NYC skyline, 3-day nyc itinerary

The Best 3-Day Itinerary for New York City

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You can never get enough of the Big Apple, which is why I recommend planning at least a 3-day itinerary for NYC. This will give you enough time to see the most famous attractions in New York City.

That said, we’ve visited New York several times, and we always find something new to do. If it’s your first time here, a 3-day NYC trip will guarantee that you cover the highlights without feeling super rushed. Honestly, you can spend weeks here and never run out of activities to do or sights to see.

Don’t worry if you only have three days in New York. I’ll help you make the most of your time and have an unforgettable experience. In this guide, I’ll share my recommended itinerary for 3 days in New York City and tips for where to stay and how to get around.

Before we dive in, I suggest investing in a New York city pass, especially if you want to visit several top attractions. I cover all the options in our guide, although I think the New York Pass is one of the best deals to help you spend 3 days in NYC on a budget.

Is 3 days in New York enough?

It’s absolutely worth going to New York for 3 days. If it’s your first time here, you’re better off with 7 days in NYC, but if you can’t stay that long, try for at least 3 days. This way, you’ll have enough time to see all the main attractions without rushing too much.

You may also have time to expand your itinerary to include some less-popular places. Of course, I always recommend planning your three days in New York ahead of time to make sure you see everything on your list and don’t get overwhelmed.

Best 3-day itinerary for NYC

The Big Apple is known for its Midtown Manhattan landmarks, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With a 3-day itinerary for NYC, you’ll be able to see the top tourist attractions and dive deeper into what makes New York so special.

Here is my recommended itinerary for 3 days in New York City, but feel free to switch things around or substitute something else for one of the stops.

  • Day 1: Battery Park, Statue of Liberty, Financial District, Wall Street, One World Trade Center, 9/11 Museum, Chinatown, Little Italy, and SoHo
  • Day 2: Central Park, The Met, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Fifth Avenue, New York Public Library, Bryant Park, Flatiron Building, Empire State Building, Times Square, and Broadway
  • Day 3: Bushwick Collective, Williamsburg, Jewish Quarter, Domino Park, Prospect Park, Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Brooklyn Bridge Park, DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge

3-Day NYC itinerary map

It’s easy to get lost or confused by everything going on in the city, so keep this map handy throughout your trip. It includes all the stops I included in this 3-day NYC itinerary, as well as restaurant and hotel recommendations.

You can download this map and keep it on your phone for easy access. Now, let’s get into the perfect 3-day itinerary for New York City!

Day 1: Lower Manhattan & Statue of Liberty, a great start to your 3-day NYC itinerary

Lower Manhattan is one of the coolest parts of the city. It has tons of history, plus some of the most distinct areas, each with its own culture and atmosphere. There are so many fun things to do in Lower Manhattan, so dedicate the start of your 3-day New York trip to seeing all the highlights.

Breakfast at your hotel or on the way

Get up early and eat breakfast at your hotel or someplace on the way to Battery Park. George’s is a nice café in the Financial District, although it’s better for a sit-down meal, so you could go there a bit later for brunch. For something quick, check out Inattesco Café, right by the park, at West Street and 2nd Place.

Stop 1: Battery Park

After fueling up, head to Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan. This is one of the most beautiful parks in NYC, offering scenic waterfront views. If you want, linger here and mingle among the early-morning joggers, or take a look at the 17th-century military ruins of Castle Clinton.

Battery Park, 3 day itinerary for nyc

Stop 1: Battery Park

Then, head to the edge of the park and watch the boats float through New York Harbor. Battery Park is where you’ll hop on the ferry to go to the Statue of Liberty.

Stop 2: Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is a must-see for any 3-day New York City itinerary. Lady Liberty has been standing tall since she was given to the U.S. by the French in 1886. You can find all kinds of Statue of Liberty tours, but I recommend choosing one before your trip so you can maximize your time in the city.

