How to travel to New York City on a budget – The Definitive Guide

Would you like to know how to travel to New York City on a budget? In this post you will find a Definitive Guide for saving a lot of money in your trip to the Big Apple.

Yes, New York is one of the most expensive cities in the world and because of that is a destination that most of the tourists are afraid of.

However, if you plan your trip properly you will be able to travel on a budget and save some money.

So, this post was written for you, who are looking for a way to make it possible to visit New York as cheap trip.

That being said, let’s pass to the budget tips in the Big Apple, so you can enjoy the best of this amazing destination.




The accommodation is perhaps the biggest challenge for a budget traveler planning a trip to New York and that is because any decent room in Manhattan costs at least $ 250 per night + tax of 14.75%, which means a total of almost $ 300 a night.

However, you can find great budget as long as you devote yourself to this task and look for hotels and apartments the proper way.

That being said, we suggest you try to look for lodging options in Brooklyn, cheap apartments in Manhattan or even to rent an apartment in Air Bnb.




Have you ever heard about Air Bnb? It is a platform that makes the connection between travelers and the properties ownera in a safe and reliable way.  Click here to read our full post with all the information about the service.

The payment of the reservation is made directly to the platform  and then, when you get to the place you booked, you can make a complaint in 24 hours if the place doesn’t matches the reality and the value won’t be tranfered to the owner.

So Airbnb is a safe alternative for your apartment renting experience, and you can and should use the site if there is any problem in your lodging, before, during or after your stay .

+ By the way, we published a special post with a list of the best apartments on Airbnb in New York. Click here to check it out.

The site is attractive also for those who rent the apartments, because if there is any problem with guests, one can report to Airbnb to solve it.

The properties are checked by agents, which are sent to prove that the pictures available on the website are true and, so always look for options that were checked.

Also, you can learn a little more of the property and the owner through the reviews that are available in each profile. Be sure to carefully read most of the comments made in the profile to find out if there is any problem in the property.

This way you will prevent unpleasant surprises on your vacation and you will be able to make the most of this tool. Check here the best apartments for rent in New York!

+ Be sure to register to win a discount coupon of $ 27 on your first booking – click here to get yours!




Alternatively, you can look for a lodging option in Brooklyn, which usually have more attractive rates than the ones offered in the center of Manhattan.

Currently Brooklyn is a highly sought after area, not only for its attractions, but also for its different energy. It is worth checking the lodging options in the area. Click here to find the perfect option for you through Booking.

Please remember that the best areas are in Brooklyn  Downtown Brooklyn and Williamsburg.

+ Also, check out the post with a list of the best hotels in New York and book yours in advance with free cancelation.




When you think of New York that comes immediately in your mind? Certainly, the skyscrapers, busy avenues with yellow cabs driving through are some of the most common images of the Big Apple.

In Midtown Manhattan you can find all these lovely cliches and much more,specially because the most popular tourist attractions are situaded in Midwotn.

There, New Yorkers and tourists share the sidewalks every day and this no doubt is the perfect place to start exploring the city.

But, of course it has a price to stay at the best area in NYC, but you can find some budget options such as:


HI Hostel NYC – $ 50 per person for shared room

This hostel is located in northern New York, one block from Broadway Street and 10 minutes from Central Park. It offers free wireless internet (Wi-Fi), cinema room and large patio.

The Hostelling International New York offers dormitory rooms with shared bathroom. They are provided sheets, towels and cleaning service. Some rooms include breakfast in the morning.

The New York Hostelling International offers a games room with pool tables. Enjoy free access to the large community kitchen and cafe, where there are drinks and snacks.


Jazz on Columbus Circle Hostel – $ 190 a doube room

Jazz on Columbus Circle Hostel offers accommodation in New York. Columbus Circle and Central Park are a 4-minute walk away.

Some units offer a seating area where you can relax, and all have private bathroom with shower. The accommodations also feature a flat-screen TV.


