7-day New York Itinerary

New York is a fascinating city with thousands of things to do. I will tell you the ideal itinerary to follow if you are lucky enough to visit the Big Apple for 7 days.

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

21 min read

7-day New York Itinerary

One of the great Manhattan Avenues | ©Hellotickets

Are you organizing your trip to the Big Apple and don't know where to start seeing the city? In this guide on what to do in 7 days in New York I help you organize your route to make the most of your time and not miss anything. Let's get started!

Day 1: Get to know New York and Chinatown

Times Square| ©Hellotickets
Times Square| ©Hellotickets

Tour all the boroughs of New York with the Contrasts Tour

Manhattan is the best known of the five boroughs that make up New York. This is because it is the most famous borough because it concentrates 90% of the attractions and it is in the south where the origins of this city are. But even so, New York is much more: in fact, it is huge. And one of the best ways to get a feel for the big city is to take a guided tour that will take you to see the highlights.

I recommend you start by booking the New York Contrasts tour, which will take you to discover the five big boroughs of the Big Apple: Harlem, The Bronx, Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn. As this tour lasts about 5 hours, you will be able to visit the most iconic neighborhoods of New York in just one morning accompanied by a local guide who will give you a very enjoyable introduction to the city, its neighborhoods and its cultures.

A very good option for first time travelers, as it is a very complete and interesting first contact with the city. In addition, once the Tour of Contrasts is over or at another time of your trip you can return to the neighborhood or area that has caught your attention to explore it for yourself in detail. If you like the idea you can learn more about this activity in this article about the New York Contrasts tour.

Book the New York Contrasts Tour

Taste authentic Chinese food in Chinatown

An important thing about the Contrasts Tour is that you can choose between two places to end the tour: under the Brooklyn Bridge in the DUMBO neighborhood or in Chinatown. My advice is to do it in Chinatown because the end of the activity coincides with lunchtime, in the Asian neighborhood of New York you will have the opportunity to try authentic Chinese food at very reasonable prices.

If you love to eat and you are a foodie, in Chinatown you will enjoy a lot because you will find many restaurants and bars where you can try some of the best Asian specialties. If you like spicy food you can't miss Xi's an Famous Food (45 Bayard Street) and a good option for vegetarians is Buddha Bodai(5 Mott Street).

After lunch take the opportunity to book a tour of Chinatown. Here you can breathe a very unique atmosphere that will catch your attention as a traveler. Discover Columbus Park, the Chinese Museum in America or Canal Street Market, among many other interesting places. Want to know more about everything you can do in this neighborhood? Check out my article about Chinatown.

Book a Chinatown tour

Return to Manhattan

In the afternoon return to Manhattan to continue your tour of downtown New York, how about a walk along the famous Fifth Avenue? This is one of the most important arteries of the city and where some of the most exclusive hotels and stores in the Big Apple are located.

But, in addition to shopping, on Fifth Avenue you will find several tourist attractions to visit such as the Empire State Building, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Rockefeller Center or the Public Library.

Near Fifth Avenue is also located Times Square, the heart of New York and an icon of this city. A visit to Times Square at nightfall is a must on any trip to the Big Apple - you can't miss it! The lights and signs of this emblematic square illuminate everything and the atmosphere here is incomparable. There is no traveler who does not surrender to the charms of Times Square! If you don't want to miss a thing, book a night bus tour of Manhattan.

Book a night bus tour of Manhattan

Toast to your trip from a rooftop

The first day of your visit to New York has been long and full of emotions, what if you put the finishing touch with a drink while contemplating the Manhattan skyline from one of its best rooftops? If you like the idea, I leave you here my article about the 10 best rooftops in New York so you can choose the one you like the most.

Day 2: Discover Brooklyn, Soho and the West Village

Views of Manhattan from Brooklyn| ©Hellotickets
Views of Manhattan from Brooklyn| ©Hellotickets

Start the day in Brooklyn and DUMBO

If you travel to New York you can not miss Brooklyn, the coolest alternative spirit area of the city. It is a borough with an industrial past and a strong cultural identity that is well worth a visit. The easiest way to get to Brooklyn is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan. In fact, you can book a tour of the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan so you won't miss a thing.

And on the way down you will land in DUMBO, a bohemian and artistic neighborhood that has managed to combine the old industrial architecture and the most modern design of the present to create a unique atmosphere in New York. When you are there you will see that DUMBO has a special charm that you will not be able to stop photographing. Along its streets you will come across murals, graffiti and authentic works of art that you will want to keep in your camera and in your retina.

