How to get around New York City – What is the Best way get to around New York City

Getting around New York can be quite easy. However, it can be quite daunting for a newcomer to the City. Do I risk the Rip Off Taxi’s or Brave the Dark Dangerous Subway? I needn’t be like this, however. Transport around the city is safe and abundant. My guide on how to get around new york city will help you understand what is the best way to get around new New York City

Walkcentral park manhattan

New York is a great walking City. So many of the attractions are within walking distance of each other. So wherever you are and where ever you want to go the first thing to check is can We walk it? Often the answer is yes. If so great, it’s often the quickest and always the cheapest way to get somewhere. However, the City is big and while a lot of places are clustered together others are clustered elsewhere!

For example, Midtown and Downtown are realistically far too far to walk as a means of transportation. In which case, you will need to read on. However once in Downtown pretty much all the attractions are within easy walker distance. And from the centre of midtown pretty all you would want to see is within a 1-mile radius.

For the most part, the most effective way to see the majority of the sights and attractions is to clump together the ones you want and travel to them then walk between. It’s a very effective way to cram in lots of great things, and it goes some way to helping negate the effect of all those hotdog and Pizza Calories.

The Downside is it can mean ALOT of walking. We often clock up nearly 10 miles of walking without really knowing it. Our Feet and legs can be very sore after a day on the march.

Navigating the City is incredibly easy for most of the city. The Grid system makes it pretty much foolproof. It’s a bit more complex in lower Manhattan. But with a map, it’s really no trouble at all.

The best thing about walking New York is when you treat it as an activity. Walking to and from somewhere is normally a chore. But in New York for a tourist, it needn’t be. Walking between most places can be an absolute joy. Famous landmarks are everywhere. Just walking around Midtown is a complete joy. Exploring Greenwich village hunting out TV Locations (Carries Apartment from Sex in the City, the Friends Apartment) is a fabulous way to spend an hour or two.

I really do think your first thought whenever you are heading somewhere “can We walk it”, your next thoughts will be about what you will see on the way.

Subwaynew york city subway

The Subway is our preferred method of covering the longer distances. Its cheap, quick, and despite its reputation very safe. You are never alone on the Subway it is always busy. The one other reputation its got is its hard to understand.

That one is true. At least to begin with. It’s a daunting task trying to understand and decipher the “codes”. But once you GET it its really quite easy. A good tourist map makes the experience a lot easier. Ask your Concierge for one, if you don’t get presented on automatically.

You can view the MTA Subway map here. Which is also downloadable to your Smartphone as a PDF. While these maps are really good and clearly show all the lines and major streets and landmarks. They are not a patch on the paper maps that are available at most concierges. These also include nearly all minor streets including names.

168th st subway

One of the things that are often overlooked about subway travel and where a lot of people fall down is the fact you will have been spun around and never really know where you are when you emerge from the depths. Always take a minute or two to orientate yourself. Work out where is north and south, East and west. It’s easy to get a bit flustered and think you are lost. But once you have righted yourself you will be back on track in no time.

Subway fares are fairly straight forward it’s $2.75 per trip via a Metro card. A $1 A trip is a 2-hour journey with any number of transfers in that time. You just buy your card and then add money to it. every time you swipe $2.75 is removed from the balance (unless it’s within 2 hours of the first swipe then its free)

If you plan on more than 12 Trips it’s cost effective to buy a 7-day pass for $31 (+$1 Metro Card fee). This allows unlimited subway travel anywhere in the City.

Buy your metro cards from a ticket machine. These can be a little daunting at first but are quite straight forward. If your first subway experience is a busy station there may even be an attendant on hand to give you a hand.

Metro cards are also usable on the Local bus’s

Taxitaxicabs new york

Taxicabs are easily the most convenient method of transport around NYC. They are not always the Cheapest. Expect fares of $10-15 dollars for short trips. Penn Station to Battery Park would be over $25+ each way.

As you can see this quickly adds up if you are using Taxis a lot. Compared to $2.75 on the Subway. If there are a few of you sharing it quickly becomes more affordable. Remember this will be door to door when you need it. Even the best subway stops require a little walking.

For some the convenience easily out weight the extra cost. Your concierge will happily hail you a cab at your Hotel and you will have little trouble finding a return ride at any tourist destination.

 

The Big disadvantage with taxi’s, in fact, all road based Transport is the traffic. It really can be appalling at times. Taxi fares (and Uber fares) are linked to time spent stuck in traffic as well as the distance of the journey. So by hitting a snarl up, you are not only costing precious trip time but its costing money also! Fares can actually Double in the worst of the worst traffic.

So you are sitting there getting later and later, costing more and more, all the while the subway thunders past underneath your feet.

Example Taxi Fares:

All Examples are guesstimates of the metered Fare. Fares are Calculated by the distance plus time in traffic. These are average traffic Examples journey times and fares will be higher at very busy times of the day. It also includes an Optional 20% Tip.

