Get orientated – To step out of a yellow cab onto the ‘sidewalk’ and feel dwarfed by canyons of skyscrapers – that’s your quintessential New York intro. This mighty city, comprised of the five boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey and Staten Island, is the ultimate metropolis. It’s so familiar from a million movies and postcards yet, with around 10,000km of streets, there is still so much left to discover. Perhaps its biggest draw, though, is its cosmopolitan population. It’s a destination that welcomes everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, age or ability. It’s a place of acceptance and adventure for tourists and locals alike.
Getting there – NYC is served by two main international airports. JFK is in Queens; the A-train subway line runs from the terminal into Manhattan. Newark is in New Jersey; airport express buses to Manhattan take around 45 to 60 minutes. Other options include shared Super Shuttle vans or taxis; be aware that cab fares don’t include tolls. Several airlines fly direct to NYC from the UK; takes about seven hours. From July, Norwegian Airlines will fly London Gatwick to JFK from £149 one way.
The visit – Given New York’s scale and reputation, it can be hard to know where to start – so try to build an itinerary before you go. For example, go online to buy your ticket to the 102nd floor Top Deck of the Empire State Building and you can skip the ticket queue and go straight up to the observation deck; if you buy ‘Express’ tickets, you can also jump to the front of the lift queue.
Likewise, you can pre-book tickets – and thus skip queues – for the Top of Rock observation deck at the Rockefeller Centre, tickets for specific time slots are also available. If you’re planning to sail from Manhattan’s Battery Park to Liberty Island, upgrade to a ‘Crown Ticket’ so you can climb the 162 steps to the top of Lady Liberty. These tickets are valid for a specific date and time, and are not available for purchase on the day; book in advance. NYC has plenty of free treats too. Top picks include a stroll in Central Park, a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, a trip to Grand Central Terminal and a visit to Ground Zero’s National September 11 Memorial.
Brooklyn Bridge – When It was completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the world’s largest suspension bridge and the first to be made of steel. It took more than 600 workers 16 years to build the 1,825m-long behemoth, 20 of whom lost their lives in the process. It has become one of NYC’s biggest Icons and was designated a National Historic Landmark 50 years ago, In January 1964.
Walk the Bridge – The bridge is one of the city’s best free attractions. You can drive across it, or you can walk or bike it: a 2km-long path, elevated above the traffic, is reserved for pedestrians and cyclists, offering a great opportunity to sightsee. This path can be reached from the Brooklyn side at Tillary and Adams Streets or via a staircase In Prospect Street, between Cadman Plaza East and West. From the Manhattan side, access to the walkway is from near City Hall Park (though the views aren’t as good if you walk from this direction).