It only took 3 days from I booked the flight to I flew towards The Big Apple.
I had spotted that the flights were cheap – so cheap I had to buy a ticket. $248 for a direct return ticket with KLM, probably wont get any cheaper.
Well, I didn’t fly with KLM, but with Delta, who cooperate with KLM. Fine with me – I’ve never flown with Delta before, so a good change to get that tested.
If you haven’t been to the city before, it’s an almost impossible task. Prices are soaring, reviews are generally poor and you don’t know the location.
5 days in New York stuffed with experiences
Arrival in NYC
At CPH airport I only had to drop off my (purchased) luggage and be at the gate 45 minuts before departure.
By the luggage drop-off, all passengers with boarding passes to the United States, are asked a lot of questions about their journey, questions you might be wondering should reinforce security – I passed the test and answered yes and no at the right times.
The flight to NYC was an ordeal – okay food, but full power on the aircon and all the way – I could only cross fingers that I wouldn’t be hit by a the cold before my return journey. It succeeded – but in the future I will on aircraft of this type, be wearing a full suit and top hat – it was freezing all the way.
I arrived in NYC an hour before expected. The hour was, however, obtained in the security check, where the queue quickly became longer and longer, while the expedition of passengers became slower and slower.
Transfer to NYC
A few hours later, I was finally in the Arrivals Hall and had to find my booked transfer from JFK to my hotel.
I approached the blue “Welcome Information” counter, which was only a few meters to the right from where you enter the Arrivals Hall.
Here I showed my pre-purchased shuttle voucher, informed the address of my hotel and got a number handed out.
Within 30 minutes I would be picked up – already 15 minutes later, I was in a van along with 7 other passengers on the way to NYC.
From home I was very pleased with the arrival time of 4.12pm in NYC. In addition, we obtained another hour on the plane. I hadn’t calculated with a few hours in security and rush hour in NYC.
The trip into my hotel took close to 2 hours – a trip that without traffic would only have taken max. 30 min. I arrived at my hotel approx. 8pm
Staypineapple Hotel – Top location in Midtown
You are always a little excited about whether the hotel you have booked also lives up to expectations. You set some criteria, mine was price, location and good reviews.
Staypineapple was one of the hotels that was a joyful surprise – and more than I expected. Most hotels in NYC have the reputation that the rooms are very small, very worn, very obeyed and VERY expensive.
My room at Staypineapple was absolutely perfect! Good size, brand new (the hotel opened in February 2019), no noise from either the street or other rooms and the price was much lower than average.
Staypineapple was a win win hotel.
You can read my review of the hotel HERE and get many more details.
Sightseeing in NYC
Early the next morning, I had to find out where to book tickets for, above all, a hop on / hop off bus.
The market for sightseeing tours and entrance tickets for the various sights is BIG and the prices (which are never low) vary.
Fortunately, one of my friends had just been in town and he could only recommend buying a NYC Sightseeing Pass.
The sightseeing pass involves buying 2-10 “tours / attractions” you would like to visit.
You can choose everything from hop on / off buses, transfer to / from the airport, a trip to the Outlet “city” Woodbury or accesses to attractions such as 9/11 museum, Top of The Rock etc.
If you compare the price of the sightseeing pass and the costs of a single ticket, there’s a lot to save, so it may well be worth buying this pass.
The hardest part of the pass is to decide how many “tickets” to buy. I decided 4, as I knew 4 attractions I was sure to experience.
You don’t have to choose your attractions in advance, only when you get your QR code scanned on an “attraction”, you redeemed your ticket.
My first ticket went to a hop on / hop off bus. I could choose between 2 routes – uptown or downtown. I chose downtown, as it’s the route with NYC’s most major mark.
When the ticket for a bus is redeemed, you can freely use the bus for 72 hours. The bus ticket also includes a “free” boat trip around Manhattan.
The bus was used extensively.
The idea was, first time, to take the bus all the way around – a trip of approx. 2.5 hours – to get an overview of the city and then on the next trip, jump off at places I wanted to visit. However, this plan was redone.
I was out early, so when we got to the Brooklyn Bridge and 9/11 area, I made a quick decision to jump off and take the advantage that not all tourists were as early as me.
The walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is a must.
