In a metropolis like New York, getting around is rarely as easy as hopping in a car. The city is known for traffic, pricey taxi cabs, and limited bike lanes, but there are still some easy ways to navigate the Big Apple. Here’s what you need to know.
The New York public transit system includes buses and subway trains covering all five of the city's boroughs. Both services use the same fare-payment system—the MetroCard. You can buy a MetroCard at most subway stations, from clearly marked kiosks that accept credit and debit cards. To pay with cash, you need to see a station agent. Fare payment is simple: One swipe gets you one ride, wherever you're going, day or night.
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours
One of the easiest ways to get around New York City is by hop-on hop-off bus tour. Tours typically offer optional multi-day access and may have optional upgrades, such as visits to must-see attractions including the Empire State Building.
Walking and Biking Tours
Because New York is such a large city, walking tours tend to stick to specific neighborhoods, such as Midtown or the Lower East Side, while tours that cover several neighborhoods typically travel between locations via the subway. Thematic walking tours are also popular, including food tours, history tours, and traditional sightseeing tours. And those wanting to see Central Park or the rest of the city by bike can set out worry-free on a guided bike tour with all necessary safety gear.
Travel by ferry is your only option if you want to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and several tours offer package deals, providing a great value. City ferry service is also available, making for a scenic way to get between coastal neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn. And whether you want to get to Staten Island or simply see the city from the water, the free Staten Island Ferry is a smart way to go.
Many New Yorkers take regional trains to commute in and out of the city. The Metro-North Commuter Railroad runs to points north, the Long Island Railroad runs to points east, and the Port Authority Trans-Hudson—or PATH train—operates to New Jersey. The Metro-North is the best option for traveling to the Bronx.
Peter Neely is a Brooklyn-based writer and poet who's been bounding between cities for a decade, with stops in San Francisco, Budapest, Montreal, and Lyon. Changing NYC apartments like socks, Peter has lived in Harlem, Greenpoint, Sunnyside, and Crown Heights, though Coney Island is his spiritual homeland. Spot him reading on the subway, or complaining about the slice at your favorite pizzeria.