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5-Day New York City Itinerary: everything you need to know to make the most of your trip

With 5 days in the city you will be able to see the essentials of New York and enjoy it to the fullest. Just plan your time well and take note of the essentials to be on the safe side!

Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro

10 min read

5-Day New York City Itinerary: everything you need to know to make the most of your trip

New York City Lights | ©Andre Benz

In 5 days there is a lot to do in the Big Apple. After all, New York is a city that welcomes anyone with open arms. Sports, art, music, technology, business, gastronomy... A real blast!

Here is a complete itinerary for you to make the most of those 5 days.

Day 1: The best of Manhattan

A typical day in Time Square| ©Arpan Parikh
A typical day in Time Square| ©Arpan Parikh

Times Square, Broadway and Fifth Avenue

You have just arrived in the city of skyscrapers and you look like an ant among so many people, but perhaps that is one of the many charms of New York.

What is clear to you is that you have to start somewhere, so I invite you to start this adventure with coffee in hand to head to Times Square and let yourself be intoxicated by the sound of the crowd, the bright colors of dozens of LED advertising screens or the different smells of the kitchens of the most cosmopolitan city.

Next to Times Square is Broadway, a long street with nearly 40 theaters and one of the richest cultural offerings in the world. Take advantage of the walk because tonight you will enjoy your favorite musical. Check out the best line-up for the best Broadway musicals for this season and don't run out of tickets!

And from 7th to the famous 5th Avenue, known as the Avenue of Millionaires, where you can breathe luxury at every step. You will stop at each of the windows of the most prestigious brand stores such as Tiffany, scene of the legendary movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's".

Explore Rockefeller Center and climb Top of the Rock

Just around the corner, I invite you to climb to the Top of the Rock and discover New York City from the heights, and what a height!

Located in Rockefeller Center, it has three observation decks on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors to contemplate the incredible skyline of the city. 260meters high that will leave you speechless! Undoubtedly, one of the activities you can not miss. If you also travel to New York at Christmas time, the Christmas atmosphere of Rockefeller Center is a must.

Book your skip-the-line ticket to Top of the Rock

Walk through Central Park and enter the MET

You are now going to walk through the lung of the city. Central Park is a natural space in the middle of the city where you can disconnect and breathe fresh air. You can rent a bike for hours and walk through the different scenarios of series that have been filmed there.

Make a stop for lunch at Tavern on the Green, the most famous restaurant in Central Park, with a nice terrace and the best American food.

To spend the afternoon I invite you to enter the Metropolitan Museum of Art which is located on one of the banks within the same park. The Met houses works of art from over 5,000 years of history spanning all cultures and eras. Don't miss The Great Hall, the museum store with one of the largest selections of art books in the United States.

Book your Met Express ticket with local guide

Experience a magical night on Broadway

And finally the moment you've been waiting for has arrived. Moulin Rouge, Aladdin, Wicked or the acclaimed and timeless Lion King are just some of the musicals you can see on Broadway.

Get ready to laugh, cry, sing and above all get excited in a unique atmosphere, in original version, in the mecca of musical theater. An unforgettable experience to remember.

Book your ticket for Broadway

Day 2: Strolling through the borough of Brooklyn

Entrance to the Brooklyn Museum| ©Aaron Williamson
Entrance to the Brooklyn Museum| ©Aaron Williamson

Take the mythical photo at DUMBO and stroll through Brooklyn

At the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, you will find this renovated neighborhood with industrial air from where you can have the best snapshots of the Manhattan skyline. Brooklyn has a lot to see and do, so let's go by parts.

In Pebble Beach, you can sit and touch the waters of the East River with your hands and get right under the Manhattan Bridge to take one of the most sought after photos by influencers. Another coveted snapshot is the one you can take at the corner of Water St. and Washington St. with the Manhattan Bridge and the Empire State Building in the background.

Enter the Brooklyn Museum

And after a nice walk, what better than to enter the second most important museum in the city after the MoMa, the Brooklyn Museum.

It is a marvel, both for its content and its continent. In it, you can enjoy not only the works of great masters of all time and contemporary artists, but also of ancient cultures that will give you a global vision of the history of humanity and art from all corners of the planet.

You can not miss its magnificent collection of Egyptian art in which you will travel back in time to feel like a real pharaoh.

Book your entrance to the Brooklyn Museum without queues

Have a picnic in Main Street Park

It's time to pick up some fast food and sit down to enjoy a picnic accompanied by the best views of New York's Financial District.

Afterwards, head over to Jane's Carousel, a carousel with history located in a beautiful pavilion, where for a small fee you'll feel like a kid.

Have an evening at BAM

The Brooklyn Academy of Music opens its doors for you to enjoy the performing arts with more than 200 performances and four movie theaters with a variety of classic and contemporary films.

Don't miss BAMcafé Live, a free live music venue where you'll find Brooklyn's best musicians every Friday and Saturday night from October through June. At the bar and lounge you can order your favorite drink and grab a light bite to eat.

Day 3: On the banks of the Hudson

Entrance to Chelsea Market| ©Hellotickets
Entrance to Chelsea Market| ©Hellotickets

Have breakfast at Chelsea Market

On the border between Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, you will find this gastronomic space with a market, restaurants, cafes and souvenir stores. Also, visit the subway level with food and fresh produce stores.

Early in the morning is the best time to enjoy this market because you will not find as many people as if you go during rush hour. Visit the subway floor with food stores and fresh produce.

Don't miss the New York High Line, an urban garden on an elevated railroad line where you can relax between nature and art... Very close and totally free!

