Hostelworld Guide for New York

Colm Hanratty


New York is just like it is in the movies. Horns whine constantly from yellow cabs, hot dog vendors adorn every street corner and fading wisps of steam can be seen trailing from every second manhole. Even though it is just like it is in the movies, nothing can prepare you for your first visit. Walking around Times Square for the first time is extremely surreal because, for a split second, it seems like you are in one of those movies. But it isn't all towering skyscrapers and busy sidewalks. The East and West Villages are surprisingly low-rise, while Chinatown, Little Italy and Soho are close-knit communities where you will find many of the best restaurants in the city. Ironically, one of its best features is that there is too much to see and do - within hours you will be planning your second journey.



In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop

 The Essentials


Getting There

By plane: New York has three airports − JFK Airport, in Queens, La Guardia Airport, also in Queens, and Newark Airport in northern New Jersey. All three are connected to Manhattan by bus/train.

By bus: New York's main bus hub is Port Authority at Eighth Avenue and 40th Street.

By train: New York has two main train stations - Grand Central Station and Penn Station.

Getting Around

On foot: You can't get around all points of interest on foot, but places like Times Square and Central Park are within walking distance of each other.

By subway: The subway is the best way to get up and down Manhattan, although getting crosstown can be a nightmare at the best of times. The L train goes crosstown from between 14th St and 8th Ave and 14th and Park Ave.

By bus: Buses are the best way to get from one side of Manhattan to the other.

By taxi: New York's yellow taxis are omnipresent in Manhattan. They are all regulated so no fear of getting ripped off. Don't forget to add 20% for a tip.

 New York facts

Name: New York has numerous nicknames including the 'Big Apple' and the 'City That Never Sleeps'.

Location: New York city is located the state of New York on the East Coast of the United States.

Population: The population of NYC now stands at around 8.5 million people.

Area: The city covers an area in excess of 1,210 kilometres squared.

Here in New York it can get bitterly cold in winter especially between November and January. In April the temperature can drop to 3°C, but rise to 12°C. These temperatures rise steadily by June, and for the next three months New York becomes extremely hot and muggy, but many say the city really comes into its own in the fall. During this season New York can be breathtaking, particularly Central Park.


 Good to know...

Language: English
Currency: US Dollar
Electricity: 110/120 volts AC/50Hz, 2-pin plug
Area Code: +1 (USA), 212/646 Manhattan
Emergency Codes: Ambulance / Fire / Police 911
Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time (GMT - 5/7)
Central Post Office: 421 Eight Avenue at 33rd Street, Midtown Manhattan
Main Tourist Office: New York City & Company, 810 Seventh Avenue at 53rd Street, Midtown Manhattan


UK: +1 212 745 0200
Canada: +1 212 596 1628
Australia: +1 212 351 6500
South Africa: +1 212 213 4880
Ireland: +1 212 319 2555
Germany: +1 212 610 9700
Spain: +1 212 355 4080
Italy: +1 212 737 9100
New Zealand: +1 212 832 4038
France: +1 212 606 3600

Hostelworld Guide for New York

 Cheap Eats

 After Dark

Bleecker Street Pizza, Cnr of 7th Ave & Bleecker St, West Village Famed for their thin-based, Tuscan-style pizza slices, Bleecker Street Pizza is a great (and cheap) place to grab a pizza slice. They've a wide range to choose from but their specialty is their take on the margherita, the 'Nonna Maria'. Open daily from 10am-4am.

Merchants, 112 7th Ave (between 16th & 17th Sts), Chelsea If you want to dine in style without paying too hefty a price, Merchants is the perfect spot. This extremely cosy bar and restaurant does great sandwiches and burgers. Service is friendly and, when it's chilly in the Big Apple, you'll be thankful of the roaring open fire warming the patrons. Open daily from 10am-4am.

Tick Tock Diner, 481 8th Ave (between 34th & 35th Sts), Hell's Kitchen Along with pizza and pastrami, no trip to NYC is complete without visiting an all-American diner. This one has everything you'd expect on the menu such as 'grits' for the morning and burgers for the evening. Open 24 hours.

