When is the Best Time to Visit New York?
October - December: Autumn marks the beginning of the cultural season – theatre, ballet, and opera are in full swing. The subsequent rush results in higher prices for flights to New York City, hotels, and everything else.
The lead-up to Christmas always feels more crowded in the city, as New York natives and visitors alike flock to the East Coast’s premier shopping destination. It is incomparably festive, though – try ice skating at one of the city’s many outdoor rinks – and New York’s cultural gravitas really shows itself over this period.
Equally, New Year in New York is legendary. If you’re there for the big night, make sure to be in a spot where you can see the famous fireworks, even if you don’t make it to Times Square for the countdown.
April - September: The climate is great during these months, which draws hordes of tourists, but great deals on cheap flights and hotels are available. During the summer there are many free outdoor entertainment opportunities. Months from July to September get hot in the city. Outdoor attractions such as the US Tennis Open in Queens and open-air theatres in the Central Park are where most visitors like to escape the heat weekends are quieter as New Yorkers head out of to the city when they can.
May to June offers up the best of the weather: springtime warmth, without the stuffiness of a city summer. Additionally, the New York Fashion Week takes place in both September and March – fashionistas might want to head over then to see a piece of the action live.
Whilst nothing can keep the visitors away around the December holidays, the city itself is quieter from mid-January until late February. After the rush of the sales ends, there is less going on, so deals on hotels and cheap flights may be most easily found around then – even at late notice. New York winters (December to February) are very cold and windy. The good news is that, other than Valentine’s Day, this is the most affordable time to fly to New York and get a good hotel deal.
Every traveller returning from New York will come home with a different experience – be it a cultural awakening or a gratifying shopping trip. The city is home to iconic US landmarks including the Statue of Liberty as well as quintessential New York attractions: Central Park, Fifth Avenue and Times Square. But beyond these must-sees listed in every tourist’s guidebook, the city exudes an aura that combines depth, wisdom and irresistible charm.
Getting to know New York can seem rather daunting to the first-time visitor. The boisterous neighbourhoods are filled with Wall Street businessmen fighting over cabs, truck drivers yelling at cyclists and dogs barking at cats. Give the city a chance to warm up to you and you’ll soon find yourself silently humming “New York, New York”.
After alighting from New York flights, many travellers begin to explore the city with a stroll through Central Park, or a horse-drawn carriage ride around it. From there it’s a short walk down to the shopping mecca of the world: Fifth Avenue, home of some of the country’s premier designer shops. After some serious window shopping head to SoHo where funky boutiques, hip cafes and art galleries line the streets.
New York climate
As one of the most iconic cities in the world, the city that never sleeps isn’t known for having one specific peak season and is a year-round destination. There are, however, some things you should consider before you go:New York has a humid continental climate, ie, variable weather and seasonal variance in temperatures. The summers are hot and humid. Temperatures hit about 32 degrees Celsius. The winters are cold with snow and temperatures hover around zero. Most of the rain falls during April, May and November.
Getting around New York
Transport within New York is easily understandable, with many options depending on how adventurous you feel. The subway is simple, runs 24 hours a day and is easy to figure out. Cabs can be called or hailed anywhere and are the easiest option– choose between the famous yellow cab or an Uber taxi ride using your smartphone (download the Uber app to order on-demand cars featuring driver reviews, location tracking and a choice of car). Taking the subway may provide a more authentic New York experience, but will be less convenient.
As a popular destination for tourists, and a worldwide economic centre which is vital to business travel, New York receives millions of travellers each year and has three main airports.
These airports are:
• New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) • New York Newark (EWR)
• New York La Guardia (LGA)
It’s worth noting that La Guardia offers significantly fewer international flights than the other two options.
JFK: Located within the city itself, JFK is one of the busiest airports in the US. It’s just 12 miles (20km) southeast of Manhattan, in the borough of Queens. It’s easily accessible as the NYC Subway and Long Island Railroad are both connected to JFK International. Lines are open all night, but passengers should be cautious making trips to far-out or dangerous suburbs, and late night trips.
The AirTrain can take you to one of three stations in Manhattan. This is a safe and convenient option, and can be caught directly from the airport terminal. Tickets can be bought on the spot or in advance.
Buses can be caught from the east side of arrivals, payable in cash and exact change will be needed.
• The NYC Airporter Bus is a specific airport shuttle which leaves from JFK and arrive into Grand Central, Penn Station or Port Authority. They run every 30 minutes on the hour from early morning until late evening and include free Wi-Fi and plenty of luggage room. They can be booked in advance or at the airport.
• New York’s famous yellow cabs can be booked in advance or hailed from the airport, and take between 30 and 90 minutes depending on traffic. Whilst they may not be the most economical of choices, they are easy to use – particularly for first-time visitors. Make sure that you use a legitimate taxi despatcher, rather than one of the drivers waiting in the airport, and agree on the price before you set off.
Newark: Newark is actually located in New Jersey state, rather than New York. It’s only a 14 miles (24km) journey across state lines though, directly to midtown Manhattan. It’s a quieter airport, smaller than JFK, but equally efficient and accessible. There are several options to get from the airport to the city: you can take a train which travels to a number of stops throughout NYC, buses are also available and take between 1 ½ and 2 hours. Buses run all year round between early morning hours and late night.
• Taxis are also available from Newark into New York, but can be lengthy and tedious during rush hour.
La Guardia: The smallest of New York’s major airports, La Guardia is helpfully located just 8 miles (13km) east of the city. Travel information is readily available in the Arrivals area of each terminal.
• Taxis are available from outside the Arrivals hall.
• A combination of public and private buses provide transfers to all boroughs of the city: the station is just outside of the arrivals terminal, with all information regarding time, length and cost readily available there and then.
• The NYC Airporter bus is also available.
• There are also shared-ride services which run door-to-door drives on demand, taking around 30 minutes.
New York insider information
- Central Park is a must visit on any stop in town. Go to the zoo, watch or play sport, go swimming or watch a performance at the open-air theatre in the summer months.
- Stop by Katz Deli where the movie When Harry Met Sally was filmed and shock your friends back home with a photo of you sitting under the sign: "Where Harry met Sally...hope you have what she had!", referring to the best meal in New York of course.
- Shopping in New York is, of course, world-renowned. You can spend money everywhere from the biggest department stores in the world to tiny boutiques. If you're planning on buying electrical goods, however, be cautious. If you're in an electronics store, be on the lookout for scams – if a sales person starts by asking how long you're in town they might be ready to set you up for a scam. Look out for used goods sold as new or being encouraged to buy something more expensive than you wanted because what you ask for is "unavailable".
- If you want to catch a show on Broadway have a look at the listings in the New York Times on Friday or Sunday to find out what’s on where or have a look online at the official website for Broadway. You can get same-day tickets for shows from TKTS in Times Square and the South Street Seaport.
- Greenwich Village still has a name for being the arty and bohemian district, however, its popularity has led to such an increase in rents that it is now one of the most expensive parts of Manhattan. For a taste of where the artists and students really live, try instead the cafes, craft shops and vegetarian restaurants in the recently gentrified East Village.