How much spending much do I need in New York City?

New York City, the most famous city in the world. The home of the Empire State Building, Times Square, the New York Yankees, Wall Street, the Statue of Liberty, Maddison Square Garden. The list goes on. But how many greenbacks (dollars) do you need in your pocket to make the most of the Big Apple?

With real data from real travellers, we’ve answered all the important budgeting questions along with things you have got to see. From cocktail bars overlooking Manhatten to the pick of the museums - we've got you covered.

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This reflects what everyday travellers tend to spend in New York. Think mid-range – most of the major attractions, a few cab rides, maybe a big night out, and a bit of shopping on the side. It doesn’t include the cost of hotels or car hire as these are often booked in advance.

  • Eating Out: $57 per day
  • Entertainment (bars, tours & attractions): $66 per day
  • Transport: $27 per day
  • Shopping: £115 per day


Real Traveller Average Daily Spend: $66

  • “WeSwapper Favourite” – Empire State Building $54
  • 911 Memorial and Museum: $24
  • MOMA (The Museum of Modern Art): $25
  • Central Park: Free (Yay!)
  • “Staff Pick” – Highline: Free (Yay!)

Our WeSwapper’s love getting the best views and the iconic Empire State Building offers a fantastic vantage of Manhattan.  The queues can be long, so beat the crowds between 8am – 11am or if you’re looking for a more romantic setting, visit just before closing, between midnight and 1am.


The Empire State Building (straight ahead) the most famous sky scraper on the planet. And what a view.

9/11 Memorial & Museum, has become a popular attraction for New York visitors.  An educational and historical institution, the museum honours the victims and examines 9/11 and its global significance.

The Museum of Modern Art or MOMA, offers guests the world’s finest collection of modern and contemporary art.  The exhibitions and works are curated to inspire, fuel creative and ignite new ways of interpreting the world we live in.

Top tipIf you’re the type of traveller who really loves checking off all the ‘must-see’ tourist attractions in a city, we would definitely recommend purchasing a New York City Pass for $122...

CityPass allows you to choose five major attractions/museums to visit including WeSwap’s top 3 -  the Empire State Building, 9/11 Memorial & Museum and MOMA, as well as your choice from Statue of Liberty the "Top of the Rock Observation Deck" and more. By buying CityPass upfront, you will Save 40% on your entry tickets.

A visit to Manhattan is never complete without a visit to Central Park.  There is so much to see and do, you could spend days here.  And the best part is, entry to the park is free!  (Although some attractions like the Zoo, have an entry charge).  Stroll through The Mall and Literary Walk or Conservatory Garden, delight in the ornate interior of Bethesda Terrace Arcade, or visit Belvedere. There's more too!


Arial shot of Central Park. Yes, it's absolutely colossal.

WeSwap Staff Pick is the Highline, a wonderful revitalisation of New York City’s heritage, the Highline is a former industrial train line running between 34th Street to John’s Park Terminal at Spring Street (Manhattan’s west side) the High Line from an out-of-use railroad to a public landscape.  Great place to relax and enjoy the best of New York City summers.


Real Traveller Average Daily Spend: $57 per day

  • “WeSwapper Favourite: Ellen’s Stardust Diner ($52) and Central Park Boathouse ($47)
  • Meal tip – Lombardi’s Pizzeria ($22.50)
  • Cocktail with a view: One World Observatory:  $16 for a glass of wine
  • Brunch tipBe Bop A Lula Burger
  • Beer/glass of wine: $6
  • Cup of coffee: $4
  • “Staff pick”: The Spotted Pig ($9 Beer; $14 for a glass of wine approx)

Ellen’s Stardust Diner is not the place for a quiet romantic dinner.  Located in Times Square, Ellen’s is a retro 1950s themed diner and home of the singing waiters.  For dinner: the Be Bop A Lula Burger for dinner or if you’re needing a big breakfast that might keep you going until tomorrow's breakfast - then try Aunt Bea’s Biscuits ‘and Gravy (Southern-style sausages and gravy).

Don’t forget that tipping is expected in New York and it is customary to tip between 15-20% (though at higher-end restaruants, a solid 20% is normal).

Eating pizza is a New York tradition and there is no better place to enjoy a delicious slice of coal-baked pizza than Lombardi’s. Located in the Little Italy area of Manhattan, Lombardi’s is America’s first pizzeria and was known for selling take-out slices for Lower Manhattan workers, as early as 1897.  For something different, try the White Pizza, which is a mix of mozzarella, ricotta and romano cheese. Yum!


The oldest pizzeria in America can be found in Little Italy.

One Observatory (the World Trade Centre) is awe-inspiring even just looking up from the ground.  But once you hit the 102nd floor… wow!  The café is a little pricey, but it is absolutely worth it, to sit with a glass of wine in hand and admire the spectacular views.

Staff pick: The Spotted Pig in West Village is our favourite place to enjoy a cheeky wine or beer and good food.  Seasonal British & Italian innovative menu from $25 for a main course.  (Beers $7-$10, Wine $14 per glass). A relaxed and welcoming atmosphere with a no booking required, walk-in only approach, no dress code and is open until 2am, 7 days a week.


Real Traveller Average Daily Spend: $27 per day

  • Taxi to Manhattan from JFK $52.50
  • Bus to Manhattan from the LaGuardia $15 or JFK $25
  • Train to Manhattan from LaGuardia $30 or JFK $52.50
  • Metro and bus fare $2.75

We definitely recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes and hitting the sidewalks AKA pavements. Walking New York really is the best way to explore the city and to soak up the atmosphere. The grid road system makes navigating with a map super easy.  But when your legs are feeling a little heavy...

The New York subway is your next best option.  Not only is it the world’s largest public transport system, with a flat fee ($2.50 or a 7-day Metro Card for $29), it is also the fastest way to get around the city.

Riding in a famous Yellow Taxi is always fun.  It’s not the cheapest way to travel in New York City (initial charge $2.50 with added charges of $0.40 for each ½ mile, approx. 4 blocks north to south) and $0.40 for each minute idle, but they are great if you are a travelling in a small group or carrying lots of shopping.


It's borderline sacrilegious to go to NYC and not ride in a yellow taxi.


Real Traveller Average Daily Spend: $115 per day

  • WeSwapper’s Favourite: Macy’s (Average transaction $75) and Forever 21 (Average transaction $88)
  • Chelsea Markets
  • Saks
  • Bloomingdales

Our three favourite stores are not particularly close, so we suggest you plan your shopping day, starting at Macy’s, with a 20-minute walk to Saks, before hopping into a Yellow Cab with all your shopping and heading off to Century 21 for some serious discount designer bargain hunting.

Macy’s is WeSwapper’s favourite department store.  With 10 and a half floors of everything you could image, from fashion to food to furniture and more.  Don’t forget, as an international tourist you should head straight to the visitor centre, show your passport to receive a 10% off discount card.

For even more high-end shopping, hit Saks on Fifth Avenue or Bloomingdale's in the Upper East Side.  The beautiful iconic building makes shopping a delight and the perfect place to get lost for a couple of hours.  Bloomingdale’s, little brown branded bags are an added incentive to buy something, no matter how small.


Bloomingdale's is as famous for its brown shopping bags as it is for shopping!

Last checked and updated: 15.03.2017. All travel, accommodation, and entertainment costs are taken from the provider’s official website – but don’t forget to double check yourself first before you head off.


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