New York City: The Big Apple

In this entry you will find a lot of general information, as well as the diary of our trip to New York.

Follow us on Social Networks:

New York City, the Big Apple, is the most popular city in the United States and perhaps the entire world. With about 8 million inhabitants (about 20 million in its metropolitan area), it is also the most populous city in the country. New York has been described as the cultural and financial capital of the world.

It is made up of five districts (boroughs) that, at the same time, are counties: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island. Since 1898 they have been consolidated as a unique city.

New York

NYC is also the most multicultural city in the world. More than 3 million people born outside the US live here and nearly 800 different languages are spoken.

Find the best activities and tours in New York with Civitatis.


New York General Information

What to see in New York

Travel Diary

Discover everything about the world through our travel diaries.

Thousand Islands

Thousand islands are a North American archipelago made up of 1,864 islands located in the North. They are located along 80 miles of the St. Lawrence River. They stretch for 80 miles on the border between Ontario (Canada) and New York (USA).

To be considered one of the thousand islands, emergent land within the riverbed must be at least one square foot (0.093 m2) of land above water level year-round and support at least two living trees.

The islands range in size from over 40 square miles (100 km2) to smaller islands occupied by a single residence or uninhabited rock outcroppings.

Thousand islands

History of Thousand Islands

Before the arrival of the Europeans, this region was inhabited by the Iroquois community and the Ojibwa people. Back then it was known as Manitouana or the “Garden of the Great Spirit.”

Battles took place in this area during the 1812 war against the British. Many sites bear witness to those battles, such as Fort Wellington in Prescott and the garrison on Chimney Island in Ontario.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it became an important summer resort for distinguished families in the United States. Mostly wealthy people from New York, Chicago or Cleveland. Several luxury hotels were built and excursions between the islands were offered by steamboats.

A little later, both wealthy and middle-class American and Canadian families began to build summer residences on the islands.

Discover the best activities and tours in Toronto with Civitatis.

What to do in Toronto

Visiting Thousand Islands

Among all the islands there are several that are noteworthy. These are:

Heart Island (USA): on it we find Bold Castle, a large masonry castle built at the beginning of the 20th century. It was commissioned to be built by George C. Boldt, owner of the luxurious Waldorf Astoria hotel as a token of love for his wife, Louise.

Heart Island

During its construction, in 1904 Luoise died and George C. Boldt ordered to stop the works. Without his beloved, the fairytale castle ceases to make sense. He never sets foot on the island again.

In 1977, the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired ownership of the island and restored the remains of the castle, deteriorated after 73 years of neglect.

Heart Island
Heart Island

Hub Island (E.E.U.U): another of the islands that caught our attention. Maybe the most. Also called Just Room Enough Island.

It is the smallest inhabited island of all. Purchased by the Sizeland family in the 1950s, the island has a house, a tree, shrubbery, and a small beach. When we visited it, the water level was so high that there was no beach or land.

Hub Island

Due to the small size of the island, in 2010 the Washington Post declared, “One false step and you’re swimming.”

Wolfe Island (Canada): It is the largest island of all and is at the entrance of the river in Lake Ontario.

The island was part of the traditional hunting lands of the Tyendinaga Mohawk people and the island’s original name is Kawehnóhkwes tsi kawè:note. In 2021, the Municipality of the Frontenac Islands officially voted to accept the name Kawehnóhkwes tsi kawè:note. He added it to signs welcoming visitors to Wolfe Island.

The French called it Grande île (Big Island). In a proclamation by Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada John Graves Simcoe on July 16, 1792, the island was renamed Grand Island to Wolfe Island, after British General James Wolfe.

Deer Island (USA): The island is located near Boldt Castle and can be seen up close from several Canadian and American tour boats that operate in the local waterways. The island’s land is heavily overgrown, with a small cabin on the southern corner of the island.

It is wholly owned by the Russell Trust Association and is used as a Skull and Bones retreat.

Scorpion Island
Scorpion Island

Grenadier Island (Canada): The island is named after the British Grenadier Guards regiment.

