Ready to explore the vibrant and diverse city of New York? Whether a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, you should know a few things before you go.
This article has compiled a list of essential travel tips to help you make the most of your trip to New York.
We have covered you, from navigating the city’s public transportation system to finding the best local restaurants and attractions.
25 Things to Know Before Traveling to New York
- Public transportation is the best way to navigate NYC: New York City has an extensive public transportation system, including the subway, buses, and trains. It is often the most efficient and cost-effective way to get around the city.
- Do not rent a car: It is very expensive, New York City is very crowded, and driving can be challenging, with narrow streets, heavy traffic, and a complex network of one-way streets. In addition, parking can be difficult and expensive. It is generally best to rely on public transportation or ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft.
- See Times Square, but do not eat in Times Square: Times Square is a must-see attraction in NYC, but the restaurants and food vendors there are generally overpriced and not of the best quality. Instead, try finding a local restaurant or food vendor in a less touristy area for a better dining experience.
- Do not eat at chain restaurants: New York City has a diverse and vibrant food scene, with various cuisines and dining options. Avoid chain restaurants and instead try some local, independent restaurants that offer a more authentic and unique dining experience.
- Pizza, bagels, and egg sandwiches are must-tries: New York City is famous for its pizza, bagels, and egg sandwiches. Be sure to try these local specialties during your visit.
- Tipping is important: Tipping is a common practice in the service industry in the United States, especially in New York City. Be prepared to tip your server, bartender, and other service staff in restaurants, bars, and other establishments.
- New Yorkers are not rude: Despite the stereotype, most New Yorkers are friendly and welcoming. They may seem brusque or rushed at times due to the fast-paced nature of life in the city, but they are generally happy to help visitors and offer recommendations.
- Sidewalks have their own traffic rules: In New York City, pedestrians often have the right of way, and it is common for people to walk and jog on the sidewalk. Be mindful of this and stay to the right to allow others to pass.
- Real New Yorkers do not wait for walk signs: In some areas of the city, it is common for people to ignore the “Do Not Walk” signal and cross the street anyway. Be aware of this and be prepared to take extra caution when crossing the street.
- Beware of buses, cabs, and the bike path: New York City has much traffic, and buses, cabs, and bicycles can be difficult to predict. Stay alert and watch for these vehicles when walking or crossing the street.
- Finding bathrooms can be difficult if you are not a customer: Public restrooms in New York City can be difficult to find, especially if you are not a customer of a particular establishment. Plan and try to use the bathroom before you leave your hotel or Airbnb.
- NYC is dirty: Like any big city, New York City can be dirty, especially in high-traffic areas. Be prepared for this, and keep your belongings close to you to avoid losing them or becoming dirty.
- Avoid empty subway cars: It is generally best to avoid empty subway cars, especially at night.
- Avoid tourist traps: New York City has many tourist traps, such as overpriced souvenir shops and restaurants serving subpar food at inflated prices. Do your research and try to avoid these types of places.
- Lady travelers: Do not be surprised if you are cat called: Unfortunately, catcalling and street harassment are common issues in many cities, including New York City. If you experience this, it is important to remember that it is not your fault and that you have the right to feel safe and respected. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened, try to move away from the situation and seek help if needed.
- Use bank ATMs: It is generally best to use ATMs at banks rather than standalone machines, as these tend to have lower fees. Check with your bank to see their fees for using ATMs in New York City.
- Learn your NYC street terminology: New York City has a unique street grid system, with avenues running north and south and streets running east and west. It is also divided into neighborhoods, each with its character and identity. Familiarizing yourself with this terminology will make navigating the city and understanding directions easier.
- Diners are best for breakfast and lunch food: New York City has many diners, which are casual restaurants that serve breakfast and lunch food all day. They are a great option for a quick, affordable meal, and many have a retro, nostalgic vibe.
- The shoe game is important: New York City is a walking city, and you will likely do much walking during your visit. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as you will be on your feet a lot.
- Make sure to get outside the city: New York City is a great place to visit, but there is so much more to see and do in the surrounding area. Consider taking a day trip to nearby attractions such as the Hudson Valley, the Hamptons, or Long Island.
- Check out at least one sky deck: New York City has several sky decks with breathtaking city views. Consider visiting one, such as the observation deck at the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, for a unique perspective of the city.
- Make sure to consider an NYC sightseeing or city pass: Several sightseeing passes offer discounts on attractions and activities in New York City. These can be a good value if you visit several tourist attractions.
- Visit at least one museum: New York City has a wide variety of museums, from art to history to science. Consider visiting at least one museum to learn more about the city and its culture.
- See a Broadway play: New York City is known for its vibrant theater scene, and seeing a Broadway play is a must-do for many visitors. Check ticket availability and show times in advance, and be prepared to pay a premium for tickets.
- Take advantage of free things to do in NYC: There are many free things to do in New York City, such as visiting Central Park, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, or exploring the High Line. Be sure to take advantage of these free activities to save money and experience the city differently.