72 Hours In New York: The Best Itinerary

Looking for a short break in an iconic city? Why not see take our best itinerary of 72 hours in New York with you to show you about this bustling, beautiful destination?
New York Nights
What can you fit into your few New York nights? Photo: Luca Bravo | Unsplash

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“New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town!” or so we are informed by Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin in the film “On the Town.” This is certainly something that anyone who has visited this rather incredible place would confirm, although technically it is actually a city! If you have a short break of 72 hours in New York, we’re here to help you get the best of the city that never sleeps, while leaving you at least a few hours for a bit of shut-eye!

72 hours in New York
A wonderful place to visit: What will 72 hours in New York offer you?
Photo: Luca Bravo | Unsplash

New York – A City On Every Bucket List

The city of New York, in New York State, comprises 5 separate boroughs. They sit on the point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Hudson River. Manhattan, the most densely populated of the boroughs, is at the heart of the city. It contains some of the largest financial, cultural, and commercial centers anywhere in the world. The other boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island make up what is the most densely populated city in America. 

Is 72 Hours In New York Long Enough?

72 Hours in New York
Can you see it all in 72 hours in New York?
Photo: Vlad Hilitanu | Unsplash

Why 72 hours? Well, it might surprise you to learn that New York is an incredibly popular destination for couples looking for something a little different from their long weekend away. London to New York is a popular and frequent flight route and one that has never been more financially viable. There is no shortage of incredible things to see and do in the city of New York. The problem is which ones should you be trying to fit into your hectic schedule to make the most of your time there?

Bear in mind that there will be few New Yorkers who will truly have explored everything that the city has to offer. You shouldn’t expect to be able to do everything. However, here are our suggestions for a great itinerary to make your 72 hours really count. We haven’t included any specific recommendations for eating options. After all, New York is teaming with fantastic eateries. They offer a highly diverse range of cuisines. This means you will be sure to find something as you travel around the city.

72 Hours In New York – Day 1

Visit Central Park 

Central Park New York
Central Park – Beautiful any time of the year. Photo: Andrea Belussi | Unsplash

New York can be a bit daunting, even for the seasoned traveler. A great place to start your weekend and somewhere that will give you a gentle feel for the city is Central Park. This incredible park, in the centre of the city, is a real jewel in the heart of the urban sprawl. It is a great place to start exploring upper Manhattan. The park itself is one of the most visited urban parks anywhere in the US. It’s also somewhere you will have seen in a lot of films and on tv shows.

The park is free to visit, always a plus, and given its vast size, there is plenty to do. Listen to the musicians playing music by The Beatles in Strawberry Fields, and take a stroll. Or, why not hire a boat for a row on the lake? The park is bigger than you might think. You might be wisest to download a map to your phone. That way, you can find your bearings for later. 

Top Tip: Grab a coffee and a snack to go from one of the many food carts in the park to keep you energized.

Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Take in an exhibition at the Met. Photo: Tomas Eidsvold | Unsplash

More commonly known as “The Met”, the museum is home to over 250,000 works of art, showcasing over 500 years of talent. All of this is within a stunning building that went up in 1874. We are not suggesting you view the whole museum. After all, it could easily take more than a day. It is one of the best art galleries that you will find in the world, however, so do make some time in your schedule to pop along and see some of the exhibits. 

Or, take a cultural tour

As an alternative to “The Met”, why not take a curated art tour led by an actual artist? The Crosby Street Hotel runs a fantastic programme which starts at their own hotel with a look at the 12-foot cat sculpture. The tour takes in local galleries in Chelsea and Tribeca. It is run by Lyora Pissaro, a French landscape artist 

Stroll down Fifth Avenue

New York 5th avenue
Is there anywhere better to shop? Photo: Jose Oh | Unsplash

You might not want to spend lots whilst on your long weekend, but Fifth Avenue is one of the most iconic places for window shopping that you will ever come across. Take a stroll past some of the most exclusive high-end fashion brands, and consider what you would buy if money were no object! 

Go up the Empire State Building

Empire State Building
Is there anywhere more iconic? Photo: Ben Dumond | Unsplash

One of the most popular attractions in New York but well worth a visit. There is a good chance that you will have to wait in line to visit the Empire State Building. However, the building is one of those that is instantly recognizable even to those who have never visited the city. It is well worth the wait for the incredible views you will get from the observation deck.

Top Tip: Purchase a New York CityPASS, and this will allow you to skip ahead of the queue for the story and photo gallery. You can see these before visiting the 102nd-floor observation deck. 

See a Broadway show

See a broadway show
A Broadway show is a must. Photo: Robert Bye | Unsplash

You cannot visit New York and not see a Broadway show, and there will be plenty to choose from. Shows do book out well in advance. Therefore, if you are planning well in advance, be sure to make a booking as soon as you can. Sometimes there are last-minute tickets available, however. This may be something your hotel can help you sort out. 

Visit Times Square at night

Times Square at night New York
Times Square at night caps off a perfect day
Photo: Andreas M | Unsplash

No visit to New York is complete without a trip to the hustle and bustle of Times Square. If you want to take advantage of the photo opportunities afforded by all the bright lights and billboards, then make this one of your last stops in the evening. 

72 Hours In New York – Day 2

One World Observatory

One world observatory
A view from One World Observatory is hard to beat. Photo: JULIAN ALEXANDER | Unsplash

Officially opened in 2015 as a replacement to the World Trade Centre’s Twin Towers, this is a very popular place to visit. With this in mind, it is one place that you will want to arrive as early as possible. That way, you don’t have to spend too long in a queue. 

