1 week in New York: itinerary for first timers
New York has so unbelievably much to offer and that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, it also makes travel preparation difficult. To make planning your trip to easier, we’ve written down our suggested itinerary for 1 week in New York.
A full week is a very typical time span for a trip to New York.
So in this article, we’ve shared our recommended itinerary for 1 week in New York with you.
We’ve put together the itinerary for each day so that the routes are as short as possible and the itinerary items are also all manageable.
Of course, we also know that not everyone has a week in New York at their disposal.
So if you’re only in New York for 3, 4 or 5 days, you can easily just pick out the sights and attractions that are most important for you from our itinerary.
So that you’re best prepared, also take a look at our other articles on New York:
How many days should you plan for a trip to New York?
Everyone has a different answer to this question. Every day in New York is a good day, that means our answer is this: as long as possible!
In our opinion, you should plan at least five days for a trip to New York though.
Each day more is of course a win, and you also wouldn’t get bored after a month in the city.
Because of the long flight times, less than 5 days isn’t really worth it. A shorter duration would only make sense if you’re planning a longer trip along the east coast.
But even in this scenario, you’d still need at least three full days to at least see the most important attractions.
The optimal preparation for 1 week in New York
Before we tell you about our itinerary for 1 week in New York, we want to give you another few helpful tips for the preparation.
#1 The best gear
The most important thing in your suitcase should be comfortable shoes, because you’ll really, really walk a lot.
New York is enormous. Even if you take the subway around, the paths are long and a big part of getting to know the city is simply exploring the individual neighborhoods on foot.
If you’re out and about in New York during the summer, the city is often very hot and muggy.
Even so, you should always have a thin sweater or a scarf to throw on because the air conditioning is often very cold.
New York is often bitterly cold in winter and the wind blows through the streets. Warm clothing is definitely necessary then.
#2 Buy tickets for attractions in advance
New York is always full of tourists that naturally all want to visit the same attractions.
Unfortunately, that often means long wait times in the ticket line and then again at the security check, elevators, etc.
It can’t be avoided entirely, but you can reduce the wait times by buying your tickets for most of the sights online in advance.
It’s often even a little cheaper to do that and you can at least save yourself the time waiting for the ticket counter.
In this article, we’ve included the links to the online advance tickets for all of the attractions where this is possible.
#3 Save time and money with the right New York City pass
When you’ve chosen which sights you’d definitely like to visit in New York, you should take a look at the different New York discount passes.
Because with them you can save not only money, but also time.
Namely, with the right New York Pass, you don’t have to stand in long lines at some of the attractions.
There are five different passes in total. Each one works differently and offers different rebates.
Understanding them all is honestly an art in itself.
We’ve taken a close look at each pass and sorted out the chaos in our detailed comparison.
#4 Metro ticket for 1 week in New York
If you’re getting around New York for a week, the 7 day MetroCard for the New York subway is very likely worth it for you. Even if you’re there for only 4 or 5 days, the weekly ticket is still worth it in most cases.
You can of course also buy it at the ticket machines right after your arrival to the airport in New York.
Day 0: arrival in New York
On the day of arrival, you shouldn’t schedule too much and should instead take the day easy. A 6 hour time difference shouldn’t be underestimated.
So that the jet lag doesn’t completely consume you, it’s important that you don’t directly lie down in the hotel bed and sleep. Align your rhythm right away with the time of day in New York.
So if you arrive in the morning, midday or afternoon, you should really hold out until the evening and only then give in to your tiredness.
If you still haven’t chosen your hotel, then be sure to take a look at our article on this:
During our last visit, we stayed at CitizenM in Midtown, nearby Times Square. We’d go there again anytime and can only highly recommend the hotel to you.
Depending on how much time you have on the first day and where in New York your hotel is, you could even visit one of the sights that had actually been planned for another day.
Our tip: if you get accommodation at CitizenM or your hotel is in Midtown, you can see Times Square in the evening. You don’t have to prepare anything to visit this icon of the city or worry about getting any tickets. You can simply just take this place in.
Day 1: 9/11 Memorial, Wall Street, Statue of Liberty
For each day, we’ve first written out all itinerary items in brief bullet points.
