You want to visit New York City in 5 days? I hereby offer my itinerary to discover the Big Apple in only a few days 😄
New York is an incredible city that deserves to be discovered in at least a week, or more. But in 5 days you will already have had the time to discover the must-sees and get a feel of the city. Just enough to make you want to go back for a second stay one day! 😉
Here is a program that will allow you to visit New York City in just a few days.
If you follow it, you're sure to have an absolutely amazing trip! 😁 Are you ready? Let's go!
Visit New York City — Day 1: Times Square & Central Park
If you arrive in New York late in the day, Day 1 may be quite short. With jetlag and fatigue, this is not the day to visit museums! I suggest visiting the city peacefully by walking through Times Square in the evening.
If you arrive a little earlier in the day, I would recommend dropping your luggage at your hotel and then heading for Central Park (by the way, if you still don't know where to sleep in New York, I have a complete article on the subject to help you out!)
There are often beautiful sunsets in Central Park, so going there on your first evening is a great idea! At least that's what I usually do when I arrive in New York City 😊
Times Square in the evening
This is New York City's iconic square, one of the busiest places in the Big Apple! This will help you get into the New York atmosphere: this district really never sleeps!
Some come here to celebrate an event or just to admire the facades of the buildings. But it's when night falls that you'll realise – with all the neon lights on, the huge billboards and the gigantic screens – that New York is truly a city like no other. It has a certain effervescence, an extraordinary atmosphere. Imagine this place during the New Year's Eve party and the countdown shouted in unison by thousands of inhabitants! 🥳
It is also possible to discover this place by taking a guided walking tour. The advantage is that some of these guided tours are available in the evening – perfect for a first day. It will last about 2 hours and will allow you to learn more about Times Square, but also about Broadway which is just next door.
Other tours do include Times Square in their programme, but it is only one part of the tour. These tours actually offer a more global visit and discovery of the city 🙂 Of course, they will last longer (about 6 hours in total). You will have to spend almost the whole day on it – but it is definitely worth it!
Enjoy Central Park
You can explore it on foot or by bike, but there is so much to see that you won't have time to visit it in its entirety. Between the green paths (including The Mall), the footpaths, the bridges, the fountains (the Bethesda fountain being the most popular), the various lawns and water features, it would take you a whole day to explore every nook and cranny.
As such, since your stay in the city won't be very long, I suggest you spend only two to three hours in Central Park, and focus on the park's landmarks such as the Strawberry Fields Monument (built as a tribute to singer John Lennon), go sailing on The Lake, spend some romantic moments on the Bow Bridge or sit on the Sheep Meadow lawn for a bit.
Note that there is even a zoo, so if you come with your children, they may want to see the animals there 😉Additionally, you can rent a bicycle by the hour in Central Park. If you want to see more of the park, this can be a good way to get around more quickly by renting one for a few hours. However, remember to book your bikes in advance. This way, you will be sure that your bikes will be available as soon as you come, and you will be able to go straight into the park. A lot of people rent bikes as soon as there is a ray of sunshine – and it’s first come, first served! 😁
For your first day, I recommend visiting New York City peacefully to recover from your flight and to not be too tired for the next few days.
The tourist pass to discover the city's must-sees 🎫
If you want to discover the main tourist sites during your stay in the Big Apple, I recommend opting for a tourist pass – more precisely for the New York CityPass. Thanks to this pass, you will benefit from various advantages, including access to 5 paying tourist sites that are not to be missed! One of the other big advantages is that you can choose some of the attractions from a list – there’s sure to be something you’ll like! Between the ease of booking and use, the absence of exchange fees and more, it truly is a perfect way to visit New York City in a few days! 😊
New York City itinerary — Day 2: Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island + WTC + Brooklyn Bridge
On this second day in New York, you're in for a treat! 😎 Start the day with the discovery of the emblem of New York – the Statue of Liberty!
You'll see that 5 days in New York go by very quickly when you want to visit the city, so there's no time to lose once you're there 😄
The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
This is one of the must-see places to visit once in NY. You really have to get close to this great lady! 🗽
Head to the southern tip of Manhattan (in Battery Park) where you'll find the port of embarkation for Liberty Island. The Staten Island ferry will take you to two different islands: Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty is located; and Ellis Island, where you can visit a free museum about the history of immigration to the United States.
You can get close to the Statue of Liberty for free (you only need to buy your ticket for the Staten Island ferry ride). You can also walk around the island, see the statue up close and enjoy the views over NY. You can even enter the statue – though you will have to pay for that.
If you want to visit New York in only 5 days, I don't necessarily advise you to visit the Statue of Liberty, but to at least take the ferry to see it up close.
(over 62 years)
(under 12 years)
Crossing with access around the Statue included
Crossing with access to the pedestal
Crossings are free for children under 4 years old.
