New York is known as "the city that never sleeps" and it's not hard to see why: there's always something to do and see in New York, whatever time of day it is!
Stroll through Central Park, visit the MET, catch an NBA game, spend a day at the beach or climb the skyscrapers... It's hard to get bored in a city with so much cultural variety.
Take note because here's what you can do in New York in 15 days.
Day 1: Discover Manhattan from the heights and travel to the heart of Harlem
You've just arrived in New York and you're probably anxious to get out and see first-hand all the sights you've seen so many times in films and photos. As this is your first contact, I suggest you discover Manhattan from a bird's eye view and delve into the bowels of Harlem to explore the soul of the city.
See New York from its skyscrapers
By now you should know that New York is known for its skyscrapers. The city, especially the borough of Manhattan, has one of the most spectacular and famous skylines in the world and it's worth taking the time to climb the best of them.
On this occasion, not only will we experience feeling tiny next to these huge metal masses, but we'll also take the opportunity to climb the Empire State Building or go up to the Top of the Rock. From the heights, you'll be able to get a sense of how huge the city is and put a face to all the streets you're about to see.
I understand that sometimes it's difficult to choose between climbing one skyscraper or another, so if you're in doubt, I recommend you read this comparison between climbing the Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building. I hope it helps you decide! Although you can always climb both (both are open at night, so you can combine a daylight visit with a night visit). Here you have more information about climbing the Top of the Rock at night and the Empire State Building at night.
If you want to consider other options (not as mythical but just as spectacular or more) I recommend you to take a look at the possibility of climbing the most modern skyscrapers in Midtown Manhattan: The Edge and the Summit Vanderbilt. You'll have a dizzying morning!
We delve into Harlem and its cuisine
After this experience, you're sure to be hungry and there's no better plan than to recharge your batteries in one of the typical American restaurants with a good milkshake and a hamburger. Head to Harlem, north of Central Park, where an afternoon of contrasts awaits you.
On this occasion I recommend that you first stop for lunch at Harlem Shake, a well-known restaurant in the area where you can have a traditional Pulp Fiction-style lunch.
Even so, you'll find plenty of places to eat in Harlem all over the neighbourhood. The variety of food and street stalls will leave any palate satisfied and energised for the day ahead.
Soak up the Harlem atmosphere at a Gospel Mass
New York is a city full of cultures and contrasts, and a good way to get a taste of this is with one of its most famous and widespread traditions: going to a gospel service in Harlem. This typical religious event full of music and joy has become very popular all over the continent and, within the city, it is held in the Harlem neighbourhood.
Sunday mornings are the days when you can take a tour of all the churches in the neighbourhood and enjoy the characteristic songs. To do so, you'll have to take the underground and get to the Harlem neighbourhood where you'll find about 500 churches where this typical mass is held (here's a list of the best churches to attend a Gospel Mass).
Of course, you must be respectful and take this interesting visit as a spiritual and religious act following the established rules for attending a Gospel Mass.
Day 2: Walk through every corner of Central Park and experience a movie night
Central Park is the lungs of New York and has dozens of places where you can lose yourself and spend the day amidst all the hustle and bustle of the city. For this second day, I suggest a picnic day in the heart of Manhattan.
Starting point at Bethesda Fountain
One of the best ways to get to know the park is to go to its large central square, the Bethesda Fountain. This place has been one of the park's most iconic landmarks for years and is a meeting place for many New Yorkers.
At the bottom you'll find the beginning of Central Park's famous lake and, near the tunnel, you can listen to the great acoustics of the musicians playing. Be aware that this is a huge park so you'll need to be energetic for the day if you want to get to see all the sights.
Have a picnic with a view
One of the best ways to get the most out of Central Park is to eat inside to make the most of your time. For this, a picnic may be the best option. In all the supermarkets in Manhattan near the park, you'll find sandwiches, salads and soft drinks so you can lie on the grass and enjoy the scenery. Pret A Manger, for example, offers quick and healthy food to go (sandwiches, soups, vegetable wraps...)
