7 Days In New York City For $1,600

Tips to save money in New York City via. @NicoleTravelBug | #NYC #NewYork #USA #TravelTips

This post was written when the Aussie dollar was almost on parity with the USD.
Prices may have changed.

Last week I was asked me how I’d spend AU$1,600 on a trip to New York City, and exactly how I’d make it last. Challenge accepted! Here’s how I’d spend a week in New York for just AU$1,600.


Stay at…

New York hotels are some of the priciest around so why not consider staying in an airbnb property? Rent a room or a whole apartment for the same, or cheaper, than a New York City hotel. You can choose what amenities are important to you (WiFi, please!) and hosts often have great tips for the neighbourhood.

For the purpose of this article, I’ve chosen to ‘stay’ at this stylish apartment near Times Square that costs AU$129 per night. That includes WiFi, cable TV and is within walking distance to some of the cities most popular sights, including Times Square, Rockefeller Centre, and the Museum of Modern Arts (MoMA)!

Total cost of accommodation for a 6-nights @ $129 p/night = AU$774


Where to eat…

New York has food at every price range, but you can still save money by following a few cheeky tricks.

If you’re staying at an airbnb property then it’s likely you will have access to a kitchen. By cooking a few meals, or even just making your own breakfast, you can save you a chunk of money each day!
Stop by Trader Joe’s or a corner store/deli for cheap groceries and fuel up for a big day. Pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS and Duane Reade often sell some groceries as well but I’ve found the prices are often inflated.

If you really want to save big money, consider having your biggest meal of the day at lunchtime. Lunch specials are a pretty common sight around the city, especially when it comes to sushi!

As a general rule, the further away from Mid-town you get, the cheaper food will be. So head into Brooklyn, down around Alphabet City or towards NYU’s campus for cheap student eats.

Food budget for 1-week

BreakfastUSD$20 (based on cost of cereal ($5.49 for large box) + milk ($2.89 for a gallon) + yoghurt ($7.98 for 2 packs of 4 yoghurts)
LunchUSD$140.00 ($20 p/day for seven days, based on receipts from various restaurants.)
DinnerUSD$120.00 ($20 p/night for six-nights, based on ramen costing around $13-15 per bowl + entree + drink)
Blow-out dinner – USD$40.00 (half of meal based on receipt from my last visit to Miss Korean BBQ with two people eating the two meat Korean BBQ, 1 shared entree, 4 drinks (two alcoholic, two soft drink), free water, free kimchi, and the tip!)

Total cost of food budget @ USD$320 = AUD$405.00

Read TimeOut New York for The Best Cheap Eats in NYC


Getting around…

It may seem easy to use a taxi but those $10 cab rides really begin to add up after a while. To save money in NYC walk or take public transportation.
A 7-day Unlimited Pass will set you back $31 USD which includes use on the subway and local buses.

You can take the AirTrain to JFK and Newark (US$5 + regular MTA fee of $2.80) or take an NYC bus to LaGuardia. You can also take a Go AirportLink to any of the three airports serving New York City.

You can also take a Go AirportLink to any of the three airports serving New York City.

Total cost of getting around @ USD$40 = AUD$50.00


What to do with 7 days in New York City…

You can go two routes with these seven days. If you haven’t visited New York before, I’d suggest buying The New York CityPASS. For a 7-day pass, it costs $200.00, but you’ll get access free access to over 80 sights, discount on admission at others, fast-track entry and plenty of coupons!

Some of the free activities I’d do with my New York CityPASS include;

    • Behind-the-Scenes tour of Yankees Stadium (normally US$25.00)
    • Grand Central Terminal Audio Tour (normally US$9.00)
    • Visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) (normally AU$25.00)
    • Take part in the NBC Studio Tour (normally US$24.00)
    • Take part of the Inside Broadway Tour through the Theatre District (normally US$35.00)

Click here for more information on New York CityPASS.

If you aren’t sure if you’d use all the features of The New York City Pass but still keen to explore the city, here are a list of suggestions for the budget conscious traveller.

    • Walk the Highline – FREE
    • Visit the Coney Island Boardwalk – FREE
    • Walk the High Line – FREE
    • Walk the Brooklyn Bridge – FREE
    • Take a tour of the Brooklyn BreweryFREE on Saturday + Sunday, USD$8.00 Monday – Thursday
    • Take the Roosevelt Island Tram – FREE, providing you have a weekly MTA card otherwise $2.80
    • Explore Grand Central Terminal’s Main Concourse – FREE
    • Photograph the city skyline from the East River State Park – FREE
    • Buy discount Broadway tickets at a TKTS Counter – cost varies, expect up to 40-50% off
    • Explore Central Park – FREE
    • Visit Wave Hill – US$8.00
    • Take advantage of Free Entry Museum days – FREE, though some may require a donation

Want more New York City tips? Read my New York City Guide!

