The city that never sleeps has inspired everyone from Frank Sinatra to Jay Z. The original concrete jungle, New York City buzzes with high energy across its five unique boroughs - Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Look beyond the intimidating sky scrapers to find the beating heart of this fast-paced city.
New York uses the American Dollar ($). $1 = £0.77 and / €0.92 (as of 2022).
New York City
Top 5 things to see
NYC might be known as a concrete jungle, but one of its most iconic landmarks is a park. Central Park's 835 acres is a haven of green space surrounded by brick and skyscrapers. You could easily dedicate a whole day to wandering the park; or if you're strategic, think about where you want to see - like the Central Park Zoo or the Alice in Wonderland statue - and plot your route. It's worth a picnic lunch with goodies from the city's food cart vendors or upmarket grocery stores.
For a real slice of New York City's music history, head uptown to the iconic Apollo Theater in Harlem. Heralded as the place where 'stars are born and legends are made', its historic Amateur Nights has a long list of once unknown competitors including Ella Fitzgerald, the Jackson 5, Gladys Knight, Jimi Hendrix, and Lauryn Hill. You can join a group tour of the interior or catch a gig, choosing from the Apollo's thriving, year-round line up.
You might not think beachside amusement parks when thinking about New York, but just an hour outside of Manhattan in Brooklyn is the historic Coney Island. The seaside resort and amusement park has seen a 21st century revitalisation and still remains one of the best places in the country to experience classic seaside Americana - wooden roller coasters, wonder wheels, and of course hot dogs.
Times Square and Broadway
This is probably what you're picturing when you visualise 'the city that never sleeps.' Bright lights and buzzing energy, Times Square is a major hub. Though it's a huge tourist magnet, there's a reason for this - if you're in the city for a show, all the theatres are concentrated in this area. Eating and drinking are tricky, it's difficult to find something good enough to be worth the inflated prices. But here are some gems just off the main drag.
National September 11 Memorial and Museum
Transforming Ground Zero, the National September 11 Memorial Museum is a poignant response to one of the darkest moments in the city's history. The reflecting pools where the Twin Towers once stood above the city and the underground museum are incredibly powerful and well worth a visit for quiet reflection.
The New York Pass
A worthwhile option if you want to visit top attractions across the city. It may seem expensive at first glance, but keep in mind, most of New York's museums and sights do charge admission (or offer 'free admission with a donation'), and this card offers free admission. If you want to pack in a lot across your visit, we would recommend doing the math on all of your admission prices, then decide if the pass is right for you.
1 day = $142
2 days = $189
3 days = $219
4 days = $249
5 days = $279
Where to eat and drink
New York City is a mecca of food. Michelin stars, Bib gourmands, delis, dollar slice pizzerias, street food - it's all here. There's an incredible collection of international cuisine and homegrown American favourites.
Oh, and remember, Italian American is its own category of cuisine! Don't confuse this as Italian food - neither culture will like that!
Ess-a-bagel in Midtown East is one of the city's favourite spots for a bagel and schmear (spread of cream cheese). The bustling cafe is always busy thanks to its excellent bagels and wide variety of spreads and toppings. A New York bagel - plain cream cheese - and a large cup of coffee will run about $6.
Cafe Mogador is a family run and operated cafe with a Moroccan-inspired menu all day. Breakfast and weekend brunch has so many star dishes - Moroccan eggs, malawach, Moroccan Benedict.
Rabbithole serves a delectable brunch until 5pm daily. You'll find plenty of egg dishes to choose from as well as salads, burgers and sandwiches. Coffee is in abundance as well as a tasty sea salt hot chocolate.
Chelsea Market is the perfect answer to a midday craving. The city's foodies flock to the redeveloped factory in Manhattan, now home to a wide variety of shops and food stalls that cater for a wide variety of tastes with everything from Korean-style ramen to American comfort classics.
Scarr's is one of the city's favourite joints for that classic New York-style pizza. Have it on the go as you admire the sights and sounds of the Big Apple. Koronet's is another popular pizza joint too.
They say there's something about the New York water that gives the pizza its unique texture; the perfect crispy crust which can be folded yet still remain nice and chewy.
Halal Guys has taken the world by storm since opening their first food cart in 1990. Now with multiple locations across the city, there's plenty of chance to tuck into their classic chicken/gyro and rice platter. Believe the hype - the white sauce is a must and the red sauce is HOT.
