If you’re visiting New York City, you probably have a lot of expectations in your mind. As one of the most talked-about and visited cities in the world, many people have a lot of ideas about what this city is like before they’ve ever been there.
Since it’s featured in so many movies and television shows, it’s easy to have notions about the city that aren’t entirely accurate. If you're visiting New York City, there are some things you should keep in mind that will make the experience more pleasant.
Here are ten things we wish we knew before visiting New York City.
10 10. IT OFTEN TAKES LONGER TO GET PLACES THAN YOU’D THINK
When getting around NYC, it’s important to keep in mind that things can take a while. Even if a New Yorker tells you it will take 20 minutes to get somewhere, you should plan more time than that. Depending on how much traffic is going or how the subways are running, it could take you quite a bit longer to get around.
The nature of using public transit means you often have to plan for an extra 15 minutes. You could end up getting somewhere faster than you think, but, generally, it's better to plan for things to take longer.
9 9. DON’T WALK SLOW OR STOP ON THE SIDEWALK
One thing that absolutely drivers New Yorkers bonkers when it comes to tourists is when they walk slowly on the sidewalk or stop suddenly.
There is a flow of traffic to the sidewalks in NYC, and you’ll stand out if you mess this up. Don’t stop suddenly to take pictures. Instead, move to the side. Also, go with the flow of walking traffic, New Yorkers tend to walk fast.
8 8. HOW TO GET TO AND FROM THE AIRPORT
Getting to and from the airport in New York City is often more complicated than in other places, especially if you don’t want to spend a lot of money taking a taxi or a rideshare service. The cheapest way to get from JFK is to take the AirTrain from the airport and then transfer to the subway at Howard Beach.
From LaGuardia, you can take the M80 bus which goes into Manhattan. Also, keep in mind that depending on where you’re going in the city, it can take an hour or even two to get there from the airport.
7 7. TO AVOID SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME IN TIMES SQUARE
Times Square might be one of the most iconic places in the world. It gets nearly 50 million visitors each year and is associated with the city. However, New Yorkers avoid it and mostly hate it. While it makes sense you want to see it, don’t plan to spend much time there.
There are much better places that represent the city better to visit. The best way to see Times Square is to do so when you're seeing a Broadway show and to avoid it after that.
6 6. BUY AN UNLIMITED SUBWAY PASS
NYC public transportation definitely is far from perfect, but it also has many positives. Traffic can get bad and parking is expensive, so driving doesn’t make much sense. Taking taxis and other car services are sometimes necessary, but usually only in specific situations. Overall, the subway is the best way to get around.
The best way to use the subway is to buy an unlimited pass. You can get a seven-day Metrocard for only $33. You’ll be able to use all the subways and buses with this pass, and it’s the cheapest way to navigate the city.
5 5. NEW YORKERS ARE NICER THAN EVERYONE THINKS
New Yorkers have somewhat of a reputation for being rude. This is probably because it’s a busy city and usually people are just going to one place to the next and minding their business. It’s true that most New Yorkers aren’t interested in small talk with strangers, and this is not the cultural norm here.
However, when it comes to helping people, New Yorkers usually come through. Most of the time they are happy to help people navigate the subway or help them if they are in need.
4 4. YOU’RE GOING TO WALK A LOT
The one thing to be prepared for if you’re visiting the city as a tourist is that you will walk a lot. Even with public transportation, you have to walk in this city. Especially if you're trying to see a lot of places and destinations, you’ll likely be all over the city.
Remember to wear comfortable walking shoes and to give yourself time in your itinerary to rest and eat. Otherwise, you’ll be really exhausted and won’t enjoy your trip.
3 3. THERE’S A LOT TO DO SO YOU WON’T WANT TO RUSH THE TRIP
New York City is a place where you really can’t do everything in one short trip. Don’t try to see everything all at once. Even seeing just the main tourists destinations is often impossible in one trip, so you’ll have to prioritize.
You should also try to stay for at least three full days. A trip that’s closer to a week is even better. This way you won’t feel as rushed and will have some time to relax.
2 2. CONSIDER GOING OUTSIDE OF MANHATTAN
While there is so much to do even in Manhattan, there is more to NYC than just the main island. The other boroughs, especially Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, have a lot to offer, too. You’ll get the chance to eat some amazing food and see interesting shops and locations if you venture outside of Manhattan.
There are also a lot of beaches to explore if you’re there in the summer. It’s definitely worth exploring other neighborhoods than the main touristy ones.
1 1. IT’S NOT AS SCARY AS YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN LEAD TO BELIEVE
If you're not from a city, New York can seem especially in intimidating. There are definitely things to be aware of in a large city such as how to get around and how to stay safe. However, New York City isn’t that intimidating.
Just remember to use common sense and follow smart safety measures, and you’ll be just fine. It’s easier to navigate public transit than you’d think these days, too. Your normal map app will help with this, and there are other transit apps you can download, too.