Statue of Liberty, three days in new york

Stop 2: Statue of Liberty

I like this cruise, which goes past Liberty Island and Ellis Island so that you can see the statue from the boat. If you want to stop at Liberty and Ellis Islands, I suggest this tour. This way, you can see Lady Liberty up close and explore the Immigration Museum. Just keep in mind that it’ll take more time out of your itinerary.

Lunch at Fraunces Tavern

After your tour, have lunch at one of the most famous restaurants in the city, Fraunces Tavern. Located in the Financial District, it dates back to the 1760s and was a pit stop for George Washington when he was a general. The tavern has excellent pub food, but if you prefer something different, consider getting brunch at George’s by Trinity Church.

Stop 3: Financial District & Wall Street

Now that you’ve refueled, it’s time to discover Lower Manhattan’s Financial District. This is where all the banks, financial institutions, and corporate headquarters are located, as well as some historic structures.

Charging Bull, something to include in a 3 day itinerary in nyc

Stop 3: Financial District & Wall Street

You can’t miss Trinity Church, which dates back to the mid-1800s and serves as the final resting place for Alexander Hamilton. You should also walk along Wall Street to see the New York Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve, and the Fearless Girl statue. The Financial District is also home to Bowling Green, NYC’s oldest public park and the site of the famous Charging Bull sculpture.

If you’re overwhelmed by all the things to see here, consider taking this Wall Street walking tour; it’s one of the best tours in NYC.

Stop 4: One World Trade Center & 9/11 Museum

Not far from the Financial District, you’ll find One World Trade Center, a moving place to visit in New York. The World Trade Center complex contains reflective memorials and a museum dedicated to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in NYC.

One World Trade Center, what to see in nyc in 3 days

Stop 4: One World Trade Center & 9/11 Museum

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum is one of the top museums in New York City, commemorating one of the most tragic events in the country. It’s a difficult place to go, given the emotional weight of the subject, but it’s an integral part of the city’s history. In addition to artifacts and exhibits related to 9/11, the museum remembers the victims of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. You can get a ticket to the museum here.

The World Trade Center complex also has One World Observatory, an impressive tower that offers some of the best panoramic views of the city. If you want to visit both the observatory and the 9/11 Museum, get this combo ticket for both attractions.

Stop 5: Chinatown, Little Italy & SoHo

Later, I suggest exploring some of the most diverse neighborhoods in Manhattan. For example, Chinatown offers incredible restaurants, one-of-a-kind shops, and unique attractions like the Mahayana Buddhist Temple and the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.

Doyers Street in Chinatown, a place to see in nyc in 3 days

Stop 5: Chinatown, Little Italy & SoHo

Next to Chinatown, Little Italy has some of the best food in NYC, particularly pizza. This is the place to try authentic Italian specialties, handmade pasta, and mouth-watering cannoli. It’s also worth walking through SoHo, a trendy neighborhood with beautiful cast iron architecture, boutique bakeries, and art galleries.

Chinatown, Little Italy, and SoHo are all next to each other, but if you want to make sure you see all three of them, consider taking this walking tour.

Dinner in SoHo

SoHo also has plenty of nighttime entertainment and fine dining, so it’s a good place to get dinner. If you didn’t eat in Chinatown or Little Italy, I recommend dining at one of the nice restaurants in SoHo, like Boqueria Soho, Fanelli Café, or Charlie Bird.

This area also has some of the most fantastic rooftop bars in NYC, so if you prefer something livelier, check out JIMMY at ModernHaus SoHo. It’s the perfect ending to the first day of your 3-day New York City itinerary.

Day 2: Midtown & Central Park, essentials for an itinerary for 3 days in NYC

For day 2 of your 3-day trip to NYC, spend some time discovering the magic of Midtown Manhattan. This is where most of the city’s famous landmarks and skyscrapers are located, as well as the sprawling greenery of Central Park.

As the center of Manhattan, Midtown is home to some of the best neighborhoods in New York City. There is lots to do here, so get up early and prepare yourself for a full day!

