New York is one of my favorite destinations. It is the enchanting location of Sex and the City, boasts spectacular Broadway shows and towering skyscrapers with epic views of the city below.
There is only one problem – New York is an expensive city.
But you are likely to visit New York with a budget, even if you are a special traveler. There are many affordable (and FREE) things you can do that will help you reduce your costs without having fun outside the city.
See how to make New York with a budget!
Where to stay
Under 39: Just a 6-minute walk from Grand Central Station, Pod 39 is a budget hotel that looks more luxurious than its price. Inside the hotel you will find a bright colorful lobby with table games, fireplace, taqueria and a roof that offers stunning city views. Whether you are traveling with the NYC solo or with your friends, Pod 39 offers ample accommodation options. Choose between single beds, large beds or queen size beds.
While you will not have extra amenities, you will have all the necessities, such as flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, mattress pillows, extra soundproofing and rain showers. The best part is that rooms start as low as $ 75 at night!
Hilton Garden Inn: The Hilton Garden Inn is a three star hotel with many locations around New York City. I would suggest that you stay in one of the West 35th Street, as you will be only one block away from the impressive Empire State Building. The hotel has 298 newly renovated rooms that offer incredible views of the city. There is also a 24-hour gym, a Garden Grille restaurant and a lobby bar serving some lovely cocktails.
HI NYC Hostel: Gone are the days when staying in a hostel meant uncomfortable beds and dirty rooms. These days, you are more likely to find "poshtels" that offer almost everything you will find in a budget hotel at a better price. The HI NYC guesthouse is only 2 blocks from Central Park and costs $ 49 in the evening. The rooms are divided between men, women and co-ed, and there are shared toilets aisle.
You can also have a meal in the hotel's café or pick up your own food in the fully-equipped kitchen. The guesthouse also has the largest private green space in Manhattan!
Keep in mind that it is often cheaper to split a hotel room if you are traveling with someone else.
Grand Central Station
Free stuff to do in New York
Times Square: What would a trip to New York without a visit to Times Square? You can watch windows along the long line of shops, watch street artists, watch people or try to get free tickets at one of the many CBS shows late in the evening.
Central park: Do you want to feel like you are in a movie? Take a stroll to Central Park. Grab a blanket, pack a picnic and relax in the Big Lawn. During the summer, free concerts from the New York Philharmonic take place. Or you can follow one of the many trails and take all the sights. Do not forget to make a wish at Bethesda before you leave!
The bridge of Brooklyn: Built in 1883, Brooklyn Bridge is one of the top things you can do in New York and it will not cost you a minute. The walk on the bridge takes about an hour and is full of images from the Manhattan skyline. We recommend coming here for the sunset if you want beautiful lighting!
High Line: High Line is a public park built on an old rail freight line. Raised above the streets of West Side, it is a place where you can experience art, nature and design. It offers some of the best shades of the Hudson River and features a lovely outdoor dining area!
Flair building: If you have or have seen a postcard from New York, there is a good chance of having the Flatiron Building on it. Although there is nothing to do inside (it's an office building from now), it's a virtual piece of New York's story that's definitely worth seeing!
Bushwick Street Art: Brooklyn is known for its urban art, and Bushwick hosts some of the city's most famous pieces. Stop from places like Morgan Boulevard, BogArt, Fine & Raw Chocolate, Siegel Street and Roberta's Pizza to See the Best!
MoMa: MoMa is one of the best museums in New York and is free on Fridays from 4am to 8pm. Avoid long lines reaching about 6 pm, and you will have more than enough time to explore all the galleries and exhibits.
Staten Island Island: A ferry that is free of charge? Yip! Staten Island Ferry operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Departing from the harbor every 15 to 30 minutes and is one of the best ways to get to the city.
Grand Central Station: A visit to the Grand Central Station is essential. It has been a cinematic location for many popular movies and TV series over the years, but it has a unique story. If you want to know more about the past, sign up for a free Grand Central Partnership tour. This is a 90-minute tour that is driven by a New York City blueprint.
Read more: Christmas in New York for a budget
Cheap things to do in New York
Explore by Metro: The metro reception is a successful New York experience. One of the things I love to do is watch live shows at different stations. My favorite is Lucky Chops, a funk band playing at the 34th station. A single trip will only cost $ 3, and you can get a metro card to save money for transportation.
Pizza, Bagels and Hot Dogs: I could spend all my time in New York food. Among the bagels, pizza and hot dogs, food should not be missed. There are vendors in the corners of each street and you can get a New York style pizza slice from The Alligator Lounge for free every day.
Coney Island: Coney Island is the birthplace of the amusement park. It is also one of the top budget-friendly activities in New York. Walk to the metro and spend the day exploring the pedestrian area and the nearby beach. Stay after sunset if you want to watch weekly fireworks on Friday night.
Statue of Liberty
What to skip
Statue of Liberty and the Island of Ellis: While there is something special to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, it's a whole day and it's usually not so climatic. With tickets starting at $ 18.00 and going up, it's wise to save money and time.
Top of the rock
What is worth it
9/11 Monument: The 110,000 square feet of exhibition space is worth every penny. At $ 20 a person, you can see the September 11 tragedy lesson through multimedia screens, files, narratives, and objects.
Top of the Rock or a World Observatory: The top of the rock is one of the best ways to see New York from above. Tickets cost $ 40 per person and there are three decks to help you see the city. The One World Observatory is a bit cheaper, with tickets costing $ 34 per person. Do not forget to go out on the sky gate, a 14-foot wide circular display that shows high definition video on the streets down!
See a Broadway game: Broadway plays in New York is a costly activity. But if you go to the Times Square TKTS Discount Pavilion, you can get tickets up to 50% off. The only catch? You will need to be quick. The availability of tickets and stock can be changed with the blink of an eye.
While New York is notorious because it's an expensive city to visit and live in, it's possible to see it on a budget. If you keep track of discounts, avoid tourist traps and skip a few luxuries, you will be amazed at how much you can still stretch your dollars!
Read more: The latest guide to New York on a weekend
Do you have some tips to visit New York with a budget?