Lower East Side, Manhattan New York City is one of the most exciting metropolises in the world but there are some things better to avoid
Those who visit a metropolis such as New York for the first time do not only ask themselves which highlights absolutely have to be on the program but also what should be better avoided. Our editor has just been on site for two weeks and has some tips on how to make your holiday in the most exciting city in the world even better!
1. Keep your eyes open at the “Express Trains”
New York’s subway system is really confusing for strangers. There are several trains per line, which have different letters and often travel in different directions from certain points. Especially bad for those who don’t know the place: Some of these trains are “express trains” that don’t stop at all stations. In case of doubt, this leads to the fact that you can wave to your station while passing it and then go back five stations with a “Local Train”. By the way, one recognizes the “Express Trains” by the fact that the letter at the front of the subway is framed with a square and not with a circle.
Attention: As a holder of a Metro-Card, one has to wait for 18 minutes before one can use the ticket again to get in. This is especially annoying if one went in the wrong direction and wants to go back but has to leave the subway station – it is quite common in New York that the stations are not connected underground. But don’t worry: if you explain your problem to the staff at the information desk in a friendly manner, you will actually always be let through.
2. Don’t underestimate the distances…
Yes, New York certainly cannot be compared to a hiking holiday. But everyone who has ever been there know how big New York is and what distances you can still walk. This is partly because there is so much to discover above ground.
Another reason is that there are indeed many subways and buses, but they do not cover the whole city area in a meaningful way. I made the experience on site more than once that it was faster on foot than with the subway – and covered up to 30.000 steps per day. Comfortable shoes are therefore a must and a little sore muscles are not unlikely for sports enthusiasts.
3. Do not necessarily buy a “New York City Pass”.
The “New York City Pass” provides access to a total of six attractions: The Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History and The Metropolitan Museum of Art are all included. Additionally, one has the choice between further sightseeings: Top of the Rock OR Guggenheim Museum, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island OR Circle Line boat tours and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum OR the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. The City Pass costs $132 for adults and $108 for children. If you visit all of the listed attractions, you save more than 40 percent – it’s definitely worth it.
But there is also the problem: The pass only pays off if you want to visit at least half of the attractions anyway and don’t get any discounts (students or pensioners get discounts in many museums anyway). So you should calculate beforehand whether you can get away cheaper without the City Pass.
4. Do not go to the museum on any day
Speaking of museums: here it is worthwhile to make a visit not only dependent on the weather but also on the day of the week. Because in many museums, admission is free on certain weekdays. For example, the 9/11 Museum, which is also included in the New York City Pass, is free on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. anyway – normally the entrance fee is $26.
5. Avoid going by taxi
There are several reasons for this. For one, one can really save a lot of money by abstaining from driving with the famous “Yellow Cabs”, as they are everything but cheap. On the other hand, one often gets stuck in the dense traffic of the million-city, especially in Manhattan.
Should you nevertheless decide against a walk or the metro, it makes more sense to choose an alternative transport service provider such as Uber or Lyft. Here, one is driven by private persons, but at least in the USA they also have to have a taxi license. It becomes especially cheap if you share the car with other people (“shared” Uber or Lyft).
6. Do not buy a SIM card
To be fair, it is important for Uber and Lyft to have internet. Now as a tourist you might get the idea to buy a local SIM card for the internet directly. But wait, no! Because mobile data is simply not needed in New York.
There is free Wi-Fi on literally every corner in New York: in most restaurants and cafés (and on the sidewalks in front of them), in shopping malls, on the subway and even on billboards. When I was in New York, there was only one moment in nine days when I would have liked to have mobile data – and that was outside the city at JFK Airport.
7. Don’t save on food
Of course, a holiday in the Big Apple is not cheap, but when it comes to food it is really worth spending a little more. From classics such as the great sandwich restaurant Katz Deli’s, where many celebrities have dined, to avant-garde vegan star cuisine – New York’s culinary delights are truly worthwhile for everyone.
8. Do not order bottled water in the restaurant
Who spends a lot of money on good food can save on water again! In the USA there is always free tap water in restaurants. Although it smells and tastes slightly like chlorine, it is clean and can be drunk without any problems. If you don’t mind that, you can save money by visiting restaurants inexpensive New York.
9. Do not buy musical tickets in advance
Many New York visitors want to see at least one musical on famous Broadway, where classics like “Cats” and “Chicago” are performed as well as new releases. But booking in advance is usually not worth it. Depending on the day of the week, one gets some remaining tickets on the same day at half price and often even on quite good seats.
10. Do not try to visit the Statue of Liberty spontaneously
But those who want to go to Liberty Island should better book in advance. It is also possible to buy tickets on the same day, but one has to expect that then one will not be allowed to enter the statue. Moreover, the vacationers complain that one has to plan long waiting times of up to three hours before getting on the feeder ferry.
11. Don’t get in the way of the New Yorkers
New Yorkers are often thought to be rude – but for the most part, this is not true at all. Most of them are cosmopolitan, friendly people, but they are often in a hurry in everyday life. In a city as big and crowded as New York, it can also be annoying when you have to squeeze through masses of tourists on your way to work. The worst-case scenario for New Yorkers: If the tourists then stop at every red light and wait until it turns green. That’s how you stop the flow of people. Most car, taxi and bicycle drivers are used to nobody stopping at red lights anyway. Thus, a short look to the left and to the right, and then quickly across when nobody comes.
But be careful: Of course, this does not apply to all traffic lights! At big crossings, in front of highways or at unclear places it is absolutely necessary to wait. It is best to orientate yourself by the locals. And if you are uncertain, you should of course rather wait than put yourself in danger.
12. Do not only take clothes for one season
In New York, the weather can change quickly, thanks to the coastal location. One day it’s over 30 degrees, the next it’s barely 20, and there are often huge differences between indoors and outdoors. While the city heats up a lot in the summer, thanks to air conditioning indoors and on the subway, it is often so fresh that one would prefer to put on a thick sweater. But in the cold season, it is uncomfortable outside and there is a draught through the canyons of the houses; in the interior, one is again grilled by the heating. The best solution: the onion principle.
13. Don’t walk onto the Brooklyn Bridge from the wrong side
Whether as a photo motif from outside or as a place for a walk with a view of the skyline: The Brooklyn Bridge should definitely be part of a visit to New York. But many tourists make a mistake: they go to the bridge from the wrong side! Many vacationers take a hotel or a holiday flat in Brooklyn for reasons of costs and because it is really cool. One spends the day in Manhattan and looks at the sight seeings in order to walk back home in the evening, best at sunset.
A romantic idea, but unfortunately, a stiff neck is pre-programmed, because, in order to see the breathtaking skyline of New York, one has to turn around all the time. Better: spend the day in Brooklyn (for example in Prospect Park) and walk over to Manhattan in the evening for dinner. Then a great view is guaranteed!