Spending 4 days in New York allows you to appreciate all that this magical city has to offer. This detailed NYC 4 day itinerary will take you on a memorable adventure to one of the greatest destinations in the US.
New York is a hub for food, fashion, art, theatre, and culture. It’s a melting pot with 5 unique boroughs, each with a remarkable diversity of people and experiences.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to spend 4 memorable days in this breathtaking city.
I’ll share the best areas to stay, iconic sites that are truly worth a visit, the best shopping spots & hidden gems, insider tips, and so much more.
So let’s get to it. Here’s the ultimate NYC itinerary for spending 4 days in the city.
4 Days in New York – The Ultimate NYC Itinerary
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Is 4 Days in New York Enough?
NYC is referred to as the Big Apple for a reason – it’s enormous. So you could easily spend a week or more exploring all that the city has to offer.
That said, it’s entirely possible to cover a great deal of New York in just four days. Naturally, you won’t be able to see everything. But it’s enough time to cover most of the highlights, along with some cool hidden gems.
This 4 day New York itinerary is set up to take you around various areas of the city where you can enjoy many different and exciting experiences.
If you’re interested in taking a road trip from New York to Florida, you may like this guide for the best places to stop on the East Coast.
What Area is Best to Stay in NYC?
One of the best parts about this bustling city is that every area offers a unique vibe with vibrant culture, incredible food, and special sites to see.
Not only that, there’s always easy access to all other areas of the city that you might want to explore.
With that in mind, you really can’t go wrong anywhere you choose to stay.
Nonetheless, here’s a rundown of some of the top districts to stay in, depending on what kind of experience you’re looking for.
- Theater District: a central location that’s perfect for first-time visitors
- Midtown: the heart of NYC surrounded by many popular sights, including Broadway and Times Square
- Meatpacking District: offers ample experiences for shopping and nightlife
- Tribeca: a trendy neighbourhood with hip restaurants and shops and historic buildings
- SoHo: an upscale, artsy area for the luxurious traveller
- Chelsea: a quieter, culture-filled district
- Financial District: home of the famous Wall Street; ideal for business travellers
- Upper East Side: upscale district in the heart of Manhattan
- Upper West Side: artsy area close to central Manhattan
Best Hotels & Hostels in NYC
As you may have expected, there are tons of accommodations throughout the city, catering to all budgets and interests.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the best areas to stay in NYC let’s look at some top hotel and hostel options.
Best Hostel in NYC: The Local NY
The Local NY is a stylish hostel in the heart of Queens. It offers female and mixed-gender dorms along with private rooms. There’s a rooftop terrace with a bar and incredible skyline views, along with an on-site cafe and regular events.
Best Budget Hotel in NYC: Hotel 46 Times Square
Hotel 46 Times Square is a cosy hotel located in the centre of Times Square. The rooms are simple yet clean, and it’s the perfect home base for your four days in New York. Hotel 46 is just a walk away from famous landmarks, restaurants, shopping, and more.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in NYC: EVEN Midtown East
Best Luxury Hotel in NYC: Baccarat Hotel
Baccarat Hotel and Residences offers a luxurious experience in Manhattan, close to many activities. Each room features Baccarat crystals and elaborate architecture and design. During your stay, you can enjoy an on-site French dining experience, indoor pool, fitness centre, and spa.
Best Things to See in New York in 4 Days
This New York itinerary includes time in all the best areas in the city. It’ll take you on a journey to see iconic sites and hidden gems.
You’ll get to explore what it’s like as a local as well as check out popular tourist attractions.
Basically, we’ve got a lot to get through. So, if you’re looking for a brief overview of the best things to do during 4 days in New York? Here you go!
- Explore Central Park and nearby museums.
- Hang out in Times Square.
- See a Broadway show.
- Eat your way through Chinatown.
- Visit The World Trade Center and The National September 11 Memorial Museum.
- Go on a street art tour around Brooklyn.
- Watch the sunset from the Brooklyn Bridge.
- Take a ferry ride on the East River.
- Enjoy a unique cultural experience in Harlem.
NYC 4 Day Itinerary
Hanging out in New York for four days is an unforgettable adventure! There’s so much to see and do, with a little something for everyone.
You can follow this itinerary as your precise guide, or you can customise it to fit your timeline and what kind of experiences you’re looking for.
Each day, you’ll hang out in mostly walkable areas. So, you should only need to get a ride via public transportation or taxi each morning and evening. More on how to get around NYC later!
