If you are planning your first trip to New York City, then you have to visit the top tourist attractions, discover some hidden gems and get out of the city on a day trip to the capital. But don’t worry, you don’t need to do much planning, with this ultimate one-week New York Itinerary.
We have one week packed out for you, with adventures, sightseeing, day trips out of the city into the unknown and so much more.
A city that is surrounded by skyscrapers, some of the most beautiful and famous parks, memorials, shopping and street art just to name a few. What is not to love about the Big Apple!
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Table of Contents
One Week in New York Itinerary
Love a bit of shopping, or may be looking for a romantic getaway, a city break, staycation, first time traveller to New York, or an annual visitor, whatever the reason New York City has it all for you.
For you travellers on a shoestring, we have you covered too, with plenty of free things to do in New York City.
How to get to New York
If you are arriving by plane, then there are three main airports that provide domestic and international flights.
John F Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.
Connections to Manhattan from the airport are quick and easy, with taxis, buses and subways.
Grand Central Station and Penn Station offer connections for traveller arriving to New York via Train.
You could drive to the city, although we wouldn’t recommend it, unless you can find parking. Alternatively, you could take the bus, with great connections around the country.
We have always arrived and departed from Newark International Airport, not only because we are staying in New Jersey, but also because it is cheaper than arriving and departing from John F Kennedy International Airport.
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Is one week enough time to visit
In our experience, seven days will be ideal. You can take this one-week New York itinerary at your own pace.
If you have limited time, it is possible to cover New York City in five days. But you may find it a little rushed and you won’t get to do any day trips.
Where to stay in New York City
To get the most out of your one week in New York, you will want to stay centrally located within the city.
We have a few options depending on your budget:
West Side YMCA
For a real budget friendly stay, with premium facilities, West Side YMCA is definitely the place to stay.
Dorm or private rooms available with shared bathroom facilities, in a prime location to visit Central Park, you really can’t go wrong with staying here.
Want to stay fit and healthy while on holiday? Fear not, with the amazing gym facilities, exercise classes and a swimming pool on site, something we haven’t seen from a hostel before.
The reviews are glowing from previous guests who have stayed here and definitely one we would stay in, on our return to New York.
Yes, this is a hostel, so this might not be for everyone. But don’t worry, we have a few other suggestions on places to stay in New York.
The Park Ave North
In a prime location, within a short distance from the Yankee Stadium and about 3 miles north of Central Park.
Subway stations are close by, to connect you with other areas of the city and the top tourist attractions.
The standout would be the fridge and microwave in each room. For you travellers on a budget, you can buy a small selection of groceries and place in the fridge to keep fresh during your stay.
The rooms appear to be of a high standard with double, triple and even family rooms available with private bathrooms.
Not a bad little place to stay in New York City.
Best Western Premier Empire State Hotel
In a Prime location and only a short walk from the Empire State Building.
This basic hotel offers everything you could need from a cheap stay in New York City.
Rooms have the basics including your own private bathroom.
The reviews are very good and one we would happily stay in.
Club Quarters Hotel World Trade Center, New York
This mid-range hotel is centrally located in Manhattan, within a few minutes’ walk from the September 11th Memorial and Museum.
You can choose between rooms and suites. Or apartments should you be staying in New York for an extended period of time.
All rooms have the basic amenities, while the facilities include a gym and a restaurant.
Looking to take your trusted furry companion with you, then you don’t need to look further as pets are welcome at Club Quarters Hotel World Trade Center, New York.
If you are prepared to spend a little bit more money on accommodation, then this is definitely one place to consider staying over the next week in New York.
Iroquois New York Times Square
One of the most expensive hotels to stay in, that’s aimed for luxury travellers.
Choose between a superior, deluxe, premium rooms or a suite all with the basic amenities and private bathroom.
Stay fit with the fitness facilities and if you’re bringing your four-legged friends, then their welcome too.
The hotel is also in a prime location, close to all the main tourist attractions. After a long day pounding the streets of New York, you can relax back and enjoy the comfort of the hotel room.
This has to be one of the most famous hotels in New York City.
