When is the best time to visit New York?
As one of the most iconic cities in the world, the city that never sleeps isn’t known for having one specific peak season. Instead, all the time is tourist time! There are, however, some things you should consider before you go:
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.
We will warn you that New York weather is extreme for a city: winters are cold. Typical annual snowfall reaches 74cm – that’s altogether, not in one go! – so take your boots and hat and prepare for the chill.
Contrastingly, summer months (July–September) get hot in the city. Outdoor attractions such as the US Tennis Open in Queens and open-air theatres in the Central Park make up for it for most visitors, though, and weekends are quieter as New Yorkers head to the Hamptons when they can.
May – June offers up the best of the weather: springtime warmth, without the stuffiness of a city summer. The presence of real life New Yorkers provides you with the authentic experience that you’ll find less easily in the summer months, and you’ll have the space to explore without wearing a huge coat and ear muffs as in winter.
Additionally, 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.
When is the cheapest time of year to fly to New York?
As noted above, there is no one specific season for New York tourism, and when holiday-goers and jet set travellers aren’t filling up the seats, business passengers are. Therefore, flight prices tend not to change seasonally, but in line with events, holidays, demand and how far in advance you book.
Flights and hotels are best booked well in advance for times which may be busier in the city. Christmas and early summer are just expected to be bustling; if this is when you’re planning to go, try to book six months ahead. You’ll possibly save on flights and almost certainly on hotels.
And 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 may be most easily found around then – even at late notice. This applies fairly consistently, but do be wary of Valentines Day price hikes around the 14th.
Are there any direct flights from the UK to New York?
Yes! New York is a popular destination for tourists, and a worldwide economic centre which is vital to business travel. As a result, there are over 221 direct flights to New York leaving weekly from London alone. New York has three main airports, which combined host 109 million travellers each year.
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.
You can fly directly to New York from a choice of major UK airports. Choose from:
• Birmingham (BHK) • Edinburgh (EDI)
• Glasgow (GLA) • Manchester (MAN)
• London City (LCY) • London Heathrow (LHR)
Whilst direct flights on this route are convenient and often well priced, flying indirectly to New York can sometimes be a good idea, allowing you to minimise immigration waiting time upon arrival, and maximise exploration time in the city.
Certain British Airways flights from London City include a short stopover at Shannon, Ireland, sometimes allowing passengers to clear US Customs and Immigration there – meaning New York passport control can be bypassed, and the famously long immigration queues skipped.
See our Flight Finder to search and book, or read on to see which airlines offer direct flights.
Which airlines fly to New York?
If you’re leaving from the UK, your first port of call should be one of the following, all of which offer direct flights from various UK airports to at least one New York’s largest international airports:
• British Airways • American Airlines
• Norwegian • Virgin Atlantic
• Delta • United
• Kuwait Airways • PIA
• Finnair • KLM
• Air France • Lufthansa
If you’re planning on flying indirectly to the city that never sleeps, a number of airlines offer stopover trips from the UK:
• US Airways • Air Canada
• Aer Lingus • Swiss Airlines
• Turkish Airline • Iberia
• SAS • Etihad Airways
• Alitalia • EL AL Israel Airlines
• TAP Portugal • Air New Zealand
• Brussels Airlines • Qatar Airways
• Aeroflot • Icelandair
• Air Berlin • Meridiana
• Air China • Austrian Airlines
• TAM Linhas Aereas • Air Europa
• LOT • EgyptAir
• Transaero Airlines • Air India
• Aeromexico • Royal Air Maroc
• Caribbean Airlines • Avianca
• Jet Airways • Ukraine International
• Royal Jordanian • Saudia
• Arik Air • Uzbekistan Airways
Remember to search for flights to all of the main New York airports; this will give you a greater variety of options.
Are there any low cost airlines that fly to New York?
Norwegian offers direct flights between the UK’s major airports and New York, and seats on this route are very reasonably priced.
As always, we recommend shopping around for the best deals. The cheapest options can often be sourced from airlines not specifically marketed as ‘low cost.’
Use our Flight Finder to find the cheapest deal for your dates.
What’s the best airline to fly to New York from the UK?
Whilst your idea of ‘best’ will naturally be dependent on personal preference, Virgin Atlantic is well renowned for this route. If there’s a chance of an upgrade, you’re in for a treat, with their famous Clubhouse executive lounges, spa treatments and gourmet food service at your disposal. If not, its economy and premium economy services are still way above industry standards, so if you can get a good deal, we recommend these!
Norwegian are the newest kids on the block with their transatlantic routes. Whilst their free Wi-Fi service is not yet available on their New York routes, the clean and efficient service more than makes up for it – and fingers crossed for future Wi-Fi services! See above for more details on Norwegian’s newest long-haul route.
How long is the flight from the UK to New York?
New York is closer than you think, with direct flights to the iconic city taking just 7 ½ to 8 hours. With efficient airport service – fingers crossed! – you can find yourself roaming the city itself just 9 hours from take-off.
