Very few cities can compete with New York's frenetic energy and creativity and the Big Apple remains one of the top urban travel destinations in the world:
To visit New York City is to visit one of the most exciting and diverse man-made environments on earth, and travellers never seem to tire of this ever-changing metropolis. New York really is the city that never sleeps and nobody denies that it's endlessly stimulating.
Many arrive on business, but millions more travel on holiday to see the myriad famous sights, trawl the shopping streets, catch a show on Broadway, and soak up the incredible atmosphere. The Statue of Liberty memorably greets travellers just as she once greeted immigrants.
Among the towering skyscrapers, the oasis of Central Park promises some relief from the rat race. The celebrated nightlife beckons party animals, the restaurant scene delights foodies, and the endless supply of museums and galleries charms culture vultures.
Best time to visit New York City
Although the city is a year-round destination, the best time to travel to New York is in autumn, during September and October, when the days are mild and pleasant, without the high humidity of the spring and summer months, or the snow and freezing temperatures that occur in winter.
GMT -5 (GMT-4 between March and November).
Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. Plugs are mainly the type with two flat pins, though three-pin plugs (two flat parallel pins and a rounded pin) are also widely used. European appliances without dual-voltage capabilities will require an adapter.
English is the most common language spoken but Spanish is often heard in the south-western states.
There are no specific health risks associated with travel within the USA. Medical facilities are excellent, but expensive. Only emergencies are treated without prior payment and treatment can be refused without evidence of insurance or proof of funds. Good medical insurance is essential.
A 15 percent tip is expected by taxi drivers, bartenders, hairdressers and waiters, but don't tip in fast-food or self-service restaurants. In expensive restaurants or for large parties, tip 20 percent of the bill. It is normal to tip staff such as valets and porters in hotels; this is discretionary, although a minimum of $5 is expected. Most services are customarily tipped if the service is good.
Travel within the United States is generally trouble-free, however, travellers should be aware that the US shares with the rest of the world, an increased threat from terrorist incidents. Security has been heightened, particularly at airports. Restrictions on hand luggage apply and travellers are advised to check on the latest situation with airlines in advance. Travellers should also be alert to the dangers of car and street crime in cities and should use common sense and take basic precautions. Hurricanes are common between June and November, putting the southern USA, including the Gulf Coast and the eastern US at risk. There is a risk of wildfires in many dry areas in the US, particularly on the West Coast from March to November.
Laws vary from state to state, including speed limit, fines and punishment. The age at which you may legally buy and consume alcohol is 21 years.
With New York's countless attractions, it would take months to see and do everything this vibrant city has on offer. The must-see New York attractions include iconic structures and buildings such as the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, Times Square, and the Chrysler Building. In among all the skyscrapers Central Park provides a green haven for relaxation and exercise. Many first-time visitors to New York don't leave Manhattan at all, but the four other boroughs of the city - Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island - all have their own appeal and are worth exploring for those wanting a broader experience of the metropolis. Taking a ride on the Staten Island Ferry is one of the best free activities NYC has to offer.
For culture vultures there are wonderful museums to explore, such as the American Museum of Natural History or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There are also less high-brow museums: at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, for instance, visitors can play superhero on film.
An easy way to see the sights is to take a ride on one of New York's topless tour buses. It may not be as exciting as exploring the city on foot, but it's a great way to learn and see a lot quickly. Central Park also provides a great thoroughfare for sightseers exploring Manhattan on foot, and the grid-pattern layout of the streets makes finding your way fairly simple. The New York subway is a good, cheap option for those needing to cover greater distances.
Those planning a lot of sightseeing should consider purchasing the New York Pass, which covers about 80 NYC attractions and allows the holder to skip the often lengthy queues at popular sites.
New York City is famous for roadside vendors selling all-American goodness, like hotdogs, corndogs, bagels, and donuts. But it's an international affair when dining out, with offerings of cuisine from all over the world meaning it would take a lifetime to sample them all.
