What to Do and See in New York in 4 or 5 Days

Visiting New York is like stepping onto a huge movie set from which you don’t emerge until you leave. This city never goes out of style. It’s the ultimate dream for any traveler, and nowadays, finding a deal to transport us to the Big Apple isn’t difficult. But where do you start? That’s where I come in. Pay attention, because this is my list of things to do and see in New York on a 4 or 5-day getaway.

My trip to New York was almost impromptu. The hunt for a cheap flight coincided perfectly with one of my best friends moving to Manhattan, which always leads to: a trip to the United States in sight! Shall we begin?

These are the places and activities I would choose on a 4-day getaway to New York. It’s important to note that tickets to the main attractions are quite expensive, so it’s crucial to carefully consider what interests us most to avoid overspending.

In this regard, there are various types of tourist passes available nowadays that allow access to the most popular places while saving a significant amount of money. I didn’t research this thoroughly at the time and paid the price for it. Some passes operate based on days, while others are based on the number of attractions you choose to visit. Here are the two most interesting passes. However, do the math first. If you plan to visit several skyscrapers, see the Statue of Liberty, and visit museums like the 9/11 Memorial, I recommend purchasing one of these passes:

  • New York Pass: Provides access to over 80 attractions for the days of your choosing. You can visit the more expensive attractions in 1 or 2 days and save a lot of money with this pass.
  • New York Explorer Pass: Offers bundles that include the main attractions of New York. You can purchase packs that include from 3 to 10 attractions to use whenever you like during your trip.

The first pass is ideal if you want to visit many attractions in a few days, while the second is perfect if you’re only planning to visit 4 or 5 attractions but on the days that suit you best.

Stroll through the incredible Central Park

No matter how many images you’ve seen in movies and travel guides, you can’t truly grasp the incredible size of this park until you’re inside it. My trip to New York was in January, during winter, and coincided with a heavy snowfall. I had the bonus of seeing Central Park completely covered in a blanket of snow. It’s breathtaking! Enjoying it during spring or autumn must be equally amazing.

I recommend not booking any guided tours here. Just go with the flow and enjoy lakes, forests, meadows, gardens of various styles, sculptures, and truly charming corners without watching the clock. It’s like a hidden world within the Big Apple.

I also recommend visiting the High Line Park in the Chelsea neighborhood. It’s a greenway built on an old elevated railway line. The southern section is particularly beautiful and has a fantastic cultural atmosphere.

Light Festival in Times Square

It never gets dark in this square. The swarm of tourists never stops, and it’s impossible not to be amazed by the lights, colors, and advertisements in one of the world’s most famous squares, Times Square.

It’s a paradise for consumerism enthusiasts. It’s packed with shops, theaters, museums, and restaurants. However, don’t leave Times Square without visiting the gigantic M&M’s store first.

The Best Skyscrapers for Bird’s Eye Views of New York

It’s one of the most anticipated visits. A dream to gaze upon the forest of skyscrapers from the tops of iconic buildings such as Top Of The Rock, the Empire State Building, or from one of the newer additions, the One World Trade Center.

I’ve been fortunate to experience riding the elevator to the sky in two of them, the legendary Empire and Top of the Rock. Which one do I prefer? Both. Each offers very different views, and you can take advantage of visiting them at different times. Can you imagine a sunset on the roof of Manhattan? I can ♥.

Want to go up more than one? I recommend getting one of the passes I’ve already mentioned. If you’re content with being amazed by the views from just one, it’s best to buy your ticket online in advance and skip the lines.

  • Skip-the-Line Entry to Empire State Building, redeemable on the day and at the time of your choice.
  • Skip-the-Line Entry to Top of The Rock, redeemable on the day and at the time of your choice.
  • Skip-the-Line Entry to One World Trade Center.

Brooklyn Bridge and the Best New York Skyline

The Brooklyn Bridge is another iconic New York scene that inevitably evokes countless images from American series and movies. It almost feels like you’ve been there before, and it’s absolutely stunning, especially at sunset.

If walking its nearly two kilometers of length seems like a great plan, observing the panorama from Brooklyn Bridge Park on the other shore is equally impressive. Some of the most spectacular photographs of the Manhattan skyline are taken from this vantage point.

Wall Street and the Financial District

Movies don’t lie; it’s exactly as we’ve imagined 😉. Dozens of skyscrapers surround us while countless suited executives seem to be in a hurry everywhere. These are the same people who then have no qualms about entering any dollar pizza joint.