Some of the activities around the Statue can be done quickly, such as the one-hour cruise around the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. This can be a good compromise to the Ferry: although you won't be able to go to the island directly, you'll however get to pass under the Brooklyn Bridge, admire Manhattan's Skyline from the Hudson river... 😊
Inside the Statue of Liberty, you will find a museum that will give you lots of information about the statue and its construction. It is also possible to climb to the crown level from where you will have a nice view of the NYC skyline. However, obtaining a ticket to the crown needs a lot of preparation – you will have to book your tickets several months in advance and not many are sold!
Tours of Liberty Island and Ellis Island are open to the public every day of the year (except December 25th) from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The World Trade Center (WTC)
The area where the former twin towers were located has become tragically famous. At the World Trade Center site, known as Ground Zero, you will find the Memorial dedicated to the thousands of victims of the 11 September attack. Their names have been engraved on the edges of huge basins.
This visit is all the more moving if you follow it up with a visit to the 9/11 Museum. There you will find pieces of the collapsed towers and personal belongings of the victims found in the rubble. The museum is also full of documents to see and videos to watch.
I'll talk more about this later in the article, but you can also go to the One World Observatory platform to view the site from above. This is a good experience, especially as you can buy a combined ticket to access the different sites. This is quite handy if you want to discover them, and you will also pay less by taking the combined ticket than if you bought each admission ticket separately.
The Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge, one of the oldest bridges in the country (late 19th century), is another of NYC landmarks. Not only is its architecture incredible, so is the view it offers. To make the most of this visit, cross it on foot (upper deck) – it will take you about 20-30 minutes: it's less than 2 kilometres long.
I recommend crossing the bridge in the morning: you'll have the sun at your back and you'll be able to get some very nice shots of the skyline in front of you. Of course, seeing a sunset from the bridge is another moment not to be missed!
Two other ways to discover this bridge:
- During a cruise: as I mentioned for the Statue of Liberty, different cruises are available on the Hudson River and allow you to discover the different emblems of the city: the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty,... You will benefit from live commentary during the cruise, and you can even enjoy a cocktail or a meal if you wish 😋
- By bike: get on a bike and go on a guided tour of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan. The bike ride lasts about 2 hours and you will cover a distance of about 20 kilometres. It’s a really nice way to see as much as possible in a short time 🚲
New York City itinerary — Day 3: museums
Day 3 of our 5-day New York City itinerary is dedicated to museums. Even if you are not a big art lover, doing at least one museum while visiting New York in 5 days is a must. You can postpone this day according to the weather: museums are perfect for a rainy day! 😄 Don’t forget to check the New York forecast.
If the weather gets bad towards the end of the week, place the days to visit the museums at that time instead.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Dedicated only to modern and European art, you can admire the most beautiful works of Van Gogh, Picasso, Cézanne, Kandinsky, Matisse...
The MoMA is open every day (except Thanksgiving and Christmas) from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (and until 8 p.m. on Fridays).
Address: 11 West 53rd Street.
Senior (65+ yrs old)
Admission is free for children under 16 and members.
The American Museum of Natural History
You have to go there, if only to see the collection of dinosaur skeletons it houses (especially the tyrannosaurus 🦖). But the American Museum of Natural History also has the largest collection of objects in the world and is full of treasures to admire at least once in a lifetime: a giant blue whale, a room with meteorites...!
Located east of Central Park, it is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Address: 79th Street, Central Park West
Here are the entry fees:
General Admission + access to special exhibition
General Admission + access to all special exhibitions
Seniors (60+ yrs old) and
(3-12 yrs old)
Admission is free for children under 3 years old.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET)
It's impossible to stay in New York City without visiting one of the greatest museums in the world!
However, you would need several days to visit it completely, so I advise you to choose between the museum's different sections: Contemporary Art, European Art, Egypt, Greece and Rome, America, Africa and Oceania.
A must-see is the Egyptian temple, the collection of arms and armour, the Iranian carpets as well as the Roof Garden Cafe – a rooftop terrace with a superb view 😊
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is open from Sunday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Address: 1000 5th avenue (& E 82nd street)
As for the prices:
Admission is free for children under 12 and members.
And once you're in the area, the Guggenheim Museum is not far away – don’t hesitate to go there, if only to admire its very special architecture!
New York City itinerary — Day 4: Grand Central Terminal & the High Line
For this fourth day, let's take a step back and discover New York in a different way 😉
The High Line
The High Line is an old disused overhead railway line on the west side of Manhattan. It was transformed into a sublime promenade in the late 1990s. It is a sort of park suspended about ten metres above the ground and goes all the way to the Hudson Yards neighbourhood.