If online tickets are available, you’ll find the link right alongside the item.
A quick overview of all day 1 sights:
- 9/11 Museum and Memorial – buy tickets
- One World Observatory – buy tickets
- St. Paul’s Chapel
- Trinity Church
- Wall Street/New York Stock Exchange & Charging Bull
- Battery Park
- Ferry to Staten Island with a view of the Statue of Liberty
#1: 9/11 Museum & Memorial
The first day brings us to the southern part of Manhattan and begins with the 9/11 Museum and Memorial.
There, where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center used to stand, you’ll now find the 9/11 Memorial: two deep pools from the edges of which water falls into the depths and on which the names of all 2,983 people who lost their lives on September 11th are engraved.
You should plan 30 to 60 minutes for the memorial. Right next to the memorial, you can find the absolutely worth seeing 9/11 Museum, which you should plan at least two hours for.
You can buy tickets for the museum on site or also in advance on the ticket booking platform getyourguide:
#2: One World Trade Center
The new One World Trade Center stands directly next to the 9/11 Memorial.
You can admire it wonderfully from below at the 9/11 Memorial or visit the building’s observation platform.
We’d also suggest here that you buy your ticket in advance to save time standing in line.
If you ask us, a visit to the platform isn’t an absolute must, because we personally liked the views from Rockefeller Center and from the Empire State Building better.
If you still don’t want to miss the view, you can buy your ticket beforehand online:
You can read more about our visit in our article The nicest viewpoints of New York.
Entrance to the One World Observatory is also included in the New York Sightseeing Pass and in the Explorer Pass. You can find out which of these is most worthwhile for you here: our New York pass comparison.
#3 Oculus (train station World Trade Center)
A real eye-catcher is the new train station of the World Trade Center, called the Oculus.
If you take the 1 train to the WTC Cortlandt station, you’ll arrive there and can then see the station directly as the first itinerary item.
Before you continue with the second half of the agenda, you can also make a few stops in between.
Shopping: Century 21 (Outlet with greatly reduced name brand clothing)
Food: Eataly (market & restaurant), Shake Shack (burger chain, very tasty) & Le District (French food market)
View: through Brookfield Place to the promenade on the Hudson River
#4: St. Paul’s Chapel
St. Paul’s Chapel lies east of the World Trade Center and is the oldest still standing and used church in Manhattan.
The special thing about the church is that it remained unscathed during the Great Fire of 1776 and also remained unharmed by the attacks in 2001, although it stood in close proximity to the twin towers.
George Washington has also prayed in the church, by the way.
You don’t absolutely have to visit the church from the inside, but you should definitely take a look at it from the outside.
#5: Trinity Church
If you simply walk from St. Paul’s Chapel south along Broadway, after five minutes you’ll get to the also famous Trinity Church, which lies directly across from the west end of Wall Street.
#6 Stop: Wall Street & Charging Bull
From Trinity Church, all you have to do is cross Broadway and you’re on Wall Street.
Due to security reasons, since 2001 you’re unfortunately no longer able to visit the famous New York Stock Exchange.
That leaves only a quick view of the stock exchange from outside, and then you can continue onwards to the famous Charging Bull in Bowling Green Park.
#7 Battery Park
From the Charging Bull, continue south to Battery Park. There you’ll find the southernmost point of Manhattan and you can take a first look at the Statue of Liberty.
#8 Staten Island Ferry Terminal
At the eastern end of Battery Park you’ll find the ferry terminal, which is where the Staten Island Ferry departs.
As the name already suggests, the ferry goes from Manhattan to Staten Island. During the journey, it goes relatively close to the Statue of Liberty.
The ferry goes in regular intervals, so you never have to wait long. The ride is free and lasts around 25 minutes. After arriving in Staten Island, you get off and change to the next ferry heading back to Manhattan.
The journey is definitely worth it because you get a great view not only of the Statue of Liberty, but of southern Manhattan as well.
The first day ends with the boat ride.
Day 2: MoMA, Empire State Building & High Line
A quick overview of all day 2 sights:
- MoMA & MoMA Design Store – buy tickets
- Empire State Building – buy standard ticket
- High Line
- Chelsea Market
- Artists & Fleas
#1 MoMA & MoMA Design Store
A visit to the Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA for short, is for us personally a must-do in New York.
