When is the Cheapest Time to Travel to NYC?
This post answers the question of when is it cheapest to visit NYC, including sections specific to hotels and airfares.
We will give context to the best time of year and the best times for different seasons, as well as discussing the benefits of low-season travel.
Let’s dig in!
- The Quick Answer
- Cheapest Times for Hotels
- Cheapest Times for Flights
- Pros and Cons of Off-Season Travel
- 7 Tips for Traveling Cheap to NYC
THE CHEAPEST TIME TO VISIT NYC
As you might well have guessed, the cheapest months of the year to travel to NYC are from January through March.
It’s in these 3 months that the costs of both a flight and hotel are on average the lowest for the whole year.
Of course, there are several caveats.
For example, while hotels in NYC are on average cheaper during these months, some major hotel districts, particularly those that serve the business and convention areas are not necessarily great bargains during weekdays.
Also, if you will be flying into the Big Apple, the price you will pay for a flight may be dependent on several factors.
For example, your price could depend on the day of the week that you fly, the day of the week that you purchased your ticket, how far in advance you purchase, and which airport you fly into (NYC has 3).
Keep in mind that the cheapest time might not be the best time. If you want to enjoy New York City’s parks, for example, then winter is not the best time to visit.
We have a post that analysis the best times to visit NYC.
On the other hand, if you are a museum lover, you will probably benefit from the smaller crowds and discounted ticket prices.
We explore this more in our benefits of an off-season visit section.
You could also listen to our NYC Travel Tips podcast episode on the pros and cons of visiting NYC in each of the 4 seasons.
This podcast offers bite-sized audio clips with tips on how to plan your trip to NYC. You can get our podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
If you are talking about the cheapest months or season to book a hotel in New York City, the answer, unsurprisingly, is during the winter, just about anytime between Jan 4th(ish) until the first half of March.
According to NYC and Company, the city’s tourism marketing organization, the average price of a hotel booking for 2016 was $277 per night.
This includes all hotels, from budget accommodations up to 5 stars hotels. See the report here.
However, during the winter months, the average price across the board dipped to just under $200. That means that 50% of NYC hotels cost less than $200/night.
Discount websites that offer deals, such as Hotwire.com, really have their best discounts in the off-season.
If you avoid peak areas and get a moderately priced hotel, you should expect to pay between $100-$130/night.
You can even pay less if you follow our tips for cheap accommodations.
Hotel Week, which runs from Jan 4th, just after the Christmas rush, until Jan 14th of 2019, is likely the cheapest 10 day period throughout the whole year.
There are two main reasons the winter is so inexpensive.
First, it’s cold here and it can snow, which can cause the occasional unwanted flight delays and cancellations. Second, most people can’t travel at this time.
Outside of the winter months, hotels are generally much more expensive. From April through December, all but two months were above the $277/night average price.
However, from the end of July and through the whole of August, prices generally fall back below the average, but just not as low as the winter months.
Likewise, the second half of November and the first 2 weeks of December are also times when average hotel prices fall below the yearly average, even though the chart averages don’t seem to show this.
Additional Resources and Tips
Check out TripAdvisor’s Top 30 Affordable hotels, which has hundreds of reviews and is a go-to source for finding information before you book, and make sure to check out deal sights such as Hotwire, Groupon, and Living Social.
As with hotels, the cheapest time to purchase a flight to NYC is generally from Jan 4th(ish) until mid-March.
The most expensive months, by the way, are June and July and the weeks leading up to and including Christmas and New Year’s.
According to Google Flights, the average 5-day round-trip, non-stop flight from London to NYC can reach £1200 during the peak Christmas rush.
However, if you wait until the 2nd week of January, these same round-trip flights can be as low as £260.
Skyscanner is a flight aggregator that collects data on prices and offers lots of price and departure flexibility. It’s a good service to use to understand how low prices can go.
With the exception of Easter Weekend and a few other U.S. national holidays, best price round-trip tickets can be found for between £260-£330 all the way up till mid-June.
From roughly mid-June until the start of September, flights from London to NYC are are their most expensive on average, with the best price round-trip tickets averaging around £520.
However, if you wait until the 1st week of September, the best price average sinks to just over £300.