- Day 1: Midtown Manhattan (Central Park & Times Square)
- Day 2: Lower Manhattan (Chinatown, Tribeca, & Financial District)
- Day 3: Brooklyn (Williamsburg, Botanic Garden, & Brooklyn Bridge)
- Day 4: Upper Manhattan (Upper East Side & Harlem)
New York City Pass
If you plan to visit all the top sightseeing spots during your visit, it’s well worth investing in a New York City Pass. The pass allows you to visit six major New York City attractions with significant savings and even allows priority entry for some. Click here to buy yours now.
4 Days in New York: Day 1
Explore Midtown Manhattan: Central Park and Times Square.
For the first day of your New York Itinerary, I recommend checking out the quintessential Central Park and Times Square. Both of these popular destinations are in Manhattan, the most populated area in NYC.
Get ready to enjoy all sorts of activities, from historical sites and exciting shows to unique museums and incredible dining experiences.
Start your first morning off in picturesque Central Park, an 800-acre urban park where you can explore on foot or rent bicycles. I mean, it doesn’t get much more New York than Central Park.
You can find various cafes and food carts serving coffee and breakfast here. And there are tons of benches and picnic spaces throughout the park where you can relax and enjoy. It’s honestly one of my favourite places to start the day.
While the activities in Central Park are endless (you could easily spend an entire day), here are some top attractions worth checking out:
- Shakespeare Garden
- Strawberry Fields
- Central Park Zoo
- Belvedere Castle
- Wildlife Sanctuary
There are tons of museums around and close to Central Park. I recommend spending your afternoon checking some of these out! You can continue exploring on foot in true NYC fashion or bike around.
Just east of the large lake in Central Park is the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can also find the world’s largest art museum, The Museum of Modern Art, just below Central Park.
Entry: Prices vary by museum (each museum listed above has a $25 entry fee)
Just south of Central Park is Times Square, a bustling destination that features bright lights, shopping, and shows.
Times Square is like NYC as a whole but in a five-block area. Here, you can find iconic sites like the Empire State Building and The Grand Central Terminal.
*It’s such a touristy thing to do, but I highly recommend visiting the main observatory deck of the Empire State Building. It’s one of the best observatories in NYC with unrivalled views of the city skyline. You can skip the queues if you buy your tickets in advance.
If you prefer to avoid crowds, you may want to skip Times Square. However, it is one of those quintessential NYC experiences and an insanely cool place to see. You can explore the area at your own pace or join a hop-on, hop-off bus tour.
A couple of the best Times Square activities include seeing celebrity wax figures at Madame Tussauds New York (awesome photo-op!) and checking out the unique creativity at the Stranger Things Store.
If you’re looking to relax, enjoy a drink at The Rum House, a swanky cocktail bar at Times Square.
A Broadway Show
If seeing a Broadway Show is on your bucket list, now’s the perfect time to tick it off! Admittedly, it isn’t the cheapest of NY experiences, but personally, I’ve never had any regret forking out for a show.
If you’re visiting New York on a budget, there are ways to keep the costs down. One way of doing so is by buying last-minute tickets at the TKTS booth at Times Square. Another way is to enter the daily lottery, where you may get lucky and win free or discounted tickets.
Not interested in a Broadway Show? Carolines on Broadway is a cool underground comedy club that’s also in Times Square.
Shows run Tuesday through Sunday. Entry: usually $20 to $145 depending on the show
4 Days in New York: Day 2
Explore Lower Manhattan: Chinatown, Tribeca, & Financial District.
The perfect way to spend day 2 of your NYC itinerary is in Lower Manhattan. From diverse culture and delicious food to charming neighbourhoods and historical sites, you’ll see many iconic attractions along with some hidden gems.
Many foodies and tourists love exploring the busy sidewalks of the densely populated Chinatown neighbourhood. With so much to see and do, you can easily spend the first part of your day here. And, make sure you come hungry!
Explore the streets of Chinatown to find food markets, souvenir stores, and bubble tea shops. Be sure to check out Columbus Park, where locals are doing Tai Chi and playing chess.
One of the most notable stops in Chinatown is the Museum of Chinese in America. This beautiful, modern museum features exhibits that celebrate the diverse Chinese American heritage, history, and culture. It’s relatively small and easy to check out in under an hour but well worth the visit!
Museum entry: $8 – $12 / Allow: about 1 hour
After you’ve explored Chinatown, you can head over to Tribeca. This often-overlooked area is charming and well worth checking out. Depending on how much time you have, you can make a quick stop here or spend a couple of hours exploring.
Tribeca is a swanky area that boasts cobblestone streets lined with boutiques, restaurants, and industrial buildings. It’s a great place to grab lunch or a snack and do some shopping or take photos.
If you’re looking to enjoy a beverage, Nancy Whiskey Pub is a popular neighbourhood pub that serves affordable drinks and tasty bar food.
