If you have 4 days in New York, you have just enough time to make the most of the city and see all the most iconic attractions at a nice, leisurely pace. Mind you: New York is huge, and if you have just 4 days in town you really can’t swing it. While this is enough time to see things without rushing, it still requires some careful planning.
If you follow a carefully crafted itinerary, book your tickets for the most popular attractions in advance and keep a good pace, you will be able to see the a lot and take in the incredible vibe of this amazing city.
I know you probably aren’t a fan of planning. But I am here for you. I have visited the city countless times, and I have even lived there for a few months years ago, as I was working for the United Nations. In other words: I know my way around town quite well and I can help you by putting together a fabulous, easy to follow itinerary to make the most of New York in 4 days.
All is left for you to do is book your flights, your hotel and get skip the line tickets for the attractions you may want to visit.
In this post, I will tell you how to make the most of your 4 days in New York. I will also share some useful tips to to plan for your trip.
What You Need To Know About This 4 Days In New York Itinerary
Before explaining all the things to see and do with 4 days in New York, I want to tell you one more time that you need to book your tickets to the most popular tourist attractions before going. If you don’t, you may end up stuck in line and wasting precious time you may make better use of.
I will let you know whenever you need to buy tickets in advance and point you to the easiest booking sites.
For this itinerary, I will assume that you have at least a full 4 days in New York – which means you also spending 4 nights in town. You will to wake up early every day and leave your hotel no later than 8:00 am. Lunch will be a quick affair, but you can sit down for a meal in the evening.
GOOD TO KNOW: The timings I mentioned for the various attractions are just estimates. It really is up to you how long you spend in a place, but keeping pace is important if you want to see everything.
This itinerary is meant to show you attractions that are close to each other on the same day, to minimize the use of public transportation.
I have included some of the most famous places to visit in New York and a few others that will enrich your experience. On some days, I will give you a choice between various museums that are close to one another, so that you can visit the one that interests you the most. By all means, feel free to ditch the attractions that don’t interest you!
For each of your 4 days in New York, I will point you to starting point of the itinerary and share links to a map so that you know how to get from one place to the other. Use public transportation to get to the starting point in the morning, and again in the evening to go back to your hotel.
Continue reading to discover how to make the most of your 4 days in New York.
A Fantastic Itinerary For 4 Days In New York
Day one – The Financial District and Lower Manhattan
The first of your 4 days in New York is all about the Financial District. Your first stop will be the Statue of Liberty – you will catch the ferry from Battery Park. You will then go to 9/11 Memorial and the World Trade Center; the Oculus and then to Wall Street.
Map of day 1 New York itinerary
Click here to download the map you need to follow for your first day in New York. Feel free to rearrange the order of the various attractions you want to visit to follow your tastes and needs.
Recommended lunch spots
Battery Park. You will find several eateries, delis and bakeries where you can each lunch after once you get off the ferry.
Eataly. It’s south of the Oculus and focuses on Italian food. You will have ample choice.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
With 4 days in New York, the Statue of Liberty is a must. The symbol of the United States, and an iconic attraction, the statue is actually a donation from France (it was donated in the 19th century) and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Seeing the Statue of Liberty from the ferry (and getting the views of Manhattan on the way back) is an incredible experience. Once you get to the actual statue, head to the Pedestal to visit the museum and learn more about the history of the statue. You need specific tickets to climb all the way to the crown. Tours to the Statue of Liberty usually continue to Ellis Island.
GOOD TO KNOW: Tours of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island last between 3 and 4 hours. These are the ones I do recommend. But if you want a quicker thing, opt for a 60 minutes cruise around the statue. You won’t disembark but the views are stunning.
TIP: Aim to catch the very first ferry to the Statue of Liberty, which departs at 8:30 am. You should be back at around 12:30, in time for lunch.
The ferry leaves from Battery Park. Expect a bit of a line to get on board so make sure to get there well in advance.
