The Perfect New York City 4-Day Itinerary

New York City is one of those unmissable cities that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. As Alicia Keys once sang, it’s a concrete jungle where dreams are made from and there is a surge of energy that reverberates throughout the city that makes you feel like anything is possible. Or maybe thats just me!

New York City is one of my favorite cities on our wonderful planet. I’ve been 7 times and I’m still scratching the surface of things to see and do! Every time I visit it’s like its the first time all over. New York City is forever changing, and it’s impossible to be bored or restless in the city that never sleeps.

New York Tips

Go City: New York

Planning on visiting a few of New York’s museums or sights like;

  • The Empire State Building
  • Statue of Liberty
  • 9/11 Memorial Museum
  • Ellis Island
  • The Edge

Getting Around

Subway & Buses: $2.75 per ride

Staten Island Ferry: Free

App: CityMapper for getting around

Purchase the New York Go Pass and visit as many attractions as you like within a 24/48/72-hour period.

Tips for Planning a 4-day New York City Itinerary

The below itinerary is jam-packed, so take it at your own pace. I’ve kept the days to an area, so for example, on day 1 you’ll be visiting downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn which makes it easy to hop on a subway/uber or walk from place to place.

Bring shoes that you’re comfortable walking long stretches in. New York is not the place to break in new shoes. If mobility is an issue – I Love New York has a series of great posts on getting around and accessible New York. I adore my white Hoka‘s and have walked thousands of miles in them – fashionable and beyond comfortable.

If you’re planning on visiting a few different museums or landmarks like the Empire State Building, 9/11 Memorial Museum, or The Edge you’re better off purchasing the Go City New York Pass which saves you a lot of entry fees over a 3 or 4-day period.

To view a list of each pinned location, click the icon at the top-left corner. For an expanded view, click the button located at the top-right. To save to your personal Google Maps account, simply click the star icon. Once saved, access the map by opening Google Maps on your device, clicking the ‘Saved’ button, selecting the “Maps” icon on the bottom of the screen, and then choosing you’ll find this map listed.

Day 1 – Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11 Memorial, Statue of Liberty

  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • DUMBO Manhattan Bridge
  • Financial District – Wall Street/Charging Bull
  • 9/11 Memorial Pools
  • Ellis Island
  • Statue of Liberty

Day 1 is an action-packed day to get the body moving and tick off some of the major highlights of New York City. If you manage to squeeze all these activities into a single day, well consider me impressed.

My ideal day one in New York morning starts off with walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, before exploring the DUMBO and heading back to Manhattan.

Stop for breakfast in George’s Diner just across from the 9/11 Memorial Museum and 2 blocks away from the 9/11 Memorial Pools.

Grab a coffee in Blue Bottle Coffee or 787 Coffee before exploring Wall Street & the Charging Bull. Top tip for taking pictures with no crowds at the Charging Bull – get up early.

Get up before 7am and you’ll face zero lines for taking a picture of Wall Street’s Charging Bull.

If you’re not planning on visiting the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island but want to look at it – take the Staten Island Ferry. It’s 100% free and you’ll sail past the Statue of Liberty. The Staten Island ferry departs from Whitehall Ferry Terminal and has several sailings every hour.

For those looking to visit the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, make sure to purchase your tickets in advance to avoid queuing the loooonng lines.

If you have longer than 4 days to spend in New York, I would recommend visiting the SeaPort, an area that has been lovingly restored and is wonderful to explore, grab drinks and dinner at.

For shopping in the financial district check out the Oculus, a shopping mall and gateway to the subway right beside the 9/11 Memorial Pools. Check out Century 21 for bargain basement and designer brands at a low-cost price.

Inside the Oculus

Brooklyn Bridge

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the best ( & free) things to do in New York that will absolutely blow you away. The iconic bridge spans the East River and offers those who cross it from the Brooklyn side, one of the most unforgettable views of downtown Manhattan. The epic skyline is not to be missed.

View from the Brooklyn Bridge across to downtown Manhattan

If you’re an early worm, I would highly recommend going to the Bridge just after 6 am (during the summer months) for uninterrupted views and no crowds! You’ll have the Brooklyn Bridge to yourself aside from early morning joggers/walkers and couples having photoshoots.

Pair it with the DUMBO Manhattan Bridge views in the early morning and you’ll have an iconic and memorable day of shooting some Instagram-worthy footage.

Day 2 – The Highline, Chelsea Market, Hudson Yards & Greenwich

On Day 2 of your New York Itinerary, you’re going to head to Hudson Yards and explore Manhattan’s newest development. Hudson Yards has an exclusive luxury mall, high-rise buildings and one of the scariest outdoor experiences (only if you’re terrified of heights like me), the Edge. It also is home to the beautiful Vessel, a staircase that has essentially been shut since it opened in 2019.

The Vessel

The Edge is the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere and is definitely not for anyone afraid of heights or suffering from vertigo. Soaring 100 stories above the ground, The Edge offers visitors uninterrupted views of the Manhattan skyline. I would absolutely love to experience it, but seeing as every time I glimpsed it in the distance I started to dry-heave.