Central Park has countless plains and lakes where you can lay out a tablecloth and stop to recharge your batteries. The beauty of this experience is getting lost among its forests and long paths, so when you find a place you like, stop for lunch. On the south side of the park, you'll also be eating among the trees but with a view of Midtown's skyscrapers.
Rent a bike to finish your tour of the park's icons
Central Park is worth a visit in itself. However, as well as the main fountain, the park has many must-see sites steeped in history.
One of them is the memorial to Beatles singer John Lenno called Strawberry Fields. This mosaic made in the ground contains the word "Imagine" and is visited and honoured every day by the singer's fans. Also, the mythical sculpture of Alice in Wonderland, dedicated to its author Lewis Carroll, is another must-see.
If you have energy to spare, you can always rent a bike that will allow you to ride through the rest of the park at a faster pace and feel like a New Yorker.
Experience a night at the theatre
Without leaving Midtown Manhattan, now is the time to get dressed up and enjoy the Broadway neighbourhood in style. This place is full of lights and theatres and has become one of the most cultural streets in the whole city. All along the avenue, there are plenty of Broadway musicals and plays with a big international buzz.
If you want to enjoy one of these shows live, you should know that they are usually quite reasonably priced and are one of the most worthwhile plans in all of New York. All you have to do is look through the catalogue in advance and enjoy all the charms of Broadway first hand.
Day 3: Revisit the city's history in lower Manhattan
For this day, let's take a break to learn about the city's history and its most iconic landmarks of recent times. From a tour of Ellis Island to the memorial that marked the entire 21st century with the twin towers and the incomparable Statue of Liberty.
Visit the Statue of Liberty
The undisputed star of New York's history and skyline is the Statue of Liberty. From Battery Park in lower Manhattan, there are ferries to the Statue of Liberty that will get you there in just a few minutes, giving you incredible views of the Statue and the Manhattan skyline.
Once you get a ticket to the Statue of Liberty, you can enter its pedestal and even climb up to the iconic Crown. It's true that it's a place that's always full of tourists, but as you can imagine, it's a must-see for visitors.
Continue the tour at Ellis Island and the Immigration Museum
To understand the origins of New York we must go back to its immigrant past. The city is made by immigrants and one of the places with the stories is Ellis Island, the place where, in the old days, all the new residents arrived and for which America is considered the land of opportunity.
Once on Ellis Island, visit the Immigration Museum first hand, where you can learn more about this important place and see the very first sign-up sheets that started the city.
Return to Manhattan to discover Ground Zero
Continuing with this historic day, one of the stops I recommend on your return to Battery Park after seeing the Statue is a visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. The site, built on the former site of the Twin Towers, was designed to commemorate those who died at Ground Zero.
There, on the site of the former towers, there are two large fountains spouting water, as well as a forest of 400 oak trees, one of which stands out for being the only one that miraculously survived the tragedy. There is also a museum, with testimonies and memorabilia that will make your hair stand on end.
Explore Wall Street
Now that you're here, and after you've stopped at one of the many places downtown for a bite to eat, it's time to explore Wall Street, the financial district.
The streets lined with top executives and luxury offices are a real city experience. You should also get your picture taken with the famous Wall Street bull, one of the most famous icons of the neighbourhood and one that has been featured in numerous blockbuster films.
End the day with a cruise
After an intense day full of emotions and contrasts, there's nothing better than relaxing your legs while enjoying a cruise on the Hudson River and seeing the New York Skyline (here I help you choose among the best cruises in Manhattan).
There are all kinds of boats and itineraries to suit all budgets, but if you want to treat yourself, it's best to book a dinner cruise on the Hudson. To the rhythm of soothing live music, you'll see the city lights as you've never imagined them before - it's like a movie!
Day 4: Spend the day in Brooklyn
Brooklyn, next to Manhattan, is one of New York's most famous neighbourhoods. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, and with good reason. This spectacular place is much more than its famous bridge and has areas like DUMBO where you can get lost and spend the whole day.
