The 5 best ways to discover New York

There are so many ways to explore New York City, each one letting you see the city from a completely new angle. Each one of these suggestions has its own way of letting you experience New York, and each offers a new and unique perspective. We have tried all five and highly recommend that you do the same! 

Without further ado, here are the 5 best ways to discover New York City:

1. Discover New York from an observation deck

This should be a part of any New York experience and it is rightfully included on most visitors’ must-do list! Visiting one of the popular observation platforms is definitely one of the top 5 ways to explore NYC. It is simply incredible to enjoy the view of the urban canyons of Manhattan from above! While the observation platform of the Empire State Building is hugely popular, my favorite is the Top of the Rock, which is located on top of Rockefeller Center. Why? Because from there, you will have a wonderful view of the Empire State Building and Central Park (and because it is less crowded!). Another helpful tip: visit Top of the Rock late in the afternoon and give yourself ample time, 2-3 hours. You will then see New York during the day and watch the city slowly transform into a sea of lights. Simply magical!

2. Discover New York by cruise

This is truly one of my top travel suggestions for all visitors to New York: take a boat tour around the city! This is truly a great way to discover NYC. The best boat tours (as well as our video) can be found on a separate page. We took a boat tour on each of our last few visits and always think of a cruise as a mini vacation within a vacation. Both the Semi-Circle Tour (1.5 hours) and the Full Island Cruise (3 hours) will show you New York from a brand new perspective – and will make you realize that Manhattan is indeed an island!

View cruises, sailing & water tours

3. New York views from a helicopter

helicopter tour of New York is an epic experience! The exceptional views from the air over Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn, New Jersey and especially the southern tip featuring the financial district and One World Trade Center, will leave a long-lasting impression on you. This is our top favorite when it comes to ways to explore NYC. On the way back from our tour, the pilot also played “New York, New York”, which put a perfect cap on this unforgettable experience!

Find the best helicopter ride

4. Discover New York with a bus tour


Since riding the bus is not exactly my style, I was rather skeptical about the popular hop-on-hop-off tours through New York. But what can I say? I was more than pleasantly surprised! With our entertaining tour guide, who shared many funny tidbits about the city and its buildings, the tour really turned out to be an interesting and relaxing way to see Manhattan! Find out what tours are available and more in our Hop-on Hop-Off Bus Guide.

Learn more about hop on hop off in New York

5. Walk through New York to explore the rest

Don’t miss out on exploring New York by taking a walk! I really enjoy walking through the canyons of buildings, the local parks, to people watch, and just let the city work its magic on me. Recently, we walked through the Meatpacking District – we must have covered 15 km that day. Another good starting point for walking the city is the Brooklyn Bridge, which provides great views of Manhattan, and also, as the name implies, takes you into the borough of Brooklyn.

Our New York Neighborhood Guides


Profilbild Steffen Kneist
About the author

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!

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