Have you been wondering how much a trip to New York City costs? We’re here to help you figure out how to budget that NYC vacation you’re always wanted!
The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. There isn’t much to be said about New York that isn’t already ingrained in the popular perception of the city. Whether you live in Boise or Berlin – a trip to New York is probably on your bucket list.
New York has a reputation of being quite expensive. Pricey hotels, swanky restaurants, expensive Broadway tickets… it can all add up. Don’t let that deter you from experiencing the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Getting lost in the neon glow of Times Square doesn’t have to be financially ruinous.
However, if you take a closer look, you’ll see that you can travel to New York on a budget. The average cost of a trip to New York might be a little higher than a lot of other places in the USA, but it’s worth it. Nowhere else has the specific combination of a very distinct local cultural identity and iconic status in popular media.
In this article, we will try to give you a few tips on how to plan your New York vacation – whether it be experiencing New York on a budget or having some extra money to splurge.
Please note – Some of our selections contain affiliate links. These allow us to earn a small percentage every time you make a booking. Using our links enables us to provide all the information found on this site free of charge. Happy travels!
How much Does a Trip to NYC Cost?
The Things to Consider
Planning is the most important factor in making any successful trip happen. Do your research beforehand – use the internet, call up acquaintances, figure out how long you intend to stay. Once you have done the groundwork, you should have the answers to a few questions.
- Are you traveling alone? If not, how many people are joining you?
- When are you planning to go?
- How long are you staying?
- What is your budget?
- What are the things you absolutely must do while in New York?
- Is it more important that you have a comfortable room or that you can do more things in NYC?
The answers will determine what you have to focus on when looking for things like accommodation, flight ticket prices, and potentially guided tours. For example, you might prefer a beautiful view over sightseeing and attractions. Therefore you plan ahead for a pricier accommodation, and spread the rest of your money accordingly.
The flight prices will vary wildly both depending on where you are, and how many people are traveling with you. However, a good rule of thumb is that the flight will be the cheapest in January, February, and March. The prices are highest around the holiday season, and depending on the size of your budget might leave a considerable dent in it. So, here’s a quick overview of the prices for a round trip, per person, departing on March 1st, 2020 for New York, and returning on the 8th of March:
As you can see, even the cheapest options are much different when you are flying domestic when compared to flying from another country. There are, of course, higher class flights, and if you intend to fly first class be prepared to hand over at least a couple of thousands for it. But you can have a rough estimate on your New York trip cost just based on these averages we hope.
The place you stay at will depend largely on how much you want to spend on a room and how important it is to you to stay comfortable when you’re not out and about. The cheapest options are crappy motels and Airbnb hosting services or their equivalents, but be warned that depending on their location and size even those can reach quite high prices.
The median option are hotels with three stars that usually strike the balance between comfort and expense that most people choose. The high end of the scale is formed by the many luxury hotels in New York and the expensive rooms you can rent if you want that authentic Wall-Street big wig experience. Here’s a table of the range of prices in all of those categories so you can get some idea of what amount of bang you can get with your buck.
The prices listed are the averages for March 2nd – March 8th, 2020, per person, per day. The actual price you pay will depend on things we can’t take into consideration, like location and time of booking. However, we think this will give you a good idea of how much your New York City vacation might cost in terms of accommodation.
Have a look at our list of the few good hostels available in NYC for some other budget friendly options.
Trying to list all the attractions you might want to visit when in New York would be a Herculean task, and would probably take at least one 500-page book. Since we don’t want to waste your time, nor do we have the space here – we’ll stick to a few of the most popular ones.
For more read our article on 35 things to do in New York City!
The most iconic places to see in New York City start with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. With its significance in cultural history these embody the spirit of America in a broader sense, but more specifically the spirit of New York. While it may seem a little touristy, we can’t in good faith ignore this piece of American cultural identity.
Tours range from $20 to around $80, depending on how close you want to be to Lady Liberty. Some of them even include visits to other attractions, and the more expensive ones usually include a ferry trip and a tour at the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. For example, this 60 minute tour sails you around the Statue of Liberty, under the Brooklyn Bridge, and to Ellis Island. This tour lets you explore the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island National Immigration Museum, the Statue of Liberty Museum and Ellis Island on your own with audio guides.
The second place on our list, although not a bit less important than Lady Liberty, is the One World Trade Center. The importance of Liberty Tower needn’t be stressed any further than to say that it is built on the grounds of the original World Trade Center. Standing tall and proud, it reaches a dazzling height of 1,776 feet. It offers tours to its observatory at prices of about $38 for skipping the ticket line.
The third place on your list of things to see in NYC is the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. Besides being a marvelous piece of engineering, the Brooklyn Bridge has a unique stone-and-steel design originating in the 1880s and is one of the most impressive bridges in the US. Bonus points for being totally free.
If you’ve heard about Art Deco, you have heard about the Rockefeller Center. This imposing complex of 19 buildings is the artistic center of New York. Wherever you go, you’ll see beautiful architecture and art pieces to the point of getting overwhelmed by the sheer wealth of high art around you. It has various attractions contained within it, from Radio City to the International Center. This place has a very specific audience, but to those people, it will be an absolute blast. Walking tours come at about $27 and entry to the observation deck atop 30 Rock (the most famous building in the complex) comes at about $40.
Next is Central Park. Like anything else on this list, it has an almost mythical status in American popular culture. With its impressive size and beautiful natural setting, the park manages to provide a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the urban jungle that surrounds it. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the pace of mid-town Manhattan, the park is a great place to visit, relax and process all the things you have experienced so far. Besides, it’s free, so that’s a big plus in our books!
Finally, we will end this small list with a bang – Times Square. Rivaled only perhaps by Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Times Square sums up the New York experience completely. Seas of people scrambling to their destinations, shops, and restaurants wherever you look, bright neon lights and the iconic yellow taxis. While it costs nothing to visit, be advised that this is the world’s most famous shopping district – and make sure that your New York trip cost doesn’t quadruple from buying this and that while there.
We can’t tell you how much your New York city vacation will cost in terms of shopping expenses since it depends on what you intend to buy. If you are frugal with your shopping it might boil down to a couple of bucks for some knick-knacks as mementos, but you might be a shopaholic and this could be your largest expense.
However it might be, our suggestion is to plan on how much you intend to spend on clothes and accessories or keepsakes so that your trip to New York on a budget doesn’t turn into a hunger strike.
The food is an important part of experiencing New York. You might be content with browsing around the famous street food of New York – having a hot dog or a slice of pizza for a few bucks. You might also want to treat yourself to a fancy meal at one of the many high-class restaurants. The key is knowing what you want and planning accordingly.
And just because you decide to spend less doesn’t mean that you won’t have a great experience. There is a lot of delicious food to be found for affordable prices. Whatever route you go, you won’t stay hungry!
Cost of Visiting NYC – Conclusion
The average cost presented below of a trip to New York is just a rough estimate of what you might want to consider when planning your trip. This hypothetical “average” will ultimately be subject to your preferences and fluctuations in things like ticket prices and accommodation prices.
Therefore, we decided to give you three average cost of a trip to New York estimates, based on what you might choose to do.
As you can see there are ways to budget your trip for any combination of available funds and wishes. We encourage you to consider what would make your trip to New York memorable, and figure out your combo. Good luck, and happy travels!
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