How to Visit New York on a Budget

new york skyline

So you’re thinking about taking a trip to the Big Apple. That’s exciting!

The largest city in the United States, New York City has an endless amount of sights to see and neighborhoods to explore: 

  • In Manhattan, you can take a stroll through Times Square or Central Park and catch a show on Broadway. 
  • In Brooklyn, you can check out trendy coffee shops after popping over the Brooklyn Bridge. 
  • A short train ride away from Grand Central Station puts you at the world-famous Bronx Zoo; while you’re there you can catch the New York Yankees in action, too. 

 The list goes on, and we didn’t even mention Queens or Staten Island!

While there are so many incredible things to do in NYC, there is one thing that prevents many travelers from heading there in the first place: It can be very expensive—and that’s even an understatement. Once you add up the costs of your flights, hotels, meals, and excursions, your New York City vacation can easily cost thousands more than you wanted it to. 

Good news: We want to make your dream of visiting New York City a reality, so we’ve put together a post that covers how you can visit the city on a budget. Keep reading to learn more about great attractions that don’t cost a penny, cost-friendly hotels to stay at, the best places to have a meal, and more.

Let’s take a look at what the city that never sleeps has to offer for budget-conscious explorers.


Top New York City Attractions to Visit on a Budget

Step foot in the Big Apple and you’ll find out that there’s no shortage of incredible things to do in New York on a budget. Here are five of them that stand out.


central park


1. Central Park

Central Park is one of the largest urban parks in the world. And the best part? It’s 100% free to visit. Spanning over 840 acres, you can easily spend a day wandering around the park and soaking in the sights with the NYC skyline as your backdrop. You’ll have to see it to believe it. 


2. Times Square

Located in the heart of Manhattan, some people consider Times Square to be the tourist epicenter of NYC. If you’ve never been, you’ll be mesmerized by the dazzling array of lights and billboards—and also by the sheer volume of people zooming through in every direction. Best of all, this quintessential New York City experience costs exactly $0.00.


3. Brooklyn Bridge

The historic Brooklyn Bridge was constructed over the East River in 1883 and connects Manhattan to Brooklyn. It’s free to walk across, and you can snap some really cool photos of the bridge and the Manhattan skyline while you’re at it. 


4. View the Statue of Liberty (from Staten Island Ferry)

Take in stunning views of Lady Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry, which is completely free! During the 25-minute ride, you’ll also get breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and New York Harbor as well.  


5. High Line

The High Line is an elevated walkway and public park that meanders over 1.4 miles through lower Manhattan. You’ll pay nothing to wander along the High Line. But, truth be told, you might be tempted to pick up some treats at the cafes along the way. 


Top New York City Hotels

Here are some top hotels that we recommend that won’t break your bank. Did you know that the team at Dollar Flight Club also helps you find great hotels?




1. Pod 51 Hotel

Pod 51 is a modern, budget-friendly hotel located in midtown Manhattan. All bookings include free luggage storage during your stay, two drinks from the Pod Cafe, WiFi, and guided walking tours. A room for two adults can run anywhere between $67 and $246 each night, depending on demand and availability.


2. Park Central Hotel

Park Central is a 4-star hotel located in midtown Manhattan—just a short walk away from Central Park and the Empire State Building. The hotel offers a modern vibe in an iconic structure from the 1920s. A standard room for two ranges from $89 to $157 each night, depending on demand and availability.


3. Hotel Mela 

Hotel Mela is an Italian-themed boutique hotel located in the heart of Times Square. The space features a lively bistro, bar, and fitness center. A room for two will cost between $80 and $200 each night, depending on when you book.


Finding Cheap Flights to New York

The major airports in New York are John F. Kennedy (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA), and Newark (EWR), which is technically located in New Jersey. Our team of flight deal experts often find flights to NYC airports for as little as $180 roundtrip across the United States. 

For the best prices, we recommend being flexible with your airports. Make sure to check out all of the airports near where you’re flying from as well as the ones surrounding your destination to find the cheapest flights.  

If you need some help, start your free trial of Dollar Flight Club to get alerts for cheap domestic flights sent right to your inbox.


Affordable Places to Eat

As you explore New York on a budget, you’re bound to get hungry sooner or later. Here’s a list of our favorite budget-friendly NYC eats:


1. Gray’s Papaya is perfect for hot dogs and fruit drinks. This place has multiple locations; check out their spot at 2090 Broadway.


2. B&H Dairy is a famous old-school kosher restaurant located at 127 2nd Ave.


3. Joe’s Pizza is your go-to option for classic NYC pizza slices. Find them at 7 Carmine St.


4. The Halal Guys is famous for tasty and quick Middle Eastern street food, including gyros, falafels, and chicken kabobs. You’ll find The Halal Guys sprinkled throughout the city; we recommend hitting up the spot located at W 53rd St. and 7th Ave.


5. Best Bagel and Coffee offers NYC-style bagels and sandwiches. They’re located at 225 W. 35th St.


If you aren’t already sold on the delicious dining options we listed, keep in mind that there are literally over 26,000 different restaurants to choose from in NYC. Just do your due diligence ahead of time because some of those restaurants can be really, really, really pricey.


Ready to crush New York City on a budget?


plane landing


New York City is a must on any serious traveler’s bucket list. Yes, the city can be expensive. But with the right game plan and a little bit of self-control, it’s possible to have an incredible time in New York on a budget.

Book your flight today so you can start exploring and eating your way through the most epic city in America. If you need help on the flight side of your trip, read more travel tips in our Ultimate Guide to Cheap Flights.

Here’s to seeing more of the world without blowing all of your savings!

  • Kyle Maltz, COO & Partner

    Kyle’s an adventure loving Seattleite who’s busy skiing or traveling the world when he’s not helping DFC move mountains. His favorite trips have been to Thailand, Turks and Caicos, and Costa Rica. Kyle stays busy connecting us with some of the best brands in the world and working on new ways for DFC to be the best in the business for helping travelers explore more and pay less. Kyle oversees daily operations and growth strategy for Dollar Flight Club, including the Flight Alerts product as well as the media publishing side of the business.

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