Indirect flights can take anywhere from 9 to 36 hours.
Immigration control is famously tight at most US destinations, which unfortunately can result in large queues and delay upon arrival. To reduce this, we suggest
• Avoiding weekend flights.
• Making the most of e-passport services – if you have one, use the automated passport control where queues are often shorter and faster-moving.
• Paying for fast-track security. For frequent fliers and business-class passengers, this often comes included, but many airports are increasingly offering a PAYG service (usually costing between £3 and £5) which includes a shorter waiting time.
How much is a flight from the UK to New York?
The cheapest flights cost from £150 for a single economy journey from London Heathrow to JFK, although from Manchester it can be a little more: roughly £200 upwards.
More commonly, however, return flights departing from any UK airport cost from around £500. As always, flexibility on dates and advanced booking helps to find the best deal.
Using our Flight Finder helps you to do just that – click here to search for flights!
How far is the airport from the city centre?
JFK: Located within the city itself, JFK is one of the busiest airports in the US. It’s just 20km (12 miles) southeast of Manhattan, in the borough of Queens. It’s easily accessible – just check below to see the best ways to get from the airport into town.
Newark: Newark is actually located in New Jersey state, rather than New York. It’s only a 24km (14 miles) journey across state lines though, directly to midtown Manhattan. It’s a quieter airport – but also smaller – than JFK, but equally efficient and accessible.
La Guardia: The smallest of New York’s major airports, La Guardia is helpfully located just 13km (8 miles) east of the city.
What’s the best way to reach New York’s city centre from the airport?
Transport within New York is easily understandable, with many options depending on how adventurous you feel. The easiest options are often taxis – 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.
Here, we provide some of the most popular options from each of New York’s major international airports.
• The NYC Subway and Long Island Railroad are both connected to JFK International; tickets start at $2.25 (£1.30). The map is easily understandable – click here to see where you need to go. 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, costing between $7.25 and $13.75 (£4.35 and £8.20). 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 Terminal 4’s arrivals, payable in cash from $2.25 (exact change will be needed!). Look for the Q10, Q3 or B15 buses to get to the city - and back again, when necessary.
• The NYC Airporter Bus is a specific airport shuttle costing $16 (£10) one way or $29 (£17) for a round trip. These leave from JFK and arrive into Grand Central, Penn Station or Port Authority. They run every 30 minutes on the hour from 5am until 11.30pm and include free Wi-Fi and plenty of luggage room. They can be booked in advance or at the airport–ask at the ground transportation desk, located within the welcome centre of every JFK terminal.
• 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. Price-wise, there’s a flat fee of $45 (£27) plus tolls to get to Manhattan, whilst journeys to Brooklyn cost between $34 and $52 (£20 and $31). Expect to pay between $39 and $59 (£23 and £35) to get to the Bronx, $20 and $27 (£12 and £16) to Queens, and $54 and $64 (£32 and £38) to Staten Island. It is standard (and very much expected) to tip drivers 15-20% of the total bill for each journey, so bear that in mind when considering price options! We strongly recommend choosing a legitimate taxi despatcher, rather than one of the drivers waiting in the airport, and agreeing on the price before you set off.
• The AirTrain Newark service provides rail travel to a number of stop throughout NYC. Fares range from $8.25 to $12.50 (£5 to £7.50).
• Buses are also available, through Coach USA, taking between 1 ½ and 2 hours and costing $16 for a single journey or $28 for a return. Buses run 365 days per year, between the hours of 4am and 1am from the airport to the city. If you’re returning to the airport, the times are 4:45am until 1:45am. They run every 30 minutes until 6:45am, and every 15 minutes from then until 11:15pm. After that, they return to twice-hourly service. Stops are easily found outside the arrivals halls.
• Taxis are available from Newark into New York, but cost between $55 and $90 (£32 and £54) and can be lengthy and tedious during rush hour. At weekends and over rush hours, an additional $5 surcharge applies, plus tips.
• Travel information is readily available in the Arrivals area of each terminal.
• Taxis are available from outside the Arrivals hall, at an expected cost of $30 (£18) excluding tip, directly to Manhattan.
• 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, with all of the same times, costs and information as from JFK – see above for further details.
• There are also shared-ride services which run door-to-door drives on demand, taking around 30 minutes. Expect a taxi ride to cost around $30 (£18) excluding tip.
Alternatively, on-phone taxi apps such as Uber can arrange reliable cabs with plenty of information to increase safety and reliability: estimated cost upon booking, car details such as number plate and type, driver details including name and user rating, and a live update of how far away the taxi is and estimated arrival time all make this the easiest of choices!
Where can I get even more information on travel to New York?
See our New York travel guide page for more details on the city.
We also have individual airport guides for JFK, Newark and La Guardia.
Image attribution: Manhattan, New York City with Brooklyn Bridge by AngMoKio
| Time Square by Sracer357