Breakfast at your hotel or on the way

Start your day with breakfast at your hotel or on your way to Central Park, the first stop on day 2 of this 3-day NYC itinerary. There are tons of cafes and bakeries in the area. Depending on where you’re staying, I recommend LeVain Bakery in NoHo or the Grey Dog near Union Square.

Stop 1: Central Park

It wouldn’t be a visit to NYC without stopping at Central Park. This vast park is one of the most famous attractions in the city and is known as “The Lungs of New York,” so stretch your legs and breathe in some fresh air.

Central Park, spending 3 days in nyc on a budget

Stop 1: Central Park

While you’re here, take a walk through the Mall, visit the Great Lawn, or rent a rowboat on the Lake. Depending on the season, you can admire the fall leaves in NYC, lay out on the grass, or go ice skating in New York in the winter.

That said, there is a lot to see and do here, so if you want to make the most of your time and see all the highlights, consider taking an organized tour like this one or renting a bike in Central Park to get around quicker. Both options are included in the New York Pass.

Stop 2: The Met or another famous NYC museum

While you’re in Central Park, don’t forget that several world-class museums border it. It’s worth going through at least one of them during your 3 days in New York City.

New York City’s museums are some of the best, and they range from art and architecture to history and local culture. Just by Central Park, you can visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has over two million works of art and an impressive collection of Egyptian artifacts. There is also the American Museum of Natural History, where you can see gemstone exhibits, a planetarium, and massive dinosaur fossils.

The Met, itinerary for 3 days in new york city

Stop 2: The Met or another famous NYC museum

Another noteworthy museum is The Guggenheim, home to thousands of masterpieces from the 20th century. It’s easily recognizable thanks to its swirling architecture, which Frank Lloyd Wright designed to be a “temple of the spirit.” Just south of Central Park, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is a haven for contemporary art fans.

All these museums and more are included in the New York Pass.

Lunch by Central Park or Fifth Avenue

By now, you’re probably ravenous, so it’s time for lunch. Fortunately, there are some nearby spots that offer great food and a delightful Midtown ambiance.

If you want to eat in or around Central Park, check out The Loeb Boathouse by the Lake. In addition to waterfront views, it has a menu of casual vegetarian, vegan, and meat-based dishes.

Another option is Tavern on the Green by West 66th Street. It has a beautiful garden courtyard by the park and serves classic American cuisine. Marea is one of the top-rated restaurants in NYC, located at the southwestern end of Central Park. It serves rustic Italian cuisine, and while it’s pricey, it’s worth it for an unforgettable meal.

Stop 3: St. Patrick’s Cathedral & Fifth Avenue

The eastern side of Central Park runs parallel to Fifth Avenue, an iconic street in NYC with countless shops and designer boutiques. It’s an excellent opportunity to do some window shopping and to visit niche stores like the LEGO Store and MUJI Fifth Avenue.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, how to spend 3 days in nyc

Stop 3: St. Patrick’s Cathedral & Fifth Avenue

In addition, one of the most gorgeous landmarks along Fifth Avenue is St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a magnificent Neo-Gothic church. It’s dedicated to St. Patrick of Ireland and has beautiful decorative elements like huge bronze doors, a 330-foot-tall spire, stained-glass windows, and relief sculptures of patron saints.

You can go inside for Mass or to contemplate and pray. If you check out the interior, be sure to look for the pipe organs and the replica sculpture of Michelangelo’s Pietà.

Stop 4: New York Public Library & Bryant Park

At Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, there are two more places you should add to your 3-day NYC itinerary. First, the New York Public Library is a splendid building with Neo-Classical and Beaux Arts-style architecture and decor. It has four floors of books, reading rooms, and research material, although the McGraw Rotunda is a highlight.

New York Public Library, can you do new york in 3 days

Stop 4: New York Public Library & Bryant Park

Plus, outside of the library is the sprawling greenery of Bryant Park, a French-inspired urban park with food vendors, public art, outdoor games, and even a carousel. During the Christmas season in NYC, the park transforms into the Winter Village, where you can go ice skating and Christmas shopping.

