It’s no secret around here that I bloody love New York. It is my favourite place in the entire world, but it isn’t exactly the cheapest holiday destination going.
Our trip next month will be my fifth, and over our past few visits I’ve managed to pick up a few tips and tricks to help keep costs down. And because I’m kind, I thought I’d share them all with you!
Here’s how to visit New York on a budget…
Flights from the UK to New York used to be eye-wateringly expensive, but there are loads of budget options available these days. Norwegian offer return flights from London for as little as £300 and Thomas Cook now fly almost daily from Manchester.
Another thing to consider is combining two trips into one to save money – we took advantage of an Icelandair stopover on our last trip which meant our flights to both Iceland and New York came in at a grand total of £400 each. Not bad when you consider that it usually costs around £150 to fly to Iceland from Manchester!
2) Budget for accommodation
Without a doubt the most expensive part of any trip to NYC is the accommodation – a bed doesn’t come cheap in this city! My tip here is to explore everything – on our previous visits we have always found getting an Airbnb in Brooklyn to be the cheapest option, but this time we actually found a hotel in Manhattan for cheaper on Expedia.
If you can afford to book your flights and hotel at the same time then definitely explore Expedia as you will get a discount for booking both elements of your trip through them – this saved us about £150 per person (extra Sephora pocket money, anyone?!)
3) Buy a MetroCard
New York is big and to make the most of your time there without spending all of your money on taxis, you’ll need to get familiar with the subway system. It’s super easy to use, but best of all, it’s much cheaper than using public transport in London. You can buy an unlimited week pass for around $30 that will get you all around Manhattan and Brooklyn – it’ll save your legs and your bank balance. Bargain.
4) Get yourself a CityPASS
If it’s your first time in New York then you’re probably going to want to see as many of the world famous sights, museums and galleries as you can – enter the CityPASS. For $122 you can visit 6 iconic attractions, including my faves, Top of the Rock and The Met.
We used this on our first trip to the city together and it was a great investment – as well as knowing that we had already paid for a lot of the expensive attractions, CityPASS holders also get to jump the queue. This is absolutely invaluable when you only have a short period of time to see as much as possible!
Like many major cities, there is tonnes to do in New York that won’t cost you a single penny! Timeout have a great list of free things to do here, but some of my favourites including wandering around Central Park (Manhattan) and Prospect Park (Brooklyn), walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (the best view in the world!) and visiting New York Public Library. It’s also well work taking a stroll along the High Line and you can get a pretty great view of the Statue of Liberty by riding the free Staten Island Ferry.
Keep your eyes peeled for any free events while you’re in the city too – it’s not unusual for free gigs and comedy evenings to be announced at the last minute.
6) Be flexible with when you visit
A great way to visit New York on a budget is to be flexible with when you go – the price of hotels and flights can vary greatly throughout the year. Christmas is one of the most expensive times of year to visit and summer is popular too, so if you’re looking to keep costs down avoid these times. The months of January to March tend to be the cheapest and you can grab a real bargain – my Mum and Dad managed to get flights and accomodation for 4 nights for only £500 each last January.
7) See the views from a bar
There’s nothing quite like seeing New York from above, but there’s no denying that paying to visit the Empire State Building can get pretty pricey. Instead, why not head up to a rooftop bar and take in the view over a cocktail? You’ll save yourself some money and you won’t have to elbow past a load of tourists either. The Ides at the Wythe Hotel is my fave but I’ve also heard great things about the view from 230 Fifth.
8) Buy sports and show tickets at the last minute
Seeing a Broadway show or attending a sports game are both activities that a lot of people have on their bucket list when they visit New York, but tickets certainly don’t come cheap. My main tip here is to leave it until the very last minute to buy your tickets – the prices tend to drop the closer it gets to the event.
For Broadway shows head to the big red steps in Times Square where you’ll find the TKTS booth selling tickets for various events and we’ve managed to grab a couple of sports ticket bargains from StubHub.
9) Make the most of cheap eats
One of my favourite things to do in New York is eat and there is so much choice that you really don’t need to break the bank. There are tonnes of great, cheap pizza places where you can pick up a slice for lunch and fast food joints like Shake Shack are great for grabbing a meal for less than $15. Street food markets are also a great option for keeping costs down – you can check out some of my favourite ones in this post.
Like in any city, steer clear of the tourist hotspots if you don’t want to be ripped off – never, ever eat in Times Square!
Do you have any other tips for visiting New York on a budget?