Memories of New York. (And Georgia’s first time seeing snow!) | #TimesSquare #NewYork #USA

A photo posted by Nicole Smith (@nicoletravelbug) on

How’s the budget?

Cost of accommodation for a 6-nights = AU$903
Cost of food for 7-days = AU$405

Cost of getting around for 7-days = AU$50.00
Cost of activities for 7-days = AU$200
Pesky Banks Fees for 7-days = ZERO!

Approx. total cost of a 7-day trip to New York City = AUD$1,558

Final Thoughts

I could have saved a lot more by staying in a hostel, by eating at the apartment and choosing not to buy the New York CityPASS or buy eating with even cheaper food (bagels, pizza, and deli or diner food will save you even more!).
I also could have saved money by choosing an apartment in a different neighbourhood or in New Jersey, but I much prefer hotels or apartments with a little bit of privacy and no shared bathrooms!

One thing I didn’t factor into all of the food pricing was tipping. Tipping is a big part of American culture and it is expected if your waiter/waitress provides you good service.

All in all, I think this is a solid plan for if you have a week in New York. If the New York CityPASS isn’t quite your thing, check out sites like Viator that offers a round-up of great tours – many pretty cheap! – or consider using the NYCgo (official tourism board) website or blogs to create your own walking tour around the different neighbourhoods!

PS: Don’t forget, exchange rates fluctuate. I wrote this at the time when the USD was on parity with the Aussie dollar, and so we got a lot more bang for our bucks!

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Want more information on New York City?

City Guide: New York City

One in Three Thousand: Remembering Nicole

Flying Around New York City in a Helicopter

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Remember to pack these for your trip to New York City!

Book-New-York-City-LP Book-USA-LP Book-Humans-of-New-York
New York CityPASS
Bag-Herschel-Backpack Vapur-Water-Bottle

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Tips to save money in New York City via. @NicoleTravelBug | #NYC #NewYork #USA #TravelTips

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  • Reply
    May 15, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Great post. I’ve found New York isn’t as expensive as people make it out to be, but I think it depends on where you’re staying and what you’re planning to do. Most of the things I did on my last trip to New York were free (aside from seeing a few Broadway shows). I’d definitely checkout staying at a guesthouse or airbnb property rather than staying at a hotel.

    • Reply
      June 10, 2015 at 3:43 am

      I agree with you Alouise! New York can be expensive, but it’s also a budget travellers dream if you know where to look. 🙂

  • Reply
    May 22, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Definitely agree that NY is hard to do on a budget- America in general is not that cheap for the frugal traveller! NY is such an amazing place to experience though and a wonderful place to go for any wanderlust inspired individual

    • Reply
      June 10, 2015 at 3:50 am

      I think it does depends where you’re travelling (and how you’re getting there) in the US, or how you travel (I am not a budget traveller usually), as to how expensive it is; but NYC can be a great place to find great deals!

      Visiting NYC is a must for everyone at least once in their lives. 🙂

  • Reply
    May 26, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    Thank you, I loved this one! As you know I’m off to New York in June and I have about four days on Manhattan before I head to camp. I managed to find a super cheap hostel with great reviews close to Central Park and I’m now looking into what to do while I’m there. I love the list over the free things 🙂

    • Reply
      June 10, 2015 at 3:52 am

      So exciting that you have four days to explore the City (and hopefully more after camp!)
      Let me know if I can help you with anything else. 🙂

  • Reply
    May 27, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    Such good tips, I’m desperate to go now 🙁 x

    • Reply
      June 10, 2015 at 3:51 am

      Soon, young Scarlett. 😉 I can see you having a ton of fun in NYC!

  • Reply
    May 27, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    It is difficult to go to New York on a budget but I’m a little Scrooge and saved a lot of money walking. One day, walked over a hundred blocks (guessing) which saved money for a subway and burnt off all those pizzas 🙂

    • Reply
      June 10, 2015 at 3:51 am

      You’re so right! Do it like New Yorkers do and walk everywhere… though a hundred blocks is a little too much even for me. My feet are hurting just thinking about it!