Not familiar with The Plaza, well it is where Kevin McCallister (played by Macaulay Culkin) stayed in the movie Home Alone 2.
This will set you back a lot of money just for one night’s stay, but you’ll definitely stay in style and luxury.
You’ll be well looked after with a fantastic fitness centre, enjoy afternoon tea, window shop at the branded shops around the hotel and enjoy delicious food and drinks at the bar and restaurant.
After a long day, relax in a comfortable room, with all the amenities. Choose between rooms and suites. You never know, you could be staying in the same room Kevin did.
This is definitely somewhere we could only but dream of staying at, but sadly our budget could not stretch for a night’s stay, but we did observe the hotel from the outside.
Would you like to stay at The Plaza Hotel?
Day 1 of your ultimate New York Itinerary
Rise bright and early on your first day in New York.
Make sure you have breakfast as this will be a long day.
National September 11th Museum
Cost: $26.00 per adult, $15.00 (Youth 7-12 years), $20.00 (Young adult 13-17 years, Seniors 65+ and college student), $18.00 US Veteran, $82.00 family pass (two adult tickets and three child/young adult tickets ages 7 to 17)
Tickets: Purchase tickets
Opening times: 10am – 5pm
Make your way to the National September 11th Museum after breakfast and take in all the information from the museum.
Learn more about the events leading up to September 11th, the events on the day and the following days, weeks and months after, through images, artifacts and hours of video footage.
Very helpful and friendly guides are on hand to answer any questions you may have and offer more details within the museum.
Look out for the antenna that was once on the top of the north tower and ask the guide to tell you more about the workers on top on that fateful day.
The saddest part of the museum, would have to be video footage from family members remembering their loved ones. Make sure you have some tissues to wipe those tears away.
This large museum beneath the ground where the Twin Towers once stood, holds a large collection of displays, which will take at least a few hours to explore, if not longer.
You’re only a few minutes’ walk to your next destination, so when you have soaked up all the information from the National September 11th Museum, head to National September 11th Memorial.
National September 11th Memorial
After learning more about the terrible attacks on New York back in 2001, take in the atmosphere at the Memorial pools.
The pools are positioned on the same spot that the Twin Towers would have once stood.
The water runs into the pools, while the names of all the people who lost their lives are etched into the panels on the side of the pools.
Survivors, loved ones and tourist come to remember.
Make your way up to Liberty Park for great views across September 11th Memorial.
With plenty of seating, this is a great spot to sit back, relax and enjoy the views.
One thing to look out for while in Liberty Park, is the Golden Sphere.
The sphere was originally located between the north and south towers, that was until the towers collapsed and the sphere was covered in debris.
During the clear up at Ground Zero, the sphere was located and surprisingly it survived. While there is visible damage, it has been nicely placed in Liberty Park overlooking the September 11th Memorial.
You must be hungry by now, so head off for some lunch.
Places to eat nearby:
- Wendy’s – Looking for cheap places to eat, then Wendy’s is only a few minutes’ walk from National September 11th Museum and Memorial. A choice of burgers, fries and a drink.
- Dunkin Doughnuts – have a sweet tooth after lunch, then check out Dunkin Doughnuts for different colours and flavoured doughnuts.
- Eataly – an Italian market with food from Italy. Order something hot from their food counter and take it await to eat in Liberty Park. Alternatively, their sit in restaurant offers a great Italian menu.
The Oculus has to be included in this one-week New York Itinerary.
The beautiful exterior with its compact design, seems so tiny compared to the high-rise buildings in the area. But the moment you go underground, the bright Oculus seems so big.
The exterior represents a dove taking flight, while the interior of the Oculus contains a shopping mall, a PATH station and 11 subway lines.
Spend a bit of time just window shopping, you might find something to buy.
We have covered a few free things to do today, on your one week in New York, so you budget travellers will enjoy admiring some of the most stunning street art.
Street art feels like an open aired art gallery, while the world passes around you.
Study some of the most amazing works of art around the Oculus and the block surrounding One World Trade Centre PATH Station and 9/11 Memorial.
The origins of street art didn’t start out as we see it today.
