Visiting one of the world’s greatest cities comes with a steep price tag. The bustling Big Apple is known for high-end shopping, arts and entertainment and amazing nightlife. You may feel limited if you are travelling on a budget, but it’s still entirely possible to enjoy a visit to New York, even if you are on a tight budget, without sacrificing the experience.
The first things I recommend cutting down on are your food and accommodation costs, so you can re-allocate funds towards other must-do things (like seeing a Broadway show). There are also dozens of free ways to explore and enjoy the city, so you can still get the full New York experience, without breaking the bank. Here are some tips to make a trip to New York more affordable:
Enjoy the Free Sights:
Some of New York’s best highlights don’t cost anything! Make sure you check out:
Upper West Side Waterfront
The Upper West Side waterfront is a lovely place for a picnic, stroll or some photo opportunities. The harbour area is particularly beautiful at night while the city is calm and illuminated. There are some docks you can walk out on so you can look back at the city with a different perspective. It was one of my favourite spots to take photos while visiting New York.
Central Park is a beautiful 843-acre park located between the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side in Manhattan. It’s New York’s natural reprieve, with miles of paths and gardens, as well as a Nature Sanctuary, skating rink, the famous Central Park Carousel, and the Central Park Zoo. It’s an absolute must-see on your trip to New York, and you could easily spend a whole day walking around, or better yet rent a bike! Make sure to stop by the John Lennon memorial on your way around the park.
Time’s Square is the hub of the entertainment industry in New York, if not the world. Located at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue in the Midtown Manhattan, it is the part of New York that never sleeps. The first time you exit the subway into Time’s Square, it will take your breath away. Spend an evening wandering around and people-watching in this iconic area.
Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station is one of the world’s ten most visited tourist attractions. It is located at 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, and a great place to explore and take photos. The interior is Beaux-Arts style and has beautiful architecture and artwork. It first opened in 1913 and is now considered a National Historic Landmark.
New York Public Library
Although there are many library locations in New York, the one referred to is the Main Branch location. It’s an iconic building originally built in 1895 with a pair of grand lion statues out front. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965, and is still actively used today. It has been featured in a number of TV shows, and it a fantastic place to explore and photograph.
Food on a Budget:
The easiest way to save on food in NYC is by self-catering, and the famous Zabars Deli is a great place to pack yourself a picnic lunch, grab a coffee or baked good on-the-go, and see a little piece of New York’s history. The deli is located on the Upper West Side, closest to the subway line at 81st Street. They have some gluten-free options and its not too far a walk to the waterfront or Central Park to enjoy your lunch.
New York has a huge amount of consignment, vintage and charity shops with some great finds. I would highly recommend browsing through the second-hand racks to get your shopping fix. It’s a better option to find something uniquely New York, without breaking the bank. Check out Time Out’s guide to New Yorks best vintage stores.
Save on Accommodation:
I have long been a hostel and guest-house traveller. It’s often the best value, especially for solo travellers, but it’s also a great way to meet other people. Hostels and guest houses also usually have amenities that aren’t available in hotels – such as DIY laundry, kitchen or self-catering facilities and discounted tours. New York has many hostels for those looking for inexpensive accommodation. When I visited, I stayed on the Upper West Side and really enjoyed the area as it was quiet but accessible.