These are the best tours of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island:
- Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island early access tour – the best option as it gives very early access;
- Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island & 9/11 Tour with Priority One World Observatory Tickets – a great tour that pretty much covers all of your day one itinerary;
- Early Access Statue of Liberty Tour with Statue Pedestal Access & Ellis Island Tour – an early morning walk for stunning views;
- Statue of Liberty priority or flexible ticket – a good budget friendly option. You get an audioguide;
- 60-minute cruise around the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island – a shorter visit in case you want to have more time for other attractions.
TIP: Make sure to book your Statue of Liberty tickets and tours well in advance to grab the earliest available tour!
9/11 Memorial and Museum
9/11 Memorial and Museum is honestly a must, and when you have 4 days in New York there is not excuse not to go.
The Memorial is made up of twin reflecting pools. These intend to be the footprints of the Twin Towers. The man made waterfall is the largest in North America. The Memorial also has some inscriptions of the names of those who died in the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks. The Museum has an exhibit that will walk you through the events of 9/11.
GOOD TO KNOW: Your visit will last about 2 hours for your visit, whether you opt for a guided tour of the museum or just the basic skip-the-line ticket.
These are some good guided tour options for 9/11 Memorial and Museum:
- 9/11 Memorial Tour & Priority Entrance 9/11 Museum Tickets – despite the name, this is actually a guided tour;
- 9/11 Memorial Tour with Priority Entrance Observatory Tickets – this is the most inclusive option;
- 9/11 Memorial and Museum skip the line entry – a timed entrance ticket that is actually budget friendly;
- 9/11 Memorial, Ground Zero and optional museum entry – the most budget friendly option, but the museum is not included.
Check out my post “How To Get 9/11 Museum Tickets And Skip The Lines.”
For a truly hassle free day where you literally have to worry just to get to the meeting point, I recommend one of the two excellent tours below. They include guided visit to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, 9/11 Memorial and Museum, One World Observatory and the Oculus:
- Statue of Liberty Tour, Ellis Island, & 9/11 Memorial Tour with 9/11 Museum Tickets
- Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island & 9/11 Tour with Priority One World Observatory Tickets
World Trade Center Observatory
New York is a fabulous city to admire from above. I am hardly a fan of helicopter rides – they have such a high impact on the environment and I won’t recommend them. What I recommend, however, is to head up the World Trade Center Observatory. If you have 4 days in New York, this is a must!
This is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere with a height of 541 meters. Built where the World Trade Center used to be before the terrorist attacks of 9/11, it provides spanning views of Manhattan that go all the way to the Statue of Liberty.
TIP: By the time you make it to the World Trade Center it will be around 3:30 pm. It takes about an hour and a half to visit.
These are some good skip the line options for the World Trade Center:
- One World Observatory and World Trade Center tour – a guided tour for a more in depth visit;
- One World Observatory skip all lines – a more budget friendly option to self guide you around the attraction;
- One World Observatory all inclusive flex package – a very inclusive tour. At the end of it you even get a couple of drinks.
Built to be the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, the Oculus is a great shopping mall and honestly an architecture work of art. It’s a great place to browse at shops, grab a quick coffee and marvel at the building.
Not far from the World Trade Center you will find Wall Street. I am sure you have seen it many times on movies, TV shows and news reports. Your quick visit should include the statues of the Charging Bull and that of the Fearless girl.
Chinatown is one of the most interesting neighborhoods in New York. It is packed with Asian style restaurants, nice shops and attractions. It’s a cool place to wander around – you will love its vibe, the Chinese signs, and the shops where you can find all sorts of Asian goodies.
Right across Canal Street from Chinatown you can find Little Italy, so you can easily add it to your 4 days in New York itinerary.
DISCLAIMER: I am a very picky Italian eater and as such I feel obliged to say that the Italian food you are bound to eat in Little Italy is not authentic Italian food. BUT! It is authentic American Italian, and actually very tasty. This is a very good area to stop for dinner before heading back to your hotel – albeit quite touristy and hence expensive.
