3 Days in New York City: Itinerary Ideas

New York City is one of those cities which must be visited at least once in a life time. Sure, 3 days is not even enough to get used to the “feel” of the Big Apple, but should give you at least an insight into what it has to offer.
Spend the three days exploring the most important sights of the city: Central Park, the Met, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the National 9/11 Memorial, Times Square, Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Itinerary assumptions

  • the 3 days itinerary focuses on Manhattan as this is where most of the sights are located
  • during your stay, you will use the subway to get between the sights
  • on day 2 or 3 you can also add a sightseeing tour to the itinerary
  • choose one of the hostels near Times Square if you want to stay in Manhattan

Day 1

Once you land in New York, get on the public transport and head to the hostel. Check in and grab a map of New York . You will need it during the stay here.

Take the subway to 59 St. (Columbus Circle) or 5 Av / 59 St. You’ll be right by Central Park . Spend your time walking in the park and if you have enough time on your hands you can also visit the Zoo.

Get back to the hostel and enjoy dinner.

Day 2

Don’t leave the hostel without eating breakfast. You’ll need the energy as this second day is busy with a lot of sightseeing.

Take the subway to 5 Av / 59 St. and walk on 5 Av until you get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art . Pay whatever you want to get in (as a rule of thumb, if you plan to stay for more than 3 hours, pay the full price, otherwise $5 is enough). The museum is always crowded. There are over 2 million works in the permanent collection.

Get on the subway and stop at Bowling Green. Take the ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty (combined ferry ticket $12). Ferries leave every half hour from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The security to take the ferry is similar to the one at the airport, so take as little as possible with you. Consider taking a guided tour of the Ellis Island in order to learn about the facility.

Take the subway to Canal St. and enjoy lunch in Little Italy ; the area is filled with coffee shops which serve decently priced pastries.

Take the subway to World Trade Center and the walk to the National 9/11 Memorial. Ground Zero is located in the western part of the Financial District.

Get on the subway and get off at 49 St. Walk to Times Square . Just relax and take photos of the billboards. Since most of the restaurants are overpriced here, it’s best to get back to the hostel and have dinner.

Day 3

Take the subway and get off at 34 St. walk to the Empire State Building . If you are on a budget, you’ll be forced to stay in line 1-2 hours to get the ticket and another 1-2 hours to get to the 80th floor (otherwise, get a “fast pass” for $42). Enjoy the skyline and take load of photos.

Another option to see the New York Skyline is from the Rockefeller Center’s Top of the Rock . An adult ticket to the observation deck is $23 and a child ticket is $15 (age 6-12).

Should you have enough time before your flight back home, get on the subway and stop at Chambers St. From here, walk on Brooklyn Bridge. It’s one of the most dramatic walking routes in New York City. As you cross it, make sure to snap photos of Downtown Manhattan.

Photo credit : Central Park ; Statue of Liberty ; Skyline from Empire State Building