Stop 5: Flatiron Building

If you continue along Fifth Avenue, you’ll run into other famous buildings in New York. One of those is the Flatiron Building, a unique skyscraper built in 1902. This structure has appeared in many TV shows and movies, but seeing it in person is a different experience.

Flatiron Building, 3 days in new york city itinerary

Stop 5: Flatiron Building

The Flatiron Building is 285 feet tall and just 6.5 feet wide at its narrowest corner, creating a dizzying 25° angle. The inside is reserved for corporate spaces and offices, so pass by and admire its distinctive shape from the sidewalk.

Stop 6: Empire State Building

Before the sun goes down, I recommend visiting the Empire State Building, an emblematic symbol of the Big Apple and one of the best places to watch the sunset in the city. It’s located along Fifth Avenue, a few blocks in the opposite direction of the Flatiron Building. So, if you’re short on time, I recommend skipping the previous attraction and going directly to this observation deck. It’s definitely worth the price, especially on a clear day when you can see up to 80 miles into the distance.

Empire State Building, best 3 day itinerary nyc

Stop 6: Empire State Building

Besides, the Empire State Building has a theater, shops, exhibits, and a restaurant, but the true stars are the observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors. If you’re adding this to your itinerary for 3 days in NYC, get your ticket in advance so you can avoid long lines.

An alternative to the Empire State Building is the Top of the Rock. Located nearby, at Rockefeller Center, just across the St. Patrick Cathedral, the Top of the Rock is one of the best observation decks in NYC, boasting panoramic views of New York City, Long Island, and New Jersey. You should buy tickets ahead of time so you have time to go up to the deck, then check out other attractions at Rockefeller Plaza, like Radio City Music Hall and NBC Studios.

Stop 7: Times Square & Broadway

As the sun begins to set, New York’s nightlife is starting up. This is the time to head into the Theater District to see a Broadway show or musical. There’s no shortage of productions, be it a new play or a classic musical. We’ve seen several shows on Broadway, including The Lion King and Wicked, and let me tell you, the performances were spectacular.

Times Square, a place to see during a 3 day new york trip

Stop 7: Times Square & Broadway

If Broadway isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other things to do in NYC at night. Without a doubt, one of the best places to go is Times Square. This spot is always buzzing with excitement, although it really comes to life after dark with its street performers, buskers, and flashy lights. Be sure to take pictures of the Red Stairs, and if you’re going to a show, check out the TKTS Pavilion next door for discounted Broadway tickets.

Dinner in Times Square

In addition to the theaters and attractions in Times Square, there are also lots of places to eat, so I suggest having dinner here. Some well-known options include Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Ellen’s Stardust Diner, and Hard Rock Café. Los Tacos No. 1 has amazing Mexican food and aguas frescas, and Junior’s is the place to get New York-style cheesecake.

Day 3: Brooklyn, the best way to end your 3-day New York City itinerary

For the last of your 3 days in New York, break out of Manhattan and check out the borough of Brooklyn. It’s not as crowded and chaotic here, so it’s a nice change of pace from the past couple of days.

There are loads of awesome attractions in Brooklyn, but since you’ll only have a day here, I’m highlighting the most important ones to give you a general overview of Brooklyn’s best areas.

Breakfast at your hotel or on the way

You can eat breakfast at your hotel or get something on your way to Brooklyn. Marlow & Sons has comforting and hearty dishes, and it’s right over the Williamsburg Bridge. For something quick, Jessi’s Coffee Shop on Bushwick Avenue is open at 6:00 a.m. and is a few blocks from the first stop, the Bushwick Collective.

Stop 1: Bushwick Collective

After breakfast, head to the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn. From Midtown, it takes about 40 minutes by subway (45 minutes from Lower Manhattan).

Bushwick Collective, 3 days in new york city itinerary

Stop 1: Bushwick Collective

The Bushwick Collective is an open-air art gallery with graffiti work and public art. It features the work of artists from around the world, as well as local creators, so you’ll be able to see a range of pieces from the colorful and lighthearted to the photorealistic and more somber.