Shocard Hotel, New York – $ 170 a double room

 Located in the vibrant Garment, neighborhood in New York, just steps from Times Square Avenue, Hotel Shocard, New York is a modern accommodation with a touch of time. Free WiFi is available in all rooms. The hotel has a trendy bar.

Hotel Shocard is within walking distance of Radio City Music Hall (venue) and buildings Rockefeller Center and Empire State Building. In addition, the Times Square subway station, located nearby, provides direct access to most points of interest in the city.

This is the New York part of our guests like best, according to independent assessments. This area is also great for shopping, with famous brands nearby H & M


The Evelyn – $ 140 a double room

This boutique hotel in Midtown Manhattan is north of Madison Square Park, the NoMad neighborhood. The rooms are decorated in Art Nouveau style house and offer free WiFi.

All rooms at the Evelyn Hotel have cable TV and clock radio iHome®. Some rooms have wooden floors and a small reading area. The private bathroom has a hairdryer and premium bath amenities.

The Evelyn Hotel is a 5-minute walk from the Flatiron Building (skyscraper) and a 10-minute walk from the Empire State Building (skyscraper). Already the Metro Station 28 Street is a 4-minute walk away.


Pod 39 – $ 265 a double room

This hotel, offering a restaurant, lounge, and a seasonal rooftop bar, is 483 meters from Grand Central Terminal. All rooms have free WiFi. A games room with table tennis is available.

Rooms at Pod 39 feature air conditioning, work desk and cable TV. Private bathrooms feature a hairdryer. Some rooms have beautiful views of the city.

You can enjoy cocktails in the bar and lounge located on the roof of Pod 39. Salvation Taco, you can savor international tacos for lunch and dinner. The lobby bar serves snacks and drinks daily.


Pod 51 – $ 265 a double room

This Manhattan hotel is located less than 1 km from Rockefeller Center. The property features a modern décor and rooms with flat-screen TV and an on-site lounge and rooftop garden.

The Pod 51 features a multilingual concierge staff that can help you organize tours in New York. You can also meet other guests through the Pod Culture Forum, where people can share travel plans and their stories. Additionally, the pod 51 provides a list of daily activities free in the city.

Also, take a look at  The Mayfair in Times Square, SoHotel in SoHo and Hotel 31 in Murray Hill.




There is plenty to see and do in New York and some attractions are paid and others free. So, make the most of both of them!

The good news is that all free attraction in New York City are amazing and comprise some of the must do activities of the Big Apple.

+ Click here to see our full post on the best free attractions in New York.

In general, it is worth visiting the free attactions such as the High Line,  Central Park , Rockefeller Center complex, stroll through Fifth Avenue, visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, visit the  Times Square, Washington Square Park, Battery Park, Grand Central Station, Brooklyn, Wall Street – Financial District, Chinatown,  Little Italy and Chelsea Market.

Also, as New York was made to be enjoyed from up high you must enjoy as much observation points as you can.  Despite Empire State Building, the Rockefeller Center  and the new 1 World Trade Center are paid attractions, you can also enjoy the view from other places, such as Rooftops.

Rooftops are usually bars and you can go there to have drinks, get some snacks or enjoy the view. The best rooftop in town is the Standard hotel in the Meatpacking District, which features amazing views of the Hudson River.

You should also 230 Fifth in Midtown, which is such an amazing place for relaxing with friend and with a great view of Empire State Building.




There is no other way to put it: walking is the best way to fall in love with New York.

But inevitably you will need to use public transport to visit all the city’s attraction, specially if you are spending only a few days in the city.

Taxi is a good choice, but not for those who want to save money given that the public transport network works and serves very well the visitors.

So, if you are traveling on a budget it is better to use the subway to get around, so it is worth buying the Metro Card, a magnetic card that offers two types of combinations for visitors.

You can choose the card that gives unlimited possibilities to travel – Unlimited Ride – which costs $ 32 per week or $ 112 monthly.

You can also choose to pay per trip – Pay-Per-Ride – charged with  any value between  $ 5 and $ 100, which will be charged for each trip ($ 2.50 per trip, allowing transfers between subway and bus in a two-hour interval). To check the updated rates ​​click here.

