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This post is about how to visit NYC on the cheap.
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.
Be sure to check our comprehensive list of things to do in NYC.
Even before you arrive in New York, look into purchasing a tourist pass.
Depending on which pass you buy, you could save as much as 55% on the cost of attractions that are likely on your ‘must-see’ list.
See our guide, Which is the Best Tourist Pass to Buy, to compare what is available and if a pass is right for you.
Likewise, many companies offer bundles that combine their boat and bus tours with popular NYC attractions.
Our post on choosing the best times to visit NYC, which includes a section on the cheapest times, may be useful to you.
TIP: You may find our suggested budget itineraries for 1, 2, and 3 days in NYC helpful when planning your trip.
You can find cheap flights to New York City if you know the tricks on when to book, what days to travel and where you can find discount discounts.
Before you arrive, take a look at our post on transportation to and from New York City’s airports.
It’s important to look in advance because you are likely to need to buy a subway card to get into the city.
Once you are here, you will want to save some money getting around.
See our detailed post, How to Get Around New York City which covers traveling by subway, bus, bike, boat, ferry, car, and, of course, your feet.
Before buying a subway card, read our post which subway card is best for you.
Before you read on, consider listening to an episode of our NYC Travel Tips podcast that covers tips on riding the NYC subway.
If your luggage is weighing you down in before you can check-in or after you check out of your hotel, see our post Inexpensive Luggage Storage in New York City.
For other ways to get great (and mostly free) skyline views, click here.
With so many free museums and attractions, one could keep themselves busy in New York City for a week or more without spending a penny.
Again, look at the many options of tourist passes. They include so many of the city’s tourist attractions, museums, and other activities, you really could save a bundle.
Museums and Institutions
You will be amazed by how many museums are free in New York.
Even those that are not set aside special hours or days when entrance is free. The best of them is Free Fridays at the Museum of Modern Art.
Some museums are technically free, but they just don’t advertise it.
You don’t need to pay the full price, which is a suggested donation. Take advantage of this when visiting the American Museum of Natural History.
You can donate any amount of money to gain entry to their main exhibit halls. This could be huge savings for families!
Have a look at our long list of always-free museums. The post also includes which museums are ‘suggested donation’, have free days or free hours.
Attractions and Other Activities
Start saving by taking a look at our post on getting discounts on New York City attractions. Here a few discounts to get you going!
Of course, we would love for you to join us on one of our pay-what-you-wish tours. But you have many other options too.
Below are some articles we have written about many ways to sight-see for free or at a discount.
TIP: Before booking a tour, note that many sightseeing tours are included for free in several tourist passes.
New York City is famous for its delicious inexpensive cuisine (if you know where to go). We do, and our post on New York Food has dozens of listings for every type of food.
To get you started, see our most popular food posts:
For an affordable way to taste a variety of New York flavors, try one of our pay-what-you-wish food tours.
TIP: Tips are not included in your food bill and New York waitstaff expects a tip. Read our Proper Tipping Etiquette post so you don’t get yelled at by a disappointed waiter!
Here are our suggestions– straight, no chaser.
In addition to getting a meal or grabbing a drink to occupy your night on a budget, take a look at our Things to Do at Night in New York City.
There, you will find a section with free activities. Throughout the post many other things to do at night are affordable.
Podcast Episode: Listen to tour guides Lori and Katherine discuss things to do in NYC at night with an emphasis on budget options on an episode of our NYC Travel Tips podcast.
Here are just a few suggestions:
Believe it or not, it’s possible to find great New York budget hotels as low as $80 per night for a clean, comfortable hotel room in a prime location.
These posts will show you how.
TIP: For something a little less conventional but a huge money saver is to be a House Sitter – watch someone’s house (and sometimes pets) for free while they are away.
They also offer our guests a 10% discount off membership fees when you use the promo code FREETOURS10 at checkout.
If you are planning to take in a Broadway show, you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg. With patience and our insider tips, you can save quite a bit.
Here are a few suggestions:
Before you read on, consider listening to an episode of our NYC Travel Tips podcast that covers discounted Broadway tickets.
TIP: If you are considering purchasing a tourist discount pass, the New York Pass entitles you to up to 10% on Broadway shows.
New York City is a top world destination for shoppers. It’s easy to spend all your travel money on top-shelf designer clothes.
However, shopping can be both fun and affordable. Follow our advice on how to save big in shopping in the Big Apple.
Below is a snapshot of the overall costs for two types of travelers for 3-day and 7-day trips (not including airfare or shopping).
For a complete explanation of these costs along with helpful tips on saving money, see our post how much it costs to visit New York City.
A Budget Traveler is someone who wants to spend as little as possible but still get a lot out of New York City.
This means staying at very inexpensive accommodations, not dining at full-service restaurants, and spending money on just a few attractions.
A Moderate Traveler is someone who is flexible with the amount of money to spend.
This means staying at mid-range accommodations in a convenient location, eating some meals out, and spending money on some of the best attractions in New York City.
3-day trip (per person)
7-day trip (per person)
3-day trip (per person)
7-day trip (per person)
See the complete post on budgeting for your trip to NYC.