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The city where dreams are made, the city where you dreamed of moving to as a teenager, the Big Apple. The simple words ‘New York’ create many different thoughts and images in your mind.
Each time I have visited New York City it has blown my mind, it is chaotic, it is busy but it has a magic I just cannot put my finger on. It is a city I know I will explore multiple more times in my lifetime and still always find something new. Usually, I spend 4 days in New York, I find it a great amount of time to get used to the city without beginning to feel overwhelmed.
Four days will give you enough time to see the main tourist spots if it is your first time visiting New York or if it is a repeat visit a good amount of time to get your bearings and start exploring new areas such as Brooklyn.
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New York in four days: How much spending money do you need?
Okay, let us start with the obvious a New York budget is going to vary massively between person to person. As always, I am going to base this post off of my type of budget which I, personally, would class as average. It is not a tight backpacker budget but it is nowhere luxury either. Accommodation price will also be based on two adults sharing a room.
Booking your flights to New York
Prices of flights to New York fluctuate throughout the year with Christmas time being the most expensive. I have always found the cheapest flights to New York during the early spring (March-April) or late summer (September). During these times I have found return flights (London – JFK) for as low as £300 across a weekend.
It goes without saying flying on a weekday will be cheaper than flying on a weekend day. Personally, I would never pay more than £350 for a return flight from London to New York (including baggage).
To find the most competitive flight prices, be sure to make full use of Skyscanner and be as flexible as you can be with the dates you can fly. I generally find Norweigan Air to be the cheapest to fly to the USA with, however, you will usually need to add baggage on with this airline, therefore make sure you take this into consideration when accessing prices.
Where to Stay in New York
Every time I have visited New York I have stayed in the Hotel Penn. It is less than a ten-minute walk to Times Square yet still affordable. The rooms are comfy and very spacious giving you a relaxing space for your 4 days in New York.
The average price for a private room for 2 in the Hotel Penn is £105 per night with breakfast included.
For 4 nights accommodation in New York, you can expect to pay £420 for two / £210 per person – this is for a centrally located hotel close to Times Square.
If you are looking to travel on a tighter 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.
Attraction prices for your 4 days in New York
Attractions will most likely be a big part of your spending money during your 4 days in New York. With attractions such as the Top of the Rock (£28 per person) and the Empire State Building (£28 per person), you will be spoilt when it comes to what attractions to visit.
As always, I recommend purchasing your attraction tickets in advance before arriving in New York, this is because I find you will always get the best prices. Aside from the main cost reason, it avoids the disappointment of attractions being fully booked on arrival and it allows you to allocate your budget and spending money before arriving in New York.
Recently, I have started to use Isango! for my city attraction tickets. One bonus I have found with Isango! is that many of the attractions include skip-the-line passes as well as a very user-friendly website that allows you to search for attractions by district.
If you are planning on visiting a lot of the ‘top’ New York attractions across your four days, then I would suggest looking into the New York Explorer Pass (from £50 per person). This will allow reduced entrance into multiple top attractions.
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 Hop On Hop Off New York City 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.
If you are a fan of musicals and the theatre, then you will, of course, want to visit a show on Broadway. However, I will say this can be quite pricey, to see Wicked on Broadway we paid £65 per person. If you are undecided on what show to see, my recommendation would be Hamilton.
To be on the safe side, I would aim to allocate £150 per person to spend on attractions across the 4 days. Although, it is likely you will spend less than this.
4 Days in New York – How much spending money for food?
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.
Like most tourist cities, the closer you eat to the main attractions the more it will cost you. Therefore, in the big restaurants around Times Square, a sit-down two-course dinner for two will easily set you back around £75 for two. Be aware it is also expected to tip around 15-20% on top of your bill.
Thankfully, food is a big way you can save money during your 4 days in New York. Simple ways to do this include eating outside of the tourist areas (Little Italy is a great area for cheap pizza), 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.
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 (£10 per cocktail) as it includes the Empire State Building as part of its view.
I would allocate around £200 per person for food spending money in New York. This is based on having two meals per day, with at least one of these being in a sit-down restaurant.
So how much spending money do you need for four days in New York?
Adding up the breakdown of this post, I would advise £560 per person including your accommodation (based on staying at the Hotel Penn) or £900 per person if you wanted to include your flight to New York.
Of course, shopping is a very popular activity in New York but I have not allocated for this in the budget, therefore if you plan to visit for shopping, you will need to take this into consideration as well.
I would never consider New York as a budget destination but I do believe you can make it more affordable. Hopefully, this post will have also have helped you to set realistic expectations for how much spending money you will need for 4 days in New York.
This post is in paid partnership with Isango!