The bridge is 1,825 m long and is divided into a pedestrian area with a line between pedestrians and cyclists. It is a breathtaking experience to cross the iconic bridge. The views are fantastic both to Brooklyn and to Manhattan.
There are lots of people who take the ride across the bridge either by bike, running, on roller skates, etc. and on the pedestrian side you will find the usual selfie enthusiasts, who, as if anyone can stop the traffic. Despite people, it’s a really nice trip.
Once you have crossed the bridge, there are green areas on each side of the bridge. Stroll down and take a small break in the green, and get a great view of the bridge.
9/11 Memorial – Ground Zero
You have no doubt when you get to the area of 9/11.
Apart from the fact that the crowd is increasing, the buildings also become more fancy.
One World Observatory & World Trade Center is one of the first things to see when you come from Broadway (the road where the bus runs).
A very special building, which for some is more advanced than it’s pretty – but very exciting.
One World Observatory is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. If you want (and can afford it) you can either buy an entrance ticket to get to the top and see the amazing view, including Ground Zero, or you can use your sightseeing pass.
However, I skipped the top and continued on to Ground Zero – 9/11 memorial.
It’s a very special experience to stand here where this incomprehensible tragedy took place in 2001. The running water and the large square “holes” symbolize fantastic, the collapse of the two towers and the thickening of the earth.
Reading the beautifully engraved names of the more than 2,983 victims of the attack, hurts all the way into the soul. The bones of several unidentified bodies lie buried at the bottom of the northernmost memorial.
I had been recommended also to visit the 9/11 memorial museum, but unfortunately there was a several hour long queue that I couldn’t stand up to – but the museum is definitely on my bucket list for my next visit to NYC.
SOHO – NYC’s trendy area
After 9/11 I continued back along Broadway towards SOHO. The neighborhood, I had heard, should be cozy with small cafes and specialty shops.
The area did live up to these descriptions with old houses, vintage and second hand stores and some slightly more avant-garde shops.
SOHO is a popular area, but also expensive. I had lunch just at a plain cozy cafe – got a Croque Monsieur sandwich and a Heineken beer – $48 I had to pay for that bit.
But fortunately it doesn’t cost anything to walk around in the cozy neighborhood.
Time Square – the heart of NYC
After SOHO I went on to neon circus Time Square.
Times Square is NYC’s heart and is stuffed with people in all forms in the relatively small area. Neon signs, video advertisements and traffic are wild in this area and all sorts of street performers are fighting for your attention.
You can’t avoid Times Square and it’s also quite entertaining to sit on the large staircase which is made solely for the purpose of sitting and looking out over the motley crowd.
Boat trip around Manhattan
Again I got on the bus and aimed the southernmost stop on the route, Battery Park.
Here I went along the Hudson River up to Liberty Park – which is on the other side of 9/11 – from where I took the 90 minut long boat trip around Manhattan and past the Statue of Liberty (The boat trip was included in my hop of / hop on pass).
An absolutely wonderful trip with a very dedicated “guide” who told the story of the different areas, buildings and which movies had been recorded / on / at the various skyscrapers.
A little down the river The Statue Of Liberty appeared. On her own island, Liberty Island, she stood splendid, radiant and green – quite as you have always known her … now just in reality.
A really nice trip that I would recommend you take on.
Woodbury Outlet – the city with all the major brands
Woodbury is most women’s dream (and others’ nightmare). A small town filled with shops from all the well-known brands such as Boss, Hilfiger, Levis, Mulberry, Calvin Klein etc.
The buses to Woodbury take approx. 1.5 hours and they run most of the day – back and forth. However, it’s recommended to leave early.
Most people bring a trolley – there’s a lot to buy and the prices are low compared to Europe. Consider only to bring carry-on luggage when going to NYC and then buy check-in luggage for the way home.
When you arrive at Woodbury you start entering the information center. Here you get your ticket converted to a voucher brochure where you save everything between 10% -40% in different stores.
In addition, you get an additional voucher with % ‘ for some individual shops (eg Hilfiger), which you show at the checkout when you shop.
In most stores the prices are already low and the more you buy, the cheaper it gets.
There are benches and tables in the whole area, and both food and drink can be bought in the market hall.
I was fortunate that my visit fell on a rainy day, so at 4pm I didn’t feel like walking around in the rain anymore and took the bus back to town. You can, however, shop until 9.30pm where the last bus goes back to NYC.