 P is for pastrami

Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop, 174 5th Ave (between 22nd & 23rd Sts), Flatiron District New York is famous for enormous pastrami sandwiches so devouring one is part of the experience. The best-known places are Katz's and Carnegie Deli, but they are quite expensive. Instead we recommend you try Eisenberg's where you'll get the exact same thing at almost half the price. Open daily from 7.30am-8pm.

Delis and hot dog stands Dotted all over New York are delis. In them you'll find an array of salads and hot foods like pasta and noodles and they're great for something quick. If you want something even quicker you can grab a hot dog from one of the stands that are all over Midtown Manhattan.

Slane, 102 MacDougal St, Greenwich Village This popular Irish bar can be either an intimate place for a beer or the complete opposite - it all depends on the night. Extremely welcoming thanks to the friendly staff, during the week it's perfect for a quiet beer while at weekends things get noticeably livelier. Open daily from 11am-close.

Ship of Fools, 1590 2nd Ave, between 82nd and 83rd Sts, Upper East Side For the 'all-American' sports bar experience where you'll see football jocks throw high fives and where bottles of beer blanket the wooden tables, visit this bar. Televisions outnumber the barmen, so if there's a big game on, be it baseball, or otherwise, catch it here. Open Mon-Thurs 3pm-4pm, Fri-Sun midday-4am.

 Gay / Lesbian New York

New York's gay scene is thriving and the gay community is most evident around Chelsea which is home to a whole host of gay clubs. One of these is Splash (West 17th St between 5th & 6th Aves) which is packed with clubbers each night.

Comedy Cellar, 117 MacDougal St, Greenwich Village Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, Comedy Cellar is one of New York's best-known comedy clubs. Both well and lesser known acts appear on stage to cause a giggle or two and Chris Rock and Robin Williams have both appeared in the past. For stage times visit; for free tickets (Sun-Thurs) visit the same site and click on 'special offer' on the right .

The Sixth Ward, 191 Orchard St, Lower East Side While this is one of the newer bars on the LES, The Sixth Ward has already firmly established itself as one of its favourites. Technically an Irish bar (there's nothing particularly Irish about it other than the owner), there's a pool table out back when it's pool you want to shoot and not liquor. Open daily from 11am-2am.

The Red Lion, 151 Bleecker St, Greenwich Village Whether it's singer-songwriters, rock outfits or reggae bands, you're bound to find them in this bar that has live music 7 days a week from 7pm on. It's also a popular hangout with local New York University (NYU) students. Open daily from 11am-2am.

Remember it is standard practice to tip bartenders every time you are served.

 Don't Miss

 Mark Your Calendar

Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island Donated to the United States by the French in 1886 to commemorate the alliance of both countries during the American Revolution, this isn't just New York's best-known attraction, but arguably America's. Visitors get to enjoy views from the observation deck, enter the pedestal of the statue and see exhibits at the museum. For ferry times and costs visit

 Rock on

Top of the Rock, 50th St (between 5th & 6th Aves), Midtown While you may be intent on visiting the top of a different skyscraper when in New York, for the best views of Manhattan (and smaller queues) visit the 'Top of the Rock' at the Rockefeller Center. The views of Central Park and the Empire State Building are breathtaking. Open daily from 8am-midnight (last elevator 11pm); admission $22.

American Museum of Natural History, 79th St & Central Park West, Upper West Side This enormous museum has extremely impressive collections on dinosaurs, ancient civilisations and more. It is also adjoined to the 'Rose Center for Earth and Space' which will enthral budding astronomers. Open daily from 10am-5.45pm; suggested admission $16.

Times Square, 43rd St & 7th Ave, Midtown The first time you set foot in Times Square is a surreal experience, namely due to the countless movies and TV shows it has appeared in. Make this electric circus one of the first places you visit.

