New York has to be one of the most vibrant cities in the world. With so much to see and do, here is the perfect 5 day New York itinerary.
Getting Around New York + Tips
New York is a large city to get around but there are numerous choices of transport to get you to and from each of your destinations.
The City’s rail and bus system is run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and known as MTA New York City Transit.
It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is inexpensive as well as being a great way to see sights throughout the five boroughs that make up the City.
You will need to buy a MetroCard to use the MTA buses and subways, which you can purchase at any subway station.
You have to put a minimum value of $5.50 on the card, not including the card fee of $1 when buying your first card.
For the most up-to-date information on MetroCard prices, visit meta.info.
The famous NYC yellow taxis are available 24 hours a day. A great way to travel if loaded down with luggage or just too tired to go any further.
Hail any taxi whose number is illuminated on top as this means they are working. Moreover, Yellow taxis will pick up street-hailing passengers anywhere in NYC.
Tip 15–20 percent at the end of a trip. Also be aware that bridge and tunnel tolls are extra and added to the metered fare.
In addition to taxis, there are also lots of local car services, as well as app based options like Uber and Lyft.
Just about all of NYC is bikeable and Citibike is a popular bike sharing system. There are approximately 24.000 bikes at 1.500 stations, available 24/7 every day of the year.
You can unlock a bike at any station, ride to wherever you want and check in the bike at any other station.
You will find Citibike docking stations are all around the city. One ride is $3.50 and a day pass is $15.
Alternatively, there are other operators that rent bikes by the hour, two hours, half-day and full days.
The NYC Department of Transportation publishes a downloadable bike map and a guide to biking in the city.
If you would prefer someone else to do the pedalling for you, you can always jump in a pedicab, also known as a bicycle rickshaw.
New York is home to an extensive ferry system that can get you uptown or downtown in Manhattan as well as across the rivers to Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey.
NYC Ferry and NY Waterway are the two main ferry operators, with the Staten Island Ferry also available for commuting and sight seeing tours.
For all tourists visiting New York we recommend purchasing either the New York: Go City Explorer Pass with 95+ Tours & Attractions or the New York CityPASS®: Save 40% at 5 Top Attractions.
These are a great way of saving money when visiting multiple tourist attractions during your stay in New York.
- Top Of The Rock
- Empire State Building
- Statue of Liberty
- American Museum of Natural History
- 9/11 Memorial and Museum
- And many more!
If you’ve scheduled a 5 day New York itinerary like us, then you should easily get around each place within plenty of time.
For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.
What To Pack
Day 1 Of Your 5 Day New York Itinerary
Dumbo Manhattan Bridge View
(Depending on what time you arrive in NYC you could fit this in the afternoon and it’s a great way to start your 5 day New York itinerary.)
Wondering about the name Dumbo? It’s actually an acronym for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass; this is the neighbourhood where the view point is located.
Not to be confused with Brooklyn Bridge, it covers two sections.
One located between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, which connect Brooklyn to Manhattan across the East River, and another that continues east from the Manhattan Bridge to the Vinegar Hill area.
The steel bridge rises up out of the East River, with the Empire State Building visible in the background, the red brick warehouses and cobbled streets in the foreground thus making for some stunning photo opportunities.
So, if you are a keen photographer or just want some amazing pics in a famous, iconic location, then this is definitely a cool thing to do in New York.
Sunset At Top Of The Rock
Located at the top of the Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock is a three-tiered observation deck. Each deck offers spectacular, 360 degree views over New York City.
Found on the first observation deck is the breathtaking Radiance Wall which was created by Swarovski.
The second observation deck is entirely outdoors, with glass screens to keep visitors safe. (Don’t worry though, there are camera-sized gaps so the glass won’t ruin your snaps!)
The third observation deck, on the 70th floor, is completely open air. It’s almost like a raised plinth for uninterrupted views across the New York skyline.
The vistas from Top of the Rock will take your breath away at any time of the day.
