7-day New York Itinerary

New York is a fascinating city with thousands of things to do. Here's the ideal itinerary to follow if you're lucky enough to visit the Big Apple for 7 days.

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

20 min read

7-day New York Itinerary

One of Manhattan's grand Avenues | ©Hellotickets

Are you organising your trip to the Big Apple and don't know where to start seeing the city? In this guide on what to do in 7 days in New York I'll help you organise your route so you can make the most of your time and not miss anything. Let's get started!

Day 1: Get to know New York and Chinatown

Times Square| ©Hellotickets
Times Square| ©Hellotickets

Tour all of New York's boroughs with the Contrasts Tour

Manhattan is the best known of the five boroughs that make up New York. That's because it's the most famous borough because it concentrates 90% of the attractions and it's in the south where the origins of this city lie. But even so, New York is so much more: it is, in fact, huge. And one of the best ways to get a feel for the big city is to take a guided tour that takes you to see the highlights.

I recommend you start by booking the New York Contrasts tour, which will take you to discover the Big Apple's five major boroughs: Harlem, the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn. As this tour lasts around 5 hours, you'll be able to visit New York's most iconic neighbourhoods in just one morning accompanied by a local guide who will give you a very enjoyable introduction to the city, its neighbourhoods and its cultures.

A very good option for first-time travellers, as it is a very complete and interesting first contact with the city. What's more, once the Contrasts Tour is over or at another time during your trip, you can return to the neighbourhood or area that has most caught your attention to explore it for yourself in detail. If you like the idea you can learn more about this activity in this article about the New York Contrasts tour.

Book the New York City Contrasts Tour

Taste authentic Chinese food in Chinatown

An important part of the Contrasts Tour is that you can choose between two places to end the tour: under the Brooklyn Bridge in the DUMBO neighbourhood or in Chinatown. My advice is to do it in Chinatown as the end of the activity coincides with lunchtime and in New York's Asian neighbourhood you'll have the opportunity to try authentic Chinese food at very reasonable prices.

If you're a foodie, you'll have a great time in Chinatown as you'll find numerous restaurants and bars where you can try some of the best Asian specialties. If you like spicy food, don't miss Xi's an Famous Food (45 Bayard Street) and a good option for vegetarians is Buddha Bodai(5 Mott Street).

After lunch, book a tour of Chinatown. There's a unique atmosphere here that's sure to grab you as a traveller. Discover Columbus Park, the Chinese Museum in America or Canal Street Market, among many other interesting places. Do you want to know more about everything you can do in this neighbourhood? Check out my article about Chinatown.

Book a Chinatown tour

Return to Manhattan

In the afternoon, head back to Manhattan to continue your tour of downtown New York. How about a stroll along the famous Fifth Avenue? This is one of the city's most important thoroughfares and home to some of the Big Apple's most exclusive hotels and shops.

But, besides shops, on Fifth Avenue you will find several tourist attractions to visit such as the Empire State Building, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Rockefeller Center or the Public Library.

Near Fifth Avenue you will also find Times Square, the heart of New York and an icon of the city. A visit to Times Square at nightfall is a must on any trip to the Big Apple and is not to be missed! The lights and signs in this iconic square illuminate everything and the atmosphere here is incomparable - there's no traveller who can't fall under the spell of Times Square! If you don't want to miss a thing, book a night bus tour of Manhattan.

Book a night bus tour of Manhattan

Toast to your trip from a rooftop

The first day of your visit to New York has been long and full of excitement, so how about topping it all off with a drink while gazing at the Manhattan skyline from one of its best rooftops? If you like the idea, here's my article on the 10 best rooftops in New York so you can choose the one you fancy the most.

Day 2: Discover Brooklyn, Soho and the West Village

Views of Manhattan from Brooklyn| ©Hellotickets
Views of Manhattan from Brooklyn| ©Hellotickets

Start the day in Brooklyn and DUMBO

If you're travelling to New York you can't miss Brooklyn, the city's coolest alternative-spirited area. It's a borough with an industrial past and a strong cultural identity that's well worth a visit. The easiest way to get to Brooklyn is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan. In fact, you can book a tour of the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan so you won't miss a thing.

On the way down you'll land in DUMBO, a bohemian and artistic neighbourhood that has managed to combine old industrial architecture and modern day design to create a unique New York atmosphere. When you're there, you'll see that DUMBO has a special charm that you won't be able to stop photographing. Along its streets you'll come across murals, graffiti and authentic works of art that you'll want to keep in your camera and in your retina.