During the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), Captain Francois Pouchot of the French Navy visited Grenadier Island.

The island remained under native control until United Empire loyalists arrived in the early 19th century. During the War of 1812, Grenadier Island housed a lookout post. By 1818, several farms had been established.

Since the early 1870s, Grenadier Island has become a popular summer retreat.

Longue Vue Island (USA.): It is the only artificial island in the region.

The original owner of the house was Hudson Rose, a lumber merchant from New York City. The island was originally named Rossette after Rose.

The house was purchased in the mid-1920s by Temple Berdan and sat vacant from 1932 to 1939. Lewis Dollinger purchased the house from the Berdan estate. It was later owned by the Dollinger Corporation and, after tax laws were changed in the 1970s, was owned by Dollinger Corporation founder Lewis Dollinger’s son, F. Leslie Dollinger for many years. It was sold in 1994 to Arizona businessman Al Wareing, who is the current owner.

Basswood Island Thousand Islands
Basswood Island

How to get

We can visit the Thousand Islands through cruises that pass through the islands.

If you are on the Canadian side, you can take the cruises from the cities of Kingston, Gananoque or Rockport. We did it from Gananoque.

If you are on the US side, you can take the cruises from Clayton or Alexandria Bay.

Find the best activities and tours in New York with Civitatis.

what to do in New York

Discover everything about the world through our travel diaries.

New York: practical guide

Here you can find a lot of basic information that you should know before traveling to New York.


  1. General information
    • Documentation and visas
    • Security
    • Healthcare
    • Electricity
  2. How to get to New York
  3. Public Transport
  4. Tourist Passes

1. General information

Documentation and visas
Since January 12, 2009, it is necessary to fill out the following online form at least 72 hours before arriving in the United States. The form must be filled out for all persons traveling, including children.
If you have doubts, you can consult the official website for travel to the United States.

NYC is a relatively safe city but it is recommended not to walk at night in the neighborhoods of Harlem and Randall’s Island in Manhattan; the Bronx, especially the southern neighborhoods such as Mott Haven and Port Morris; East New York and Brownsville in Brooklyn. Also, in general, at night, remote areas of Manhattan and parks, including Central Park, should be avoided.

And as we always say, have common sense like being careful with pickpockets in areas with a lot of people.

Healthcare in the US is totally private and very, VERY EXPENSIVE. It is essential to travel with medical insurance because any minimum consultation can cost you between $300 and $500.

As always, we recommend taking out good insurance for what may happen. Here we leave you IATI, specialized in travel that, also if you are a reader of our blog, you will have a 5% discount.

In the United States the voltage is from 110 to 120 volts and at 60 Hz and the plugs are flat pins of type A / B.

If you want to see cool photos of our trip to New York, visit our instagram.

2. How to get to New York

Note on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain:

Visitors traveling by plane to the US / or from the US should be aware that both airlines and American authorities are increasingly sensitive to any incident that may occur on board the plane. by hot-tempered or violent passengers, most of the time applying the “zero tolerance” rule. Whether it is a question of refusing to obey any instructions, acts of violence or jokes, passengers are exposed to criminal consequences with such behaviors.

It happens with some frequency that if a traveler’s name and date of birth are similar to one of the people who appear in the US database of someone with a history, the Immigration officer may consider it necessary, before authorizing their entry into the country, carry out other verifications and detain the traveler for one, two or three hours until it is verified that it is not the person sought. It is recommended to exercise extreme caution when renting an apartment in New York online, due to the increasing number of scams that have occurred in this field recently.

For more information consult the US immigration website.

1. JFK Airport

John Fitzgerald Kennedy Airport (JFK) is the main airport in New York and with some 50 million passengers a year, it is one of the main airports in air traffic worldwide.

Shuttle service

It is the most comfortable option since it takes you to the door of the hotel, although it is not the cheapest, but it is worth it after many hours of travel. In the following link you have the best option:

Airtrain + subway

JFK AirTrain is the cheapest, fastest and easiest way to get around JFK Airport. The system connects all passenger terminals with airport parking garages, the hotel shuttle pickup area, the rental car center, and the New York public transportation network at the Jamaica and Howard Beach stations. At these stations we can continue the trip to the city center with the metro.