Back in the 1970s it was a form of protest, with tags (graffiti tags) painted on subway carriages and buildings. While tags are still visible around the city, street art is becoming more popular with its bright colours and many with a story behind them.
St Paul’s Chapel
After a busy day, finding yourself a quiet spot at St Paul’s Chapel, relax, take in the atmosphere and reflect on the first day in New York City.
This lovely building in the heart of Manhattan was built in 1766, making this the oldest building in the area. And at the time of its opening, it was the tallest building in the city. That was until the big skyscrapers domineered the skyline.
After the terrible attacks of September 11th, the place became a refuge for volunteers working 12 hours shifts around the clock. Food, refuge and counselling was offered to the emergency workers and recovery workers.
Say some prayers, relax and explore some of the rooms, holding memorabilia about September 11th before heading back out to the busy streets.
You have made it through day one of your seven days in New York. On your way back to your hotel/hostel, stop for your evening meal.
Places to eat nearby:
- Dunkin Doughnuts
Day 2 of your New York Itinerary
Day two of your New York Itinerary will be a more relaxed day, sit back with a picnic and enjoy the views.
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Statue of Liberty
Ferry Tickets: $24.30 per person (includes Pedestal section of the Statue of Liberty, museum and Ellis Island)
Make your way to The Battery (formally known as Battery Park), ready to board the ferry to the Statue of Liberty.
Ferry tickets can be purchased online in advance at the official Statue of Liberty ferry website. You can purchase tickets on the day in Battery Park at the ferry terminal.
The ferry will take you to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Get up close to the Statue of Liberty, before looking back at New York City for great views.
Bring a picnic and relax back with your loved one.
Learn more about the Statue of Liberty’s history, at the Statue of Liberty Museum or climb the Statue of Liberty for further views of the city.
Take the ferry either to Ellis Island, or back to Battery Park.
A public park located on the tip of Manhattan, is an ideal spot for couple or families.
Check out Castle Clinton, a historic fort with a small museum. Learn more about Castle Clinton’s history as an immigration centre back in the 19th century until Ellis Island replaced it.
Bring a picnic and relax back at The Battery admiring the views out to the Statue of Liberty.
Make your way to Brooklyn Bridge, to take some of the best photos for your Instagram feed.
Ideally you should walk across Brooklyn Bridge 6016-foot length, to get the best views, but it is possible to drive or cycle across the Bridge.
This was the longest suspension bridge in the world, when it was first completed back in 1883 and was built to connect Manhattan with Brooklyn.
At the end of the bridge, turn right into Brooklyn Bridge Park for the best views of Manhattan.
For the best photos, walk across the bridge in the late afternoon, early evening. There will be far fewer crowds, while you’ll get the best pictures for your Instagram.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85-acre park that runs along the East River in Brooklyn.
Take an afternoon stroll through the park, taking as many pictures of Manhattan from across the river.
Bring a picnic and make the most of this relaxed day, as tomorrow will be an early rise.
Day 3 in New York City
Rise bright and early as day three of your New York itinerary will see you get out of the city and explore the capital of America.
Day trip to Washington DC and Philidelphia
Rise early to be picked up by your tour guide, who will take you to Washington DC and Philidelphia.
This is your chance to learn about American history, by visiting the capital, plus there is so much to do in Washington DC.
The tour guide will drop you off at all the important tourist spots in both cities, including monuments, museums and no forgetting the White House. You might get to see the President (you’ll only want to see them, if you like the current President).
This will be a very long day, but well worth it.
To help you choose the best tour guide, then check out these great deals.
In our experience, booking a tour is so convenient. We didn’t have to worry about transport to get us to Washington DC or Philidelphia, we didn’t have to plan what we wanted to see, or our meals, as this was all included within the tour.
Alternatively, you could hire a vehicle for the day, but you’ll need to have an American Driving license or an International Driver Permit and you’ll need to navigate the roads and highways. Plus, where do you park in Washington DC and Philidelphia?
You could also catch a train or bus, which will take between 3-5 hours, then plan your trip in Washington DC and Philidelphia.