Don't put your camera away because on Washington Street you'll be able to photograph the wonderful Manhattan Bridge with the skyscrapers in the background and on Plymouth Street you'll have the chance to see the traces of Brooklyn's industrial past that still survive in this neighbourhood today.

Book a Brooklyn Bridge Tour

On to Williamsburg and the Jewish Quarter

The morning has only just begun and following the route of day 2 through this borough you'll arrive in Williamsburg, a neighbourhood where hipsters and New York's more conservative Jewish community live side by side but each in their own space: the hipsters in Williamsburg and the Hasidic Jews in the South Williamsburg area, which is reached by crossing under the Williamsburg Bridge.

Williamsburg is one of those authentic and contrasting areas that is well worth a visit. You'll be surprised to see how, in just a few streets, the atmosphere changes radically: from the austerity of the Jewish Quarter to the most striking street art and the old factories converted into restaurants, galleries and other design venues. After a stroll through the Williamsburg area it's time to enter the streets of South Williamsburg, one of the most popular Jewish neighbourhoods in the world where the buildings are austere and simple.

If you book a tour of Williamsburg in Brooklyn or stroll through the neighbourhood, my advice is to take in the scenery to get a feel for the way of life and customs. Lee Avenue, the main artery of the neighbourhood and where most of its temples and shops are located, is where the community's life is concentrated. If you can, I recommend you go into a kosher grocery shop and buy a sweet or roll - they're delicious!

Book a tour of Williamsburg in Brooklyn

Try the best pizza in New York!

All that sightseeing works up an appetite, doesn't it? You can't leave Brooklyn without ordering a pepperoni pizza at the legendary Grimaldi's restaurant, just under the Brooklyn Bridge at 1 Front Street - a temple for pizza lovers in New York! Alternatively, you can book a food tour of Brooklyn and see some of the legendary places.

Book a food tour of Brooklyn

Back to Soho and the West Village

In the afternoon, return to Manhattan to discover one of New York's trendiest neighbourhoods, Soho, where many films have been shot. The best way to get the lowdown is to book a tour of Soho. This area of the city has almost none of the skyscrapers of Midtown and some of the oldest buildings in the Big Apple, which gives it a unique and very special charm. It's an oasis in the middle of modern New York that's a joy to stroll through with its art galleries, trendy restaurants and beautiful buildings. It's also a great place for shopping.

Set aside some time to visit the West Village, Manhattan's bohemian and hippie neighbourhood. Unlike the rest, these streets escaped the strict grid pattern on which the city was designed. So they're chaotic and fun to wander around aimlessly, window-shopping in the charming shops and taking in the beautiful architecture. The West Village is so beautifully landscaped that its gorgeous buildings have been used as film and television sets, so if you like to take the New York film and series route, this neighbourhood is a good place to start where you'll find:

  • Monica's famous flat in Friends (specifically on the corner of Grove Street and Bedford Street).
  • It's where Carrie Bradshaw's flat from Sex and the City was located (at 66 Perry Street). In fact, you can book a Sex and the City location tour.

The architecture of the West Village is a marvel to me. There's always a little treasure to discover. For example, the narrowest house in New York whose facade is 2.9 metres wide at 75½ Bedford Street or the townhouses and brownstones on Leroy Street and Morton Street.

Book a tour of Soho

Day 3: Experience the thrills at Hudson Yards and the NBA

Madison Square Garden| ©Hellotickets
Madison Square Garden| ©Hellotickets

Breakfast like a king at Chelsea Market

The third day of your trip to New York is a long and exciting one. You'll need to get your strength back for a full day of sightseeing, and a good breakfast is essential. New York is a city where you can eat great food, as there is a wide variety of cuisine to suit all tastes.

However, I recommend that you start your route on Day 3 by going to Chelsea Market, one of the most popular food markets in Manhattan. At its fast food stalls you can order delicious sandwiches, salads, pizzas, muffins, doughnuts and biscuits. One example is Amy's Bread, Doughnuttery or Filaga Pizzeria although there are many more options.

Besides having breakfast at Chelsea Market, I recommend you to take a walk around the market because they have very cool shops where you can buy some souvenirs such as Posman Books, Chelsea Market Baskets or the Artists & Fleas market. If you want to know more about Chelsea Market, I recommend you to read my article about this market in the Meatpacking District- there's a lot to see here! And then book a tour of Chelsea.

Book a tour of Chelsea

See the High Line Park

Next to Chelsea Market is one of New York's most original and modern urban parks: High Line Park, a garden filled with greenery, art and seating areas built on a former elevated railway line with the best views of the city. Since it's become a popular spot and the train track is narrow, the park can easily get crowded, so my advice is to go first thing in the morning after breakfast at the market.