The AirTrain is free to move between the terminals but to travel to/from the Jamaica and Howard Beach stations, the fare is $5 if we are not going to take the subway, or $7.75 if we are going to take the subway later, and you can only pay through the metrocard.

There are three AirTrain lines. We have the AirTrain JFK Gold, which is a circular line that runs only between the terminal stations.

There is also the AirTrain JFK Red line, which is the one that goes from the airport to the Jamaica station. And the AirTrain JFK Green line that goes to the Howard Beach station.

Once we get off the train, we find the machines where we have to buy our metrocard and load it to pay the $5 or $7.75 if we decide to transfer to the subway.

The money will be deducted from our metrocard when we insert it into the turnstiles.

As we mentioned before, the metro lines are independent from the AirTrain so you have to pay for the ticket separately. The fee is $2.75.

New York


It is a more comfortable option than the AirTrain+subway, but more expensive. The fare to/from Manhattan is $52 but for peak hours (4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays, except holidays) they charge a surcharge of $4.50 which would cost us $56.50.

2. LaGuardia Airport

Located in the borough of Queens, it is the closest airport to Manhattan, just 10 km away.

Shuttle service.
It is undoubtedly the most comfortable option since it leaves you at the door of the hotel, although it is not the cheapest, but it is worth it after many hours of travel. In the following link I leave you the best option:

New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) buses provide service between LaGuardia Airport, Manhattan, Queens, and beyond with connections to the subway, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North Railroad.

The price is $2.75 and you have to buy them through the Metrocard.

For LaGuardia Link Q70 SBS (Select Bus Service) and M60 SBS bus service, passengers must pay their fare with a MetroCard or exact change at curbside machines before boarding. Keep your paper ticket to travel.

Travelers leaving or going to Terminal A can take the Q47 bus, connecting to the 7, E, F, M, R subway lines at 74 St/Roosevelt Ave or the M60 SBS to Manhattan.

The MTA offers regular Q47, Q48, Q70 SBS, Q72 and M60 SBS service between LaGuardia Airport, Manhattan, Queens and beyond with a subway connection.

More information on the MTA website.

This option is more comfortable but more expensive than the bus. Taxis from LaGuardia do not have a fixed rate like from JFK and are metered. The price from LaGuardia to Manhattan is between $35 and $50 including tolls and gratuity, depending on the destination.

At the start of the race, the meter must show $3.00 and there are several supplements:

  • $1.00 for peak hours for trips from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
  • $0.50 for trips from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. every day.
  • There is a $0.50 New York state tax added to travel within New York, but not for travel to New Jersey.

3. Newark Liberty Airport

With similar traffic to JFK airport, it is the second largest airport in New York. It is located in the town of Newark in New Jersey about 25 km from Manhattan.

Shuttle service

It is undoubtedly the most comfortable option since it leaves you at the door of the hotel, although it is not the cheapest, but it is worth it after many hours of travel. In the following link I leave you the best option:

AirTrain + Subway
AirTrain is an easier and cheaper way to get to/from and around Newark Liberty Airport. It operates 24 hours at day, 365 days at year and provides easy connections to the NJ Transit station and the rail lines that run on the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Shore Line.

AirTrain is free for travel at the airport and makes frequent stops around the airport, including airline terminals, parking garages, hotel transportation areas, and car rental facilities.

The price of the train from the airport station to New York Penn Station is $15.25 and the journey takes 26 minutes. To buy the ticket you must go to one of the machines at the AirTrain station and there buy the AirTrain ticket Newark + train to Penn Station.

More information on the official NJ Transit website.

Newark Airport Shuttle
It is a transfer system that connects Newark Liberty Airport with three specific points in Manhattan: Grand Central, Bryant Park and W 42nd St & Port Authority Terminal.

