New York

Overview

From the Empire State Building to Times Square, and from Central Park to Broadway and everything in between, New York City is like a hundred worlds rolled into one. There's so much of everything in the city that never sleeps. Each visit can be different and your travel experience unique. After all, part of New York's magic is the sense of possibility promised by the city's diversity and fast pace.

Just by walking down the bustling streets of this majestic concrete jungle, you can discover and experience “your” New York. You can shop at world-class boutiques, explore the city's magnificent architecture, dine at the world's best restaurants or take in arts, culture and sporting events.

It's no wonder famous New Yorkers like Frank Sinatra, Jay-Z, Patti Smith and Woody Allen, to name a few, have waxed poetic about New York's allure. After all, people from all walks of life and from every industry come to New York to make dreams come true. From the moment you land here, you can feel that electricity everywhere you turn.

Certainly, there's a reason New York is considered an artistic Mecca. From theatre, visual arts, dance and music of all varieties, there's enough culture to keep anyone busy for several lifetimes. You can attend the opera at the Metropolitan Opera, discover a jazz band at a secret Harlem club or check out Broadway's hottest shows downtown.

With so much to choose from, how do you do it right? Well, if you're a planner, pick up a copy of New York and Time Out magazines to see the week's events and hotspots. (And the New York Times to see how your picks rank with the critics.)

Or, if you're more spontaneous, simply get your bearings, hit the streets and trust New York to show you what adventures it offers. Just bring good walking shoes and a map!

New York is a fantastic destination for:

  • culture and history
  • shopping and dining
  • nightlife

Airport served by: LGA, JFK

Destination basics

New York's climate features four distinct seasons with hot, humid summers and cold, humid winters. Spring and fall are the most pleasant seasons to visit. Average springtime (April and May) temperatures range between 6 and 20 C, while autumn (September and October) varies between 10 and 25 C.

Summers can be sweltering, and the humidity and urban city air can make it feel even hotter. Be sure to pack light clothes and the usual sun essentials.

Winters are cold with some snowfall, but daytime temperatures don't often drop too far below the freezing mark. Still, you'll want to bring your winter gear – a warm coat, gloves, hat and scarf.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for New York, NY

New York's culture is really about its people – 8.3 million of them, speaking 800 languages and many hailing from all over the world. The locals here are proud to be New Yorkers. Yet, whether born here or elsewhere, most also maintain a strong sense of their original heritage. Perhaps their parents or grandparents immigrated a generation or two ago. The city's multiethnic quality is evident, not only in its food, music and style, but in its attitudes and atmosphere.

That's why, most of all, you get a sense of this exciting multiculturalism simply by watching people going about their day-to-day lives. You might see breakdancers doing hip-hop moves in Herald Square. You could share a friendly moment with a taxi driver, or hear many different languages spoken while cheering at a Knicks, Yankees or Mets game.

Still, New York is the epitome of the American Dream. And symbols of this hope and patriotism are everywhere you look – in the uniforms of police officers, firefighters and members of the armed forces. It's in the old tenements of the Lower East Side, the tall, powerful architecture of Wall Street and the Financial District in Lower Manhattan. And it's in the new Freedom Tower at Ground Zero as a memorial to 9/11.

Of course, the Statue of Liberty represents the ultimate promise of the American Dream. Located on nearby Liberty Island, the statue is visible from many parts of the city and New Jersey.

To say Manhattan moves at a fast pace is an understatement. The sounds, smells and sights of the city never really stop. Day and night, the rhythm of commerce, media, show business and eight million dreams continues.

The energy in the air can be as intoxicating as adrenaline, but it can also feel overwhelming at first. That's why the key to enjoying New York is simplicity. Once you accept that you can't do absolutely everything, you can wholeheartedly enjoy the activities you do choose!

Due to the city's relatively small size and big population, everyone feels literally on top of each other pretty much all the time. When surrounded by people all day, personal space becomes precious. That's why New Yorkers are very kind and friendly people, but often in a rush. So if you need directions or help, certainly ask, but follow the local custom and get to the point quickly. If you do, most New Yorkers are happy to assist.

New York has definitely been cleaned up in recent years and is quite safe for the most part. But with any big city, it's wise to be extra cautious. A little common sense and awareness go a long way.

It's always recommended to carry some U.S. cash on you for bus or subway fare, as well as for purchases from local street vendors. For entertainment and shopping, your credit card will give you the exchange rate at the time of purchase. There are also numerous ATMs in banks and public spaces where you can withdraw funds at your convenience. Just be aware that transaction fees vary by ATM.

New York is located in the Northeastern U.S., in the heart of a massive urban area that flows into neighbouring New Jersey (including Newark), up Long Island and northwards towards Connecticut, The island of Manhattan is only one of five boroughs that make up New York City's Greater Metropolitan area – the others are Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island.

Manhattan is also the smallest borough, measuring 21.6 km long by 3.7 km wide. But while the other boroughs have plenty to offer, Manhattan is what most people think of when they think “New York.”

To get your bearings in Manhattan, it helps to think of the city as a long, thin island. The Hudson River is to the west, and the East River is to the east.

The city is built on a grid system – Manhattan's Avenues run from north to south. First to Fifth Avenues are considered the East Side of the city, and Sixth to 12th Avenues are Manhattan's West Side. Some streets, like Broadway, intersect at an angle. In Lower Manhattan, east of First Avenue is “Alphabet City,” where Avenues are named by letters (Avenues A, B, C, etc.).