Along the two-and-a-half-kilometre route, you'll be able to enjoy its unique design, which blends art and nature, as you follow a very cool route through Chelsea to Hudson Yards from the Meatpacking District (or the other way around, depending on where you start the circuit).

In my opinion, the views of the skyscrapers of Manhattan's different neighbourhoods are the best part, along with the feeling of being in a little oasis surrounded by greenery and art away from the hustle and bustle. The walk is so fun that you won't even realise how far you've walked until you see it on a map! If you're curious to know more about this urban park, I recommend you read the article 10 things to do and see on the High Line. You can also book a tour of the High Line.

Book a tour of the High Line

See Hudson Yards and The Vessel

A stroll along the High Line Park will take you to Hudson Yards, Manhattan's trendiest new neighbourhood. Book a tour of Hudson Yards and The High Line to see it in detail - you'll be amazed!

It's hard to believe that this trendy area brimming with avant-garde buildings was until recently a dreary train depot along the Hudson River. But New York is a living, changing place. This is how Hudson Yards came to be, a place that already has several must-see attractions on any trip to the Big Apple, such as The Vessel, a sort of giant beehive that has become the symbol of this neighbourhood.

The Vessel is a futuristic 45-metre structure that will show you fantastic views of the city from different heights, angles and approaches. You'll have a great time here playing with your camera. From the top you can look out over the Hudson River, The Shed cultural centre, High Line Park and the surrounding skyscrapers. You'll even see One World Trade Center and the Empire State Building on the horizon if you pay attention. My advice is to buy your tickets for The Vessel well in advance so you don't have to wait in long lines at the box office.

Book a tour of Hudson Yards and The High Line

Eat at Hudson Yards

It's time to take a break from your day 3 tour of New York for lunch. Hudson Yards also has some great options to choose from.

One of my favourites is Little Spain Market, a gastronomic space located in the 10 Hudson Yards building, dedicated to the flavours of traditional Spanish cuisine. Eating a ración de bravas, a pincho de tortilla española, a coca valenciana and some crispy churros in the middle of New York is priceless. Even more so if they have the seal of quality of the prestigious chef José Andrés in collaboration with the brothers Ferrán and Albert Adriá.

The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards also has other restaurants such as Shake Shack, Kawi and Peach Mart, among others.

Book a tour of Hudson Yards

Be dazzled by The Edge, Manhattan's tallest observatory

After a lunch break it's time to test your vertigo at The Edge, one of New York's most spectacular observation decks. Climbing The Edge is a thrilling experience. Located in the 30 Hudson Yards skyscraper at 345 metres above sea level, from its 700 m2 glass terrace you'll feel the impact of the wind and have unparalleled 360-degree panoramic views of New York.

I remember the first time I stepped onto the outside of the observatory, which projects in the shape of an arrow into the New York sky, I felt like I was on the edge of a cliff. The adrenaline kicked in as I walked on its glass floor and looked down at New York traffic hundreds of feet below me. It's a really exciting feeling and you'll feel your skin crawl. Who said fear?

As with The Vessel, I recommend that you buy your tickets for The Edge in advance to make sure you can get in at the time you want, on the day you plan to.

Book tickets for The Edge

Game Time! Experience the magic of the NBA at Madison Square Garden

Watching a basketball game at Madison Square Garden is one of the most fascinating spectacles you can attend in the USA, either because you are passionate about basketball or because you want to experience the atmosphere and the madness that this sport arouses in New York. So, don't hesitate and end the third day of your holiday in the Big Apple in style by going to Madison Square Garden to enjoy a New York Knicks game.

If you want to include an NBA game in your trip, my advice is to buy tickets online before you travel. Why? The key is to buy them as soon as possible to get the best seat at the cheapest price. If you wait too long you run the risk of running out of tickets or that the box office will have few tickets at a high price and in sectors with less spectacular visibility.

Do not hesitate, for me this is the easiest, safest and fastest way. If you want to know more about how to buy tickets to watch NBA games in New York I recommend you to read the article I wrote about it, it will only take you a few minutes and I explain everything you need to know!

Book your ticket for a New York Knicks game

Day 4: gospel mass, the best museums and a tour of Central Park

Running through Central Park| ©Hellotickets
Running through Central Park| ©Hellotickets

Listen to heavenly music in Harlem

Take advantage of this day to do something different during your stay in New York, for example, a tour of Harlem with a Gospel Mass to get to know the most authentic side of this neighbourhood north of Manhattan.

Immersing yourself in the culture of Harlem accompanied by a professional guide is the best way to experience the cultural diversity of this city and to discover the roots of the African-American community.

