I only spent two and a half days in New York but I thought I share some tips for future travelers heading to Manhattan:
- Be prepared to do some walking! Pack some sensible shoes and find somewhere to store your luggage if you aren’t checking in right away. The main attractions in New York City are mostly within walking distance but this means you will cover some ground.
- Find a subway map before you get there- print one out or pick one up as soon as you arrive. The subway stations are very unhelpful; no maps, no staff, little signage and no phone signal.
- Go to Ellis Island and Liberty Island, and buy your tickets in advance. They are worth a visit, and Battery Park is where the ferry leaves Manhattan and it’s really nice to go down to the waterfront. There is a pretty big queue (and airport style security) for people with tickets, and then another queue for those wanting tickets on the day with no guarantee of getting any.
- Eat! So many foods! I did not take advantage of the cakes!
- Go to The Top of The Rock not the Empire State’s Building for the great view of Manhattan, from TOTR you can see the Empire State’s Building in all it’s glory. And the timed tickets you buy in advance mean much less queuing stress. If you pay extra for the souvenir photograph make sure to get the staff at the top to take your picture as well as those cheesy ones they do when you arrive.
- Navigation is easy because the roads mainly work on a grid system but you do need the full address of where you’re going- you can’t just say 36th street because that’s a very long street! You need to know which street it intersects with.
- Don’t expect it to look like the movies! Manhattan must be the most photographed place appearing in countless TV programmes and films but they used special cameras and shoot at specific times of day to get the shots of the city they want. The height and density of the buildings means it’s quite hard to see them from a good angle; the Empire State’s Building, for example, is extremely unremarkable from ground level.
- When you go to Museums and Galleries check the price because often it’s a suggested donation so if you are short on funds you can just put in a little something as a contribution rather than pay the full fare.
- Check opening times. Shops stay open much later than they do where I live (where everything closes at 5pm) but not everything is open all night as people suggest. So if you have a lot you want to see check the opening times to make sure you don’t arrive after closing.
- Know your districts; Manhattan is the island that most people think of as New York but there is also Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. Make sure you know where you’re going, you’ll probably find cheaper accommodation outside of Manhattan but be aware of your commute!This isn’t really a tip but we found the people in New York to be much nicer than the usual stereotype suggests, although it does get very busy on the sidewalk so you do get bashed into but generally all the people in America were really nice. 🙂