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge and the DUMBO neighbourhood
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most famous postcards of the whole city and, therefore, it is the obligatory stop with which we start this fourth day. We are going to leave Manhattan aside for a day and focus on the other important boroughs. This time, the bridge will welcome us to Brooklyn, a neighbourhood full of art and new trends.
I recommend a walk through DUMBO, just across the bridge. A completely renovated neighbourhood that has become a focal point for the avant-garde. Its murals, converted warehouses and alternative shops and boutiques are worth seeing.
Try pizza at Grimaldi's
After you've had your first taste of Brooklyn, it's time to stop for a bite to eat to get you going for the rest of the day. There are many places to eat in Brooklyn, but one place stands out for its famous pizza.
Grimaldis is one of Brooklyn's most famous restaurants. Although it is a chain that spans the entire continent, only this restaurant, located under the bridge, is found in the city. Its American-style pizza is a hit with locals and tourists alike.
Tour upscale Williamburg and artsy Bushwick
Once you've explored Brooklyn's must-sees, you can spend the afternoon wandering around the rest of the borough and strolling through two of its other neighbourhoods, Williamburg and Bushwick. Both are dominated by art and a mix of traditions, and getting lost in their narrow streets is undoubtedly the best plan.
Williamburg is a neighbourhood full of luxury, with a clear Jewish influence and, in recent times, a place of reference for the whole Hipster aesthetic. The perfect mix of tradition and new trends. The Jewish quarter of New York
Bushwick is a must-see for all lovers of urban art. It has an industrial feel and Puerto Rican influence, as if it were West Side Story.
Close the night watching the Nets play the NBA
If you're hooked on Brooklyn, you can't leave without closing the day with an NBA game at the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets. Hot dog in hand, you'll be as hoarse as a New Yorker shouting and cheering on the world's best-known basketball stars.
Here's how to get NBA tickets and their prices so you can prepare for this sporting evening in advance.
Day 5: Spend a day at your favourite museums
New York is one of the cities with the most important museums in the world, so once you've had time to walk around and see all the great sights of the city, it's time to spend a day visiting the best museums in New York. Which one to choose? I'll tell you a little about each one so you can plan ahead:
MoMA is considered the most important modern art museum in the world, and no wonder. It houses the most important works of art from the avant-garde to the present day, which is why it's a must-see on your trip to New York.
If you organise yourself well, you can do a must-see tour in just two hours, although the museum itself is enough for a whole day. You can buy tickets in advance to avoid queues and make sure you get the time slot that suits you best.
Oh, and don't let it all be culture. Here are the best places to eat near the MoMa to satisfy your appetite with something delicious.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met Museum or Metropolitan Museum of Art is another of the most recommended museums to visit on this cultural day. Although the Metropolitan Museum of Art is not as important as MoMA, it has the honour of being one of the ten most visited museums in the world and, undoubtedly, in New York.
Inside there are not only paintings, but also a series of historical objects of great importance, such as the Egyptian exhibition with the remains of the ancient temple of Abu Simbel.
Museum of Natural History
Changing the subject, and assuming that you'll be tired after a long day, I suggest you finish with something more dynamic at the National History Museum.
Its interior is much more dynamic as it is a scientific museum and reviews the history of the Earth and Mankind in a clear and entertaining way. It was also the location where the film Night at the Museum was filmed, so it is well worth the effort to say goodbye to this cultural day out. Here you have all the information you need to visit the Natural History Museum.
After the cultural day, a cocktail with a view
New York is the city that never sleeps and at night you have to experience it too. We've had a "museum day" in Manhattan and the best thing to do is to combine it with a good cocktail in the heights. Find out which of New York' s best rooftops is the one you want to discover and enjoy the night-time views of the city.
Day 6: All the latest news and best-kept secrets of New York City
New York is constantly evolving and has a lot to offer travellers. What's more, very close to Manhattan there is an oasis that will make you think you're in another city and that many tourists leave undiscovered. Read on, you'll be interested.
