The concrete jungle of Manhattan is one of the most exciting places on earth. There is an endless amount to see and do in New York. The ground literally hums with the fast-paced lifestyle. Even though it is only 13 miles long and a scant 2 miles wide at its broadest part, it can be daunting to try and navigate your way around. Luckily, we have some field-tested advice to get you around New York City.
By far the easiest, cheapest, and often most fun way to get around New York City is to walk. The city is brilliantly designed on a grid system with avenues running north and south, and streets running east to west, making it important to pay attention to the end of the address. Walking lets you get out into the neighborhoods and really get a feel for New York. There is a lot happening on each city block with 1.6 million people living on a 33-square-mile island. Be sure to take it all in.
Viewfinder Tip: Buy a metro card at the airport and use it to ride the train into the city to save some money. Then use the same card to take the subway all over the island.
That said, if you’re trying to get somewhere specific, the subway system is the best way to go. With entrances on so many of the street corners it’s hard to miss one. Each subway is separated by a color and number, or in some cases, a letter. You can buy a yellow metro card at any subway station and choose how much money to put on it. When you enter the subway terminal all you have to do is swipe your metro card and money is deducted from it. A standard subway ride costs $2.50 and your transfers are free. Most subway stops have two types of trains: express and local. Local trains stop at every stop along the route while express trains stop only at a few of them. The maps located on the subway platform show which stops are local and which are express. Conveniently, the front of each subway will tell you if it’s local bound or an express. Make sure you keep your eyes on the front of the subway as it comes up to the platform to be certain that you’re boarding the right train. The quick subways run all over the island, are usually timely, and are out of the elements making them our favorite way to get around. First-timers may consider downloading a PDF version of the MTA Subway Map or downloading an app.
If you want to get across Manhattan quickly but also want to drink it all in, the bus is your best choice. Manhattan has some of the best buses in the country. However, buses usually don’t accept bills and need exact change in coins. The most convenient and affordable way to ride the bus is to use your metro card. Again, any metro card can be purchased at major bus stations and in all subway stations. Simply dip your metro card on the podium when you board the bus. Buses, like subways, run as local and express and allow you to get out and around the island quickly and directly. The bus offers you a chance to look around in case you’re browsing for a little more unplanned adventure in your itinerary.
Taxis are often the quickest (but certainly not the cheapest) way to get around the city in a hurry. They flow down every street and require an aggressive wave and a sharp whistle to pull over to your curb. Unless you’re lucky enough to score the Cash Cab and compete for your fare, be prepared to pay a hefty amount for your ride. Pricey as they may be, any Yellow Cab can get you where you need to go with great haste. The best way to get a Yellow Cab is to get the Hailo app for your smartphone. This allows you to summon a cab right to your location with a tap of a button and then pay as you exit. It stores your payment information so that you don’t have to fumble for cash as you arrive.
We also recommend downloading the HopStop app. This finds your current location and then determines the ten best routes to get you to your intended destination. It even tells you how long it would take to walk, bicycle, or travel by subway, bus, or cab.
Remember to have fun and drink it all in, no matter how you plan on exploring New York City. There’s no end to all that you can do in this city of dreams.