However, watching the sun going down, followed by the city lighting up, is truly spectacular and has to be part of your 5 day New York itinerary.
Top of the Rock is open every day, all year round from 9am -11pm.
Top of the Rock operates on a timed ticketing system and you can book your Top of the Rock Observation Deck Ticket in advance.
This flexible date ticket allows you to plan your visit around the weather.
Children (aged 6 -12 years): $34
Ice Skating At Rockefeller Center
Located in front of the Rockefeller Building, the ice rink is open from mid-November to mid-March each year. (Including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.)
Between November and January, the renowned Rockefeller Christmas tree is in situ, making for a magical, Christmasy skating experience.
In addition, ‘Elf’, ‘Home Alone 2’ and many classic movies have featured this iconic ice rink which, for me, brought childhood memories flooding back whilst skating around.
Visiting this famous rink is a quintessential, New York City winter experience and very popular with locals and tourists. Definitely a ‘must do’ of things to do in New York if visiting during the winter months.
During the months the Plaza is not an ice rink, it transforms into a 1970’s style, roller skating rink.
Day 2 Of Your 5 Day New York Itinerary
Grand Central Terminal
Located in Midtown Manhattan, the famous Grand Central Terminal is one of the largest train stations in the world. Also ranked as one of the ten most visited tourist attractions in the world, it is definitely very grand!
As well as the stunning architecture, make sure you don’t miss the famous installations. Including, the Information Booth Clock, the Whispering Gallery, the Tiffany glass clock and the celestial ceiling of the main concourse.
Additionally, Grand Central Terminal is also known as a destination for shopping and eating. Having 60 various shops, including the Apple store and Banana Republic and plenty of eateries.
Moreover, Vanderbilt Hall (originally the main waiting room) with its spectacular 48 foot ceilings and gold chandeliers is now used for public and private events.
Did you know there is a hidden tennis court inside Grand Central? Or that its ceiling is backward?
Explore this iconic NYC building with a local guide and discover its many secrets on The Secrets of Grand Central Terminal tour.
Hailed as one of America’s greatest architectural achievements this building is stunning and worth putting into your 5 day New York itinerary.
Located in Times Square, Madame Tussauds New York is a world famous waxworks museum and popular tourist attraction.
Voted as one of New York’s most unique attractions, Madame Tussauds is home to more than 220 life-like wax figures.
Experience a moment with some of the world’s most famous musicians, sports legends, world leaders and icons.
A great way for you to get up close and personal with some of your favourite celebrities.
Some of the characters you have the opportunity to meet and take pictures with include Marilyn Monroe and Brad Pitt. Not forgetting the Beatles, Einstein, Picasso, Donald Trump, Abraham Lincoln and many, many more.
With over 85,000 square feet of interactive entertainment, covering 5 floors, there is definitely something here for everybody to enjoy.
You can book your Madame Tussauds Entry Tickets in advance online.
Opening times at Madame Tussauds New York can vary throughout the year, so it’s best to check the website before you visit.
SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
Sitting atop one of the tallest skyscrapers in Manhattan and covering 3 levels, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is an immersive, multi-sensory viewing experience.
From a room with mirrored ceilings, walls and floors, to floating balls, this unusual viewpoint in New York is fascinating.
Additional experiences include Levitation, transparent glass-enclosed skyboxes that extend out over 1,000 ft above Madison Avenue.
As well as Ascent, a sensory defying, all-glass elevator reaching SUMMIT’s highest elevation (1,210 ft) above Midtown.
As with everything in New York, we recommend booking your SUMMIT One Vanderbilt Experience Ticket in advance.
SUMMIT One Vanderbilt opening hours vary from week to week and during different seasons. It’s therefore always best to visit the official website to check before you visit.
With three floors of experiences and the stunning views across New York city, a visit to SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is well worth including in your 5 day New York itinerary.
This famous park is one of New York’s star attractions and welcomes over 42 million visitors each year.
