New York City is one of the most iconic locations in the world and it can be difficult to figure out the best way to see everything the city has to offer in just four days. If you’re pressed for time, this itinerary could help you experience some of the Big Apple’s most famous sights, esteemed architecture and memorable attractions. I have pulled together my favourite bits from my trip to the Big Apple a few years ago and to help you on your way here a guide to 4 days in New York. And make your trip even easier by grabbing yourself a New York Pass, which offers up to 50% on top activities around NY.
Stop #1: Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus Sightseeing Tour
Showcasing notable NYC attractions including the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge and Wall Street, a guided tour is a great way to take in stunning views and learn your way around. The knowledgeable guides will deliver facts on each landmark, along with important information about the city.
Passengers can alight at most of the landmarks along the way and pick up the tour again on a later hop-on hop-off bus, as a ticket lasts for a full day.
Stop #2: Times Square
Time Square is a must-see tourist destination in New York. Surrounded by large LED screens, bright billboards and colourful shop fronts, the intersection perfectly captures the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a great place to pick up souvenirs, with a range of designer brands, high street shops and boutiques lining the square.
Stop #3: Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum (Indoor Option)
Home to a variety of permanent and limited exhibits, the Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum has curated an incredible collection of artefacts, authentic photographs and exclusive accounts that showcase the incredible history of American military craft. HighlightS include the missile submarine Growler and the Space Shuttle Pavilion exhibit, featuring the prototype NASA orbiter Enterprise.
Stop #3: Landmark Cruise by Circle Line Sightseeing (Outdoor Option)
This relaxing cruise is perfect for those seeking unparalleled panoramic views of the New York city skyline. You can luxuriate on board and soak up fun facts from the informative tour guides while enjoying the best landmarks of NYC, including the Statue of Liberty, Battery Park, Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building and the United Nations.
Stop #4: The Met (Indoor Option)
If you need to escape the bad weather, you can spend the afternoon soaking in some culture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The MET is one of the world’s largest art museums and is home to a wide variety of masterpieces, with exhibits ranging from renowned painters to contemporary sculptors. To experience the expanded collection of modern art holdings, photography and performance art, visit the museum’s newest addition – the Met Breuer.
Stop #4: Central Park Bike Tour (Outdoor Option)
If the sun is shining and you’re in the mood to explore the great outdoors, a picturesque bike ride through Central Park is a great way to take in this beautiful landmark. Adored by locals and visitors alike, highlights of the 843-acre space include the Cherry Hill fountain, Strawberry Fields, Belvedere Castle, the outdoor Delacorte Theatre and Shakespeare Garden.
Stop #5: American Museum of Natural History
A firm favourite among adults and children alike, the American Museum of Natural History is a treasure trove of historic artifacts, natural wonders and interactive exhibits spanning through the ages. Travel back in time with the comprehensive collection of prehistoric fossils, take in the dazzling Hall of Gems and learn about complex aquatic environments in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.
Stop #1: Food on Foot Tour
3-5 hours (depending on specific tour)
You’re sure to work up an appetite while exploring NYC, and a Food on Foot Tour is the perfect way to continue sightseeing while indulging in the city’s incredible culinary culture. Sample authentic local cuisine as you make your way across the city, from celebrity chef restaurants to ethnic eateries and rustic picnics, these guided tours are how to get a real taste of New York. These tours can run for as long as 5 hours, depending on the one you choose, so you may have to forfeit one of the other activities you have scheduled for the day.
Stop #2: Empire State Building
Start your afternoon with a trip to the most famous skyscraper in the world – the Empire State Building. For the best views of the Big Apple and once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities, head to the 86th floor of this historically significant structure and take in the unobstructed city skyline.
Stop #3: High Line Park
Constructed on a historic elevated rail line above the streets of Manhattan, the breathtaking High Line park is a hidden gem in the city. Visitors can wander down the entire 1.45 mile line spanning from the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, or jump off at one of the designated descent points that are distributed along the track.
Stop #4: Top of the Rock Observatory
Bring your afternoon to a close with amazing aerial views of NYC from the Top of the Rock Observatory. With three floors of indoor and outdoor observation decks allowing you to reach new heights, highlights include the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the Freedom Tower and Central Park.
