5 days in New York stuffed with experiences
Detailed and inspiring travel description with great tips
It only took 3 days from I booked the flight ticket until I flew towards The Big Apple. It was my first trip to the big city and here you can read in detail about my many experiences and maybe get tips for planning your own trip.
When you see (affiliate links) in the article, it means that if you book your trips, hotels etc. via my recommended links, I earn a small bit in commission – thank you for your support.
Before the trip
I had spotted that the tickets were cheap (affiliate link) – so cheap that I had to buy. €217 for a direct return ticket with KLM (affiliate link) probably won’t be cheaper. So if I was going to NYC – it was now!
Well, I didn’t fly with KLM, but with Delta with which KLM co-flies. I haden’t flown Delta before, so it was fine to try.
I quickly got an ESTA approval which went through in under 15 min. Then the big research on hotels (affiliate link) started. If you haven’t been to NYC before, it’s an almost impossible task. The prices are soaring, the reviews are generally pretty poor and you don’t know which location to choose.
5 days in New York
Arrival in NYC
At Copenhagen Airport, I only had to “drop” my (purchased) luggage, and otherwise show up 45 minutes before departure at the gate.
At baggage drop-off, all passengers with boarding passes to the United States are asked questions about their journey. Questions you may wonder should reinforce security – I passed the test and answered yes and no at the right times.
The flight to NYC was a challenge! Food was ok but all the way the a / c was at full volume. I crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t be hit by a cold before returning home. It succeeded – but next time I fly with Delta, I will be wearing winter-suit and top hat. It was SO cold!
I arrived in NYC an hour before expected. However, the hour was obtained in the security check. Here, the queue quickly grew longer and longer, while the passenger expedition became slower and slower.
Transfer to NYC
A few hours later, I finally stood in the arrivals hall and had to find my booked transfer from JFK (affiliate link) to my hotel (affiliate link). I turned to the blue “Welcome Information” counter, which was only a few meters to the right from where you enter the Arrivals Hall.
Here I displayed my shuttle voucher (affiliate link), provided the address of my hotel and got a number handed out. Within 30 minutes I would then be picked up. However, approx. 10 minutes later I was in a van with 7 other passengers on my way to the hotel.
From home, I was very pleased with the time of arrival at 4.12pm in NYC. In addition, we caught an hour on the plane. But I hadn’t calculated a few hours in security and rush hour in NYC.
The trip to my hotel took close to 2 hours. A trip like no traffic would only take a maximum of 30 minutes. I arrived at my hotel (affiliate link) approx. at 8 pm.
Staypineapple Hotel – Great location in Midtown
You are always a little excited about whether the hotel you booked also meets your expectations. You always have some criteria – mine was price, location and good reviews.
Staypineapple (affiliate link) was one of the hotels which was a delightful surprise – and which paid off more than I expected. Most NYC hotels have a reputation for being very small, very worn, very noisy and VERY expensive.
My room 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 far lower than average.
Staypineapple (affiliate link) was a win win hotel.
Sightseeing in NYC
Early the next morning, I sat down with my laptop. Now tickets had to be booked, first and foremost, for a hop on / hop off Bus (affiliate link).
The market for sightseeing tours and entrance tickets to the sights is HUGE and prices (which are never low) vary. Fortunately, a friend of mine had just left and he could only recommend buying a NYC Sightseeing Pass (affiliate link).
With the Sightseeing pass (affiliate link) you buy from 2 to 10 tickets to “tours / attractions”. You can choose everything from hop on / off buses to entrances to the various landmarks such as 9/11 museum etc.
If you compare the price of the Sightseeing pass (affiliate link) with the single ticket prices, there’s a lot to save. It certainly pays to buy this pass.
The cheapest pass
The hardest thing about the passport is deciding how many “attractions” to buy. I decided on 4 as there were definitely 4 attractions I knew I had to experience.
You do not have to choose your attractions in advance. With a QR code you simply redeem a ticket. My first ticket was redeemed for a hop on / hop off bus (affiliate link) ticket. I could choose between 2 routes – uptown or downtown. I chose downtown as it’s the route with NYC’s most major landmarks.