It is important to remember that the first card costs $ 1 and this fee is not reversed in credit for transport.

Buying the card is very simple, just do the procedure for own account in vending machines or seek assistance from staff at the counters.




One of the most amazing attractions in New York is the variety and excellence of gastronomy.

If you are willing to invest, you will find wonderful options to eat, but will have to pay great amounts of money for it.

However, you can find both dining and lunch options with fair prices in the Big Apple.

We will give some tips of cheap restaurants proved and approved, but we strongly suggest you to go further find new options on your way.

Shake Shack – Fast food with several addresses in the city. They serve hamburgers for everyone, including vegetarians. Click here to check the addresses and the menu. 

Magnolia Bakery – The famous bakery portrayed in TV series Sexy and the City has super interesting options with fair prices.  Click here to check the addresses and the menu.

Smorgasburg – Super nice food fair in Brooklyn offering a variety of food options with attractive prices. Click here to check the addresses and the menu.

Fresh & Co – Perfect for snacks, light and healthy salads. It offers many options and has several branches.  Click here to check the addresses and the menu.

The green tomato – Light meals, sandwiches and salads.  Click here to check the address and the menu.

Chelsea Market – The market features a lot of restaurants and is worth a visit. Click here to check the addresses and restaurants.




Some must-see attractions in New York are paid, but some with planning you can visit them for free or for insignificant cost.



The museum offers free admission on Fridays from 16h to 20h. On other days the ticket cost $ 25.

American Museum of Natural History

The entrance for the American has a suggested price of $ 25.00, but you can pay as much as you can at any time and day.

However, from 16:45 to 17:45 the museum has free admission every day.

Although, keep in mind that the planetary concerts are paid separately.


Guggenheim Museum

The  Guggenheim Museum  features free entrance  from 17:45 and 19:45 every day.

In fact, in this period visitors can pay as much as they want but it is the perfect time to pay a small contribution and avoid paying the default entry costing $ 25.



The Met can be visited any day or time and the value of the ticket is a donation.

The suggested price is $ 25, but you can donate as much as you can just inform the value when you buy the ticket.


The Whitney Museum of American Art

The amazing Whitney Museum has free admission to Saturday from 17:30 to 19:45.


WTC Memorial

The memorial of the World Trade Center is a tribute to the victims of 9/11 and represents a must do attraction in the city.

The entrance is  free on Tuesdays from 17h to 20h, but remember you book it in advance on site .




Many cities offer tourist passes and they allow visitors to visit the main tourist attractions for much less than it would cost to buy separate tickets.

They usually represent a good deal for travelers, being an excellent option for those who want to fully enjoy the city, after all, saving money while traveling is something everybody wants, right? Specially if you are planning to visit New York, one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Some tourist passes are extremely interesting and have great value for money and others do not. So it’s important to understand each pass and do the math to check if they are great options for you in accordance with your interests and travel plans.

That’s right, there is no right answer to this question, therefore, you should consider the length of your trip and the itinerary you are planning to do in order to know if it is worth buying the tourist pass.

+ Click here to check out a complete post about all the details of New York City Pass and New York Pass.






You can buy tickets to Broadway in the same day of the show at one of theTKTS booths .

Buying the tickets in TKTS is a guarantee of great discount ranging from 20% to 50%. Such a great deal.

The most famous selling point of TKTS is located in Times Square, which opens at 3 pm and closes 8 pm, but there is also the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan (11h / 18h) and the Downtown Brooklyn (11h / 18h ; closed Mondays and Sundays).

If you prefer not to spend time looking for Broadway Tickets, you can buy in advance on the official websites;

You can find good deals on these sites and it is worth the try before you leave home!




Did you like the tips? Book your hotel, buy your travel insurance or book tours through the affiliate links and help the blog with a small commission. Thanks!


Lara Nogueira

More about Lara Nogueira

Lara founded "Finding New Paths" as a platform to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to experience our world in an unique way. She now divides her time between studying a Masters ( International Tax Law ) in Sweden and her adventures abroad!

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