The Financial District is an excellent place to hang out on your 2nd afternoon and evening in NYC. This buzzing area is where you can find several well-known sites, restaurants, bars, and shiny skyscrapers.
I recommend making your way to the Financial District before dark to visit The World Trade Center and The National September 11 Memorial Museum if you haven’t had the opportunity to see this before.
Other cool things to see in the Financial District are The Charging Bull statue, Bowling Green Park, and Trinity Church.
If you’re looking to enjoy the nightlife, there are several pubs and cocktail bars east of Wall Street.
4 Days in New York: Day 3
Explore Brooklyn: Williamsburg, Botanic Garden, & Brooklyn Bridge.
Next up on your NYC 4 Day Itinerary is the iconic borough of Brooklyn. This vibrant area is a must-see and offers enough to see and do for an entire day. I’m talking dining, shopping, street art, nature, and sunset views!
Visit Williamsburg Neighborhood
This trendy neighbourhood in Brooklyn is the perfect place to start your day. There are tons of hip cafes to enjoy breakfast before taking a stroll around the vibrant streets. Pop into trendy shops, hang out in local parks and enjoy waterfront views of Manhattan.
Bedford Avenue is the main shopping street in Williamsburg. You can find many unique shops and markets, as well as retro cafes and bars. And, if you visit on the weekends, be sure to check out the Artists & Fleas indoor flea market.
You can find beautiful street art all around Brooklyn. For many years, local artists have used walls, billboards, and abandoned lots as a canvas. This self-guided Brooklyn graffiti tour offers an unforgettable experience; just make sure your camera is ready!
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Enjoy 52 acres of natural beauty at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where you can easily explore for the rest of the afternoon. There are different plants in bloom all year long, alongside various programs and exhibits.
Entry: $18 (discounts for children, students, and seniors)
Brooklyn Bridge for Sunset Views and Dinner
Enjoy a gorgeous sunset on the Brooklyn Bridge, then enjoy dinner and drinks at one of the many nearby spots on the water.
For a unique dining experience, check out Time Out Market New York, close to the Brooklyn Bridge. This 24,000 square-foot food market serves delicious fare from over a dozen local restaurants. Enjoy sushi, tacos, burgers, dessert, and more.
4 Days in New York: Day 4
Explore Upper Manhattan: Upper East Side & Harlem
For your final day in NYC, relax in the Upper East Side before exploring one of New York’s most extraordinary neighbourhoods. Start your day at the park before taking a ferry ride. When you return, head to Harlem for an authentic cultural experience.
Carl Schurz Park
For a peaceful last morning in NYC, check out Carl Schurz Park. It’s on the East River, offering beautiful scenery as you walk along the river.
You can also find tons of benches, green spaces, and small gardens throughout the park. The perfect place to wind down and reflect on your time spent in the city.
To keep things relaxed on the final day of your 4 days in New York, I recommend taking an NYC ferry ride.
The Upper Manhattan Ferry Terminal is at East 34th Street at the northern tip of Carl Schurz Park. The East River route connects residential and business communities in Midtown and the Financial District.
Sit back and take in the city’s views. You can also purchase snacks and drinks on board. The ferry has several stops along the river, or you can stay put and make your way back to the Upper East Side.
Entry: $2.75 / Allow: 1 hour
Back in Upper Manhattan, Harlem is an energetic neighbourhood that boasts African-American history and culture.
Although many visitors skip over Harlem, I think it’s worth a visit as it’s unlike any other area in the city. You can either explore Harlem on your own or join a guided Harlem Walking Tour.
Some of the best things to do and see in Harlem include The Studio Museum, Marcus Garvey Park, and the National Jazz Museum.
If you’re looking to stick around for the evening, Harlem is home to eclectic restaurants, trendy clubs, and stylish bars.
Where to Eat in NYC
As America’s melting pot, it’s unsurprising that NYC has no shortage of incredible food. With delicious cuisine from all over the world, one thing you can never be in New York is hungry.
From New York classics like pizza and bagels to ethnic fare, here are some of the most recommended places to eat in the city.
- Pizza: Joe’s Pizza, near Times Square ($)
- Bagels: Liberty Bagels Midtown, near Madison Square Gardens ($)
- Variety: Time Out Market, near Brooklyn Bridge ($$)
- Street food: Sam’s Falafel Stand, Financial District ($)
- Fine-Dining: Le Coucou, near Chinatown, ($$$$)
- Desserts: Spot Dessert Bar, lower Manhattan ($$)
Budget for 4 Days in New York
If you’re planning a trip to NYC, it’s important to know that it’s known as one of the most expensive cities in the US.