The pointy bit sticking out of the building is The Edge.

After you’ve scaled the Edge, head down to the ground again and make your way to one of New York’s most incredible parks – the High Line.

The Highline

One of the greatest decisions in recent New York City Department of Parks & Recreation was to develop the High Line, a former disused elevated rail line that has now been transformed into one of the most impressive city walks and public parks.

Set amidst the towering buildings of Manhattan’s skyline you’ll be immersed amongst nature with thousands of plants, trees, and programs to encourage a greenbelt in a bustling city.

The Highline starts (or ends) in Hudson Yards and finishes (starts) at Chelsea Market.

The Highline

Little Island

As you walk along the High Line you’ll see as you approach Chelsea Markets, a strange-looking island in the nearby distance. It’s a brand-new park that looks like something straight out of a Dr Seuss picture book. It’s a beautiful pier, and it is location on Pier 55 offers views over the Hudson River and downtown Manhattan.

Chelsea Market

Spend an afternoon eating and drinking your way through the incredible Chelsea Market. It’s a great place to grab some food or do some window shopping. There are dozens of restaurants and stalls inside but make sure not to miss the best-tasting Mexican tacos (outside of Mexico of course) in Los Tacos No 1.

Greenwich Village

Prepare to spend the rest of your day wandering around gorgeous Greenwich. The Village as it is known by locals is home to beautiful brownstone townhouses, restaurants and bars. One of the best areas in New York for ambiance and a true example of the New York living dream come to life.

Finish the afternoon or evening enjoying a delicious dinner in one of the many bistros or enjoying a cocktail in the very cool and sometimes hidden bars.

Restaurants to try in Greenwich Village:

  • Don Angie | 103 Greenwich Ave, New York
  • Olio E Più | 3 Greenwich Ave, New York
  • John’s of Bleecker Street | 278 Bleecker St, New York
  • Emily: West Village | 35 Downing St, New York
  • Jajaja Mexicana | 63 Carmine St, New York
  • Jeffrey’s Grocer | 172 Waverly Pl, New York
  • Boucherie West Village | 99 7th Ave S, New York

Day 3 – Midtown Manhattan, Empire State Building & Times Square

Alot has been packed into the previous 2 days, so day 3 of our New York itinerary is a little bit slower paced. There is still a lot to see and do, but you can take or leave elements of this day as you wish.

The area of midtown Manhattan also encompasses Hudson Yards, but for todays itinerary you’ll base yourself in and around Times Square. Visit the Empire State Building, or instead visit the Rockefeller Centre which has better views in my opinion. Top of the Rock Observation Deck takes in specatcaulr views of the Empire State Building, midtown Manhattan and unobstructed views of Central Park.

Views from Top of the Rock Observation Deck

The shopping in midtown Manhattan is spectacular. Everything that you’ve put on your shopping list you can pretty much find in this section of New York. Stroll up and down iconic 5th Avenue.

And in the evening make sure you book tickets to one of the many stage productions on Broadway (or off-Broadway). I’ve seen so many stage productions over the years that you can’t beat classics like Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Hamilton etc. Tickets are pricey, but you can also pick up discounted tickets at TKTS Booth on Duffy Square for almost 50% that days performance.

For musical theater enthuasiasts, don’t miss out on Ellen’s Stardust Diner just off Times Square which features singing waiters and waitresses and lots of musical theater numbers. Its hilarious! The lines are long but if that sounds up your street, you’ll love it.

Times Square

Times Square is one of those iconic images that we all picture when we mention the words New York City. It’s a bustling section of Mid-Manhattan that is home to the world’s best theater and musical productions. And if you love shopping high-street brands like Old Navy, Gap, and H&M you’ve found some of the largest stores in the city.

The best time to visit Times Square is in the evening as it illuminates. The spectacle of lights, neon, flashing, and brashness is quintessential Times Square.

Times Square

Day 4 – Central Park & Museums

We’re slowly making our way uptown to Central Park and let me tell you it’s worth the wait. Central Park is probably the most famous city park in the world. And whether you visit on a snowy February day, or a warm June afternoon, Central Park is a hive of activity. Joggers, horse and carriages, rollerbladers, and everything else in between.

I’ve never been to Central Park Zoo, so can’t comment on whether or not it’s worth visiting, but if that’s your thing you might want to check it out.

Around Central Park, you’ll discover two iconic museums – The Natural History Museum & the Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka the Met), as well as dozens of others.

Take your time to enjoy a couple of museums – or hey, don’t! But if there is one museum that is 100% worth visiting, it’s the Tenement Museum on the East Side.

Tenement Museum

There are several museums (ok alot!) in New York City that are worth visiting and including on your NYC Itinerary, but top of my list is the fantastic Tenement Museum.

Purchased in the late 1980s, the owners of the Tenement Museum found an incredible time capsule that had remained untouched for over 50 years and offered a glimpse at what life was like in New York City in the early 20th century.