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), 11 W 53 St, Midtown It's tough choosing an art gallery in NYC. MoMA gets our vote as it showcases everything from innovative European art to modern forms like film and photography. A fascinating place. Open Wed-Mon 10.30am-5.30pm (8pm Fri), open Tuesdays in July and August; adm $20.

January - Martin Luther King Jr Day Every year on the third Monday of January a parade between 61st and 86th St. on 5th Avenue commemorates the famous civil rights activist.

March - St Patrick's Day Parade New York is famous for its Patrick's Day parade which is the world's largest outside Ireland. Book your spot on Fifth Ave for the best view.

April - Tartan Day Parade Over 10,000 pipers and drummers congregate on 6th Ave to celebrate their Scottish roots for this annual parade.

May - Ninth Avenue Food Festival Just two blocks west of Times Square in Hell's Kitchen, this food festival attracts a million people who come to sample culinary delights from all over the world.

June - Museum Mile Festival For one day in June NYC's Museum Mile becomes one big block party. There's live music and lots more.

July - Independence Day On July 4th a huge fireworks display takes place over the East River. To make sure you witness it, you just have to make sure you get a spot close to the river!

August - Blues, Barbecue and Fireworks Festival Enjoy free music, barbecued food and a huge fireworks display at this one-day festival as part of the Hudson River Park's 'Summer of Fun'.

September - San Gennaro Festival Little Italy becomes awash with activity for this annual festival which takes place on Mulberry St. Sample various culinary delights, and if you're not hungry, play various games at different stalls.

October - Oktoberfest Munich isn't the only city where Oktoberfest is celebrated - New York gets in on the act also! Third Ave closes and drinking, eating, dancing, and everything German is celebrated.

November - Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade  This huge parade is one of the biggest events of the year as massive balloons and floats make their way down 7th Ave.

December - Grand Central Laser Light Show A spectacular light show is beamed on to the ceiling on New York's central train station for 6 weeks at the end of every year. Beginning at 11am, the shows take place every 30 minutes until 9pm.

Hostelworld Guide for New York

 Neighbourhood Watch

 Retail Therapy

Chelsea (east of the Hudson, west of 6th Ave, south of 34th St, north of 15th St) One of Manhattan's bigger neighbourhoods, Chelsea is the art and gay capital of Manhattan. There are over 100 different art galleries in the neighbourhood, most of which are between 20th and 27th Sts. As well as this are a selection of restaurants and small businesses, many of which are along 7th and 8th Ave.

 The Village

Greenwich Village, east of 7th Ave, west of Broadway, south of 14th St, north of Houston St Simply known as 'the Village', Greenwich Village is probably the coolest neighbourhood in New York. No skyscrapers here. Oh no. Just small-rise buildings housing alternative shops, cafés and bars. The heart of the action is around the intersection of Bleecker and MacDougal Streets, while the Village's Washington Square Park is another place you should check out.

East Village (east of 3rd Ave, north of Houston St, south of 14th St) / Lower East Side (east of Chrystie St, south of Houston S Over in the east part of town in Downtown Manhattan, things are a little rougher around the edges. The characters walking the streets are far more 'colourful' and all in all the east side is a lot more alternative. As a result, you don't need to worry so much about what you're wearing or who you're talking to in the East Village and the Lower East Side. It's not just the bars and stores that are different - prices are lower too.

Soho, east of 6th Ave, west of Broadway, north of Canal St, south of Houston St Soho is all about shopping. Broadway here has store after store selling the latest trainers, jeans and t-shirts, while on other streets like Mercer St and Greene St you'll find boutique stores owned by the coolest designers about. It's not all chic here though - Canal St which borders the south end of Soho is where to go for those not-so-authentic goods.

Fifth Ave (between 47th & 59th Sts), Midtown Weaving your way through the thousands of people who ramble up and down Fifth Avenue every day, you won't know whether you should be keeping your eye out for celebs or some flash threads! All the top designers have stores here, along with many more affordable ones too.

