How long should you spend in New York? 

I can’t even begin to explain how long I spent dreaming of visiting New York, it was a place that had been on my travel bucket list for as long as I could remember. There were so many places I wanted to visit that I had seen photos of, heard about and seen on television and movies. New York is one of those magical, faraway places you dream of visiting and slowly, over time, amass a mental list of all the things you want to see and do. For me it had always seemed like a fairytale kind of place, somewhere I knew would feel surreal to visit.

When Matt and I decided to do a trip to the U.S while we were over that side of the globe, living in London, we were both incredibly excited. As soon as you start planning that mental list of things you want to see and do emerges and things start to get overwhelming. Ugh! There really is SO much to see and do… I want to visit all the shops and eat at all the restaurants… I want to walk the streets and climb the buildings…. I want to catch the boats and see the famous people! This is how we found ourselves facing questions many a traveller has faced before… “How long should I spend in New York?” and, “Exactly how much time do I need to see and do all the things on my New York bucket list?”

The best advice I can give you is to spend as much time as you can afford to! We spent around 7 days in New York and would have loved a little more time. We have friends who spent a month in New York over summer and even they wished they had been able to spend longer. I guess it’s just one of those places where there really is so much to see and do that you always feel like you need more time.

There’s no doubt you could get a great taste of the city and cover a lot of ground in 3 or so full days, but if you really want to enjoy yourself I’d recommend 7 days as a good starting point. If it’s somewhere you’ve been dreaming of visiting for a long time, I’d suggest looking into staying longer – possibly around the 14 day mark. It really is one of those places where you should spend as much time as you can afford to spend there, which will of course depend on budget and how much time you have available.

Staying for around 7 -10 days gives you the ability to relax a little more and take things slow as well as tackling your ‘to do’ list. You’re able to dedicate some time to walking around and finding things organically, not just following a list from place to place. You’re also less likely to feel guilty about taking part of a day or two off to sleep in or stay up late or watch movies in your hotel room. We found ourselves pretty exhausted because we were so busy and having so much fun, we needed to take a bit of time off to recharge and rest before going out again.

Bright Street Art New York

Even though we covered a LOT of ground while we were there, we still didn’t see all of the things we wanted to see. In fact our list kept growing bigger and bigger because we kept getting great tips on places to eat, shop and things to do and see from the people we met. Before we booked our trip to New York we had asked friends how long they thought we should visit for and I remember them laughing, trying to convey that we would never ‘see everything’ and that we would definitely want to go back… so the amount of time we spent there on our first trip really didn’t matter.

Once we arrived I understood what they meant. The sheer size of the streets is huge and I definitely underestimated it, thinking ‘oh it’s just a few blocks… we can walk there easily!’ A few blocks is a long way, guys, trust me. So by the time you cover these long distances to see all the different places, landmarks, restaurants, shops etc, you’ve lost quite a bit of time in transit. Not to mention all the cool places you stumble upon and want to stop at to take photos or explore a little more. Before you know it the days have rolled by and you’re already packing your bags to head home.

When it comes time to plan your trip to New York I recommend spending as much time there as you can afford to spend, aiming to go for a minimum of around 7 days to make the most of your time. If you’re worried about whether or not this is going to be enough time you can stop your worrying right now, because it won’t be enough time and you are probably going to want to go back again. Your best bet is to make the most out of the 7 or so days you have there, knowing you’ll come back again in the future and work on your next ‘must see and do’ list while you’re there. If it is your first visit to New York and it’s a place that’s really special to you, I’d recommend spending longer than 7 days.

Have you visited New York? If you’ve been before and have some tips or insight into how long you think people should stay for, please share in the comments below. 

Little Grey Box

I'm a writer and presenter and my husband Matt is a videographer. Together, we run Little Grey Box; an award-winning travel blog and YouTube channel.

11 thoughts on “How long should you spend in New York? 

  1. thanks for the feedback. Was planning on 7 days in Manhattan and after visiting family in upstate NY we were planning on returning for 7 days in Brooklyn. Was tossing up about shortening the times to spend some time in Washington but all the comments made me realise my original plans are probably the best. Regards and thanks Tina


  2. So happy you enjoyed your visit. We grew up in NYC and there are lots of places that we have not yet seen. Please make a point of saying New York CITY, since there is an entire State of New York STATE – where we now live -with more places to visit. We have beaches on Long Island, mountains in the mid and northern part if the state. Truly terrific!


  3. Totally agree – you need two weeks to do the major things you’ll want to see! A cheap way to do it is stay with a friend in the city (if they like you enough to let you) or just outside of the city; you can bike or take a bus in. 2 weeks will give you enough time to relax in Central Park, check out the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, all of the museums, try a ton of different restaurants, take a bus tour, and more.


  4. Great post. We are planning our honeymoon and thinking of going at the start of November.

    Where did you stay? We got married in Vegas in May so we want to stay somewhere decent but not silly money as its just a base and would rather spend the money exploring. Any advice would be brilliant on accommodation or areas.


  5. Nice post, even a a New Yorker I never see and do it all. Every day I discover a new place to eat, a new store to shop a great place to grab a drink. So I agree with you, if you are visiting spend as much time as you can afford to or plan to come for the summer.


  6. New York City is so filled with energy, the air fairly sings with it. I grew up in Manhattan and Long Island until I was 16 years old, and spent many a time as an adult visiting my mother in Manhattan in Tudor City, a little oasis of its own with a tiny park overlooking the UN Bldg. The more time you can spend, the better. I know it’s an expensive city, but, as you know, well worth every cent.


  7. I am super excited to be planning my third visit for January 2016 to New York. Both times previously I went for five days. It was enough to squeeze the big stuff in but the longer spent in New York the better I think. On my list this time is the Brooklyn Promenade, the Greenwich Village food walking tour (because: food) and a drink at a bar like the Gramercy Tavern or the Campbell Apartment (or both).


  8. Great post! I love the bright street art you captured.
    I have always wanted to visit NY, but feel so time poor. Ah too many places and not enough time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.