Planning a trip to Manhattan? NYC sightseeing can be overwhelming! My 3 Day NYC itinerary will show you what New York sights to make a priority.
NYC is a destination that you can visit again and again and always manage to find a new hidden gem or favorite spot. With the long list of New York sights to see, neighborhoods to wander, restaurants to try, and things to do, it’s impossible to really get the feel of the city in one trip.
If this is your first time in NYC you definitely need to pre-plan your sightseeing priorities. My 3 Day NYC itinerary will give you a great idea of how to organize your day! Fit in what you can but assume you will be back so you can dive deeper into the different neighborhoods, explore the less touristed areas, and start to find your own favorite spots.
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3 Days in New York City - Detailed NYC Itinerary
1 DAY IN NYC - MIDTOWN
The start of your 3 day NYC itinerary will begin in midtown. This is the touristy area of New York and therefore many locals stay away from areas like Times Square. Embrace being "just another tourist" and prepare for crowds. Everything is fairly close together so you will be able to get a lot of your NYC sightseeing priorities done in day 1.
Empire State Building – if seeing the best views of NYC is high on your list, this should be your first stop. Get your (overpriced) tickets ahead of time online and arrive slightly before 8:00am to beat the crowds. Hours are 8:00am-2:00pm and tickets start at $37.
5th Avenue - check out the famous shopping street of Manhattan as you walk between NYC sights!
New York Public LIbrary - a landmark with the iconic twin lions guarding its entrance. This library is worth at least a walk by on the quickest NYC itinerary. If time allows check out the inside (free entrance) or join one of the free hour long tours at 11:00am and 2:00pm Monday-Saturday and 3:30pm on Sunday. You will recognize the interiors and exteriors from several movies and shows.
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Grand Central Terminal - this world famous train station is an impressive sight with its massive windows, sky painted vaulted ceiling, and large roman pillars. View the hustle and bustle in the main concourse before heading to your next stop!
Rockefeller Center & Rockefeller Plaza - the flag-lined plaza is always bustling with activity and makes for a fun photo opp. During the holidays this is where you will find the famous Christmas tree complete with ice skating in the square. If you skipped the Empire State Building but would still like to see a birds-eye-view of the city, visit The Top of the Rock Observation Deck. Bouchon bakery is across from the plaza if you want a quick treat or coffee.
Times Square - probably one of the top NYC sightseeing attractions...always bright with endless lights and screens and always crowded! Try to come back late at night and see Times Square in its full glory.
Broadway - you can't visit New York City without seeing a broadway show. If you're a deal hunter like me visit a TKTS booth (locations: Times Square, South Street Seaport, Lincoln Center, and Brooklyn) to grab same-day tickets discounted up to 50%! Visit Broadway.com to research what's playing before your trip.
2 Days in NYC - Lower Manhattan
Lower Manhattan includes some of my favorite areas in New York! This where you will find cobblestoned streets and several solid bakeries, upscale boutique shopping, and many of New York's finest restaurants.
The High Line - an old elevated railway track that was converted into an urban walkway filled with gorgeous landscaping and views! This is your first stop of the day as it gets pretty crowded. The High Line makes for a nice evening stroll as well.
Chelsea Market - any craving can be satisfied inside this large indoor food market. Take your pick from vendors selling coffee, pastries, seafood, sushi, ice cream, wine, and more!
Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park - the neighborhood located right below the Chelsea Market and a great area to wander. Walk to Washington Square Park where you will find a mix of NYU students, musicians, and chess players. There are several great spots for a snack or brunch/lunch in Greenwich Village. To satisfy your sweet tooth try Mille-Feuille Bakery (read about here).
SoHo - right below Greenwich Village is one of my favorite areas, SoHo! Here you will find cobblestoned streets, upscale boutique shopping, pop-up shops, and some of the best bakeries in NYC including Dominique Ansel (read about here) and Laduree. Take a moment to slow down and aimlessly wander.
9/11 Memorial - this is a must for any NYC itinerary. It's a 23 minute walk or 8 minute bike ride from SoHo. A moving and eerily quiet memorial. If you have time, visit the heartbreaking 9/11 museum.
Depending on how fast you visited the sights above, you most likely will only have time for one more NYC sight. Since you are already on the lower end of the island you could visit either the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island or cross the Brooklyn Bridge. I personally prefer the Brooklyn Bridge. It's a 40 minute walk or quick bike ride to Brooklyn and the views while you're on the bridge are spectacular, not to mention how awesome the bridge itself is. I rode a Citi Bike over the bridge and thought it was a fun and memorable experience (not to mention a great workout).
*You may be wondering why I didn't list Wall Street since its close to the above NYC sights. Unless seeing the famous bull is on your list I would skip Wall Street. There's not much to see and it's quite dead on the weekends.
3 Days in NYC - Upper Manhattan
Central Park - take a break from the urban jungle and explore this 843 acre park! You could easily spend half a day here with the walking paths, bike lanes, zoo, lakes (some allow boats you can row around in), and more! Rent a bike and zip around the exterior for a quick peek or slow down and explore by foot.
Upper East Side - last on our NYC sightseeing list is the UES. Home to designer boutiques, upscale real estate, leafy streets, and several notable museums including the Guggenheim, the Frick Collection, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka the MET). Also home to some of my favorite coffee shops in NYC. Like Central Park you could spend half a day in this area if you want, so plan your time accordingly. Try one of my favorite cafés while you're in the neighborhood. Bluestone Lane has a delicious menu of coffee, avocado toasts, breakfast bowls, and seasonal fare (read about here).
Leave your last afternoon and evening open to pick a neighborhood to explore that you haven't seen yet or to hit any of the NYC sights above that you couldn't fit in.
Have extra time on your 3 day NYC itinerary? Book a tour or activity!
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Are you a NYC pro? What would you include in a 3 day NYC itinerary and what do you think are the top NYC sightseeing priorities? Let me know in the comments below!
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