Visiting New York is an incredible experience with so much to see and do. If you're limited for time and are paying the Big Apple a flying visit, this New York holiday itinerary guide will highlight some of the best activities to squeeze into a short space of time. Whether you're going for a 5-day break or just have a long weekend to explore then this guide will ensure you're able to cram as much into your short break as possible, so you don't miss out on some of the coolest and most iconic sights and attractions that the city has to offer!
With a bit of advanced planning, you can experience a great deal of New York in your 3-day break. When choosing a hotel, ensure it is close to a subway station so you can get around efficiently to maximise your time spent sightseeing. This New York itinerary guide has selected some of the best and most well-known locations and attractions as well as a few New York hidden gems for you to explore.
An itinerary guide for 3 days in New York
It is more than possible to plan a holiday itinerary in New York for just 3 days. What better way to begin your first day than with a coffee and Parisian breakfast at La Mercerie, the New York debut of Chef Marie-Aude Rose. Indulge in a ham-and-egg crepe and butter-and-jam tartine whilst admiring the interior decor that blends historical elements with a modern twist.
In the afternoon take a stroll through the cobbled streets of Soho and explore the designer boutiques and sophisticated art galleries. Soho is a shopaholic's dream and the architecture adds to the experience. Cast-iron-fronted buildings, dating back to the late 19th century, are as ornate as they are historic.
Your New York holiday would be incomplete without a trip to see an iconic landmark. On day 2 walk across Brooklyn Bridge and admire views of Governors Island and the Statue of Liberty to the south. Afterwards, head to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for great views of Manhattan’s cityscape.
For lunch, why not try a classic New York bagel? Sadelle’s Bagels on West Broadway offer a multitude of ingenious flavours. If you have time to eat in, try the salmon platter that offers as many bagels as you can eat. Or order to go and enjoy lunch in Washington Square Park, only three blocks away.
On your last day, take the subway downtown to Battery Park to catch the 09.30 Statue Cruises tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. After seeing Lady Liberty herself close-up, purchase tickets to the Crown viewing platform for stunning views of Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey.
In the afternoon, find a cosy table at Café Sabarsky, a stylish, wood-panelled Viennese café of the Neue Galerie at 86th Street. They offer authentic Viennese coffee and exquisite strudels and chocolate cakes. You'll be surprised at just how much you can cram into your holiday itinerary over 3 days.
An itinerary guide for 5 days in New York
If you have an extra 2 days for your New York holiday itinerary then this guide highlights some of the more adventurous and unique activities available.
If you're looking for New York hidden gems, schedule some time to visit the Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan. Specialising in European medieval architecture, sculpture and decorative arts, you'll be transported back to the Romanesque and Gothic periods admiring the chapels, tapestries and gardens.
Another must see for your New York holiday itinerary if you have 5 days is Part of the Berlin Wall, at 520 Madison Ave. Five slabs from the former Berlin wall are nestled into the small plaza on Madison. One side is decorated by German artists Thierry Noir and Kiddy Citny, while the eastern side remains blank.
A New York holiday schedule should always recommend a spot of retail therapy. If you're looking for an iconic New York City shopping experience then Bloomingdale's on Broadway is a must. The national hundred-year-old chain offers trendy and luxury clothes, shoes and handbags, and boasts an extensive makeup counter - although the store is so vast be sure to allocate the best part of a day here.
For a more authentic shopping experience head to McNally Jackson, a local indie bookstore and cafe where the paperbacks are often signed by their authors. Other New York holiday hidden gems offering bespoke creations are the one-of-a-kind boutiques such as Le Labo, a cult-favourite candle and fragrance shop in Nolita where you can design your own custom scent. Veda is also worth a look, a treasure trove of a shop that offers bespoke leather goods and silk dresses. There is so much more you can add to your New York holiday itinerary if you have 5 days.
Related: America Shopping Holidays
New York in all Seasons
No matter what season you're planning your New York holiday itinerary guide around, there is always something happening in the city that never sleeps.
If you're visiting New York in early April, join in on the "Sakura Matsuri "(Cherry Blossom Festival) celebration at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Paying homage to the Japanese spring festival you'll experience the traditional Japanese Kabuki dance, tea ceremonies, anime and manga surrounded by a striking sea of soft pink cherry blossom.
In the summer, the Public Theatre produces Shakespeare in the Park presented at the open-air Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. Relax in the summer sunshine watching incredibly talented actors performing against the magnificent backdrop that is Belvedere Castle. It's certainly one of the most impressive sets you will experience.
New York State Fly Drive Holiday
Bryant Park is worth a visit all year round but is especially popular during summer months for its Summer Film Festival on Monday evenings. There is something magical about seeing a flick on the big screen with the shimmering lights of the city as the backdrop.
Towards the end of autumn head down to Central Park where the German Wunderland that is Oktoberfest will be in full swing. Experience the display of intricate costumes and lively Austrian tunes whilst quenching your thirst with a stein of Bavarian brew. Certainly, one of the livelier suggestions in our New York holiday itinerary!
As the end of the year approaches, New York City turns into a mesmerising winter wonderland. Visit Rockefeller Centre to experience the gigantic Norway Spruce covered in 50,000 lights, as well as the golden angels and other illuminations. Some of the best Christmas lights can be seen in the neighbourhood of Dyker Heights, where residents adorn their homes with elaborate holiday decorations such as life-size reindeer, giant inflatable Santas and tens of thousands of sparkling lights.