While hotels are a relative bargain in August, flights are still pricey.
This may be due to the fact that many schools throughout the U.S. are back in session by early August or about to open, whereas the summer holiday for U.K. schools generally ends in early September.
Best price, non-stop tickets remain around £300 up until mid-December when the prices begin to climb rapidly.
While Sept-Nov is not technically the cheapest time to come, it is arguably the best time to visit, as the weather is great and the crowds are not overwhelming.
Flexibility is the key to getting the lowest-priced flight. This means flying during off-peak hours. The least expensive flights tend to depart in the early morning or late evening.
Purchase Your Ticket During the Prime Time Frame
Keep in mind, booking your flight too far in advance or too close to your departure date may limit your ability to find these best-priced flights.
The prime time frame to purchase your ticket is no earlier than 4 months prior to your departure and no later than 3 weeks.
Other factors, such as the days of the week that you are flying as well as the days of the week you are buying have an impact on the price that you will pay.
For example, flying on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday is generally cheaper with Fridays and Sundays being the most expensive.
OK. Before we start, let’s just get the major disadvantage out of the way. The weather is often bad to terrible.
Although it’s still unlikely, the best chances for travel delays occur in the winter.
Needless to say, not a great time for open-air movies in Central Park.
And late summer means temperatures into the 90’s F (30-35 C) with humidity that could make you think that you are in the tropics.
Great Time for Museums and Attractions
If you are a museum and/or attraction lover, then this may be the best time for you.
Not only is crowding not an issue (at least on weekdays), many attractions and museums offer discounts at this time of year, not to mention that many are free or offer free days.
Several attractions with paid entry offer discounts, either through websites such as Groupon and Living Social or through tourist passes, which also slash their prices during these slow days.
We detail this in our budget tips section.
Good Time for Dining Out
These are also good times for diners. With fewer tourists, it’s much easier to reserve tables at restaurants, particularly those in the tourist districts.
In late July and much August, when many New Yorkers are out of town and there is a lull in tourism, restaurants in the residential areas are also easier to come by.
It’s also no coincidence that Restaurant Week, which actually lasts for 2 weeks, takes place twice, once in late January and again in August.
More than 300 of New York City’s best restaurants offer a prix-fixe menu including 2 courses for lunch, and 3 courses for dinner at a very low price, relative to their regular prices.
Broadway Tickets for Cheap
The same goes for Broadway (and off-Broadway) shows. Fewer tourists mean that tickets are easier to come by and many shows offer discounts.
As with restaurants, there is also a Broadway Week, which actually lasts for 2 weeks and takes place in later summer and again in late January, when you can get 2 for 1 tickets to several popular shows.
There is even an off-Broadway Week in late September.
And as with museums and attractions in the slow season, discounts for Broadway shows can be had through Groupon and Living Social or through tourist passes.
We detail this in our budget tips section below.
Some of the Best Department Store Sales
Many of the major department stores in NYC will offer sales in lull seasons, particularly the November-December (pre-Christmas) and post-Christmas time periods.
These sales extend even to outlet centers like Woodbury Commons.
As we have alluded to already in this article, visiting NYC during the cheapest travel months have several benefits.
Below, we offer additional articles that we have created to help you save money in NYC whenever you travel.
Podcast Episode: Listen to tour guides Lori and Katherine discuss free things to do in NYC on an episode of our NYC Travel Tips podcast.
But first, we want you to consider our tours. We offer dozens of pay-what-you-wish walking tours throughout NYC, including food tours.
There is no cost to join and you only pay after the tour what you feel the tour was worth or what you could afford, even nothing.
Money-Saving NYC Travel Tips:
- Save 50% on Tours + Attractions
- Free Museums Things to Do in NYC
- NYC on a Budget
- 3 Days in NYC on a Budget
- Free Things to Do with Kids
- Shop at an Outlet Center
- Tips for Discount Shopping
- How to Get Cheap Broadway Tickets
- Affordable Accommodations in NYC
- 25 Cheapest Hotels in NYC
- Cheap Airfare to NYC
- Cheap Eats
- Learn how to use the NYC Subway and which MetroCard to buy.