Best 10 New York itinerary options – from 1 to 7 days

In this guide, you will not find just one New York itinerary, but 10 of them, adapted from a brief stay of just 1 day to a week-long stay.

I have developed them also to suit different type of visitors. This may be a couple, a family with kids, an art lover or an active traveller that wants to see as much as possible.

There is no one plan that fits all in this city. There are so many opportunities, activities, experiences, sights to see and things to do that you could spend an entire month in the Big Apple without getting bored.

For every New York itinerary, I have included a morning and afternoon plan of action.

In a few cases, I have also suggested cafes and restaurants to have your lunch or dinner, besides a few cocktail bars to spend the night.

Of course, you can easily adapt each New York itinerary to your needs.

Now let’s begin

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Best New York itinerary
Best New York itinerary, now up to 7 days

Best New York Itinerary – In a nutshell

Here down a few quick points. However, keep reading for more detailed information

  • How many days in New York? 7 days will give you ample time to explore several attractions. If you plan ahead, your 5-day itinerary can be packed with sightseeing. In 3 days, there will be a great deal you can do, but you may have to give up on something. Two days in the Big Apple will exhaust you and you will barely scratch the surface, but it is possible. In one day, focus on just the iconic spots, and you will certainly return for a longer stay.
  • New York itinerary in 1 day: in 24 hours in New York you should focus your attention on a limited list of iconic attractions and places to visit. In this way, you will get a good overview of the city, and hopefully you will be back soon for a deeper experience. Read more below on the 1 day New York itinerary, with stops in Midtown and Lower Manhattan.
  • New York itinerary in 2 days: I have created three possible itineraries that work so well for couples, families with kids and art lovers. There is not much point in suggesting a playground to a romantic couple, right? The plans involve also a few walks, like in Central Park, Greenwich Village or Harlem, and I have included self guided maps that will make your time in the Big Apple so easy. My biggest suggestion here is again to plan all in advance, either using or being inspired by these itineraries. Make the most of your weekend there by planning all in advance.  Read below my three options for 2 days in New York
  • New York itinerary in 3 days: You will be able to get a good sense of New York after three days there. Plan early your itinerary to save yourself time once you’re there. I personally enjoy exploring art museums and modern art galleries, however, there are other possibilities for families and romantic couples. The Guggenheim and the MoMa are a must for art lovers, though the two interactive Children Museums in the city are some of the best in the world for a family trip. Read below a detailed daily plan for 3 days in New York.
  • Itinerary in 4 or 5 days: You can do so much more with 4 or 5 days. Furthermore, you won’t have to rush from one attraction to another. In addition to visiting Manhattan, you will also be able to explore one or more of the boroughs out of Manhattan, such as Brooklyn, where you can visit Coney Island, the New York beach, or the Bushwick Collective, an amazing and unique open air street art museum with murals by local and international artists. Read below my four options for a New York itinerary in 4-5 days.
  • Itinerary in 7 days: a week in any city may seem like a long time, but New York is no ordinary city. Whether you travel alone, with your partner, or with your family and kids, there will be so many places to see and activities to take part, that you will never get bored. You can even think about organising a day tour to New Jersey, Boston, Washington D.C. and surely to one or more borough around Manhattan. The ferry to Staten Island is an experience by itself. Read more below on 7 days in New York
  • Best area to stay in New York: as you can already imagine, it all depends on the type of holiday that you are planning: couples or family, action or relax, and I could keep going. I wrote a guide on the best areas to stay in New York based on your kind of trip with also a few suggestions on hotels and Airbnb. 

You can see more maps of New York below, with the 5 boroughs and a shared map with all the interesting attractions of New York, including a few little gems.

New York itinerary for 1 day

Visiting New York in one day can be overwhelming and that is why I suggest experiencing mostly the iconic places, with the idea of going back for a longer stay.

You must start your day at Central Park for a walk while appreciating the beautiful skyline.

When in New York, a tour is not a tour without a walk over to Times Square, in Midtown Manhattan.

Anyone who visits the square can attest to how mind-blowing the sight is.

Another iconic place to visit is the Public Library, especially if you love history and books.

This is the 2nd largest library in America with large reading rooms and carved wood ceiling.

It hosts exhibitions all year round.

Next is the Grand Central Terminal, where movies and music videos have been filmed.

Enjoy this massive architectural beauty. Keep in mind that it is always busy all week, but the visit is worth it.

Then it is time to visit the famous Empire State Building.

Make sure your tour reaches the 86th-floor observatory that will give you 120km panoramic views of the city.

End your DIY tour in the Lower Manhattan with a visit to Wall Street and Ground Zero.

Check out the detailed plan of this glorious New York itinerary in 1 day with a full description of every attraction and maps to follow.

One day in New York itinerary

One day in New York itinerary
One day in New York itinerary

New York itinerary for 2 days

Two days in New York is still a tight time, but plan in advance and you will be amazed by how much you can experience.

If you are on a trip with your partner, start your trip with the romantic Greenwich Village and Midtown.

Then, in the afternoon, visit the iconic Times Square, the Public Library and Grand Central Station.

On the second day, experience the historic Harlem and in the afternoon take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the formal immigration center opened till 1940.

For a family trip, you must visit the Museum of Modern History, for its amazing and unique hands-on approach, perfect for the kids.

Take the family to the Museum of Ice Cream to enjoy taste, colour and flavour. Have fun in Central Park time at the Adventure Playground and the Bethesda Terrace.

