This post can help you figure out which is the best choice of transport from JFK Airport to Times Square and other Manhattan destinations.
John F. Kennedy Airport is the largest and busiest of all NYC-area airports.
Located in Queens, about 15 miles (23 km) from Manhattan, it handles most international flights into the NYC area, and if you are traveling from overseas, this will likely be your destination!
There are numerous options for transportation from JFK Airport to Manhattan and other parts of New York City, and we cover them all in this post.
We include options for bus, train, shuttle, private car, taxi, and rideshares.
We are a group of local tour guides who regularly travel from JFK Airport to Manhattan and other parts of the city.
And, in the video below, Katie, a tour guide with us, Free Tours by Foot, details your options to get to NYC from JFK Airport.
And here are some quick answers regarding costs.
How much it costs to get from JFK to Manhattan (or anywhere in NYC) depends on the form of transportation.
Both public transportation options involve the JFK AirTrain light rail that brings you from the airport to the connecting subway or train station.
A subway ride including using AirTrain costs $11.15. A faster commuter train also using AirTrain costs between $13.25 to $15.25.
A shared shuttle van cost between JFK and Grand Central is $20 per person, while a shared shuttle from JFK to your door starts at $40 per person and up.
Taxis cost $70 flat (up to four people per taxi) plus surcharges, tolls, and tips.
An Uber or Lyft rideshare will cost between $45-$150 depending on traffic and surge demand.
Now, on to the full post.
- Long Island Railroad
- Shared Vans and Shuttles
- Taxi + Private Car Service
- Uber and Lyft
- Where to Stay in NYC
- Things to Do in NYC
AirTrain + Subway from JFK to Manhattan
This is by far the cheapest (and surprisingly easy) option to get from JFK to wherever you are staying.
Using a combination of the light rail AirTrain to connect with the subway system is a very easy way to reach Manhattan.
You can use this link to Google Maps and enter your destination address to get exact directions from JFK Airport.
The AirTrain circles the airport every day of the year, 24 hours a day, and stops at every terminal in the airport as well as stops from which you can connect to the subway system.
After you arrive, follow the signs to the AirTrain. There are two AirTrain lines - be sure to get on the correct one that will take you to the stop you need.
- Jamaica Station line: This line will take you to Jamaica Station where you can connect to the E, J, and Z subway lines and also the LIRR (Long Island Railroad).
- Howard Beach line: This takes you to the Howard Beach subway station where you can take the A subway line.
If you are heading to Midtown, you are likely going to choose the Jamaica Station stop on the AirTrain (image below).
At Jamaica Station, you will transfer from the AirTrain to the E Train of the NYC subway system.
This option heads through the borough of Queens before reaching Midtown Manhattan. The E train services both Grand Central Terminal as well as the Port Authority.
The E Train option will take you about 70-80 minutes to reach your destination from the airport terminals.
An even faster option is to take the Long Island Railroad instead of the NYC subway (45 minutes to Penn Station) - more on that in the next section.
Howard Beach Station
If you are headed to somewhere in Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan, the East Village, Lower East Side, or Greenwich Village, then Howard Beach Station is likely your best option.
This option is slower to Midtown, but depending on where you are going in Midtown (for example, the Port Authority Bus Terminal), this could be your best option there as well.
Again, it's best to put your final destination into Google Maps or one of several good subway apps and let it determine the route for you.
Travel between airport terminals is free but you must pay for the AirTrain to the stops that connect with the subway.
You will need a MetroCard to pay the AirTrain fare and also to ride the subway.
MetroCard vending machines are available just before the AirTrain exits at Jamaica Station and Howard Beach.
Note: If you are buying a new MetroCard, there is a $1 fee for the card. Hold onto that card! It is refillable!
- Total Cost: $11.15 -- $8.25 for the AirTrain (children under 5 ride free) and $2.90 for a single subway ride.
- Travel Time: varies depending on your destination. But plan on 60-90 minutes to get to Midtown Manhattan.