Spanning a massive 843 acres between West and East of Manhattan, its the most frequented urban park in America.
Home to gardens, forests, lakes, historical sites, statues, fountains, bridges, performance facilities and much more, Central Park has it all. Not forgetting the famous Central Park Zoo and Wildlife Centre.
It’s impossible to see everything the park has to offer in one day. However, some of the top spots are Belvadere castle, Conservatory Water, Bethesda Fountain, Literary Walk and of course the Zoo.
There are many activities on offer in the park including bike tours and walking tours and horse and carriage rides.
You can even book onto a Highlights of Central Park Bike Tour if you wish!
There are also plenty of places to grab some refreshments, from large restaurants to smaller cafes and food stalls.
Visiting this urban oasis in the midst of one of the busiest cities in the world is definitely enjoyable and really should be part of your 5 day New York itinerary.
There are more than 40 Broadway theatres currently operating in New York City. With an amazing variety of shows, you are sure to find something you would like to see.
From Hamilton to Harry Potter, and Moulin Rouge to Macbeth the different genres and choice of shows is vast.
We opted to see the fabulous Lion King, at the Minskoff Theatre, in the heart of Times Square.
We recommend booking NYC: The Lion King Broadway Tickets as far in advance as possible as shows do sell out!
You can also check out the rest of the Broadway Shows available.
Just being inside the theatre itself was an amazing experience. We loved the gold-leaf sculpted tableaus on the interior walls, showcasing the theatre’s panoramic views of Broadway.
Seeing a Broadway show has to be up there on your list of things to do in New York.
Formed at the junction of Broadway, Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street, Times Square is an entertainment centre and commercial area.
Visited by approximately 50 million visitors every year, Times Square is one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions.
Surrounded by Broadway theatres, restaurant and shops and lit by digital, flashing billboard displays, this area constantly buzzes with activity.
It’s a great place to people watch or be entertained by the many street performers.
It’s also one of the most Instagrammable places in New York!
So if you love bright lights, high energy, hustle and bustle and mixing with diverse people, then this is for you.
There are so many different things to do in Times Square that I’ll leave you to look through the Times Square Tours.
An iconic New York attraction, not to be missed, especially at night time.
Day 3 Of Your 5 Day New York Itinerary
Empire State Building
The iconic Empire State Building is a 102 storey skyscraper located in Midtown Manhattan. Probably most famous for featuring in the 1933 movie ‘King Kong’.
Inside the Empire State Building you will find shops and cafes/restaurants on the ground floor. As well as the observation decks you can visit on the 80th, 86th and 102nd floors.
You will find lots of fascinating films, exhibits, displays and interactive experiences as you move around the building.
Again, we recommend booking your Empire State Building General & Skip-the-Line Tickets in advance.
The Empire State Building is open 365 days a year, with access to the observation deck open daily from 10am – 10pm.
Opening times vary from season to season and we would recommend checking the website when arranging your visit.
There is a gift shop for you to purchase memorabilia, including lots of King Kong merchandise of course!
With everything it has to offer, topped off with the observation decks, a trip to the iconic Empire State Building is a must!
For a totally different perspective of the ‘Big Apple’, why not try taking to the skies in a helicopter. From here you will get a birds-eye view of New York City’s breathtaking skyline.
There are various tours to choose from, with most rides lasting 15 minutes, 20 minutes or 30 minutes.
You can check out the New York City: Manhattan Helicopter Tour or New York City: Manhattan Island Helicopter Tour for prices and booking info.
Some of the iconic sights you can see are the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and most of Lower Manhattan.
All the flights usually follow the same route but you get to go a little further the longer the flight. The 30 minute flight will take you as far as the Yankee Stadium and George Washington Bridge in the Bronx.
With a live, on-board commentary, you are certain not to miss any of the famous New York City sights.
So don’t forget your camera because you will get some amazing and unique photo opportunities during the tour.