Don't put your camera away because on Washington Street you can photograph the wonderful Manhattan Bridge with the skyscrapers in the background and on Plymouth Street you will have the opportunity to see the traces of Brooklyn's industrial past that still survive today in this neighborhood.

Book a Brooklyn Bridge Tour

On to Williamsburg and the Jewish Quarter

The morning has only just begun and following the route of day 2 through this borough you will arrive in Williamsburg, a neighborhood where hipsters and the most conservative Jewish community of New York coexist but each in their own space: the hipsters in Williamsburg and the Hasidic Jews in the South Williamsburg area, which is reached by crossing under the Williamsburg Bridge.

Williamsburg is one of those authentic areas full of contrasts that is worth visiting. You will be surprised to see how in just a few streets, the atmosphere changes radically: from the austerity of the Jewish Quarter to the most striking Street Art and the old factories converted into restaurants, galleries and other design venues. After walking around the Williamsburg area it is time to enter the streets of South Williamsburg, one of the most popular Jewish neighborhoods in the world where the buildings are austere and simple.

If you book a tour of Williamsburg in Brooklyn or stroll through the neighborhood, my advice is to look at the landscape to learn about their way of life and customs. Where the community life is concentrated is on Lee Avenue, the main artery of the neighborhood and where most of its temples and stores are located. If you can, I recommend that you go into a kosher store and buy a sweet or muffin, they are very tasty!

Book a tour of Williamsburg in Brooklyn

Try the best pizza in New York!

All that sightseeing works up an appetite, doesn't it? You can't leave Brooklyn without ordering a pepperoni pizza at the legendary Grimaldi's restaurant, just under the Brooklyn Bridge at 1 Front Street, a temple for pizza lovers in New York! Another option is to book a food tour of Brooklyn and get to know different legendary places.

Book a food tour in Brooklyn

Back to Soho and the West Village

In the afternoon return to Manhattan to visit one of New York's trendiest neighborhoods, Soho, where many movies have been filmed. The best way to get to know all the details is to book a tour of Soho. In this area of the city you can hardly see the skyscrapers of Midtown and some of the oldest buildings in the Big Apple, which gives it a unique and very special charm. It is an oasis in the middle of modern New York where it is a pleasure to stroll quietly among its art galleries, modern restaurants and beautiful buildings. It is also an excellent place for shopping.

Set aside some time to visit the West Village, Manhattan's bohemian and hippie neighborhood. Unlike the rest, these streets escaped the strict grid model with which the city was projected. So they are chaotic and very entertaining to walk aimlessly, while watching the windows of the charming stores and beautiful architecture. The landscape of the West Village is so beautiful that its beautiful buildings have served as sets in film and television, so if you like to make the route of movies and series in New York, this neighborhood is a good place to start where you will find:

  • Monica's famous apartment in Friends (specifically on the corner of Grove Street and Bedford).
  • It is the place where Carrie Bradshaw's apartment from Sex and the City was located (at 66 Perry Street). In fact, you can book a Sex and the City location tour.

I find the architecture of the West Village to be a marvel. There is always some little treasure to discover. For example, the narrowest house in New York whose facade measures 2.9 meters wide at 75½ Bedford Street or the townhouses and brownstones on Leroy Street and Morton Street.

Book a tour of Soho

Day 3: Experience the thrill of vertigo at Hudson Yards and the NBA

Madison Square Garden| ©Hellotickets
Madison Square Garden| ©Hellotickets

Breakfast like a king at Chelsea Market

The third day of your trip to New York City will be long and full of emotions. You need to take strength to resist a whole day of sightseeing and, for that, it is essential to have a good breakfast. New York is a city where you can eat great, as there is a great gastronomic variety for all tastes.

However, I recommend that to start the route of day 3 you go to Chelsea Market, one of the most popular food markets in Manhattan. In its fast food stalls you can order delicious sandwiches, salads, pizzas, muffins, donuts and cookies. An example is Amy's Bread, Doughnuttery or Filaga Pizzeria although there are many more options.

Besides having breakfast at Chelsea Market, I advise you to take a walk around the market because they have very cool stores where you can buy some souvenirs like Posman Books, Chelsea Market Baskets or the Artists & Fleas market. If you want to know more about Chelsea Market I recommend you to read my article about this market in the Meatpacking District, there is a lot to see here! And then, book a tour of Chelsea.

Book a tour of Chelsea

Be amazed by High Line Park

Next to Chelsea Market is one of the most original and modern urban parks in New York: High Line Park, a garden full of greenery, art and rest areas built on a former elevated railroad line from which you will have the best views of the city. Since it has become a popular spot and the train track is narrow, the park can easily get crowded, so my advice is to go first thing in the morning after breakfast at the market.

