In this article we are going to describe the travel plan that I would make, based on my experience, if I were going to travel seven days of holidays to New York, in order to visit the main tourist sites in one week and return with an unforgettable travel experience. In general, the order does not necessarily have to be the right one, but probably depending on the weather, tiredness,… you would select one route or another on the fly.
Routes for a week in New York
Walk through the city centre
We start our walks through the city visiting Midtown Manhattan (from 58th Street to approximately 23rd Street).
We are definitely in the most famous area of Manhattan, the whole central area of Manhattan with famous landmarks such as Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Empire State, New York Public Library or the always busy Bryant Park. In this tour you will visit some of the best known places in Midtown, although as you walk you will see that everything rings a bell, and for more information read our tour of Midtown Manhattan.
Here you will have to decide to visit one of the two most famous viewpoints in the city, and I suggest you try to go just before sunset:
- Top of the Rock, you can get your tickets in advance in some kiosks in the Rockefeller center, next to Prometheus.
- Empire State Building, they usually have large queues, so you have to go with plenty of time to go up at sunset.
Central Park Tour
Certainly, going to visit Central Park is in all travel agendas, but I recommend that you do not do this route on Monday as most museums are closed. For me, it is essential to visit the Metropolitan Museum (do not forget the viewpoint on the roof, only open in summer and with incredible views of Central Park and Manhattan), the Natural History Museum (spectacular dinosaurs on the top floor), Belvedere Castle, Dakota building (where Lennon lived and was just killed at the exit of the building, opposite in Central Park is Strawberry Fields, with the famous Imagine mosaic in tribute to him) and Sheep Meadows (especially on weekends, you can buy something in a deli and throw yourself on this lawn to eat).
For more information I suggest you to read our day in Central Park.
Downtown Manhattan Tour
This day will be spent strolling from 23rd St. to Canal St. more or less. We will start the route at Madison Square Park, go down to Union Square and take a walk through the beautiful SoHo and the arch-famous Chinatown, and their bargains, and Little Italy. A more unknown but beautiful area is Bleecker street, in Greenwich Village, a place with a lot of atmosphere to which you must go especially at night to enjoy good music while dining in legendary places of rock music, such as the Café Wha?, or jazz, as the Blue Note or the Village Vanguard, to try some of the best pizzas in New York in Keste or John’s or to go to the famous Magnolia to take Banana Pudding or their cupcakes as the girls of Sex in New York.
For more information, please read our Downtown Manhattan tour carefully.
Chelsea Market and the High Line
As a extension of the route through Downtown Manhattan, and while you wait until it’s time to go to the Village for dinner, if you’re not too tired a good plan might be to visit the High Line and Chelsea Market, although with the daytime beating you’ll probably want to sit down for a drink.
Definitely the Meatpacking District is currently very trendy in New York, and this building and park are a clear example of the rehabilitation of this area of Manhattan. In any case, it won’t take more than a morning to see both things in a relaxed way, I would take the opportunity to arrive at lunch time at Chelsea Market or High Line, I’m sure that both things will surprise you, and I would avoid visiting it on weekends because many people go and the park of the High Line is crowded.
More information in our tour of Chelsea Market and the High Line.
Tour of Financial District and Brooklyn
The Staten Island Ferry is a must to take a walk around the bay and see the Statue of Liberty, but if you want to see Lady Liberty in other ways in this article we tell you all the possible ways to go to see the Statue of Liberty.
Once finished the boat ride, for me it is essential to spend the rest of the morning walking around the Financial District, visiting Wall Street, the memorial of 11-S and the oldest park in New York, Bowling Green, where in a corner we find one of the most famous symbols of this area, the Wall Street bull or Charging Bull.
At the end, we take the subway and, already in the Brooklyn neighborhood, we go to Brooklyn Promenade, we eat at Juliana’s pizza or at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, and if you have the energy I would suggest you to take a walk through DUMBO in the afternoon (although if you are tired, you can leave the visit to DUMBO for another morning, more information at DUMBO Walk), and cross the Brooklyn bridge, both day and night.
For more information on the entire tour read our Day in Financial District and Brooklyn.