Native New Yorkers are notoriously proud of their two National Basketball Association teams. The New York Knickerbockers (known as the New York Knicks) in Manhattan and the Brooklyn Nets In Brooklyn.
With the basketball season running between October and April, we were lucky to be able to see a Brooklyn Nets game during our visit.
The Nets were playing at their home arena, the Barclays Center, in Brooklyn. This multi purpose arena offers 17,732 seats for basketball so, with a capacity crowd, the atmosphere was electric.
You can’t take your own food/drink into the arena but there is food/drink available to purchase inside the arena.
Basketball is a classic American sport and you can’t beat the atmosphere at a live game. This is an experience not to be missed, even if you are not a great sports fan.
Day 4 Of Your 5 Day New York Itinerary
Statue Of Liberty
Located on Liberty Island in New York Harbour, the Statue of Liberty is only accessible via Statue Cruises ferries.
Getting close up to the Statue is amazing, you can really appreciate its size and the actual sculpture itself.
As with everything in New York, we recommend booking your Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Tickets in advance.
Tickets include round-trip ferry transportation, access to the Statue of Liberty Museum and the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, and audio tours on each island.
The Statue of Liberty is open between 9.30am and 4.30pm seven days a week all year round. The exception being certain holidays.
For updates on opening times we recommend you visit the National Park Service website before your visit.
If going up to the pedestal of the statue, you have nearly 200 steps to climb. However, the views of Manhattan, once up there, are definitely worth the climb.
Access to the crown on the Statue of Liberty is limited, due to safety and accessibility requirements. It was not open on the day we visited but is apparently worth the 315 steps when it is open.
The Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous and instantly recognisable symbols of the United States of America and has to be part of your 5 day New York itinerary.
One World Observatory
One World Observatory is an observation deck at the top of the One World Trade Center.
This is the tallest building in New York City and the Western Hemisphere.
The deck is completely enclosed in glass, so you have stunning 360 degree views across the city. Including views of the Hudson River, Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbour and all of Manhattan.
As with everything in New York, we recommend booking your One World Observatory: Skip-the-Line Ticket in advance.
One World Observatory is open 7 days a week from 10:00am to 7:00pm, with extended hours in the holidays and summer season.
We recommend checking the website for times before you visit.
Whilst visiting the deck, you have the opportunity to stand on the Sky Portal. This is a 14ft wide circle of glass, where you can look down at the city 100 stories below!
One World Observatory is definitely worth a visit for the spectacular views. Also, the brilliant use of technology makes it a great immersive experience for all the family.
Apart from the spectacular views, how great to be able to say you have been to the highest point in New York City!
9/11 Memorial Pools
Located at the World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial Pools and Museum are a tribute of remembrance for the 2,977 people killed in the terror attacks on September 11th 2001.
As well as the 6 people killed in the World Trade Center bombing on February 26th 1993.
The pools outside are free to visit, however you’ll need a NYC: 9/11 Memorial & Museum Timed-Entry Ticket to enter the museum.
The Memorial’s twin reflecting pools are both just under an acre in size and feature the largest man-made waterfalls in North America.
Furthermore, the names of all those who were killed are inscribed on plaques around the pools.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum tells the story of this tragic event through media, narratives, and a collection of impactful and authentic artifacts, giving visitors personal stories of loss, recovery, and hope.
Visiting this place of peace and tranquility was an unbelievably moving and humbling experience.
This is a beautiful tribute to those who lost their lives and it really is worth adding this to your 5 day New York itinerary.
Brooklyn Bridge For Sunset
Spanning the East River, between the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, the famous Brooklyn Bridge is a suspension bridge that is just over 1 mile/2 km long.
The bridge supports six lanes of vehicles, including, since 2021, a dedicated cycle lane and a pedestrian pathway. (Only passenger vehicles and pedestrian/bicycle traffic are permitted across the bridge.)
One of the most popular ways to see the bridge is via the NYC: 1-Hour Cruise Around Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island.