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 to take the whole trip around – a trip of approx. 2.5 hours – to get an overview of the city. Afterwards, I would jump off at the places I found interesting. However, that plan was changed halfway.
I got up early in the morning, so when we reached Brooklyn Bridge and 9/11, I made a quick decision to jump off the bus. Take advantage that not all tourists were up as early as me.
The walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is a must. The bridge is 1,825 m long and is divided between pedestrians and bicycles. Crossing the iconic bridge is a breathtaking experience. The view is great for both Brooklyn and Manhattan.
There are many people who cross the bridge on either bike, running, rollerblading etc. On the walking side, you will find the usual selfie enthusiasts who, like anyone, can stop the traffic. Despite people, it’s a really nice trip.
On each side of the bridge, once over, there are green areas. Pick a side and enjoy a small break in the green while getting a great view of the bridge.
9/11 Memorial – Ground Zero
You have no doubt when you arrive at the area by 9/11. In addition to increasing the crowd, the buildings are also becoming more fancy.
One World Observatory (affiliate link) & World Trade Center is one of the first things to see when coming from Broadway (the road where the bus runs).
A very special construction, which for someone is probably more special than it is beautiful – but very exciting.
One World Observatory is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. If you fancy (and afford it) you can either buy an entrance ticket (affiliate link) and head for the top and get the amazing view of Ground Zero. Or you can use your sightseeing pass (affiliate link).
However, I skipped the top and continued on to the Ground Zero – 9/11 memorial.
It’s a very special experience to stand where this incomprehensible tragedy took place in 2001. The running water and the large square “holes” symbolizing where the 2 towers collapsed.
It hurts in the soul to read the beautifully engraved names of the more than 2,983 victims of the attack, which can be seen all around the 2 major memorials.
The bones of several unidentified corpses are buried at the bottom of the northernmost memorial.
I had also been recommended to visit the 9/11 memorial museum (affiliate link). Unfortunately, there was a several hour long queue that I couldn’t bear to stand in. The museum is definitely on my bucket list the next time I’m in NYC.
SOHO – NYC’s hipster neighborhood
After 9/11, I continued back on Broadway toward SOHO. The neighborhood, I had heard, was supposed to be cozy with small cafes and specialty shops.
The area lived up to these descriptions with old houses, vintage and second hand shops and some more avant garde stores.
SOHO is a popular area, but also expensive. I had lunch at an ordinary cozy café – got a Croque Monsieur sandwich and a Heineken beer – $48. But fortunately it doesn’t cost anything to just walk around the nice neighborhood.
Time Square – the heart of NYC
After SOHO, the tour continued to the neon and circus area – Time Square.
Times Square is the heart of NYC and there are people of all kinds in the relatively small area. Neon signs, video ads and traffic are totally crazy and all sorts of entertainers are fighting for your attention.
Times Square is not to be missed! It is quite entertaining to sit somewhere and look at the large and crazy crowd.
Boat trip around Manhattan
Again, I got on the bus and aimed for the southernmost stop on the route, Battery Park. Here I walked along the Hudson River to Liberty Park – which, incidentally, is on the other side of 9/11. From here I took the 90 minute boat trip around Manhattan and past the Statue of Liberty. (The boat trip was included in my hop off /hop on pass affiliate link).
An absolutely lovely boat trip with a very dedicated “guide”. The guide told the story of the different areas, buildings and which movies had been recorded from / on / by the various skyscrapers.
A little down the river, The Statue Of Liberty appeared. On her own island, Liberty Island, she stood magnificent, brilliant and green. Completely as you’ve always known her … now just in reality.
A really nice trip that I would recommend going on.
Woodbury Outlet – a “town” only with well-known brands
The Woodbury Outlet (affiliate link) is the dream of most women (and other people’s nightmares). A small town of shops with all the big and well known brands like Boss, Hilfiger, Levis, Mulberry, Calvin Klein etc.
