Going to New York for the first time? Consider this blog post your checklist! I’ve listed all the and famous buildings and top sights in New York City on this page. All the spots can be found in Manhattan.
I’ve listed the sights from South to North. So you can start in Battery Park all the way in South Manhattan and just work your way up North. Even if you only have one day to spend in New York City, you can probably see all these highlights!
Statue of Liberty
Lady Liberty is a true icon of NYC. You can see the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park, the green patch on the South tip of Manhattan. But you’ll get better views if you take the Staten Island ferry. This ferry departs from Battery Park and goes to Staten Island. There’s not much to see on Staten Island itself, but you’ll get great views of the Statue of Liberty as well as of Ellis Island (the island where the immigrants arrived). When you arrive on Staten Island you can just take the next ferry back. The Staten Island ferry is for free, so no need to buy tickets.
If you’ve got more time to spend you can book a tour to visit Liberty Island and Elliz Island. This tour takes up a few hours, so if you’re short on time it’s not a great idea but otherwise it’s an interesting tour. Buy your tickets online beforehand to avoid the que.
Wall Street, with its iconic New York Stock Exchange building is a top sight in downtown Manhattan. You’ve probably seen it in movies quite a few times, and this is your chance to see it in real life.
World Trade Center
A spot with a tragic history, but one that can’t be missed when you’re in NYC. On the place where the Twin Towers used to stand you can now find a memorial plaza with a man made waterfall and the new Freedom Tower (the tallest building of the United States). The new World Trade subway station, nicknamed Oculus, is worth a visit as well.
You can’t leave New York without a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge. Even if you don’t cross the water all the way, you can still say that you’ve set foot on the Brooklyn Bridge. If you do want to walk all the way across the bridge, calculate about 30 minutes one way. You can also take the subway to Brooklyn and walk back to Manhattan over the bridge. This way, you’ve got the best view.
The Italian neighborhood of New York and a great place for a good pasta.
When you walk around Chinatown, it’s as if you’re in China. Even the McDonalds sign is in Chinese! When the weather is nice, hang out with the locals in Columbus Park.
Another New York City icon: the flatiron building. It’s a beloved sight for photographers, and you probably don’t have to wait long for a nice shot with some yellow cabs in the foreground.
Empire State Building
Another building that you’ve seen on tv so many times: the Empire State Building. It’s visible from many spots in Manhattan. You can visit the observation deck for great views over the city. You can buy your tickets online in advance.
The Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Centre and the Freedom Tower downtown also have observation decks. I’ve been to all three and I wouldn’t say that one is better than the other; they all offer great views over New York City.
The Chrysler building with its pointy sharp top is also a top sight in New York. I always love how it looks when it lits op at night.
The Grand Central train station is worth a visit too. The central hall with the iconic clock has beautiful high walls with murals. There’s also a food court with great food options and many shops are found inside the building.
No matter how many times I go to Times Square, I’m always amazed. I must have walked there a 100 times before but all the lights and billboards still excite me. There aren’t many places on earth where you get the same experience as on Times Square. Make sure to visit it at night for the ultimate experience.
Central Park is a huge park in the middle of Manhattan. Since nobody who lives in Manhattan has a garden, Central Park is like the backyard for all New Yorkers. You’ll always find many locals jogging, walking their dogs or taking their kids to one of the playgrounds. Highlights of Central Park include the John Lennon memorial ‘Imagine’, the Alice in Wonderland statue and in winter the ice rink.
Got hungry? Click here for my food guide to New York.