Check out the detailed plan for an itinerary for 2 days in New York that includes also an option for art and culture lovers

2 days in New York itinerary

New York Itinerary in 2 days
New York Itinerary in 2 days

New York itinerary for 3 days

If you are spending three days in NYC, you will get a great overview of the city, especially if you plan all your activities in advance.

Also in this case, I have organised three types of itineraries which work great for couples, families with kids, and art & culture lovers.

If you are travelling with your partner, you must see first the city from one of the high viewing platform (or why not a helicopter trip).

Then add to your must-do list an exploration of Lower Manhattan, a trip to the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center and finish your New York stay with an unusual and interesting walk in Brooklyn on the last day

With the family, start your trip at Times Square and experience the funny part of Midtown. 

Central Park, the Museum of Natural History and a ferry trip around Manhattan are always a winner with kids.

For art and culture lovers, you will be blown out by the wide choice of museums and galleries, including a few areas with world famous murals.

Here is a comprehensive post that offers day-by-day itineraries for 3 days in New York based on your kind of holiday (couples, families, art&culture), with morning and afternoon activities, maps as well as photos.

3 days in New York itinerary

New York itinerary in 3 days
New York itinerary in 3 days

New York itinerary for 4 or 5 days

New York in 4 or 5 days will give you everything from nature, art, science and beautiful buildings.

This is a great length of stay to not only visit the central borough of Manhattan but also Brooklyn and possibly Queens and the Bronx.

Doesn’t matter how you visit New York (with your partner, with your kids or for a full on trip), include Times Square and the area of Midtown in your itinerary.

With 4 or 5 days in New York, you should include in your must-see list a few of the iconic places of the city as the Statue of Liberty, one of the observation decks, Central Park, the World Trade Center, the Guggenheim Museum.

You will have enough time to visit a few little gems too, like the Vessel (a 150 foot tall gigantic beehive made of metal stairs without a clear direction, weird I know) or the Bushwick Collective, an open-air museum of murals and street art located in Brooklyn.

In fact, there is so much more you can do in the Big Apple that I decided to write a extensive guide to the best itineraries for 4/5 days in New York, based on your kind of holiday (couples, families, or just a bit of everything), with detailed day-by-day plans, maps, and photos.

4 or 5 days in New York itinerary

New York Itinerary in 4 or 5 days
New York Itinerary in 4 or 5 days
The Vessel on sunset time
The Vessel on sunset time

New York itinerary for 7 days

With 7 days in New York, you can think of extending one of the daily plans I have listed in the 5-day itinerary of the Big Apple with the following activities:

  • Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn Bus Tour: you can certainly visit these boroughs on your own using the extensive subway network. You can check, for example, my free self-guided walking tour of Brooklyn. In saying that, a bus tour with a guide will give you the possibility to learn more about the local life with a great overview of 3 boroughs in a day.
  • Little Italy Italian Food Tasting Tour: who doesn’t love the Italian cuisine? With this tour, leaded by a local guide, you will get to know more about the Italian culture and history in New York, besides tasting a few products from the family run bakeries and dairies.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art 3-Hour Tour: I have suggested the Metropolitan Museum in one of my daily activities, however, with more time you can actually join a more extensive visit with a museum guide that will lead you through the best art pieces explaining the artist’s work besides giving a few interesting and funny facts. 
  • A tour of the Catacombs: this is a short tour, just 90 minutes, however so intense. You will get to experience the only catacombs in New York open to the public, under the Basilica of St. Patrick‚Äôs Old Cathedral.
  • Washington D.C. Day Trip: although I suggest visiting Washington at least on a 2 day trip, sometimes this is not possible with our busy life. This tour will pick you up in the early morning from Manhattan to visit the USA capital and its landmarks on a day trip. Just keep in mind that the bus trip takes around 3.5 hours one way.
  • Boston Day Trip: very similar to the previous day trip, this time you will get to know Boston, north of New York. The travelling time is almost the same.

Handy maps for a New York itinerary

Here below a map of the 5 boroughs followed by a map of Manhattan.

Best areas to stay in New York City
Best areas to stay in New York City – Check and download my Google map of New York Attractions.
Where to stay in Manhattan
Areas of Manhattan – Check and download my Google map of New York Attractions
Things to do and places to visit in New York
Things to do and places to visit in New York – Check the shared Google Map for all the attractions

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More photos of a New York itinerary

Long exposure on the Guggenheim Museum of modern art in New York
Long exposure on the Guggenheim Museum of modern art in New York
Walking in the Flatiron neighborhood in Midtown
Walking in the Flatiron neighborhood in Midtown
The Flatiron Building on a snowy day
The Flatiron Building on a snowy day
Cityscape of Manhattan with Flatiron Building at Night
Cityscape of Manhattan with Flatiron Building at Night
Cityscape view of Manhattan from Empire State Building
Cityscape view of Manhattan from Empire State Building
Binoculars on top of Empire State Building at Night in Manhattan
Binoculars on top of Empire State Building at Night in Manhattan
The Empire State Building at sunset
The Empire State Building at sunset
Times Square at night
Times Square at night
Time Square on a snowy day
Times Square on a snowy day
New York City Public Library
New York City Public Library
Inside the Public Library of New York
Inside the Public Library of New York
Christmas time at the Rockfeller Center
Christmas time at the Rockefeller Center
View from the Top of the Rock observation deck
View from the Top of the Rock observation deck
New York City Skyline at Night
New York City Skyline at Night

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