If you’re more of a adrenaline junky then the New York City: Manhattan Helicopter Tour is a huge bucket list tick!
From the skyline of Manhattan, with the distinctive Woolworth Building and One World Trade Center, to the sweeping views across Brooklyn Heights to Red Hook, there is plenty to see.
You should even be able to see the Statue of Liberty. She may be small but look below the tip of Manhattan and she will be there.
As well as the amazing scenery you also have the changing views of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge itself as you walk across it, with its sweeping cables and soaring suspension towers with Gothic arches.
The beautiful, scenic views from Brooklyn Bridge at sunset are stunning and watching this iconic city transform from day to night is spectacular.
Day 5 Of Your 5 Day New York Itinerary
Washington Square Park
Stretching out over nearly 10 acres in the heart of the Greenwich Village neighbourhood, Washington Square Park is an icon of New York City.
This park comprises of lots of landscaped green spaces with pretty gardens, play areas for children, a famous water fountain and is home to many different street performers.
Washington Square Park is well known as a vibrant meeting place for students, locals and tourists alike.
With its famous Chess Plaza and the stunning Washington Square Arch, there is definitely plenty to do and see here.
If you’d like to learn more about the history and discover where legendary artists, such as Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan hung out, check out the New York City: Greenwich Village 2-Hour Tour.
Additionally there are many benches placed around the park for people to sit, relax and enjoy the atmosphere of this amazing space.
A great place to spend some time and soak up some New York vibes and highly recommended for your list of things to do in New York.
Friends Apartment Building
In the famous TV show, the Friends cast supposedly lived in New York’s Greenwich Village neighbourhood in downtown Manhattan.
All of the interior shots for the show were actually filmed in a studio. However, the exterior of the building that was seen in the show is a real location that you can view at 90 Bedford Street.
There are no signs telling you that you are in the right place (although lots of people taking photos is a bit of a giveaway) but if you are a fan, you will easily recognise the exterior of this iconic building.
At the base of the building you will find a cafe, like in the show, but this one is called Little Owl not Central Perk!
A little disappointing for true Friends fans but this is still a really nice little neighbourhood cafe to grab a coffee.
For the hardcore Friends fans you’ll likely want to visit the New York City: The FRIENDS™ Experience.
Otherwise, this is definitely worth a visit for all passionate fans of Friends. If only to get a keepsake photo in front of this iconic building.
Chelsea Market is an iconic culinary destination in New York and is considered one of the greatest indoor food and retail marketplaces in the world.
With its stripped down brick architecture and beautiful decor, Chelsea Market has a unique vibe and energy that attracts over six million national and international visitors every year.
Home to over fifty, first class restaurants and food stalls, virtually all food preferences and desires are catered for.
Furthermore, after finding something delicious to eat, you can browse the locally made arts and crafts at Artists and Fleas in Chelsea Market.
If you’d like a more in depth tour of the market, the New York High Line, Chelsea & Meatpacking District Tour is the one to book.
We would definitely recommend visiting Chelsea Market, not only for the incredible selection of foods on offer but also to browse the stalls and soak up the amazing atmosphere of this incredible complex.
Walk The High Line
Stretching for nearly a mile and a half, the High Line is a public park that has been created on a former elevated New York Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan.
As you walk along the wooden pathway through the trees and planted areas, you get some amazing views across the city and some great photo opportunities.
The pathway is a mix of a shaded and unshaded areas with benches along the way, where you can stop and take a break and enjoy the art work as well as refreshments from the High Line food stalls.
The High Line is a beautiful, urban, oasis getaway where you can enjoy a peaceful stroll through the building tops.
We would highly recommend this unique experience as certainly needing to be included in your 5 day New York itinerary.
Forming an extraordinary spiral structure of connected staircases between buildings, Vessel is the stunning centrepiece of Hudson Yards.
Soaring 16 storeys high and designed to enable people to enjoy new perspectives of the city from different heights, angles and vantage points this structure is truly unique.
