Do you have 4 days in New York and are trying to figure out an itinerary that will help you make the most of the city, see as many attractions as possible, and have fun while you do? Worry not: I am here to help.
Truth be told, seeing New York in 4 days is no piece of cake. The city is immense; there are lots of things to do; and you may easily get overwhelmed by it. This is an ever changing city, with so much going on every single day. But if you follow my 4 days New York itinerary you are guaranteed a good time. I have lived in the city, and have been there multiple times, so I know what are the places that will make you wow, and I will share a bunch of hacks so that you can have a smooth experience.
Useful Tips To Use This 4 Days In New York Itinerary
This itinerary was drafted with the assumption that you have 4 full days in New York – with 4 nights in town, too. If you only have 3 nights in town, check out my post 3 days New York Itinerary instead.
Here are a few useful tips that will help you master this itinerary:
HEAD OUT EARLY: Plan to be out and about at 8:00 am every day.
BOOK ATTRACTIONS ONLINE – And before visiting. I will tell you any time it’s necessary.
TIME AT ATTRACTIONS ARE ESTIMATE – Whenever I mention the recommended visiting time at a place, remember it’s based on general experience. At times, you find you may need more (or less). Having said so, try to
KEEP YOUR TIMINGS.
LUNCH IS ON THE GO – Sit down for a meal in the evening.
A Fantastic Itinerary For 4 Days In New York
Day one – The Financial District and Lower Manhattan
Map of day 1
Click here to look at the map you need to follow on your first day in town.
For a completely hassle free first day in New York, consider joining a guided tour such as Take Walks Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island & 9/11 Tour with Priority One World Observatory Tickets – at the time of writing, it costs less than $112, which is a real deal considering you get tickets to all the attractions and a guide. It also goes to the Oculus!
You can book the tour here.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Let’s start your 4 days in New York with a visit to the Statue of Liberty. You may not know it, but the symbol of the United States, and the most iconic New York attraction is actually located in New Jersey territory. Donated to the US by France in the 19th century, it now is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ferries to the Statue of Liberty depart from Battery Park. The first leaves at 8:30 am, and you should plan to get that – be there early as there is a line to board.
Tours last between 3 and 4 hours and typically stop at the Statue of Liberty, where you disembark and get to visit the Pedestal and the museum. You need a separate ticket to climb to the crown. Once done, tours continue to Ellis Island before heading back to Battery Park.
You need to book your Statue of Liberty tour well in advance. You can consider this Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island early access tour. If you’d rather go on a private tour, click here.
For a cheaper, quicker option, you can consider this 60-minute cruise around the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Keep in mind you will literally only cruise around the statue.
You can have lunch in Battery Park once you get off the ferry – there are plenty of nice eateries.
9/11 Memorial and Museum
9/11 Memorial is made up of twin reflecting pools meant to be the footprints of the Twin Towers; and of a man made waterfall that is the largest in North America. The Memorial also has the plaques with the inscription of the victims of the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks. The well curated Museum has an exhibit that will walk you through the events of 9/11.
Book your visit of 9/11 Memorial and Museum in advance. You can consider this /11 Memorial and Museum skip the line entry.
For a more budget friendly option, consider this /11 Memorial, Ground Zero and optional museum entry.
Check out my post “How To Get 9/11 Museum Tickets And Skip The Lines.”
World Trade Center Observatory
With 4 days in New York, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch a great view of the city. Among the most impressive there’s that from the World Trade Center Observatory, which spans all the way to the Statue of Liberty. Currently the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere with a height of 541 meters (1775 feet), it was built where the World Trade Center used to be before 9/11.
Built to be the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, the Oculus is an architectural wonder. This shopping mall is perfect for a quick look around, and to grab a coffee.
One of the most famous streets in the world, Wall Street is where you can admire the statues of the Charging Bull and that of the Fearless girl; and the exterior of NYC Stock Exchange. Not far from it, Trinity Church, is an Episcopalian Parish built in Gothic style whose cemetery is Alexander Hamilton’s burial place.
One of the most interesting neighborhoods in New York, Chinatown 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 fun Asian goodies for sale.
Right across Canal Street from Chinatown, Little Italy is another fun neighborhood, home to a massive selection of Italian-American style restaurants. There are some nice boutiques and great bars.
If you are curious to find out more about local cuisine, 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 here.
Day two – Museums, Central Park and Midtown Manhattan
Map of day 2
Here you can find the map for your second day in town. I gave the MET as the starting point, but the map is easy to adjust in case you want to go to another museum – they are all more or less in the same area.
OPTION 1: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Among the most important art galleries in the world, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) has a collection with pieces ranging from ancient Egypt to contemporary art.
A full day is usually recommended to visit the museum, but you don’t have that. So pick a map at the entrance and walk straight to the collections you are most interested in.
OPTION 2: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Displaying iconic works of modern art, at MOMA you will find pieces of Vincent van Gogh and Warhol and the works of Matisse, Gauguin, Picasso, Dali and Pollock.
The museum is open daily from 10.30 am to 5:30 pm. Admission is $25. You can buy tickets here.
OPTION 3: The Guggenheim
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and first opened in 1959, the Guggenheim is famous for its art collection as well as for the incredible architecture. Exhibits change regularly, so if you intend to visit check what’s on.
With 4 days in New York, Central Park is a must – plus it’s free, so you have no excuse. This 315 hectares park is a fun place to explore on foot or on bike. You can book your bike rental here.
