3 Days in New York: The Ultimate Itinerary

3 day itinerary for New York

Visiting New York is an experience like no other. This famed city has been featured in countless movies, TV shows, and books. It has inspired songs and iconic clothing campaigns. From arts and culture to history and food, there is something for every visitor in this city that never sleeps. Whether this is your first visit to The Big Apple or you're returning for more, we have designed the ultimate New York itinerary.

Related: The 36 Best Things To Do in New York City

The Empire State Building, New York CityUnsplash

Answer These Questions While Planning a Trip to New York

As part of the planning process, consider the following questions to begin preparing for your adventure in NYC.

When Will You Arrive and Depart New York?

With any short itinerary, we suggest arriving in New York as soon as possible and departing reasonably late. This strategy will increase your sightseeing time rather than allowing travel time to eat into your days.

Where Will You Stay in New York?

Book your hotel room in a central location to avoid wasting time on unnecessary transportation. Some reasonable areas to consider staying in include Long Island City, Midtown Manhattan, and the Lower East Side.

How Will You Get Around the City?

Bring your walking shoes since most of this itinerary is easily navigable on foot. New York's subway system is one of the best in the world, with multiple easily accessible stops throughout the city. Taxis and rideshares are also available but at a higher price.

How Much Money Should You Spend in New York?

The amount of money you spend in New York will vary depending on what you choose to spend money on, but experts suggest budgeting approximately $326 to $372 per person per day for a comfortable vacation.

What Time of Year Is Best to Visit New York?

New York is great to visit any time of year. In the summer months, the temperature rises. But if you find the heat uncomfortable, you can schedule your outdoor excursions in the early morning or evening to beat the heat. Otherwise, there's always a shop or restaurant close by where you can duck in to cool off and pick up a drink or go shopping.

When the thermometer dips, New York is still a bustling city with lots of activities. There are holiday activities and shows, and simply walking around the city can be a great adventure as you view all the holiday decorations at various storefronts. Even when it gets cold, the residents and tourists bundle up and carry on because there is so much to experience in this busy city.

Related: When Is the Best Time To Visit New York City?

3-Day New York Itinerary

While there are many noteworthy sights to see in New York, this three-day New York itinerary will help you plan your trip to see the highlights.

Central Park, New York CityUnsplash

Day 1

Start your fun-filled adventure in NYC in central Manhattan by venturing into Central Park. You'll be enthralled with its size. The park has 843 acres of green space to walk, run, eat, and easily spend an entire day. Visit the charming Belvedere Castle, and then rent a boat for a spin around the lake. Take a guided tour through the Conservancy or a self-guided tour before visiting the animals at the Central Park Zoo. Check out the park's online calendar to find out if there will be any concerts or plays while you're there. There are plenty of places to eat, so you'll never go hungry.

From there, take a 10-minute walk to the American Museum of Natural History to explore the natural world and the universe. Step inside the Butterfly Vivarium to immerse yourself in an exhibit featuring 80 species of living butterflies amidst beautiful gardens. Move to the Hayden Planetarium next to give your feet a break while looking up at the stars. You may find moving on to your next destination difficult because there is so much to experience in this vast and interactive museum.

Hop on the subway for a 15-minute ride to the storied Rockefeller Center, which is actually a complex of 19 commercial buildings. Brave the crowds to watch a taping of the "Today" show or go ice skating during the winter while staring in awe at the enormous Christmas tree on display. Head to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, where you'll find three indoor and outdoor decks for a 360-degree view of the city. Get tickets in advance to watch the Rockettes perform at Radio City Music Hall before eating dinner at one of the many restaurants onsite.

Your next stop is about a 10-minute walk to Times Square. Walk around the five-block expanse with bright lights, billboards, and lots of people. You can eat, shop, and learn about the history of this area, which houses commercial, residential, and entertainment properties. Consider returning after dark to view the spectacle of marquee displays and neon lights.

Take another 10-minute walk to Broadway. Book tickets for a show in advance to see your favorite play or musical. Stop for a quick bite to eat before the show to tide you over. When the show is finished, have a late dinner or appetizers and dessert on the way back to your hotel.

The Statue of Liberty, New York CityUnsplash

Day 2

Begin your second day in NYC on the north side of The High Line, the site of a former New York Central railroad line. Take a free guided tour or walk south on your own while enjoying the public art installations and often-present food vendors. You'll meander above the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea, and Hell's Kitchen. Take in scenic views of the Hudson River and Manhattan's skyline. Walk down to the Chelsea Market for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

Next, continue walking for about 20 minutes to the Empire State Building. Purchase tickets in advance to bypass the lines and go up to the 86th and 102nd floors for views across six states from the observation decks. Take in the exhibitions and dine at the restaurants onsite. Remember to look up after sunset to see the Empire State lit up in the color of the day.

Now it's time to catch a 20-minute taxi or rideshare and then hop on a National Park Service ferry to see the emblematic Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Reserve tickets online and in advance to climb 162 stairs and see the crown. Once inside, you can look out of the 25 windows for a view of New York Harbour. On Ellis Island, take a guided tour and search the immigration records.

Take the ferry back and then a 10-minute walk to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which sits on the site of the former Twin Towers. While this is a somber visit, it's a must-do activity to pay your respects. Spend some time reading the informational displays and taking in the beauty of this land. The visit to the memorial and museum can take up to two hours.

If you have time left in the day, walk over to Wall Street in the Financial District. Stop at the exterior of the New York Stock Exchange and take a photo with the symbolic Charging Bull Statue near Bowling Green. See the Federal Hall National Museum, where President Washington was inaugurated. Make this your last stop for the evening before going out for a famous New York pizza.

Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York CityUnsplash

Day 3

Start your last day in NYC in Midtown at Bryant Park, where you can bring a to-go breakfast and coffee to enjoy while people-watching. In the summer months, visit the seasonal gardens. During the winter, the village is a sight to behold, with bumper cars on ice, a skating rink, a food hall, and shops. Bryant Park is one of the largest public parks in the world.

From Bryant Park, walk five minutes to the New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman building. This institution has been featured in TV shows, movies, and, of course, books. Peruse the collections, browse the shop, and get lunch in the café on site. Before you leave, visit the Polonsky Exhibition to see some of the treasures collected over the years. Continue your literary pursuits at the nearby Morgan Library & Museum to see J.P. Morgan's personal library collection.

Next on the list is St. Patrick's Cathedral, which is only a 10-minute walk away. With an ornate facade and stained glass windows, it's worth a visit. Book a guided tour in advance or take a self-guided tour to learn all about the history of this Neo-Gothic style Roman Catholic church.

End the day with a five-minute walk to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, otherwise known as The Met. The museum can easily keep you busy for days, so plan on staying for at least a few hours. Take a guided tour and then relax for one of the rotating performances. In the summer months, go up to the rooftop when you're finished viewing the galleries. Partake in rooftop drinks while watching the sunset on your last night in The Big Apple.

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Stay Connected in New York With Airalo

Some people describe New York as a living thing, and you'll want to capture it all. The best way to do that is by staying connected with an Airalo eSIM. Airalo offers travelers access to cost-effective eSIMs for 200+ countries and regions — including the United States.

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