New York is one of those cities almost every traveler has on their list. But how to approach the city with 8.6 million people, countless restaurants, museums, shopping centers, boutiques, and hotels? This melting pot of ambitious people and sublime skyscrapers surely requires a special approach. One thing that you definitely shouldn’t do is visit it for one or two days. It makes absolutely no sense because you won’t understand anything. We advise you to visit New York City for at least four and better for seven days. Most probably you won’t see all of New York even if you live there for a year, but seven days is enough time to get a sense of the city, its people and spirit and to see the most notable attractions.
This is our pleasure to offer you this 7-day itinerary to New York City, with 38 recommendations and six maps so that you can make your time in the Big Apple really big and memorable!
From Dubai to New York: List of Flights
Before we start exploring the marvelous Manhattan and other notable places of New York, let’s look at how we can get there from Dubai. Currently, there are five Emirates flights that can take you from Dubai to New York:
- Direct flight number EK203 with departure at 02:35 and arrival at 08:15 (14 hours 40 minutes). Arrives at JFK airport.
- Direct flight number EK223 with departure at 02:55 and arrival at 07:55 (14 hours). Arrives at Newark airport.
- Direct flight number EK201 with departure at 08:30 and arrival at 13:55 (14 hours 25 minutes). Arrives at JFK airport.
- Flight number EK205 with departure at 09:05 and arrival at 19:00 (18 hours 55 minutes) with one stop in Milan. Arrives at JFK airport. In case you want to see Milan check out our 3 Days Milan itinerary
- Flight number EK209 with departure at 11:55 and arrival at 21:20 (18 hours 30 minutes) with one stop in Athens. Arrives at Newark airport. In case you want to combine your trip with a stop in Athens, check out our 3 Days Athens itinerary.
If you’re arriving at JFK airport, you can get to the city center with help of the subway, long island railroad, shared vans and shuttles or by taking a cab or private car service. If you’re arriving at Newark airport you can get to Manhattan by taking an airport shuttle express, a bus service, a train or a cab. Although a taxi is the most expensive option, it’s the most hassle-free. Whether you’re taking the cab from JFK or from Newark you will need to pay about $70-75 including all fees, tolls, surcharges, and tips. It will take you about 45 minutes to get to Manhattan and after you arrive and take rest, you can start exploring the Big Apple!
Manhattan is the heart of New York and one of the world’s busiest commercial, cultural and financial centers. We advise you to book accommodation in this part of the city (see the list of recommendations at the end of the itinerary) because most of the things that you will explore are located here.
1. Breakfast at The Plaza. There’s no better way to start the first day by having a tasty breakfast. If you remember the ‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York’ you’d want to see the place where it was shot and have breakfast there. The Plaza hotel is one of New York’s most luxurious hotels and they have an excellent restaurant. Start your first day there and you’ll be overflowing with positive emotions.
2. Walk around Columbus Circle. Located on the southwest corner of Central Park, the Columbus Circle was named after Christopher Columbus. The monument in the center of the circle was installed there to commemorate the 400th anniversary of reaching America by Columbus. It’s a beautiful place and you can also find many notable business centers there. 3. Shopping on Fifth Avenue. If you love shopping, then Fifth Avenue is one of the best places for you in New York. It’s a real shoppers’ paradise! You will find here numerous boutiques of famous brands including Tiffany’s. Make sure to visit Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, as well.
4. Dinner at Le Bernadine. After the shopping part of the day is over, we recommend you to visit one of the best restaurants in the city – Le Bernadine. It has three Michelin stars, four stars from the New York Times (highest rating) and endless accolades from visitors. The restaurant also has one of the most magnificent dining rooms in New York City and an excellent list of wines.
5. Enjoy the Times Square in the evening. Visit the Times Square to give your first day in New York a truly unforgettable finale. It’s best experienced in the evening when you can see the bright lights of countless billboards and advertisements located on the busy square. This place is also referred to as ‘The Crossroads of the World’ or ‘The Center of the Universe’ and it receives 50 million visitors annually. Although it’s too pompous to call it this way, what we can say for sure is that it’s a major center of the world’s entertainment industry.
1. Behold the Guggenheim Museum. Often referred to as just Guggenheim, this museum features an impressive collection of early modern, contemporary, post-impressionist and impressionist art and special exhibitions. The building in which the museum is located was designed by an iconic 20th-century architect Frank Lloyd Wright and is a unique one. It’s a cylindrical building and its ramp gallery extends all the way up from the ground floor. In 2013 it hosted the most popular exhibition in New York City.
