How to do New York in three days

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New York City is one of the most iconic locations in the world so it can be difficult to figure out the best way to see everything on offer in just three days.

All the attractions and excursions we’ve featured here are covered by the official New York Pass, which offers savings of up to 50% on top activities around the Big Apple.

If you’re pressed for time, here are our recommendations to visit: 

DAY 1

Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus Sightseeing Tour

Showcasing notable NYC attractions including the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge and Wall Street, a guided tour is a great way to take in stunning views. Knowledgeable guides will deliver facts on each landmark, along with important information about the city.  

Passengers can alight at most of the landmarks along the way and pick up the tour again on a later hop-on hop-off bus, as a ticket lasts for a full day.

Times Square

45 minutes

Time Square is a must-see tourist destination. Surrounded by large LED screens, bright billboards and colourful shop fronts, the intersection perfectly captures the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a great place to pick up souvenirs, with a range of designer brands, high street shops and boutiques lining the square.

Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum 

1.5 hours

Home to a variety of permanent and limited exhibits, the Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum has curated an incredible collection of artefacts and authentic photographs. Highlights include the missile submarine Growler and the Space Shuttle Pavilion exhibit, featuring the prototype NASA orbiter Enterprise.

 The Met (Indoor Option)

2 hours

If you need to escape the bad weather, you can spend the afternoon soaking in some culture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The MET is one of the world’s largest art museums and is home to a wide variety of masterpieces. To experience the expanded collection of modern art holdings, photography and performance art, visit the museum’s newest addition – the Met Breuer.

Stop #5: American Museum of Natural History

2-3 hours

A firm favourite among adults and children alike, the American Museum of Natural History is a treasure trove of historic artifacts, natural wonders and interactive exhibits. Travel back in time with the comprehensive collection of prehistoric fossils, take in the dazzling Hall of Gems and learn about complex aquatic environments in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.

DAY 2

Food on Foot Tour

3-5 hours (depending on specific tour)

You’re sure to work up an appetite while exploring NYC, and a Food on Foot Tour is the perfect way to continue sightseeing while indulging in the city’s incredible culinary culture. Sample authentic local cuisine as you make your way across the city, from celebrity chef restaurants to ethnic eateries and rustic picnics, these guided tours are how to get a real taste of New York. These tours can run for as long as five hours, depending on the one you choose, so you may have to forfeit one of the other activities you have scheduled for the day.

Empire State Building

2 hours

Start your afternoon with a trip to the most famous skyscraper in the world – the Empire State Building. For the best views of the Big Apple and once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities, head to the 86th floor of this historically significant structure and take in the unobstructed city skyline.

High Line Park

45 minutes

Constructed on a historic elevated rail line above the streets of Manhattan, the breathtaking High Line park is a hidden gem in the city. Visitors can wander down the entire 1.45 mile line spanning from the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, or jump off at one of the designated descent points that are distributed along the track.

Top of the Rock Observatory

1-2 hours

Bring your afternoon to a close with amazing aerial views of NYC from the Top of the Rock Observatory. With three floors of indoor and outdoor observation decks allowing you to reach new heights, highlights include the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the Freedom Tower and Central Park.

Little Italy and Chinatown 

2 hours

Spend your afternoon exploring the bustling neighbourhoods of Little Italy and Chinatown, situated just a few blocks apart along Mulberry Street. Treat yourself to some tasty souvenirs from the 120-year-old cheese shop in Little Italy, before bringing the night to a close with al fresco dining at Lombardi, the country’s first pizzeria.

DAY 3

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

1-2 hours

A trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without a visit to two of NYC’s most famous attractions – the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Visitors can tour the grounds of Liberty Island before accessing exclusive areas of the colossal copper structure, including the Pedestal and Crown.

Located on a separate island just a stone’s throw away, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum documents the moving American heritage of the immigrants who travelled to New York in the early twentieth century. Highlights include the World Migration Globe and the American Immigrant Wall of Honor.

9/11 Memorial & Museum

1.5 hours

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum serves as a poignant reminder of lives lost during the tragic events of 11 September 2001, featuring authentic artefacts, first-person accounts and spaces for reflection.

 Battery Park

30 minutes

Travel to the Southernmost point of Manhattan to take in the idyllic waterfront views and and attractions in Battery Park. Highlights include the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Skyscraper Museum.

Brooklyn Bridge Walking Tour 

2 hours

Another landmark that can’t be missed is the Brooklyn Bridge. Walk the impressive suspended structure that links Manhattan and Brooklyn. To get a real feel for the city, spend your evening browsing through the independent boutiques, art galleries and high-end restaurants in Brooklyn.

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