So, New York from Cardiff Airport…yes, that’s right. It is possible. From your very own local Airport. “But Cardiff Airport is really expensive” I hear you say.
“Nonsense” I say!
I’ve been to New York a good few times, I’ve done all the main touristy things and as good as they are, New York is doable without spending an absolute fortune.
So… Let’s price up 5 nights in New York, Flying from Cardiff 1st November 2017.
Cardiff To New York.
1st November 2017
KLM1058 Depart Cardiff (CWL) 06:00AM – Arrive Amsterdam (AMS) 08:25AM
DELTA47 Depart Amsterdam (AMS) 09:15AM – Arrive New York (JFK) 13:08PM
New York to Cardiff
6th November 2017
DELTA4005 Depart New York (JFK) 17:15PM – Arrive Boston (BOS) 18:49PM
DELTA126 Depart Boston (BOS) 19:40PM – Arrive Amsterdam (AMS) 08:30AM+1
KLM1059 Depart Amsterdam (AMS) 09:30AM – Arrive Cardiff (CWL) 09:50AM
Price of return flights per person: £375.00 – Price obtained from KLM.com on 13th March.
Where to Stay
Airbnb is all the rage these days and does give good value for money it would seem.
You can stay in a good quality upper west side apartment that sleeps 2 for as little as £95 per night . Sometimes a little less.
Check out airbnb.co.uk
Total Price to Stay £478.00, if you are travelling with a friend/partner then this is £239 per person.
We’ll stick with the ‘per person’ model from now on in. Which gives us a figure of £614 per person to get to and stay in New York for 5 nights.
Getting to/from JFK Airport
All terminals at JFK are served by The Airtrain. Get on the Jamaica Station bound AirTrain and get off at Jamaica Station. There is a news kiosk at the exit where you should buy the following;
2 x AirTrain Metrocard ($5.00 each)
1 x 7 Day unlimited ride Subway Metrocard ($31.00)
Use 1 AirTrain Metrocard to exit the AirTrain platform then follow signs to the World Trade Centre bound “E” Subway Train. Use your 7 day Metrocard to enter the subway and you are on your way to Manhattan!
Do the above in reverse to get back using the second AirTrain Metrocard on your return.
Research the nearest Subway station to your hotel/apartment before you leave for NY as you may need to change trains etc. This will save you some serious head scratching.
You already have the 7 day Metrocard so use it! There are subway stations all over the place and there will be one near to wherever you are going.
Free Things to do
1. Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic pieces of architecture in New York, it connects Manhattan to Brooklyn and has a dedicated walkway for the entire length. Brooklyn Bridge is easy to reach via the Subway too, just aim for ‘Brooklyn Bridge City Hall Station’ on the 4, 5 or 6 train line (the green one) for the Manhattan side or ‘High Street Station’ on the A or C train line (the blue one) for the Brooklyn side. Once on the Brooklyn side it is an absolute must to visit Brooklyn Bridge Park for the most spectacular views of lower Manhattan including Freedom Tower.
2. Times Square
Yes, you’ve seen the movies and photos of this place and it really does have an enormous wow-factor about it, in the day it’s OK but at night it’s electrifying, literally……completely ram-packed with electric advertising boards and tourists. It really does have an amazing buzz about the place. There is a subway station right in the middle of it too making access extremely easy. Just head for “Times Sq 42nd St. Station.”
3. Grand Central Station
Potentially the most beautiful train station in the world. Built in 1903, Grand Central houses 44 platforms, more than any other station in the world. The main concourse is home to the famous clock which is allegedly worth $20 million dollars. The ceiling in the concourse i stunning. The lower concourse has a food court and retailers can be found everywhere. Also accessible on the Subway.. You’ve guessed it, head for ‘Grand Central.’
4. Staten Island Ferry
The free commuter ferry service links lower Manhattan to Staten Island. The 5 mile trip takes approx 25 mins in each direction and offers some amazing views of The Hudson, the best of which is of The Statue of Liberty which the ferry passes in both directions. Again, easy to get to on the Subway, head for ‘South Ferry Station’
5. Central Park
The world’s most famous park, surely? An incredible, vast green space in one of the busiest cities on the planet. Tranquil with lakes and streams and used in a gazillion movies over the years. Remember Bruce Willis in Die Hard? That could be you, but without the taxi! There are several Subway stations serving the outer perimeter of the park on all four sides.
6. Roosevelt Island
The Island itself is not overly interesting unless you are a fan of the movie ‘Conspiracy Theory’, what is interesting however is how you get there… Keep that Metrocard handy, you can use it to get on the ‘Roosevelt Island Tram’ which is basically a giant cable car that that rides along side the Queensboro Bridge connecting the Upper East-Side of Manhattan to Roosevelt Island while crossing the East River. Provides great views of the East River and surrounding area. Closest subway station is ‘Lexington Ave/59 St”
7. 9/11 Memorial
The names of every person who died in the terrorist attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001 are inscribed in bronze around twin memorial pools. There are a few nearby subway stations.
8. The Highline
The Highline is a park built on a 1.45 mile stretch of raised disused railway line running on the west side of Manhattan from 34th Street down to Ganesvoort Street in the Meat Packing District. The park gets 5 million visitors a year and as well as planted trees, plants and grass some of the original train tracks have been left in place and even feature prominently in certain areas. Subway Access to northern end is ‘Hudson Yards Station’ and southern end “14 St.” A, C or E.