Start your day at Hudson Yards
Just when we thought that everything had been written (and built) in New York, click here, a brand new luxury neighbourhood where there used to be only train tracks and abandoned factories.
Here you'll find exquisite places to eat, shopping malls, innovative skyscrapers and the famous High Line: a floating park built on the old train tracks that used to run west of the city.
Stop for lunch at Chelsea Market
In keeping with the spirit of the city's transformation, the best place to eat is the nearby Chelsea Market, a former biscuit factory converted into one of the city's best food markets - it's well worth a visit!
And in the afternoon, Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt Island is one of New York' s secrets that not all tourists discover: it's a small, elongated neighbourhood that's quite quiet and unique, where you can stroll around and see its beautiful residential houses without being surrounded by tourists. There is also a cable car ride from here with spectacular views.
This cable car ride to Roosevelt Island is not one of New York's most popular tourist attractions, but the views of the entire Manhattan borough and the river are well worth the trip. Getting to Roosevelt Island is easy as there is an underground and from there you'll head to E 59th St & 2nd Avenue.
The ride is the same as an underground ticket and although the ride only takes a few minutes, the experience is well worth it. The cabs run frequently and connect very well with Manhattan.
Day 7: We're going on a tour!
One of the advantages of having two full weeks to visit New York is that you have the luxury of getting out of the city for one of the New York tours to the surrounding area.
There are several itineraries and destinations to choose from, and you can even opt for a two-day or one-day tour if you don't want to take up too much of your time in the Big Apple.
Day 8: Back to New York to experience the diversity of Queens
Queens is a borough full of contrasts and cultures, and it's worth a full day to soak up its essence. Taking the legendary Pepsi sign as our starting point, we'll explore its different neighbourhoods and sample its typical dishes.
You can walk around on your own, but if you prefer to be accompanied by a guide, there is the famous New York Contrasts Tour, which will make it easier to get around the city.
Long Island's industrial district
The famous Long Island industrial district is located on the banks of the river and has become a very popular and popular place to visit in recent times. One of the places that has best adapted to the new times is Gantry Plaza State Park, a promenade-like park that captures all the life of the neighbourhood.
Its typical Pepsi Cola symbol in the middle of the promenade has become an icon of the neighbourhood as a sign of the transformation it has undergone and the mix between the industrial buildings and its modern air.
Getting to know the Greek Quarter
As we continue into the borough of Queens, we come across Astoria, the Greek Quarter. This place, as you will have already seen in other parts of the trip, is the ideal mix of tradition, a blend of cultures and the new avant-garde.
Astoria is the ideal place to try Mediterranean dishes and enjoy urban art and new trends in music. And from Astoria Park, you'll have a beautiful view of the sunset.
Flushing, the real Chinatown
For the last part of the day, I recommend you to go to Flushing, which has been considered by many as the real Chinatown of New York. This is where most of the Chinese population really live and there are many local eateries where you can dine.
Also, this neighbourhood is home to Louis Armstrong's house, which has been transformed into a museum and is a must-see for all jazz lovers.
Day 9: Walk through the Bronx and visit the zoo
The Bronx is more myth than reality in terms of its danger and fame. The truth is that nowadays, it is an essential place to see on your visit to New York because, in addition to the graffiti and street art, it has one of the largest zoos in the world.
Get to know the Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is one of the largest centres in the world to observe and experience animals. I recommend you get up early that day and spend the whole morning inside the zoo touring and enjoying the visit.
This huge place was inaugurated in 1899 and currently has more than 4,000 animals of 600 different species. The animals you'll discover at the Bronx Zoo range from animals native to the Americas to giraffes, lions and polar bears.
Lunch at Little Italy
By the time you leave the zoo, you're probably starving after all that walking. It's time, then, to discover one of the gems of the Bronx borough; Little Italy. This neighbourhood, formed by former Italian immigrants, has been reflected in a multitude of series and films, and no wonder.
Among its streets you can get lost but, above all, discover places with the best pasta in the whole city. I leave it up to you, any place will be good to enjoy an authentic Italian bite.
