5-day Itinerary for First-Time Visitors
Here’s my Ultimate list of the Top Things to Do on your First Trip to New York City.
Today I’ll share with you my recommendations for your first visit of NYC. Use this easy-to-follow 5-day itinerary to get the most out of your stay and do not miss out of the best must-see places and amazing things to do in NYC.
Big Apple is my favourite destination, and my first visit was with my best friend Zuzka (Suzie) years ago. Since then I have visited this amazing city couple of times and I fell in love with it. It holds a magic that keeps you coming back for more and it has its charm that I have not felt to be replicated by another city I have visited yet
The lights, the sounds, busy streets, bustling subways, stylish shops on every corner & endless number of great tourist attractions makes this amazing city to deserve the title of The City That Never Sleeps.
Where to Stay
We have stayed at Best Western Hotel in Queens, which was more budget-friendly option. From there it took us around 15 minutes to get to Manhattan. Including time on Subway.
If you wish to stay in Manhattan I would recommend these amazing hotels:
- Library Hotel
- Pod 39
- Park Savoy Hotel –great for its location. Near Central Park, 5th Avenue, Columbus Circle
Related Post: For more hotel option check out Where to Stay in New York City
For the first day I would recommend to start with getting to know the city. And there’s no better way to do it than by visiting Empire State Building.
With sweeping 360° views, it is a great way to orient yourself to the Big Apple. And let me tell you, the view is unforgettable.
This iconic art deco skyscraper was originally constructed in 1931 and stood as the tallest building in the world for almost 40 years.
Since it’s a very popular tourist destination, you’ll want to get there very early to beat the crowd or I would recommend to book your tickets in advance.
From there you can continue on 34th Street and stop at Macy’s – the world’s largest department store. You can look around, do some shopping or have a quick snack at some of many food hubs inside.
Next stop: Flatiron Building! Situated on the crossroad of 23th Street, Broadway & Fifth Avenue.
Continue your walking tour all the way to the Washington Square Park
What I love about this pace the most is that in the summer, people are actually swimming in te fountains! Yes! 🙂 Sun-tanning near the fountains, all dressed in their swim suits, I loved it!
For European like me it was a bit shocking at the beginning (in a good way!), because usually if not always, it is prohibited to swim in pubic fountains. Anyway I loved how it here surves its purpose and I swam there as well, of course :).
Continue your day sightseeing in Little Italy, Chinatown and SoHo – Cast-Iron Historic District, famouse for its amazing cast-iron architecture, urban atmosphere, lofts and art galleries.
For evening activity I would recomment to finally visit Times Square. Enjoy it in its beauty, at night-time.
Have a diner in Hell’s Kitchen dictrict – which known for its Restaurant Row & after diner go to see one of the Broadway Shows.
Start your second day in a historical vibe. The best choice would be Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty.
Afterwards, you can enjoy brunch at Wallstreet – Financial District.
In the afternoon you can start exploring Lower Manhattan.
Visit Battery Park -named after the artillery batteries that were positioned there in the early years to protect the settlement behind them.
Continue to the 9/11 Memorial. You can also visit Mueum situated inside. You will notice historic Trinity Church– served as a place for refugees, workers and volunteers that were taking part in the 9/11 recovery efforts.
These places you can also visit nearby:
- City Hall Park
- Federal Hall
- One World Trade Center
- One World Observatory
- Yacht Harbour
After a long day walking around, return back to your apartment and get ready for a night-out. Do it like a real New Yorker & visit one of many New York City rooftop bars and enjoy the beauty & glitter of this magical city to the fullest.
Here are some of my rooftop recommendations:
- Skylark – great coctails, wonderfull views
- 230 Fifth – great view of the Empire State Building
- The Mckittrick Hotel
Enjoy this day by exploring Lower Manhattan little more. And the best way to do it, is by visiting Greenwich Village – in my opninion the most beautiful neighborhood.
Start from Christopher street, head down south and stroll down Grove Street and to Bedford Street. At the corner of these streets you’ll find the building used for exterior shots of the Friends apartment building.
Enjoy the area, explore these narrow streets lined with trees and Federalist style row houses.
You can have a snack at Bleeckers Street – what in my opinion is better Little Italy.
After tasting some delicious margherita pizza & espresso, you can head to the southernmost entrance to the High Line at Gansevoort & Washington Streets. you’ll High Line is one of the city’s newest parks, which sits on an abandoned elevated freight rail line.
It’s one of my favourite spots, because an unhappy looking area was rebuiled into beautiful piece of architecture in “green clothing”.
This 1.5 miles of urban landscaping heaven includes various gardens, breathtaking views of the Hudson and surrounding urban landscape. In between 14th & 15th Streets, the High Line passes through Chalsea Market. Originally a home to National Biscuit Factory, nowadays a place where you can enjoy tasty brunch, cup of coffe, or you can shop for souvenirs or other things from local artists or fleas.
If you wish to have Sex and the City moment stop at 64 Perry Street – Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment (used for first 3 series, replaced by fancier-looking apartment next door).
Today you can start a day little later, by grabing a brunch to-go a enjoy this brunch in Central Park.
After eating your delicous brunch, coffee and refreshing morning among this iconic green heaven you can enjoy your day a little more by visiting these places nearby:
- Central Park Zoo
- American Museum of Natural History
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Carnegie Hill
You can continue your walking tour down the Fifth Avenue.
Enjoy Upper East Side by doing a little shopping. You can find here many famous fashion brands like Chloe, Abercrombie and Fitch, Tiffany and Co, Prada, Armani, Victoria’s Secret, Christian Louboutin, Coach, Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Barney’s New York, etc.
Walk by the famouse Hotel Plaza from Home Alone 2.
These places you can see & visit on-the-way:
- Trump Tower
- Apple store
- Radio City Hall
- Rockefeller Center – can enjoy great view from the buildings observation deck
- Museum of Modern Art – 6th Avenue, worth visiting for art lovers. Tickets are about 25$ per person.
- Magnolia Bakery
From there you can take a little turn to Lexington Avenue to see Chrysler Building another popular Art Deco building.
From there you can turn to 42nd Street and enjoy iconic Grand Central Station. This place is amazing! Historical, yet classy!
Another do-not-miss places in the nearby:
- New York Public Library
- Bryant Park
- Yankees Clubhouse
After this fun day, get ready to party like a real New Yorker!
Generally the Meatpacking District is great for a night-out. It’s a trendy area, packed with stylish lounges, swanky nightclubs, and designer stores. The prices are higher though.
If you are looking for more on-budget fun, I would reccomend Lower East Village.
Here are some of my recommendations for clubs and bars:
- Apotheke – located in Chinatown
- The Wren – located in NoHo
- The Wayland – located in East Village
- Mulberry Project – located in Little Italy
- Kingston Hall – located in East Village
Enjoy your last day starting by doing a bike tour through the Brooklyn Bridge.
Spend some time in Brooklyn. This iconic part of Manhattan, the most populated district, originally a Dutch town „Breuckelen“ used to be independent city until 1898, when it became part of New York.
In the last years it became very popular, however still cheaper living and more budget friendly option for new Yorkers and it’s commonly known as ”The New Manhattan”.
There is many places you can visit in Brooklyn.
Here are some of the places I recommend:
- Red Hook – typical untouched old town urban atmosphere
- Brooklyn Heights
You can end your day, the last day of your stay visiting Madam Tussauds Museum on Times Square & Enjoy some delicious shrimp at Bubba Gum Restaurant.
I hope you liked my tour and I hope it will help you to plan your next adventure to this concrete jungle.
Please, If you have found something I forgot to mention leave me a comment!
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