In this article you will find my tips on what to see and what do in New York in 5 days.
New York has never been on my bucket list: too many tourists, too expensive and I’m generally not too interested in visiting big cities.
However, when I had the chance to actually visit the city, mainly thanks to a huge discount on the flight, I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised.
General info about New York
I’m not going to dwell on New York’s history because you can find tons of info on Wikipedia. Geographically it’s divided into five zones or boroughs: Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.
A very important thing to keep in mind if you want to visit the city is the weather. In winter temperatures are quite cold and in summer they are just as extreme, with peaks of over 40 degrees. The best time to visit New York is spring or Autumn. I went there or June and the weather was pretty much perfect.
Furthermore, since New York is quite expensive, going there during the low season will help you to save some money. This being said, visiting New York in 5 days without spending a fortune is possible but you have to plan your trip well.
How to get around New York
Getting around the city is quite easy using the subway, easy at least from Monday to Friday. This is because on Saturdays and Sundays a lot of lines change and you may have to wait for a train that will never arrive.
If you need help, New Yorkers are always ready to help you out by giving you some directions if you get lost.
Apart from these small drawbacks, the subway is definitely the best way to get around, especially if you don’t have much time and want to visit New York in 4 or 5 days. It’s better if you can get the MetroCard and CityPASS that will save you a lot of money on ticket fees.
One thing you will surely notice when walking around New York is the incredible variety of animals you’ll see. I’ve found out that over 250 species of birds live in Central Park alone. You’ll also most certainly see squirrels, chipmunks, and a few raccoons.
Top things to do in New York in 5 days
New York is really huge, but with good planning, you can explore it in 4 or 5 days. Here are some ideas on what to do in New York in 5 days:
On the first day, you can start by taking the ferry to Liberty Island, where you’ll see the Statue of Liberty. You can then continue to Ellis Island where the immigration museum is located. It’s definitely a good place to reflect on the past when we (the Italians) were the poor immigrants looking for a better life on the other side of the world.
In the afternoon, you can head back to the mainland and walk around the streets of Manhattan.
On the second day, you can spend most of your time exploring Central Park where sometimes you won’t even feel like you’re in a big city. If you’ll get hungry, try one of the hot dogs on sale in the kiosks on the street.
In the afternoon you can visit the beautiful Natural History Museum and then head up to Top of The Rock for a panoramic view of Manhattan.
On the third day visit the Moma Museum and the area south of Manhattan. Don’t forget to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge and take some photos of Manhattan as seen from the DUMBO neighborhood in Brooklyn.
In the evening you can take a tour of Little Italy, where a large community of Italian immigrants once lived.
On the fourth day visit the Grand Central Terminal, the world’s largest and busiest station in the States. The architecture is really beautiful. In the afternoon you can spend some time on 5th Avenue, famous for the luxury shops and very popular among the wealthy class. In the evening, head to Times Square to take some pictures of one of New York’s most iconic places.
You can spend the fifth day visiting some museum you haven’t seen yet or, if you’re interested, take a tour of the UN headquarter.
Photography tips for New York
Personally, I find New York much better at night. The lights of Manhattan seen from the top of the Empire State Building are really amazing, although unfortunately tripods are not allowed.
What is the ideal lens for photographing New York? It depends. I’ve almost always used the wide-angle lens to include bigger portions of the buildings in the picture, but a classic 24-105mm is definitely more flexible. You can still try some less “classic” shots using a telephoto lens. For light travel, I recommend a light but sturdy tripod.
Whatever you’ll bring with you, even if it’s simply a phone, you’ll certainly have a lot to photograph in New York City in 5 days.
Final thoughts about New York
In the end, I have to admit that New York is really a great city.
I like the vibe, and also from a strictly photographic perspective has really a lot to offer. There are tons of interesting museums and whenever you’ll get tired of the city you can always relax in one of the numerous parks.
A special mention goes to the New Yorkers: always willing to help and generally speaking, really friendly.
Here you can find some more pictures I took in New York.