For convenience and ease, don’t forget to book your tour.
Day 4 of your amazing New York Itinerary
Day four of your amazing New York Itinerary will take you around famous landmarks.
After a long day yesterday, you’ll want to take this day a little easier.
Flat Iron Building
You won’t need to spend too long here, but you’ll definitely want to stop by on your one-week New York Itinerary to the Flat Iron Building.
The iconic building gets its name from its shape. A flat iron.
It was built in 1902 and at the time, was the tallest building in the city.
This is definitely an Instagram worthy place, its unusual shape compared to the buildings surrounding it.
Get here early to avoid crowds, while the best place to see its shape, is at the traffic island between Broadway and Fifth Avenue.
Grand Central Station
Take the subway from 23 ST to Grand Central Station.
The station opened in 1913 and provides services between towns and villages outside the city, plus subway lines to connect New Yorkers with other areas of the Big Apple.
Grand Central Station is one of the most famous landmarks in New York. Inside the station, look out for the clock on top of the information centre.
The beautiful celestial ceiling just above the clock, features 12 zodiac constellations and one you really can’t miss.
This is the time to grab something to eat from the food hall in the lower section of the station. A wide variety of cuisine available for all budgets.
The big bright billboards of Times Square, is definitely one of the main attractions in New York.
Wander between the number of souvenir shops, see anything you like to remind you of your trip to New York. Just be wary of the expensive prices.
Find a bite to eat before heading off to a Broadway Show.
Places to eat nearby:
- Applebee – Mid-range restaurant serving a variety of dishes consisting of chicken, ribs and vegetables.
There really is no way you could possibly avoid a Broadway Show, on your one week in New York Itinerary.
Watch one of the latest musicals at a Broadway show, sing along and enjoy the bright colours and entertainment.
We would highly recommend Wicked, The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, Aladdin and can’t wait to see MJ the Musical, Chicago, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical and Hamilton.
You can check out what shows are available and buy tickets on the official Broadway website.
Day 5 of your New York Itinerary
Day five of your New York Itinerary will take you out of New York and take in one of the biggest water falls, yes that’s right its:
Rise bright and early as the journey will take about 6 hours, before reaching Niagara Falls.
Meet your tour guide at the meeting point, unless the tour is picking you up from your hotel.
You’ll get to watch the water cascade over Niagara Falls into the Niagara River below. Take a boat ride on the Maid of the Mist, getting as close as possible to the falls, while the water splashes in your face.
Choose one of these tours, to take you out to Niagara Falls and back to New York City.
You can hire a vehicle and drive out to the falls. Alternatively, public transport is available, but will take nearly 10 hours to reach the falls.
If you don’t wish to book a tour, don’t forget you’ll have to arrange your own transport, food and drinks and admission. This is why we love to book tours; they are so convenient.
Day 6 in New York City
Only one more night in New York, before you’ll be heading home or off to your next destination.
So, after a long day yesterday at Niagara Falls, today you can take a more leisurely pace. Your first stop on day 6 in New York takes you too:
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American Museum of Natural History
Cost: Adult $23, Student (with ID) $18, Senior (Ages 60+) $18, Children (3–12) $13, Member Free
The largest museum in the world, holding about 45 exhibition halls, while only a small proportion of them are on display at any given time.
Learn more about plants, animals, fossils, rocks, human remains and even meteors.
The interactive exhibition is ideal for families with young children. Feel how incredibly cold a meteor, feel all its contours, find out how much you would weigh if stood on the moon, touch a dinosaur skeleton and just learn more about the world around us and the history.
Spend at least the morning here, soaking up all the information on hand.
Grab a bite to eat or a picnic and relax back in Central Park.
Only the fifth largest park in New York, but is the most popular and famous park in the city.
There is so much to do here no matter when you visit. Ice Skate in the winter or sunbathe in the summer on the large green. Let the kids run off steam in the play areas dotted around the park, or take a paddle boat out onto the lake. Take a leisurely stroll around the park and see how many statues and monuments you can spot, or what about finding the filming locations and naming the movie.