Manhattan's streets run from east to west, with Lower Manhattan, or downtown, generally referring to everything below 14th Street. The street numbers rise as you travel north – Midtown is roughly 34th to 59th Streets, until you hit the Upper East and West Sides. Uptown and Harlem are above the 90s and 100s.

On the West Side, the Meatpacking District refers to the district west of 8th Avenue between 14th and 23rd Street, when it turns into Chelsea, then Hell's Kitchen in the 40s. On the East Side, Gramercy generally refers to the area between 18th and 28th.

Downtown, the grid disappears and finding your way can be trickier. The numbered streets begin north of Houston Street. (Pronounced How-ston, not like the city in Texas!) This Lower Manhattan street also distinguishes many downtown neighbourhoods. For instance, the name SoHo is derived from its location: South of Houston.

South of Houston you'll also find Little Italy, Nolita (North of Little Italy), the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, the West Village, Chinatown, Tribeca, Wall Street and the Financial District.

Getting Around by Yellow Taxi in New York

Despite its fast-paced hustle and bustle, New York City is one destination that's easy to navigate – once you decide what you want to see first. From buses to subways, to commuter trains and the famed yellow taxi cabs, you'll be able to get to and from your hotel and New York's best attractions with ease.

Taxis are abundant in the New York City area, although you might have to stretch out your arm to hail one down on busy streets. If the centre panel of the taxi's rooftop light is lit and the side panels are dark, the taxi is available. For travel to and from your hotel, a doorman will direct you to a waiting taxi on a first come, first serve basis.

In New Jersey and New York, taxi fare is regulated and drivers are licensed. You will see the license displayed inside the cab as well as a numbered plastic sticker on the hood of the cab. Be wary of non-yellow or unmarked taxis.

To avoid getting lost, it's usually best to know the cross streets of your destination (as opposed to just the address). This will help ensure you get to right place on time.

Taxi fares in New York are based on both mileage and time spent idling, so try to avoid busy commuter routes during rush hours. While per mile and per minute fares are low, keep in mind that taxis here charge an additional US$5 premium for rides during peak hours (from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays; 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday). You'll also have to pay any tolls the taxi incurs on toll roads.

If you're travelling for business, be sure to ask for a receipt. Unlike some cities, taxi drivers in NYC are used to issuing receipts. Last but not least, remember to tip the driver (15% is recommended).

To Rent or Not to Rent in NYC?

Renting a car for travel in NYC is not recommended. Roads are extremely busy and parking is very expensive. In most cases, it's faster and less expensive to use public transportation.

Taking the Subway

At only US$2.25 a fare, subways in NYC are the most economical option. The subway is also usually the fastest transportation option. Be prepared for crowds though. Thousands of residents and visitors alike take the subway to get to and from work and excursions on a daily basis. For more information on subway lines and stops, pick up a free map available at most stations.

Travel Near and Far by Bus

Whether you're looking to travel within NYC or beyond to other popular cities like Boston and Washington D.C., there is a range of bus transportation options open to you.

For travel within the city, hop on the MTA (New York’s public transit system). Routes tend to run north-south and east-west and schedules are posted at most stops. Fare is the same as the subway (US$2.25 a person – exact change is required).

Or, if you're looking to travel to other cities, you can catch a bus from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. NYC also offers a number of discount bus lines (check out Bolt Bus) where a typical fare is around US$20.

Whether by plane, train or automobile, you are sure to love exploring New York.

New York is a walking city but there are plenty of ways to get around. Taking cabs around town is certainly a good option. Taxis can be hailed from the street and accept credit cards. But during rush hour and heavy traffic, the subway is often the quickest and most efficient way to get where you need to go.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) system is quite simple to figure out, and its website is user-friendly. Everyone gets confused on occasion about which way to go when getting off the subway, but it's relatively easy to reorient yourself. (If not, just ask someone.)

While no visit to New York is complete without seeing the Empire State Building, Times Square or Rockefeller Center (where you might see some of your favourite TV stars on their way to work), New York's wide array of public parks and green spaces are worth a visit.

In addition to beautiful Central Park, lovely little parks throughout Manhattan include Washington Square, Madison Square Park, Tompkins Square Park, Battery Park, Hudson River Park and more. All these green spaces offer activities ranging from free public art exhibits and theatre to music performances and markets.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, Union Square houses an urban Greenmarket, where farmers from throughout the state come to sell fresh produce and homemade food products. During the summer, the City Parks Foundation hosts the SummerStage festival with free outdoor music, theatre and other performances in parks all over the city.

New York is a place that values arts and culture. The finest works of art are accessible to all for the price of a Midtown museum or downtown gallery ticket (and many exhibits are free). Even the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue, flanked by stone lions, is an architectural wonder.

Convenience is also a valued commodity, which is why gourmet food trucks are a Manhattan treasure. Delicious international and American food can be had from food trucks parked all around the city.

These restaurants on wheels generally specialize in quality versions of one or two food items, from dumplings and cupcakes to various ethnic specialties. In the summer months, there's a monthly gourmet food truck bazaar in the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market. Also worth popping into are street stands selling fresh fruit and vegetables.

Departing from:

ˆTotal price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions. *Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

Explore our world.

or find your dream vacation with our Vacation Finder