Century 21, 22 Cortlandt St (between Broadway & Church St), Lower Manhattan Century 21 has built up a reputation as the best place to get top quality goods at discounted prices in New York as they are known to knock anything up to 75% off some brands. It likes to think of itself as New York's 'best kept secret', but the secret, it seems, is definitely out. Open Mon-Fri 7.45am-8.30pm, Sat 9.30am-9pm, Sun 10am-8pm.

Canal Street, Chinatown This wide street which rolls through Chinatown is where you can pick up those 'not so authentic' goods. Pick up everything from Ralph Loren to DKNY at 'discount prices'.

 The world's largest store

Macy's, 151 West 34th St at Broadway, Midtown Since opening as a small dry goods store back in 1858, Macy's at Herald Square now covers over one million square feet of retail space. Due to the size of the area it covers, seeking out what you are looking for can be challenging. Open daily from 8am-8pm.

Woodbury Common, 498 Red Apple Court, Central Valley, NY Located just 1 hour outside of Manhattan, Woodbury Common has over 220 shopping outlets. Many of these outlets sell designer goods at bargain prices so if you're planning to go ga-ga with your credit card, at least save yourself some dollars for a short trip to this outlet. Open daily 10am-9pm; buses depart from Port Authority at 8.30am, 9.45am, 11.15am and 12 noon, journey costs $42 return from Port Authority.

 New York For Free

 A Day in New York...

Get the Staten Island Ferry Taking 25 minutes each way, a ride on the Staten Island ferry is arguably the best thing to do for free in New York City. Leaving from South Ferry Terminal in Lower Manhattan, on it you can enjoy breathtaking views of Lower Manhattan's skyline and an even better one of the Statue of Liberty.

 A walk in the park

Chill out in Central Park Affectionately known as 'The Lung of New York', Central Park is one of the most beautiful parts of New York and you can see why locals love it so much. Stretching from 59th St in Midtown Manhattan to 110th St in Harlem, thoughts of skyscrapers and traffic quickly fade away as you stroll through 'Sheeps Meadow', row a boat across 'The Lake' and go rambling through 'The Rambles'.

Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge Jump on a 4, 5 or 6 train to Brooklyn Bridge and within a few minutes you will be at the Manhattan end of New York's most famous bridge. Rather than simply crossing and turning the back, visit the Empire Fulton Ferry State Park on the Brooklyn side.

Go to a top TV show for free! Have you ever watched David Letterman in your living room and thought 'Gee, I'd love to be in that audience?' Well make your way down to the TKTS booth in Times Square on Mondays or Tuesdays and you should find somebody heckling about free tickets to something. Otherwise, log on to

Visit two of New York's best known (and free) buildings Two of New York's most visited buildings are both free to enter. The first is the busy and bustling Grand Central Terminal at 46th St and Park Ave, while the other is the (understandably) far more subdued St Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Sts.

Visit one of the museums on Central Park - the Met on the east side or the American Museum of Natural History on the west. Take in one of the city's best-loved museums.

Take a couple of hours to explore Central Park. Enjoy highlights such as Strawberry Fields, Sheeps Meadow, the Bow Bridge and the Bethesda Fountain.

Follow the aromas to one of the numerous delis on 7th Ave. Grab a container and fill it with salad, pasta or whatever else takes your fancy from the counter.

Visit the 'Top of the Rock' at the Rockefeller Center. It is by far the best place for a bird's-eye view of Manhattan, and the views will take your breath away.

Explore Midtown Manhattan, visiting Times Square, Fifth Avenue, the Madison Square Garden and much more.

Take the 1 train from Times Square to South Ferry. Jump on board the Staten Island ferry for unforgettable views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.


Take the 1 train back up to Christopher St/Sheridan Square. Get take away pizza in 'Bleecker St Pizza' or sit down in 'John's' on the same street, both in the West Village.

Wander down Bleecker Street until you come to MacDougal St. You are now in the heart of Greenwich Village. Go for a beer in one of the many bars.

Hail a famous yellow cab and get yourself to one of the bars in the East Village around St Mark's Place or in the Lower East Side near Orchard St to finish the night off.

Hostelworld Guide for New York