The works are along Jefferson and Troutman Streets, and you can browse on your own. That said, this tour is great if you want to learn more about the Bushwick Collective and its art. It’s one of the best walking tours in NYC and won’t take up too much time from your itinerary.

Stop 2: Williamsburg & the Jewish Quarter

After the Bushwick Collective, head west back towards Williamsburg, one of the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn. It’s a 45-mintue walk, or you can take the subway (the L train, then the M train).

Williamsburg has a trendy and artistic vibe to it, boasting lots of bars, cafes, clubs, and shops. There are also plenty of nightlife venues for those who like live music and entertainment.

Williamsburg, 3 day itinerary new york city

Stop 2: Williamsburg & the Jewish Quarter

Some of the fun things to do in Williamsburg include hanging out at Brooklyn Bowl, grabbing a drink at the Brooklyn Brewery, and learning about the local history at the City Reliquary. You’ll also notice that Williamsburg’s southern district has a large population of Hasidic Jews. The Jewish Quarter has several temples and signs in Yiddish, so keep an eye out.

Stop 3: Bedford Avenue & Domino Park

While you’re in Williamsburg, take some time to stroll along Bedford Avenue, the neighborhood’s main street where lots of restaurants and stores are centered. Williamsburg is also home to some of the most recommended flea markets in NYC, so it’s worth browsing the nearby Artists & Fleas and Brooklyn Flea.

Domino Park, must see in new york city in 3 days

Stop 3: Bedford Avenue & Domino Park

If shopping isn’t your thing, at least make sure to visit Domino Park. Located by the Williamsburg Bridge, this park overlooks the East River and is named for its Domino Sugar Refinery.

Lunch in Williamsburg

You shouldn’t have any issues finding a place to eat in this area, but if you need some recommendations, check out Radegast Hall & Biergarten for a casual meal or Peter Luger Steak House for a juicy burger or steak.

Depending on when you’re taking your 3-day New York trip, you can consider Williamsburg Smorgasburg. It’s open every Saturday from April to October, so you could plan your visit for a Saturday and head there. This market has dozens of food vendors serving a variety of cuisines, so there’s something for everyone.

Stop 4: Prospect Park & Park Slope

After a good meal, go to the Broadway station and take the subway straight to Prospect Park. This incredible park is full of green spaces, walking paths, and recreational areas like the LeFrak Center. There are also some interesting attractions within the park, such as the Prospect Park Boathouse, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Brooklyn Museum.

Prospect Park, 3 days in new york city itinerary

Stop 4: Prospect Park & Park Slope

If you prefer to see all the popular spots (and some hidden gems), take this walking tour through Prospect Park.

Another nice place for a stroll is the Park Slope neighborhood, a residential area with picturesque streets and historic brownstone homes. It’s just west of Prospect Park and has lots of indie shops and cafes, so it’s a fun place to walk through as you make your way to the East River waterfront.

Stop 5: Brooklyn Heights Promenade & Brooklyn Bridge Park

Continue your journey through Park Slope towards the Brooklyn Heights Promenade along the East River. This pedestrian walkway grants you a front-row view of the water, and you can see Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

Brooklyn Heights Promenade, best 3 day itinerary new york city

Stop 5: Brooklyn Heights Promenade & Brooklyn Bridge Park

As you walk along the promenade, you’ll pass Brooklyn Bridge Park, which has different sections and piers for sports, kayaking, playgrounds, and other activities.

Dinner at Juliana’s or Grimaldi’s

For dinner, I suggest indulging in some New York-style pizza, one of the best foods in NYC. Right by Brooklyn Bridge Park, there are two competing pizzerias: Juliana’s and Grimaldi’s. These two restaurants have a long, conflicted history, and there’s still a debate about which has the better pizza. Try them both and let me know!

You can also check out Time Out Market, a few blocks away. This dining and shopping complex sits right by the water and has local food vendors serving barbecue, burgers, ramen, sushi, tacos, and more. Trust me, if you’re not sure how to spend 3 days in NYC, you can’t go wrong with sampling some of its best food!

