New York is the one of the most expensive cities in the world, or so people say. Today is the 16th day of my fourth visit to this amazing city and yes it is crazy expensive if you want to do everything. You can eat and drink at the best restaurants/bars in the world and experience the glamour of top hotels, Broadway shows, but here are some ideas from a budget traveller and how to make it in New York just for a couple of bucks.
I don’t really want to advise you on where to buy the cheapest sandwich or which grocery store sells the cheapest beer. When you travel you want to see things, you want to explore what the city offers, you want to taste local food, you want to have a nice glass of wine or cold beer after all day walking in the summer heat. (Be prepare New York is HOT and HUMID). Yeah you deserve it.
WALK, CYCLE, WALK and…. WALK some more.
Walking is the greatest way to explore any city. This may seem a bit difficult in a city as huge as NYC but trust me, it’s the best way to see the sites and to be surprised by something new around every corner. It really is an easy city to navigate, it’s a massive grid, the numbered Streets run East/West and Avenues North/South, before you know it you’ve covered 10 miles and ready for that cheap happy hour drink. If you’re tired of walking, NYC also has one of the best subway systems in the world. Explore each neighborhood, their people, their architecture, their food.
The most loveable places to walk through are:
Williamsburg – Hipster town? Call it what you want, it’s super cool and full of energy any day of the week, especially weekends. Every Saturday and Sunday Smorgasburg happens. It’s a waterfront market full of great foodtruck style stalls, an excellent place with different cuisines overlooking Manhattan. But not only that, visita Flea market not far from the food stalls, amazing small bars and rooftop venues. While walking around is completely free, you won’t be able to help yourself from trying the great food.
East Village and Lower East Side – cool district with great street art and venues.
My first visit to these two neighborhoods was unforgettable. I was impressed with every piece of it. The people, little cafes, bars and street art everywhere.
West Village – Where you can find beautiful streets of terrace houses alongside the best comedy clubs and hundreds of cute restaurants and bars.
Upper East and West Side – Beautiful, fancy, rich area where you can’t help but be impressed with the old detailed architecture and the cleanliness of the streets and dressed up people around you.
Central Park – There is never enough time to explore Central Park in it’s entirety. This place is huge with beautifully maintained gardens, lawns, lakes, walking and cycling tracks, and even room for basketball and baseball. NYC would not be the same without Central Park!
Of course there is much more to explore than just the above mentioned suburbs. If you ever get tired of walking or just don’t have the time, cycle.
Cycling is another cheap way to explore the city. You can cycle in Central Park and have the feeling you’re not even in NYC. Cycle through the suburbs, over the Brooklyn Bridge (watch out for tourists!) and explore new areas easier and faster.
There are a few options how and where to rent a bike.If you are planning the explore the city the way to go is a CitiBike. Only $12/day you can cycle around the town, however every 30 mins you need to return to the station otherwise you are going to be charge extra. Don’t worry, Citibike offers a map with stations around NYC.
There are plenty of other option for bike hire, do your research and find the best options. We even hired abike from local street sellers. They look pretty dodgy, take a photo of their license just in case, and you can negotiate a price or length of time to hire.
SWIM AT LASKER POOL
Summer in NYC can be extremely hot and humid. And with no beach nearby you can find it a bit hard to cool off.
Lasker pool is the great spot where you can refresh your body for free. Located in Central Park near West Harlem between 106th and 108th Streets.
Don’t expect anything super clean like from Australian or European public pools but it does the job. Very important to bring a padlock for all your belongings. You won’t be allowed in without one as you aren’t allowed to keep anything by the pool other than your towel, there are lockers in the change rooms. Pool staff warned us that even our clothes may be stolen.
YOGA IN CENTRAL PARK
During your travels you can stay active with fitness like at home. Meetup.com provides heaps of activities you can sign up to for free. Yoga enthusiasts run free yoga classes in Central Park or Queens few days a week. And it’s a great way to meet new people they may inspire you in your future traveling.
EXPLORE GOVERNORS ISLAND
Located just across the water from Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey. The ferry to Governors Island cost just $2 and runs 7 days a week. It’s a great spot for a picnic, cycling and exploring some history.
We visited the island on a week day and it was nice and quite. Only a few of the food stalls were open as well as the old original houses which different Governors and sergeants lived in over the last few hundred years. You can hire a bike and have a beautiful ride around the island with a view to Manhattan and New Jersey. Again, if you have the Citibike day pass you can use it here or through one of the private hire companies. And view to the Statue of Liberty is not too bad either.
Only one think we missed was lack of information about the island and it’s history. The prison located on the island had a great explanation of the history of the prison but the rest of the beautiful building were missing any information.
WATCH SUNSET AT RAINBOW BAR ROCKEFELLER CENTER
This is probably the best FREE city view in the world. But do not get confused, Rainbow bar is located on the 65th floor of the Rockefeller Center, the observatory which is only a couple of floors higher will cost you around $25 and has a very similar view.
To enter the bar is free. Dress yourselves smart casual and visit the bar at sunset and you will experience this magical skyline.
The bar has an amazing balcony where you can sip of your drink until it gets dark. Prices are pretty comparable to the city bars below; beers $10, wine $12.
GET ARTY AT THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ARTS
If you decide to visit this great museum, reserve at least 3 hours and you’ll still leave wanting more. The building itself carries so many stories and each exhibition is incredible. One amazing part of modern art is the Fashion expo Manus X Machina. Fashion designs cover Haute Couture and Avant Garde of the most talented designers such as Dior, Chanel, YSL.
The suggested entry fee is $25 but if you really want to make it cheap $1 gets you in.
DO EVERYTHING IN CENTRAL PARK
Our favourite free spot so it needs it’s own section. Even if you travel alone there is so much happening that you’ll entertain yourself. Basketball, Baseball, Yoga, Running, Swimming, summer theatre, walking and exploring, picnic, music… So much. One of the great things to do is hiring a boat in The Loeb Boathouse and row around the lake with amazing view of the Upper West Side’s beautiful buildings.
This is not exactly free but $15/hour is definitely worth it.
After the lake session you can stop for a drink at the Boathouse and enjoy this fancy moment.