Thinking of visiting New York, but don’t think you can afford it without breaking the bank?
New York is one of the world’s most expensive cities both to live in and to explore as a tourist. With rising flight prices and exorbitant hotel rates, it’s easy to see why most think a trip here is impossible.
Heading to this city with a limited budget might sound far-fetched, with with careful planning, you can have a successful trip on any budget!
We’ve created the ultimate guide for the savvy-spender in NYC, containing what to do as well as the best places to eat, drink and sleep on a budget.
If you’re looking to visit all the major attractions in the city, invest in a New York Pass. It’s a prepaid sightseeing card that can be used to gain free entry to over 90 of the city’s top tourist attractions including the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock Observatory. Plus, you can also skip the queues so you can spend more time exploring what the city has to offer rather than waiting around.
Free walking tours are a great way to see and learn about the city on foot. There are many tours available covering a wide range of neighbourhoods and parks. Free Tours By Foot offer an incredible 6-hour tour covering Wall Street, Chinatown, SoHo and Greenwich Village to name just a few. It’s common courtesy to tip the guides though, so don’t come penniless!
Some of the best views of NYC can be seen from the Hudson River. From late Spring to early Winter, the Downtown Boathouse offers free kayaking sessions where you can paddle about the river and take some incredible snaps of the West Side.
If water isn’t your thing, hire a bike and head to one of the city’s most photographed and iconic landmarks, Brooklyn Bridge. As one of the oldest bridges in the United States, it offers the most spectacular views of the city’s skyline.
You can’t visit the city without going for a stroll around the historic Central Park. As the heart and soul of the city, It’s a great place to watch the world go by. It’s not just for relaxing and having a picnic, however - you can paddle in the lake, visit the animals at the zoo and even ice skate during the Winter.
New York is a foodie wonderland brimming with international and local cuisine. Amongst the high-end restaurants, there are lots of affordable gems - you just have to know where to find them!
We aren’t exaggerating when we say that there are delis located on every corner. You can grab bagels, burritos, sandwiches and the usual snacks here for just a couple of dollars. Extremely affordable and most importantly, delicious!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and New Yorkers are big fans. Jack’s Wife Freda in Lower Manhattan serves up fresh Mediterranean-style brunch dishes which are both healthy and incredibly satisfying. We’d definitely recommend ordering the rosewater waffles - yum!
NYC food trucks are great places to grab a cheap, quick bite to eat. Chick’nCone in Bryant Park serve up chicken bites in an ice cream cone… You heard that right! Chicken and waffles slathered in sauce - choose from kick’n ranch, yella BBQ, cinna-maple, buffalo blue or traditional BBQ. Don’t judge it ‘til you try it!
Forget fancy cocktails and pricey craft beers - there are plenty of bars around the city that will serve up a drink without having to hand over an arm and a leg.
Rudy’s Bar and Grill in Manhattan dates all the way back to 1919 when it was used as a speakeasy. Here drinks cost as little as $3 and are even cheaper during Happy Hour. You also get a free hot dog with any drink - yes please!
Johnny’s Bar in West Village serves cheap drinks all day long, including a $3.50 shot of the Day.
Where to Stay:
Believe it or not, it is actually possible to find budget accomodation that’s safe, clean and in a prime location within the city.
Broadway Hostel is New York’s first boutique hostel situated in the Upper West Side. As well as a choice of dormitory-style or private rooms, there is a multicultural communal area with a library, fireplace and a gourmet stainless steel kitchen. Rates from $24 per night.