New York for the First Time: Tips to save money

New York is the most expensive city in the United States and one of the ten most expensive cities in the world. But it’s among the most desired ones to visit by tourists. At times when the dollar is really strong, it is always a shock when you are looking at conversion prices…as of November 2017 it is 1 Euro = US$ 1,18 and US$ 1 = R$ 3,26. And for backpackers, like us, it is even more difficult… But there are a few secrets to save money in New York. We learned them from friends who had visited the city before and also from our New Yorker friend, who hosted us at the Big Apple. Now we will share them with you:

1) Buy the unlimited subway ticket

NY subway
NY subway

New York is all connected via subway lines. And when you have seen the city’s traffic, you will know that the subway is the best way of transportation. Next to your own feet. But buying single tickets is expensive: USD 3 per trip. Therefore, you should buy the MetroCard. There is a 7-day option available that costs USD 32 per person and the 30-day option for USD 121 per person. You buy directly at the subway station on the vending machines or at the box office.

You can find more information about the MetroCard here

2) Pay as much as you want in museums

Most museums in New York have the suggested price of USD 25 per person, which is expensive, almost R$ 100. But this is a SUGGESTED value and in reality, you pay as much as you want. And nobody can say anything at all. Americans themselves never pay that much. To enter the Metropolitan, the largest museum in New York, for example, we paid USD 10 for both of us. Even though the suggested amount was USD 50. And if we would have said USD 5 or even USD 1, we could have gotten in anyway. Most museums still have free days.

Because of that, I believe that tourist cards like City Pass or New York Pass aren’t worth it in New York, as they include museum values ​​as if they were USD 25.

Anyone who thinks it’s an advantage to get the City Pass NY to skip queues  for visiting 80 tourist attractions, you can buy them here with a 22 % discount.

3) Enjoy the free attractions

Free boat trip to Staten Island watching the Statue of Liberty
Free boat trip to Staten Island watching the Statue of Liberty

New York offers endless free attractions. So, you can be days and days in the city without spending anything on visiting attractions and for leisure. There are parks, museums, boat trips among other things.

4) Buy tickets for musicals and other attractions at discount

Tkts Box Office
Tkts Box Office

Of course for some attractions we had to pay, but we were looking for ways to buy discounted tickets. Always before you buy any ticket in NY, start with a Google-search to find out if there is any place where you can buy it at discount.

To watch the Phantom of the Opera, we went to the TKTS box office, which is located under the Times Square grandstand and sells musical tickets up to 50 %. But be aware that the tickets sale is just for shows of the same day. And the very famous shows like The Lion King always are sold out. If you really want to watch these shows, you need to buy tickets in advance.

Buy discount Broadway tickets without queues

To buy tickets at even greater discounts, our friend from New York has indicated the Playbill site that offers the Broadway rush, lottery and standing-room-only (SRO) tickets. These tickets are much cheaper, but have specific rules, apart from being less famous musicals and less privileged places. For more information see this link:

Top of the Rock View
Top of the Rock View

Another attraction for which we purchased discount tickets was the Top of the Rock, where we had a beautiful panoramic view of Manhattan. We bought the tickets via the Ticket Bar, right here on the blog. Each ticket was USD 3 cheaper, in total a saving of $ 24, plus not waiting in the line. Remember that you need to print your tickets and change them on the day of your visit.

Ticket Bar also has discounted tickets to the Empire State Building Observatory, Guggenheim Museum, Madame Tussauds, Hop On Hop Off Bus among others.

See all discounted attractions by Ticket Bar in New York:

5) Do your own picnics

Our picnic in Central Park
Our picnic in Central Park

South Americans, in general, aren’t very adapted to do picnics or to eat a snack on the street. However, in other countries, this is super normal. Everyone does and loves picnics. In New York, the beautiful parks are perfect for grabbing a snack, putting down a blanket and eating. And it doesn’t even have to be all prepared, you can go to a street market, buy some food, look for a place in the shade, or in the sun if you are cold and enjoy a probably even more delicious and economical meal than in a fast food shop or a restaurant. We did this in Central Park and it was great. We should have done it more often.

6) Shop in stores that offer great discounts

New York is not one of the best places to shop in the US. It doesn’t have the big outlets like in Florida and the taxes are much higher, 12 % (NYC) versus the 6 % in Florida. But if you’re already there and want to go shopping, there are some options for department stores that sell products at a great discount: Century 21, Macy’s, TJ Maxx, Ross. Other stores that sell cheaper clothes are: Forever 21, H & M and Zara.

Recently there have been several airfare promotions for NY and if you were still in doubt about getting to know the city because of the high cost, I hope these tips can help you. Well, NY is incredible, a city full of possibilities. 😊