Get lost in the park, with its grand size, take in the peacefulness in the humdrum of the city.
This is the perfect relaxing day, before your holiday to New York comes to an end.
Places to eat nearby:
- Dunkin Doughnuts
- Cafes and restaurants within Central Park
Day 7 – last day of your New York Itinerary
Your last day in New York city.
This is the chance to cover off anything you might have missed over the last 6 days.
Relax in Central Park, or maybe there is somewhere else you might want to visit that we didn’t cover. If you didn’t have time to visit somewhere on this one-week itinerary, then now is your chance to go back and visit it.
Get a bit of shopping done, do what every you feel you want to do before your return home.
How to visit New York City on a budget
The biggest question we get asked is, how do you visit New York on a budget? And how much does it cost to visit New York?
The first thing you need to understand, is the meaning behind the word budget.
So, a budget is an estimated cost or expenditure of something. In this case, an estimate of how much it will cost to visit New York.
To visit New York on a budget, you first need to split your costs into groups, such as flights, accommodation, transport, food and drinks, sightseeing etc.
After splitting your costs into groups, it’s now a case of establishing your estimated budget for New York.
You can determine your budget, based on visiting New York on the cheap, on a mid-range budget, or a luxury budget.
Here is an example of how we would set our budget for a trip to New York city.
New York on the cheap
The below is based on the cost per day.
- Accommodation – $49.00
- Local Transportation – $14.00
- Food and Drinks – $16.00
- Sightseeing – $25.00
Total per day $104.00 per person
We would recommend rounding this up. So estimated budget per day if travelling on the cheap should be between $100.00-$150.00
$100.00-$150.00 x 7 days = $700.00 – $1050.00New York City Travel Costs
Now this is a lot of money for seven days in New York, so is there any way we can reduce this budget at all.
Of course, there is, we have some simple hacks and tips on how to save money, while travelling to New York.
If you follow the simple tips, you could easily drop that budget and return home with some $s in your pocket.
We haven’t included the cost of flights in this budget, as this will vary from person to person depending on where they are travelling from. But you will need to include flights into your budget.
You’ll also note we haven’t included the cost of the day trips, as this will vary depending on when you travel and which tour group you go with.
To include this in your budget, just research the dates you intend to visit New York and include the figure in your budget.
When to visit New York
New York is an ideal travel destination all year round.
Summers are lovely and hot, while the festive season is when all the twinkling lights, festive food, men in red suits with a beard and ice-skating rinks come out.
But do you want to avoid crowds, or travel as cheaply as possible? As this will affect when you should visit New York.
The shoulder months and winter, will not only be ideal for travelling on a cheap budget, yet the city will have far fewer tourists.
Although travelling during the shoulder and winter months, are ideal for cheap travel, the weather on the other hand, isn’t always the best. Days can get cold, wet and in some cases snow fall.
The summer will always be an ideal time to visit New York, most days will be lovely and warm, with the sun shining.
However, travel costs have increased and so have the crowds.
In our experience, the ideal time to travel is during the shoulder months of March to May and September to November. Costs will be at their lowest, while weather conditions will vary.
What to pack
Packing is essential, you really don’t want to leave anything at home.
What should you pack on your one-week trip to New York?
Check out our post, on what to pack for a holiday to USA. We cover everything from all the relevant documents and visas, to clothing, shoes and cameras.
This ultimate one-week New York Itinerary, is packed with so much to do, from visiting the top tourist attractions, taking day trips to the capital, to relaxing in world famous parks.
We have taken all that stress of planning away. All you now need to do is book your flights and accommodation, pack your suitcases and just think about the wonderful experience you’ll have in New York City.
If you find that 7 days isn’t enough time for you, why not extend this to 10 days or even 14 days. This will give you the chance to make the most of the city, at the same time, take more time exploring more of the USA with a multi-day tour of Washington DC, Philidelphia and Niagara Falls.
We hope you love New York as much as we do and hope to see you there the next time we go.
Have you visited New York? How long did you stay? Is there somewhere you visited in New York that you feel should be included in this one-week itinerary? Then let us know, by leaving a comment below.
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