Unfortunately, Vessel has been closed to the public since January 2021 after several people used the structure to commit suicide. Access to the ground-level base is still open and free to the public.
Even without climbing the staircase, this unique structure is worth seeing as a stand alone, amazing piece of architecture.
It is hoped that Vessel will open again soon, once measures are in place that will reduce the risk of any further tragedies.
In the mean time there is the New York City: High Line & Hudson Yards Walking Tour available.
Opened in March 2020, Edge is a triangular shaped, observation deck jutting out from the 100th floor of 30 Hudson Yards, a super tall skyscraper in the west side area of Manhattan.
As well as a glass floor, the Edge also has glass panel sides that lean away from the suspended deck making it feel like you are floating in the sky.
Standing on this observation deck, you will have amazing, 360 degree views across New York City, from the tip of Central Park to the Statue of Liberty and beyond, making for some awesome photos.
Furthermore, if you are brave enough to look down, you will have thrilling, uninterrupted views straight down to the busy streets of New York City, 100 floors below you!
As with everything in New York, we recommend booking your Edge Observation Deck Admission Ticket in advance.
The Edge is open every day from 8am – midnight.
With literally hundreds of really great rooftop bars in Manhattan you are spoilt for choice. We visited Bar 54 in Times Square.
Located on the 54th floor at the Hyatt Centric Times Square, Bar 54 is one of the highest in New York City and offers stunning views of Times Square and the whole of Lower Manhattan.
As well as the amazing views, Bar 54 has an extensive drinks menu including a collection of really delicious sounding cocktails, wines, beers, spirits and some light food snacks.
With its intimate indoor area and larger outside terrace, Bar 54 has a really nice relaxed vibe and although not cheap, is well worth a visit.
Definitely a lovely spot to your finish your 5 Day New York Itinerary.
Where To Stay In New York
Luxury – The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park
This Manhattan hotel in Midtown overlooks Central Park and is within walking distance of Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center.
Free cable and a bathrobe are provided in every room at the New York Central Park Ritz-Carlton. All rooms are elegant, with wood furniture and light colors. Many rooms also include a city or park view.
La Prairie Spa at the Ritz-Carlton New York Central Park offers massage and facial services, as well as a sauna. Guests can also work out in the state-of-the-art fitness center.
The 57th street subway station is just 2 blocks away, providing easy access to the city. Radio City Music Hall and the Broadway Theatre District are also both within 1 mile of the hotel.
Mid-Budget – citizenM New York Times Square
Located right in the heart of Manhattan, this hotel is just 1 minute’s walk from Times Square. It’s also within 5 minutes’ walk of Central Park and Columbus Circle.
A flat-screen TV and a small refrigerator with free water are available in citizenM’s rooms. Bathrooms include Hansgrohe rain showers and oversized bathroom amenities.
With the room iPad, all guests can control room lights, black-out blinds, curtains and temperature. As well as TV and radio channels.
Free high-speed Wi-Fi and express check in are on offer at citizenM New York Times Square.
Three outdoor terraces are provided at the New York Times Square citizenM. They feature a state-of-the-art fitness centre with yoga facilities.
After working out, guests can relax with drinks and sweeping views of the city on the exclusive rooftop bar.
Budget – Central Park West Hostel
Located in New York City’s Upper West Side, this hostel is a block from the 86th street underground station and 2 blocks from Central Park. It offers Wi-Fi and staff-organized events.
A shared kitchen, café area, and spacious lounge with a flat-screen TV are part of the facilities at the FIT Hotel. Lockers are also provided in the dormitory rooms and luggage storage is available.
The front desk of this New York City hostel is open 24 hours a day. It features daily housekeeping and free linens.
Times Square is only 10 minutes via underground journey.
For more places to stay in New York, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.
More USA Blogs
San Francisco Bucket List: 12 Best Things To Do
Los Angeles Bucket List: 9 Best Things To Do
12 Most Instagrammable Places In San Francisco
11 Most Instagrammable Places In LA