The preserved interiors of the Tenement Museum – untouched for almost 100 years.

The building has been restored, but most of the apartments are left as they were discovered, untouched, and frozen in time. You’ll follow with a guide the story of the people who lived in the building, what their journey was, and the history of New York City for some of the poorest people at that time.

I loved my experience so much I headed back later in the week to take another tour of the Tenement Building with my husband. I followed the story of the Moores, an Irish family who had migrated to the US after the Irish Famine in the 1840s. I’m Irish, so I wanted to hear more about the journey Irish people experienced upon immigrating to the United States during a tumultuous time in Irish history and found it fascinating.

Best Areas to Stay in New York

With accommodation and hotels being so expensive in New York, it’s important to base yourself in the right location. If you plan on being out and about the entire day, the location is super important. You want to be close to a subway line that you can easily hop on and off at.

Financial District

I’ve stayed down in the Financial District on my last 2 stays and I’ve absolutely LOVED it! Not only do you have so many subway lines to choose from, but you’re also in a prime location for exploring the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and a minute 10 subway ride to Greenwich Village.

View from the Hotel Indigo Financial District

Hotel Indigo Financial District – Ask for a corner room and you’ll have amazing views like the picture above! Great location.

The Cloud One New York Downtown – another solid location, close to the 9/11 memorial pools.

Midtown Manhattan

Endless choices of excellent hotels in this area. We stayed in the Moxy NYC Times Square and found the location to be fantastic for midtown, however, the rooms were tiny. Around 6 blocks from Times Square, but about 3 blocks from Macy’s and Penn Station.

Arlo Midtown – It’s been on my bucket list for ages and I hope on my next visit I get to tick it off. Has a pool on the roof! Great for a summertime visit.

Rowing boats in Central Park

Central Park

You’ll have to fork out a serious amount of change to stay here, but the hotels just off Central Park are some of the most iconic names in the hotel industry. Treat yourself!

Trump International New York – Decedent, outrageous views and a bit gauche – much like the man behind the name.

The Ritz-Carlton New York – Iconic address and hotel name. The creme de la creme of hotels. If you’re on a budget, don’t even think of staying here.

The Plaza – Home Alone 2 fans will instantly recognize the name of the incredible hotel Kevin checks himself into. Rich, luxurious, and irresistible decor, a stay at the Plaza is a bucket list hotel dream stay.

Getting Around New York City

New York is one of the most walkable cities in Northern America and considering how enormous it is, it’s relatively easy to get around. The subway is the fastest way of getting around, with each ride costing $2.75. Or ride in the iconic Yellow Cabs that can be spotted throughout the city. 

Subway

Aside from walking, the NY Subway is one of the easiest ways to get around the city. The subway in NY (operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)) has 26 service routes that connect Manhattan and the boroughs of New York City. 

Subway doors open at Houston Street .

Getting the subway for the first couple of times can be confusing – the best way to fake your way as a true New Yorker is to download the fantastic CityMapper app. The free CityMapper app tells you exactly which subway line to get on, how many stops, and which exact exit to take for your destination. Available on Apple & Android.

Each ride on the subway costs $2.75 and they recently introduced a weekly capped fare of $33, which equates to 12 subway rides. This capped fare is applicable if you use the same debit/credit card to tap onto the subway entryways. You can also use Apple Pay & Google Pay on your phone. 

You can also still purchase paper tickets at machines, but the MTA is leaning towards ticketless travel and machines were not always available. 

Do note that during the summer months, the underground subway stations become ferociously hot. The searing kind that makes your eyeballs feel like they’re melting away. Thankfully the trains have air conditioning. 

Subway overview:

  • Each subway ride is $2.75
  • Weekly capped fares are $33 for 12 rides. 
  • CityMapper App for getting around NYC.

Taxi/Ride Share

The infamous yellow cabs of NY can be found cruising up and down most streets of the city. You can hail them on the side of the street if their middle light is lit up on their roof. No lights on means the taxi is occupied. Taxis are metered and are $0.70 per ⅕ mile or every 60 seconds. Tipping 15-20% is generally expected. Credit cards are accepted. 

Popular rideshare apps like Uber & Lyft are a good way of getting around the city, as you can use their estimated price predictor as a means of gauging whether or not the distance is worth the fare. 

Bus

The majority of subway stations are not mobility and accessibility friendly. The NYC buses are 100% wheelchair accessible, making it one of the first cities in the world to have an entire fleet that allows passengers with limited mobility to travel around the city. A single ride on a bus through the city is $2.75.

Conclusion

New York is one of those cities that deserves more than one visit. Its impossible to even scratch the surface of things to do in the city and you’ll find yourself discovering activity and sight one after the other.

Enjoy the vacation, whether its two days or ten, it’s one of the greatest cities in the world! This New York City Itinerary is a mere guide and shouldn’t be followed down to the letter, you never know what else you might discover and enjoy!

Some of these may be affiliate links, which means when you buy something I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you, and it really helps to support me – so thank you!

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