In just 4 hours you will see the main sights of Harlem such as the Apollo Theater, the Cotton Club, the Morris Jumel Mansion or the historic streets of typical flats and you will have time to visit a local church to witness an authentic live gospel mass. I recommend going on Sundays as you'll find a larger congregation and therefore a more authentic experience.

Book a Harlem Gospel Mass Tour

Cycle through Central Park

After this tour of Harlem you can continue your tour of New York City in Central Park by entering through the entrance next to this neighbourhood which is quieter than the southern entrance.

At 341 hectares, Central Park is the largest urban park in New York City. To see it in its entirety would be exhausting and perhaps unnecessary. In order to get an overview of the park and have energy left over to continue exploring New York after this visit , I recommend renting a bike to tour it as you will be able to see the main points of interest and save time.

There are many ways to visit Central Park, but I think a private bike taxi tour is a fun and different way to discover it as you will be accompanied by a professional guide. I did it and it's worth it because it shows you not only the most emblematic places in the park but also others that normally go unnoticed by tourists.

Rent a bike in Central Park

Have a picnic in Central Park

At the end of your bike tour of Central Park you can head to The Great Lawn, the park's largest meadow, to relax and have a picnic when the sun is shining.

Thereare many stalls scattered throughout Central Park where you can buy hot dogs, waffles, sandwiches, drinks and ice cream. If the weather isn't good, don't worry, there are several restaurants inside the park where you can take a lunch break, such as The Loeb Boathouse, Café Express or Le Pain Quotidien.

Rent a bike in Central Park

Stroll around the Upper East Side and the Museum of Natural History

On the fourth day of your tour of New York you can take advantage of your visit to Central Park to stroll along the Upper East Side, New York's affluent neighbourhood known for its imposing stately buildings and wide avenues.

Then book your ticket to the American Museum of Natural History, just west of Central Park. It's one of the city's must-see museums and one of the most visited, so if you want to skip the queues at the ticket office and go straight to the exhibits, it's best to get a skip-the-line ticket to the museum.

My favourite space is the one dedicated to fossils and dinosaurs but this museum has dozens of permanent and special exhibits. My advice is to plan your visit well and set aside at least 3 hours to explore the museum at your leisure, but if you don't have much time, it's best to go straight to the rooms you want to see. If you want to know more about the New York Museum of Natural History, don't miss my article: Museum of Natural History New York Tickets: how to buy and prices.

Reserve your ticket for the American Museum of Natural History

Sail New York's waters at dusk

At any time of the day, the views of the New York skyline are amazing, but I have a special weakness for its lights at dusk. That's why taking a sunset cruise on the waters of Manhattan is one of the most beautiful memories you'll ever make. It's a great way to end a day full of emotions after endless walks around the city, whether with your family, friends or partner. You have several options:

Whichever option you choose, you'll have a great time as you continue to explore the best sights of the city and enjoy a relaxing time on a boat.

Book a New York cruise

Day 5: Financial District and Broadway

The New York Stock Exchange| ©Hellotickets
The New York Stock Exchange| ©Hellotickets

Take the Upper and Lower Manhattan Tour and take a ferry to Liberty Island

Your trip to New York City is coming to an end and to make sure you don't miss any important places to discover, I recommend that on the morning of Day 5 you take the Upper and Lower Manhattan Tour, the heart of the Big Apple. It's the perfect option if you're only going to be in New York for a few days or if you're travelling with children and they get tired of walking quickly.

The interesting thing about the tour is that you visit Manhattan with an expert guide so that you have some context about each place you visit when you're exploring the city at your own pace and know your way around much better. The Upper and Lower Manhattan Tour lasts 3.5 hours and ends in Battery Park, at the southern end of the borough bordering the Financial District.

After the tour you can take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty from the pier in Battery Park, New York's oldest park. The views of Liberty Island, Lady Liberty and Ellis Island from Battery Park are a sight to behold - you'll be taking lots of pictures!

Book a ferry cruise to the Statue of Liberty

Take a lunch break at Westfield World Trade Center Mall

On your way back to Manhattan, before visiting Ground Zero it's time for a lunch break to recharge your batteries. You can go to Westfield World Trade Center Mall, a shopping mall located just below The Oculus structure. Here there are many restaurants to choose from such as Eataly, Shake Shack, Wasabi Sushi & Bento or Starbucks, among others.