The price is $17 per person and it runs from 4 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

More information on their website:

The most expensive option. The fare to Manhattan, depending on the final destination, is between $50 and $70 and tolls are not included. They are closed rates and it is illegal for the taxi driver to try to charge you by meter.

During peak hours on weekdays, in the morning (from 6:00 to 9:00) and in the afternoon (from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.). On weekends (Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 8:00 p.m.), there is a supplement of $5 for all points in New York State, except Staten Island.

Paying with a bank card has an additional cost of $5.50.

Find your ideal hotel with the best prices in New York with Agoda.

3.Public Transport in New York City

1. Subway

Opened in 1904, with more than 1,000 km of tracks and almost 500 stops, the NYC subway is one of the largest in the world.

The subway in NYC is dirty, very dirty. You will see kangaroo-like rats roaming the stations leisurely. In addition, in summer, except in some seasons with air conditioning, it is very hot and very humid. It’s awful.

The metro consists of 26 lines named with numbers and letters. The truth is that it is a pain to use.

Here I leave a link with the subway maps.

The price of a single ticket is $2.75 and must be paid through the MetroCard.

The metro works 24 hours a day, although at night, not all the entrances are open and, in general, you will not find operators at the stations.

2. Bus

Getting around NYC by bus is comfortable and simple but very slow compared to the subway.

Bus lines are named with a number and a letter. The letter indicates the district where it operates: Manhattan (M), Brooklyn (B), Queens (Q), Bronx (Bx) and Staten Island (S).

The prices are the same as those of the metro and they work 24 hours a day. After 10 at night, for security reasons, you can ask the driver to leave you at an exact point even if it is not an official stop.

To pay, it is best to do so with the MetroCard, which also allows you to transfer between the bus and the metro for 120 minutes. If you want to pay the driver in cash, you have to pay with the exact amount in coins. If you want a ticket with a transfer, you must notify the driver, but it is only valid to make them between different buses. It is not valid for the subway.

This is the ideal route for the elderly and people with disabilities since the metro is not adapted in almost any of its stations.

Tickets for public transport.

Apart from the single ticket for $2.75, there are several different tickets.

This is a magnetic cardboard card that is valid for both the bus and subway (it is mandatory for subway) and there are two modes: Pay-Per-Ride or Unlimited Ride MetroCard.

Pay-Per-Ride: This card is rechargeable and the cost of each single ticket is $2.75, it can be shared among several people and it allows transfers between the metro and buses for 120 minutes. When recharging more than $5.50 you get an 11% bonus.

Unlimited Ride MetroCard: The unlimited card is the best option if you are going to use public transport a lot.

  • The price for 7 days is $32 and is profitable by making more than 12 trips.
  • The price for 30 days is $121 and is profitable by making more than 44 trips.

We can buy the card at a cost of $1 in subway machines, tourist offices and many souvenir and general item stores.

OMNY (One Metro New York) is a new payment system for NYC transportation, valid for fare payment and ticketing on subways, buses, paratransit and commuter rail, which will be implemented between 2019 and 2023.
To pay, simply tap your card or device with the OMNY app on the digital reader and the screen will instantly confirm if the tap was successful, sending you on your way quickly and easily.

Payment methods.
Smart devices such as smartphones and smartwatches, contactless bank cards and the OMNY card itself will be valid.

3. Taxi

Taxis in NYC are not excessively expensive, but they are compared to other forms of transport. The good thing is that it is the best option to move around at night, as it is the safest.

These are the prices (2019):

  • Flag drop: $2.50.
  • $1.56 per kilometer.
  • $0.50 for each minute of waiting.
  • City tax: 0.50$.
  • Night supplement (from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.): $0.50.
  • Peak hour supplement (daily from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.): $1.

The normal thing is to leave between 10 and 15% tip although it is not mandatory. At a minimum we should round up to the next dollar.

4. Bike

We can also move by bicycle through the Citibike application. With more than 20,000 bikes and more than 1,300 stations between New York and Jersey City, it is the largest company in the entire country.

