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Manhattan Travel Guide

Looking for an in-depth Manhattan travel guide?

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Manhattan is one of New York City’s five boroughs, and many people consider it to be the heart of the city. It’s where you’ll find New York’s most iconic skyline and sights, and it’s the place where the majority of the city’s 66 million annual tourists stay and spend most of their time.

It goes without saying that Manhattan, a hub for art, theater, food, culture, shopping, and sightseeing within the city, is a must-visit destination for tourists in New York.

Keep reading to dive into resources that will help you with planning a trip to Manhattan in New York City.

Note: This Manhattan visitor’s guide contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

Manhattan Map

Use this Manhattan tourism map to begin planning your trip to this incredible destination!

Manhattan travel map

Click here for an interactive Google Map version of the above graphic.

Things To Do In Manhattan

Discover the best places to visit in New York City’s Manhattan through the following travel guides:

New York City Travel Tips

Best Tours In Manhattan

Explore local culture with a Manhattan tour guide through these unique NYC excursions:

Click here for a full list of New York City tours.

Getting Around Manhattan

Realize that Manhattan is very walkable with something to see on every corner, so distances that may seem far in suburban places aren’t in this borough. For instance, locals often walk 1-2 miles (or more) when it isn’t too cold out. Bonus: Walking also allows you to feel the beat of the city!

Love cycling? Citi Bike stations are all over NYC, and offer a budget-friendly way to get around in an eco-friendly way that also allows you to see the sights.

In terms of public transportation, the best way to get around Manhattan is via subway, which gets you anywhere you may need to go for just $2.75 — no need to wait in traffic.

Additionally, Manhattan (and the rest of NYC) is connected via other public transportation options like buses and even ferries. While buses are operated by the MTA, just like the subway, you’ll want to download the NYC Ferry app to see schedules and buy tickets for the ferry.

Prefer a private car service? Uber and Lyft are plentiful in Manhattan, though do note that yellow cabs tend to be much cheaper. You can hail a cab on the street or use an app like Arro or Curb to order one.

Driving? While driving your own car can be a pain, some travelers choose this option. You can use the SpotHero website and app to snag super discounted parking spots.

Hotels In Manhattan

Click here to browse the best Manhattan hotels!

Prefer self-contained stays?

Click here to check out unique local rentals!

You can also use the map below to search for local stays. It’s set to the West Village, but you can easily change the location to your specific destination:

Manhattan Travel Insurance

When visiting Manhattan — or anywhere else in the world — make sure to get travel insurance to protect your health and safety.

In my opinion, the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).

Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

With coverage, you’ll have peace of mind as you embark on your Manhattan travel itinerary.

Click my referral link here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks.

Manhattan Travel Guide FAQ

Below, find answers to frequently asked questions about traveling in Manhattan.

Q: Is Manhattan safe for tourists?

Manhattan is very safe for tourists. Of course, as with any destination, it’s important to be vigilant and take basic safety precautions.

For example, avoid isolated areas such as Central Park at night. When taking the subway, it’s always best to choose a subway car with more passengers in it rather than an empty one.

Finally, while pickpocketing is not that common in New York, you’ll want to make sure that you keep a close eye on your belongings to avoid pickpockets, especially in crowded areas around major tourist attractions.

Q: How many days do you need in Manhattan?

New York is a huge city, and no matter how long you stay, you’ll never run out of things to do! In order to see the highlights of the city, you really need a minimum of three days.

However, four or five days is better to see the main sights without rushing too much. And if you have a week or more to spend in New York, you’ll be able to thoroughly explore the city and get to know boroughs outside of Manhattan.

Q: What are some important Manhattan travel tips to keep in mind?

One Manhattan travel tip is to walk or take the subway as much as possible!

Manhattan is very walkable, and when the distance is too far, you can take advantage of the robust and affordable subway system. There’s no reason to spend a lot of money on taxis to get around.

You should also consider staying outside of Times Square and Midtown. Many first-time visitors want to stay in this area, but with the great subway system in New York, there are plenty of other neighborhoods in Manhattan where you can base yourself that have a more local vibe while still being able to get around easily. It’s a great way to explore non-touristy NYC!

Q: What should I do in Manhattan on my first trip to New York City?

While there’s no way to pack every must-see attraction into one trip to New York City, there are a few things you should definitely prioritize on your first trip.

At some point, you’ll want to take in views of the iconic New York City skyline. There are several ways to do this, like booking a few NYC skyline tours and cruises. Or, if you want to learn more about the city’s iconic buildings, you can book a New York City architectural tour.

Short on cash? Here is a list of top spots to take in NYC skyline views for free.

You’ll also want to take a stroll through Central Park, the urban oasis featuring 843 acres of green space in the heart of Manhattan. Stop by the iconic Bethesda Terrace, rent a row boat to explore Central Park Lake or head out on a hike through the Ravine.