Stop 6: DUMBO

After dinner, it’s time for the last stop in Brooklyn, DUMBO. Short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, DUMBO is known for its wealth of activities, sights, and attractions. It’s a must-see neighborhood, and you can’t miss it if you’re crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.

DUMBO, 3 day itinerary for nyc

Stop 6: DUMBO

DUMBO is an artsy place offering theaters, bookstores, specialty shops, and tons of photo opportunities. It has some of the best places to take pictures in NYC, such as the famous DUMBO Archway, the DUMBO Walls, and Pebble Beach. You can also photograph the iconic Manhattan Bridge viewpoint with the red brick buildings on either side and the Empire State Building beneath the bridge.

If you can’t get enough of DUMBO, take this walking tour, which includes all the top sites in DUMBO, and a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Stop 7: Walk the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan

The Brooklyn Bridge offers some of the best views in NYC, so I recommend ending your 3rd day in New York City by crossing this bridge back into Lower Manhattan. You can walk, bike, or drive across it, although if you walk, you can take in all the views.

Brooklyn Bridge, must see in new york city in 3 days

Stop 7: Walk the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan

The 1.1-mile-long bridge gives you a panorama of Manhattan, plus views of Brooklyn Bridge Park and the East River. At night, you can see the skyline reflected in the water, creating a beautifully romantic ambiance.

As you near the end of the bridge, you’ll be back in Manhattan, so you can make your way to your hotel for a well-deserved rest. If you still have some pep, grab a drink at one of the nearby bars or speakeasies in NYC.

Where to stay in NYC for 3 days

For a 3-day trip to New York, I suggest staying someplace nice and comfortable in Midtown Manhattan. This way, you’ll be close to the top attractions, and you can hop on the subway to check out Brooklyn. No matter your budget, there are plenty of decent places to stay in NYC, but here are my top recommendations:

  • Pod 39 – This is one of the best cheap hotels in NYC where you can enjoy a quality stay without a considerable price tag. It has capsule-style rooms with basic amenities, some with private bathrooms, plus lots of community features like a lounge and game room. It’s located in Midtown, just a few blocks from Fifth Avenue.
  • Arlo SoHo – This is a lovely hotel in downtown NYC with reasonable rates and an excellent location. It offers a variety of rooms, so it’s great for all types of travelers, and its rooftop bar provides panoramic views of Lower Manhattan.
  • 1 Hotel Central Park – Stay at this luxurious hotel in NYC for a super comfortable experience. In addition to its convenient location by Central Park, it has 5-star amenities like rainfall showers, a fitness center, and a farm-to-table restaurant.

How to get around New York City in 3 days

This city is made for pedestrians, so getting around New York isn’t too tricky once you get the hang of it. The public transportation options in NYC include buses, ferries, trains, and the subway, so you can easily get to all five boroughs without a car.

Subway train, how to do nyc in 3 days

How to get around New York City in 3 days

Another option is taking a hop-on hop-off bus tour in NYC, such as the Big Bus Tour. Not only will this take care of the issue of getting around, but you’ll also get to see many of the top landmarks and attractions in the city. This tour is included in several New York attraction passes, like the New York Pass.

The transportation cards and attraction passes make it much easier to spend 3 days in NYC on a budget. The public transit system is pretty safe, especially during the day, and much cheaper than a taxi or Uber/Lyft.

That’s everything you need to plan your itinerary for 3 days in New York City! I hope this guide helps you out, but if you have any other questions, feel free to leave me a comment below. I’d also love to hear how your trip went.

Stay safe, and have a great time in NYC!

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Hey there, I'm Ascen, your personal trip planner on a mission to help you craft the most incredible adventure of your life. While I'm based in Las Vegas, you won't find me there often. As a full-time traveler, I'm always on the go, exploring new destinations and capturing the world through my lens. From the enchanting shores of Almeria, Spain, where I grew up, to the far reaches of the globe, I'm here to provide you with detailed travel guides and practical tips to make your trip planning a breeze. Find out more about me here.
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