New York City: First-time Visitor’s Guide.

 SUMMARY   Welcome to the world of the “Big Apple” – New York City! This guide is the perfect companion for those preparing for their first trip to New York and wanting to make the most of this incredible city. From instantly recognizable landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline to the hidden treasures and cultural nuances that make New York unique, this guide will help you uncover all the gems tucked within this city. Get ready for an unforgettable journey into a world of art, culinary delights, and cultural discoveries – New York is waiting for you!

In addition to the enticing content mentioned in the introduction, this guide provides a wealth of practical information and helpful web resources for your trip to New York. With these invaluable resources at your fingertips, your trip to New York will be not only an exciting adventure but also a smoothly organized and enriching experience.

New York for Beginners.

“New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous. But there is one thing about it: once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.” – John Steinbeck, “The Winter of Our Discontent”

New York City (NYC) unquestionably lives up to its reputation as the “City that Never Sleeps.” The city’s vibrant energy is tangible around the clock, with activities and events happening at all hours. Whether you’re interested in visiting world-renowned museums, dining at acclaimed restaurants, or dancing the night away, New York offers it all.

Read more: Our article about New York City.

The nightlife in New York City is legendary, with an abundance of bars, nightclubs, and live music venues catering to a diverse range of preferences. Whether you prefer elegant rooftop bars or historic jazz clubs, there’s an option for everyone.

These are just a few of the factors contributing to New York City’s immense popularity among tourists. Its distinctive combination of culture, history, and modernity, coupled with endless opportunities for exploration and entertainment, positions it as a city that caters to the interests of a wide array of visitors.

Also сheck оut мore info: New York City Tourism websiteNational Weather Service (

Attractions & Events.

New York City is renowned for its remarkable cultural diversity, as it has become a home to people from various corners of the world, resulting in a lively and distinctive cultural tapestry. Tourists have the opportunity to explore different neighborhoods like Chinatown (map), Little Italy (map), *Harlem (map), and many more, each with its unique character.

Statue of Liberty (map): Visit Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of freedom and democracy. You can also explore Ellis Island, which was once the nation’s busiest immigrant inspection station.

Times Square (map): Known as “The Crossroads of the World,” Times Square is famous for its bright lights, Broadway theaters, and an electric atmosphere.

Central Park (map): This vast urban park offers opportunities for leisurely strolls, picnics, paddle boating, and even horse-drawn carriage rides. It’s home to numerous attractions, including the Central Park Zoo and the Central Park Conservatory Garden.

Empire State Building (map): An iconic skyscraper with observation decks that offer breathtaking views of the city skyline.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (map): One of the world’s largest and most prestigious art museums, featuring an extensive collection of art and artifacts spanning centuries and cultures.

Museum of Modern Art / MoMA (map): Home to an incredible collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by Picasso, Van Gogh, and Warhol.

Broadway Theatre: Catch a Broadway performance in Theater District (map), showcasing world-class theater productions and musicals. + Broadway theatre / wikipedia.

One World Trade Center (map): Visit the Freedom Tower’s observatory for panoramic views of the city, and pay your respects at the 9/11 Memorial (map) and Museum.

Brooklyn Bridge (map): Walk or bike across this iconic suspension bridge, offering stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and the East River.

Apollo Theater (map): This Harlem institution has been the site of more than a few historic moments: Ella Fitzgerald’s first performance happened here in 1934; Live at the Apollo, recorded in 1962, practically launched James Brown into the mainstream; and a young Jimi Hendrix won an Amateur Night contest in 1964.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral (map): This legendary house of worship counts Presidents, movie stars and business moguls among past and present attendees.

The Grand Central Terminal (map) is not just a transit point but also a notable destination in its own right, featuring a variety of restaurants, shops, and the famous celestial-themed ceiling in the Main Concourse.

New York Botanical Garden (map) is a world-famous botanical garden located in the Bronx, New York City. It covers an extensive area of 250 acres and is renowned for its rich collection of plants, including numerous rare and exotic species.

The High Line (map): A unique elevated park built on a historic freight rail line, offering greenery and art installations.

New Year’s Eve in Times Square: December 31. The world-famous ball drop event to ring in the new year, featuring live musical performances and a spectacular fireworks show.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Fourth Thursday in November. An annual tradition with giant balloons, marching bands, and celebrity performances.

The Tribeca Film Festival: Celebrates independent films and storytelling in Lower Manhattan.

NYC Pride March: June. The city’s LGBTQ+ pride event with a colorful parade, concerts, and other festivities.

