Welcome to New York City’s beating heart: Manhattan. The NYC borough with all the good stuff, there are thousands of things to see and do here, from shopping in SoHo to the kaleidoscopic Times Square. But what if you’ve only got one day?
Fret not. Skyscanner will guide you through all the milestones from sunrise to spectacular sunset. So whether you’re on a stopover flight or a whirlwind city break, here is the perfect itinerary for 24 hours in Manhattan.
There is no better way to start your day in NYC than an early morning walk through its ‘green lung’: the vast Central Park. Over 840 acres of lawns, woods, fountains and lakes framed by the charming buildings of Upper East and West Side ensure you’ll forget you’re in the city at all. Energy to spare? Up the tempo to a jog like a real New Yorker – whether it’s blooming flowerbeds, sparkling ice-skating rinks, or the explosions of red and yellow foliage during the autumn, Central Park is magical in every season. You can enter from numerous locations, but the Upper East Side has 10 to choose from between 60th and 110th streets. Best of all? It’s totally free.
Recharge your batteries with a hot shower back at your hotel and get ready for a morning in fabulously trendy district, SoHo. Where else would you stay but this effortlessly stylish boutique hotel with chic minimalist décor to match its location? Special treats include super-size bedrooms, custom-made linings, hardwood floors, hi-tech accessories in every corner and rooftop terraces with beautiful views over the Manhattan skyline. Rooms start from $287.
Breakfast at Dominique Ansel Bakery
Pop round the corner to Spring Street for a breakfast you won’t forget. New York is full of delicious bakeries with pastries to light up your eyes and fill your stomach but this tiny SoHo shop owned by French chef Dominique Ansel is on everyone’s lips. Try special inventions like the famous cronuts ($5) and more traditional delights such as macaroons, muffins and brioches. The perfect brief and tasty breakfast for those with important sightseeing to do. Tip: get there on the dot of 8am when it opens as queues can get long!
Shopping at What Goes Around Comes Around
In SoHo, shopping temples are many and irresistible. But one thing cannot be missed from your list. What Goes Around Comes Around (WGACA for friends and regulars) has been the headliner of luxury second-hand clothing for a long time now. Vintage is king here, but only if it comes from the best brands of the fashion world. Coupled with unique accessories and jewellery to show off at dinner, this is the place to come for those one-chance souvenirs. Find it on West Broadway, one block north of the Soho Grand Hotel.
From here, it’s a 15-minute walk to the borders of cool Lower East Side, and the Bowery (another Manhattan landmark), where you’ll find a museum that’s anything but ordinary. An unexpected metal tower made of overlapping cubes, the New Museum is a constant source of astonishment. It hosts contemporary art exhibitions that are always ahead of time, featuring international artists and a firm experimental approach. 24 hours may not be enough to see everything in New York, but by visiting the New Museum you will definitely get a representative snapshot of how much this city loves art in all its forms. Entrance is $16, open from Wednesday – Sunday, 11am – 6pm.
Jump on the R Line heading north on Broadway for a glimpse of this historic triangular skyscraper, built as far back as 1902 and today an undisputed New York icon. The Flatiron stands out against the sky in all its elegance at the cross between 5th Avenue, Broadway and 23rd Street, right in front of Madison Square Gardens. Its three white European-style facades distinguish it from any other skyscraper in the city, and make it the perfect subject for a quick selfie before you move on.
Lunch at ABC Kitchen
You might have worked up quite an appetite by this stage, but the good news is you’re only 5 minutes away from ABC Kitchen, on East 18th street. It’s worth looking in for lunch, as the man behind the magic is Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Pick from gourmet dishes like tuna sashimi, as well as platters of charcuterie and good old NYC pizza. Everything is prepared with local, farm-to-table ingredients and all in the surroundings of 100% sustainable furniture by design and furniture brand ABC. Bon appetit, indeed. Pizzas start from $17 and the three-course lunch menu is $33.
New York Public Library
Hop back on the subway to Grand Central Station and head to 5th Avenue to see this Library with a capital L. The grand Classical front of the main New York Public Library has been filmed and photographed more times than can be mentioned and sitting at the corner of Bryant Park, it’s the perfect place for taking a regenerating, after-lunch break from the urban chaos. Take a moment to browse at one of the hardwood tables of Rose Main Reading Room, the majestic hall lit by huge windows and crystal chandeliers, and breathe in over a century of safely-stored knowledge.
You can’t see Manhattan and not even breeze through the whirling triangle of lights, colours and noises that is Times Square. At every time of day, you will never be alone here, but as the light dwindles in late afternoon, the buzz only grows. Find yourself a spot in the midst of the crowd and take a good look at the retro signs of Broadway musicals, gigantic screens on the skyscrapers and thousands of languages dancing all around you. Located between 7th Avenue and Broadway, head up onto the roof at the famous centrepiece, One Times Square, and you might just get a surprise – the New Year’s Eve Ball is kept up there all year-round and the light glowing through Waterford Crystal offers a quite-literally dazzling display.
Top of the Rock
By this time you’ll be racing against the sunset, so hotfoot it over to the Rockefeller Center complex, between 47th and 50th street, to see the sun go down in style. Enter the huge plush halls and take the glass-walled elevator to reach the top of the tallest building (70 floors!), and arguably the best view of New York City: the Empire State Building on one side, Central Park on the other, the rivers on both horizons. As day turns to night, you’ll have the best way to imprint Manhattan forever on your memory. Tickets for the Top of the Rock elevator start from $32, or you can visit SixtyFive, a swish cocktail bar on the 65th floor of the Rockefeller Centre, and pay $25 for a Manhattan sundowner.
Dinner at RANA
Treat yourself to a cab and ride on over to master pasta-maker Giovanni Rana’s place for dinner, located inside the beautiful Chelsea Market food court. You’ll be greeted with a mix of post-industrial architecture and homely atmosphere with huge hardwood tables, hanging crockery and fresh flowers, while dishes span the best of Mediterranean traditions. Outside of Italy itself, this is the place to try the likes of truffle ravioli or squid-ink linguini: give yourself time to linger over a glass of Primitivo red ($14/glass) and enjoy the atmosphere. Pasta mains start from $21.
Clubbing at Cielo
Squeeze the most out of your 24 hours in the trendy Meatpacking District, a popular after-dinner destination among celebrities and native New Yorkers alike. Cielo is where it’s at, and you won’t be disappointed with the line-up, with world famous DJs like Derrick Carter and Little Louie Vega pumping up the crowd and cocktails akin to real artworks. See the venue website to find out current events and ticket prices.
In love with all things New York? Try these guides out for size:
Native New Yorker Tripbod Craig reveals 10 of the best things to do and see in the city that never sleeps.
From pizza to pastrami, take a foodie tour of New York City, stopping in at famous, and not-so-known places to eat to sample some of its signature dishes.
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