How long to spend in NYC? 5 days in NYC is actually the perfect amount if it's your first visit. You can spend 3 days in New York City, but it's cutting it close--and you'll need to come back again.
Before you go: Download Google Maps & the FREE map at the bottom with all mentioned places as well as Yelp for food.
How to get to NYC
Where to Stay in New York City & How Much Spending Money You'll Need
For budgeting tips, read my master NYC on a budget post with all activities are under $10. Plan on spending at minimum $50+ per person on food, $20 per person on activities, $70-100 on hotel (for one room), and extra if you plan on going out (cocktails are usually $10-15).
Keep reading for what to see in NYC in 5 days!
Day 1: The Must-Sees with a Twist
Walk up towards Chinatown. Be sure to bring cash and trust me when I tell you that the bags offered to you on the street are not real Chanel bags. My favorites budget lunch places in Chinatown:
- Thai Son, my favorite Vietnamese place, for an inexpensive lunch. The Pho is great.
- Get noodles at Xi’an Famous Foods (location in Chinatown).
- Bubble tea (if you're not that hungry!)
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Get drinks in trendy Williamsburg at Union Pool or Night of Joy to enjoy the view of Manhattan from the roof, especially in summer. Not into the hipster scene? Head back to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge to enjoy the view of lit-up skyline before walking down to Battery Park to catch the free Staten Island ferry for amazing views of the Statue of Liberty.
Day 2: The Intellectual / The Partier
Note: It shouldn't take long to walk (maybe 1 hour from Chelsea market down to the Union Square), so you should have plenty of time left for museum-going or must-sees (e.g. Top of the Rock) if you set out early. Personally, I'd skip the Top of the Rock if you go to a rooftop bar.
Day 3: The Iconic
Day 4: The Classic
Day 5: The Culture Lover (Queens)
A) Stop off at Flushing Meadow park (especially in summer!) to see the iconic Unisphere and check out the NYC Panorama, which is a miniature version of New York City in the modern Queens Museum of Art.
B) Into art/sculptures? Visit the Noguchi museum for beautiful Japanese sculptures and a zen garden, PS1 for avantgarde exhibits, or the free Socrates Sculpture Park for free sculptures.
C) Into beer? Head to the Bohemian Beer Garden to relax or one of the many microbreweries popping up all around NYC (Singlecut Beersmiths / Rockaway Brewing company).
D) For shopping, catch the LIC flea market on the weekend. Don’t miss the gorgeous retro-chic Sweetleaf coffee shop if you’re in the area, which turns into a bar a night.
Last thoughts: Plan Ahead.
Need more info? Here's my master NYC Budget guide with EVERYTHING under $10. I swear.
Click here for my guide to NYC over Thanksgiving, Christmas, the holiday season, & New Year's Eve!