Experience Hip Hop culture and street art
The Bronx borough has long had a reputation for gangs and street life. Nowadays, however, it's a safe neighbourhood to visit and enjoy.
Remnants of that era remain in the form of street art and you'll definitely notice that you're visiting one of the cradles of Hip Hop style. It also has the Bronx Museum of Modern Art, where all this street and cultural essence is captured.
Back to Manhattan: a stroll through Times Square
For this day we return again to the nerve centre of Manhattan and discover once again one of its most famous and photographed corners. Times Square is one of the most recognisable faces of New York along with its skyscrapers and I recommend you take advantage of the morning to get to this emblematic place.
It is usually a very busy and lively place, easily accessible and with plenty of food stalls in case you get hungry. All the main avenues start from here and it's just a short walk to the Broadway arts district.
Visit the Wax Museum
Halfway there, I recommend spending a couple of hours at one of the most entertaining and fun museums in the area; Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Inside you can find a fairly faithful recreation of the most famous international characters.
It is usually a very busy place for tourists and the curious but if you get your tickets in advance you can organise your day well and I assure you that it will be worth it.
Day 10: Coney Island and day at the beach
After the frenzy of the last few days, I suggest a tenth day of calm and disconnection by going to New York's famous beach, Coney Island. This pilgrimage place will allow us to have a day more connected with nature and, in addition, have fun in its emblematic amusement park.
Have a great time at Luna Park
One of the main attractions of this area south of the city is to enjoy and have fun with the mythical attractions of Luna Park. This amusement park was built on a walkway above the beach and has a special charm.
You should consider when you want to visit New York as in the colder months the park is usually closed and the area is a bit deserted. However, if you're hoping for good weather, there's nothing better than riding some of the rides early in the morning. Take note of how the ferry works to get there.
Grab a bite to eat from the stalls along the promenade
When you're in the mood for lunch, I recommend you continue to enjoy this legendary boardwalk and dive into the multitude of food stalls you can find.
The street atmosphere and sometimes a little quirky is the charm of this place and, after having visited in recent days, places and reputable locals, it's good to have this casual air.
Enjoy the New York beach
As a plan to spend the afternoon, I recommend a trip to Coney Island Beach. Don't expect to find a large beach with crystal-clear waters - New York City beaches aren't like that.
However, it's a pleasant place to take a stroll, enjoy a dip and spend an afternoon with the family watching the sunset. Without a doubt, New York is a city of a thousand contrasts and watching the sunset on the beach is one of them.
Day 11: Walk through Chinatown and an afternoon of basketball
New York has a real passion for basketball and we shouldn't leave the city without witnessing one first hand. For today we will be spectating at Madison Square Garden but first we will visit Chinatown and sample its exotic food.
New York City has people from all over the world and, of all of them, the Chinese community has been one of the most neighbourhood-creating. While the most densely populated neighbourhood is in Queens, the famous Chinatown in Manhattan is worth a visit.
Just wandering around the neighbourhood you can find several nods to oriental culture and, beyond that, this is one of the most important places to find imitation items with the most realistic finishes. Bargain and get your hands on the best "brands".
Tasting the local food
As a good Chinatown, there are dozens of typical restaurants inside. After having spent the whole morning visiting Chinatown and doing some shopping, the best thing to do is to stop for a typical meal.
There are plenty of places to eat well in Chinatown and it is not only a place for tourists, but the Asians themselves come here to buy the ingredients brought from the Red Giant and prepared in the most traditional way.
Basketball afternoon at Madison Square Garden
Hopefully by the end of the day you still have energy and strength because one of the best things to do in the borough of Manhattan is to go and watch a basketball game at Madison Square Garden first hand.
This arena hosts hundreds of national and international games throughout the year and in a place like New York where basketball is in the air, you can't miss the fantastic atmosphere by watching one of the games. Tickets are usually cheap if booked in advance.