The New York International Auto Show: Showcases the latest in automotive innovation and design.

New York Fashion Week: The fashion industry’s premier event, featuring runway shows and designer presentations.

NYC Marathon: First Sunday in November. A world-renowned race attracting runners from around the globe.

New York Comic Con: October. A massive pop culture convention featuring comic books, movies, TV shows, video games, and cosplay.

San Gennaro Feast: September. A lively Italian-American street festival in Little Italy, with food, music, and cultural celebrations.

The Met Gala: First Monday in May. An exclusive annual fundraising gala for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, attracting celebrities and fashion icons.

New York’s Village Halloween Parade. Each Halloween (October 31) at 7PM.

Metropolitan Museum of Art / The Met (map): The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. + Our article about The Met.

Museum of Modern Art / MoMA (Manhattan, map) / MoMA PS1 in Queens, map): At The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1, we celebrate creativity, openness, tolerance, and generosity. We aim to be inclusive places both onsite and online where diverse cultural, artistic, social, and political positions are welcome.

Museum of the City of New York (map): The Museum of the City of New York fosters understanding of the distinctive nature of urban life in the world’s most influential metropolis. It engages visitors by celebrating, documenting, and interpreting the city’s past, present, and future.

American Museum of Natural History (map): Since its founding in 1869, the Museum has advanced its global mission to discover, interpret, and disseminate information about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe through a wide-ranging program of scientific research, education, and exhibition.

Brooklyn Museum (map): Our Mission – To bring people together through art and experiences that inspire celebration, compassion, courage, and the will to act. Our Vision – To be the place where art is a powerful force for personal transformation and social change.

New York’s Theater District (map) is home to Broadway, the collection of Midtown Manhattan (map) theaters that comprise one of the world’s top live performance hubs. This area between West 40th and West 54th Streets, and between Sixth and Eighth Avenues, is where most of the city’s Broadway theaters are located. + Events & Festivals (

Also сheck оut мore info: Attractions • Museums & Galleries • Our article about New York City

Visa & Customs.

Visa requirements and necessary documents for visitors to New York City (NYC) can vary depending on your nationality, the purpose of your visit, and the duration of your stay. It’s essential to check the specific requirements with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.

If you plan to visit NYC for tourism, sightseeing, or visiting friends or family, you will typically need a B-2 tourist visa.

Visa Waiver Program (VWP): Citizens of countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program may be eligible to visit the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. Travelers under the VWP must obtain an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) before traveling.

It’s important to start the visa application process well in advance of your planned travel dates, as visa processing times can vary. Be sure to check the specific requirements for your situation and consult the official website of the U.S. Department of State for the most up-to-date information and guidance.

Also сheck оut мore info: U.S. visa & entry requirements (

New York City Public Transportation.

New York City is served by several airports, with the three major ones being John F. Kennedy International Airport (Public Transportation), LaGuardia Airport (Public Transportation), and Newark Liberty International Airport (Public Transportation).

New York City has an extensive and well-developed public transportation system that makes it easy for residents and visitors to get around the city.

An OMNY card or a MetroCard (though that is being discontinued) gets you access to trains and buses that travel to nearly every corner of the City. + Everything you need to know about fares and tolls in New York.

Commuter Trains: NYC is connected to the surrounding suburbs and regions by commuter trains, such as the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), Metro-North Railroad, and New Jersey Transit. These trains provide access to areas outside of the city and are essential for commuters.

Ferries: New York City is surrounded by water, and ferries provide transportation to various destinations, including Staten Island, Governors Island, and parts of Brooklyn. The Staten Island Ferry, in particular, offers stunning views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. + New York NYC Ferry Routes & Schedules

Bike Sharing: NYC has a bike-sharing program called Citi Bike, which allows you to rent bikes for short trips. There are bike lanes and dedicated paths throughout the city, making cycling a popular and eco-friendly transportation option.

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the public transportation map, as well as the fare and schedule information, to navigate the city effectively. The NYC subway system, in particular, is a fast and cost-effective way to travel within the city and explore its diverse neighborhoods and attractions.

Our article about: Public transportation in the United States.

Food & Shopping.

You can invest a fortune on travel to savor cuisine from various corners of the globe. Alternatively, you could simply dedicate a day to exploring the culinary wonders of New York City. New York City’s food scene is incredibly diverse, reflecting the city’s multicultural population and culinary influences from around the world. (+ Cuisine of New York City / Wikipedia)

  • Yelp: Yelp is a crowd-sourced review platform that provides information on local businesses, including restaurants, bars, and shops.
  • Time Out New York: This website and app provide information on events, restaurants, and other attractions in New York City.
  • The Infatuation: This website and app offer curated recommendations for restaurants and bars in New York City.
  • OpenTable: This app allows visitors to make reservations at New York City restaurants.
Updated 2023

The Bodega Truck (Instagram): Catch The Bodega Truck “in a borough near you” by following its Instagram.