Tip: for your convenience, you can purchase the City Pass or the New York Pass that will allow you to visit most of the attractions in the article at a reduced price and get line-skipping privileges at some attractions. It is also advised to get GetYourGuide app to buy tickets online and skip the lines, otherwise, you may stand in line for hours to get a ticket. 2. Take photos near the LOVE Sculpture. There’s no reason not to visit and take several photos near the famous LOVE sculpture created by Robert Indiana. The sculpture was initially designed for a Christmas card in 1964, but it eventually ended up on the corner of 6th Avenue and 55th Street in Manhattan and became a very popular tourist spot.
3. Admire Art at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa). This famous museum is located only two blocks away from the previous attraction on the list so it will be very convenient to see it right after you take some photos near the LOVE sculpture. MoMa is one of the largest museums in the world that features an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art along with numerous design and architecture works, sculptures, paintings and many more. The works of Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse and Frida Kahlo (among others) can be found here. 4. Visit the Rockefeller Centre and Ice-Rink. These two are one of the most popular landmarks in New York. Here you can see the world-famous Christmas Tree and enjoy the holiday spirit on the ice-skating rink. Even if you’re visiting New York City not during the Christmas holidays, the Rockefeller Center is still worth visiting.
5. Dinner at Russian Tea Room. End the second day by having dinner at The Russian Tea Room that has been creating its reputation for more than 80 years. You can expect to taste Russian classics such as caviar, vodka, and Russian salad here.
1. A trip to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Being in New York and not taking a trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island would a big omission. You can take a ferry trip from Lower Manhattan and as the ferry moves closer to the famous statue, you will see it up close and take some wonderful pictures. After the stop at the Statue of Liberty, you will be taken to Ellis Island. This island was once a gateway to millions of immigrants who entered the US.
Tip: just like with many popular attractions in New York, you may need to spend several hours in line waiting to get a ticket. To avoid the lines, opt for the Priority Statue of Liberty Ticket. 2. Cross the Brooklyn Bridge. After you complete the tour, you can take a hop-on-hop-off bus or a taxi to Brooklyn Bridge. This iconic bridge is opened 24/7 it’s beautiful at all times, but probably the most beautiful moments that you can catch there are during the sunset and when the New York skyline starts to light up.
Tip: if you’re visiting New York in colder times, consider dressing warm, because it will be chilly and windy on the bridge. 3. Dinner at Chinatown. This neighborhood has some of the best dining options for those who love Chinese food and for foodies. Being a center of Chinese culture in New York, it has numerous Southeast Asian and Chinese restaurants, markets selling food and souvenirs and shops with traditional Chinese goods.
Tip: in case you find Italian food culture more attractive, we recommend you visiting Little Italy neighborhood in New York.
1. American Museum of Natural History. Start your fourth day in New York by visiting the largest natural history museum in the world. This museum consists of 25 buildings and spans 4 city blocks. It’s really huge! American Museum of Natural History has 40 exhibition halls, numerous lifelike dioramas and millions of items and artifacts. Make sure to see the Tyrannosaurus rex and Apatosaurus, the Hall of Ocean Life, Rose Center for Earth and the Hall of Meteorites.
Tip: the lovers of natural history can easily spend a day here and it won’t be enough for them. The average person spends 2-4 hours in the museum. You can get an Explorer interactive app for the iPhone and iPod Touch that will guide you through the 570,000 square feet of the museum.
2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s the largest art museum in the United States and the third most visited art museum in the world. With regalia like this, it should be on the list of any admirer of art. Also known as simply ‘the Met’, it has a permanent collection that has more than two million works that can be explored in seventeen departments.
3. Shop at Century 21. Shopping people want fewer museums and more shopping and in case it’s the kind of activity you’re looking for we offer you to pay a visit to Century 21 stores. There are several locations where the stores can be found (the two have been marked on the map above) so you can choose the one that fits your route best. Century 21 is a big discount store where you can easily spend a day if shopping is your passion.
4. Enjoy the view from the Empire State Building. The view from the Empire State building is something that you need to experience. If you go there in the evening and look at the city from above, you will see the busy roads as the veins of New York and hear the symphony of one of the busiest cities in the world.