Either way, Little Italy is actually fun to see. There are some nice boutiques and great bars.
Care to do a food tour in Manhattan that goes to Little Italy and Chinatown? Check out this food tour of Manhattan that lasts a whopping 3 hours here. Otherwise, you can opt for this guided food tour of Little Italy – check it out here.
Day two – Museums, Central Park and Midtown Manhattan
Day two of your New York in 4 days itinerary is all about museums. The bad news is that if you have 4 days in New York, unless you are a museum geek you really don’t have time to visit more than one or two – unless you give up on other attractions.
That’s why I am giving you the option to pick between three – all of them interesting for different reasons, and all of them located around Central Park. After your visit, you can continue exploring the city going to Central Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock, Grand Central Station and Times Square.
Map of day 2 New York Itinerary
Here you can find the map for your second day in town. I gave the MET as the starting point, but adjust it accordingly if you decide to visit a different museum. Remember you can skip the attractions you are not interested in!
Recommended lunch spots
The Plaza Food Hall. It’s located right outside the southern entrance of Central Park. Inside, you can find a variety of places for a quick meal.
Sarabeths Central Park South. If you have the budget to splurge, this is one of the best restaurants near the park.
OPTION 1: Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) if one of the options I felt I should provide. This is one of the best art galleries in the world. You will find an enormous collection with pieces ranging from ancient Egypt to contemporary art.
It would normally take a full day to visit the museum, but you don’t have that much time. Pick a map and head straight to the galleries and rooms that interest you the most.
GOOD TO KNOW: Re-admissions are allowed at the MET, so you can leave for a break and come back to explore further.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: MET opens every day from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. On Fridays and Saturdays it closes at 9:00 pm. Admission is $25.
PRO TIP: If you are visiting New York on a Friday or Saturday, walk this itinerary in reverse and leave the MET as the last attraction of the day. It’s open until 9:00 pm.
OPTION 2: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
I am a massive fan of this museum, home to some truly iconic works of modern art. You will find pieces of Vincent van Gogh and Warhol and the works of Matisse, Gauguin, Picasso, Dali and Pollock.
TIP: Save some time by getting tickets in advance here. These are the best options:
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: MOMA is open daily from 10.30 am to 5:30 pm. It closes at 9:00 pm on Fridays and on the first Thursday of the month. Admission is $25.
OPTION 3: The Guggenheim
Famous for its art collection as well as for the incredible architecture of the building, the Guggenheim Museum was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and first opened in 1959. The hosted exhibits change regularly so make sure to check before going what’s on schedule at the time of your visit.
Tickets to the Guggenheim can be bought online – they usually include admission to special exhibits too. Here are the best skip the line options:
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open every day from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. It closes at 8:00 pm on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Admission is $25.
With 4 days in New York, you certainly can’t skip Central Park. This 315 hectares park is a fun place to explore and it is actually free to visit. Walk around to search the most iconic spots or rent a bike to get there quicker. You can book your bike rental here.
Among the places you should try to see in the park, there are: Strawberry Fields, aka John Lennon’s memorial; Bethesda fountain and terrace; Belvedere Castle; the Lake and Gapstow Bridge.
RESPONSIBLE TOURIST TIP: Don’t ride the horse pulled carriages!
Read more about responsible tourism on my post “The Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler.”
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Located on Fifth Avenue, near the south corner of Central Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a Gothic style church that was first inaugurated in 1878. Pop in to take a quick look around.
Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock
Rockefeller Center is a series of buildings in Art Deco style not far from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Commissioned by oil magnate Rockefeller, they became famous for the ice rink and the Christmas tree – which are a must see if you happen to be around at Christmas time. Connected to the center there’s the Top of the Rock, a 1930s Art Deco skyscraper. The views of Midtown and Downtown from there are stunning.
GOOD TO KNOW: Admission to the Top of The Rock is timed so make sure to book your ticket before going.