Harlem and Morningside Heights
There is no complete plan to visit this city without visiting Harlem, people like to go on Sunday, to see a gospel mass, but I suggest you to go any other day of the week, and you will find the neighborhood with a much more his atmosphere. At the end of Harlem, right next door is Morningside Heights, one of the most university neighborhoods in the city. I recommend a visit to Grant’s tomb, Riverside’s beautiful church (award to whoever finds Einstein on the front porch) and Columbia University.
For more information read our articles a visit to Harlem and discovering the neighborhood of Morningside Heights.
How do we close the plan?
These 5 days are a lot of walking, so as we have a week we can divide these routes as you want, so that one of the routes is divided in two, make a day of rest between route and route to go shopping, … To visit the rest of New York not visited in these routes, a good option is to hire a tour of contrasts, where you can know the contrasts between Brooklyn, Queens and Bronx.
Go to a Broadway show
For those who, despite the walk, still have strength I strongly suggest you to enjoy a musical on Broadway, the Mecca of this genre and where you can enjoy great hits such as The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, or Aladdin. In our article Buy tickets for musicals in New York we give you a list of tips and suggestions to do so and get the best price for your tickets.
New York Tourist Cards
For those who want to go to various museums or tourist attractions in New York, and in most attractions avoid queues, you may want to buy one of the four main cards sold to tourists in New York: New York Pass, CityPASS, Sightseeing Pass and Smart Destinations. Here I explain briefly what each of them are, for more information, tips and recommendations I strongly suggest you read our article to select the best tourist card for your trip to New York:
- New York CityPASS offers access to only 6 of the most visited museums and viewpoints in New York and probably will be more than enough if it is the first time you visit New York: You have fixed access to the Empire State, the Metropolitan Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History and then you must choose between the Guggenheim Museum or the Top of the Rock, the September 11 Memorial and Museum or the Intrepid Museum of the Sea, Air and Space, and a New York sunset cruise or the Statue of Liberty access boat. Tickets must be used in a maximum of 9 days from the day you make the first use of the tourist card. For more information or to purchase this card, visit the official website of New York CityPASS.
- New York Pass is the tourist card that gives you access to a greater number of attractions, as it allows you access to about 100 tourist attractions in New York, including virtually all museums and viewpoints in the city except the One World Observatory, which at the moment does not include it. It is recommended for those who want to visit during their stay a lot of museums and activities, and do not want to miss or do any of them, but keep in mind that you buy access for a certain number of days, so you will have to focus on those days these visits and leave other beautiful places such as the DUMBO walk, the Brooklyn Bridge or the High Line or Gantry Plaza State Park for other days. For more information and purchase of the New York Pass, I suggest you go to the official site of New York Pass.
- Sightseeing Pass is a tourist card with which you can access more than 100 attractions and with which you have two possibilities: Buy for a certain number of days or a certain number of tickets. It is the only tourist card that includes the One World Observatory, but does not include the Empire State. For more information, visit the official website of Sightseeing Pass.
- Go New York is always purchasing a certain number of tickets to tourist attractions, which you have to use in 30 days from the date of first use of the card. It offers two different cards: Explorer, which allows you to select the number of tickets you want to buy and completely free you spend the tickets between the 80+ tourist attractions to which you have access (depending on the number of attractions it will increase the price) and Go Select, where you must select the tourist attractions and museums you want to visit and based on them calculates the final price of the card. For more information and purchase of these tourist cards, visit the official website of Go New York.
About shopping in the thousands of stores in New York, there are two pages in this guide that give you the best advice and will help you choose the area to go to depending on the purchases you want to make: Shopping in New York, where we tell you the best areas to make your purchases, and Best area to buy a product in New York, where we tell you where to go depending on the product you want to buy.
For those who visit New York at Christmas, I definitely suggest you take a look at the Christmas route in New York and to know firsthand the best markets, essential visits and activities that can be done during the Christmas season in this city.
For accommodations, I would try to book our hotel as centrally located as possible in Manhattan, between 23th and 58th streets, so that it is very easy for us to move around New York and we are just a few subway stops from anywhere. This gives us many advantages during our trip: It allows us to get to the hotel quickly if we are very tired and will allow us to unload the day’s shopping and return to the action with much less weight.
