How To: Enjoy NYC on a Budget

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Here in the Big Apple you can find almost anything at every hour of the day. But, don’t let the big city vibe trick you into thinking that things can’t be affordable when you are on a budget. With little local expertise, you can find great deals on practically everything.

1- Getting Around New York

NYC subway(Photo by MTA-NY)

Most visitors don’t realize how walkable New York City really is. Plus, opting for public transportation can save you a lot of money. For example, a 7-Day unlimited subway Metrocard and a weekly Citi Bike rental both cost around $30, whereas you can easily rack up a $30 taxi fare in just one trip. If you’re concerned about getting lost or taking the wrong train, there are many NYC subway map smartphone applications that will help you with directions such as Google Maps and CityMapper. Also, don’t be afraid to ask people for assistance because contrary to stereotypes, New Yorkers are helpful as long as you get right to the point without wasting their time.

2- Use Free WiFi 

(Photo by Joe Buglewicz/ NYC & Company)

You are only visiting for a few days and getting a new SIM card is not a necessity, but you still need internet access for your phone or laptop. Many New York City parks offer free Wi-F, and there are several Wi-Fi Hot Spots throughout all five boroughs. Beside Starbucks, many businesses (generally coffee houses) advertise on their doors or windows if they have “Free WiFi” for their customers. Some of NYC subway stations have free Wi-Fi as well, and the list keeps growing. The Downtown Alliance  also provides various free public WiFi spots throughout Lower Manhattan.

3- Get Passes to Multiple Attractions

staten island ferry nyc(Photo by Flickr U.)

Yes, you can still visit several attractions in New York City even if you are on a budget. Get a CityPass for access to multiple attractions. The Downtown Culture Pass allows you access to more than 12 cultural attractions in Manhattan. You can also join our guided tours to see other attractions in different boroughs and neighborhoods such as the Brooklyn tour, a Harlem Gospel Tour, the Soul food and Jazz Tour, or the Triboro Tour through the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.

4- Eat cheap

(Photo by JOE BUGLEWICZ/ NYC & Company)

Yes, New York City has some of the best restaurants in the world but you don’t have to eat at every single one of them to relish in a diverse gastronomic experience. Instead, try some of the Big Apple’s budget-friendly restaurants to get the best of both worlds. Also, consider buying food from local supermarkets and convenience stores. If you happen to be in New York City for Restaurant Week (occurring biannually), your best bet is to eat at one of the participating eateries where you will be able to enjoy full-courses during lunch and dinner at half the cost.


5- Bike Around

nyc citibike(Photo by Slgc)

This is a cost-effective and fun way to get around. Besides, New York City is a bike-friendly city, providing several bike lanes throughout the streets. The most secure and pleasant bike ride is the west side of Manhattan, along the Hudson River where you can take in spectacular views of the skyline. Our bike tour will take you by the Hudson River as well as other famous sites such as Shakespeare Garden, Belvedere Castle, Central Park and many more. If you prefer getting around by yourself, pick up a DAYPASS Central Park Bike Rental or a Citi Bike; You can find Citi Bike stations on many blocks up to 60th street in Manhattan and in numerous parts of Brooklyn including Williamsburg and Brooklyn Heights. You can also use this NYC bike map to find your way around the city. For more information about biking in the City, you can also check our take on biking in the city..


6- Walk to Brooklyn

(Photo by Alex Lopez)

As one of the most noticeable landmarks of this city, the Brooklyn Bridge’s elevated pedestrian walkway makes it easier than ever to enjoy the amazing views of the Manhattan skyline and downtown Brooklyn. It may get a bit crowed on the bridge, as it is a popular photo stop, but once you get to Brooklyn, your journey will only get better from there. You can stop by the Brooklyn Bridge Park for ice cream or snacks as well as walk through the charming neighborhoods of Park SlopeBrooklyn Heights and DUMBO. You may opt for our I Love Brooklyn Sprinter Van Tour, or simply just explore the best of Brooklyn on your own.


Your money can go a long way if you are smart about your spendings. if you are interested in finding more to do in New York City, search through our complete range of tours, attractions and activities. We can also tailor-make programs specifically to match your desires and budgets. Harlem Spirituals is the ideal one-stop-shop to simplify your planning! Find more information on or contact us at

Yes, New York City has the best of everything but this doesn’t necessarily have to mean that the prices must be outrageous. Did you know that you could do this many things so affordably in the Big Apple? What are you best tips to visit NYC on a budget?