A week in New York is just about the perfect amount of time to see what the city has to offer. Even with that much time, however, you do need a good itinerary and some organization skills. It’s a precaution to make sure you really get to see a lot and that you don’t waste any time wondering where to go, what to do and see. 

Even though a week in New York is enough time to visit at a leisurely pace, you can’t afford to make the mistake of not booking the attractions before going. Though a few places won’t have a line at the counter, most will and it’s going to be a hassle and a waste of time you could be spending doing something else. 

If you are not a fan of planning, worry not! I will do it for you. I have spent months in New York years ago when I worked at the United Nations so I am more than happy to show you what to see and do in a week in New York.

All is left for you to do is book your flights, your accommodation, and get skip the line tickets or guided tours any time I recommend so. 

Continue reading for your itinerary for a week in New York.

4 days in New York

The Meatpacking District in Manhattan

Table of Contents

What You Must Know About This Itinerary For A Week In New York 

Before telling how to spend a week in New York, let me remind you that you really should book your tickets for the various attractions you intend to visit. I will tell you any time it is recommended and link to the best booking sites.

My assumption when drafting this itinerary is that you have 7 full days in New York, which means 8 nights. I recommend an early start on most days and lunch on the go, to save precious time. 

This itinerary to see New York in a week includes a good mixture of attractions that require payment and others that are free, so that you don’t blow your budget.

GOOD TO KNOW: Keep in mind that the recommended time for visiting the various attractions is an estimate.

This itinerary for a week in New York is designed to make you visit attractions which are close to one another on the same day, and minimize the use of public transportation. You will go to some of the most iconic attractions and mix them up with the newest one, for a proper New York experience. 

With regards to museums, I am giving you a choice of various ones for a specific day, but you can also decide to skip the day out of the city and go to another museum instead. 

You can obviously follow in the order you want – I drafted the itinerary in what to me is the most logic order.

GOOD TO KNOW: You don’t have to visit the attractions you are not interested in, obviously!

For each day of this New York in a week itinerary, I will suggest the starting point and link to a map you can follow and download. 

Now, without further ado, read to discover what to see and do during a week in New York.

5 days in New York

The Staten Island Ferry

A Fantastic Itinerary For A Week In New York

Day one – The Financial District 

The first day of your week in New York is all about the Financial District. Your will be visiting 9/11 Memorial and the World Trade Center; the Oculus and walk around Wall Street. Finally, you will hop on the Staten Island Ferry.

Map of day 1 

Click here to download the map you need to follow. You can obviously rearrange the order of the attractions, but I put them in what seems to be the most logical order. 

Recommended lunch spots

Eataly is the perfect place to have lunch on this day. It’s south of the Oculus, and as the name says it’s all about Italian specialties.

9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial waterfall

9/11 Memorial and Museum

Visiting 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a must if you have a week in New York. So much so that I mention it as the first place you need to go to.

Made up of twin reflecting pools which represent the footprints of the Twin Towers and with the largest man made waterfall of North America, at the Memorial you will also see the inscriptions of the names of those who died in the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks. The Museum will guide you through the history of 9/11 terrorist attacks and what followed soon after.

GOOD TO KNOW: It will take you about 2 hours to visit the museum.

BOOK IN ADVANCE: YES.

These are some good guided tours and skip the line tickets for 9/11 Memorial and Museum:

Check out my post “How To Get 9/11 Museum Tickets And Skip The Lines.”

PRO TIP

For a completely hassle free day, you can opt for one of these two excellent tours run by Take Walks. They both go to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, 9/11 Memorial and Museum, One World Observatory and the Oculus:

World Trade Center Observatory

There are plenty of places in New York for amazing views. If you have a week in New York, you definitely have to climb to the World Trade Center Observatory. From there you can get impressive views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.. This is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, measuring 541 meters. It’s located where the World Trade Center used to be before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. 

TIP: Factor in about an hour and a half for your visit.

BOOK IN ADVANCE: YES.

These are some good tours and skip the line tickets for the World Trade Center:

RESPONSIBLE TOURISM TIP: Avoid helicopter rides. They pollute too much, and they are beyond expensive!

4 days in New York

The stunning architecture of the Oculus

Oculus

FREE TO VISIT!