Makina Cafe (Facebook): Tasty, healthy, nutritious and something quite unique, Makina Cafe serves up breakfast and lunch to New Yorkers that are tired of the same old take-out options.

Jollibee: Jollibee serves delicious Filipino food, including fried chicken, spaghetti, and their original best seller, the Yumburger.

Red Hook Lobster Pound (map): The Red Hook Lobster Pound’s menus vary at different locations but will always include its artisanal lobster rolls served on buttery New England top split buns.

Diso’s Italian Sandwich Society (Instagram, Facebook): Diso’s Italian Sandwich Society’s combination of pairings of meat and garnishes along with gourmet touches like ricotta spread, fresh basil, and shaved parmesan reggiano are the chef’s kiss. Truck locations are posted on Diso’s Italian’s website.

Birria-Landia: Birria-Landia is one of the first to bring the birria taco trend to NYC and was praised by the New York Times as having “changed the taco landscape.”

2 Girls & a Cookshop: 2 Girls & a Cookshop has something for everyone on its menu and always has new offerings. A recent pop-up menu included the Jerk Chicken Dinner Taco with another vegan version, along with an absolutely brilliant Chop Cheese Taco and an Escovitch Fish Taco.

The Chipper Truck: The Chipper Food Truck’s biggest seller is its Taco Chips, a popular fast food dish in Ireland that consists of fries topped with ground beef, cheddar cheese, and a mayo and ketchup-based sauce — a popular Irish condiment known as “Pink Sauce.”

Mysttik Masaala: Its food carts and kiosks offer “magical Indian Food” with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options that are changed daily. You can typically find traditional rice chicken bowl dishes like tikka masala, saag, and vindaloo. You can also get your chicken in a kebab form over rice or in a wrap.

The Kati Roll Company: Kati Rolls come hot and ready-to-eat on the go, full of meats and vegetarian options, fresh cheese and savory Indian spices.

Royal Grill Halal Food: Real New Yorkers know the best (only?) reason to go to Times Square is for Royal Grill: in a city chock full of seemingly similar halal carts, Royal Grill is the cream of the crop.

Eataly at Flatiron (map) or One World Trade Center. A really great food market in NYC is EATALY, which is made up of EAT (Essen) and Italy (Italy). As you can see, it’s all about Italian food.

Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards (map). This NYC food hall is a concept space created by Chef José Andrés, focusing on Spanish cuisine (as the name suggests). At Mercado Little Spain you can either buy Spanish food, eat at one of the many food vendors or dine in the three restaurants.

Chelsea Market (map) in the Meatpacking District. Hardly any other city in the world has as much food to offer as New York City. It’s known as the melting pot of a wide range of cuisines around the globe. Chelsea Market offers its guests many options when it comes to food and is considered one of the best food markets in NYC.

Smorgasburg Food Market (map) in Williamsburg. Williamsburg‘s Smorgasburg Food Market is one of New York City’s popular open-air food markets, which open up during the warmer months. Here you can eat, drink and enjoy views of the Manhattan skyline on the East River Waterfront.

DeKalb Market Hall (map) in Brooklyn. Not far from the Brooklyn Bridge in the basement of City Point, Brooklyn, the multi-cultural borough comes with a bunch of food options. One of New York’s largest food hall has so far brought together 40 different local vendors, making the area near Jay Street Metro Tech subway station a culinary highlight.

Gotham West Market (map) in Hell’s Kitchen. There are many different influences in the food industry. 

Urbanspace Vanderbilt Food Market (map) in Midtown is just a walk away from Grand Central Station.

Time Out Market in Dumbo (map). Unlike many other food markets in New York City, Dumbo’s Time Out Market stands out with its unique features. It boasts two floors, including a rooftop area. One distinctive aspect is that all the food and beverages are served in elegant glassware and chinaware. Additionally, the market provides brand ambassadors who not only assist guests but also ensure that tables are promptly cleared, creating a more seamless and enjoyable dining experience.

Food Gallery 32 (map) in Korea Town. As the only multicultural food court with three floors of restaurants, Food Gallery 32 just has so much to offer! Why visit just one restaurant when you could come here and grab bubble tea, Korean noodles, Kimbap, fried dumplings, and pastries from several different restaurants.

