Last Updated on 5 July, 2021 by Veronica
New York is one of those cities to visit at least once in your life, and I’m sure you’ll come back because you’re going to fall in love with this city as we did.
In today’s post, I will tell you the itinerary to visit New York in 5 days. Keep in mind that this city is constantly changing, so there are always new things to do.
I’m sure this New York itinerary will help you plan your trip. We start with handy tips to visit the city and continue with the day-to-day tour.
What to Visit in New York in 5 days
Practical tips for visiting NYC
How many days do you need to visit New York?
From my point of view, to visit New York, you need at least 5 days. On our first trip, we stayed for 5 days and the second one, a week. On the last trip, we took the opportunity to visit Washington, DC.
Other people who have traveled longer days have also taken the opportunity to visit Philadelphia, Boston, and/or even Niagara Falls. But, of course, it all depends on your budget and the days you have to travel.
Transportation in New York: How to get around the city?
New York is a city to explore on foot. An easy way to get around is the subway, and if you are traveling with more people, a taxi or Uber at night is advisable.
Another way is with the Hop on Hop of the tour bus. It takes you to the most important places in the city with an audio guide in your language and sometimes with a guide in English (depends on what you hire)
Is the New York City Pass worth it?
The New York Pass is a card that saves you money on tickets to the city’s top attractions.
My recommendation is that you buy the New York Pass if you intend to visit many paid attractions. The good thing about the New York Pass is you can save a lot of money on tickets and tours because, with this card, you can enter for free at about 80 attractions.
My recommendation is to look and see if you are interested in the attractions included and calculate and compare the cost!
We bought them because we wanted to visit paid sightseeing. Only with the entrance to three attractions do you cover the cost of the one-day card.
Top attractions included in the card:
- Empire State Building
- Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center Observatory)
- Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
- A cruise that runs all over the island
- American Museum of Natural History
- MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)
- Guggenheim Museum
- Metropolitan Museum
- 11S Museum and Memorial
- Intrepid Sea, Air, Space Museum
- Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
- Tour bus (The purchase of the New York Pass includes the ticket for the Big Bus Hop-on Hop-Off tour bus). It’s the typical bus with a covered and an outdoor part that runs through Manhattan from north to south on two different tours and is ideal for going back and forth in the city without exhausting yourself. The New York Pass includes the 1-day bus for a 1-day pass and 2-day for the rest.
The New York Pass also includes:
- Gospel Mass with the NYC Gospel Walking Tour with which you visit a church whose choir has a Grammy Award, or you can attend Wednesday Mass with the Hallelujah! Gospel Wednesday.
- Guided tours of the different neighborhoods of New York, such as:
- Greenwich Village Tour
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Where to stay in Manhattan
I recommend you stay in Manhattan, searching and booking in advance, you can find exciting hotels and apartments, well located and at a fair price.
We did the best thing on the second trip to the city: rent an apartment for all four of us.
We rented an apartment in the West Village, for 4 people, at an excellent price, 1200$, to divide between the 4 in the most expensive week of the year (New Year Eve), and it’s close to everything.
Want to see all the hotels and apartments in New York?
Check out Booking’s website. Put your dates in the search engine, apply the filters that interest you, and voilà, you will find the hotels and apartments that best suit your tastes and budget.
Travel Insurance for the United States
Traveling with travel insurance is almost obligatory, especially in places like the United States, where healthcare is expensive.
It’s always good to travel insured for what can happen, and even if you’ve paid for your credit card ticket, the insurance it includes is not comparable to good travel insurance.
We are very happy with:
- WorldNomads. They have excellent prices, but the biggest advantage is that the insurance customizes it to your needs. So you’re not over-insured, and you pay only for what you need.
- Chapka: we recently started working with Chapka, and we’re really delighted. They have outstanding customer service and respond at full speed.
And we get a 7% discount for our blog readers.
So you can take a look at the two and choose which one fits your trip and budget.
ESTA to travel to the United States
If you have a European passport, you need to obtain the ESTA to enter the United States. If you have another nationality, you need to see if you need ESTA or a VISA.