Gramercy Tavern serves up beautifully crafted dishes in either its fine dining den or in the more casual tavern. While further uptown in Harlem, Amy Ruth's or Sylvia's is the place for mouth-watering fried chicken, mac and cheese and other Southern style classics.
Olmsted, in Brooklyn, is one of a new wave of young chef-farmer teams cooking up a fantastic menu from produce grown on-site. Vinegar Hill House, also in Brooklyn, is another alternative.
Thai Diner in Nolita was born out of the pandemic and is successor to neighbourhood favourite Uncle Boons. The cosy spot offers a crazy amount of outdoor seating and serves a Thai-American menu of comfort dishes.
Rosemary's is a neighbourhood Italian that's been going for ten strong years. In the West Village, the original location, you can dine on handmade pastas in the beautiful and airy dining room or al fresco on the rooftop overlooking Jefferson Market Garden.
For the adults
Employees Only is a popular speakeasy in the West Village. A contradiction we know, however the expertly crafted cocktails have earned the establishment some serious accolades including a top spot on the list of 'World's 50 Best Bars'.
Jimmy's Corner, in Times Square, is a New York institution. With a boxing theme, there is paraphernalia littered all of the walls making it time-capsule with plenty of stories to tell. Plus, for $4 a beer, find us a more cost-effective bar in New York, let alone Times Square!
Bar Goto in the Lower East Side is award-winning and critically acclaimed for good reason. Established and operated by one of the city's most famous mixologists, Bar Goto offers expertly crafted cocktails ranging from twists on classics and house specialities.
The Dead Rabbit is a bit of Ireland in Manhattan. Created and run by two actual Irish people (so not a kitsch shamrock in sight), this impressive den in the Financial District is a pub with an excellent cocktail menu.
The US has a tipping culture - service staff make minimum wage and many rely on tips. If service is good, 15% is the minimum standard.
New York City has come pretty far from its dark and gritty reputation of the 1970s and 1980s, but as in any major city, you would be wise to keep your wits about you. Keep an eye on your valuables, avoid sparsely populated areas after dark, you know the drill.
Two Passports Top Tip: Head to the hotel bar!
New York is blessed with some seriously iconic and beautiful hotels, and their bars are some the best places to grab a classic cocktail or glass of wine. Now these wouldn't be the most reasonably priced drinks, but it's an experience that well worth the bill.
When to Go
Low Season: January to February
Bitterly, bitterly cold. It might rain or snow. You can find good deals on hotels as well as on Broadway, these are some of the quietest months for shows.
Shoulder Season: March to May and September to October
Shoulder season in New York draws visitors looking to stroll under the autumn leaves or past the blooming trees. There will still be tourists but not as many in high season and likely to find good deals on hotels.
High Season: November to December and June to August
People flock to New York City for the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, hotel rates will be sky high and rooms hard to come by. In summer, rates will rise with the temperatures. The streets will be flooded with people.
How to Get There
JFK Airport (JFK)
John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens is NYC's main international airport. It's the busiest airport in New York and the 13th busiest in the whole of the US; it's the busiest international air passenger gateway into North America. If you can't tell, it's busy... It's the hub for American Airlines, Delta Airlines and JetBlue, but you'll find all major airlines here ranging from Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines to AeroMexico and Virgin Atlantic.
LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
LaGuardia, also located in Queens, was New York City's first airport. LaGuardia serves national airline routes but there are no border control facilities so no international routes come through. It's the busiest airport in the US without nonstop flights to Europe. You'll find national carriers including Spirit, United Airlines, and American Airlines.
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
Newark International Airport is actually just outside New York, in New Jersey. Smaller than JFK, Newark serves international and national routes from several major airlines. It's a passenger and cargo airport, so it's a busy place. You can reach Newark from several European destinations.
Travelling by train
Penn Station is New York's Amtrak hub (the US's national rail carrier) and one of the busiest transport hubs in the world. If you're travelling by train into New York, you'll find yourself in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. The Moynihan Train Hall is a space age terminal located in the historic James A. Farley Post Office.
Travelling in the city
New York has an extensive but confusing subway network. Lines operate on a normal or express service, so paying attention to which service your on is key - express services don't stop at all stations so you could find yourself speeding past your stop.