If you have never been to the Big Apple, you are in for a treat, but also will face some unusual situations. Especially if this is your first time to the US, as New York is usually high on any US itinerary. If so, make sure to read our post about what to know before visiting the US.

Travel Facts about New York City You Need to Know

NYC Transportation

The MTA Subway is the way to go. With 468 stations and 24 subway lines, you can always find a line close to you. We did not take a taxi once and never walked more than 15 minutes to find a station. Sticking to the subway allowed us to walk around Manhattan, head to Brooklyn, and even reach Coney Island. Operating 24 hours a day, the subway is ideal for late nights, though check ahead of time as not all station entrances are open at all times. Metrocard is a very convenient way to pay – you can recharge as you go and use it for transportation from and to JFK airport.

Safety in NYC

For such a big city and populated boroughs – Manhattan has, after all, the third-largest population of New York City with over 1.6 million – walking around at all hours was pretty safe. Taking the subway in the late evenings and walking around in the early mornings, we did not feel in any danger once. Of course, we were careful and did not wander in sketchy areas, but nonetheless, we did not encounter any scary situations, did not see any scams or robberies, and were not accosted by any homeless. We did some poorer areas, less fancy and which could have appreciated some fresh coats of paint, but nothing that impacted a trouble-free city sightseeing.

Best Time to Travel to New York City

There is no real good or bad time to go to New York – just a different experience. Of course, some months are more comfortable than others. Winter can be particularly cold and snowy, making visiting rather tricky. The Indian Summer months of September to November can be uneasily warm and humid, but colors around the city are gorgeous, with fall colors in Central Park and around. Spring and Summer would be a good times to visit, though these would also be the busiest. I visited NYC three times, in three different seasons: summer, fall, and winter – and got to see the city differently each time!

Food in New York City 

Food choice in New York is endless, from food trucks, Italian pasta, and pizza, Chinese dumplings, and Michelin-star-rated restaurants. More here on Manhattan for Foodies.

Now, the experience of ordering food can be overwhelming. Ordering a sandwich should be a straightforward thing, right? Bread, Meat, some vegetables maybe, sauce or condiments, and done? Think again! You might have a choice of 4 or 5 bread types, then same for meat, for veggies, for sauce, cheese…. Add to that some local brawl and slang, and you are sooo done! The first time I place an order, I got so confused that I basically said yes to anything the waiter was offering. The sandwich wasn’t bad, but not necessarily what I had in mind!

Water is safe to drink, even if not sometimes not best tasting. Of course, coffee corners and tea shops can be great alternative options.

New York City Lodging

Hotels in New York City are notoriously expensive and even more in a holiday season like Christmas. It was hard to find a room for less than hundreds of dollars. We made a reservation through Airbnb and landed a room in a small apartment on Lower East Side. The area is very safe and packed with several restaurants and coffee houses.

For budget accommodation, check these Best Hostels in NYC. But if you are looking for something unique in NYC, there are plenty of upscale hotels! Even NYC hotels with heated indoor pools! How cool is that! Especially if you are traveling to New York in winter, soaking up in a heated pool after a long day strolling through the busy city streets – can’t get any better than that!

New York City Travel Tips

  • Walk everywhere, and explore narrow streets and neighborhoods.
  • Visit the same places – twice. Once during the day, to get a feel of the city. Then again at night, to enjoy the skyline.
  • Touristy attractions are, well, touristy, but for good reasons – unique, grandiose, historical, and as such, must-see.
  • Currency & Methods of Payment: Good old US Dollars, of course! Cash, credit, or debit cards are accepted everywhere.
  • Don’t plan too much as you will end up rushing your trip. Instead, take your time to wander and wonder, watching the busy New Yorkers going about their daily routine.

Have you been to New York City? What was your preferred thing to do in NYC? Share with us your adventures!

If you are looking for more NYC trip ideas, check these posts NYC by Night, and Holiday Season in New York City

For more US travel ideas, check out our posts about Alaska, California, Hawaii, Montana, and Florida, or have a look at our USA travel blog articles.

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