Along its route (about two and a half kilometers) you can enjoy its peculiar design, which mixes art and nature, while doing a very cool route that goes through Chelsea and arrives at Hudson Yards from the Meatpacking District (or the other way around depending on where you start the circuit).

In my opinion, the views of the skyscrapers of the different neighborhoods of Manhattan are the best, along with the feeling of being in a small oasis surrounded by greenery and art away from the hustle and bustle. The path is so entertaining that you won't realize how far you've walked until you see it on a map! If you are curious to know more about this urban park, I recommend you to read the article 10 things to do and see on the High Line. Also, you can book a tour of the High Line.

Book a High Line tour

See Hudson Yards and The Vessel

Strolling through the High Line Park you will reach Hudson Yards, Manhattan's trendiest new neighborhood. To see it in detail, book a tour of Hudson Yards and The High Line- you'll be amazed!

It's hard to believe that this trendy area brimming with avant-garde buildings was until recently a dreary train depot along the Hudson River. But New York is a living, changing place. Thus arose Hudson Yards, a place that already has several must-see tourist attractions on any trip to the Big Apple as is the case of The Vessel, a kind of giant beehive that has become the symbol of this neighborhood.

The Vessel is a futuristic structure of 45 meters that will show you fantastic views of the city from different heights, angles and approaches. You'll have a great time here playing with your camera. From the top you can look out over the Hudson River, The Shed cultural center, High Line Park and the surrounding skyscrapers. Even if you pay attention you will see One World Trade Center and the Empire State Building on the horizon. My advice is to buy your tickets for The Vessel well in advance to avoid endless lines at the box office.

Book a tour of Hudson Yards and The High Line

Eat at Hudson Yards

It's time to take a break from Day 3's tour of New York for lunch. Hudson Yards also has some great options to choose from.

One of my favorites is Little Spain Market, a gastronomic space located in building 10 Hudson Yards, dedicated to the flavors of traditional Spanish cuisine. Eating a portion of bravas, a skewer of Spanish omelette, a Valencian coca and some crispy churros in the middle of New York is priceless. Even more so if they have the seal of quality of the prestigious chef José Andrés in collaboration with the brothers Ferrán and Albert Adriá.

In addition, in the shopping center The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards there are also other restaurants such as Shake Shack, Kawi or Peach Mart, among other possibilities.

Book a tour of Hudson Yards

Be dazzled by The Edge, Manhattan's tallest observatory

After a lunch break, it's time to test your vertigo at The Edge, one of New York's most spectacular observation decks. Climbing The Edge is a thrilling experience. Located in the skyscraper 30 Hudson Yards at 345 meters high, from its glass terrace of 700 m2 you will feel the impact of the wind and have a 360 degree panoramic view of New York.

I remember the first time I stepped on the outside of the observatory, which is projected in the shape of an arrow over the sky of New York, I felt on the edge of a cliff. Adrenaline rushed as I walked on its glass floor and gazed beneath my feet hundreds of feet above the New York traffic. It's a really exciting feeling and you'll feel your skin crawl. Who said fear?

As with The Vessel, I recommend that you buy your tickets for The Edge in advance to make sure you can get in at the time you want, on the day you plan to go.

Book tickets for The Edge

Game Time! Experience the magic of the NBA at Madison Square Garden

Watching a basketball game at Madison Square Garden is one of the most fascinating spectacles you can attend in the U.S., either because you are passionate about basketball or because you want to experience the atmosphere and the madness that this sport awakens in New York. So, don't hesitate and finish the third day of your vacation in the Big Apple in style by going to Madison Square Garden to enjoy a New York Knicks game.

If you want to include an NBA game in your trip, my advice is to buy tickets online before you travel. Why? The key is to buy them as soon as possible to get the best seat at the cheapest price. If you wait too long you run the risk of running out of tickets or that at the box office there are few tickets at a high price and in sectors with less spectacular visibility.

Do not hesitate, for me this is the easiest, safest and fastest. If you want to know more about how to buy tickets to watch NBA games in New York I recommend you to read the article I wrote about it, it will only take you a few minutes and I explain everything you need to know!

Book your tickets for a New York Knicks game

Day 4: gospel mass, the best museums and tour of Central Park

Running through Central Park| ©Hellotickets
Running through Central Park| ©Hellotickets

Listen to heavenly music in Harlem

Take advantage of this day to do something different during your stay in New York, for example, a tour of Harlem with Gospel Mass to get to know the most authentic side of this neighborhood north of Manhattan.

Immerse yourself in the culture of Harlem accompanied by a professional guide is the best way to experience the cultural diversity of this city and to discover the roots of the African-American community.

