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
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.
When to fly to 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. But the excitement is electric.
April - September: The climate is great during these months, which draws hordes of tourists, but great deals on flights and hotels are available. During the summer there are many free outdoor entertainment opportunities.
January - March: New York winters 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.
Getting around New York
It’s easy to get around New York City. The subway is simple and you’ll always be able to find a bus or taxi. Cabs can be called or hailed anywhere. Subways run 24 hours a day and are easy to figure out. Some hotels offer shuttle service from the airport, so be sure to check when your booking your New York flight and hotel.
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 an 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, www.livebroadway.com. 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.