Visiting New York on a budget

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If you ask a selection of people to name a place on their bucket list, you can almost be sure a fair few of them will say New York. It is the city made famous from countless movies, television shows and songs, it is the city filled with endless skyscrapers and a bucket load of opportunity.

Be it Christmas, spring, summer or fall, New York is a year-round destination, either for a weekend break or a week-long for those who want to delve a bit deeper.

Unfortunately though, for many people it does stay a bucket list dream, as many fear it despite the cheaper international flights (thanks to airlines such as Norweigan Air) it is expensive when you get there, and it can be, but having visited New York three times now, I can tell you New York on a budget is possible and it does not mean compromising.

A New York street with lots of a people and a traditional Yellow Taxi

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New York on a budget – things to do: 

A big part of the attraction of New York is the atmosphere, there is an incredible buzz around the city, so what better way to feel it than to walk around the city. Not only will you burn off all the extra calories from all the amazing food you will eat, but you will also stumble upon things you wouldn’t notice when in a taxi or on the subway.

Much like London, New York has a very different feel depending on which area you in, from the chilled vibes of Soho to the more glamorous Upper East. While walking you may also spot some familiar spot made famous by some of our most loved movies. Oh, and also be sure to take a stroll over the Brooklyn Bridge, something I have yet to do in my three visits.
A very busy grand central station in New York City, a great free tourist attraction which is great for those visiting on a budget

A few of the top attractions in New York are free to visit as well, take a walk through Times Square, in the summer buy a bagel and have a picnic in Central Park, before taking a stroll across the High Line or visiting Grand Central Station. You can even get a fantastic view of the Statue of Liberty for free by boarding the Staten Island Ferry which runs 24 hours a day.

New York is a safe and easily navigable city by day, but for those who are not so confident, like most cities New York also has companies that run free walking tours , just remember to give your guide a tip for their hard work. Free walking tours are a great way to save cash if you are visiting New York on a budget. Alternatively, you may want to consider jump on one of the famous New York hop-on hop-off buses.

Many of the cities museums are free on certain days as well, The Museum of Modern Art is free on  Fridays between the hours of 16.00 and 22.00 and the 9/11 Memorial Museum is free on Tuesdays between from 17.00 until closing.

Of course, you are going to want to experience the top attractions, especially if it is your first visit. For attractions such as The Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building, buy your tickets before your visit for the best price, Attraction Tickets offer the best competitive price that I have seen as well as offering a ‘skip the line’ feature on many of the top attractions – believe me when I say this can save you hours of time during busy seasons.

If musical theatre is your thing, you will not want to miss out on seeing a show on Broadway, but these shows can be expensive, to stick within your New York budget visit one of the TKTS ticket booths on the day you want to go for prices up to 50% off, to save time avoid the Times Square booth as queues here are frequently long, opt for one of the cities quieter locations to save time.

Purchase a New York Pass to save money

Getting the best value for money is my #1 factor when planning a trip and the New York Pass was rated the number 1 New York tourist pass by Trip Advisor. They’re also recommended by Expedia and the New York Pass currently has a TrustScore of 4.4/5 on Trust Pilot.

With the New York Pass, you can save time, money, and enjoy stress-free sightseeing to New Yorks’ top attractions.

The New York All-inclusive pass is a pre-paid sightseeing card which gives you FREE entry to the city’s top tourist attractions (over 100), including entrance to the Top of the Rock, Empire State Building, 9/11 Memorial & Museum and a Marvel & DC Superheroes Walking Tour.

The pass also features skip-the-line access – which is fantastic during the busier periods and for those short on time in New York City. 

How To Get A New York Pass And Save Money:

Choose which pass duration you want to buy (1 – 10 day). Click here to purchase your New York Pass in advance and access further discounts. Redeem your voucher and go sightseeing!

The view of the empire state building from the top of the rockefeller
The Best Budget Accommodation in New York – Where to stay in New York for cheap:

You’ll be spoilt for choice of where to stay in New York, but as we are doing this on a budget I wanted to highlight a fewer of the more cost-efficient options. 

If you are okay with hostels there is The Local Hostel (private rooms available) situated just outside of the main area in Queens but still a short metro ride away from the main attractions.

Prefer to stay in a hotel? Try the Pod 51 for a budget hotel in New York, alternatively, have a look at Air B’n’B.  

Generally, aside from your flights, your accommodation will be your biggest payout for your trip, but weigh up how much time you will actually be spending in your room, is it worth paying out a lot for somewhere you will be just be sleeping?

Where to eat on a budget in New York:

The food available in New York is incredible, so ensure you allow a budget for this, but remember the portion sizes are BIG, two main meals a day is probably sufficient.

If you are in the Brooklyn area head to Harefield Road Irish Pub to do brunch on a budget and then head over to the Little Italy area for a Pizza dinner.

Make use of the street food carts around plotted around the city for low-cost alternatives and be sure to check out the NY Eater cheap eats map to find the spots the locals love.

If you are big on beer visit the Brooklyn Brewery on a Saturday between the hours of 12.30 pm – 18.30pm for a free tour and tasting samples but remember to bring your ID. 

Alternately, if you are looking to get a photo of the iconic New York skyline without the high ticket costs, visit one of the rooftop bars and only pay the price of the drink, I recommend the bar 230 Fifth bar as it includes the Empire State Building as part of its view.

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A display of doughnuts in a New York Bakery - a great place to eat on a budget when visiting New York
I wholeheartedly believe New York City on a budget is possible and not a placed to be dismissed until you have a more lavish budget. By being wise with your spending and planning thoroughly in advance makes it possible, as well as making the most of being outside.

As well as Manhatten, if time permits spend time in a bit further out in Brooklyn, it is less touristy but gives you a completely different cooler feel of New York, you will find prices here slightly cheaper.

a complete guide on how to see New York on a budget, including affordable accomodation, food and attractions

This post is in collaboration with Attraction tickets.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    December 13, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    If you can save money on popular Broadway shows by buying standing room tickets on the day of. There’s no guarantee you’ll snag one and you’ll have to stand up the whole time if you get in but you could see a show for 1/10th of the price. I ended up doing this in London recently when I went to see a Martin Freeman play on a whim.

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