Here you’ll find famous works by many great Modern artists, from Picasso to Andy Warhol to Matisse.
The museum is open daily from 10:30 am, admission costs 25 dollars and tickets are available online in advance. You should plan at least two hours for the visit.
Except for the New York CityPass, entrance to the Museum of Modern Art is included in all New York passes.
Our tip: be sure to take a look in the MoMA Design Store. Browsing there is always a lot of fun for us. You can find the store on the opposite side of the street from the MoMA exit.
#2 Empire State Building
A visit to the viewing platform of the Empire State Building of course also has to be on the agenda in New York.
If you like to get up early, you could also slide this itinerary item up before the visit to the MoMA, as you can visit the Empire State Building starting from 8:00 am.
Tickets cost 46 dollars and we recommend that you be sure to buy the tickets in advance.
You have two options:
#1 Standard ticket: with the standard ticket for 46 dollars, you can bypass the line at the ticket counter.
#2 Express ticket: this ticket costs 85 dollars, but you can also jump the lines at the entrance and at the escalators as well. If you don’t have a lot of time, this is definitely a good option.
A visit to the Empire State Building is also included in all available New York passes.
Possible stop for lunch:
Food: Tonchin New York (Ramen restaurant with really delicious Japanese noodle soup)
#3 High Line Park
From the MoMA or from the Empire State Building (depending on which order you preferred) it’s onwards to the northern entrance of the High Line park.
The High Line is an over two kilometer long park on a former elevated railway that runs alongside the streets of the city.
If you want to go easy on your feet, you can take a taxi for the journey from the Empire State Building to the High Line (we explain to you here how to take a New York taxi).
#4 Chelsea Market & Artists and Fleas
Not far from the southern end of the High Line, you’ll find Chelsea Market, a huge market hall with various food stalls and shops.
All the way at the end of the market hall you’ll also find Artists & Fleas, an art marketplace where artists, designers and tradesmen sell their crafts — you can really find everything there that is currently “hip.”
#5 The Standard Biergarten or the Brass Monkey Rooftop Bar
Also right around the corner is The Standard Biergarten and the Brass Monkey Rooftop Bar.
Depending on how you’re feeling after an exciting day, you can end the evening there.
There’s of course something to drink and eat at both places.
The rooftop bar is only on the 4th floor, but it’s still pleasant. The advantage: it doesn’t have the typical strict dress code like most rooftop bars in New York do.
Day 3: Museum Mile, Central Park & Times Square
A quick overview of all day 3 sights:
- Guggenheim – buy ticket
- Metropolitan Museum of Art – book a guided tour
- Central Park
- 5th Avenue
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- Times Square
#1 Guggenheim Museum
Museum Mile in New York is found east of Central Park. The third day begins there.
To get there you can take the green 4, 5 or 6 train to 86th Street / Lexington Avenue and walk to the Guggenheim Museum on the edge of Central Park.
Admission to the Guggenheim Museum costs 25 dollars. There are tickets online or on site. The museum is included in all New York passes as well.
Our tip: the Guggenheim Museum has changing exhibits. It’s best to take a look in advance at whether the current exhibit is something for you. You don’t have to pay any entrance fee to take a quick look at the inside of the museum, as the foyer is freely accessible.
#2 Metropolitan Museum of Art
Our next stop is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or Met for short. The museum is phenomenal — not only in the quality of the exhibits, but also in its size.
It’s among the most visited museums of the world and you could likely spend several days there.
You surely won’t have that much time, but you should still plan at least 2-3 hours.
Because of time constraints, we only saw the exhibition rooms with modern artworks and that alone was well worth the admission price of 25 dollars.
Admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art is also included in all New York passes.
Stop for Lunch
One of the best pastrami sandwiches of the city is at Pastrami Queen, a small deli with little seating about an eight minute walk from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Definitely try the World Famous Hot Pastrami, which is easily enough for two people, by the way. We each had one and almost burst afterwards.
#3 Central Park
Continue onwards to Central Park, where you can spend a relaxing afternoon.