9. New York Public Library
Ssshhhh! It’s a library, with the famous reading room. They ever offer free tours Mon-Sat at 11am and 2pm and Sundays at 2PM. They close on Sundays in the Summer. The building was opened in 1911 and is one of New Yorks finest landmarks. Get the Subway to either “5th Ave” or “42nd St. / Bryant Park”
10. Wall Street / Financial District
Grab the Bull by the horns and get down to The Financial District, the New York Stock Exchange, Charging Bull, Federal Hall and many other landmarks lie in this area. Federal Hall was the location of the inauguration of George Washington. The World Trade Centre is also in the district. Head for “Wall Street”, “Bowling Green” or “Broad Street” Stations on the Subway.
3 Inexpensive Activities
1. East River Ferry
The East River Ferry runs from 34th Street on the East Side of Manhattan and Runs right down to Wall Street stopping at various locations along the way. Provides excellent views for the entire journey including Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge, all of which you go under. These 3 bridges are known as BMW.
One of the stops for the ferry is Brooklyn Bridge Park so you could tie it in to a Brooklyn Bridge Walk and a visit to Grimaldi’s Pizzeria (See Eating on the Cheap below)
The price of the ferry is $4 regardless of final destination.
2. NY Transit Museum
The Brooklyn based Transit Museum is housed in a disused subway station and includes exhibits of subway cars from over the years which you can board and roam around. It also has exhibits detailing the role of the subway system during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Northeast blackout of 2003. Many more things to see here also.
Admission is $10
3. Fire Department Museum
The New York City Fire Museum houses one of the nation’s most important collections of fire related art and artefacts from the late 18th century onward. The two exhibit floors trace the development of firefighting in New York from the early bucket brigades to the present day.
Admission is $8
Eating on the Cheap
Get the idea of visiting the likes of Hard Rock or Planet Hollywood out of your head if you want to save some money. The big chain restaurants mean big money and remember… you’re on a budget!
You can still eat well without a massive bill. Hit the deli’s that are dotted around everywhere. They are usually buffet style and sell food by weight, generally a very good and varied selection, some even have a set menu and prepare food fresh in front of you. This can sometimes be less expensive again.
Pizza joints are also everywhere and sell pizza by the slice, depending on where you are the price of pizza ranges from just $1 a slice up to $5.
For pizza, my biggest recommendation would be Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn, They don’t sell by the slice but a small plain pizza is just $15.00 and you get 6 good size slices for that. It’s right next to Brooklyn Bridge Park so when you are in the area be sure to pop in.
For dessert it has to be Serendipity III, this was the actual dessert restaurant in the movie Serendipity. They are famous for their Frozen Hot Chocolate. This is right across the road from the Roosevelt Island Tram Station (Manhattan Side.)
Consider a make-shift picnic, There is a K-Mart (supermarket) on 34th Street next to Penn Station. Food is on the bottom floor and priced far more reasonably than most places. 7/11’s are also dotted around and have good-to-go snacks.
If all else fails there’s the trusty golden arches of McDonald’s amongst many many more chain fast food eateries to get you through.
So, hopefully you’ve been frugal enough to have some money set aside for one of the big ones. Here they are in my order of preference
1.Empire State Building
Take in the 360° views of New York from the 86th Floor of The Empire State Building. I recommend going 1 hour before sunset and staying until dark. Check weather before you go.
Price: Adults $34, Children $27, Seniors $31
2. Statue of Liberty
Complete with access to the crown. It’s one hell of a flight of stairs mind you, 162 in total on a very narrow staircase inside the framework of the statue. Arguably more interesting than the actual crown. Reservation is required, visit statuecruises.com to book.
Price: Adults $21.50, Children $12, Seniors $17 (Includes ferry from/to Battery Park – Check you are booking “with Crown access” tickets when booking, otherwise, what is the point?)
3. One World Observatory
The tallest building in the western hemisphere and sixth tallest in the world. The views from the observatory are an incredible 360° vista from lower Manhattan.
Price: Adults $34, Children $28, Seniors $32
4. Top of The Rock
The Top of the Rock or Rockefeller Centre Observation Deck is close to the taller Empire State Building and although doesn’t carry as much clout as it, it offers something The Empire State can’t. A View of The Empire State Building itself as well as a clearer view of Central Park.
Price: Adults $34, Children $28, Seniors $32
5. 9/11 Museum
The mueseum has three parts: the Day of 9/11, Before 9/11 and After 9/11. It tells the story of what happened on 9/11, including the events at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the story of Flight 93.
Price: Adults $24, Children $15, Senior $18
If you feel you may want to do a couple of the above then you may want to look at The New York City Pass
Please check each attraction for up to date prices and qualifying ages for children and seniors.
When do I tip and how much?
The way I look at it, If you are sat down when you are being served then you will have to tip and it can be big money.
The tip rate is in 3 stages 15% for fair service, 18% for good service and 20% for excellent service.
So, stood at the bar to be served – No tip required.
Sat at the bar – Tip required.
Stood at a food counter – No tip required
Sat at a table and served by waiter/waitress – Tip Required.
If you feel the need to get a taxi then tip 15% or save some money and get an Uber and you wont have to tip, although you can if you want.
Could you Visit New York on Budget?
Feel free to leave a comment with any suggestions, ideas or your New York experiences.