11 Things You Should Know Before Your First Trip to New York

Colorful, loud, dizzy: Times Square in New York. If you are visiting the US East Coast metropolis for the first time, you should know a few things. Which, we will reveal below. Colorful, loud, fuzzy: Times Square in New York. Whoever is on the road in the US East Coast metropolis for the first time should know a few things. Which ones we’ll tell you downstairs.

Especially those who have chosen a metropolis as their travel destination, where they have never been before, run the risk of being quickly overwhelmed on site. And this does not only mean the often countless attractions, but also the habits in everyday life, the amount of the tip, technical standards, prices on site, etc. 

1. Go through a red light!

For pedestrians in New York there is only one rule when crossing the streets: If there is no car coming, cross quickly. Whether the traffic light is red or green is of secondary importance. Also, don’t be impressed if there are police officers around, they don’t care if someone crosses the street at red. Especially since practically every New Yorker does. You’ll probably see an NYPD officer ignoring a red light. Nevertheless, you should be careful, not only on the narrow side streets, but especially on the wide avenues. But there is usually so much traffic anyway, that one prefers to wait at the traffic lights for the green.

2. Don’t sneak, and don’t get in the way!

New Yorkers don’t want to lose time, which is not only shown by the fact that they ignore red lights, but also by their brisk pace. Even in the leisure mode, they display a walking speed that would pass for a sprint in Berlin. New Yorkers are correspondingly impatient if someone doesn’t get into the pots at supermarket checkouts, Subway ticket machines or when ordering a sandwich. For tourists, make sure that New Yorkers don’t hold you up – and have your ticket ready on the Subway when you head towards the turnstile.

3. Before 10 a.m. almost nothing works

Actually, one would assume that a city like New York does not sleep, so it should start early everywhere. But most shops – and also many offices – do not start the day until 10 a.m. One reason for this is that the evenings are often very long; working days until 9 p.m. or longer are not unusual. So if you want to discover the Big Apple relatively unhectically, use the time between 7 and 9 for a walk, for example on the High Line, a former elevated railway line that has been converted into a park.

4. New York is a bicycle city

Those who have never been to New York probably do not even suspect that the metropolis is a great place to explore by bike. In recent years, hundreds of kilometers of cycle paths have been built in the city, and in 2013, Citi Bike, the counterpart of Call a Bike, was launched. In Manhattan, the heart of New York, the bicycle is a good, inexpensive and sometimes faster alternative to subway, car or taxi. Advantage, especially for vacationers: You see much more of the city. A day pass for Citi Bike costs 9.95 dollars, the weekly pass 25 dollars. About 400 stations are spread over the city area. 

5. Here you pay (almost) everything with credit card

A $3 espresso? A bottle of water for $1.49? A beer at the pub for $7? In New York – as in other US metropolises – there is almost nothing you cannot pay with your credit card. What is almost the exception in supermarkets in some countries is the rule in the Big Apple. Depending on the type of purchase and for low amounts, the credit card is often just swiped, and there is no need to enter a PIN or sign a signature. Of course, as a holidaymaker, one loses the overview so quickly. But sometimes it is very practical if one only has to take out the card and does not have to count the change. Tips are also paid in this way: simply fill in the “Tip” field with the appropriate amount.

6. Healthy food is (very) expensive!

Certainly, one or the other may now object that healthy food is also expensive in this country. That is true! But in New York – not the cheapest city anyway – this is particularly true, especially since even unhealthy food is not exactly cheap. Fresh juice can cost 10 dollars or more. Sometimes you can’t find normal supermarkets – apart from minimarkets – but the probability of finding a health food store or restaurant is quite high.

But those who like it less healthy will also enjoy a slice of pizza – there are cheap and very tasty slices everywhere – or an ordinary bagel with cream cheese, for example here: Bagels on the Square, 7 Carmine St, West Village. Try the other bagel variations there too!

7. Private apartment or room instead of hotel

What applies to food also applies to accommodation. Even a mediocre hotel can put too much strain on the travel budget, therefore: book a holiday apartment on the relevant pages. This not only has the advantage that you can usually get away for a much lower price, but the landlord will also give you many good tips for the surroundings along with the keys – in a huge city like New York, this is worth its weight in gold.

8. The nicest neighborhoods in Manhattan

Although Brooklyn may sound attractive to many – which it certainly is – you should limit your first visit to New York to Manhattan when choosing your neighborhood. From here, during the day, one gets much faster, partly on foot, to the famous sight seeings. Recommendable quarters are, among others, the Lower East Side, East or West Village, Greenwich Village, Chelsea or SoHo. In the Lower East Side you will find tapas bars like the Vandal:

9. In New York you can get free Wi-Fi at every corner

Save any data roaming charges. What is unfortunately still a rarity in some countries, or sometimes very complicated, is the rule in the USA: log on to a WLAN somewhere spontaneously and relatively easily for free. In New York, this is literally possible on every corner. Sometimes it is a public WLAN network anyway, or one that is offered by caf├ęs such as Starbucks, restaurants, shops or the like. In the simplest case, connecting usually only requires accepting the terms of use or sometimes entering an email address. The best thing to do is to get an email account before the journey. This prevents the main address from being used for advertising purposes.

10. Think carefully about whether and how you use the Subway

If you want to reach your destination with the Subway, you should plan exactly whether or how often you need to change trains. If you are travelling with a single ticket ($2.75), another one can quickly become due. Especially if one has accidentally got into an express train and the Subway does not even stop at the actual station where one wanted to get out.

11. Plan enough time for the return journey to the airport

Although this is recommended to every traveler, in New York, one should really take this advice that is repeated again and again to heart, especially if one flies back from the airport JFK and travels by rental car or taxi. Depending on the traffic situation, the journey can take up to 2 hours. You can often not rely on Google Maps, Apple Maps and other services, as accidents can suddenly hinder the already slow-moving traffic. In addition, the route from Manhattan to JFK is also the route to get to Long Island, which causes even more traffic jams on some days. Therefore: Those who want to be on the safe side take subway and train. At the airport itself, one should be at best two hours before, as the security check is very accurate and can sometimes take a little longer than one is used to in this country.