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.

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