Stop #5: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) (Indoor Option)
The Museum of Modern Art is one of the best creative spaces in the US, celebrating inclusivity, self-expression and diversity. The contemporary open building houses significant paintings, sculptures, drawings and photographs from world-famous artists, including Monet, Warhol, Picasso and Pollock.
Stop #5: Little Italy and Chinatown (Outdoor Option)
Spend your afternoon exploring the bustling neighbourhoods of Little Italy and Chinatown, situated just a few blocks apart along Mulberry Street. Treat yourself to some tasty souvenirs from the 120-year-old cheese shop in Little Italy, before bringing the night to a close with al fresco dining at Lombardi, the country’s first pizzeria.
Stop #1: Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
A trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without a visit to two of NYC’s most famous attractions – the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Visitors can tour the grounds of Liberty Island before accessing exclusive areas of the colossal copper structure, including the Pedestal and Crown.
Located on a separate island just a stone’s throw away, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum documents the moving American heritage of the immigrants who travelled to New York in the early twentieth century. Highlights include the World Migration Globe and the American Immigrant Wall of Honor.
Stop #2: 9/11 Memorial & Museum
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum serves as a poignant reminder of lives lost during the tragic events of 11 September 2001. As one of the most emotive attractions in NYC, the museum houses several commemorative exhibitions featuring authentic artifacts, first-person accounts and spaces for reflection.
Stop #3: Battery Park
Travel to the Southernmost point of Manhattan to take in the idyllic waterfront views and and attractions in Battery Park. Highlights include the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Skyscraper Museum and the various public art installations dotted around the park.
Stop #4: Whitney Museum of Art (Indoor Option)
This innovative museum plays an essential role in New York’s art scene, with never-before-seen exhibitions celebrating artwork from established and upcoming artwork alike. The extensive collections cover everything from twentieth-century portraits to sculptures made just this year.
Stop #4: Brooklyn Bridge Walking Tour (Outdoor Option)
Another landmark that can’t be missed is the Brooklyn Bridge. Walk the impressive suspended structure that links Manhattan and Brooklyn, then learn about the nearby DUMBO neighbourhood with the help of insightful tour guides. To get a real feel for the city, spend your evening browsing through the independent boutiques, art galleries and high-end restaurants in Brooklyn.
Stop #1: Wall Street
Uncover the truth about some of the notable businesses on Wall Street, one of the most famous financial districts in the world. Named for the wooden stockade constructed on the northern boundary of New Amsterdam, highlights along the 225-year old cobblestone street include The New York Stock Exchange Building, the Federal Hall National Memorial and The Wall Street Bull statue.
Stop #2: NY Botanical Garden
Situated just a stone’s throw from Midtown Manhattan, the 250-acre New York Botanical Garden showcases 50 breathtaking gardens, indoor rainforests and deserts, over 50 acres of native forest, picturesque waterfalls and rolling green hills. Events are held all year round, including the Holiday Train Show, which features crafted miniatures of NY’s iconic buildings made entirely out of plants.
Stop #3: Madame Tussauds
Spend your afternoon in the most famous wax museum in the world, located in the heart of Times Square. Get up close to celebrities, mingle with the monarchy and fraternize with film stars, before indulging in some sweet treats from Dylan’s Candy Bar and tackling zombies in the unique multi-sensory gaming experience.
Stop #4: Radio City Music Hall
1. 5 hours
No trip to New York would be complete without a visit to Radio City Music Hall, home to the world-famous Rockettes. Take an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the Showplace of the Nation, looking at the history of the iconic music hall design, the celebrity guest book and the secrets of the Great Stage. End your tour with an exclusive Rockette photo opportunity and the chance to discover what goes into NY’s cherished Christmas Spectacular.
Stop #5: Catacombs by Candlelight
End your day in the atmospheric catacombs that lay beneath the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Within the 200-year-old church are crypts that memorialise prominent New Yorkers, including the Delmonico Family and General Thomas Eckert. Take the 90-minute tour and access areas that are normally off-limits to the public, including Manhattan’s only Catholic cemetery.