How To: New York City Transportation, Lodging, and Expenses

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Visiting New York City is exciting, but you must not forget about the fun part…logistics, logistics, logistics! Our aim is to make the process as smooth as possible for you so you can enjoy the best things to do in New York. Here are some tips and tricks to help you maneuver the city like a professional!


Arriving in New York City

Plane, train, or bus, New York City is a transportation hub making it easy to travel in and out of the city. Most of the time, you will fly into JFK, LaGuardia, or Newark (New Jersey) airport. You can click here to find the best ways to get from JFK Airport to Manhattan and other important transportation information on how to transfer to and from the NYC Airports. Harlem Spirituals can make the process seamless for you with our Airport Transportation services, getting you to and from the airport and the hotel. You can choose from different options, from shared shuttles to private cars and limousines to start your NYC experience like a VIP!


Transportation in New York City

(Photo: Lensicle)

Once you are settled at your hotel and looking to begin exploring the city, consider all of these transportation methods to get you where you would like to go:

Yellow Cabs

Yellow Cabs are everywhere in New York City. Just raise your hand to pick up a vacant one on the street and you will get to your destination, whether it be somewhere in the city or to and from an airport. Be sure to always plan according to traffic though!  This is the priciest of all options, but it certainly gets the job done. Upon entering the taxi, you will be charged the standard City fare rate of $3.30. You will also be charged:

  • 50 cents for every fifth of a mile
  • 50 cents for every minute the taxi traveled less than 12 miles per hour
  • 50 cents night surcharge for travel from 8 PM to 6 AM
  • $1 for travel from 4 PM to 8 PM on weekdays only

As a rough estimate, if you plan to taxi from Grand Central Station to Downtown Manhattan, about a 3.2 mile, 22 minute average trip, it would cost you anywhere from $15 USD to $40 USD depending on traffic. Taxi drivers should usually be tipped between 10% and 20% of the fare.

If you are in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens or Staten Island, you’ll also come across Green Cabs (Boro cabs). These cabs can only pick up guests in the outer boroughs but can definitely drop you in Manhattan.

Our tip to hail cabs more easily: position yourself in an avenue, rather than on a street; there’s usually more traffic thus more chances for you to find a cab.

(information obtained from


Subway Train or Public Bus

The NYC subway system works 24/7 and is one of the safest in the country. It is a great and cost-efficient way to get around the city and beat the traffic, taking you anywhere from the outskirts of Brooklyn to the tip-top of Uptown, Manhattan. We know how overwhelming the subway map might look at first; we recommend you download either HopStop, Google Maps, or CityMapper for a detailed itinerary tailored to your location and time to direct you to the closest subway or bus station and fastest route. Just follow the signs and you will be fine!  The base fare for one way is $2.75, but there are several options for purchasing multiple rides or an unlimited card per week or month.


Hop on/Hop off Bus

One of the main tourist modes of transportation, and often-times the most efficient when looking to hit all of the New York City landmarks and popular destinations is the Double Decker NYC All-Around Town Hop-on/Hop-off busThis way, you can travel through the city as you please and hop off the bus at designated hot-spots. There are frequently stopping, giant buses that you cannot miss, and you will rarely be waiting around for one to pick you up. 



During the warmer months, a fun way to see the city would be to rent a pedicab for one to three hours. These little open-aired buggies connected to a cyclist can often be found in tourist-centric areas such as Central Park or Midtown Manhattan, fitting up to 3 people. The base price is $60/hour, not including tip. This mode of transportation is directed more for leisure.



Rent a bike of your own to explore the city. You may opt for a guided bike tour, a simple bike rental (including helmet, map and lock) or go the New Yorker way by renting a Citi Bike. Biking is certainly the most eco-friendly, health-conscious option, and you will be able to experience the city in open air!


Ferry & Water Taxi Services

Many people forget about the ferry and water taxi services that New York City offers. The New York Water Taxi All Day Access Pass is the only harbor cruise that lets you hop off and hop on again at 6 different piers so you can experience New York at your own pace and with a new perspective. The NYC Ferry is also a great and cheap option to get around and get nice views. It works like the Subway, with a $2,75 fare and 6 different lines.


Alternative Options

There are several alternative options of transportation that are sometimes more cost and time efficient. When coming to New York City, we highly recommend downloading the UBER app, Lyft app and VIA app on your smartphone. All three act as a cheaper taxi service, but instead of flagging down a yellow cab on the side of the street, you preorder a driver through the designated application. All you do is insert where you want to go, and depending on the milage and need for drivers, a fixed price will appear before you accept the ride. Usually you can compare the three to find which one is the cheapest. You can track how far away your driver is from picking you up, and the route he or she takes to get you to your destination.  If you plan on spending the night out in the city and need an easy way home, this is your best option.

NOTE: You will know that you are getting in a licensed commercial vehicle by looking at the license plate. 


Lodging and Expenses in New York City

(Photo by Harlem Spirituals)

You will not fall short of places to stay here in the city, but it is up to you to determine how you would like to budget both your time and your money. I must warn you that New York City is considered to be the most expensive city in North America, so if you are traveling on a tighter budget, you may choose to stay in Astoria or Long Island City in Queens, or Williamsburg, Dumbo, or Clinton Hill in Brooklyn. Although you may be paying less than if you were to choose a venue in Midtown or the Village, you will have a short train ride into the action of Manhattan. The Airbnb website is often very helpful when looking for an alternative, cheaper stay in the city. This link will be helpful to find additional budgeting tips and tricks to learn how to enjoy NYC on a budget.


If  you are interested in finding things 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 Also, check out our New York City Travel Guides for some more inspiration.

Do you have any more questions or concerns? Do not hesitate to reach out to us for guidance! We are always here to help. If you found this article useful, please continue on sharing the love with friends and family!