  • Times Square – Battery Park $26.00  – 25Minutess
  • Penn Station – National Museum of Natural history $19.00 -19 Minutes
  • Times Square – Empire State Building $9.00 -7 Minutes (Less than 1 Mile and 15-20mins walk)
  • One World Trade Centre – Brooklyn heights promenade $20.00 -20 Minutes
  • Penn Station – Wall Street $30.00 -27 Minutes
  • JFK – Times Square – FLAT RATE $52 – 41 Minutes
  • Newark Liberty Airport – Times Square $62.00 +$17.50 Surcharge – 45 Mins

Uber

Uber are the New Kids on the block. And causing big ripples in most cities. ( I know, I was left stranded at Nice, International Airport, France due to taxi Drivers protesting over Uber). New York Uber has an interesting quirk. They are not a lot cheaper than taxis. Its all down to Traffic conditions and in some instances such as heavy traffic Taxi’s are actually Cheaper.

While in some places Uber offers very large undercuts on Taxi Fares in New York it’s not that significant. So I would make the decision based solely on your own experience of Uber. If you are a user and are happy with the service go for it. But if you are not, I would just ignore it. A bustling new city is not the best place to get used to something. Just go with the simplicity of a good old Cab. If there is not the Large carrot of a cost saving the minimal advantages of the ease of use of the app are probably not worth it just for a trip away.

Any savvy Uber user certainly won’t need my help getting a car.

Of Course, Uber is also subject to exactly the same horrendous traffic as Taxi’s

Busbus stop new york

The Local bus service is very extensive in New York. Its is, however, subject to the same traffic that all road users suffer, only worse as you are constantly stop starting to let riders on and off. For this reason, we rarely use the bus in New York. But it is still a very effective service. The Subway has fairly poor East to West Service and the Bus can Fill in the Gaps. Maps and Service Guides can be found here. Its great for people who just don’t want to walk. We find ourselves just walking the gaps left by the Subway.

The Metro card used for the Subway is valid on all local bus routes. The Fare is the same $2.75. you can also pay on the bus with exact change. But using the Metro card means you get free transfers within 2 hours. A 7 Day unlimited Metro card provides unlimited Local bus travel also.

Hop On Hop Off Bus

hop on hop off bus

There are several Tourist buses in Manhattan that tour the sights and attractions. These are good for people who are really new to New York and want a nice gentle introduction. They are great for seeing several attractions in one day providing a good link between the attractions.

However, as they are very touristy they are not very well suited to regular transport. Think of them more as a tour where you can get on and off as you, please.

They are also quite expensive (over $40 for a day). As an attraction on their own, that’s fine, and most people find them enjoyable. But as transport, it’s not very cost effective. If you like the idea of one of these they are included in some of the city pass deals

<<<These buses are often included with the City Pass’s available you can read more about those here>>>

 Hire Car

Of course you can always hire a car and drive your self about. While this can be very problematic in New York Due to the limited and expensive Parking not only at any attraction you wish to visit but also at your own Hotel. Really hiring a car is only recommended should you wish to use New York as the Starting point of a Road-trip.

Read our Guide to hiring a car in the USA

Getting to and from the Airports

I have written individual guides for getting to and from the airports. You can read them Below:

JFK – Manhattan

Newark Liberty  – Manhattan

LaGuardia – Manhattan

 

What Transport do you use when in New York? Do you agree with my opinion ? do you think there is a better way of getting about ? Please drop me a comment below and let me know what you think. Any questions just fire away in the comments.

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4 comments

  1. Hi there,
    I am planning a trip to New York with a group of people in around a month, and this has been very informative , we love to walk , but i’m sure we will end up in taxis which with the convenience and pricing. Not sure about the underground . You said it was safe but what about late nights after a few drinks
    Cheers Paul

    1. The Subway is indeed safe at pretty much all hours You are never likely to be alone in a deserted station. New York in general is an incredibly safe City. Of course after a few too many drinks I would not advise the subway. But not for safety reasons. It can be fairly challenging for people unfamiliar with the subway to navigate. This will be doubly challenging after a couple and probably impossible after a skinful. I would say its best to get the Subway on your way out but a Taxi Back to the Hotel.

      I would definitely suggest trying the subway at other times though its really cheap and not too challenging at all. Its also VERY fast. New York’s Traffic cripples the other forms of transport.

  2. Thank you for this virtual tour of new york.
    A place where every man wants to visit.
    May I know whether it is possible to have some discounts for maybe the subway fares for student?

    As I am familiar with UK’s transportation system which allow for student discount, I believe it is the same case in New York.

    Random question – with all your explanations, does it means new yorkers rarely own a car?

    Thank You

    1. Hi

      Thanks for reading. Glad you enjoyed it. Unfortunately there is not a reduced fare for students. Seniors and the Disabled can claim a reduced fare but this is not extended to Students.

      Car ownership is definitely lower than other states. 56% (households) don’t own a car. however this is right up to 77% in Manhattan.

      The Average in America is 22% of households not owning a car so as you can see there is a marked difference.

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