpacks are a great travel investment for peace of mind.
See our complete guide to The Best Travel Safety Tips & Anti Theft Travel Gear for tips on staying safe in New York and the best ways to protect your valuables without standing out.
INSURANCE – New York is one of the best places to travel, but you’ll still need a good travel insurance.