New Yorkers love to walk there to get some fresh air, to do some sport, to participate in various activities (yoga, urbanism, exhibitions...) and especially for the various views of NY they can have (the Empire State Building, 10th Avenue, the Hudson River, the Meatpacking District...). The walk in the afternoon is pleasant, and just beautiful in the evening 😊
You can access it for free by taking stairs or lifts.
Where to sleep in New York City? 🛏️
You're going to New York City soon and don't know yet where to stay – and especially where to sleep for cheap? Even if the notion of "cheap" is quite relative in this big city, I personally recommend the Jane Hotel, located in Greenwich Village, just a stone's throw from the High Line! You will enjoy the charm and calm of the neighbourhood, which is one of the best places for accommodation in New York City. The hotel is housed in a renovated historic building and features a bar and restaurant. You can get a comfortable, well-decorated room with an en suite bathroom from around £105 per night.
Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan is another must-see on your trip. Why? Because it's not just a train station – it's a true little museum! Its architecture is already amazing, with a hall with magnificent bay windows and a ceiling representing the starry sky. But you should also see its four-faced clock and its basement. There you will find an amazing market with many shops and restaurants 👍
The station is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., and can be visited freely.Address: 89 East 42nd Street.
Visiting New York City — Day 5: shopping + observatories
Day 5 is shopping day! 😈 And the temple of this activity is and will always remain 5th Avenue – one of the main attractions of the city. Alright, so you'll see mostly very chic boutiques and big brands like Cartier or Tiffany – but you really owe it to yourself to go there at least once in your life! 😁
Then, you'll find other great shops near Times Square. Don't hesitate to go and have a look at them, especially "M&M's".
Additionally, don't forget to go to Macy's. This 11-storey department store remains iconic, and is the largest shop in NY! And don't forget that as a tourist, you'll get a 10% discount (which you can ask for at the Visitor Center). Nice, isn't it? 😊
Get a bird's eye view from one of New York City's observatories
If you want to see New York in a different way, head to the top of one of its huge buildings. There are so many to choose from that you'll be spoilt for choice! 😄
The advantage of using Tiqets, for example, is that you will pay in pounds (which can save you conversion fees) and you can sometimes benefit from discounts – which will not be available on the official websites. Moreover, you can book all your activities on a single platform (no need to create several accounts as you would have to on the different official sites) and you will be able to ask for help if you need it 🙌
For those who come to visit New York in 5 days only, I recommend doing at least one observatory.
If you want to do more, you will need more time and a bigger budget.
Top of the Rock, the Rockefeller Center's observatory
From the top of the Rockefeller Center (70th floor), you will have a 360° view of all of Manhattan and the surrounding areas. Its biggest advantage is that you can see other famous buildings of the city such as the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. You'll also get a nice view of the north side of Central Park.
The Top of The Rock is open every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (last lift at 6 p.m.).
Here are the prices for a basic admission ticket:
Admission is free for children under 12 years old.
In addition to the classic ticket, there are VIP and other tickets to discover the Rockefeller Center Tower, and more.
And if you come to New York City in winter, go to the ice rink for some skating, and admire the gigantic Christmas tree right next to it!🎄
The Empire State Building
It is impossible to go to New York without taking a look at the Empire State Building,: it’s the most famous skyscraper in the world! Located in the middle of Manhattan, you can see it from afar – but imagine yourself climbing to the 86th floor of this famous building, or even to the 102nd floor! There are excellent observatories from which you will have an incredible 360° view.
From the 86th floor you can see the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty.... And from the windows of the 102nd level, you will have an even more breathtaking view that stretches for almost 130 kilometres.
The Empire State Building (ESB) is open daily from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. (last lift at 1:15 a.m.) and there is no time limit to your visit. You can stay on the observation decks for as long as you want.
Address: 20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001
Here are the ticket prices (for access to the 86th floor):
Admission is free for children under 6 years old.
As with the Top of the Rock, there are other tickets that will allow you to live unique experiences such as witnessing a sunrise from the Empire State Building, or a ticket that will allow you to access the monument twice: during the day and at night, so you have the opportunity to enjoy two very different views 🤩 More details below!
You also have the option of taking two tours: one during the day and the other at night when the sun sets. This will give you two completely different views of the city. The AM/PM Experience costs £63 for an adult and £53 for a child. For a sunrise tour, Sunrise on 86th Floor, you will be charged £124. The early morning panoramic view is breathtaking, so there's plenty of photo opportunities!
I really recommend the double visit AM/PM Experience ticket! The panoramic view in the early morning is breathtaking, so it makes for some great photos! 📸
If you can, I suggest going to the ESB late in the day, just before dark, and staying there until the city lights start to come on one by one ✨
Note that whichever ticket you choose, you will always have access to the exhibitions on the 2nd and 80th floors. These exhibitions will take you on a journey through the history of the ESB and show you how NY changed from the 1920s to the present day. To make the most of your visit, download the free ESB app!
