Things to do in New York City: Attractions and places to visit

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There are only a few cities in the world that have a very special flair and whose names immediately produce breathtaking images in our mind’s eye. New York City is definitely one of them. The epitome of the “American Dream”, pulsating metropolis – packed with highlights and adventures.

For many people, it is a lifelong dream to stroll across Broadway or see the Statue of Liberty and the many other sights with their own eyes. Make this dream come true and experience the incomparable magic of the Big Apple up close.

Below we present you the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights in New York.

Statue of Liberty (William Warby)  [flickr.com]  CC BY 
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1. Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty embodies like hardly any other monument the American Dream and the longing for justice and freedom. In addition, it is also a much photographed landmark of the city with high recognition value and UNESCO World Heritage. Few people know that it was created by a French sculptor and was a gift from the French people to the American nation. Today it is the most important sight in New York.

With a total height of almost 100 meters it is one of the highest statues in the world. An ascent inside the Statue of Liberty crowns your visit and rewards you with a wonderful view over the surroundings. It is advisable to combine a visit to the Statue of Liberty with a visit to Liberty Island. You should also make a detour to Ellis Island. For a long time, this island was the seat of the immigration authorities and the point of contact for immigrants to the USA.

2. Times Square – the pulsating heart of the city

The lively Times Square between Seventh Avenue and Broadway is the centre of New York’s theatre district. There’s always something going on here. More than 40 theatres, cafés, fast food restaurants, but also noble restaurants or multiplex cinemas guarantee an intensive city experience. Times Square is teeming with people at all times of the day and night. Times Square is particularly impressive at night.

The illuminated advertisements and billboards then radiate twice as intensively, so that a visit becomes an intoxicating celebration for all the senses. Since reopening with a new street system, Broadway has become a pedestrian zone in Times Square. Stroll along the street and enjoy the feeling of being in the “Center of the Universe” – that’s the nickname of Times Square.

3. Central Park – New York’s green lung

If you are looking for some distance from the hustle and bustle of the big city after all the overwhelming impressions and breathtaking highlights, you will find relaxation and peace in the extensive Central Park. The park is over four kilometres long and almost 900 metres wide, beautifully landscaped lakes, extensive green spaces and varied walking paths invite you to relax and unwind.

The park is surrounded by numerous luxury hotels and museums, including the famous American Museum of Natural History. A visit to Central Park Zoo is a great experience for young and old. In the petting zoo, children can come into very close contact with sheep, goats or other animals.

4. Chinatown – Excursion into a foreign world

A tourist must for every New York tourist is the exotic Chinatown. The Chinese city is the largest in the USA and the political and cultural center of this ethnic group. Almost 150,000 Chinese or people of Chinese descent live and work here. Around Canal Street and Mott Street there are countless shops where you can buy Asian spices and food and immerse yourself in an exotic world.

It goes without saying that the Rolex, which the dealer offers you at a ridiculously low price, is not a brand name. But you can eat cheaply and excellently in Chinatown. Connoisseurs are convinced that nowhere else in the world but in the Middle Kingdom can you eat Chinese food as cheaply and authentically as in New York.

5. Shopping and culture on Fifth Avenue

For fashionistas and fashion-conscious people, a stroll along Fifth Avenue is one of the absolute highlights of a visit to New York. From 50th Street to 59th Street, New York’s luxury boutiques, famous department stores and sights are lined up close together. While you have to dig deep into your pockets at Tiffany, the average earner will be more interested in shops like Nike Town or the NBA Store. The New York branch of the Japanese luxury department store Takashimaya offers first-class elegance and quality.

Between the 82nd and 104th streets, the Museum Mile, there are numerous important and world-famous museums. The Metropolitan Museum of Art with its collection of over three million works is one of the largest museums in the world. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum offers a comprehensive overview of modern painting.

6. Empire State Building – above the clouds

The Empire State Building is located directly on Fifth Avenue between 33rd and 34th streets. It is probably the most famous skyscraper of the city and its striking silhouette you have surely seen on many photos or in numerous films. “King Kong and the white woman”, “Independence Day” and “The Day after” are only a few of the many movies in which the skyscraper plays an important role.

The building erected in Art Déco was the highest in the world until 1972, at around 440 metres. It is still one of the most famous sights of New York. From the first viewing platform at an altitude of 320 metres you have a breathtaking view over the city and the surrounding region. Even the ride with the high-speed elevator is an impressive experience.

7. Rockefeller Center – a city in its own right

228 buildings had to give way to make room for the Rockefeller Center, a complex of 20 buildings, including 19 high-rise buildings. There are offices, shops, gardens, TV stations, the Radio City Music Hall and much more. The complex has become known for its large interior area, which is used as a café in summer and as an ice rink in winter.

The striking gold-coloured Prometheus statue in the foreground of the building is an often and gladly photographed motif and main attraction of the Lower Plaza. It formed and still forms the background for concerts, ice skating shows and special celebrations.

8. Brooklyn Flea in Dumbo – Flea Market

The Brooklyn Flea is one of the most famous flea markets in the city. From vintage dresses and furniture to antique household items and jewellery, you will find everything your heart desires here. If you need a little refreshment after all these impressions, you can regain your strength with waffles, Hong Kong pork buns or a hot dog.

The Hells Kitchen Flea Market or the Grand Bazaar in the Upper West Side are also well worth a visit. Every Sunday merchants and artists offer their goods for sale here, the profit goes to the surrounding schools. Thus you can do good with a stroll over these absolutely worthwhile objects of interest at the same time.

9. Bicycle tour of New York

You can explore the city by bicycle in a particularly intensive and inexpensive way. Of course, you don’t have to carry your bike with you, because there are numerous bicycle stations in New York City. With the Citi Bike you explore the many sights of the city on varied tours.

A tour of Central Park overlooking the impressive buildings along the West and Upper Eastsides is sure to be an unforgettable experience. A drive across the Brooklyn Bridge brings you up close to one of the city’s landmarks. In addition, also have a great view of the impressive city silhouette.

10. New York off the beaten tourist track

What would it be like if you were to experience New York off the beaten track on a theme tour according to your own wishes? Trust a guide and explore districts such as Brooklyn, Greenwich Village or SoHo on foot. Gourmets enjoy the culinary highlights of the city on gourmet tours, while architecture lovers get to know the most important buildings with expert guides on a tour tailored to their wishes.

On a Wall Street tour you will learn many interesting facts and figures about the international financial metropolis New York. You visit the stock exchange and can take a look behind the scenes of a bank. Art lovers prefer to book a museum tour through the Metropolitan Museum of Art guided by an art historian. It shows you the most important works of the collection and provides you with interesting explanations and background information.

More things to do and activities for your New York holiday

Best time to visit New York

We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of New York:

April, May, June, July, August, September, and October

You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for New York.

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