Central Park also features tons of live entertainment, from buskers on the Mall to big name concerts at SummerStage to free performances of the Bard’s best work at Shakespeare in the Park.

Why is NYC so famous? One reason is the many museums, which are also must-visits for any first-time visitor to New York.

Art fans will want to visit the iconic Metropolitan Museum of Art, home to works spanning 5,000 years of history, and the Museum of Modern Art, a hub for all things contemporary.

The American Museum of Natural History is always a favorite, featuring exhibits on everything from sea creatures (hello, blue whale!) to dinosaurs to ancient civilizations.

Other museums worth checking out on a first visit are the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Tenement Museum.

By the way, all of the above is also perfect if you’re wanting things to do in New York by yourself.

Pro tip:

Want photos of your time in NYC? Our sister company, NYC Photo Journeys, offers the following private experiences:

Q: What are some non-touristy things to do in Manhattan?

Despite being one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, there are plenty of non-touristy things to do in NYC if you go off the beaten path. Even in the more touristy neighborhoods, there are hidden gems to discover.

In Manhattan, here are some of the best non-touristy NYC activities to try:

  • Have a boozy brunch at one of Manhattan’s many brunch spots
  • Go gallery-hopping in Chelsea or the Lower East Side
  • Catch a comedy or improv show at Comedy Cellar or Peoples Improv Theater (which are also some of the best rainy day activities in NYC)
  • Take the Roosevelt Island Tram over the river
  • Visit the Met Cloisters and have a picnic in peaceful Fort Tryon Park (one of the best places to go hiking in Manhattan!)
  • Rent a Citi Bike and explore Manhattan on two wheels
  • Take the NYC Ferry instead of the subway (it’s the same price!)
  • Trying to find the best souvenirs from NYC? Skip the novelty shops and instead head to markets that showcase local makers like Artists & Fleas and the Brooklyn Flea, both of which have a location in Chelsea.
  • Skip the Midtown lounges and explore NYC after midnight at lesser-known spaces like Don’t Tell Mama, a restaurant with piano bar that also hosts cabaret shows

Most tourists in Manhattan stick to the downtown and midtown neighborhoods of Manhattan, but there is a lot more to explore uptown including the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Harlem, and neighborhoods even further north.

Q: How much spending money do you need for a week in New York City?

The average traveler spends about $240 per day in New York City on accommodations, transportation, food, activities, and other travel expenses.

That being said, there are certainly ways to save money in the city — like staying in hostels, considering Couchsurfing, cooking your own meals, sticking to public transportation, and enjoying some budget-friendly NYC activities.

Q: What are some fun day trips from Manhattan?

If you are spending a week in New York or more, you may want to take some day trips from Manhattan to see more of the city and explore New York State.

These are some awesome ideas for day trips from Manhattan:

  • Take the subway out to Coney Island in Brooklyn, and spend the day enjoying the beach and the Luna Park amusement park. Don’t forget a hot dog from the original Nathan’s Famous!
  • Do the Anthony’s Nose Hike for scenic views over the Hudson Valley just a little over an hour from NYC. Or head further afield for some of the best hikes in upstate New York.
  • Check out the art scene in Queens. With museums like MoMA PS1, Queens Museum, the Noguchi Museum, and the outdoor Socrates Sculpture Park, there’s plenty to see and do.
  • Head out to Long Island for the day and tour some of the best Long Island wineries and Long Island hiking trails.
  • Take the free Staten Island Ferry and spend an afternoon exploring the many things to do on Staten Island like visiting the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden.

If you want to leave New York entirely, Philadelphia is less than two hours away by train, making it a great choice for a longer day trip.

Q: How long can a tourist stay in New York?

Most visitors from abroad who are allowed to enter the United States — the country New York State is located in — can stay for up to six months. Entry requirements and allowances vary depending on where you are from, so definitely check the US government website.

Q: Do I need a travel visa for New York?

Visa requirements vary depending on where you are from. You can visit the US government website to see if you need a visa and what type.

Q: Where is Manhattan?

Manhattan is one of the five boroughs of New York City, which is located in the southeastern part of New York, a state located in the United States. It is the most densely-populated of the five boroughs and sits west of Brooklyn and Queens, south of The Bronx, and east of the state of New Jersey.

Q: Are credit cards accepted in Manhattan?

Credit cards — particularly Visa and Mastercard — are widely accepted in Manhattan, though it is always wise to carry some cash for street stalls and in case of emergency.

Q: Can you drink the tap water in Manhattan?

Yes, the tap water is safe to drink in Manhattan.

Q: What is the local currency in New York State?

The local currency in New York is the US Dollar (USD).

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