The ESTA is requested online (link to the official website) and allows you to enter the United States for 90 days. Without this procedure, you can’t enter the United States.
What is ESTA? It’s an electronic VISA. To get it, they give you a questionnaire that you have to answer sincerely, and they charge you 14 dollars; it is valid for two years.
You can do this procedure at least 72 hours before your trip, but I recommend that you do it much earlier, at least a couple of months.
New York Itinerary 5 days
- Day 1: Check-in, Times Square, Hell Kitchen, or Free Tour around the area
- Day 2: Contrast Tour, visit the neighborhood of NYC
- Day 3: Statue of Liberty, Lower Manhattan, 11/9 Memorial, Empire State, Highline
- Day 4: Top of the Rock, Central Park, a musical
- Day 5: Woodbury Commons, shopping at the outlet.
You may check out this 33 Weird and Unusual Things to Do in New York
What to visit in New York in 5 days?
Day 1: Times Square, Hell Kitchen or Free Tour around the area
On the first day in New York, you’ll be pretty tired from the trip, so this day has to be the lightest. Get to your hotel or apartment, leave your things and go for a walk.
Here, I leave you two options because we did different things on the two trips to NYC.
On the first trip to New York, we did catch the ferry to Staten Island. It’s free, it works for 24 hours, the journey takes about 25 minutes, and you can take many photos.
Then we went to Times Square by taxi. It may not make much sense seeing it right now, but we wanted to do it all, hehe. Keep in mind that we didn’t have jet lag as we’ve been traveling around the United States for almost a month.
The second time we traveled to New York, we went to Times Square and had dinner at Ellen Stardust (1650 Broadway, Broadway with 51st). It’s a restaurant set in the ’50s where waiters sing, and the customer service is excellent. You’ll have a fun time!
From there, we walked back through Hell Kitchen to our apartment in the West Village.
Another option (depends on your arrival time) is to do a Free Walking Tour on the first day to contact the city.
- If you plan to move by subway, you can buy the MetroCard in any station.
- If you’re staying in Manhattan, taxi rides usually cost about $10.
- You can also get around in UBER, ideal for longer trips at night.
Day 2: Contrast Tour, visit the neighborhood of NYC
On the second day, take the contrast tour o the neighborhood tour. It is one of the most recommended excursions, where you visit the different neighborhoods of New York City; you can do it on your own or hire it. The tour lasts approximately 4 or 5 hours with a guide.
If you are traveling in the high season, you must book the tour in advance. Here, you can do it with Civitatis, with a professional guide.
What do you see on the Contrasts Tour?
Visit the city bridges, the Harlem neighborhood, Brown Stone Houses, The Apollo Theater, The Yankee Stadium, the Graffiti Zone in the Bronx.
The Apache District, the police station, the South Bronx, the Mansions of Queens, US OPEN Stadium, Flushing Park, the Jewish Quarter, the River Café, etc.
We hired the private Contrasts tour on our second trip to New York, as we were 4 people, and we were quite aware.
The guide was lovely, we took a thousand pictures of us, and then we asked him to drop us off on the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn side.
We arrived at around 14 hours and had already booked to eat at River café, it is a bit expensive, and you have to go well dressed, but it is worth it, it also has great views of Manhattan and has excellent service.
Then, to burn off the food, we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge walking. You can follow your journey in the Soho area and do your first shopping. There are always posters with offers, and if you go during the time of sale, you will buy a suitcase to take all your purchases.
Then, you go back to your accommodation, leave your things, rest a little, and dress up to go to dinner and have a drink. Again, I recommend the West Village or the Meatpacking District, some very “cool” places to go out at night.
Day 3: Statue of Liberty, Lower Manhattan, 11/9 Memorial, Empire State, Highline
On the third day, you get up early and take the tour to the Statue of Liberty. You can’t go to New York and not visit the most famous statue in the world.
Our recommendation is to buy the ticket online to avoid the lines, which are usually eternal (this ticket is included in the New York Pass), to visit the Statue of Liberty.
On the way through the entire area of lower Manhattan:
- Battery Park,
- Financial District,
- Tribeca, Chinatown,
- Little Italy (you can eat in Little Italy, to recover energy)
- Soho, etc.