One of the coolest places to visit in New York, and it’s 100% free. It was built to serve the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, but it also is a shopping mall. The architecture will leave you speechless. 

Wall Street

FREE TO VISIT!

Close to the World Trade Center, this popular street is where you will be able to admire the statues of the Charging Bull and that of the Fearless girl. 

Staten Island Ferry

FREE!

A fun thing to do that is also free is taking the Staten Island Ferry. It runs between Manhattan and Staten Island – the ride lasts about one hour there and back and you get amazing views. 

SCAM ALERT: Beware of people trying to sell you tickets for the Staten Island Ferry. It’s free!

5 days in New York

Incredible views of the Statue of Liberty

Day two – Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Lower Manhattan

Your second day is once again all about classic attractions, and once again with a good mix of guided tours and free things to do. You will first go to the Statue of Liberty then have the time to wander around Chinatown and Little Italy.

Map of day 2 

Click here to download the itinerary you need to follow.

Recommended lunch spots

Battery Park is the perfect lunch spot. You will be right there once you disembark your ferry from the Statue of Liberty tour. There are various eateries, bakeries and delis. 

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

With a week in New York, you can’t skip the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The symbol of the United States, the statue was donated from France in the 19th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

You have the option of going on a tour or just getting the tickets. I honestly think a tour is the best solution if you want to get a more in depth experience, but obviously do consider your budget. 

Tours starts with a ferry ride and stunning views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan. You will then be taken to the Pedestal to visit the museum. You will have the option to climb to the crown before continuing on to Ellis Island. 

GOOD TO KNOW: Tours of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island last around 4 hours. For a more budget friendly and quicker option go for the 60 minutes cruise around the statue. You won’t disembark but get beautiful views.  

TIP: Aim for the very first ferry to the Statue of Liberty, departing at 8:30 am. This way, you will be back by 12:30 in time for lunch. 

Remember that the ferry leaves from Battery Park. Make sure to be there early as there will be a bit of a line to board. 

BOOK IN ADVANCE: YES.

TIP: Make sure to book well in advance for the earliest departure.

These are the best tours of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island:

Chinatown

Chinatown is one of the most fun neighborhoods in town

Chinatown

FREE TO VISIT!

Once you get back from the Statue of Liberty tour you can head to lunch in Battery Park or go to Chinatown, one of the most fun neighborhoods in New York where you will find lots of Asian food restaurants, shops and interesting attractions. It’s your chance to shop for asian goodies.  

Little Italy

FREE TO VISIT!

On the other side of Canal Street from Chinatown, Little Italy is a great addition to your itinerary for a week in New York.

You may want to opt to eat there. I don’t really have a recommendation. What I can say is that the food in Little Italy is American Italian, not really Italian. Having said so, the times I have been there I truly enjoyed it. 

If you want to do a food tour of Little Italy and Chinatown you can opt for this whopping 3 hours tour here. Otherwise, there is this guided food tour of Little Italy – check it out here.

New York in 2 days MET

The MET is the biggest and best known museum in New York

Day three – Museums, Central Park and Midtown Manhattan

If you have a week in New York, you will have time to visit one or more museums. For this day, I give you a pick of three – my favorite in town. If you are a museum junkie, you may want to visit another one instead that taking a day trip out of town (my recommended option for day seven below).

The museums I recommend are all located around Central Park, so your starting point will more or less be the same. You will also visit Central Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock, Grand Central Station and Times Square. 

Map of day 3 

Here you can find the itinerary you need to follow. I suggest the MET as your starting point, but you can move the cursor to point to the museum you’d rather visit. You can skip attractions you are not interested in.

Recommended lunch spots

The Plaza Food Hall is a great lunch spot with lots of budget friendly options. You will find it at the southern entrance of Central Park.

Sarabeths Central Park South is another good option if you have the budget to splurge. 

OPTION 1: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Among the most famous museums in New York there is the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET). This is one of the best art galleries in the world, with a collection spanning from ancient Egypt artifacts to contemporary art. It’s so big that a day is not enough to visit, so I recommend picking a map at the entrance and focusing only on the exhibits you are most interested in. 

GOOD TO KNOW: You can re-enter the museum on the same day. Perfect if you are visiting on Fridays or Saturdays, when it is open till late. 

BOOK IN ADVANCE: Recommended.

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. 

TIP: Get your ticket in advance here or here.