The buses to Woodbury Outlet (affiliate link) take approx. 1.5 hours and they run most of the day – both back and forth. However, it is recommended to leave early.
Most people bring a trolley – there is a lot to buy and prices are low compared to Europe. Consider whether you can settle for hand luggage when traveling to NYC and then buy check-in luggage for the way home.
→ Read more about Woodbury here
Frames Bowling Lounge – “When in Rome, do like the Romans”
The Americans love bowling, so we had to bowl one evening. We booked courses at Frames – which is Danish-owned and therefore slightly fun, to choose this center.
A really fun and active evening, with the most delicious snacks and drinks.
The center has cozy lounges, divided into bowling, billiards, karaoke etc. as well as bars and (I think) a nightclub.
The center is known for frequent visits by famous people, so keep an eye on the other guests.
Rockefeller Center – The top of The Rock
On the “Top of The Rock” which is located on the 67th, 68th and 69th floors, you get a magnificent 360-degree panoramic view of NYC. Don’t worry – there’s armor glass all around.
You need to book time for the trip up to the top. You are followed up all the way, and continuously you see pictures and are told the story of Rockefeller.
It takes exactly 42 seconds with the elevator and along the way there is a slightly surreal short film about the United States through time.
When you get off on the 67th floor, you can continue up stairs up to both the 68th and 69th floors.
Grand Central Terminal – NYC’s perhaps most beautiful building
The Grand Central Terminal is NYC’s beautiful train station. With 750,000 visitors each day, the Grand Central Terminal is one of the most visited places in New York City, surpassed only by Times Square.
The terminal was built in 1903-1913 and today stands completely as it did back then. An incredibly beautiful building, in a completely different time.
In the center of the station you will find the terminal’s (and NYC’s) best known “meeting place” – the Information with the 4 clocks. The clocks face north, south, east and west and are widely used as the locals meeting place. In the beautiful blue ceiling you can see the star signs with light – also quite unique and beautiful.
If you aren’t traveling by train, you still have to make time for a visit to the terminal … it’s incredibly beautiful.
Central Park – a wonderful oasis in the middle of the big city
Central Park, with its 3.4 km2 and its 25 million annual visitors, is the most visited park in the United States. Located in the middle of NYC, the park is a wonderful oasis filled with trees, flowers, lakes, children’s play areas and picnic places for families.
Are you in NYC during summer, as I was, everything is beautiful green and not least entertaining. In many places there are musicians and jugglers. It buzzes with people who 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. I really enjoyed just walking around, sitting on a bench by a lake or listening to some of the many musicians. Others had brought a blanket and a bottle of Rosé and just wanted to relax.
You can also ride a horse carriage, but it probably costs a fortune (without knowing it).
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. It’s enough time to get to know the city, see the biggest landmarks and get a good overview.
If you walk around the city, it’s many steps to take each day. After 5 days, my legs started to need a break (I walked about 23,000 steps each day). My wallet also needed a break – the city is surprisingly expensive.
NYC is easy to navigate around in. All streets are listed with “street” numbers one way and “Avenue” numbers the other way. Between the roads there are 60 meters – so you can only walk 60 meters wrong.
The Americans are really nice and will love to help you in any way. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Places I didn’t get to see and visit, and which are now on my bucket list, are all of Uptown with Harlem, the Bronx and Queens.
In addition, next time I will also visit gospel churches. I have to try Roosevelt Tramway and I have to eat at Ellen Stardust – but it’s always nice to have something to look forward to.
Travel Tips for the NYC trip:
- It’s not a necessity to pre-purchase the shuttle bus (affiliate link) – you can easily book the trip on arrival. However, it’s reassuring to know from home that the transfer is in place (for me anyway).
Next after the train, a shared shuttle bus is the cheapest transfer.
- By the boat “The Staten Island Ferry” you can go to the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island for free. It’s recommended to take the trip at sunset time.
- I didn’t get to use the Subway, but according to friends, it’s easy and cheap to use – buy 5 day tickets instead of single trips – it’s much cheaper.
This article was updated on March 11, 2020