This tour can be done on your own or with a guide in your language.
If you’re good at organization, this day, visits the Highline and Empire State Building. To give you time to do everything, you have to buy the tickets in advance to avoid the queues.
Day 4: Top of the Rock, Central Park, a musical
In New York there are 3 famous observatories where you can enjoy this great city from above:
- Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center
- Empire State
- One World Observatory.
If you want to climb one of the city’s observatories, visit the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. From here, you have the best views of the city. You’re going to see Central Park and the Empire State Building, among others.
*Note: it is recommended to visit these observatories late in the afternoon, one hour before dark, to enjoy the day and night views of New York.
In the afternoon, enjoy Central Park. If you go during the winter, you can skate on its famous skating rinks. Throughout the year, there are hundreds of tours: movies, TV series, bike rides, walking, skating. Definitely a must-see in New York City.
Musical at Broadway
In the afternoon/ evening, enjoy a musical on Broadway. We went to see The Lion King, but there are many other options.
Read our experience in the Lion King musical.
Day 5: Woodbury Common, shopping at the outlet
New York is not only famous for its skyscrapers but also for shopping. One of the best outlets to buy all year round (and the next…) is the Woodbury Common.
It is a Premium outlet where you will find the best brands at the best prices. It is divided into colors, depending on the color are the prices, the purple is the most expensive and the red the cheapest if I remember correctly.
It’s about 80 km from Manhattan, and renting a car is the same or less than hiring a tour for one person, and you have more freedom.
Another option is to go to the Jersey Garden next to Newark Airport; in New Jersey, the prices are excellent, although there are not many Premium brands. If your flight departs from this airport at a reasonable time, it is a good option to say goodbye to the city 😉
Go Shopping, I’ll leave it for the last day, so you know how much money you can spend. What you can do and recommend, if you go shopping, prepare a budget just for that.
If shopping isn’t your thing, I’ll leave you a must-see tour for your fifth day in New York.
You can take the subway to 5th Avenue and Central Park South and start going down 5th Avenue. On 53rd Street, on the right, is the MOMA with an outstanding collection of contemporary art. Friday afternoon is free.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
Continue along 5th Avenue, and on the 50th left is St. Patrick Cathedral, and on the right, passing to 6th Avenue is Radio City Music Hall, two sees of the Big Apple.
Returning to 5th Ave at 48th is the Rockefeller Center building, with its famous winter skating rink, and in the summer, it’s a café.
You can dine at Prime Burger, a New York classic, at 51st between 5th Avenue and Madison Ave, across from St. Patrick.
Next to St. Patrick’s is the official NBA store, if you’re interested in buying any basketball souvenirs.
Waldorf Astoria and the Met
On the 48th, go left to Park Ave, and between 49th and 50th is the famous Waldorf Astoria hotel. See the view to the south with the MetLife building “blocking” Park Ave.
Go right to Madison Ave and go down to 43rd. On the left is the Metlife building, and below it is Grand Central Terminal.
Grand Central Terminal
Enter and observe the famous lockers and steps that appear in many films. In the background, across the station, is the Chrysler building. Go down to 34th on 5th Ave, and there’s the Empire State Building.
Along the way is the famous New York Public Library on 5th Avenue between 40 and 42 st and Bryant Park.
Madison Square Garden
Near the Empire State Building are Madison Square Garden, Basketball and Boxing Temple, and B&H, an Orthodox Jewish shop with the best photo camera prices in town.
Also located there is Macy’s, which is considered the largest shopping center globally, and The Street of The Diamonds are filled with shops with storefronts filled with diamonds and precious stones.
Prepare your trip to New York
- Recommendations for Travel to the United States
- Visit the Highline, New York Elevated Park.
- Accommodation at the best price
- The Lion King Musical
- The neighborhood of NYC Tour
- The best-guided tours in New York City
Book Your Trip
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel, hotel, or apartments on Booking.com.
Best companies for activities
Check out Civitatis.com and find the best tours in English (French, Spanish and Italian)
Are you looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too! (Is in Spanish yet)
Disclosure: Some of the links on this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.