New York is a great city, a city of dreams as they call it, and once you’ve visited it you’ll understand why. There is nothing you can’t do in New York: you can shop. You can party. You can eat in a fancy restaurant. You can go see a Broadway show. You can go to a concert. You can stay in a fancy hotel in Manhattan, overlooking the city. You can spend as much money as you want and you’ll never have enough.
But, believe it or not, although NYC is one of the most expensive cities in the world, there are just as many possibilities for those “average” travellers like ourselves who would like to visit it without having to spend much money. Here is a list of things you can do in New York for free (or for very little money), and enjoy this city to its full potential.
1. BUY A MULTIPLE DAY METRO PASS
If you ever go to NYC, I assume you’ll want to spend there more than one day. Although we are not big city lovers, we spent a whole week in New York, and there are still many things left to be done. So, instead of paying for every single ride on the metro, buy a weekly pass that will cost you less than 30$. This way you won’t have to worry how much money you spend for transportation, and let’s be honest here: 30$ for a week is more than affordable.
Walking is always a good option, isn’t it? It keeps you fit, and it’ll give you the best perspective of the city. The main areas of all the New York quarters are easily walkable, but this city is BIG, so get ready for some real exercise! 🙂
In Lower Manhattan you can stroll down the Wall Street and see the famous New York Stock Exchange, as well as walk or ride to the new One World Trade Center. Inside, there is a museum, dedicated to all the victims of September 11th. However, if you’re not interested in seeing the museum, just walk around and see the two holes, the basis for the former World Trade Centers, now turned into two identical fountains, surrounded by the writings of the names of the victims.
To avoid the crowds and get a glimpse of the multiculturalism of NYC, visit Chinatown (here’s the time to buy all the fruits and vegetables for the whole week as the markets there are extremely cheap!), Little Italy, SoHo and NoHo.
In the Upper Manhattan, you can stroll along the famous Fifth Avenue and do some window shopping. Remember that you’re visiting New York on a budget, so no temptations, ok? Or your wallet will be empty in a minute. 🙂 After, visit the Public Library, the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Center. Being so close to these two enormous skyscrapers you’ll probably want to see the city from the top to get the iconic view you know from magazines and movies. At this point you’ll either have to resist the temptation, or open your wallet and pay between 30$ – 40$ for the view. If you go for the second option, another doubt will arise: should you go to the top of the Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center? Choosing the first option will give you the unforgettable experience of being on top of the most famous skyscraper in the world, while the second one will offer you the best view over the Empire State Building itself. I know that this “activity” doesn’t fit on the list of free things to do in NYC, but we were so impressed by the view we got from the Top of the Rock we had to recommend it to you. 🙂
After you’re done with all the above, pass by the famous Grand Central Station on your way to Times Square and hang out with the other ten thousand tourists thinking that this square is something above average. 😉
Our favourite walk was probably along Brooklyn Heights, where you’ll get the real local vibe of the NYC. This walk can be relaxing and as long as you wish – we just couldn’t get enough of the local cafes and never got bored observing the people. Also, visit Brooklyn Bridge Park where you’ll get the best view of this world famous bridge and the whole Manhattan.
Another must do is a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a 30min walk, but add another 15min for all the stops you’ll make for the photos. Believe me, you will. 🙂
Last but not least: have a stroll through the Central Park. Remember that it is big, so big that you can spend there a day if you wish so, so don’t rush. 🙂
3. SEE THE STATUE OF LIBERTY FOR FREE
This is an old trick, but only if you know about it. There is a free ferry that runs from Manhattan to Staten Island every half an hour. Yes, you’ve read it right, it’s completely free, meant for those who work on the island and live on the main land, but lately it’s been tourists that have been using it mostly. It’s a 20 min drive each way, but it passes right next to the Statue of Liberty and there is no better way to see this iconic monument (why is in New York everything so iconic?! :))
4. GO TO A GOSPEL SERVICE IN HARLEM
Some people think that visiting Harlem is dangerous, but let’s make this clear form the beginning: it’s not. It’s just very different from what we white people are used to seeing, but for us, it was an AWESOME experience. We went to a gospel service in Bethel Gospel Assembly that was completely free, but to tell you the truth it wasn’t exactly what we expected it to be. It was still a nice service, but if you go for a free one you probably won’t get the typical choir of 30 kick-ass black singers dancing and singing gospel music that will give you goosebumps all over your body. Here is a list of gospel services in NYC, just choose one of them and maybe you’ll get lucky to pick up a proper one. 🙂
New York is definitely one of our favourite cities with so many things to do and so many places to visit. It just doesn’t get boring because everything feels alive and the whole city has a very special vibe. If you still haven’t been there, I hope you’ll get inspired to visit it someday soon. As you can see, you don’t need millions to enjoy this awesome city. 🙂