Yes! You’re finally going to New York City. The only problem is that you have only one day to cover all the most famous New York attractions. To begin with, that is nowhere near possible, but we have come up with a suggested itinerary that will allow you to get a great overview of the city and help you guide your way through the concrete jungle. Our one day in New York itinerary covers the most important places, landmarks, and buildings as well as bars and restaurants recommended by locals. This combination will help you to spend 24 perfect hours in New York City.
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One Day in New York City Itinerary
One Day in New York: Morning
8 am Make sure to get up early to make the most out of your New York trip and start your day with a delicious breakfast. Our one-day New York Itinerary starts in Uptown Manhattan, and there we recommend going to “Jacob’s Pickles” and enjoying delicious pancakes on the Upper West Side.
10 am Head towards Central Park to experience the green lungs of Manhattan. Depending on where your accommodation is located, you can also check out our list of amazing breakfast and brunch spots to find the location nearest to you. To see as much of Central Park as possible, pick up a Citi Bike and cruise around to see the beauty of the park. To find out how Citi Bike New York works, click here.
Noon Get ready for busy streets because now it’s time to hit the most famous New York attractions! Drop off your Citi Bike at Columbus Circle and walk down towards 50th Street to the next highlight of your day in New York: the Rockefeller Center with the observation platform Top of the Rock. We love the view from up here because it gives you a great view of the most iconic building of New York City – the Empire State Building. We recommend you to purchase the tickets for the Top of the Rock in advance in order to skip long waiting lines.
2 pm After that amazing view we’d guess you’re ready for lunch. There are dozens of restaurants in the Rockefeller Center. Our favorite is Bill’s Bar & Burger. If you still have room for dessert don’t miss out on the famous Banana Pudding at Magnolia Bakery which is right by the Rockefeller Center, too.
One Day in New York: Afternoon
3 pm Another thing you cannot miss during one day in New York City is Times Square. More than 50 Million people visit Times Square annually with more than 60 Million passing through its highly frequented subway station “Times Square / 42nd Street”. Approximately 460,000 people, many of them tourists, pass through Times Square on its busiest days. See all the bright and shiny advertisements and take the typical picture everybody has from their last New York trip. For a great view over Times Square go up on the red stairs.
4:30 pm After having seen one of the busiest parts of Manhattan it’s time to take the Subway to Brooklyn to see another top New York City attraction: The famous Brooklyn Bridge! To get there, take the 2 or 3 train towards Brooklyn and get off at Clark Street. Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge is a must-do when you spend one day in New York City. We particularly love walking over the bridge towards Manhattan, as this gives you amazing views on the Manhattan Skyline.
One Day in New York: Evening
6 pm Back to Manhattan, we recommend walking south towards Wall Street to see the New York Stock Exchange and the Charging Bull – another New York City icon. Our last stop on the itinerary for one day in New York is Ground Zero and the One World Trade Center. It is very special to visit this memorial and can also be quite emotional. You will feel the atmosphere changing when you step on the grounds of where the 9/11 attack happened.
8 pm To finish up on a perfect day in New York we recommend checking out our favorite Mexican restaurant in the city: El Vez. The atmosphere of El Vez is very authentic and the decor adds just to the right touch. When you walk in, you just know that their food has to be good. Well, they do not disappoint! The menu is full of authentic Mexican options along with a well-sorted drink menu that includes their famous margaritas. Make sure to try the Guacamole and the Margaritas!
10 pm In case you aren’t completely exhausted yet after having spent one day in New York, one last thing to do would be going on a rooftop-bar and enjoying the beautiful view before you call it quits! Find our list of the best rooftop-bars in New York here.
General tips and tricks for a perfect day in New York
When you only have one day in New York City you have to be prepared to walk a lot. Wear your most comfortable shoes! To get around easily, download a subway app on your phone. One of our favorites is “Transit”. It will give you directions and also tell you when the train is coming/if there are delays or re-routes. Another app you will want to download is Uber. Yellow cabs are always available, but Uber is typically cheaper and more efficient. If you want to skip public transportation and cars, you should check out the option of renting a bike for one day in New York City. Citi Bike New York is a great way for you to get around and to see a lot of the city.
You really want to make the most out of one day in New York and don’t want to miss out on anything in the city that never sleeps? Then we recommend you to take the guided tour for first-time visitors. You will experience New York in one day by boat and bus, see as much as possible and learn everything worth knowing from your guide, who will accompany you all day. The comprehensive tour takes about 5 hours and will help you get a great overview of the city. Afterward, you still have half a day to explore the city on your own!
Enjoy the city
Even though one day in New York is definitely not enough time to see it all – don’t think about your New York trip as a sightseeing marathon. It’s really important to stop, sit down, take a break and breathe! The city is incredible and breath-taking and has its very own vibe. You won’t feel the New York vibe if you’re rushing through the streets. Try to soak it all up: the magic, the energy, and the city lights will give you the true New York feeling.
Have fun in New York!
I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 25 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!