How to Get Around New York as a Tourist

New York is a city we all love, but it’s not necessarily the easiest to navigate as a tourist.

There are so many sights to see, hotels and landmarks which are hidden away and lots of unfamiliar street names.

If you’re thinking about visiting and want to get the most out of your trip, here are some tips on how to get around New York as a tourist, so that you can see everything this amazing city has to offer.

Tips For Getting Around

Tourists can get around New York via three main ways: subway, bus system, and by walking. 

The only thing you need other than a subway or bus map? A MetroCard. Alternatively, purchase single tickets or pay through contactless OMNY.

Buy MetroCards and subway or bus tickets at station vending machines or ticket desks. They accept coins, bills, and credit/debit cards. Each MetroCard costs $1 while single tickets cost $3. 

You can also buy an unlimited MetroCard if you’re planning on commuting a lot – $33 for seven days, $127 for 30 days.



Avoid traffic with the largest subway system in the world. New York’s 472 stations are more than enough to transport you across four of the five boroughs, 24/7.

To keep things simple, fares are not measured by distance and there’s no zone system!

Go as far as you want on a pay-per-ride basis with a fixed fare of $2.75. Transferring between subway and bus lines are free within two hours of any pay-per-ride transaction.

Times Square Subway Station
Times Square Subway Station


The bus system in New York covers 322 routes – definitely reaching wherever you need to go. Like the subway system, buses accept MetroCard, coin payments (exact change) and contactless OMNY system.

A single fare will cover any distance along the route, and you can transfer for free between two local buses within two hours of the initial payment.

Divided into standard, limited and express buses, these public rides start at $2.75 for standard buses and $6.75 for express buses.

Check the route sign to see if the bus will make your stop. Tap your card to pay upon boarding; press the “stop” button to get off.

To check bus arrivals, visit the MTA Bus Time website or scan the QR code at the bus stop.

Tip: Use the MTA Trip Planner to help plan your route!


Walking is often seen as the most pedestrian form of travel, but in New York, it can be a great way to see the sights.

The city is full of interesting people and fascinating places, and by walking, you can take it all in at your own pace.

Of course, there are some downsides to walking – you can’t always get where you want to go, and you’re likely to work up a sweat in the summer heat.

But overall, walking is a great way to explore New York and get a feel for the city’s unique energy. So put on your comfortable shoes and hit the streets!

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NYC Ferry

Serving as both a sightseeing and a way to commute, the NYC Ferry is an alternative option for crossing the rivers.

Staten Island is only accessible via the Staten Island Ferry, while the other lines connect Manhattan to Brooklyn and Queens.

Staten Island Ferry New York United States
Staten Island Ferry New York United States

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

For a quick look-see around New York, there’s no better way than from the top of a double-decker bus!

The Hop-On Hop-Off Bus makes stops at all of the major attractions, so you can hop off to take in the sights and then hop back on when you’re ready to move on.

And with a knowledgeable tour guide aboard, you’re sure to learn something new about this amazing city.


New York also offers a bike hire program for those who like self-guided tours.

Pick up and drop off bikes at various points as you explore the streets – take advantage of Manhattan’s grid-like avenues and explore on foot.

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Taxis are ubiquitous in New York, and they’re an easy way to get around the city without having to worry about getting lost.

And while they may be slightly more expensive than other forms of transportation, they’re well worth the price when you consider the time and hassle they’ll save you.

So if you’re planning a trip to New York, be sure to leave the car rental and hail a cab instead!