In just 4 hours you will see the main sights of Harlem such as the Apollo Theater, the Cotton Club, the Morris Jumel Mansion or the historic streets of typical apartments and you will have time to visit a local church to witness an authentic live gospel mass. I recommend going on Sundays, as you will find a larger congregation and therefore a more genuine experience.

Book a Harlem Gospel Mass Tour

Pedaling through Central Park

After doing this tour of Harlem you can continue your tour of New York in Central Park accessing the entrance next to this neighborhood that is quieter than the southern access.

With its 341 hectares of extension, Central Park is the largest urban park in New York. To see it in its entirety would be exhausting and perhaps unnecessary. In order to get an overview of the park and have energy left to continue exploring New York after this visit , I recommend renting a bike to tour it as you will be able to see its main points of interest and save time.

There are many ways to visit Central Park, but taking a private bike cab tour seems to me a fun and different way to discover it as you are accompanied by a professional guide. I did it and it is worth it because it shows you not only the most emblematic places of the park but also others that usually go unnoticed by tourists.

Rent a bike in Central Park

Have a picnic in Central Park

At the end of your bike tour of Central Park you can go to The Great Lawn, the largest meadow in the park to rest for a while and have a picnic when the sun shines.

There are many stalls scattered throughout Central Park where you can buy hot dogs, waffles, sandwiches, drinks and ice cream. If the weather is not good, that's okay because inside the park there are several restaurants where you can take a lunch break such as The Loeb Boathouse, Café Express or Le Pain Quotidien.

Rent a bike in Central Park

Stroll along the Upper East Side and the Museum of Natural History

On the fourth day of your tour of New York, you can take advantage of your visit to Central Park to stroll along the Upper East Side, New York's affluent neighborhood known for its imposing stately buildings and wide avenues.

Then book your ticket to the American Museum of Natural History, west of Central Park. It is one of the must-see museums in the city and one of the most visited, so to skip the lines at the ticket office and go directly to its exhibits, it is best to get a skip-the-line ticket to the museum.

My favorite space is the one dedicated to fossils and dinosaurs but this museum has dozens of permanent and special exhibits. My advice is to plan your visit well and set aside at least 3 hours to explore the museum at your leisure, but if you don't have much time, it is best to go directly to the rooms you want to see. If you want to know more about the New York Museum of Natural History, don't miss my article: Museum of Natural History New York Tickets: how to buy and prices.

Reserve your ticket for the American Museum of Natural History

Sail the waters of New York City at dusk.

At any time of the day, the views of the New York skyline are amazing, but I admit that I have a special weakness for its lights at dusk. That's why taking a sunset cruise on the waters of Manhattan is one of the most beautiful memories you can take with you. A great plan to conclude a day full of emotions after endless walks through the city, either with family, friends or as a couple. You have several options:

Whichever option you choose, you'll have a great time while still exploring the best sights of the city and enjoying a relaxing time on a boat.

Book a New York cruise

Day 5: Financial District and Broadway

The New York Stock Exchange| ©Hellotickets
The New York Stock Exchange| ©Hellotickets

Take the Upper and Lower Manhattan Tour and take a ferry to Liberty Island

There is not much left to finish your trip to New York and so that you do not leave any relevant corner to discover I recommend that on day 5 in the morning you do the Tour of Upper and Lower Manhattan, the heart of the Big Apple. It is the perfect option if you are going to be in New York for only a few days or if you are traveling with children and they get tired of walking.

The interesting thing about the tour is to visit Manhattan with an expert guide so that you have some context about each place you visit when you are exploring the city at your own pace and know how to manage much better. The Upper and Lower Manhattan Tour lasts 3 and a half hours and ends at Battery Park, at the southern end of the borough bordering the Financial District.

After this activity you can take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty that departs from the pier of this park, the oldest in New York. The views of Liberty Island, Lady Liberty and Ellis Island from Battery Park are breathtaking - you'll take lots of pictures!

Book a ferry cruise to the Statue of Liberty

Take a lunch break at the Westfield World Trade Center Mall

On your way back to Manhattan, before visiting Ground Zero it's time to take a break for lunch and recharge your batteries. You can go to Westfield World Trade Center Mall, a shopping center located just below The Oculus structure. Here there are many restaurants to choose from such as Eataly, Shake Shack, Wasabi Sushi & Bento or Starbucks, among others.

Visiting Ground Zero and the Financial District in the afternoon

Ground Zero in New York City is a place of remembrance that pays tribute to those who perished in the terrorist attacks of 2001 that shocked the world. After the attack, the World Trade Center had to be completely rebuilt. The Twin Towers gave way to:

  • One World Trade Center, which features the highest observation deck in New York known as the One World Observatory.
  • The striking 9/11 Museum.
  • The Memorial, one of the most emotional visits I made in New York.

