The journey continues! Just recently our intern Hannah told you about her travels to Boston and how she made her time there a unique experience despite a limited travel budget. One thing she did not want to miss during her trip along the North American east coast was a stopover in New York.
“In New York you are always the star in your own movie” – Simon Barnes
This quote was written on one of the first billboards I came across in New York and it could not be truer. The Big Apple is a paradise for TV-series and movie fans! You’ll feel like stumbling from one movie set into the other and there are constant flashbacks from scenes you remember from your favorite movies. While you’re strolling through the packed streets, surrounded by thousands of lights, it really feels like you’re starring in your very own movie.
New York has been on my travel list for a while and as I already made it to Boston, a visit to the USA’s cultural metropolis seemed to be a must. For all the low-budget-travelers among us there is the perfect way to travel between the two cities: you’ll get from Boston to New York by coach in a comfortable way and in an appropriate time. Even booking only two days before departure you won’t pay an arm and a leg to get from A to B – and in about four to five hours you’re already there.
TOP OF THE ROCK
Right in the middle of Manhattan you’ll find the Rockefeller Center, a complex of twenty buildings stretched out over three blocks. The tallest of them is the Comcast building, headquarter of the broadcasting company NBC and one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, also because of its Skydeck. The Top of the Rock offers its visitors a spectacular view over Manhattan at a height of 260 meters. With good weather conditions you can even see all the way to New Jersey and Brooklyn. Even though the admission to access the Skydeck is not particularly cheap for us low-budget-travelers, the Top of the Rock is my absolute top tip for your stay in New York. The chances of meeting Chuck Bass with a bouquet in his hands or catching a glimpse of a huge gorilla are definitely smaller than when visiting the Empire State Building. However, you’ll be able to avoid long waiting times, as the visitor count at the Top of the Rock is significantly lower. Besides, the skydeck boasts by far the best view of the Empire State Building.
My insider tip for a tight budget: The perfect time to visit the popular skydeck is right before sunset. The transition from the setting sun to a sea of lights is breathtaking and will give anyone goosebumps. Of course, the fee for tickets during sunset times is higher than the one for general tickets. My tip: Get general tickets shortly before sunset and just take your time when you reach the top of the building. The tickets allow you to stay up there until closing time and be honest – when will you ever have this view again? You’ll benefit from the amazing sunset view anyway after a while – but saving some money that is better spent elsewhere.
THE HIGH LINE
The High Line park offers the opportunity to see the city from a completely different perspective. It’s 2.3 kilometers long, abandoned freight train tracks in Manhattan’s west that have been turned into a well-groomed park. Walking on elevated tracks you can take a stroll from Hell’s Kitchen to Meatpacking District, discovering plenty of new angles. Especially the latter is a really fascinating neighborhood. Known for its questionable mix of meat factories, nightclubs and prostitution in earlier times the district turned into a very popular neighborhood. The cityscape is still characterized by industrial buildings and after many designer fashion labels had moved into vacant buildings in the nineties the “New York Magazine” even labelled Meatpacking District “New York’s most fashionable neighborhood”.
A little tip for all the FRIENDS-fans out there: After you reached the end of the High Line at Gansevoort Street it’s only a short walk through Meatpacking before you reach the famous Friends Apartment building. Even though Central Perk does not really exist and “Ugly Naked Guy” is nowhere to be seen, it’s fun to pretend, even just for a minute, to be in your favorite TV series.
Another place that’s perfect to recharge your batteries is Central Park right in the middle of Manhattan – the green lungs of New York City. The artificially created green in the heart of the city is free from cars and offers a vast selection of picturesque paths, attractions and activities – on an area almost as big as the North Sea island Heligoland.
My tip for a small budget: Save yourself an expensive guided tour through the park. Lean back, relax and pick up everything you want to know through other tour guides’ conversations or from online or paper guides.
At all levels, New York City and Manhattan in particular, is a city of superlatives. There is not a second of the day where the vibrant city calms down. It’s fun and exciting and a wonderful experience to explore New York day and night – but it’s also really exhausting and energy-draining. Brooklyn is the perfect place to slow down the hectic New York life a little. Be it a stroll along Brooklyn Promenade with an amazing view of Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty far away or a time out in Brooklyn Bridge Park: Compared to Manhattan the time seems to go by a little slower in Brooklyn. Go get some ice cream from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, one of the most popular ice cream parlors in New York, and sit down at the water – you deserve a break and to gather new energy for the rest of your trip.
Even on rainy days or during a blizzard in winter (believe me – they happen all the time) you won’t get bored in New York City. There is no lack of museums. My recommendations: The American Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Modern Art. Low-Budget-hack: Online tickets are cheaper most of the time. And even if they’re not – I promise that your money is well invested.
Important: Monday and Friday are field trip days at American schools. Be aware that you might have to share the exhibitions with a lot of students on these days.
SIGHTS: If your list of sights you want to see in New York doesn’t seem to have an end, you might want to have a closer look at the Sightseeing Pass. You can create a custom package of a number of sights with the pass. In the end you’re able to save up to 50 % on general admission of those sights. The pass spares your budget and saves you from having to line up: low-budget-approved!
SHOWS: When you’re in New York you’re also very close to the most famous street in the world, Broadway. There are daily shows in the individual buildings of the theater district, sometimes multiple times a day. If you’re spontaneous and with a little luck you might get your hands on last minute show tickets on websites like TodayTix – sometimes even for a little less money.
My low-budget trip to the US came to a glorious end with New York City as a last stop, but I’d still like to hear from you: Who has already been to the Big Apple and could give some more tips for a trip to the exciting city? How did you turn your travel dreams into reality despite a tight budget? And what will be your next travel destination? Don’t hesitate to tell us all of it in the comment section – we’re always happy about insider information and travel-inspo!