We value your privacy

We use cookies to enhance your browsing experience, serve personalised content, and analyse our traffic. By clicking "Accept All" you accept this and consent that we share this information with third parties and that your data may be processed in the USA. For more information, please read our .

You can adjust your preferences at any time. If you deny, we will use only the essential cookies and unfortunately, you will not receive any personalised content. To deny, .

New York City, New York, nyc

Free and cheap things to do in New York City 🗽

Can you visit New York on a budget? NYC is one of the most expensive cities, but there are plenty of free activities and affordable things to do in the city if you want to keep your costs down.

Here's our list of our favourite free and affordable things to do in New York City, and some money-saving tips to help you budget for your trip.

Published by
Caitlin Moore·02/05/2024

Free things to do in NYC

New York is known for being expensive for a lot of things, but you can walk a lot of the city and visit/see most of the iconic sites and attractions for free. As a first-timer in NYC, these are the bucket list spots you'll want to tick off, and it's an great way to keep your trip budget-friendly, especially if you're travelling as a family.

Here are the top free spots to see in NYC:

  1. Central Park. Taking a stroll through the park costs nothing, you can visit famous film locations, have a picnic and see the skyline from The Lake.

  2. Brooklyn Bridge. This is a must-do in New York. Walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn and take in the skyline. It's also a great spot for an Instagram pic.

  3. Times Square. Enjoy the bright lights and billboards and get the true NYC feeling. Eating and drinking in this area can be expensive, though

  4. New York Public Library. Visit the iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, known for its beautiful architecture and vast collections. Admission is free, and you can explore exhibits and even join guided tours.

  5. Grand Central Terminal. See the major transportation hub of New York. You'll be greeted with beautiful architecture and chaotic New Yorkers. You can also see the famous Whispering Gallery where whispers can be heard clearly across the vaulted arches.

  6. Dumbo (Manhattan Bridge view point). Across Brooklyn Bridge, you can walk to this view point and get the famous Insta shot with Manhattan Bridge sitting between the buildings.

  7. 5th Avenue. Here you'll find incredible shopping and can take a wander into Saks. It's free... until you start shopping.

  8. 9/11 Memorial Pools. The pools are set on the original sites on the World Trade Centre buildings and honour all the victims. You can visit them for free without paying to see the museum.

  9. Statue of Liberty. You can catch a decent sight of this iconic landmark by taking the free Staten Island Ferry

  10. The High Line. Start at The Vessel and venture along this walk way, set above ground in NYC. It's free to walk it, and gives amazing views along the way, with multiple exits so you can stop off at various neighbourhoods.

Look for museums and exhibits with free admission

There are loads of museums that offer free admission in NYC on certain days or only require a suggested donation.

A quick google search will tell you if there are any free exhibits on during your trip.

Save money on attractions

If it's going to be your first time in New York, then you probably want to see some top attractions and view points that aren't free. Our Pirates, who have been to New York, recommend getting a city pass where you save on multiple attractions. There are a few different types available. Our recommendation is the New York: CityPASS® which includes admission to five attractions and saves you 40% on booking separate.

It includes:

1. Empire State Building AM/PM tickets (you can even go again on the same day at night!)

2. American Museum of Natural History- Admission to permanent Museum halls, including over 40 galleries, plus a choice of one ticketed exhibition.

Then choose three of the following:

1. Top of The Rock® Observation Deck- General Admission

2. Ferry Access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

3. 9/11 Memorial & Museum- General Admission

4 One Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise

5. General admission to Intrepid Museum

6. General admission to Guggenheim Museum

Cheap things to do and tips

  1. Pizza slices range from about $1-5 per slice, so are great for eating cheap in NYC. Joe's and Little Italy are firm favourites.

  2. Look for local coffee shops and restaurants that aren't in the main tourist areas, the prices are significantly cheaper, which can help keep the costs down on food.

  3. If you do the walk over Brooklyn Bridge, there are lots of affordable restaurants and food spots in Brooklyn. Make sure to try the Time Out Market, which has loads of amazing vendors for affordable prices.

  4. If you head over that way make sure to take the East River ferry back over to Manhattan (get on at Dumbo pier and get off at East 34th St Pier), it costs $4 and will give you the most incredible skyline views of the city and it's much cheaper than a sightseeing cruise.

  5. Plan your days out by area so you can walk to most of the sites. If you like a long walk, you can head from Times Square to the 9/11 Memorial, which takes over an hour, but you can hit up a load of sites on the route.

  6. If you're not walking, make use of the subway system, you can download an APP called NYC Subway which is really helpful.

Report a legal concern