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3 Days in Manhattan, NYC: A Complete Manhattan Itinerary

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View of the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan itinerary

In this blog, I will show you how to spend 3 full days in Manhattan. This itinerary will take you to all the iconic spots in New York City. You might be sceptical that 3 days is too little in this big city (I was), but I can assure you it is enough time to see the main attractions and more.

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Observation Decks in NYC

Below, I mention a few buildings that have observation decks with a view of the city (mainly to show which area they are in and to plan to visit on those days you are in that area). The buildings with observation decks I mentioned are the Empire State Building, Vanderbilt Building, Rockefeller, the Edge & One World.

You probably just want to do 1 or 2. I did the Rockefeller Centre. If you want to do 2, it’s a good idea to do one in the morning and one at night. Note: you should book the observation decks and Ground Zero in advance in case they book out.

Where to Eat in Manhattan?

  • Ichiran – we tried this chain of Ramen restaurants in Japan, so when we saw it in Times Square, we were definitely eating there. It does delicious Ramen.
  • Bubby’s – this place is known for its pancakes, so if you love a good pancake, go here. Go as early as possible, because there can be long queues.
  • Dallas BBQ Chelsea – A nice place for wings & burgers. Plus it is relatively cheap for New York.
  • Pier 57 & Chelsea Market have many options for food and are good places to stop off if you are doing the High Line or are in that area.

Where to Stay in Manhattan?

Staying in Manhattan instead of staying further out is a great choice if you only have 3 days in the city. With less travel time in to the centre, it allows you to see more. Here are a few accommodation options in Manhattan for different budgets:

Hi New York City Hostel is a top-rated hostel in NYC. It is very clean and is in a great location. Just a 10-minute walk from Central Park and within 2 blocks of subway stations making the popular areas of the city reachable within minutes.

Pod 39 is a 3-star hotel and seemed to be one of the most reasonable hotels for a decent standard. It is rated 8.1 on booking.com and well well-reviewed. The location is good, just a 5-minute walk from Grand Central.

For something a bit more luxurious, go to the LUMA Hotel, located beside Times Square. This 4-star hotel is rated 9 out of 10 on booking.com with over 3000 reviews. This is a great location & a great choice if it is comfort you are looking for.

New York Go City Pass

The Go City Pass allows you to buy a pass for so many activities & pick and choose which activities you want to do. It can save you money depending on what you want to do.

Is the NYC Go City Pass worth it?

It all depends on what you want to see. For me, it was not worth it. We did two paid activities – Ground Zero & Top of the Rock. Buying tickets separately worked out cheaper than buying the pass. But if you wanted to do more expensive things, then it may work out cheaper if you bought the pass. It is definitely worth checking. Here is the link to the pass.

Day 1 in Manhattan

Statue of Liberty from Staten Island Ferry
Skyline views from Staten Island Ferry: 3 days in Manhattan

Take the Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty – get the free ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island. It sails right past the Statue of Liberty. It’s not too close but close enough to get a clear view. See the video below for the view.

The ferry departs from Whitehall Terminal in Manhattan around every 30 minutes. To get the ferry straight back to Manhattan, just queue to get off the ferry and queue to get on again straight away! The ferry leaves soon after.

After you get off the ferry, head to Wall Street & the New York Stock Exchange building in the financial district. It is only a 10-minute walk from where you get off the ferry.

Then make your way to Ground Zero and the 911 memorial, just a 10-minute walk from Wall Street. Here you can enter the museum and learn about the history of what happened during the 911 attack. Be sure to book your ground zero tickets in advance.

Note that the museum takes a long time to get through as there is a lot of information. We were in there for 2 hours, but you could spend longer.

A 6-minute walk from ground zero, you have the One World Observatory, another viewpoint of the city. If you decide this is the observatory you want to go to, tickets can be booked here.

Next on the list is to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, a 15-minute walk from One World or an 11-minute walk from ground zero. The Brooklyn Bridge is stunning and well worth a visit!

If you are up for more sightseeing, you could walk up to Chinatown and Little Italy. Then across the Manhattan Bridge.

Day 2 in Manhattan

3 Days in Manhattan, New York
High Line Views, New York City

Set off on Day 2 by walking the High Line. Start at the Hudson yards – here you will see the Vessel building that you can walk to the top of. The Edge is located here too (so if you plan to do the edge observation deck, now is the perfect time).

After exploring the area, walk down the high line towards the Chelsea Market. Here you can stop for a bite to eat and do a bit of shopping.

Pier 57 is close by too and is another great option (and quieter option) for food.

From here, head towards the West Village – this is a lovely area with some very pretty cafes and shops around. Stop by the Little Owl‘ café – the place where the famous sitcom ‘Friends’ was filmed. From Pier 57 to the Little Owl café is a 22-minute walk.

If you like comedy, why not head to a comedy show in the evening? New York Comedy Club and Comedy Cellar are two good options. You can buy tickets for about $30 online and can have some great comedians there.

By the way, if this is all too much, I offer a travel planning service. I can take the stress out of your holiday and plan it for you 🙂

Day 3 in Manhattan

New York City 3 day itinerary, Central Park Views
Central Park Views

Kick off the last of the 3 days in Manhattan with a stroll around Central Park. Get in a bit of fresh air and see the squirrels.

Next up, head down to the Rockefeller Building. It is located a 20-minute plus walk from Central Park, so getting a subway might be a good idea. If you choose to do the Top of the Rock observation deck, book it here. If you are here in December, you can see the Rockefeller tree & go ice skating.

After this, make your way to see the famous Times Square which I learned is not a square but is in the shape of a bow-tie. It is just a 10-minute walk from the Rockefeller Building. If you are up for heading to a Broadway show in the evening, you can buy tickets in Times Square from the ticket booths.

Also, the Vanderbilt building (Summit One) is in the area, which has an observation deck and the Chrysler Building is nearby as well. These are about a 12-minute walk from Times Square.

Grand Central Station is also right beside these buildings, so be sure to go in and see the building, it is well worth a look.

Next, take a walk by Bryant Park (a 7-minute walk away) – if you are here in December, it will be full of Christmas markets.

Plus, you can admire the Empire State Building which is in this area (just a 9-minute walk) and check out the observation deck here if you choose to. You can book tickets for the Empire State Building here.

Finish up your evening by going to a Broadway show. There are a few different theatres so be sure to get the address of the correct one.

The following day will be time for your flight. Check out these entertainment ideas to keep you sane on a long flight.

I hope you enjoyed this itinerary for 3 days in Manhattan. Share this with your travel buddies. Plus, don’t forget to subscribe so you can get notified when there is a new blog. (Don’t worry, I don’t send out too many emails).

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

  • Don't forget to get travel insurance before you set out on your adventure. Safety Wing is a great choice and so reasonable.
  • If you are looking for accommodation, then Hostelworld or Booking.com are good options with plenty of accommodation choices.
  • Looking to book tours, entry tickets and more, check out Get your Guide.
  • Follow me on instagram @wandererlane 🙂 

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