Skyscrapers dwarf the avenues below, and the sidewalks thrum with life day and night.
The clichés about New York are true – but that's just the surface. Alongside the iconic buildings, the city’s neighbourhoods are home to people and influences from around the globe; it's the diversity in everything that makes the Big Apple so uniquely exciting.
Arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) is New York’s largest international airport and the main entry point to the city. Public transport options are plentiful, and you can reach the heart of Manhattan just a couple of hours after your plane touches down.
The 24-hour AirTrain JFK links to the subway system and has stations in all six of the airport’s terminals. Once you change onto the subway it’s a 35-minute ride into Penn Station in Manhattan. Alternatively, express buses, which also stop at all of JFK’s terminals, run every 20 to 30 minutes and stop at Grand Central Station and Penn Station. The journey takes around an hour and a quarter.
New York taxis are also available from outside the airport, and, unlike cabs hailed from the street, are not metered. There's a set fare, which can include a rush-hour surcharge. The journey duration varies depending on the time of the day, and can be as short as 40 minutes or up to 90 minutes.
New York City’s public transport, run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), is largely an easy and efficient way of getting around the city. The 24-hour subway is most people’s first choice; it's the fastest way of getting almost anywhere in the city. If you’re travelling long distances, use the express lines for an even quicker route. To use the subway, buy a MetroCard from machines in the stations.
The extensive bus network is good for short trips, plus there is the added advantage of watching the city rush by. You also need a MetroCard to pay for fares on buses, but you'll need to buy one in advance.
New York City’s iconic yellow taxis can be hailed from any street. Hop in one when you have tired feet, heavy bags or need help finding an address. Fares are metered, so traffic congestion can affect the cost. When hailing a cab look for vehicles with illuminated lights on their roofs.
Book car hirein advance to pick up a car either at JFK or from locations around the city. If you do choose to hire a car, be sure to rent a sat nav to help you get around, and do some research into parking options.
Upper East Side: for museums
Running parallel to Central Park, the Upper East Side is home to what has become known as Museum Mile (officially Fifth Avenue). The neighbourhood is quieter than much of Manhattan, and the leafy streets are lined with plush buildings and some of the most sought-after real estate in the city. Museums and galleries fit in perfectly, and it's here you'll find the internationally acclaimed Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as the Guggenheim Museum. Also along Fifth Avenue are the Museum of the City of New York, the Jewish Museum and the National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts, among others.
Midtown Manhattan: for sightseeing and theatre
In Midtown the glowing lights of Times Square spill into the Theatre District and Broadway, where more than 40 theatres host an ever-changing bill of musicals and plays. The Empire State Building rockets into the sky, the Rockefeller lures with its shops, observation decks and winter ice rink, and the streets are filled with designer shops, including Saks Fifth Avenue department store. The Museum of Modern Art is the place for culture, and the impressive architecture of Grand Central Station and the historic St Patrick’s Cathedral are must-sees. It’s impossible to miss the Chrysler building, reaching 1,046ft (319m) skywards.
Greenwich Village: for local life
Tucked in the southwest corner of Manhattan Island, Greenwich Village is a world apart from the bustle of Midtown. While it is home to big-name brand stores, it manages to exude an old-time romance with its winding, narrow streets, quirky coffee houses and restaurants, and its bohemian vibe. Washington Square Park sits in its centre, and it’s a delightful place to watch the world go by to the sound of street musicians. The raw and emotive 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a moving tribute to the people who lost their lives and an insight into the USA's worst terrorist atrocity.
Currency: US dollar
Time zone: Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5) and Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4)