These are the best options:
Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central is one of the major transport hubs in New York. You will probably go through it during your 4 days in New York. It’s worth nothing that this is a stunning building dating back to 1913, with shops, restaurants and more. You can even take a self-guided tour of Grand Central that you can book here. It lasts about one hour.
Times Square is one of the most famous places in New York – the kind you see on TV and movies all the time. It’s a fun place despite very chaotic and touristy.
TIP: Mind the scams in this part of town! Beware of people wearing cartoon characters costumes: they demand money when posing for a photo.
Day Three – The Empire State Building and the Village
This day is once again about views and neighborhoods. You will start with the Empire State Building (a real must if you have 4 days in New York) and then walk along High Line and explore Greenwich Village. At night, you can go see a show in Broadway.
Map of day 3 New York Itinerary
Here is a map for today’s itinerary. You will be walking, but the distances are manageable.
Recommended lunch spots
Chelsea Market. Located on 75 Ninth Avenue (between 15th and 16th st.), you will find lots of budget friendly places for a quick meal. My favorite is Miznon, an Israeli chain that serves delicious stuffed pita.
Empire State Building
The most famous skyscraper in Manhattan is an absolute must if you have 4 days in New York. The views from the observation deck are breathtaking. The skyscraper was completed in 1931. At that time, it was the tallest building in the world.
GOOD TO KNOW: It will take about 90 minutes to get all the way to the observation deck and to visit.
TIP: Book in advance! There usually are long lines to get to the Empire State Building observatory, so this is really a must. Make sure to head there nice and early before it opens to avoid the line for the elevator.
These are the best tours and skip the line tickets to the Empire State Building:
- Empire State Building Observatory tickets – an excellent skip the line option with an audioguide.
- Empire State Building day and night entry – you get in twice on the same day.
- Empire State Building sunrise experience – perfect views of New York at sunrise, but it is actually quite expensive.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The observation deck opens daily from 8:00 am to 2:00 am.
Close to New York Public Library and not nearly as touristy as Central Park, Bryant Park saw major changes in the last few decades, when it was turned from drug dealing and prostitution hub into a lovely spot where people enjoy exercising or spending a relaxing afternoon or night (summer movie Mondays are fun).
This is one of the oddest looking buildings in New York. Located on Fifth Avenue at the end of Madison Square, the Flatiron Building was completed in 1902 measures 87 meters in height. You can easily add it to this 4 days in New York itinerary.
This is one of the coolest attractions in New York and – quite rare for one of the most expensive cities in the world – it is actually free. The High Line goes through Midtown Manhattan from Chelsea Market (which by the way is a perfect lunch spot) all the way to Greenwich, so it is perfect for this 4 days in New York itinerary.
It used to be a railway viaduct that had been abandoned in the 1980s. It opened again in 2009 after it was completely remodeled by Dutch landscape architect Piet Oudolf who turned into an elevated park.
Whitney Museum of American Art
Whitney Museum of American Art houses an incredible collection of works by American artists of the 20th and 21st century. It is located right by the High Line in the Greenwich Village, so if you are into art this may be an interesting addition to your itinerary.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm every day but Tuesday. It closes at 10:00 pm on Fridays. Admission is $25 USD. You can get tickets in advance here.
This is one of the most charming and famous neighborhood in Manhattan and if you have 4 days in New York you do have time to visit. You will surely remember this is where TV show Sex And The City was filmed – it’s where Carrie Bradshaw apartment is located.
You can roam around quite easily, but if you want a tour you will be happy to know that there are some good ones. Here they are:
- Sex And The City hotspots tour – a popular tour that actually goes through Manhattan and includes the village. It lasts 3.5 hours so it’s value for money.
- Greenwich Village 2-hour tour – a highly recommended tour that goes through the village in depth. It starts at 1:30 pm so it fits nicely in this itinerary.