Visit the 911 museum and memorial

Southwest of Manhattan, you will find Ground Zero in tribute to the victims of the attack that shocked the world, 9/11. To honor the memory of the missing, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum were created right in the area where the imposing Twin Towers once stood.

Taking advantage of your visit to the One World Observatory, if you want to eat something or buy something, stop by The Oculus, a unique building that houses the train station and a shopping center with restaurants and stores.

Book your entrance to the 9/11 Museum without queues

Discover the best of New York's financial district

The City of New York is located on the southern tip of Manhattan Island with its colossal buildings, financial institutions and luxury apartments.

Enter its most emblematic street, Wall Street, with its Stock Exchange building and a small statue of a girl named Fearless Girl who poses without fear and who was born to be the image of an advertising campaign. Today it has become a symbol of female empowerment.

If you continue walking, just a couple of blocks from Wall Street you will find the famous Charging Bull that bravely inspires New Yorkers to be strong in the face of crisis as a reminder of Black Monday 1987.

And before so much power, what better than to go for a walk around Battery Park from where the ferries depart to visit the Statue of Liberty.

Take a night cruise on the Hudson

To end the day I suggest a cruise on the Hudson at night. If New York is beautiful during the day, the city that never sleeps has a special vibe at night.

Enjoy the imposing skyscrapers illuminated and panoramic views that will leave you open-mouthed. You'll also get a close-up view of the Lady and Ellis Island. Undoubtedly the best way to start the New York night. And if you prefer... you can choose a dinner cruise with live music to enjoy unforgettable views.

Book your cruise on the Hudson

Day 4: South to North: a little more of Manhattan

Chinatown in New York| ©Alejandro Mallea
Chinatown in New York| ©Alejandro Mallea

Appreciate the tradition and culture of Chinatown

When you enter Chinatown, you leave New York for a few hours. Its street stalls, its fresh produce markets, its bazaars... All these places merge into an incomparable setting of unique flavors and colors.

I recommend a stroll through Columbus Park where you can see the essence of the Chinese community in their place of rest, playing cards, playing instruments or just enjoying the sun on a bench. Also take the opportunity to try one of the best places to eat in Chinatown.

Go shopping in Soho

And from the noisy Chinatown I'm going to take you to the trendiest neighborhood in the Big Apple. SOHO is synonymous with art galleries, antique shops and trendy locals. Have fun discovering all the scenes of your favorite series and movies that you can photograph around Blecker St., and enjoy the view.

SOHO is also synonymous with shopping, perhaps the best area of New York, as it supports various budgets. If you like brands, you have from sports and casual clothing stores like those you can find in big cities, but also high-end, more exclusive.

I recommend you stop for lunch at Balthazar, a French restaurant, a classic of the neighborhood.

Spend the afternoon at MoMA

Surely you've heard its name a thousand times and now you have the opportunity to discover it. The Museum of Modern Art in New York is one of the most visited in the world and therefore the queues are usually endless.

I suggest you to know how to get your tickets in advance and skip the line to finally see the works of the authors that you had dreamed of seeing so many times. From Warhol to Pollok, through Frida Kalho and Van Gogh, to Picasso and Dalí; art in abundance and endless sensations await you.

Book your entrance to MoMA without queues

End the day at the top of the Empire State Building

What could be better than watching the sunset and the first lights of New York City come on from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building?

This building is an icon and you have the opportunity to contemplate the city from above. Live the American dream from this emblematic skyscraper with no other mission than to contemplate, feel vertigo, and exclaim as in Titanic that you are the king or queen of the world.

And since you're probably hungry after an intense day, I invite you to explore one of these 10 best places to eat in New York.

Reserve your official Empire State Building ticket

Day 5: Visiting the Bronx

Aerial view of Yankee Stadium in New York City| ©Nick Fewings
Aerial view of Yankee Stadium in New York City| ©Nick Fewings

Discover all kinds of animal species in the Bronx Zoo

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan for a few hours, I recommend you visit the Bronx Zoo, the largest metropolitan zoo in the world.

With nearly 4,000 species, here you can see animals native to North America as well as other animals from Asia, Africa and Madagascar. A highly recommended activity if you are traveling with children, as well as inexpensive.

Book your ticket to the Bronx Zoo

Rest and tour the New York Botanical Gardens

And without leaving the Bronx, we suggest you to discover the New York Botanical Garden, to continue breathing nature and relaxation. Discover its ancient forest and a river, the Bronx River.

Get on board the little train that runs through the park and enjoy all its corners, the garden is beautiful from end to end.

Eat in the borough's Little Italy

If you work up an appetite, I'll take you to one of the must-see neighborhoods of the city for its gastronomy. Little Italy offers you an endless number of restaurants and cafes to enjoy authentic Italian pasta and pizza, as well as sweets.

In Mulberry St. you will find some of the best places to enjoy a good cannelloni or the most delicious Margarita, such as: Amicci II, Da Nico, or Il Cortile. Buon appetito!

Visit Yankee Stadium

You can't leave New York without enjoying the true American king of sports, baseball. The New York Yankees are the local team and the team that plays in the 4 major leagues with the most titles. Whether you travel during baseball season or not, you can (and should) take the opportunity to visit the Yankee Stadium. Here is also an article on how to buy tickets to enjoy baseball in New York.

Undoubtedly, an experience that you can only experience here, since you've only seen it on TV or in the movies.

Don't get distracted anymore, the game starts. Cheer like a true fan and get your tickets for the event of the year.

Last tips

I also advise you to book your tickets for the New York sightseeing bus in advance so you can get on and off as many times as you want at the iconic spots. Another option is to take one of the best tours of New York to make sure you cover all the important areas of the city, accompanied by an expert local guide.

Book the best tours in New York