The best thing to do is to take the entrance at 76th Street and follow the street to the Alice in Wonderland statue and the small lake lying beyond, where you can steer small rented sailboats across the water.
Then you can walk to the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, known from many films, and from there continue to Strawberry Fields, the memorial for John Lennon designed by Yoko Ono.
From there, continue to the Umpire Rock, a rock where you have a gorgeous view of the city and that’s used by many tourists for a selfie.
Our last stop in Central Park is the Gapstow Bridge at the northern end of a small pond.
This part of Central Park is also known worldwide from innumerable film scenes.
#4 5th Avenue
From Central Park, walk along 5th Avenue towards the south, because there’s a lot to see and marvel at there.
Right at the beginning, you’ll walk past Pulitzer Fountain, the famous Plaza Hotel, many well known brand stores, from Gucci to Tiffany & Co., to the department store Saks, directly across from Rockefeller Center.
At 50th Street and the corner of 5th Avenue, you can also wonder at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest cathedral built in the neo-Gothic style in the USA.
#5 Times Square & Musical
Towards the end of the day, we’ll make our way towards Times Square.
If you still haven’t been here in the evening yet, you should take a little time to take in this tremendous scene.
For many visitors, a visit to a Broadway musical is a must on the agenda for a trip to New York.
You can get cheap last minute tickets every day at the TKTS booth on the corner of Broadway / 47th Street at Times Square, or take a look online for tickets. You can find a really good selection, for example, on the website Hellotickets.
Day 4: boat tour, SoHo, Little Italy & Chinatown
A quick overview of all day 4 sights:
#1 Boat tour or helicopter sightseeing flight
If you’re already taking a trip to the city of all cities, why not go all out and book a helicopter flight?
We did it and can only highly recommend it. We’ll never forget this experience.
Read our experience report on our helicopter ride and decide for yourself whether this thrilling experience will also come into question for you.
Alternatively, we can recommend a boat tour to you. It’s indeed a very touristy activity, but it offers you the chance to see New York’s skyline from the water.
Then it continues with a tour exploring some of the most well known and exciting neighborhoods of the city. We’ll begin with SoHo.You can admire the cast-iron architecture typical of the district there.
The most interesting streets are probably Mercer Street, Spring Street, Broadway and Prince Street.
There’s also great shopping in SoHo and it’s usually more relaxed than in Midtown (especially during the week before the afternoon).
Take a look, for example, in the well known secondhand shop “What Goes Around Comes Around.”
If shopping isn’t your thing, you can alternatively visit the New York Fire Museum. There, you can learn all about the history of the New York fire department.
If you’re hungry, we can recommend Galli, at 45 Mercer Street.
#3 Little Italy & Nolita
The walking tour continues through Little Italy and Nolita. Unfortunately, there is not much left of Little Italy. The neighborhood used to exist as several blocks, but today only as a small area around Mulberry Street.
You should nevertheless pay a visit to Little Italy and maybe even eat a pizza at Lombardi’s. The first pizza of the USA was baked there in the year 1905. The pizza is really delicious, but the wait times are usually also very long.
So here are our two food tips in the neighborhood of Nolita:
At Rubirosa, you can also enjoy a really delicious pizza (you can share them wonderfully between two) and at Mo il Gelato you can find what for us is the tastiest ice cream of the city.
Next up is Chinatown.
You’ll find the heart of Chinatown around Pell Street, Mott Street, Doyers Street and Columbus Park.
Chinatown was founded in New York on Mott Street in 1870. Doyers Street also used to be called Bloody Angle because there were so many murders there. Don’t worry, it’s no longer dangerous there today.
Pell Street is the street that you’re guaranteed to have already seen in a film or in a photo, as it’s probably the most photogenic street of the neighborhood.
For us personally, Columbus Park is the most authentic place in Chinatown.
There, Chinese seniors meet to play boardgames or to play music together — a very special style of Karaoke.
Museum enthusiasts can make a detour to the Museum of Chinese in America (MoCA) and for food lovers, we suggest Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant on Pell Street.
In the Canal Street Market you’ll find a small food court with different delicacies and a small market of New York designers and artists.