However, there is much more to see at Ground Zero. If you want to know more in my article 10 things to see and do at Ground Zero in New York I tell you about the must-sees. In addition, I recommend you to book a tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Ground Zero.

The next stop on the route is the Financial District in the heart of Downtown Manhattan. Here there are a number of tourist attractions to see such as Wall Street and its Charging Bull or the New York Stock Exchange, among others. Its long narrow streets flanked by huge skyscrapers will barely allow you to see the sky and you will encounter hundreds of executives in suits rushing back and forth.

Book a tour of 9/11 Memorial and Ground Zero

Experience the magic of a Broadway musical

You come to New York to have fun, to be amazed at every turn and even to daydream. That's what Broadway musicals are for, they will make you enjoy like a child, no matter how old you are!

The magic of Broadway, its musical numbers and its majestic staging will leave you speechless. There are many titles on the bill, but some of the most prestigious are The Phantom of the Opera, Aladdin, The Lion King, Wicked, Chicago, Frozen or Los Miserables. Discover all the options on Broadway musicals and choose your favorite.

Of course, if you want to spend a night at the theater I recommend that you buy your Broadway tickets in advance to ensure the best seats on the date you want and at a better price than at the box office, where you will also save having to wait in long lines.

Book your ticket for a Broadway musical

6. Day Get out of New York City and explore other iconic sites

Washington D.C.| ©Caleb Pérez
Washington D.C.| ©Caleb Pérez

Maybe while planning your trip to New York at first you didn't think about adding an excursion outside the city to see other parts of the United States, since there is so much to see in the Big Apple, but in my opinion dedicating a day of your vacation to take a trip to Washington or Niagara Falls is a great idea because you will have the opportunity to see the nation's capital or this wonder of nature.

Get to know Washington D.C

Booking a tour to Washington is one of the best one-day experiences you can do from the Big Apple. You will be accompanied by an expert guide and you will have a very complete tour of Washington to discover such emblematic sites as the White House, the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery or the Pentagon, among many others. Read the following post about the Washington tour from New York and discover all the secrets - it's a blast!

Book your tour to Washington

Marvel at Niagara Falls

Another option is to take a Niagara Falls tour that brings you to and from downtown New York in one day. The great thing about this organized tour is that you won't have to worry about how to get there, which can be quite an odyssey. And once at the falls, you'll be sure not to miss a single detail from a professional bilingual guide.

Seeing the beautiful rainbow and hearing the roar of the water is an unforgettable experience - I was speechless! Also, since this tour explores the New York side of the falls, no visa is required.

Book your Niagara Falls Tour

Day 7: good bye New York!

View from the One World Observatory| ©Hellotickets
View from the One World Observatory| ©Hellotickets

And the last day of your New York vacation has arrived! All goodbyes are hard, especially when you've had such a great time and memorable moments in this city, but instead of getting sad, my advice is to enjoy the last day to the fullest.

For starters, you can spend the morning shopping around New York to buy some original and unique souvenirs from your trip - you can find everything here and at all prices! The city is full of stores for all tastes and I am sure you will find a special gift for your friends and family.

If you need some inspiration in this regard, I recommend you take a look at my article on the 10 best things to buy in New York. Another option is to book a shopping tour, which will take you through The Hamptons, Sag Harbor and an outlet.

Book a shopping tour in New York

Treat yourself to your last meal in New York City

A day of shopping is exhausting for anyone. Take a break and take advantage of the last day of your trip to New York to treat yourself as you deserve. In my post about the 10 best places to eat in New York you will find places where you can eat very well without paying a fortune. And if you are looking for a safe bet, be sure to book a gastronomic tour of Manhattan where you will taste all the delights of New York cuisine.

Book a food tour of Manhattan

Say goodbye to New York in style!

Say goodbye to the Big Apple from the top of one of its skyscrapers while contemplating the wonderful Manhattan skyline at sunset. Watching the sun go down while the lights of New York are gradually illuminated is a magical moment and a very special way to say goodbye to the city.

There are many observation decks to climb and each one shows a different facet of the New York skyline but the two best options, both in the center of Manhattan, are:

Now, which is the best observatory? It depends, the Empire State Observatory is higher and offers better views of One World Trade Center and the Financial District, while Top of the Rock is the best choice to see Times Square, Central Park and the Empire State Building from the top. Whichever observatory you choose, you'll find that being up there is truly breathtaking and have the feeling that time stands still before your eyes.

Book your ticket for the Empire State Building