Depending on your travel style, you can plan to spend $200 – $500 per day. This figure includes your accommodation, food, activities, and transportation (except for flights to and from NY).
I personally recommend having at least $1,000 set aside for your trip. This is enough to comfortably do most activities on this NYC itinerary. Of course, if you’re travelling with a friend or partner, that will help keep costs down, especially accommodations.
If you’re a budget traveller, there are several ways to cut your cost and make your four days in New York more affordable. Here are some tips for travelling to NYC for less:
- Book a hostel. You can find comfortable hostels starting at around $70 per night. Many of them also serve breakfast.
- Enjoy free activities. There are many cool things to see and do around the city that don’t require a fee, such as exploring Central Park, watching the sunset on Brooklyn Bridge, and visiting Times Square.
- Travel on foot and by public transport. NYC is a very walkable city since each area offers so much to do. When you’re heading to another part of the city, you can use public transportation to keep costs down.
- Invest in a NYC Pass – If you want to visit all the top sightseeing spots during your visit, it’s well worth investing in a New York City Pass. The pass allows you to visit 6 major New York City attractions at significant savings
- Visit during Winter. Winter is New York’s low season, so accommodations and activities are often more affordable.
If you’re looking to splurge on your NYC vacation, it’s easy to spend even more than a few hundred dollars a day. There are many luxury hotels, restaurants, and bars. There are also endless activities to enjoy, many of which require a fee.
Tips & Advice for Your NYC Itinerary
To get the most out of your 4 days in New York, I want to share some insider tips. Hopefully, these will help you enjoy all that this incredible city has to offer.
Getting Around NYC
New York is huge! So, how to get around is usually a top question for visitors.
For this NYC itinerary, I purposely grouped activities by neighbourhood and boroughs. The idea is that it will make it easy to get around on foot once you’re in the area you want to explore.
When you’re not on foot, you can use public transportation, taxis, or ride-share services to travel to different areas. It would be wise to familiarise yourself with using the NYC subway.
The MTA NYC Transit is one of the most popular ways to get around. It’s fairly affordable and eco-friendly. I recommend getting the 7-day unlimited MetroCard. Even if you aren’t visiting for a week, you can get unlimited rides around the city for $33, which is impossible to beat.
You can also hail taxis just like you see in the movies! Taxis are all over the city. However, snagging one that’s empty can sometimes be a challenge. If you use taxis, make sure the driver remembers to turn the meter on when the ride starts. Otherwise, you may get overcharged.
If you want a private ride that’s more affordable than a taxi, you can use ride-share services like Uber and Lyft. Download the app for whichever one you want to use and order your ride. Keep in mind that prices can increase during busy times.
When to Visit New York
To be honest, NYC is amazing year-round! If you want to experience the holiday joy, visit during Winter. If you’d rather avoid the cold weather, Spring and Fall offer pleasant weather and fewer crowds than Summer.
Safety in NYC
You’ll be happy to hear that New York is one of the safest big cities in the US. With that said, crime does exist.
You’ll want to be mindful of your surroundings and keep your belongings close to you, as pickpocketing isn’t unheard of. You should also avoid riding the subway solo after dark.
With that said, you shouldn’t run into safety issues during your trip to NYC as long as you’re careful and aware.
Is New York LGBTQ+ Friendly
The short answer is yes. New York is, without doubt, one of the most gay-friendly cities in all of the world.
With iconic landmarks such as ‘The Stonewall Inn’, LGBTQ Travellers will love learning about the history of queer culture in this colourful city.
After dark, there are plenty of LGBTQ bars and nightclubs designed to keep you partying way into the early hours.
The city even boasts some of the last remaining lesbian bars in the world – so if that’s not something to celebrate, I don’t know what is.
Enjoy Spending 4 Days in New York!
And that’s it for 4 amazing days in NYC. I hope this itinerary has you ready and excited for your trip!
What are you most looking forward to? Have I missed anything that you think deserves to be on this list? Let us know in the comments below.
If you plan on travelling the East Coast, perhaps these other articles will help you to plan your trip:
- New York to Florida Road Trip – The Best Places to Stop
- 15 of the Most Thrilling Hikes in Finger Lakes, NY
- 15 Best Waterfalls in Finger Lakes, NY
- 10 Days in Florida – The Ultimate Florida Itinerary
- 13 Best Hidden Gem Vacation Spots on the East Coast
Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, where we share further travel tips and inspiration.
Stay adventurous and happy, travels.
Polly is a freelance writer from the US. She loves to explore and spent over a year living in and traveling around Southeast Asia. Polly has many more places on her bucket list and currently travels around the United States. Along with writing and traveling, she loves coffee, craft beer, and spending time outdoors. You can see more of Polly at pollycloverwrites.com.