- Pros: The cheapest option by quite a bit!! Also, during rush hour traveling by subway can be faster than being on the roads in a taxi.
- Cons: If you have a lot of luggage, be prepared to carry it up and down stairs because not all subway stations have escalators or elevators.
Air Train + Long Island Rail Road from JFK to Manhattan
If speed is your priority then you can take the JFK AirTrain and connect with the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), though it will cost you about twice as much as using the subway.
Again, at the airport follow the signs to the AirTrain and take it to Jamaica Station.
There you can get on an LIRR train and go to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan.
Or, you could take the LIRR to Grand Central Station.
Both options shouldn't take you more than 45 minutes to reach either station from the airport terminals.
Keep in mind when calculating the total cost, that you will likely have to pay more for a subway, bus, or taxi to where you are staying.
- Total Cost: $15.25 during peak hours and $13.25 off-peak (the price includes the Air Train cost of $8.25 and the flat rate City Ticket of $7 during peak hours and $5 off-peak).
- Peak hours are currently 6 am-10 am and 4 pm-8 pm.
- Travel Time: approximately 35 minutes
- Pros: Quicker than the subway and still significantly cheaper than a taxi.
- Cons: Same issues with large amounts of luggage as with the subway.
SHARED VANS AND AIRPORT SHUTTLES
You can request GoAirLink and SuperShuttle from the ground transportation desk in the baggage claim area.
You will be assigned to a van with other passengers (unless you are lucky) heading to the same general area as you.
You can also book online in advance.
- Cost: It depends on your destination from the airport. As a point of reference, the cost from JFK to Grand Central Station Terminal in Midtown Manhattan will cost you approximately $45 during peak hours per person.
- Travel Time: Can vary. If you are sharing a full van (11 passengers), you might be the first dropped off or you might be the last.
- Pros: It has the convenience of a taxi and is much cheaper.
- Cons: Can take a very long time. Passengers often have to wait at the airport until there are enough people for a mostly full van, so plan to sit and wait for a bit. You are limited to one piece of luggage per person.
NOTE: GoAirLink airport transfers to your hotel are included at no additional cost with the New York Turbo Pass.
If you're planning to see and do a lot of things in NYC, this could be a great way to save money on multiple activities and attractions.
GoAirlink Express Shuttle to Grand Central Terminal
Rather than take a shared shuttle from JFK to your door, you can save money by taking this shared ride direct to Grand Central Terminal.
This is only slightly more expensive than the other options above. For those who prefer to travel by car, this is a great price.
- One-way ride: $20
- Hours of Operation: Every hour on the hour between the hours of 6 am and 11 pm daily.
- Total Travel Time: Depending on the time of day, and traffic conditions, approximately.
- Pros: Quicker than the subway and cheaper than a taxi, Uber, or Lyft. More comfortable than public transportation.
- Cons: Limit of one piece of luggage per person. If your flight arrives outside of the operating hours, this service is not available to you.
Direct Bus from JFK to Manhattan
NOTE: This service is no longer running as of 2022 and we are awaiting an official replacement service. The info below is to explain how the system works.
NYC Express Bus shuttle service is the official bus operator for the NYC Department of Transportation. At JFK, you can find the bus at Terminals 1, 4, and 8. Look for the red signs.
Travelers arriving at other terminals can take the Air Train to Terminal 1, 4, or Terminal 8 to take the Express Bus.
The bus goes into Manhattan and drops passengers at TWO locations:
- Grand Central Terminal (corner of 41st Street & Lexington Ave) and
- Times Square / Bryant Park (42nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenue)
To both destinations from JFK:
Cost: $19.00 per person (Children 5 and under are free)
- The price covers two suitcases and one carry-on bag.
- More than that and you must pay an additional fee.
Travel Time: Approximately 90 minutes - 2 hours
Hours of Operation: 7 days a week, 11 am - 7 pm, every 30 minutes
- Reasonable price for a comfortable ride. Children under 5 are free!