OPTION 2: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

If you are looking for a museum where you will be able to see some of the most iconic pieces of contemporary art, this is the one to visit. Included in the exhibit are the works of Vincent van Gogh, Warhol, Matisse, Gauguin, Picasso, Dali and Pollock. 

BOOK IN ADVANCE: Recommended.

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.

4 days in New York

The Guggenheim is a perfect mixture of great exhibits and fabulous architecture

OPTION 3: The Guggenheim

If you are looking for a place that combines quirky architecture and an interesting exhibit (mind you, it changes regularly) look no further and go to the Guggenheim. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and first opened in 1959, this is one of the most interesting museums in New York. 

BOOK IN ADVANCE: Recommended.

Tickets to the Guggenheim can be bought online – they usually include special exhibits too. Here are the best skip the line options:

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is every day from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. It closes at 8:00 pm on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Admission is $25. 

Central Park

FREE TO VISIT!

With a week in New York, a walk around Central Park is a must. Look around for the best photo spots, enjoy the atmosphere, hop on a bike to get to all the attractions. You can even book your bike rental here.

Among the places to visit, there are: Strawberry Fields, aka John Lennon’s memorial; Bethesda fountain and terrace; Belvedere Castle; the Lake and Gapstow Bridge.

RESPONSIBLE TOURISM 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

FREE TO VISIT!

On Fifth Avenue, near the south corner of Central Park, New York’s cathedral is a Gothic style church, dating back to 1878. You can pop in to browse around for a short while.

4 days in New York

Breathtaking views of the Empire State Building from Top of The Rock

Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock

Close to the Cathedral you will find the Rockefeller Center, a series of Art Deco style buildings commissioned by oil magnate Rockefeller. Famous for the Christmas tree and ice rink right below, it is connected to the Top of the Rock, a 1930s Art Deco skyscraper from where you can get beautiful views of Manhattan. 

BOOK IN ADVANCE: YES.

GOOD TO KNOW: Admission to the Top of The Rock is timed. Book ahead.

These are the best options:

Grand Central New York

Grand Central – more than just a station

Grand Central Terminal

FREE TO VISIT!

One of the main transport hubs in New York, you will likely go through during your time in town. Make sure to observe the building, which dates back to 1913. You will find shops, restaurants and more. Opt for self-guided tour of Grand Central that you can book here if you want to find out more.

Times Square

FREE TO VISIT!

Another of the most iconic places in town, so you have to visit at least once if you have a week in New York. It’s central and easy to reach, ad it’s free so you can go as often as you want. 

TIP: Beware of scams which abound in this part of town.

3 days in New York

Incredible views of the Empire State Building

Day Four – The Empire State Building and the Village

More incredible views of New York, coupled with lovely neighborhoods. Your starting point will be Bryant Park, from where you will go to New York Public Library, the Empire State Building (you really can’t skip it if you have a week in New York) and then the High Line. Greenwich village is the last stop for the day. Enjoy a show at night.

Map of day 4 

Here is a map you can follow. It’s a lot of walking, but pleasant.

Recommended lunch spots

Chelsea Market is a perfect place for a quick budget friendly lunch. You will find it on 75 Ninth Avenue (between 15th and 16th st.).

Bryant Park

FREE TO VISIT!

This nice park is less touristy than Central Park. New Yorkers go there to exercise, do yoga, and watch movies on Monday evenings during the summer. It used to be a hub for drug dealing and prostitution but none of that remains now. It’s close to the public library.

New York Public Library

FREE TO VISIT!

Located on Fifth Avenue, New York Public Library has a magnificent facade. It’s on the way to the Empire State Building so easily added to this week in New York itinerary. It has an impressive collection of books in any subject you can imagine.

GOOD TO KNOW: Go on Mondays to Saturdays at 11:00 am or 2:00 pm for a free guided tour.

Empire State Building

One of the most iconic attractions in town, the Empire State Building is a must when you have a week in New York. The views from the observation deck are impressive. Completed in 1931, back then it was the tallest building in the world. 

GOOD TO KNOW: It takes around 90 minutes to visit. 

BOOK IN ADVANCE: YES.

TIP: Try to arrive as early as possible.

These are the best tours and skip the line tickets to the Empire State Building:

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The observation deck is open every day from 8:00 am to 2:00 am. 

