New York City Travel Guide – A 3-day Itinerary to the Big Apple

New York July 2021-08812

Here you’ll find the perfect itinerary to visit New York City in 3 days – a great option for a weekend getaway.

Three days is the minimum I would recommend for visiting NYC, especially if it’s your first time in the city. However, if you only have from Friday to Sunday, then don’t miss the chance and go anyway. To check out everything you probably would have to spend your life here to uncover every corner, but as a tourist 5 days should also work.

If you need a personalized itinerary to New York City, visit my travel planning page to learn more about my services and how to get in touch.

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New York City Itinerary – Day 1

Start your New York City 3-day itinerary by hitting all the major touristic spots. How? First, choose a place to see NYC from the top. For this, either the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock are great options to choose from. To visit them, you should purchase the New York CityPASS, a pass that allows you to visit up to 6 attractions of New York City and receive up to a 40% discount.

View of Empire State Building - New York City Itinerary 3 days

After seeing the city from above, head on over to Times Square to realize how alive New York City really is. Then, check out the unique Grand Central Terminal to have a glimpse of the visitors and locals coming and going.

When it’s time to get your culture on, pay a visit to a Museum by choosing between The Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met), the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and the American Museum of Natural History.

To finish your first day in New York City, enjoy an afternoon walk around Central Park, where there are some perfect and instagrammable spots like Bethesda Fountain, Gapstow Bridge, and The Mall and Literary Walk.

Passengers at Grand Central Terminal  - New York City itinerary 3 days

Empire State Building or Top of the Rock: my personal favorite one is Top of the Rock, where you can gaze at both Central Park and the iconic Empire State. From the Empire State, you can see the entire city but miss seeing the impressive structure itself. Top of the Rock is also cheaper, with tickets being sold at US$ 36, while the Empire State starts at US$ 42 for the lower floor, and US$ 75 for the higher ones. Pick the one you think might suit you better, or maybe even go to both?

Tip: around the Empire State Building area, very close to the iconic Flatiron Building, you can pay a visit to the first Harry Potter store in New York City, the only one with a Butterbeer Bar. If you are a fan of the books and movies, definitely add this place to your itinerary.


  • NYC from the top: Top of the Rock or Empire State Building
  • Times Square
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • Museum time: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met), or the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), or the American Museum of Natural History.
  • Central Park
View of New York City skyline from The Edge - New York City Itinerary

New York City Itinerary – Day 2

On day two of your New York City itinerary, it’s time to visit Manhattan’s famous neighborhoods. Pick your pace, enjoy this chill walk, and see what life is about in the city.

First, go to the Hudson Yards area, where you can climb up to the Edge NYC(you can purchase tickets online, starting at US$ 38) to have another bird’s eye view of the city. From the top, you can gaze at a few hot spots of NYC, such as the Empire State, Top of the Rock, One World Trade Center, and catch a glimpse of New Jersey. While here, you can do some shopping in the mall and, depending on the time, you might be able to check out Mercado Little Spain, a Spanish food hall. On your way out, take a quick look at The Vessel or go up if you want to see it from the inside (entrance is US$ 10).

View of Manhattan from The Edge in Hudson Yards - New York City Itinerary

Then, take a stroll through the High Line, and go back down to the street level at Chelsea Market where can grab a quick bite to eat or continue onward to the West Village, a perfect and hip place for restaurants in New York City.

After eating either at Chelsea or the West Village, it’s time to see another famous and instagrammable park in New York City – Washington Square Park. Here you can get your photoshoot on and also see live music and performances.

Later, make your way to Soho where you can shop in its many trendy stores, or find a cute restaurant to stop by. Want to keep going? Save your meal for East Village, your final destination.


  • Hudson Yards (The Edge, the Vessel, shops, and Mercado Little Spain)
  • High Line
  • Chelsea Market
  • West Village
  • Washington Square Park
  • Soho
  • East Village
Street and buildings in NYC

New York City Itinerary – Day 3

On your 3rd day in New York City, you can head down to Wall Street to see the 9/11 Memorial, gaze at the imposing One World Trade Center, and check out The Oculus.

