How to Visit NYC on a Modest Budget

planning a trip to nyc

Are you thinking about taking a trip to NYC but aren’t sure if it’s in your budget? New York is one of the greatest cities in the world. People from all over the world come to see what the Big Apple is all about.

But as amazing as New York is, it’s also very expensive. In fact, it’s the second-most expensive city in the US. However, don’t let its sky-high prices deter you from visiting. Planning a trip to NYC on a budget is possible, you just need to know what you’re doing.

Check out this guide to learn how to do New York City on a budget.

1. Choose Cheap Transportation

A lot of people think that the only way to get around New York is by taxi. And while yellow taxis are synonymous with New York City, they’re definitely not the only way to see the Big Apple.

If you can, take a road trip to New York instead of flying. This will allow you to see the city on your own terms, and you may even be able to squeeze in a few day trips that otherwise wouldn’t be possible without a car.

Just make sure that you download a parking app before you go, as finding Empire State Building parking and parking in other parts of the city can be a nightmare.

If you don’t have a car or you live too far away to take a road trip, use the subway to see the city. A single subway ride only costs $2.75, and it can get you all the way across the city. If you’re going to be in the city for one week or more, you may want to consider purchasing a one week unlimited Metro CArd for $33.

With this card, you can take as many trips as you want within a week’s time span. Also, keep in mind that New York is very walkable. In fact, according to FitBit, New Yorkers take the most steps per day out of any other city during the summer months, averaging about 8,807 steps.

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Plus, walking is a great way to see the city!

2. Eat Cheap

One of the best parts about New York City is the food. New York is a melting pot of many different cultures, and because of this, you can sample tasty dishes from all over the world.

And you don’t need to go to a five-star restaurant to experience the best food New York has to offer. There are many affordable restaurants throughout the city that also happen to be delicious.

Here are some of the best cheap eats in New York:

  • Paula’s Soul Food Cafe: Tasty soul food such as fried chicken, mac and cheese, and bread pudding
  • Dukagjini Burek: Albanian coffee shop with flaky pies stuffed with meat, cheese, and spinach
  • Jerk House: A Jamaican steam-table restaurant that serves jerk chicken, ribs, and pork
  • Jalisco Tacos: The best place to go for Mexican-style street tacos
  • Yu Kitchen: A northern Chinese restaurant that serves meal-sized soups for under $10
  • King of Falafel and Shawarma: Serves some of the best falafel in town with fava beans, hummus, and assorted sauces
  • Four Four South Village: Authentic Taiwanese restaurant serving up meat-filled soups
  • Voilà Afrique: A west-African cafe that offers a mashup of Nigerian and Ghanaian food
  • Papa’s Kitchen: Serves classic Filipino dishes like fried pork belly and chicken adobo

Also, don’t forget that there’s a plethora of street food to try in New York. And, you can’t leave New York without trying some pizza by the slice!

3. Find Cheap Accommodation

Accommodation prices can eat up your budget pretty quickly in New York. Luckily, there are many affordable alternatives to 5-star hotels that cost hundreds of dollars per night.

One of the easiest things to do is to rent an Airbnb. If you don’t mind sharing space, opt to rent out a room instead of an entire apartment. If you’re savvy, you can snag a room in New York for $50 to $100 per night.

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There are also several hostels to choose from in the city offering affordable prices. Some of the best options include The Local NYC, HI New York City Hostel, NY Moore Hostel, Chelsea International Hostel, and the Brooklyn Riviera Hostel.

4. Get a City Pass

If you plan on hitting up the main tourist attractions, we recommend purchasing an official New York CityPass. Currently, the pass costs $136 for adults and $112 for children. While this may seem like a lot of money, the pass will get you access to:

  • The Empire State Building
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The American Museum of Natural History
  • Ferry Access to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty
  • 9/11 Memorial Museum
  • Guggenheim Museum
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck
  • Intrepid Sea, Space, and Air Museum

If you plan on going to all of these places, you’ll have about $100 with your pass.

5. Find Cheap or Free Things to Do

The great thing about New York is that there are so many wonderful things to do here that cost nothing or next to nothing. Here are some of the most affordable ways to enjoy the city:

  • Visit one of the city’s many beautiful parks- Central Park, Prospect Park, and Washington Square Park are some of the best options
  • Go to a matinee showing of an off-Broadway play
  • Go to a comedy show (many are free or cost less than $20)
  • Take the ferry to Staten Island
  • Visit the New York Public Library
  • Walk the High Line
  • Take a free tour of the Brooklyn Brewery
  • Wander around Times Square
  • Sunbathe at a beach on Coney Island
  • Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge

As you can see, there are a lot of great things to do in New York for free!

Time to Start Planning a Trip to NYC

As you can see, there are a lot of wonderful things to do in NYC. Planning a trip to NYC shouldn’t be difficult with this guide.

After you get back from your trip, be sure to check back in with our blog for more travel ideas.