Travel to New York on a Budget

New York City is expensive. It was recently ranked as one of the ten most expensive cities in the world. The good news is that a trip to NYC doesn't need to cost a fortune. There are many ways to make your trip affordable. Seriously! These are 15 budget-friendly ways to get to New York City.

Don’t Stay in Manhattan

To keep your New York trip affordable, avoid Manhattan.

Here’s a tip if you are looking for a place to stay in New York City that doesn’t cost your entire travel budget: Don’t limit yourself only to Manhattan. You can find better rates on Airbnbs and hotels in other boroughs without sacrificing experience.

Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Park Slope are filled with New York charm. There are tons of great restaurants, bars, and bodegas. A three-star Brooklyn or Queens hotel can be cheaper than one in Manhattan by saving you about $100 per night. Cha-ching! This means that there is more money for Broadway tickets or hot dogs.

You might choose to camp upstate for the best savings. The Catskills and Hudson Valley locals are available to help you with any hiking or camping that you wish to do. Find out more.

Take the subway to get everywhere.

Knowing how to use New York’s public transport system is essential. The subway is the most efficient and cost-effective way to travel around the city. It is safe, convenient, and offers a wide range of services. It can be daunting for new users, but it is worth it. A single taxi ride costs less than $3. This is a small amount compared to the $30-60 you might spend on Uber or taxis.

Which type of traveler do you identify as?

Let’s face facts. Different people want different things when traveling. Instead of spending hours looking through the top 10 lists and blogs written by people with entirely different interests, why not share a bit about your priorities when you travel?

Let a local handle your travel needs by selecting the options below. You have your personalized guidebook for New York City in just a few clicks.

Eat like a local

Get all the deals in your area to help you keep your NYC travel budget under control.

You can save money on your NYC trip by eating like a local and enjoying the incredible low-cost food! Breakfast cart bagels, $1 pizza slices, and halal food are all options. We recommend that you talk to locals in New York about your favorite places for cheap dumplings, falafel, or the best happy hours.

Make the most of museum discounts.

Many frequently asked questions regarding NYC’s museums concern the city. Which are the best? What is worth visiting? Are the Met and MoMA mandatory? (answer: yes.) Are they costly?

The truth is that museums in New York are accessible to all. This is because many museums in NYC offer free or pay-as-you-wish days. Do your research so that you don’t have to spend too much. Psst: The Brooklyn Museum and the American Museum of Natural History both have a pay-as-you-wish policy. They’re both fantastic!

Do not spend to get the best views.

These free activities are a great way to save money on NYC travel.

Unrestricted views of the Empire State Building and 1 World Trade Center are not something you should pay for. You can get amazing views of NYC from your home or office. Some are better than others.

Staten Island Ferry (free to take)

This ferry provides fantastic views of Manhattan’s skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. It sails right past both. It is also a great way to cool off on hot summer days. They even sell beer onboard!

The High Line

This is a unique way to view the city from a different perspective. The High Line was once an elevated railway. It is now a park with public art and greenery.

Brooklyn Heights Promenade

For a fantastic Manhattan view, visit the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Your Instagram followers will be envious of the serene view of Manhattan’s skyline from across the water.

One exception is the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center), which offers a spectacular view of all the famous buildings. If you want to see New York City from a different perspective, go there.

You can walk or bike between sights and activities

New York City is very walkable. Manhattan is primarily designed as a grid, making it easy to navigate even for the most directionally challenged among us. Citibikes are available everywhere.

Plan your winter trip

New York can be expensive, especially during peak season. Consider visiting New York City in winter if you are looking for a low-cost trip.

It will be cold. Yes, probably. New York City is magical in winter. It’s a magical time to visit New York City in winter. You can enjoy hot chocolate, ice skating, and holiday decorations.

Look for cheaper and more authentic versions of popular tourist destinations.

Avoid tourist traps, and experience New York as a local. On a budget, there are many ways to enjoy classic NYC activities, such as comedy shows or bakery crawls. These are only a few ways you can experience NYC on a budget. Talk to an NYC trip planner for more personalized recommendations.

Open-mic nights are a better alternative to the Comedy Cellar. Many theaters and bars in New York offer free live comedy. Although the humor is more unpredictable, you will still find some incredible gems. Local favorites include the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (UCB).

Arthur Avenue should replace Little Italy. New Yorkers have known Little Italy isn’t the best place to eat Italian food for almost a century. Instead, go north to the Bronx. Arthur Avenue is home to some of the most OK Italian food in town.

Magnolia Bakery is not your best choice. Instead, try Molly’s Cupcakes. You could also visit Sex in the City’s bakery, but if you’re looking for something sweet without the crowds, Molly’s Cupcakes has a variety of cupcakes and cookies. It’s a local favorite.

Visit the city’s incredible parks.

To keep your NYC travel budget under control, explore all of New York City’s parks.

We do not deny that Central Park is beautiful. There are many beautiful trails and lakes, as well as a zoo. (Watch out for the hot duck!) There is plenty of green space. The New York City parks scene goes beyond Central Park.

Prospect Park: Prospect Park is nestled alongside the Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens; Prospect Park might be more popular than Central Park. You can spend an entire afternoon exploring this beautiful part of Brooklyn, full of green space, lakes, and gorgeous shady bridges.

Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park is always bustling with activity. Washington Square, the heart of Greenwich Village’s vibrant Greenwich Village neighborhood, is where New York University is located. It’s a lively, youthful spot. You will always find people there, whether they are lounging on the grass, listening live to music, or playing chess.

Riverside Park

This park runs parallel to Columbia University’s campus in the Upper West Side. It is one of the lesser-known parks in New York City. Walking north through the park, then looping back towards Columbia, is a good idea. There you can see President Ulysses S. Grant’s tomb.

Get discounted Broadway tickets.

Broadway shows are a must-see in New York City. You can even do it for a fraction of the cost!

You can check out the TKTS booth in Times Square, but there are Brooklyn or Lower Manhattan locations. You can often find tickets for the theatre at steep discounts of up to 50%! Grab tickets early to get them before they are gone!

Pro tip: Be on guard if you buy tickets in Times Square. New York City is safe. However, Times Square is a tourist destination, and pickpockets (and fraud artists) are well aware of it. Talk to someone who has lived in New York for more information about common scams.