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New York City On A Budget

Updated on July 6, 2012
Sunset in Midtown West, New York City
Sunset in Midtown West, New York City

With strong euro travelling to New York has become more affordable for Europeans, but still very expensive for Americans. New York, being the most expensive city in the country, can easily wipe your bank account off if you travel unprepared. To travel to New York on a budget requires some research, starting with choosing place to stay to finding great inexpensive restaurants to getting cheap tickets for Broadway shows. To save on a hotel in New York is not easy, however quite possible. Besides relatively cheap popular chain hotels, such as Best Western and Comfort Inn, the city has unique inexpensive hotels to choose from, as well as, hostels and bed and breakfasts. Cheap hotels in New York can be found practically in all neighborhoods. However, if you want to stay right in touristic areas, such as Times Square or Theater District, prepare to pay more than if you choose an inexpensive hotel in residential neighborhoods, such as Upper West Side or Lower Manhattan. Manhattan is well connected to other New York City boroughs by public transportation, therefore if your traveling budget is small, it is not a bad idea to choose a place to stay in Brooklyn or Queens, where the prices for the hotel room are much cheaper than in Manhattan.

New York City restaurant scene is full of inexpensive restaurants, particularly with exotic authentic cuisines, so you can try interesting food and not spend a lot of money. You even can go to four-star restaurants in New York on a budget. If you go there for lunch instead of dinner, you can get lunch menu prices for dinner quality entrees.

New York City offers a lot of free entertainment for budget travelers, from free concerts and theater in Central Park to free exhibition and museums. You even can get tickets for all Broadway shows with 25-50% off the box office price. On the day of the performance visit TKTS on Duffy Square, the center island of 47th Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue.

If you are traveling to New York on a budget, you have to carefully choose the place to stay. After all, airfares and hotels usually swallow the biggest part of your traveling budget. New York City tourism office estimated that 46 million people visited New York City in 2007. Therefore, on the contrary to many other cities, New York City hotels don’t have low or high season. People come to New York all year round. One solution is to find a hotel somewhere close but outside of Manhattan. New York City boroughs are well connected by public transportation. So, if you stay in a hotel in Queens or Brooklyn, it would take only 30-40 minutes to get to New York by subway. But, if you want to stay in Manhattan, it requires some time and research to find a budget hotel.

Broadway, Upper West Side, New York City
Broadway, Upper West Side, New York City
Riverside Park, Upper West Side, New York City
Riverside Park, Upper West Side, New York City

New York budget hotels could be spotted around Manhattan. However, there are some areas where it is easier to find a cheap hotel in New York. A lot of cheap hotels are concentrated on Upper West Side and around Times Square and Theater District. Upper West Side is a residential neighborhood, but full of restaurants, bars and shopping temptations. Just 15-20 minutes on a bus or subway and you are on Times Square, just 5-10 minutes walk and you are in Central Park. Natural History Museum with famous Rose Center for Earth and Space is right here. Lincoln Center, home for Metropolitan Opera and New York City ballet, is here as well as Columbus Circle with beautiful fountain installation and Time Warner building.

Times Square, New York City
Times Square, New York City

If you want to stay close to Times Square and Theater District, there are a lot of cheap hotels to choose from. These areas are the most touristic areas in New York and full of theaters, restaurants, bars and nightlife spots. Theater district restaurants offer pre-fixed early bird menus, which are in most cases quite good and inexpensive. Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Fifth Avenue and Museum of Modern Art are just 10 minutes walk away. What can be better than staying right in the vibrant Times Square and not to break your bank account?

Washington Square, Greenwich Village New York City
Washington Square, Greenwich Village New York City

For those who like Bohemian atmosphere, Greenwich Village in Manhattan is a right place to be. For more than a century, this area has been a Mecca to the creative, rebellious and Bohemian. Home to New York University, Washington Square Park and annual Halloween parade, Greenwich Village has a carnival atmosphere year round. The area is full of small restaurants and cafes, shops and jazz clubs. Washington Square Park is a regular hangout spot for students, musicians, chess players and tourists.

Chinatown, New York City
Chinatown, New York City

Lower East Side recently became one of the trendiest neighborhoods of Manhattan. With renovated lofts and new buildings, trendy restaurants and night clubs, the area is a very popular night spot among New Yorkers and tourists. If you came to New York to party, why not to stay right where the party is? Conveniently located within walking distance of Soho, Chinatown, Little Italy, East Village and Financial District, Lower East Side neighborhood is a great area to stay for all kind of budget travelers, from business travelers to tourists.


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    • elayne001 profile image


      11 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Wish I could have had this info when we visited New York in 2007. We were there in August and then 9/11 came. We were fortunate to have a relative there who showed us how to get on and off the buses, bought us some Broadway shows and took us to some great inexpensive restaurants. We had a ball. Good hub.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      11 years ago from Chicago

      I enjoyed reading your article here. You are right that one can go to New York on a budget. I especially thought your tips about TKTS is needful. Thank you for a fine read.

    • mpurcell10 profile image


      11 years ago from Arkansas

      Great hub. Thanks for sharing. I will use this info.

    • Wanderlust profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from New York City

      Thank you for comments and you are all very welcome to New York!

    • skeri profile image


      12 years ago from United Kingdom

      First, I must say that this is great article.

      Second, I hope soon I will have chance to visit U. S. and especially New York. I heard a lot of wonderful things about city and about very popular Manhattan. Cheers! :))

    • Scoudini profile image

      Brenda K. Bredahl 

      12 years ago from MN-WI border, USA

      Thank you; this is wonderful for first-time visitors to New York!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      12 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Have never visited the States but would like to see New York


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