HistoryItalian explorer Giovanni de Verrazano was the first European to explore New York in 1524, but it was Henry Hudson who settled there first in 1609. Ellis Island, in Upper New York Bay, was the country’s inspection station for millions of immigrants from 1892 until 1954. The Statue of Liberty, on nearby Liberty Island in the Hudson River, was a gift from France in 1886 and became a symbol of the American dream for these new arrivals.
IconsNew York has heaps of sights that you’re likely to recognise from the screen, like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. Pay a visit to Liberty’s crown and the Empire State observation deck for a different perspective on NYC. Take a walk through Times Square, the centre of NY’s theatre district, to be stunned by the bright lights and huge billboards. Don’t forget to explore one of NYC’s most famous natural landmarks: Central Park. There’s a lot to see in this 843-acre urban park: lovely lakes and pretty gardens, romantic bridges and charming fountains. To get the most out of your visit, check out the Central Park Zoo, the Alice in Wonderland fountain and the Great Lawn.
Shopping and diningIf you’ve seen Sex and the City, you’ll know that New York is a paradise for those who love to shop. Century 21 is the place to grab some designer fashion at bargain prices, while Madison Avenue is famous for being a luxury shopping heaven (hit Fifth Avenue if you’ve got some extra cash). But it’s not all fancy stuff. This is New York, and there are boutiques, flea markets and trendy indie book shops across the city too. Like the shopping, New York’s dining is booming, and you’ll find something to snack on whether you’re a vegetarian, meat lover, pizza fan or food snob. From retro-themed diners with singing waiters to indulgently expensive cuisine designed by superstar chefs, New York has everything you need.
Nightlife and cultureFor a great night out, head to the Broadway district to catch some of the biggest theatre shows in the world, then hit up one of NY’s night spots: dive bars with a neighbourhood vibe, cocktail bars and dance clubs, comedy clubs and gay bars, it’s all here. To soak up some day time culture, visit a famous NY museum like the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the the Guggenheim Museum.
Getting hereDon’t spend all your money on flights! Save some for living the high life in New York and book one of our cheap flights to New York to go with our New York accommodation. They call it "the city that never sleeps", and we can forgive you if you don’t get much snoozing done yourself when you jump into exciting NY!
It's natural to feel a little overwhelmed on a first visit to New York. The city can overload the senses: the smell of sizzling gyros from Midtown street vendors' carts, the sound of a subway musician's saxophone during the crush of a rush-hour commute, and the neon lights of Times Square flashing at all times of day and night.
This stimulation from all sides is what makes New York so dynamic. You'll soon realize it's the sheer sense of possibility that has everyone jumping. You can do anything here, whether it's catching a long-running show like Phantom of the Opera on Broadway or crashing a loft party in the newest alternative art space. Shop 'til you drop in SoHo like the 'Sex and the City' cast or hobnob with the literati at West Village wine bars.
You can even enjoy some nature, and not only in Central Park. The East Village has many community gardens and Brooklyn's Prospect Park is a real delight. Head north to the Bronx Botanical Gardens or to Washington Heights' Fort Tryon Park, which towers over the Hudson River with views of the Palisades - you won't believe you're still in the city.
The whole world is here
To get your bearings in such a large city, it's a good idea to start with an overview. A hop-on, hop-off bus tour will help you learn the lay of the land. Or, for a different vantage point, try a helicopter ride over the five boroughs or sail by Manhattan's monuments on an elegant dinner cruise. Sure, it's a bit extravagant and certainly bold, but hey, that's New York.
Really, though, New York is a series of neighborhoods-it's not all that intimidating. From Little Italy to Chinatown, the Lower East Side to Chelsea, New York houses several communities, each with their own distinct flavor. Despite this, there are no artificial boundaries-the daily mix of millions of different people is what makes the city's story so great. Perhaps that's why New Yorkers think they live in the center of the world-it seems the whole world is here. Hide