To use the bikes we must register in the application and then choose between several modalities:

  • Single ride: For $3.50 we can use the bike for 30 minutes.
  • Day pass: For $15 we can use the bike for 30-minute trips, but for 24 hours.
  • Annual Membership: For $15 (billing in advance the full annual payment of $179) per month we can use the bike for 45 minutes.

The first thing you should do is download the app and sign up. Look for the nearest station in the app and unlock the bike through the code that comes to you. Use the bike and return it to a station. When the green light comes on, it means that it is locked and ready.

More information on the web:

5. How to travel from New Jersey to New York City

If like us and many people, you choose to stay in New Jersey (much cheaper), we explain how to go from one to another.

The simplest and fastest is to use the PATH. There are two lines:

  • Trains connecting Newark and Hoboken (NJ) with the World Trade Center Transportation Hub.
  • Trains that connect Hoboken and Journal Square (NJ) with 33rd street in Manhattan.

At the World Trade Center terminal you can connect with subway lines 2, 3, A, C and E.

You have two types of card. The MetroCard, the same one with which we move around NYC, with which the price of a single ticket is $2.75. Although the PATH only allows the use of the MetroCard Pay-Per-Ride modality and not the Unlimited Ride MetroCard.

The other is the SmartLink Card, which is the best option if we are going to travel a lot between the two cities. With this you have two options:

  • SmartLink 7-day-pass-unlimited, with unlimited rides at the following prices:
SmartLink 1-day pass – unlimited10$
SmartLink 7-day pass – unlimited34.50$
SmartLink 30-day pass – unlimited106$
  • The other option is the limited trip SmartLink:
SmartLink 10 Rides25$2.50$
SmartLink 20 Rides50$2.50$
SmartLink 40 Rides100$2.50$

For more information visit the official PATH website.

6. How to travel from Manhattan to Staten Island

The only direct way to get from Manhattan to Staten Island by public transportation is by the Staten Island Ferry.

It is a passenger route operated by the New York City Department of Transportation. The ferry operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with boats leaving every 15 to 20 minutes during peak hours and every 30 minutes during peak hours. Since 1997 the ferry is free.

The ferry departs from the Whitehall Terminal, next to the South Ferry Station, line 1.

For tourists like us, it is another attraction and you will be able to see it if you get on it, since it passes very close to the Statue of Liberty, although only to contemplate it from the boat because it does not stop at Liberty Island.

You can find schedules and more information on the Staten Island Ferry website.

Although the best way to visit it is hiring a wonderful guided tour.

4. Tourist passes

There are three types of tourist passes: New York Explorer PassNew York Pass and NYC Sightseeing Pass.

The New York Explorer Pass card offers free access to 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 of the city’s top attractions. Design your own itinerary and you will save up to 50%.

The New York Explorer Pass card allows one access to each attraction and is valid for 60 days from the time of activation.

New York Explorer Pass 2 attractions$69 $48
New York Explorer Pass 3 attractions$87 $67
New York Explorer Pass 4 attractions$117 $84
New York Explorer Pass 5 attractions$140 $107
New York Explorer Pass 6 attractions$159 $124
New York Explorer Pass 7 attractions$178 $139
New York Explorer Pass 10 attractions$229 $175

The price varies based on the chosen date. / Children 3 between 12 years old.

We bought the card for 3 attractions and we got a lot of use out of it. Just between the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock it would have cost us $90.

The New York Pass card allows free access to more than 100 New York attractions, including the Empire State Building, the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Museum.

The pass is only activated when you visit your first attraction. And it is only valid for the consecutive days following the first day of use.

1 DAY$129$99
2 DAYS$174$144
3 DAYS$199$154
4 DAYS$229$164
5 DAYS$259$179
6 DAYS$279$189
7 DAYS$299$199
10 DAYS$399$224

Children 3 between 12 years old.

The NYC Sightseeing Pass is a fairly affordable and easy to use flexible discount pass to New York. You only pay for the pass, you don’t need to pay anything else when you access the attractions.