Common to both is that you have to have a paper ticket in your hand to get on the bus.
The tickets are purchased / obtained ONLY here: “Gray Line City Sightseeing Visitor Center – Port Authority”, located on 42nd Street and close to 8th Ave. It’s also from here that the bus departs.
Frames Bowling Lounge – “When in Rome, do like the Romans”
Is there anything more American than bowling? We’d booked lanes at Frames – which is Danish owned and therefore also a little fun to choose this center.
A very nice and active evening, where we won one round each (we were 3) and also got the most delicious snacks and drinks.
The center’s décor is with cozy lounges, divided into Bowling, Billiards, Karaoke etc. as well as bars and also a nightclub (I think). Currently, a 300 km2 cocktail bar is being built on the ground floor.
The center is known for often having visits, by well-known people, so keep an eye on the other guests.
Read my detailed review of Frames Bowling Lounge HERE
Rockefeller Center – The top of The Rock
At the Top of The Rock, located on the 67th, 68th and 69th floor, you get a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of NYC. Don’t worry – there are armor glasses all around.
You must book time in advance to get there, and you will be followed up all the way. On the way you see pictures and are told the story of Rockefeller.
It takes exactly 42 seconds with the elevator and along the way a slightly surrealistic short film about the USA through the time runs.
When you get off on the 67th floor you can continue up stairs to 68th and 69th floors.
Grand Central Terminal – NYC’s perhaps most beautiful building
Grand Central Terminal is NYC’s beautiful train station. With 750,000 visitors a day, Grand Central Terminal is the most visited place in New York City, next after Times Square.
The terminal was built in 1903-1913 and today it looks completely like it did then. An incredibly beautiful building.
In the center of the station is the terminal’s (and NYC’s) best known “meeting place” – The information with the 4 clocks facing north, south, east and west. The watches are used as the local meeting place.
On the beautiful blue ceiling you can with light, see the zodiac signs – also completely unique and beautiful.
Even if you don’t plan on taking the train, you must visit the terminal … it’s incredibly beautiful.
Central Park – a wonderful oasis in the middle of the big city
Central Park is with its 3.4 square meters and it’s 25 million annual visitor, the USA’s most visited park. Located in the middle of NYC, the park is a wonderful oasis filled with trees, flowers, lakes, children’s play areas and picnic sites for families.
If you visit during summer, as I did, everything is beautiful green and not least entertaining, with musicians and performers around, without it being too commercial.
It’s buzzing with people who just need to get away from the busy and noisy streets.
Just outside the park you can rent bicycles and in that way maybe see more of the park, but I enjoyed a lot just walking around, sitting on a bench by a lake or listening to talented musicians.
Others had brought a blanket and a bottle of Rosé and just wanted to relax and enjoy life.
Central Park is a must visit.
Are 5 days in New York – too little or enough?
As a first-time visitor, 5 days in New York fit perfectly. There is time to get to know the city, see the greatest marks and get a good overview.
If you walk around the city, there are many steps you take every day. After 5 days my legs began to need a break (I walked about 23,000 steps each day) – and not least my credit card needed a break – the city was surprisingly expensive.
Places I didn’t get to see and which now are on my bucket list for my next visit to NYC was the entire uptown with Harlem, Bronx and Queens. Next time I will also visit churches with gospel, I will try the Roosevelt Tramway and I will eat at Ellen’s Stardust Diner – it’s always nice to have something to look forward to.
It’s very easy to find around NYC as all streets are listed with “street” numbers one way and “Avenue” numbers the other way. Between the roads there is 60 meters – so you never walk more than 60 meters wrong.
The Americans are really nice to help and they like to chat, so if you need help finding your way or just having a question, don’t hesitate to contact the locals.
Travel tips for NYC:
- It is not necessary to pre-book the shuttle bus from the airport – you can easily book the tour on arrival. However, it gave me some confidence from home to know that the part was done.
Next after the train, a shared shuttle bus is the cheapest transfer.
- You can take the boat “The Staten Island Ferry” for free to the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island. At sunset, it’s a very nice trip.
- I didn’t use the Subway, but according to some friends I met in NYC, it is very easy and cheap to use – buy 5 days metrocard instead of single trips.
PS The 4th ticket on my sightseeing pass was used for a shuttle bus to the airport.