It’s a vast area where you can easily spend an entire day exploring. Among the must-sees in the financial district, you shouldn’t miss these: the Stock Exchange building, Wall Street and its famous bull statue, New York City Hall, the Federal Reserve, Ground Zero, the 9/11 Memorial Museum next to One World Trade Center, Battery Park, St. Paul’s Chapel, and Trinity Church, the latter being one of the most beautiful churches in the city. There are many more, but it all depends on how much time you want to dedicate.

Are We Going to China, Italy, or the Chicest Neighborhood?

Chinatown and Little Italy are two small neighborhoods that shouldn’t be missed on your list of places to see in New York. They may have lost some authenticity due to tourism, especially Little Italy, which now consists mostly of a colorful street. However, visiting won’t take up much time, and I personally loved it. You can even visit a Buddhist temple in exchange for a tip, the Mahayana Buddhist Temple.

Very close to them is another iconic area, Soho. We’re changing gears completely to stroll among buildings with typical New York architecture. We’re talking about the cast-iron architecture and those cute houses with fire escapes on the main facade. Once an artists’ neighborhood, now it’s filled with glamorous boutiques housing some of the world’s most famous and expensive brands.

A Boat Ride to the Statue of Liberty

It’s an open secret, but just in case you’re still unaware, let me tell you. You don’t need to spend a fortune on an organized tour to Liberty Island to see the Statue with your own eyes. The trick is to take the free ferry from Battery Park heading towards Staten Island (yes, there are still free things in New York). During the ride, you’ll not only get distant views of the Statue of Liberty but also a fantastic panorama of Manhattan’s skyscrapers.

If this option doesn’t convince you, you can book a boat tour that will take you right up to the statue’s feet. During the cruise, you’ll get the best views of the Statue against the backdrop of skyscrapers. This activity is available for online booking, with guides in Spanish and a stop at Ellis Island as well.

Theaters and Musicals on Broadway

Did you know that Broadway Street is the longest street in Manhattan? It spans a whopping 33 kilometers from north to south. However, this street is globally renowned for its incredible concentration of theaters in what’s known as the Broadway Theater District, near Times Square. Nearly 40 theaters advertise the world’s best plays and musicals with large illuminated billboards.

If you want to top off your experience, attending one of these shows after a busy day exploring the city is a perfect way to do it. You can book tickets online or wait for last-minute deals sold at the TKTS booth located in Times Square. The only downside to this option is that there’s usually a long queue, and it’s challenging to get tickets for the most famous shows.

Here are some suggestions you can book online:

  • The Lion King
  • Aladdin
  • Chicago

Shopping Fanatics

It’s inevitable. Even if it wasn’t your initial intention, New York offers a world of possibilities that make it hard to resist maxing out your credit card. Clothing, shoes, electronics… There are brands that can cost an arm and a leg in Spain, yet in the United States, they’re sold at half the price with the added advantage of a favorable currency exchange.

When it comes to clothing and accessories, you can’t miss the stores of major brands, mostly located on Fifth Avenue, or large chains with great deals like Century 21 or Macy’s. I scored big at the latter; they had a section with pretty nice discounts.

Outlets are quite far from Manhattan, and for a short 4 or 5-day trip to New York, I wouldn’t recommend spending that much time there.

Saving the best for last, at least for me. Tech enthusiasts, photographers, and anyone into electronic gadgets, like myself, have an unmissable spot at B&H. It’s simply amazing. Run by Jews, so beware—they close on Saturdays.

Trying the Best Burger in New York

You’ve probably heard so much about the best burger in New York that you’re not sure where to head anymore. Indeed, it’s one of the many myths surrounding the city. What’s undeniable, though, is that in New York, you’ll indulge in plenty of junk food. I’m contributing to ensuring you return with a few extra pounds.

Imagine walking into the lobby of a luxurious hotel in Manhattan and stumbling upon a small, rundown burger joint hidden away in a corridor. Well, no need to imagine because it exists. It’s called Burger Joint, and their burgers are fantastic. This little gem is located inside the Le Parker Meridien Hotel on 57th Street. Don’t hold back because you won’t be the only one seeking out this hidden burger spot.

New York City is a whirlwind of experiences, from towering skyscrapers and iconic landmarks to diverse neighborhoods and unforgettable culinary delights. Whether you’re exploring its vibrant streets, indulging in shopping sprees, or savoring its famous burgers, every moment in the Big Apple promises excitement and discovery.

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