Flatiron Building

FREE TO VISIT!

Located on Fifth Avenue, at the end of Madison Square, this building in the shape of an iron was completed in 1902 and measures 87 meters. You’ll pass by it on your way to the High Line and it’s a fun sight.

new york in 4 days

The many lights of Broadway

High Line

FREE TO VISIT!

The High Line is a fantastic attraction. It literally is a walk that cuts through Midtown Manhattan from Chelsea Market all the way to Greenwich. If you have a week in New York, you should not miss it!

Once a railway viaduct and abandoned in the 1980s, it opened again in 2009, once it was completely remodeled by Dutch landscape architect Piet Oudolf.

TIP: For a more in depth experience, you can opt for this tour of the High Line and Chelsea Market that lasts 2 hours. This one continues on to Greenwich.

Greenwich Village

FREE TO VISIT!

This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York. I learned to love it watching Sex And The City – it’s where you will find Carrie Bradshaw apartment. It’s a lovely area to explore, and you can do it for free. And if you want a more in depth visit, you can even take a guided tour.

There are the best options:

Washington Square Park

FREE TO VISIT!

A lovely place to head once you are done exploring, Washington Square is close to Greenwich Village and a favorite of people living in the area. Make sure to admire the Marble Arch and to observe the many street performers. 

OPTION 1: Broadway 

If you have a week in New York, you should go see a show at least once! With 41 theaters (some with century-old signs) in Broadway you will have plenty of choice. Shows are not cheap. Check the calendar to see what’s on.

TIP: Tickets to broadway shows are sold online. Here you can get tickets to the Lion King and here those for Aladdin.

OPTION 2: Metropolitan Opera House

For more sophisticated tastes, the Metropolitan Opera House may be a better pick. The building, located in Lincoln Center, is a modernist one and quite a sight. The stage inside is massive and perfect for state of the art choreographies. 

Brooklyn Heights

The views of Manhattan from Brooklyn Heights

Day 5 – Brooklyn

Brooklyn is one of the most fun areas to explore. So eclectic, so full of life and so artsy – if you have a week in New York you really should make it a point to go. 

You will have to go to lower Manhattan to cross the bridge, then make your way to Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO and Bushwick – a fantastic neighborhood for street art. Walk back to Manhattan via Williambsurg Bridge. 

Map of day 5 

Here is the itinerary for this day. Bushwick is actually quite far from DUMBO, so if you aren’t a fan of street art just skip it. 

Recommended lunch spots

Westville Dumbo is a lovely spot for salads and sandwiches in the DUMBO area. 

Height’s Falafel is the best spot in Brooklyn Heights for falafel. Excellent budget friendly choice.

Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Bridge connects lower Manhattan to Brooklyn across the East River. It was completed in 1883, when it was the first suspension bridge in the world. You can walk or bike across it for stunning views.

From there, you can get to Brooklyn Heights, the first suburb of New York City. It’s a quaint area with Victorian style buildings and historic churches. The highlight is Brooklyn Heights Promenade where you can catch truly amazing views of Lower Manhattan. 

If you care for a guided tour, these are some good options: 

DUMBO

DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is one of the places to visit in Brooklyn. It’s one of those places many would define “instagramable.”

street art in brooklyn

You can find lots of street art around Brooklyn

Bushwick

If street art is your thing, head to Bushwick to see murals, art galleries and much more. A guided tour will help you make the most of it. You can check out these:

Williamsburg Bridge

Opened in 1903 to connect Brooklyn to Manhattan, this bridge can be easily be recognized by its color: it’s bring pink. Walk across it for great views of the city and of Brooklyn Bridge.

Day six – The Bronx 

If you have a week in New York you will have time for one of the most fun experiences in town. The Bronx is known for the Yankee Stadium and Bronx Zoo (which however I do not recommend visiting), but there is way more to experience there. This part of town, which in the 20th was a terribly run down borough known for the gang activities, is now a popular place to go see gospel choirs

It’s honestly a touristy thing to do – it became so in the last 15 years. But it is a lot of fun, so who cares?

I recommend going on a guided tour, which will also take you to Apollo Theater and Columbia University. You can book it here. 

Once you are done with the tour, stay in the area for the best brunch in the Bronx. 