Washington Square Park
Washington Square is really close to Greenwich Village so you can stop there on your way back uptown. It’s a nice park where you will find a marble arch. It’s a place where artists and families with children love hanging out.
OPTION 1: Broadway
If you want a fun night out during your 4 days in New York, you can opt to see a show in Broadway. All you have to do is pick one of the 41 theaters (some have century-old signs) and the show you want to see. It’s not exactly budget friendly, but certainly a cool thing to do.
OPTION 2: Metropolitan Opera House
Feeling more sophisticated? Head to the Metropolitan Opera House instead. It is located in Lincoln Center, in a massive modernist building that is quite a sight from the outside and has a just as massive stage on the inside. I saw ballet and opera shows when I lived in New York and they were absolutely the thing!
Day 4 – Brooklyn
Your last day in New York is all about Brooklyn. This is one of the coolest areas of town and with 4 days in New York you really have to visit. I am sure you will enjoy it!
You will go all the way to lower Manhattan to cross the bridge, then get to see the incredible views from Brooklyn Heights. You can continue to DUMBO and then head to Bushwick for a street art tour. You can head back to Manhattan from Williambsurg Bridge.
Map of day 4 itinerary
You can find your map for this day here. You will see Bushwick is quite far off so you can opt to skip it – if street art is not your thing – or use transportation to get there.
Recommended lunch spots
Westville Dumbo. In the DUMBO area, this is a lovely spot where you can grab a sandwich or a salad.
Height’s Falafel. A budget friendly place in Brooklyn Heights. Grab the deal and run before they raise the prices! Oh, and the food is actually good.
Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Heights
One of the most memorable sights of New York, Brooklyn Bridge connects lower Manhattan to Brooklyn across the East River. It as completed in 1883, when it was the first ever suspension bridge built. The views of the bridge and from the bridge are incredible so I recommend walking or biking its full length.
Once you get off the bridge, make sure to walk towards Brooklyn Heights Promenade for unforgettable views of Lower Manhattan.
GOOD TO KNOW: Well ok, this is probably irrelevant for the purpose of this itinerary but I wanted to say these are my favorite views of Manhattan.
Brooklyn Heights is the first suburb of New York City. This lovely neighborhood with Victorian style buildings, historic churches and Brooklyn Promenade offer a lovely, less crowded experience compared to Manhattan.
If you care for a guided tour, these are some good options:
- 2-hour Brooklyn Bridge bike tour – you will bike for around 20 km and get incredible views. The bike is actually an hybrid so it is not tiring.
- Brooklyn Bridge and Dumbo 2 hour walking tour – a great tour that shows you the best of Brooklyn. It has great reviews.
- Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn half day tour – a classic tour that goes to three famous parts of New York.
DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is one of the coolest areas of Brooklyn. I am pretty sure you know which one I am talking about because it’s a popular spot for the perfect Instagram photo. Try to get your own!
If you love street art and art in general, this part of Brooklyn really is for you. There are murals scattered around, and many cool art galleries to check out. I recommend going on a guided tour to make the most of it. You can check out these:
- Graffiti and street art 2 hour walking tour – a great tour that takes you in the heart of the neighborhood and explains how the various pieces came about.
- Bushwick street art walking tour – another great tour, a bit shorter than the previous one.
Another suspension bridge, this one was opened in 1903 to connect Brooklyn to Manhattan. It’s a fun sight as it is all pink. The views of the city and of Brooklyn Bridge from it are stunning.
Using A New York Pass
If you plan to spend 4 days in New York, you may want to get a New York Pass so that you can have discounts (up to 41% in total) and skip the line access to many attractions. City passes usually include a transportation pass – quite convenient if you plan to use public transportation. You can get your pass here or here.
The New York CityPass gives you admission to many of the attractions mentioned in itinerary, such as the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Top of the Rock Observation Deck or Guggenheim Museum; the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
GOOD TO KNOW: Remember you still have to make reservations for the various attractions.