Day 13: Take a food tour of the city
By now you've probably realised that New York is the perfect blend of cultures and traditions. You can find the best Italian pasta, as well as exotic Asian food. That's why, today, I'm proposing a gastronomic tour of the city's most famous eateries, so get your travel card and enjoy!
Breakfast at EGG, the best breakfast according to the New York Times
To start the day off right, there's nothing better than getting carried away by the gastronomic reviews of the New York Times and ending up at the EGG restaurant, a place where they started out innovating with eggs in all their forms but which has ended up winning the title of best breakfast in the city.
Located in the Brooklyn district, this place offers all kinds of breakfasts and the famous Brunch, making you start the day with energy and a nutritious and delicious dish.
Eat the best pizza in town at Rizzo's
When it's time to eat, I suggest you try one of the best pizzas in the city in the heart of Queens: Rizzos Pizzeria. That's how many have considered it and that's why the restaurant is full of posters and awards.
It's best to go hungry because for a very reasonable price you can try several types of traditional American pizza either in individual slices or whole pizzas.
Jazz dinner at B.B. King Blues
To finish off this culinary day, let's get a little bit more fine-dining. If you're a jazz lover or are curious about this style of music, you've probably been in the mood for a typical restaurant with live music on more than one occasion.
B.B King Blues is one such place. It has a variety of lunch and dinner menus, but without a doubt, the most worthwhile part of the place is the live music. You'll feel like you're the star of LaLaLand!
Day 14: A day of shopping in the city that never sleeps
You're coming to the end of your trip and after almost two weeks in the city that never sleeps it's time to do the last shopping and take advantage of the best offers and exclusive products. Don't deprive yourself of anything! For this list I recommend everything from high-end places to real bargains.
Experience the luxury of Fifth Avenue
If your dream was to get to know New York, one of the plans you can't miss is to go shopping on Fifth Avenue. This wide street is home to all the luxury shops and top brands in the city.
It may not be suitable for all budgets, but you're sure to pick up some exclusive souvenirs to remind you of your visit to the Big Apple. Even so, the avenue is so large that you can find all kinds of establishments. You stroll around and look at the many shop windows... That's always free!
A hotdog to recharge your batteries
After a morning of walking and shopping, the best thing you can do to recharge your batteries, and which is undoubtedly one of the most typical New Yorker's panoramas, is to eat a typical hot dog at one of the stalls along the street.
This type of food does not only include the hot dog, as food trucks have recently become very fashionable and you can find unique dishes from the most unnoticed trolley.
Discover New York's biggest outlet
For this shopping day, I'll leave you with a gem of a shopping experience. The shops you can find around the city, with more or less variety, tend to be well-known and recurring brands, but there is one place where all the city's outlet clothing comes together.
If you want to find unique clothes or accessories, I encourage you to spend the morning at Woodbury Commons, the best outlet in New York. Buses and tours leave from Times Square and will take you there in less than an hour.
Day 15: Say goodbye to New York on a movie tour
We come to the end of this spectacular trip through New York. For this day I suggest a half-day plan so that you have time to pack your bags, do the last bit of shopping or go sightseeing. However, you couldn't leave New York without visiting the places that have been the backdrop for great series and films.
A film tour of the great film sets
By now you will have had the opportunity to see almost all of this impressive city. That's why, for this last day, my recommendation is that you relax and enjoy one last tour.
One of the most recommendable is the one that takes you to the sets of the series and films we've seen so much on television. Visiting the sets of "Friends","Glee" or "Spiderman" will make you leave New York feeling like a real star.
Say goodbye to the big city
In the few hours you have left to spend in the Big Apple, it's best to spend the last afternoon doing your final shopping, revisiting a place you've liked and strolling around the area around where you're staying.
Depending on the district you're in, it's sure to be worth it to walk the streets that have made the biggest impression on you and take your last photographs.
The last supper
As the icing on the cake, I recommend you go out for dinner to say goodbye to New York. As you will have seen, this city never sleeps and there will always be a place open to take stock of your holiday.
Now that you know the city better, you're sure to know where to go to find a tasty and authentic place to enjoy a good farewell meal.