- You can book online which saves you time instead of purchasing your ticket at the airport when you arrive.
- With online reservations, you can take any bus on the day of travel and the reservation is good for 90 days from the date of purchase.
- Both stops are in Midtown Manhattan and near many subways and lots of taxis that you can use to get to your hotel.
- Traffic is unpredictable. Your trip could be as short as 60 minutes, but if the traffic is very bad, you may be on the bus for up to 2 hours.
- Not located at all terminals. But you can easily take the Air Train to get to the terminals where bus stops are located.
TAXI FROM JFK AIRPORT TO MANHATTAN
Yellow taxis (also called "cabs") are definitely the most hassle-free option but it is also the most expensive of the public transport services.
JFK to/from Manhattan by Yellow Cabs
- Total Cost: A flat rate of $70 JFK to any destination in Manhattan, plus any bridge or tunnel tolls
- Plus State and City surcharges between $4-$5.
- Plus a surcharge of $5.00 during peak hours 4 pm to 8 pm on weekdays.
- Also, you should tip your driver 15% of the fare- about $8. Taxis will take cash or credit cards.
- Travel Time: Expect a minimum of 45 minutes, but it could take twice that long depending on traffic conditions.
Note: City regulations restrict the number of passengers in yellow taxis to 4 (or 5 in a minivan), so if you have a larger party you may need to split up into different cabs or opt for a shuttle.
You should only use official yellow taxis and not accept rides from solicitors in the terminal. Many of them are operating illegally.
Taking a taxi has several pros and cons:
Pros: Super easy door-to-door transport. This is an easier option for travelers with a lot of luggage. You don't have to think too much!
If you are tired after your flight, you can take a taxi, sit back and let the taxi driver do all the thinking.
Cons: More expensive than the other public transport options listed. After tip and bridge tolls you will pay over $70 + tip to get to Manhattan.
UBER OR LYFT FROM JFK AIRPORT TO MANHATTAN
You can take either Uber or Lyft from JFK to Manhattan, but unlike yellow taxis, there is no Uber or Lyft flat rate to JFK.
As explained above, taxis cost $70.
Add on city and state surcharges of between $4-$5 and a surcharge of $5 during rush hour from 4 p.m. to 8 pm on weekdays. So at most, you’ll pay $80 (not including a tip or any tunnel tolls).
On the other hand, the cost of taking an Uber or Lyft from JFK to Manhattan can vary dramatically depending on the time of day/night, which makes it hard to give an average price.
An Uber/Lyft may cost as little as $50-60 or as high as $150.
Given the wild fluctuation in prices, it may or may not be cheaper to take an Uber or Lyft from JFK to Manhattan.
Before hopping in a cab, check the Uber/Lyft rate. If it is less than $80 it’s better to take an Uber/Lyft to Manhattan.
Uber pick-up locations:
For Terminals 1-4 and 7-8, head outside from arrivals or baggage claim.
For Terminal 5, head outside on the arrivals or departures level. Look for rideshare pick-up signs.
Lyft pick-up locations:
Terminals 1,2,4,5, 7,8 arrival level. Once you arrive and use the app to request a Lyft, you will find out the pick-up zone.
FREE NEW YORK WALKING TOURS
Once you have arrived, and have made your way from the airport to your accommodations, take a look at our free walking and food tours.
We offer over 30 different NYC tours.
Check out our full tour calendar below for exact walking tour offerings and dates.
These are just some of our tours
- If you are interested in the history of Manhattan back to its roots as the Dutch settlement or just would like to see sights like Wall Street and the World Trade Center, then consider taking our Lower Manhattan Tour.
- Our most popular of the New York Tours is our SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown Tour, as it covers three neighborhoods in a manageable amount of time.
- We also offer guided tours of Harlem and Brooklyn.
- In town for a day trip or a short weekend? Look at our free self-guided tours.
HAVE A GREAT STAY IN NEW YORK CITY!
Be sure to also check out our posts on the other two NYC airports.