New York City is a shopping paradise with a wide range of options, from famous shopping streets to vibrant markets and upscale shopping centers.

Fifth Avenue (map): Known for luxury shopping, this iconic street is home to high-end retailers like Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodman.

Madison Avenue (map): Another upscale shopping district with luxury boutiques and designer stores.

Soho (map): A trendy neighborhood with a mix of boutique shops, art galleries, and designer boutiques.

Greenwich Village (map): Offers a blend of boutique shops, vintage stores, and specialty shops.

Chinatown (map): Great for affordable clothing and souvenir shopping, as well as unique finds in the bustling streets and markets.

Brooklyn, Williamsburg (map): Known for hipster boutiques, vintage shops, and locally crafted items.

DUMBO (map): Offers a mix of local artisans and boutiques with a stunning view of the Manhattan Bridge.

Chelsea Market (map): A popular indoor market in the Meatpacking District with a variety of food vendors, specialty shops, and unique artisanal products.

Smorgasburg (map): An outdoor food market held in various locations, including Williamsburg and Prospect Park, featuring a wide array of food vendors and artisanal products.

Union Square Greenmarket (map): A year-round farmers’ market in Union Square offering fresh produce, artisanal goods, and locally made products.

Brooklyn Flea Market (map): A renowned flea market in Williamsburg and DUMBO featuring vintage and handmade items.


Accommodation constitutes the priciest aspect of a trip to NYC. While it can be challenging to find budget-friendly options, early planning increases your likelihood of securing a great deal.

If you’re visiting the city for the first time, choosing a hotel in Midtown Manhattan (map) can be an excellent decision. This area has seen significant enhancements in its hotel options and boasts a central location, making it convenient for accessing popular attractions such as Broadway theaters, Times Square, Bryant Park (map), the New York Public Library (map), and Rockefeller Center (map). Additionally, Midtown Manhattan provides easy access to multiple Metro subway lines, making it a practical choice for tourists.

On the other hand, if you’re a budget-conscious traveler, Brooklyn (Williamsburg / map, DUMBO / map), and Long Island City (map) is an ideal destination for you. Brooklyn is perfect for anyone who wants a more authentic NYC experience.

Times Square sounds like the perfect place to stay when visiting New York for the first time. Its in the middle of everything, a ton of yellow taxis around and looks so cool in movies. But the truth is it’s the least authentic place in the city and you’ll quickly get annoyed with the gazillion other tourists, vendors who wont take no for an answer and a lack of anything other than chain restaurants & stores.


Safety & Helpful Tips.

The crime rate is relatively low in New York City. When crimes occur they usually don’t take place in tourist-heavy areas around Manhattan. For example, most sightseers are unlikely to visit Harlem, the Bronx, or other boroughs where crimes are most likely to occur. When you’re dressing for sightseeing, try not to make yourself look overtly like a tourist.

One of the most important things you need to avoid is pickpockets. Always make sure that your valuables are hidden.

Ignore the panhandlers on the streets and subways, people who offer to hail you a cab (they often appear at Penn Station, the Port Authority, and Grand Central), and limousine and gypsy cab drivers who (illegally) offer you a ride.

Keep jewelry out of sight on the street; better yet, leave valuables at home. Men should carry their wallets in their front pants pocket rather than in their back pockets. When in bars or restaurants, never hang your purse or bag on the back of a chair or put it underneath the table.

The subway runs round-the-clock and is generally well trafficked until midnight (and until at least 2 AM on Friday and Saturday nights), and overall it is very safe. If you do take the subway at night, ride in the center car, with the conductor, and wait on the center of the platform or right in front of the station agent.

Useful Phone Numbers

  • Emergencies (police, fire or ambulance): 911
  • NYC government agencies and any questions or requests about City services (non-emergency): 311 or 212-NEW-YORK (639-9675)
  • Directory assistance: 411
  • Printed NYC literature: 800-NYC-VISIT (692-84748) or 212-397-8222 (the latter is for international callers only), Mon.–Fri., 7:30am–5:30pm CT.
Changing the way New York City sees New York City

The Museum of the City of New York celebrates and interprets the city, educating the public about its distinctive character, especially its heritage of diversity, opportunity, and perpetual transformation. Founded in 1923 as a private, nonprofit corporation, the Museum connects the past, present, and future of New York City. It serves the people of New York and visitors from around the world through exhibitions, school and public programs, publications, and collections.

video source: Museum of the City of New York /

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