If you are up for it, you can then walk to Battery Park where you can pop by Pier A for views of one of the major symbols of New York – the Statue of Liberty.

The Oculus in Wall Street NYC

Then, it’s Brooklyn time! Leave the hustle and bustle of Manhattan to experience the Brooklyn vibes. The fun thing about Brooklyn is that it’s not necessarily about seeing point A or B, but walking around and finding beauty in ordinary life.

However, are you looking for a few spots that you must see in Brooklyn? Then don’t miss the chance to visit Brooklyn Bridge Park or Domino Park for gorgeous views of the skyline of Manhattan. In the Dumbo area, you’ll have the iconic Instagram shot of the Manhattan Bridge between the buildings of Washington St.

If you get hungry while in Brooklyn, grab something to eat at Time Out Market, or a pizza at Cecconi’s or Juliana’s, and have your coffee fix at % Arabica.

When it’s time to head back to Manhattan, do it by crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on foot, and sunset is a beautiful time of the day to do so. The walk takes around 30 minutes and it’s one of the best things to do in New York City.

Tip: if you want to cross the Brooklyn Bridge, the best view is from Brooklyn to Manhattan. This way you can see the entire skyline of the island from the bridge. If you choose to go the other way, you’ll be facing the buildings of Brooklyn (which though nice, are not as epic as Manhattan’s skyline).


  • Wall Street (9/11 Memorial, One World Trade Center, and The Oculus)
  • Battery Park (for views of the Statue of Liberty)
  • Brooklyn
Manhattan skyline seeing from Brooklyn
New York Itinerary - how to spend 3 days in the city

What to know for visiting New York City

Best Hotels in New York City

  • NoMo SoHo Hotel: set in the trendy SoHo neighborhood with access to many shops in the area. The Canal Street subway station is located 2 blocks away from the hotel and it’s within walkable distance from Little Italy.
  • Arlo SoHo: the best hotel if you want to stay close to the SoHo, Tribeca, and West Village neighborhoods. By staying at Arlo, you’ll have access to many restaurants in New York City. When it’s time for happy hour, head over to their rooftop bar to take in panoramic views of the city.
  • The Dominick Hotel: another perfect option in SoHo, The Dominick is close to Washington Square Park. It features a spa, 4 restaurants, and an outdoor pool on the 7th floor.
  • Nolitan Hotel SoHo: this boutique hotel is a budget-friendly hotel in New York and yet has access to many hot spots in the city.

Best Tours in New York City

  • New York CityPASS: If this is your first time in NYC, you should look to purchase the New York CityPass which allows you to visit up to 6 attractions of New York City and receive up to a 40% discount. With the New York CityPass you can visit popular attractions such as the Empire State Building, American Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and choose from either Top of the Rock Observatory OR Guggenheim Museum Ferry Access to Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, and 9/11 Memorial & Museum OR Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
  • Manhattan Island Helicopter Tour up to 30 Minutes: Ready for a bird’s-eye view of NYC? On this helicopter tour, you can experience Manhattan from above and see the main points of interest, like Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Hudson River, and the Statue of Liberty from a different perspective.
  • 1-Hour Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Cruise: Get up close to New York’s main symbol, the Statue of Liberty, along with the Brooklyn Bridge on this 60-minute boat ride.
New York Itinerary - how to spend 3 days in the city

Transportation In New York City

The subway service in New York City encompasses a massive area and is the perfect way to get around. If you are in a rush and can’t take the subway, ridesharing apps such as Uber and Lyft are great alternatives.

Best Time to Visit New York City

New York City can be visited year-round, as each season has its own charm. If you want to be able to walk outside, then avoid visiting the city during the winter months. Spring and Fall are the best seasons to visit New York City and the perfect time of the year to be in the city as the first one brings nice weather and green colors to Central Park and the latter the fall foliage and its magnificent color show.


Last, feel free to pick and choose from the list of things above and make your own itinerary as you go. If you need a personalized itinerary to New York City, just fill out the form below.



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I am Elen, and I help 9-5ers plan their next getaway. I curate travel experiences, from places to sip a coffee to stays in boutique hotels, so you can save time when planning your next vacation. Here you will find travel guides, tips, and the best itineraries for your next trip.

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