Unmissable sights in the park are Strawberry Fields, aka John Lennon’s memorial; Bethesda fountain and terrace; Belvedere Castle; the Lake and Gapstow Bridge. One thing not to do, on the other hand, is riding horse pulled carriages! Read why here and here.
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
At a short distance from St. Patrick’s Cathedral you’ll find Rockefeller Center, a series of Art Deco that were commissioned by oil magnate Rockefeller, and a popular Christmas spot in town thanks to the iconic ice rink and Christmas tree. One of the buildings is the Top of the Rock, a 1930s Art Deco skyscraper from where you can enjoy views of Midtown and Downtown.
Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central is one of the major transport hubs in New York. You will probably go through the station during your 4 days in New York. The building dates back to 1913 and is truly beautiful, with shops, restaurants, an oyster bar and more.
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.
Day Three – The Empire State Building and the Village
Map of day 3
Here is a map for today’s itinerary.
Empire State Building
If you only go up one skyscraper in Manhattan during your 4 days in New York, it has to be this one. The views from the observation deck are breathtaking. The skyscraper was completed in 1931 and back then it was the tallest building in the world.
Book your visit of the Empire State Building Observatory in advance here and be prepared for a line for the elevator. Factor in about 90 minutes for your visit.
Close to New York Public Library and not nearly as touristy as Central Park, Bryant Park went from being a drug dealing and prostitution hub to 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, completed in 1902 and measuring 87 meters (285 feet). Located on Fifth Avenue at the end of Madison Square, you can easily pass by it.
The High Line is one of the latest additions to New York’s fun (and 100% free) attractions. This former railway viaduct goes through Midtown Manhattan from Chelsea Market (a great lunch spot) all the way to Greenwich.
Abandoned, in the 1980s, the viaduct 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 you may want to pop in.
The museum is open from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm on Thursdays and Fridays; from 11:30 am to 6:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays and from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm on Mondays. Admission is $25 USD. You must get tickets in advance here.
This is one of the most charming and famous neighborhood in Manhattan, the set of famous TV series such as Sex And The City – it’s where Carrie Bradshaw apartment is located.
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 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, go 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
Map of day 4
You can find your map for this day here. Bushwick is quite far off so you if street art is not your thing just skip it.
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 was completed in 1883 – the first suspension bridge ever built. The views of the bridge and from the bridge are incredible make sure to walk or bike its full length.
Once you get off the bridge, walk through Brooklyn Bridge Park to make your way to Brooklyn Heights, the first suburb of New York City. This is a lovely neighborhood with Victorian style buildings, historic churches. From Brooklyn Heights Promenade you can get unforgettable views of Lower Manhattan.
DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is one of the coolest areas of Brooklyn and a popular Instagram location. This Brooklyn Bridge and Dumbo 2 hour walking tour takes you there too.
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.
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.
Practical Tips To Make The Most Of New York In 4 Days
Get A New York Pass
For your 4 days in New York, you may find a city pass to be a smart way to save on attractions, and to skip the line. Some passes also include a Metro Card – super useful if you intend to use public transportation.
Pick a good place to stay
There’s no denying that New York is expensive, and the more central locations will definitely cost you more – but will allow you to save time and money on transportation. Not sure where to stay? I have selected a few places that may be suitable:
- STUDIO NEAR UNION SQUARE – A great Airbnb suitable for up to 3 guests.
- APARTMENT IN THE EAST VILLAGE – Perfect for up to 2 guests, the location is 100% charming.
- HISTORICAL FLAT IN CHINATOWN – Great for 2 guest, this apartment is incredibly cozy.
Be smart about your flights
Good deals for flights to New York are easy to find on Skyscanner. The city has 3 airports and is well connected to the rest of the country and the world. JFK is probably your best bet for easy connection to the city.
Decide how to get to town from the airport
You have various options to get from JFK Airport to the city. Here’s a quick outline:
AIRTRAIN – With tickets costing only $8 USD, this is the cheapest option. There are 3 lines.
SHUTTLE – Best if you have lots of luggage. Prices are in the range of $20 USD and you can book online here.
TAXI AND UBER – Taxis have a flat fee of $52, plus the tolls and a surcharge on rush hour (between 4:00 and 8:00 pm on weekdays). You can get a taxi at the terminal. Uber costs more or less the same, but you need the app and wifi to book.
Try to walk everywhere
I drafted this itinerary with the idea that you should mostly walk. If you need to use public transport, you can count on an incredible web of buses, taxis and – most importantly – the easy-to-use subway which is open 24/7.
A metro ride costs $3 USD, but if you get the Metro Card it’s $2.75 a ride.
Other useful tips
Finally, here are some final things you may find useful:
LUGGAGE STORAGE – Found in most stations such as Grand Central Terminal, Port Authority Bus Terminal, Penn Station, and Times Square. You can book it via LuggageHero.
SCAMS AND PICKPOCKETS – New York is not immune. Scams to be aware of are the Staten Island Ferry ticket scam (the ferry is actually free!); the cartoon character costumes in Times Square (if you take a photo of or with them, you’ll be asked to pay); and the typical taxi scams. Pickpockets are active in crowded places.
DATA PLAN – Check with your phone company to make sure your data plan will work in New York, so you can use useful apps. In case, download maps to use offline.
GUIDE BOOKS – Always a handy thing to have. I am a fan of Lonely Planet New York City guide.
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
- The Best Museums In NYC
- Where To Get The Best Views In New York
- The Best Day Trips From NYC
- 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
- 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