And if you want to stock up on chopsticks, stop by the small store Yunhong Chopsticks.
Our tip for views of Chinatown: right around the corner, you’ll find the 50 Bowery Hotel including a rooftop bar. The hotel is already in the Bowery district, but it offers you a great view of Chinatown and the rest of Manhattan.
Day 5: Top of the Rock, New York Public Library, Grand Central Station, Flatiron Building, Greenwich Village
A quick overview of all day 5 sights:
- Top of the Rock – buy ticket
- New York Public Library
- Grand Central Station
- Flatiron Building
- Greenwich Village
#1 Top of the Rock
The Top of the Rock observation platform at the top of Rockefeller Center is definitely our personal favorite of the most famous viewing platforms.
From it, you can see Central Park in the north, the Empire State Building in the south and you also don’t have any disruptive glass panes in your way.
You should plan around 1-2 hours for the visit and should definitely reserve your ticket online in advance. The admission costs 42 dollars per person.
Admission to the Top of the Rock is included in all available New York passes.
#2 New York Public Library
From Rockefeller Center we’ll go by foot to the New York Public Library on 42nd Street and 5th Avenue.
The library, which you probably also know from films, is located right at Bryant Park.
The main attraction for us is definitely the gorgeous Rose Main Reading Room on the third floor. You can take a look there for free.
#3 Grand Central Station
From the New York Public Library simply walk east along 42nd Street and you’ll meet our next stop at Park Avenue: Grand Central Station.
The train station is surely one of the most famous film settings of New York, and rightly so!
Besides the beautiful main hall (don’t forget to take a look up!), it’s also worth paying a visit to the Grand Central Market, the Oyster Bar and the Whispering Gallery.
What is the Whispering Gallery?
Right in front of the Oyster Bar you’ll find a passage with four archways and four corners.
If you stand in one of the four corners and say something in the direction of the wall, the person who’s standing at the opposite corner can hear you.
We tested it out naturally, and we promise you, it really works.
#4 Flatiron Building
Our path continues to the Flatiron Building. From Grand Central Station, you’ll need around 30 minutes on foot.
If your feet hurt, you can travel the distance with a taxi or take the 6 subway line at Grand Central Station and ride until 23rd Street.
From there it’s just a block away to the Flatiron Building. Behind it is located Madison Square Park, by the way, where you can find the first Shake Shack Restaurant of New York.
#5 Greenwich Village
From there, walk along Broadway towards the south for around 10 minutes, pass by Union Square Park and continue walking south along the street called University Place until you hit Washington Square Park.
By the way, all of the buildings around the park belong to New York University (NYU), so you’ve arrived here to the heart of New York’s student life.
You can also see the top of the Empire State Building through the arch in the park.
Greenwich Village is a perfect place to end the day.
You can choose one of the many restaurants here and mix with the locals.
We’d suggest walking from there in the direction of Bleecker Street or Christopher Street.
On Bleecker Street, we could recommend Kestè Pizza to you, for example.
It’s worth calling ahead quickly and reserving a table, or you can just try your luck, since there are also countless other great restaurants in the area.
If your feet hurt though and you’d like to eat something cheap in the area around the park, then go to Quantum Leap, a vegetarian restaurant with fair prices.
Day 6: Brooklyn
Now that you’ve thoroughly gotten to know Manhattan, it’s time to cross the East River. We’ll spend the whole day in the borough of Brooklyn.
If you don’t have time for a complete day in Brooklyn, you can also just do itinerary items #3 and #4 (Brooklyn Bridge and Dumbo). You need around 3 hours for them and that way you’ll at least get a small glimpse of Brooklyn.
A quick overview of all day 6 sights:
- Breakfast in Williamsburg
- Bushwick Streetart
- Brooklyn Bridge
#1 Breakfast in Williamsburg
Williamsburg is one of the hippest corners of New York. To get there from Manhattan, travel either with the L train subway to the Bedford Avenue station or with the J or M to the Marcy Avenue station.
If your hotel doesn’t include breakfast, we’d suggest that you enjoy your breakfast in one of the cafes in Brooklyn.