Visiting Ground Zero and the Financial District in the afternoon

Ground Zero is a place of remembrance that pays tribute to those who perished in the 2001 terrorist attacks that shocked the world. After the attacks, the World Trade Center had to be completely rebuilt. The Twin Towers gave way to:

  • One World Trade Center, which has the highest observation deck in New York known as the One World Observatory.
  • The striking 9/11 Museum.
  • The Memorial, one of the most emotional visits I made in New York.

However, there is much more to see at Ground Zero. If you want to know more, in my article 10 things to see and do at Ground Zero in New York I tell you about the must-sees. I also recommend you book a tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Ground Zero.

The next stop on the route is the Financial District in the heart of Downtown Manhattan. Here there are a number of tourist attractions to see such as Wall Street and its Charging Bull or the New York Stock Exchange, among others. Its long, narrow streets flanked by huge skyscrapers will barely allow you to see the sky and you'll be met by hundreds of suit-wearing executives hurrying back and forth.

Book a tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Ground Zero

Experience the magic of a Broadway musical

You come to New York to have fun, to be amazed at every turn and even to daydream. That's what Broadway musicals are all about, and they're sure to delight you like a child, no matter how old you are!

The magic of Broadway, its musical numbers and majestic stagings will leave you speechless. There are many titles on the bill, but some of the most prestigious are The Phantom of the Opera, Aladdin, The Lion King, Wicked, Chicago, Frozen or Los Miserables. Check out all the options for Broadway musicals and pick your favourite.

Of course, if you want to spend a night at the theatre I recommend you buy your Broadway tickets in advance to ensure you get the best seats on the date you want and at a better price than at the box office, where you'll also save having to wait in long lines.

Book your tickets for a Broadway musical

6. Day Get out of New York City and explore other iconic venues

Washington D.C.| ©Caleb Pérez
Washington D.C.| ©Caleb Pérez

Maybe when you were planning your trip to New York you didn't think of adding a day trip out of the city to explore other parts of the United States, as there is so much to see in the Big Apple, but in my opinion a day trip to Washington or Niagara Falls is a great idea because you'll have the opportunity to see the nation's capital or this natural wonder.

See Washington D.C

Booking a tour to Washington is one of the best day trips you can do from the Big Apple. You'll be accompanied by an expert guide and take a comprehensive tour of Washington to discover iconic sites such as the White House, the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon, among many others. Read the following post about the Washington tour from New York and discover all the secrets - it's a blast!

Book your tour to Washington

Marvel at Niagara Falls

Another option is to take a tour to Niagara Falls which takes you to and from downtown New York in one day. The great thing about this organised tour is that you don't have to worry about how to get there, which can be quite an odyssey. And once at the falls, you'll be sure not to miss a single detail with a professional bilingual guide.

Seeing the beautiful rainbow and hearing the roar of the water is an unforgettable experience - I was speechless! Also, as this tour explores the New York side of the falls, no visa is required.

Book your tour to Niagara Falls

Day 7: good bye New York!

View from the One World Observatory| ©Hellotickets
View from the One World Observatory| ©Hellotickets

And now it's the last day of your New York holiday! All goodbyes are hard, especially when you've had such a great time and memorable time in this city, but instead of being sad, my advice is to enjoy the last day to the fullest.

For starters, you can spend the morning shopping around New York for some original and unique souvenirs from your trip - you can find everything here and at every price! The city is full of shops for all tastes and I'm sure you'll find a special gift for your friends and family.

If you need some inspiration in this regard, I recommend you take a look at my article on the 10 best things to buy in New York. Another option is to book a shopping tour, which will take you through The Hamptons, Sag Harbor and an outlet store.

Book a shopping tour in New York

Treat yourself to your last meal in New York City

A day's shopping is exhausting for anyone. Take a break and make the most of the last day of your trip to New York to treat yourself. In my post about the 10 best places to eat in New York you'll find places where you can eat very well without paying a fortune. And if you're looking for a safe bet, be sure to book a food tour of Manhattan where you can sample all the delights of New York cuisine.

Book a food tour of Manhattan

Say goodbye to New York in style!

Say goodbye to the Big Apple from the top of one of its skyscrapers as you gaze out over Manhattan's skyline at sunset. Watching the sun go down as the lights of New York slowly illuminate is a magical moment and a very special way to say goodbye to the city.

There are many observation decks to climb and each one shows a different side of the New York skyline but the two best options, both in the centre of Manhattan, are:

But which is the best viewpoint? It depends, the Empire State Building 's observation deck is higher and offers better views of One World Trade Center and the Financial District, while Top of the Rock is the best choice to see Times Square, Central Park and the Empire State Building from the top. Whichever observatory you choose, you'll find that being up there is truly breathtaking and you'll feel like time stands still before your eyes.

Book your ticket for the Empire State Building