New York city, a bustling, colorful, never-ending heaven of entertainment, culture and events, attract thousands of tourists every year. Aside from all of its advantages as one of the world’s top tourist destinations, NYC is the most expensive city in the US.
To take the best out of your stay in New York, you need to carefully plan you budget, so you can do and see everything you’ve planned without breaking the bank. This guide will show you useful tips, lead you to the best free places to visit and teach you how to spare money, without cutting on your quality time.
Check out how to visit NYC on a budget like the bigger half of the visitors do.
Travel On Budget
The first thing you really need do to when you first go to NYC is to buy a metro card. The NYC metro and bus system is well developed and will take you to every place you want, you wouldn’t feel the need to search for another transportation. The cost of a single ride with the card on the metro or bus is $2.75 and all transport runs until midnight.
You can buy 7 days unlimited metro card for $31 and travel as much as you wish. The card can be bought from vending machines and also can be charged additionally. Note that the metro card doesn’t include express buses, so if you want to use them as well, try a 7 days Express metro card for $57.25.
Free Ferry Rides
Riding on a ferry except being pleasant and relaxing can show the city from a different angle. It’s perfect for photography lovers. The Staten Island Ferry is free to take and The East River Ferry is a cheap and good option to move around the boroughs. IT costs $4 per ride or $12 for the whole day and you can bring your bike on the board. Catch it from the Brooklyn Bridge, Midtown Manhattan or Long Island City in Queens.
Attractions and Museums
As like in every big city I NYC you can find many free museums and attractions to visit. Some museums are initially free, free on some days or for certain hours.
Top Free Museums
Some museums and galleries are free on selected days or hours. Many of them also offer to pay what you wish in some days. See the most interesting museums and when to visit them:
MoMA (free from 4pm to 8pm on Friday)
9/11 Memorial (from 5pm on Tuesday)
Museum of Arts & Design (pay what you wish from 6pm to 9pm on Thursday)
Museum of Moving image (free from 4pm to 8pm on Friday)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (pay what you wish from 5:45am to 7:45 on Saturday)
Frick Collection (pay what you wish from 11am to 1pm daily on Sunday)
There also many free attractions to visit. You can visit the Statue of Liberty or pass the Brooklyn Bridge. You can go to Central Park and spend the day or go for a walk on the High Line. Oh, let’s not forget the bursting Times Square. See more free things you can do in NYC.
Buy a NYC Pass
The NYC Pass is a “must do” thing for every tourist. With the pass, you get discounts of 40% for 6 museums and attractions. It’s the best option for longer stay. As like everywhere you skip the lines and enter quicker than other regular tourists. You will save nearly $80 from all attractions.
The NYC pass can be purchased online or bought from one of their partner attraction box offices. The price for one pass is $116.
Free Outdoor Shows
NYC is world famous with its outdoor shows, opera performances, and theater spectacles. This is one of the best things about being in NYC in the summer, as in almost every park something is happening every evening. You can watch music summer concerts, part of their summer festivals for free in the park. Also, the Metropolitan Opera hold summer recitals and movie screenings.
If you like to dive into Broadway’s magical atmosphere, but don’t want to empty your pockets, you can visit TKTS discount booths and get a 50% same days ticket discount for the most famous shows. They also offer standing room tickets at a lower price. Another option is to just move further, away from Broadway and see a good off-Broadway show.
Walking Tours or Bike Rental
Many walking tours are offered in NYC. You can sign for a free walking tour in advance and many routes are offered. We will show the best walking tours routes to sign for:
Central Park and Conservatory Garden has 13 free walking tours. You’ll be able to see every inch of the park. We suggest to visit it in the spring or summer when everything is in bloom and the Conservatory Garden will look like taken out of a fairytale. Learn more about Central Park’s sights.
Brooklyn Bridge Park organizes free tours, which will lead you through the bridge, into the park and give you useful information about the history of the harbor and trade routes in the past.
Grand Central Terminal tours will be very interesting for you. You will learn about the building’s history and architecture and go through the famous Oyster bar.
Citibike is new bike share program with the option to rent one bike for 30 minutes and leave it at one of the many docking stations around the central part. NYC has many bike lanes and its well prepared to meets bikes, who want to explore the city on wheels. Tax for one day to hire a bike is $9.50, for a week- $25 for unlimited 30 minutes rides.
If you want your bike just for yourself for the whole days, rent a bike with Central Park and explore the hidden treasures of the park.
Shopping deals are always running, no matter of the season. No matter what you’re looking for, from books to jewelry or souvenirs the Flea Markets are your place. They’re interesting and colorful and surely useful. Go to the famous Brooklyn Flea Market or to LIC Flea& Food in Queens. Also, Artists & Fleas is visited shopping joint for vintage clothes, accessories, and art.
If you’re hunting clothes here some good shops to visit:
Century 21- the most popular discount store with discounts up to 75%, offering everything from clothes and shoes to homeware products.
Cosmetic Market is hidden wonderland of good cosmetics, exceeded their original promotions on other expensive stores. You can find big brands at budget prices.
Gabay’s Outlet is East Village is a good choice for high-end fashion at affordable prices.
Fishs Eddy sells kitchenware and homeware stuff, with weekly discount offers.
If you’re heading some expensive, fancy hotel you must know, that quality can be found in smaller and cheaper hostels. NYC hostels are clean, cozy, at the right locations, close to tourist sights and cost at least the half cheaper, than a normal hotel. Most of the hostels offer breakfast and deals for sightseeing. Some of the best and comfortable sleeps are Jazz in the Park hostel, Urban Oasis, The notorious Bowery House and Broadway hostel. See the full list of the Best NYC hostels.
Where to dine, especially in a super expensive city is a major problem. People spend more money on eating than in everything else, so it’s good to know where to look for delicious offers on normal prices. If you don’t know where to go you can also go for a Chinese food in Chinatown, or try many tasty offers for hot dogs, burgers, and tacos at one of the many food stalls or bagel shops.
If you don’t want to eat on foot you visit local eateries but avoid tourist areas like Times Square, where prices are unthinkable high. Anywhere out the Midtown will be good for you pocket and stomach. Here are some more famous budget-friendly places to eat:
John’s of 12th Street in East Village offers traditional Italian meals served in a cozy vintage atmosphere.
Veselka in East Village is one the famous places for traditional Ukrainian surprises with meals around $18.
Vanessa’s is a dumpling house with really low prices, big meals, and tasty choices. Prices start from $2 for a sandwich and don’t go over 11$ for grill menu. You can find Vanessa’s in Brooklyn, Chinatown, and Williamsburg.
Mission Cantina on Orchard Street is the place for good and nutrient Mexican food. Portions are between $7 and $16 and they can also be shared.
Pok Pok in Brooklyn is a favorite place of many, who like spicy Thai food. From salads to soups, noodles and marinated meat dishes, Pok Pok will satisfy you with taste and price.