Our suggestion: we like Sundays in Brooklyn and if you’re a fan of crepes, we recommend the Little Choc Apothecary.
If you’re in Brooklyn on a weekend, we’d recommend dropping by the Smorgasburg, a huge street food market. Because the hours vary depending on the time of year, it’s best to take a look at its website for the exact opening hours.
All around Bedford Avenue you can also find some cool shops (many secondhand and vintage). Just let yourself wander through the neighborhood.
#2 Bushwick Streetart
From Williamsburg we continue to Bushwick.
What do we want there? To marvel at really cool street art, because since 2014, Bushwick has become an enormous, wonderful open air art gallery.
You’ll find most of the artwork around Flushing Avenue between Cyprus and Irving Avenue.
You can find a map here where most street art spots are mapped out: Bushwick street art map
Our tip: if you’d like to learn more about the background of the individual artworks, take a 2 hour street art tour, where you can learn exciting things about the outdoor street art gallery, ask questions to a real graffiti artist and, above all, also learn a lot about the development of the neighborhood!
The ticket for the English speaking tour costs around 20 dollars.
To get from Williamsburg to Bushwick, take the L subway line to Jefferson Street station. Alternatively, you can also take the J or M from the Marcy Av. station to Flushing Avenue.
#3 Dumbo & Squibb Bridge
Our next destination is the neighborhood of Dumbo. That stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass and is found right on the East River.
Dumbo is a very small quarter that consists of only a few blocks. Just take a walk along the water. You’ll find many beautiful viewpoints of Manhattan’s skyline there. For example, you’ll find a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan at Pebble Beach and at Main Street Park.
Along the way you’ll go past Jane’s Carousel, a restored carousel from the year 1922.
From there, head to the corner of Main Street and Water Street, where you can photograph the likely most well known photo spot of Dumbo: the Manhattan Bridge between the canyon of buildings.
During good weather, you’ll see the top of the Empire State Building between the pillars of the bridge, by the way.
From there, continue back again towards the south — either along the water or along Front Street, at the end of which you’ll hit Grimaldi’s Pizza (a branch of the Grimaldi’s Restaurant in Little Italy).
If you’re hungry, you can order a pizza to go here (you don’t have to wait as long for this as for a table), which you can then eat on a bench along the water.
From Brooklyn Bridge Park, which runs right along the East Side River, you have a wonderful view of the southern tip of Manhattan.
Our next destination is Squibb Park Bridge, which brings you to Middagh Street. From here, you can easily get to the pedestrian path of the Brooklyn Bridge.
How to get from Bushwick to Dumbo:
You ride from Flushing Avenue station back to Marcy Avenue. From there it’s about a 10 minute walk to the South Williamsburg ferry terminal.
There, you board a ferry that takes you one station further south to the Dumbo terminal. The boat ride brings you along the East River and offers a great view of Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Attention: the ticket machines are not directly at the water, but instead further up on Kent Avenue.
#4 Brooklyn Bridge
A stroll from Brooklyn to Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge is the last itinerary item of our day.
The pedestrian path of the Brooklyn Bridge runs above the cars and is shared with bike riders.
Please be considerate and, above all, pay attention that you stay on the side for pedestrians in the narrow parts of the bridge and don’t get in the way of the bike riders.
You should give yourself around 30-45 minutes for the walk across the bridge.
Day 7: departure day
At some point every great trip must end. Unfortunately, this often happens too quickly.
Depending on when you have to head to the airport, you might still have a few hours left to explore the city on your last day.
You can perfectly use the last hours to score a few bargains at Century 21 or at Macy’s, for example. Then it’s off to pack your bags and back to the airport.
New York is enormous and so we could easily plan another week with great activities and sights. Unfortunately, most visitors don’t have that much time.
Our suggested itinerary for 1 week in New York is, above all, so that you can get an overview of the sights of the city.
That way, you can better assess what you can manage in a day in New York and which sights you can combine well with each other and which perhaps less well.
We hope that our plan helps you while trip planning and we wish you a lot of fun in this amazing city.
Do you still have questions about planning? What did your itinerary look like in the city? Are your favorite sights missing in our New York itinerary? We’re happy to see your comments.