Here it just remains to recommend one of the most read articles on our website, in which we tell you all our recommendations to book your hotel area by area of the city, the places to book your hotel at the best price, some tips to have a good experience and our experience in some of the hotels in the city, which we strongly recommend.
On the Restaurants and Entertainment section, I highly recommend you:
- Juliana’s pizza or Grimaldi’s, the best pizzerias in New York, right next to the Brooklyn Bridge and a pier with excellent views over Manhattan.
- Shanghai Café, an authentic Chinese in Chinatown, their dumplings you love them or hate them, I love them 🙂 Finish by taking for dessert a rice pudding of any flavor to take in Rices to Riches, at the end of Little Italy.
- John’s Pizzeria or Kesté Pizza & Vino, in Bleecker st., very good pizza, to finish with a banana pudding dessert or a Magnolia Pastry cupcake.
- Café Wha?, going to dinner with live music, especially on Wednesdays and Sundays where there is no entrance fee and you are only required to order at least two drinks, something easy while watching the performance, is a place that has charmed everyone who has gone. In summer they arrange boat trips around the Hudson while the orchestra performs, if you’re lucky enough to match any of those days don’t hesitate to sign up.
- One day I would go and pay tribute to Pershing Square, where I would order a good steak to eat (before 2 o’clock) and for dessert their cheesecake, which is very good.
- For a real American burger we’ll go to Burger Joint, Le Parker Meridien or any Shake Shack. Of the latter, the one I like the most is the original, located next to Flatiron Building, in Madison Square Park, where are incredible hamburgers with excellent smoothies of the flavor you like.
- Go to a supermarket or deli and buy food to take it to Central Park, to Sheep Meadows for example, over the weekend, you’ll see how to do this is a very New York-style tradition.
- Max Brenner, right next to Union Square, if you like chocolate.
- Katz’s Delicatessen, at the beginning of Soho (corner of Houston Street and Ludlow Street), one of the few delis left in New York, I recommend all their sandwiches to share between two.
My Favorite Places
Finally, to finish I give you the list of my favorite sites in New York and that I think you should not miss (but well, everything is going to be walking and discovering things at our pace, everything is going to be sounding by the movies)
Like all these lists, this one is very personal and won’t have to match 100% with your tastes, but I hope you like all the spots I select, which are the following:
- Sheep Meadows, in Central Park, and the view from the roof of the Metropolitan Museum in summer.
- The Top of the Rock viewpoint or the Empire State Building, late afternoon to see both day and night the city.
- Rockefeller Center, and its winter skating rink.
- Times Square, day and night is always a madness of people.
- Bryant Park, my favorite park in NY.
- Grand Central Terminal, always busy, and the Chrysler building right next door (you can only see it from the outside).
- Flatiron Building, my favorite New York building next to Madison Square Park.
- Chelsea Market and the High Line, or how to turn an abandoned factory of Nabisco into a beautiful market and convert its roads to transport goods to the factory in a spectacular park at height overlooking New York.
- Cross the Brooklyn Bridge, a classic all-day trip to the Big Apple, and Brooklyn Promenade, to enjoy the beautiful Brooklyn Heights neighborhood.
- DUMBO and Brooklyn Bridge Park. Situated next to each other, their views of Manhattan and the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges are spectacular, where the view is even better at sunset.
- Staten Island ferry, both day and sunset, to see sunset over Manhattan.
- Governors Island and its incredible views of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn, though it only opens in summer.
- Gantry Plaza State Park, a spectacular evening view from Queens.
- The Wall street area and the Memorial and Museum of 11-S, remember that opposite Wall Street you will find the Federal Hall, where the statue of Washington is, a tourist office nowdays. Nearby is Bowling Green, the oldest park in NY. Definitely, the One World Observatory of the World Trade Center gives you a different view of the city than the Empire State or the Top of the Rock, both located very close to each other in Midtown.
- Greenwich Village, the area of Bleecker Street, Tribeca and SoHo, where you will find the most scoundrel side of New York.