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New York is my favourite place on planet Earth! There is just something about it and I love it so much. I went once to “get it out my system” but fell in love instead. I’ve been back on two more subsequent trips but a visit involves a lot of planning and saving between trips. New York City, in particular the Island of Manhattan, is an extremely expensive places to go. If you are clever though – you can fill a lot of your time with free or really cheap activities allowing you to fit more in! Here’s my favourite things to do when in New York on a budget.

New York tours

There are loads of free walking tours available in New York. One of my favourite websites is They also offer other destinations in the world but there is a whole selection of ones available in New York. Whatever your interests – finance, architecture, history or shopping – you will find something that is perfect for you. They are all free although you can tip the tour leader if you want at the end. My favourite walking tour I did was through ztrend – it was a vintage and thrift store shopping tour. The guide took us to several stores – all of which were amazing. She clearly knew her stuff, and where to find things. This was one of my highlights of my most recent trip to NYC! You can of course go for a self guided tour with a map – but it is up to you! 🙂

Staten Island Ferry

The Staten Island Ferry goes from the South Ferry on the southern Tip of the Island of Manhattan, over to Staten Island. It is 100% free and it is amazing! It runs 24/7 and gives amazing views of the Statue of Liberty. You will have to get off the ferry at Staten Island and then get back on again to return to Manhattan (you can’t just stay on-board) but it’s a small price to pay for such a brilliant trip! It can get a bit windy but it is worth the experience.

staten island ferry and statue of liberty

Central Park

Central Park is arguably the most famous park in the world. There is so much you can do there and it is free to walk around it. You might want to visit some of the famous monuments such as the Bethesda fountain or the Alice in Wonderland statue. Taking advantage of the space and air, picnics are a firm favourite. Make the most of opportunities to people watch and take in the scenery as well as climb up to the Belevedere Castle. You could easily spend a day in the park and not spend a penny (or a cent)!

central park

Celebrity Spotting

I love a bit of celebrity spotting! New York is full of them so it’s best to keep your eyes peeled. My top tip for seeing them is to browse the theatre listings. See who is in what show and at what time. My favourite (and first) celebrity spotting in New York was a complete accident. We’d just arrived in New York and taken our bags to the hotel. We went out for a walk and as we turned a corner we saw a crowd of people outside of a theatre. I realised that the sign was for a show that one of my favourite celebrities is in, but that I couldn’t budget time or money to see on that trip. It had just finished a matinee performance and he was outside talking to fans! I went over and apologised for not seeing the show but I had literally just stepped off the plane. I told him I was a massive fan, and he welcome me to New York and I got a picture!

Dule Hill – star of Psych, The West Wing and Suits!

New York on a budget - meet celebrities after a show

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most amazing and iconic experiences you can have in New York. It is completely free – just watch out for the thousands of other tourists doing the same. You can also get great views from the far side of the bridge back across to Manhattan.

New York tours - walk the Brooklyn Bridge

TV & Films

So many TV shows and films have been filmed or set in New York. There are numerous tours that you can pay for to visit these sites but if you are clever and do your research you can do them for free. My favourite ones that I’ve visited are the corner of “Grove & Bedford” – the building used as the setting for Friends, Carrie’s steps from “Sex and The City” at 64 Perry Street, and McGee’s Pub which inspired McLarens from “How I Met Your Mother”.

new york tours - Grove and Bedford friends building

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