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New York City on a Shoestring

Visiting New York City should be on everyone's bucket list. Whether you're interested in adrenaline activities or sight-seeing and culture, New York holds something for everyone and certainly lives up to its name of 'The City that never sleeps!' Take a look at our 'New York on a Shoestring' guide for advice on cheap transport and entertainment.

Getting around:


The New York subway is called the Metrolink which runs 24 hours a day, 7 days of the week and 365 days of the year. All you need is a Metrocard which can be bought per trip or loaded up with pre-paid credit similar to an oyster card. Unlimited season tickets are also available to purchase.


Spotting a bright yellow taxi in New York is very easy and will likely take you less than a minute to find one that will give you a ride to your destination. Buses are also a popular choice of transport and are frequent.


The pace of New York is fast so be aware that you will probably need to speed up your normal walking pace to match the pace of everyone else. If using pedestrian crossings, be careful and don't always assume that the road is safe to cross (even if the light says it is safe to walk!) as Manhattan traffic in particular tends to go where it likes and when it likes.


Central Park

With something for everyone, Central Park offers tours, sports grounds, a $2 carousel ride and even its own zoo!

Staten Island Ferry

Why not catch a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry? You get a great view of the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline too!

Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge was opened in 1883 and is currently stands as one of the longest suspension bridges in the USA. Do remember to wear comfortable shoes as the bridge is 1.3 miles long but offers some incredible views of the City.

Free kayaking

If you fancy a bit of adventure, head to one of many Downtown Boathouse locations at the Hudson River for your free kayaking session. Run by volunteers, it's completely free and aims to encourage use of the harbor waters.


Make sure you check out the monthly New York parades! These are brimmed with vibrancy and colour with great music, entertainers and dancers. Dig out your green clothes for March's St. Patrick's Day Parade, have a boogie at the New York Dance Parade in May, or don your seashells and celebrate Summer approaching at the Mermaid Parade in June.

Times Square

If you find yourself surrounding in a place consisting of thousands of lights, billboards, flashing adverts, noise, hustle and bustle... there's only one place you could be - Times Square - an overwhelming electric circus that will leave you speechless.

If you like music, don't forget to visit the Hard Rock Café which is home to some infamous memorabilia and visit the TKTS booth for discounted Broadway tickets.


New York is one of the best places to visit if you're after culture as some of the greatest art pieces reside here. Generally, museum tickets are quite cheap ranging from $3-$15; however it is worth remembering that some museums have 'free' days or reduced fee opening times. For example, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) has free entry for everyone every Friday from 4pm-8pm.

Free shows

These are widely available all over New York ranging from comedy to music to dancing. The New York Times is a great resource for more information and what's available.

Audience tickets are also widely available for TV shows including David Letterman or the popular Saturday Night Live. Tickets can be free or found relatively cheap at $3 per showing.

Grab a copy of New York's Metrolink newspaper (also free!) which will feature information on other shows in the area.

Make your own movie tour

New York is a popular setting for many films over the years including...

  • Katz's Deli, Lower East Side - the infamous restaurant in 'When Harry Met Sally.'
  • FAO Schwarz, Fifth Avenue - Have you ever seen the film 'Big' featuring Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia dancing on the giant floor piano in the toy store? Yep. That's the place!
  • And if you arrived at New York via JFK airport, "œThe Terminal" starring Tom Hanks was filmed here too!

Why not see how many places in New York you can recognize from the big screen?

Discount cards:

If you're after greater flexibility on your trip, it's worth checking out the New York Explorer Pass which will enable you to grab a discount on certain tourist locations and entertainment. This pass is the size of a credit card and can be used on 3, 5, 7 or 10 attractions of your choice including the Statue of Liberty, Top of the Rock and city tours. There are a total of 55 attractions that are eligible for a discount. Other passes include the City Pass and the New York Pass which can all be purchased online before your trip and all offer fast-track to beat the queues.


Feeling peckish? Usually found near a Metrolink Subway Station, why not grab a coffee and snack at a street stall! The great thing about street stalls is that they are not few and far between and offer a variety of great food and beverages such as hot chocolate, coffee, tea, smoothies, bratwurst, pretzels, samosas, pizza, corn dogs, nachos... the list is endless! If you look  around, it is possible to find street stalls that offer coffee and pretzel for $1 together... That's the equivalent of 64p (32p each)! A great deal for your money!

What are your favourite things to do in New York on a budget? Let us know in the comments!

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