It’s no secret that exploring the Big Apple can quickly rack up some big expenses. One visit to the Empire State Building will cost you $38, a single ticket to a Broadway show costs an average of $109, exploring the Whitney Museum of American Art comes in with a price of $25, and these are only a fraction of the unique experiences that can be found in New York. However, you can still have a fantastic vacation in New York while sticking to your budget. It just takes a bit of planning. By taking advantage of the dozens of cheap activities offered throughout the city, you will have a memorable trip to New York without breaking the bank.

Attraction passes

If your main priority is to explore New York’s most popular attractions, you should consider purchasing a city pass. There are 4 types of passes available to visitors, but each one will help you save money if you plan on going to multiple major destinations in the city. For example, the New York CityPASS takes 42% off of admission prices to several must-see places, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum.

Even if you only want to visit a few of New York’s main attractions, you may benefit from creating your own custom pass or by buying a sightseeing pass to save on your transportation costs. Based on your personal preferences and budget, you can customize most passes to allow you entry to major locations for a single day to an entire month. As an added bonus, most passes also lets you skip the lines so you can make the most of your vacation!

Transportation tips

One passionate tourist and blogger strongly advises others not to drive when visiting the Big Apple. “Traffic is horrendous and parking is a true nightmare,” he writes. “Don’t ever do this.” Instead, he suggests familiarizing yourself with public transportation, using apps like Uber or Lyft in lieu of paying for a cab, and doing a lot of walking during your stay.

If you plan on using the subway systems or busses more than a dozen times while in New York, you’ll save money by purchasing an Unlimited 7-Day Metrocard to travel around the city as much as you’d like for a flat rate of $33. If you plan on visiting multiple locations per day, you’ll be able to save loads of time and money by taking advantage of this deal.

#bnesimppl IG photo credits: italian_voyager

Tourist SIM card USA

Lodging in NYC

New York is home to several high-priced luxury hotels, but you can save money by reserving a room at one of the many chain hotels in the city or by staying somewhere farther away from Manhattan. It’s also a good idea to avoid planning your trip to New York around any major holidays, because hotel prices can quickly skyrocket with the high demand for rooms. TripAdvisor has a running list of the cheapest and most highly rated hotels in New York, so you can refer to this page when planning your trip!

How to save money on food

First and foremost, avoid “tourist traps” by heading to The Village, Chinatown, or the Lower East Side for affordable restaurant choices. New York City has hundreds of restaurants, food trucks, and fast-food places, so you’re sure to find numerous options that are both cheap and satisfying. Food critic Robert Sietsema has been dedicated to finding the best inexpensive places to eat in NYC, and he personally recommends the following restaurants:

  • La Morada: Mexican restaurant specializing in Oaxacan food.
  • 108 Food Dried Hot Pot: Specializes in a popular form of Chinese stir-fry.
  • Shanghai You Garden: Best place for soup dumplings and other Shanghai meals.
  • Ciao Bella. Offers delicious classic Italian dishes from pastas to pizzas.
  • Cafe Rakka. Unique Egyptian restaurant that offers plenty of vegetarian options.

#bnesimppl IG photo credits: tu_miviajefavorito

Tourist SIM card USA

Free things to do

If you’re on an especially tight budget, here are just a few things you can do in New York that won’t cost you a single penny:

  • Pack a picnic and spend the afternoon in Central Park.
  • Get lost in the beautiful New York Public Library.
  • Take a cruise on the Staten Island Ferry.
  • People-watch in Times Square.
  • Stretch and relax with free yoga classes.
  • Visit the Rockefeller Center.
  • Be part of a live studio audience for shows like Good Morning America, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
  • Wander around a farmer’s market (sampling is encouraged!).
  • Enjoy the unique artwork at Socrates Sculpture Park.

When you’re traveling abroad on a budget, you might be concerned about expensive fees or roaming charges from your mobile provider. Instead of overpaying or taking the risk of traveling without your phone, take advantage of the affordable Surf USA Unlimited, the tourist SIM card USA from BNESIM. With reliable coverage in all 50 states and fully customizable plans for voice and high-speed internet, you can easily stay connected without breaking the bank!