Tip: there are a lot of people who advise viewing New York from Top of the Rock instead of Empire State building because you can get a better view. In addition to the vibrant city life, Top of The Rock gives you the opportunity to enjoy the epic views of the Empire State Building and Central Park.
1. Walk around Manhattan. You can make the fifth day a little bit more relaxed and start it by walking around Manhattan. You may ask ‘Isn’t it what I’ve been doing most of my time in New York?’ Walking to a certain place and just walking are two big differences. Explore the streets in a relaxed mode, look at the people, sit on the benches, try to catch and listen to street musicians. Just walk Manhattan and try to feel the very special vibe of the city. Sometimes by doing nothing, you can understand everything. 2. Explore the Grand Central Station. The Grand Central Station is located in Midtown Manhattan and it’s much more than a simple train station. It’s also a cultural, dining and shopping destination and one of America’s impressive architectural achievements. You will see the Tiffany Clock, the Grand Central Station’s outstanding exterior and interior and you can also get a self-guided 1-hour tour to learn about the history of the place.
3. See a Broadway Show. Seeing a Broadway show while you’re in New York is one of the things that will greatly enhance your experience of the city. The majority of shows at Broadway are musical. You can opt for something classic like ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ or more contemporary like ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’.
1. Enjoy a leisurely walk at Central Park. For those who don’t like concrete jungle, New York may seem to be a terrible place. But even here you can find an oasis of incredible beauty – Central Park. This park has numerous beautiful spots, lakes, bridges and it is filled with interesting places and activities. It’s beautiful all year round and whichever season you will be attending New York, you will definitely enjoy the Central Park. After 5 active days in New York, you may find it appropriate to make the sixth day more relaxing and spend at least 3-5 hours enjoying the beauty and ambiance of Central Park. 2. Attend a world-class performance at The Metropolitan Opera. Being one of the greatest opera houses in the world, the Metropolitan Opera in located inside the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. If you want to see world-class performances and have good seats, you need to book tickets online and in advance.
On the last day, you can do something different and take one of the many one day tours in or from New York. We recommend you 6 tours to choose from:
1. Hudson Yards and The High Line Tour – the Hudson Yards is a city inside the city. The unique real estate project located in Manhattan has 6 futuristic buildings full of life, business and entertainment. On this tour, you will discover a 150-foot monumental art installation called The Vessel, the extraordinary technologies behind the projects and everything that you need to know about the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States. 2. Woodbury Shopping Tour – if you followed the recommended schedule scrupulously, then you had plenty of opportunities for shopping in New York. But if you can never get enough of it, we can recommend a tour that will let you fully indulge in your passion. This tour will give you an opportunity to spend a day at New York’s largest outlet shopping center. You will get access to over 220 designer stores and search for discounts on the most famous designer label merchandise and brand names such as Calvin Klein, Timberland, Ralph Lauren, Diesel, Nike, and many others. Departures from New York City happen 4 times a day so you can choose the time that’s most convenient for you. You will get reserved seating on a comfortable bus and a coupon book with an additional discount that you can use in all stores of the shopping center. 3. Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn Half-Day Tour – tourists rarely visit Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn because they’re not usually featured on city tours and because it’s not always safe to be there. But if you want to discover New York fully and safely, then this half-day tour is a perfect opportunity to do so. You’ll be transported in a mini-bus and you’ll get a local guide who will help you to explore the diverse cultures and vibrant communities of less-visited neighborhoods of New York.
4. Washington and Philadelphia 1 Day Tour – this full-day tour will help you discover Washington and Philadelphia and explore its most iconic landmarks including the White House, Lincoln Memorial, the Liberty Bell, the US Capitol and the Independence Hall (the birthplace of the United States were American Constitution was adopted). This is one of the best tours for those who want to know more about the history of the United States and to see some of the most important landmarks related to it. In case you want to exclude Philadelphia and see only Washington DC, you can take an alternative Washington DC Day Trip. It’s a little different than the Washington & Philadelphia Tour, but it has the same historical focus.
5. 2-Day Niagara Falls and Shopping Trip – and here’s something for those who love waterfalls and still want to do a little shopping. In contrast with all other tours on the list, it takes two days, but who cares if you can see the magnificent Niagara! One remarkable thing about this tour is that you’ll be able to experience the famous waterfall from both the US and Canada side. This tour has many other surprises so we advise reading its description thoroughly. This one’s not to be missed!