  • Reply
    May 28, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    I love New York, it was a long time ago I was there but I remember the hostels being pretty pricey!

    • Reply
      June 10, 2015 at 3:50 am

      Hostels are indeed pretty pricey in the City, so do consider checking out airbnb next time! They have some really cool properties in NYC.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Chris Moore
    August 26, 2015 at 6:38 am

    How did you get the apartment at that price? Every date I’ve put in has come back at over $300 per night.

    • Reply
      August 26, 2015 at 7:50 pm

      I’m unsure what dates you put in, but when I was looking I was looking at booking two months in advance and before summer/the forthcoming holiday period had begun. Property owners can raise/lower their prices daily depending on popularity. I might have been very fortunate to get in before they raised it!

      Using airbnb, you should be able to find properties at every price point though! 🙂

      • Reply
        Chris Moore
        August 27, 2015 at 7:37 am

        Thanks for replying Nicole, I’m putting in dates for May 2016 and the rates seem very high.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2015 at 12:19 am

    There are a lot of beautiful hotels in NY, but some are so expensive, when I travel I always prefer to stay in an apartment rather than hotel for me to save money, amnesties are just like in the hotels, rooms are also clean and offers a true comfort of a home. But this apartment of yours are really expensive, and the space are better than the hotel I stayed before in New York, very elegant. Love seeing your post again !!

  • Reply
    Roxanne Lucero
    April 29, 2016 at 1:29 am

    We went to NYC last summer, it was very hot and humid but we still enjoyed our trip. We saved a lot on accommodation since we stayed in a hostel. We also had city pass so we can see a lot of attractions. New York City may be known as the most expensive city in USA, but there’s also no shortage of free things to do. I already visited some museums, Time Square and Statue of Liberty. I also went to a lot of diners and clubs and I watched free concerts at Central Park after checking out the NYC Parks website. By the way, I found a website listing free events in New York which is great because I didn’t have much of a budget. I think FreeEventFinder.com might be useful to people also visiting New York who are looking for free things to do.

  • Reply
    December 20, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    Thank you for sharing this! I’m heading over there in a couple weeks and was really needing to figure out my budget and how much money to take and this has been a huge help so thank you! 😀


  • Reply
    Claudia Chappe de Leonval
    July 28, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I did NYC in March 2016 (best 10 days of my life) and followed the Gossip Girl dream (my own tour though) and still managed to keep costs down! I may have eaten one too many pizzas with my partner, but I LOVE pizza and it was so much cheaper. I decided to cut down on costs where I didn’t need to splurge (food) so I could enjoy one too many cosmos!

    Oh and a tip. PRE BOOK PRE BOOK PRE BOOK!! I feel that if you know you’re going, try pre book a lot before you leave, that way you’re controlling your budget better. I pre booked my chopper flight, my trip up Empire State building, Sleep No More (best thing I’ve ever done, but book on a week night as it’s like half the price!!) and many other things! Buy breakfast and eat it in the hotels and AVOID WINE. In Australia we love wine, but a cheap bottle here, is about $20 more expensive there.

    I am ready to go again and do everything… all over again!!

  • Reply
    April 26, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    Hi nicole,
    how much do you think i’ll need for 10 days. I’m staying with family and i’m coming from London.
    I’m a definite sight see-er and i love to shop.

    • Reply
      April 26, 2018 at 9:11 pm

      Hi Jennifer,
      Thanks for reaching out!

      I can’t accurately gauge this as for you as there are a lot of factors to consider (how much shopping do you want to do? how often will you eat out/where will you eat? etc.) but would encourage you to consider getting a New York CityPASS as I saved quite a lot during my last trip. (I love sightseeing as well!)
      I’d also suggest getting an MTA card while you are there. I found that I spent too much by simply adding more money to it, and should have opted for a weekly or monthly card instead.

      Have a great trip and do let me know if you find any more great tips during your travels!

  • Reply
    April 26, 2018 at 8:16 pm

    Taking note of these tips. I will be in New York for four days and staying in midtown Manhattan. I’m not going to do a lot of sightseeing because this is a business trip.. I am wondering if a seven-day pass for the train would be a good idea for me? Or too much?

    • Reply
      April 26, 2018 at 10:06 pm

      Fantastic Psyche!

      It would depend how much you would be commuting. If you are comfortable walking wherever you need to, then you may just want to add cash to your card, but if you feel you will use it a significant number of times, a weekly card may be better.
      You can see the prices on the MTA website.

      Have a fantastic trip!

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