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New York on a Budget

One of the most vibrant cities in the world, New York has world-class museums, unbeatable nightlife and a cultural vibe all of its own. But traveling around such a big, popular city can end up being expensive. So here are a few money-saving strategies that can help travellers of every budget enjoy this amazing city.


The cost of long-haul flights has (unfortunately for budget travelers) risen in recent months, yet it’s still possible to find a great deal with a certain degree of flexibility on when and at what time of day you travel.

Once in New York itself, all the main sights are easily accessible from across the city thanks to the excellent subway network. It’s one of the most extensive public transport systems in the world and handily runs for 24 hours a day, every day. It’s also much cheaper than other inner-city transport services such as Paris and London, costing just $2 for a single fare.

Budget Accommodation

Although hotels can be pricey, New York hostels offer a great budget alternative for both solo and group accommodation. Across the city from lively Brooklyn to trendy downtown, hostels provide cheap rooms with shared facilities that help keep costs down, as well as creating a sociable atmosphere that reflects the reputation of the ‘city that never sleeps’.

Cheap Eats

In New York, many local specialties are actually easy to sample on a budget. Cheesecake, club sandwiches and salt-beef bagels can be found at the delis around the Lower East and Upper West Sides whilst street vendors around the city sell cheap (and authentic) hot dogs, burgers and pizza slices.

Dining out can also be quite affordable in New York once you get beyond the heart of Manhattan with Little Italy, Chinatown and the East Village all home to reasonably priced eateries. And even cocktail hour in Manhattan can be within budget travelers’ funds because happy-hours around 4pm till 7pm mean even glamorous downtown bars won’t break the bank.

Three Thrifty Things to Do:

  1. Visit the Chelsea art galleries. The 200 or so small galleries scattered around hip, arty Chelsea exhibit a combination of renowned artists and emerging talent – and are free to explore. As well as a chance to see some unusual pieces, they provide a fascinating glimpse of the city’s commercial art scene.

  2. Union Square’s Greenmarket. Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, an open-air farmers’ market is held at Union Square. It’s a great place to pick up some cheap, fresh ingredients but also just to soak up the atmosphere of the city. In the month leading up to Christmas there’s an additional holiday market with a range of great gift ideas.

  3. Free Jazz at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Brooklyn is a great neighbourhood for a night out in New York City, and on Friday and Saturday nights the Academy hosts live jazz and experimental artists in the BAM Café who perform to the gathered crowds for free.