With more than eight thousand restaurants to choose from, it is difficult to know where to begin. Chinatown has restaurants serving Cantonese, Sichuan, and Shanghai cuisine, while there are also a few Chinese restaurants where dim sum is available throughout the day.
The popular Times Square is plagued with mediocre chain restaurants. But there are a few wonderful eateries beyond the tourist traps. New York's steakhouses offer a variety of delicious steak options from porterhouse steak to New York strip steak.
Everything is big in the United States and the pizzas and pizza pies are no different. With plenty of fantastic pizza and Italian restaurants around the city, it's a pizza lover's paradise. Many small pizzerias sell the iconic New York-style pizza.
Ukrainian, Indian, and Japanese cuisine can be found in the East Village, while Harlem is synonymous with African and Soul food. Queens offers the most variety with Greek, Irish, Latin American, Russian, Indian, and Kosher fare to tantalise the taste buds.
The nightlife in New York City encompasses jazz bars, nightclubs, lounges, comedy clubs, and live shows, with something happening around every corner. The Village, Broadway, Bowery, and Madison Square Garden are just a few destinations for evening entertainment in New York.
As a hub of the jazz world, New York is home to venues such as 55 Bar and Arthur's Tavern. Jazz tours from Greenwich Village to Harlem are a fun option for enthusiasts, with a stop at the legendary Apollo Theatre a great attraction to tick off the bucketlist.
As the launching pad of big name comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, New York also has many comedy shows, with some of the best happening at the New York Comedy Club or the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (UCB).
Of course, there are always famous Broadway shows in New York. Try the Palace or Eugene O'Neill theatres for the latest productions. Broadway shows are expensive, hence the popularity of the three TKTS discount ticket booths, the most popular of which is in Times Square.
They open every day at 11am, but the queues form well before this. You can pick up last-minute tickets for half of the regular price, depending on what's available. There's seldom a queue at 5pm, with last minute prices dropping even further.
Nightclubs come and go quickly in New York City, as the fickle population becomes enamoured with the newest venues and trends. But you can always rest assured that whatever you want, the City of Dreams will have plenty of it.
Live music venues covering hip hop, rock, indie, and almost any other genre imaginable abound, and well-established venues offer events like poetry readings. At any given time, internationally-acclaimed DJs are usually heating up dancefloors in the New York darkness.
World-class performing arts venues are a dime a dozen in a city that boasts Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Centre, and Carnegie Hall, and you can take your pick of ballet, opera, symphony orchestras, and chamber music.
For up-to-date events information on New York City, pick up a copy of the Village Voice or Time Out New York, both of which are accessible online.
New York City has a humid subtropical climate, with cold winters and hot, moist summers. The city's coastal location ensures that winters (December to February) are not as cold as inland cities on the same latitude, and daytime temperatures generally stay above freezing point but average lows drop to 27°F (-3°C). Snow is common in winter, but the amount varies, and winter rain is common. Spring in New York is pleasantly warm, and the weather heats up to high temperatures of around 77°F (25°C) by mid-May. Summers (June to August) are generally swelteringly hot and humid, with average highs hitting 84°F (29°C). The best time to travel to New York is in autumn, when temperatures are mild, days are sunny and humidity not too high.
The US is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people differ hugely across the country.
New York City has long been a magnet for LGBT+ people in America. It was and is the place to be. Since at least the end of WW2, New York is the city that embodies cultural dynamism. It’s a city full of happenings. It’s all about being there and being part of it. The sheer critical mass of people makes it a city of endless possibilities and excitement.
Living costs have skyrocketed in New York, making it an unviable option for many financially. The gentrification process has cleared out the crime but pushed up the rent. New York is now more suburbanized but it’s still the most exciting city in America and arguably the world.
New York has a huge gay scene. These days, most of the gay bars and clubs are centered around Hell’s Kitchen. You’ll also find gay scenes in Chelsea, Greenwich Village and Brooklyn.
Details of vaccination recommendations and requirements are provided below.