The wait is, however, worth it. A visit on a clear day will afford you incredible views of the entire city and beyond. So don’t forget to make sure your phone is fully charged for incredible photos. The building is one of the tallest in the western hemisphere at 541 metres high, and viewing is available from the 100th, 101st and 102nd floors. 

Top Tip: Purchase tickets in advance online to access the priority express lane.

9/11 Memorial and Museum 

Tribute to 9/11
A poignant memorial to the victims of 9/11. Photo: Aaron Lee | Unsplash

Just round the corner from the One World Observatory, you will find the 9/11 Memorial Museum. This is another busy place, so expect to queue. 

The Museum for the victims of the 9/11 tragedy is a memorable but distressing one. However, it is an important part of the history of the city and one that is worth visiting to get a real sense of the people who live and work in New York. The Memorial is located outside the museum. It offers a quiet place for contemplation, particularly for those who were personally affected by the tragic events of 9/11.

See Wall Street 

New York stock exchange
Visit iconic buildings such as the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Aditya Vyas | Unsplash

If you take a walk from the 9/11 Memorial, you will come to Wall Street, a rather odd contender for our list of must-see places. The financial heart of the US, Wall Street, has featured in many films. There are some interesting statues to see here, including a statue to George Washington and the Federal Hall National Monument. The New York Stock Exchange is also found here, and whilst you cannot go inside, the incredible building makes for a great photo opportunity. You can also find the Trump Building on Wall Street (don’t confuse this with Trump Towers). 

The famous Charging Bull is also a sight you shouldn’t miss, and an incredibly popular photo opportunity as well. 

Battery Park 

Battery Park on the southernmost tip of Manhattan is a great place for a walk. It is also where you will want to head in order to take a ferry to Ellis Island and the famous Statue of Liberty.

Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty
No 72 hours in New York is complete without a visit to Ellis Island. Photo: Avi Werde | Unsplash

This is a visit that will take most of the afternoon. However, it is also one of the most important places in the city and offers some incredible views of the city’s most famous icon. There are security checks to go through before you can catch the ferry, so allow extra time. The boat ride itself is quite quick. Once you arrive at Liberty Island, you will be able to walk around the statue and climb to the viewing platform. 

The museum on Ellis Island is fascinating and well worth the trip. 

If you just want to see the Statue of Liberty from a distance and some of the rest of the city as well, take the Staten Island ferry instead. This is free and will offer you some fantastic views of the sites without needing to leave the boat. 

Top Tip: if you have a New York CityPASS, you will have an included ticket for the visit to Ellis Island and Liberty Island.

Cross the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge New York
Will you cross the iconic Brooklyn Bridge? Photo: Alexander Rotker | Unsplash

Another iconic sight is the Brooklyn Bridge, so be adventurous and take a stroll across the pedestrian walkway. Brooklyn Bridge Park offers some incredible views. You might want to sit down, admire the views and take some pictures. There are some great places to eat in Brooklyn, but this is a great opportunity to try some Brooklyn-style pizza. This is an altogether crispier pizza with toppings right up to the edge. 

72 Hours In New York – Day 3

The Rockefeller Centre

Top of the rock New York
Visit the ‘Top of the Rock’ for an unparalleled view
Photo: Elias Andres-Jose | Unsplash

Whilst this is a great location to visit in the evening, it can understandably get busy. You might want to avoid the rush and visit in the morning. The observation deck is sometimes referred to as “Top of the Rock”, and it isn’t hard to see why. The view is one of the best ones in the entire city that you will find. 

Top Tip: The New York CityPASS will give you a ticket that can get you to the very top of the building. 

St Patrick’s Cathedral

St Patricks Cathedral
Breathtaking architecture on show at St Patrick’s Cathedral. Photo: Joseph Barrientos | Unsplash

Originally built in the second half of the 19th century, the building has been renovated in recent years to undo the damage done by pollution and acid rain. The renovations cost $200 million. Stepping inside, you will see just how worth it the renovations were. This is a truly incredible building, and the architecture has a number of intricacies in its design. It is a historically important building but also one that is spiritually important as well. 

The Museum of Ice Cream 

Not to be found on many tour itineraries, but the Museum of Ice Cream is certainly somewhere quirky to round off your third day in New York City. Learn about the history of ice cream, slide down the highest slide in the city into a pool of sprinkles and taste a fantastic range of different ice creams. This is the perfect antidote to any of the stresses life throws at you. It’s a real chance to unleash your inner child. 

Little Italy and Chinatown 

Little Italy New York
Foodie Heaven at Little Italy. Photo: Pascal Bernardon | Unsplash

From the museum of ice cream, it is just a short journey to Little Italy and then Chinatown. These two areas are a reminder of the melting pot of nationalities and cultures that make up the city of New York. Did you know that it is estimated that around 800 different languages are spoken in the city?

Both areas are well worth a visit, and there are plenty of things to see and visit. It is a common misconception that the only thing of interest in either area is food. Having said that, there are some incredible restaurants in both areas of the city offering some authentic dishes. You may find yourself spoilt for choice when it comes to finding somewhere to eat. Whatever you pick, you will certainly not be disappointed. 

72 Hours In New York -Which Part Will You Love Best?

New York taxi
Make the most of the city as you head back to the airport by taking an iconic yellow taxi. Photo: Tim Hüfner | Unsplash

So there you have it – a whistle-stop tour of one of the world’s most iconic cities. If you’re planning a trip to this marvelous place, our guide should make sure you get the best out of your visit.


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