On your way to the ESB, swing by the Flatiron Building. This building nicknamed the "iron" is another symbol of NY that’s not to be missed! Located at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Broadway Street, it can't be visited, but you can still take lots of pictures of this building that you have probably seen in a lot of movies 😄
Need a break between two visits? 🔭
Artechouse is an innovative art space where you can discover different immersive and interactive exhibitions, dedicated to the meeting of art, science and technology. It is accessible to all ages and really interesting! You can enter this relaxing and creative space for about £24. However, remember to get your tickets in advance to enjoy a better experience and not waste time 😉
The One World Trade Center Tower: the One World Observatory
Since 2013, the One World Trade Center (541 metres high and 108 floors) is the tallest tower in New York City.
It was built in place of the World Trade Center’s twin towers.
If you have the opportunity to climb to the top to enjoy the view from its observatory, the One World Observatory, don’t hesitate!
Open since 2015, the observatory occupies 3 floors: the 100th, 101st and 102nd floors. It is open from 9 am to 9 pm every day (and from 8 am from May to September).
Address: 285 Fulton St, New York, NY 10007
Tickets always sell out fast, so buy yours early!
Children under 5 years old have free access to the platform.
There are also other tickets available: premium “no-queue” tickets, "combo" tickets combining this visit with other sites in the vicinity, such as Ground Zero, the 9/11 Museum, the memorial... Ideal if you want to discover the different monuments around this iconic place in the country and the world.
How about going even higher?
There's an extra activity you can do – if you can afford it of course: a helicopter flight over New York! It's not cheap, but it will give you an unforgettable memory of your stay.
You can choose the duration of the flight, but in general people opt for the flight which lasts between 15 and 20 minutes, for about £150/person (on Viator for example). This flight gives you time to see many monuments: the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, the Empire State Building, Ellis Island...).
If you want more information about this activity, you can follow this link. You will then be able to see the availability for your dates, the different existing flights (15, 20 and 30 minutes) as well as the programs and flight plans.
I had the opportunity to make such a flight during a trip to New York, and I keep excellent memories of it! I still remember the passage over Central Park with the doors open and my feet hanging in the air.... So awesome 🤩
Tourist passes, a great asset!
If you are planning to visit a lot of sites in New York, I advise you to get a City Pass – a tourist pass. There is nothing better to make your life easier, especially if you have only 5 days to visit New York. Several passes are available, and they are quite advantageous financially, as they allow you to get up to 50% off the price of entry to a site or off the price of an activity.
These passes will really make your life easier during your stay. Firstly, you will avoid long queues at the entrances to tourist sites, which is quite practical for a short stay. Secondly, they give you access to a large number of New York's must-see attractions (to choose from a list: Empire State building, American Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), Top of the Rock, Guggenheim Museum...). Some of them even give you access to the unlimited sightseeing bus (Hop On Hop Off bus).
The price of the pass depends on the number of attractions you choose or the number of days you will use it. It also depends on the website where you buy your pass from. Here are the most popular passes (prices from December 2020):
Period of validity
5 attractions, 3 of which you can choose from a list
Valid for 9 days from activation
Adults: from £117
Children: from £98
90+ activities to choose from
Valid for 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 or 10 days
Adults: From £128
Children: From £96
3 to 10 activities to choose from a list
Valid 30 days after activation
Adults: From £63
Children: From £49
New York SightSeeing Pass
150+ activities to choose from
Valid for 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 or 10 days
Adults: From £139
Children: From £114
New York SightSeeing Flex Pass
2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10 or 12 attractions
Valid 30 days after activation
Adults: From £67
Children: From £57.50
How to move around in New York City?
If you don't know yet how to get around New York, I advise you to use the New York Subway System: the underground network is very complete. To do this, you will need to buy a "MetroCard" (at an underground station). You can use it to buy single underground tickets (about 3$ or £2.30) or to travel for an unlimited period of time (7 days for example).
You can order your MetroCard before you leave for New York City 👍
Type of card
7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard
Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard /
(12 rides included)
The bus is also a good alternative, as it will allow you to go to places not served by the underground. In addition, buses operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also use a MetroCard, or you can buy a ticket from the driver (remember to prepare cash!).
And then, of course, there are the famous New York yellow cabs. You'll have to pay £2 for the basic fare and add about 40 cents every 300 metres or so.
Also, don't forget that New York is a huge city and that you will absolutely have to walk a lot. So remember to bring comfortable shoes with you!
That's it, that's the end of this article! I hope all this information will help you visit New York in the best way possible! 😊 In any case, I can tell you in advance: it will be a trip that will be forever engraved in your memories. If you still have any questions or suggestions to share on how to best visit New York, feel free to leave a comment 🙌