5 Things Not to Miss in New York City (If Your Trip is Short and You Don’t Have Much Time)

Disclosure: Your support helps keep our site running. We may get a referral fee at no cost to you if you click on our links and make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Are you planning a short trip to the bustling and vibrant city of New York? There’s so much to see and do in this city that it can be overwhelming to decide where to start. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Below we’ll take you through 5 top and unmissable things to do in New York City, along with some tips and tricks to make the most of your trip. These would be perfect if you’ve only got 48 or even 24 hours in NYC during your visit.

Introduction to New York City

New York City, also known as the Big Apple, is one of the most iconic cities in the world. It is home to some of the most famous landmarks, museums, and cultural institutions in the world. The city is known for its vibrant energy, bustling streets, and diverse communities.

The city is made up of five boroughs which include Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. Each borough has its unique character and attractions, but Manhattan is the most popular among tourists. This borough is home to many iconic landmarks, including the Empire State Building, Central Park, and Times Square.

You May Like

Planning a short trip to New York City

Before you start exploring the city, it’s essential to plan your trip. If you only have a short time in the city such as 24 or 48 hours then it’s best to prioritize the attractions you want to see. Consider staying in Manhattan, as it’s the most central and easily accessible borough. You can find a range of accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxurious hotels.

New York City has an extensive public transportation system, including buses and subways, which can take you to most of the city’s attractions. Alternatively, you can also book a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, which covers all the major landmarks in the city.

5 top and unmissable things to do in New York City

1. See the city from a viewpoint

New York City’s skyline is one of the most impressive in the world. To get a panoramic view of the city, head to the top of the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center. Both offer stunning views of the city skyline, and you can also purchase tickets for a guided tour to learn more about the city’s history and what you’re seeing.

Another option is to visit One World Trade Center, which has the highest observation deck in the Western Hemisphere. From the top, you can see the entire city, including the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Visiting one of these NYC attractions and enjoying skyline views is one of the best things to do for tourists, and at least one of these viewpoints should be visited during a short trip.

Views of New York
Views of the NYC skyline – Photo ©TTstudio |

2. Go on a boat cruise

New York City is surrounded by water, and a boat cruise is an excellent way to see the city from a different perspective. You can take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, or go on a harbour cruise that takes you around the entire island of Manhattan. Whilst doing so you’ll get to see many of the New York landmarks from the water.

Another popular option is to take a sunset or dinner cruise, where you can enjoy a meal while taking in the city’s skyline views. It’s a romantic and memorable way to experience the city.

New York City Statue of Liberty at sunset
The Statue of Liberty – Photo © lunamarina |

3. Visit Central Park

Central Park is a vast green oasis in the heart of Manhattan and one of the most famous New York landmarks. It’s the perfect place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The park has many attractions, including several lakes, walking trails, and iconic landmarks like the Bethesda Fountain and the Central Park Zoo.

You can also rent a bike or take a horse-drawn carriage ride to explore the park. If you’re visiting in the summer, don’t miss the free concerts and performances at the Central Park SummerStage.

See Activities

Central Park aerial view, Manhattan
Central Park – Photo via Canva

4. See Times Square

Times Square is one of the city’s most iconic tourist attractions and a must see place in NYC. It’s a vibrant and bustling area, known for its bright lights, billboards, and street performers. Times Square is also home to many theatres, including the famous Broadway theatres.

A very popular time to visit Times Square is for the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration, and during this time thousands of people gather so as to watch the ball drop at midnight.

Times Square, New York
Times Square – Image by team/@mikecleggphoto

5. Explore The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, also known as the Met, is one of the largest and most comprehensive art museums in the world. The museum has an extensive collection of art and artefacts from around the world, including ancient Egyptian artefacts, European paintings, and American decorative arts.

The Met also has a range of temporary exhibitions, which showcase contemporary art and photography. It’s a must-visit for art lovers and history buffs.

See Tickets

You May Like

Other notable attractions

Apart from these top 5 unmissable things to do in New York City, there are many other notable attractions worth visiting. Some of these include:

  • The 9/11 Memorial and Museum: A tribute to the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
  • The High Line: A public park built on an old elevated railway line.
  • The Brooklyn Bridge: An iconic suspension bridge connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn.
  • The New York Public Library: A historic library and research institution.

You can find lots of activities and things to do through Viator and GetYourGuide. Below are some examples:

Best time to visit New York City

New York City is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences. The city is most crowded during the summer months, from June to August when the weather is warm and many tourists visit. If you prefer a quieter time, consider visiting in the fall (September to November) or spring (March to May).

If you’re visiting during the winter, be prepared for cold temperatures and snow. However, the city is magical during the holiday season, with many festive decorations and events.

Tips for visiting New York City

New York City is a busy and crowded city, so it’s essential to plan ahead and take some precautions. Here are some tips for visiting the city:

  • Wear comfortable shoes, as you may be doing a lot of walking.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables safe.
  • Purchase tickets for attractions in advance to avoid long lines.
  • Take advantage of the city’s public transportation system, as taxis can be expensive.
  • Try the local food, including the famous New York-style pizza and bagels.


New York City is a place that you can visit multiple times, and you’ll still find something new to explore. The city has a melting pot of activities and has something for everyone.

If you’re planning a short trip then don’t miss these top 5 unmissable things to do in New York City, including seeing the city from a viewpoint, going on a boat cruise, visiting Central Park, seeing Times Square, and exploring The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

If you’ve only got 24 or 48 hours in NYC then be sure to add some of these top places that you must visit in New York. With some planning and preparation, you’re sure to have a memorable trip to the Big Apple.


Written by

Mike Clegg

Mike is a traveller, photographer, WordPress developer and the creator of He started this website so as to share his experiences and tips with travellers. He is from the UK and has travelled to many places around the world. He loves to shares his pictures and stories through Instagram and this website.

Read full bio | More articles by Mike

Noticed a mistake? Let us know.

Image credits
Photos via Canva, Dreamstime, or other providers. Read more about where we source images.

Related Articles

See more articles in the USA category