Places to Stay in New York
- citizenM New York Times Square – a modern and funky hotel in the heart of Manhattan. And when we say modern, we mean modern, because all rooms have a digital system that controls music, lighting, and electronics. How cool is that? Three are also three outdoor terraces from where you can combine enjoying New York views with working out or yoga. Central Park is within a 5 minutes walking distance from the hotel.
- MADE Hotel – another classy place for those who prefer the modern style. Rooms are beautifully decorated and some of them have floor-to-ceiling windows which allow you to enjoy magnificent views of New York. If you like American cuisine then you’ll be often visiting the hotel’s restaurant Ferris which is open for lunch and dinner and serves classic American dishes. MADE hotel also has a lounge with a panoramic view of New York on the 18th floor and the patio for guests on the second floor.
- Lotte New York Palace – this 5-star hotel is for those who prefer a more classic hotel experience. It’s a chic place where you can enjoy bathrooms made of marble and in some rooms a view of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The hotel has two lounges, onsite bakery, in-room dining options, a huge fitness and spa center, and a restaurant.
- The Peninsula New York – just like in Lotte New York Palace, the bathrooms in The Peninsula New York are also made of marble, but in addition to that you can also enjoy a TV there! This is a 5-star hotel, so you will get everything that you can expect from a good 5-star hotel. If you happen to visit New York during Christmas time, we advise you to book The Peninsula New York, because the way they decorate the hotel for holidays is something that you need to experience.
- The St. Regis New York – another viable option for those who prefer classic style and want their gastronomic needs to be taken care of. The St. Regis New York has two onsite dining options that offer impressive dining experiences. Interesting services that the hotel offers include beauty and florist shop, limousine rentals, valet parking, childcare, and shoe shines.
- Four Seasons Hotel New York – this is a stylish hotel that was designed by I.M. Pei. It features an Art Deco lobby with an onyx ceiling and suites that offer panoramic views of the city. In fact, all rooms offer incredible views. They also have an impressive spa with numerous options to relax. In addition to this, the hotel has a garden restaurant that will make you feel like you are in the forest. Why? Because inside the restaurant you will see African Acacia trees which give this place an otherworldly feeling. Their menu and bar are also impressive, so paying a visit to the Four Seasons restaurant is also highly advised.
Places to Eat in New York
You already know about The Plaza, Le Bernardine, Russian Tea Room, The Four Seasons Restaurant as well as about Chinatown and Little Italy neighborhoods. But let’s look at some other notable places to eat in New York that we totally recommend you to visit
21 Club – Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Orson Welles, Lauren Bacall, and every president since Eisenhower loved to spend time here. Scenes of many movies were captured in the restaurant and it has a history so long and incredible that you can write a book about it. As for the food and the famous secret wine vault…after you experience it once you’ll understand what all buzz is about.
Avant Garden – an excellent place for vegans who don’t like when vegetarian or vegan restaurants try to mimic the carnivore food. They don’t have vegan dishes that taste like meat; instead they let vegetables be vegetables. But they make it in such a masterful way that it deserves everyone’s attention. The menu is original, tasty and we would even say innovative. Try their pasta and mushroom dishes. You’ll be surprised.
The Smith Restaurant & Bar – the restaurant offers classic American food, great services, and lovely ambiance. There are four Smith restaurants in the city, so you can easily visit one of them during your time in New York.
Katz’s Delicatessen – since its opening in 1888, Katz’s Delicatessen serves the best old-fashioned Jewish delicacies. Both New Yorkers and people from around the world come for delicious corned beef, cured for a month and sliced by hand. The power of tradition is so strong in this place that they still accept only cash. But don’t worry, there’s an ATM machine in the back. And if you decide to take a sandwich, you’ll have enough food for a day (no joke).
Il Gattopardo – if you’re fond of Italian food, then you can’t miss visiting this one. This three-story Italian restaurant serves some of the best Italian dishes in the whole city. Whether it’s a timbalo of wild mushrooms and potatoes, pasta, lasagna or anything else, you will ask for more if your stomach allows you. As for the wine list, it has more than 250 options to choose from. This kind of restaurant is rare not just for New York, but also for many Italian cities.
New York is a city of high hopes, big money, majestic skyscrapers, earnest strivings, and sublime freedom ideals. People who live and travel there can encounter love, hate, prosperity, poorness, joy, and grief. It’s a place where you can find literally anything. And for this, it has to be experienced at least once in a lifetime.