Day seven – A day trip out of town

There are many day trips you can take out of New York. Out of all of them, I recommend going either to Philadelphia, which is a 90 minutes train ride from Penn Station, or to the Niagara Falls, which can be reached by plane. 

Philadelphia is a cool town with lots of history, a fabulous Museum of Art (you will certainly recognize the steps filmed in the movie Rocky) and an incredible food scene. 

The Niagara Falls are one of the most popular places to visit in New York State, right on the border with Canada. You will have to fly from JFK to Buffalo airport and from there hire a rental car to drive to the waterfalls, where you can take a guided tour. You can book the tour here. For a tour of the Canadian side of the waterfalls, you can take a look at this one.

Brooklyn

Walking around New York – a fantastic way to discover the city

Practical Tips To Make The Most Of A Week In New York

Using A New York Pass

If you are spending a week in New York, the New York Pass may help you save on attractions and at the same time you get skip the line tickets. City passes usually come with a metro card, so perfect 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 this post. Upon purchasing, you will have to pick the number of attractions to include in your pass. 

GOOD TO KNOW: You have to reserve the attractions included in the pass separately. 

Where to stay in New York

There are plenty of excellent places to stay in New York – though they will likely blow your budget. If you have a week in New York, you may be tempted to stay in Brooklyn. I love this part of town (especially Brooklyn Height) yet I think it’s easier to stay in Manhattan as you can walk almost anywhere. 

These are some good places to stay in Manhattan:

When to visit New York

I have a soft spot for New York in the winter. But if you only have a week in New York, I recommend going when the temperatures are mild and it is pleasant to walk outside. Avoid the cold winter months and the blistering heat of the summer and opt to visit in April, May or October. 

How to get to New York

New York is easy to reach from anywhere in the United States and the world. Make sure to fly to JFK as it is the airport that is best connected to the city. Skyscanner is where to look for cheap flights. For flights from Europe, Air France often has some promotions.

Getting from JFK to Manhattan

These are the best options to get from JFK airport to Manhattan

Taxi – the easiest way. You pay a flat rate of $52 plus the tolls and a $4.50 surcharge on peak hours (between 4:00 and 8:00 pm on weekdays). 

UBER- it costs more or less the same as a taxi. If you don’t have the app or internet, don’t bother. Just get a taxi.

Shuttles – a cheap, comfortable option. Prices start at around $20. You need to book in advance. Book yours here.

AirTrain – the most budget friendly option, it costs $8 to get to Manhattan. There are 3 different AirTrain lines.

2 days in New York City

Moving around New York is fairly easy

How to move around New York

You won’t have to rely much on public transportation if you follow this itinerary. But in case you do, you will be able to count on the subway, on a good web of buses, yellow cabs and Uber. 

New York subway is open 24/7 – though there are fewer trains after a certain time. A ticket costs $3 USD but if you get the Metro Card it will cost $2.75 a ride – and you won’t have to get a ticket every time. Keep in mind that the New York CityPass comes with a metro card. 

Luggage storage in New York

Luggage storage facilities are usually located around transportation terminals. LuggageHero is where to look for storage – they have places in Grand Central Terminal, Port Authority Bus Terminal, Penn Station, and Times Square. You need to book in advance.

Other useful tips

Get a guide book

If you have a week in New York, you may want to take a good guide book with you. Here are a few good ones:

Get a data plan for your smartphone

If you have a week in New York, definitely get a local SIM card if that is available, or enquire with your phone company for a good data plan at least – so that you can use Google Maps and other apps to easily navigate the city. Make sure to download the maps to use them offline just in case.

Mind the scams

New York isn’t immune from scams. These are the main ones you should watch out for:

  • taxi scams;
  • people wearing cartoon characters costumes – usually seen around Times Square. They demand money as soon as you snap a photo.
  • Staten Island Ferry scam – there often are people trying to sell you tickets though it is free.

Watch out for pickpockets on the subway and for counterfeit goods sold in Manhattan. 

Get a good travel insurance

New York is one of the best places to travel alone. Yet, whether you spend a week in New York or more, get a good travel insurance. Get yours here.

Check out my post Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.”

Further readings about the United States

If you are planning a trip to the US, these posts may be useful:

Pin It For Later!

Discover what to see and do for a week in New York - via @clautavani

 

 

 

 

77 Shares
Share
Tweet
Pin77
Share
Reddit