With it you can choose the number of attractions and guided tours that you want to include in your Sightseeing Flex Pass. You can purchase the Sightseeing Flex Pass for 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10 or 12 attractions and you have 60 days to visit the attractions of your choice. You can choose from more than 100 attractions.


Children 3 between 12 years old.

You can buy your pass online. You receive a voucher with a QR code that is the pass. You can teach it directly from your mobile or print it.

At Civitatis you can find a multitude of activities and tours in New York.

Discover everything about the world through our travel diaries.

Follow us on Social Networks:

Short history of New York

We are going to know the history of New York in a brief and entertaining way.

The first settlers in the area were the Lenape, an Algonquian people, who ranged from Virginia to the Rocky Mountains and north to Hudson Bay.

Starting in the 16th century, the first Europeans began to explore the area, with the Florentine navigator and explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, in the service of King Francis I of France, who was looking for a route to Asia.

In 1624, 30 families of settlers sent by the Dutch West India Company settled on Nutten Island (now Governors Island), which they called New Amsterdam.

history of NYC
Peter Minuit.

In 1626, the governor of New Amsterdam, Peter Minuit, buys the island of Manhattan from the natives for 60 guilders (about $1,000 in today’s dollars) in trade goods, such as cloth or tools.

In 1664 the British took New Amsterdam from the Dutch and changed its name to New York, in honor of the Duke of York.

Over the next century, New York City’s population grew and diversified with the arrival of English, Dutch, French, and German immigrants, as well as servants and slaves from Africa.

The city prospers thanks to the trade in flour, furs, tobacco and wood and in 1760, the population grew from just 300 inhabitants in 1630 to 18,000 surpassing Boston as the second most populous city in the American colonies. 50 years later it already exceeded 200,000 inhabitants, becoming the most populous city in the northern hemisphere.

Between 1760 and 1770, an anti-British activity arose that exploded in 1765 after the approval by the British parliament of the Stamp Act, which involved a direct and specific tax for the thirteen colonies of British America that required that the majority of materials printed in the colonies will be published on stamped paper produced in London, stamped with an embossed revenue stamp. This law was intended to help pay for troops stationed in North America after the British victory in the Seven Years’ War and to control the growing freedom of the press in the colonies.

In August 1776, despite the efforts of George Washington’s Continental Army in Brooklyn and Harlem Heights, New York City falls to the British and serves as a British military base until 1783.

The city quickly recovers from the war and becomes one of the most important ports in the country in 1810.

But the real economic explosion would come with the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, a 363-mile canal from Lake Erie to the Hudson River, which facilitated the transport of goods. This made NYC the true business capital of the Country.

The growth of the city required new infrastructure improvements. In 1811 the Commissioners’ Plan, considered the most important document in the development of New York City, established an orderly grid of streets and avenues for the undeveloped portions of Manhattan north of Houston Street.

In 1842, the Croton Distributing Reservoir was opened, a reservoir and aqueduct that provided drinking water to the growing population of the city. And in 1845 the city established its first municipal agency: the New York City Police Department.

With increased immigration during the 1840s and 1850s, they settled in different ethnic neighborhoods, started businesses, joined unions and political organizations, and built churches and social clubs.

During the first half of the 20th century, with the construction of interstate highways and suburbs, it encouraged wealthy people to leave the city, which combined with deindustrialization and other economic changes to shrink the tax base and decrease public services.

With the immigration and nationality law approved in 1965 or the Hart-Celler Act (Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965), the national quotas imposed by the National Origins Formula, in force in the United States since the Immigration Law of 1921, are abolished. With it, an annual maximum limit of 300,000 immigrant visas is established, it makes it possible for immigrants from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America to reach the United States, many of them to NYC revitalizing many neighborhoods.

On September 11, 2011, NYC suffered the largest terrorist attack in the history of the United States, when a group of terrorists crashed two hijacked planes into the two tallest buildings in the city: the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
Buildings were destroyed and nearly 3,000 people were killed.

Nonetheless. the city remains an important financial and tourist capital with more than 40 million visitors a year.

Find the best activities and tours in New York with Civitatis.

Discover everything about the world through our travel diaries.