Practical Tips To Make The Most Of New York In 4 Days
Where to stay in New York
There are many excellent places to stay in New York – though brace yourself, the city is incredibly expensive. If you only have 4 days in New York, it’s best to stay somewhere in Manhattan – it’s definitely easier for the purpose of this itinerary.
These are some good places to stay in Manhattan:
- French Quarters has nice, cozy though somewhat small rooms. It’s close to many attractions. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Hotel 50 Bowery is a gem of a place in Chinatown, with nice, larger rooms. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- CitizenM New York Times Square has well organized rooms in a very good location. Top floor rooms are nicer, but they cost more. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
When to visit New York
I am a massive fan of New York in the winter – seeing it under a blanket of snow is a special experience. Having said that, it certainly is easier to visit when the weather is mild and the days longer, so I will suggest going in the spring or early fall.
How to get to New York
New York is very well connected to the rest of the United States and the world. JFK airport is the best connected to the city. Skyscanner is where to look for cheap flight. For flights from Europe, Air France normally has the best deals.
Getting from JFK to Manhattan
You have various options to get from JFK airport to Manhattan.
Taxis are the easiest way to get to Manhattan. They have a flat rate of $52 but you will have to add the tolls and a $4.50 surcharge on peak hours (between 4:00 and 8:00 pm on weekdays).
UBER costs more or less the same as taxis. If you don’t have internet connection to use the app, just hail a taxi instead.
Shuttles are a cheap option. They start at around $20 and you can book them online. You can book yours here.
The AirTrain is the most budget friendly option as it goes to Manhattan for less than $8. There are 3 different AirTrain lines.
How to move around New York
This itinerary is meant to minimize your use of public transportation but you will need to do so on occasions.
The most reliable, easiest and cheapest way to move around New York is by subway – it’s open 24/7 and a ticket costs $3 USD. Unless you are getting a New York CityPass which includes public transport, I recommend getting the Metro Card. Rides are a bit cheaper ($2.75 USD instead of $3) and it saves you time from getting tickets each time you need to use the subway. The card is re-usable and you can add credit whenever you need.
Luggage storage in New York
There are many places in New York where you can safely store your bags if you need. LuggageHero is a good site to look for locations closer to where you are staying. They have storage facilities in Grand Central Terminal, Port Authority Bus Terminal, Penn Station, and Times Square.
Other useful tips
Get a guide book
A good guide book may be a helpful resource. Here are a few good ones:
Get a data plan for your smartphone
If you are spending 4 days in New York, you will want to have data for internet connection for quick searches and to use Google Maps or other apps. Either way, make sure to download the maps I have shares so you can use them offline.
Mind the scams
New York is not immune from scams – like any other place where there are lots of tourists. Beware of taxi scams; watch out in the area around Times Square as people dressed in cartoon characters costumes will demand money whenever they pose for a photo. Remember that the Staten Island Ferry is free so don’t pay for tickets (someone will try to sell them to you!). Beware of pickpockets on the subway.
Get a good travel insurance
Whether you spend 4 days in New York ore more, you will need a good travel insurance. Get yours here.
Check out my post “Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.”
Further readings about the United States
Are you planning a trip to the United States? Make sure to read my other posts:
- 35 Incredible Things To Do In New York City
- Where To Get The Best Views In New York
- A Complete Guide To Visiting The Statue Of Liberty
- A Great Itinerary For A Week In New York
- A Wonderful Itinerary For A Day In New York
- The Perfect Itinerary To See New York In 2 Days
- A Fabulous Itinerary For 3 Days In New York
- 5 Days In New York: An Easy To Follow New York Itinerary
- A Great Itinerary For 3 Days In San Francisco
- The 10 Best Places To Visit In California (That Aren’t Just Cities)
- 15 Unmissable Things To Do In California
- 10 Things To Do For A Fabulous Trip To Miami
- Seven Adrenaline Filled Things To Do In Yellowstone (With Kids!)
- 10 Not To Miss Hikes Near Denver
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