48 hours in New York: The perfect two-day itinerary

For a city as iconic and sprawling as New York, deciding what to do and what to skip during your trip can prove to be a daunting task. The perfect weekend in NYC should be chock full of famed landmarks, storied neighborhoods, and spectacular views. This itinerary will guide you through the best ways to experience them all.

  1. Day 1

    1. Morning

      See the Statue of Liberty up close (2 hours)


      A global symbol of the American Dream, more than 12 million immigrants have traveled past the Statue of Liberty and through Ellis Island en route to New York City over the years, and you shouldn’t leave New York without seeing Lady Liberty yourself. See her the way that was intended on a cruise that floats right by, offering up-close and unobstructed views. An audio guide will tell you about the history of the statue and other landmarks, like the Brooklyn Bridge and Ellis Island. Or for a free experience that doesn’t get quite as close, hop on the Staten Island Ferry running between Lower Manhattan and Staten Island for stunning views of the icon and the Lower Manhattan skyline. Of course, you can visit Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty Museum as well as the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration by reserving a ticket that includes a round-trip ferry in advance.

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    2. Pay your respects at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum (1.5 hours)


      On the way to your next stop, stroll through the rush of Wall Street to see the famous hustle and bustle in person, passing the sprawling columns of the New York Stock Exchange and the Charging Bull statue. Continue along the way and walk through the Oculus, an architecturally magnificent transportation hub adjacent to the 9/11 Memorial. While inside, grab a coffee from Joe’s or a quick lunch at Épicerie Boulud to refuel before continuing along to the Memorial. The September 11 Memorial reflecting pools, located at the exact site of the former Twin Towers, pay tribute to the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives in the tragedy of 9/11 and feature the largest man-made waterfalls in the USA. Pause to witness the monument for a moment of tranquil reflection before understanding more of the history of the buildings and events of the attack with a timed entrance to the 9/11 Museum.

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    3. Afternoon

      Walk across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge (1.5 hours)


      After visiting the memorial, you’ll be a short jaunt away from the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge, which was the first fixed structure built for crossing the East River back in 1883. This feat made the bridge one of the most important architectural structures for connecting New York City to Brooklyn, though these days it is most popular as a pedestrian walkway with stunning views. See them for yourself as you make your way over the bridge, getting a new photo angle every few steps until you reach DUMBO on the Brooklyn side where the most iconic shots of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges can be taken — the intersection of Washington Street and Water Street is where you want to be. If you have a passion for architecture, check out a walking tour to delve into the history of the bridge and its surrounding neighborhoods. In DUMBO, which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, seek out the Brooklyn Ice Cream factory nestled just under the bridge, and explore the industrial-turned-hip zip code filled with luxury lofts, art galleries, theaters, and eateries, giving the neighborhood a unique charm.

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    4. Discover downtown Manhattan (2 hours)


      From DUMBO, take the subway to Spring Street and walk through SoHo, New York’s trendy downtown neighborhood. Stroll past the cast-iron architecture, chic boutiques, and art galleries as you continue north towards Greenwich Village, a bohemian neighborhood that was once a popular gathering place for famous writers and beatnik poets, where 19th-century brownstones tower along quiet, tree-lined streets. Some of them look familiar? You’ve probably recognized 17 Grove Street, the apartment building featured in Friends, or Carrie Bradshaw’s Sex and the City apartment at 66 Perry Street.

    5. Evening

      Walk the High Line to Edge for NYC’s most exciting views (2 hours)


      A couple of blocks north will put you in Chelsea, where you’ll climb a few steps up to The High Line, a former elevated railway transformed into a 1.5-mile linear park. Walk north to Hudson Yards, surrounded by gorgeous gardens and incredible ultra-modern and century-old architecture the whole way, taking in the sunset views of the city and the Hudson. But the views are about to get a whole lot better — you’re heading toward the angled 1,200-foot skyscraper in the distance that’s home to Edge, the highest outdoor viewing platform in the Western Hemisphere. Skip the ticket line and enjoy the multimedia experience before heading up 100 stories to the spacious sky deck for thrilling 360-degree views of the city, in all directions thanks to its partial glass floor and angled glass walls that let you look straight down. Daredevils might want to harness up and lean out even higher on the City Climb experience. When you come back down to earth, mouthwatering dinner options await in Hudson Yards.

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  2. Day 2

    1. Morning

      Set the scene at Central Park (2 hours)


      At over 800 acres, Central Park is larger than Monaco and is the US’s most-visited urban park. So that you don’t fill up your full day exploring and getting lost in it, opt for a bike tour that will hit all the park’s major highlights, including Bethesda Fountain and Terrace, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, Strawberry Fields, and the Literary Walk. If you’re visiting from April to November, you can also rent a rowboat or embark on a romantic gondola ride from Loeb Boathouse, weather permitting. Film fans will already know that the park is one of the most filmed and photographed locations on the planet, so might want to take a movie-themed tour of over 40 instantly recognizable locations featured in everything from When Harry Met Sally and Home Alone 2 to Marvel.

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    2. Afternoon

      Immerse yourself in modern art (2 hours)

      Exit the park on its south side, or anywhere else if you want an excuse to flag down a yellow cab — another NYC must — and head toward a mecca for modern art: MoMA. Rarely referred to by its full name, the Museum of Modern Art on 53rd Street is revered as one of the most influential art institutions in the world. Across its six floors, the collection includes works by Monet, Matisse, and Van Gogh, as well as American greats Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock. Book your ticket ahead to skip the line, or it’s free after 4:00 PM on Fridays.
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    3. Stroll down Fifth Avenue (1 hour)

      Now you’re just a hop and skip away from New York’s, and arguably the world’s, most famous shopping street. You’ll pass by high-end boutiques and legendary sights like Rockefeller Center — a must-visit near the holidays, with its huge Christmas tree and ice-skating rink — Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bryant Park. Stop by one of NYC’s most celebrated, free attractions, the New York Public Library, and explore its vast history and stunning architecture.
    4. People watch at Grand Central Terminal (15 minutes)


      Even if you’re not catching a train, Grand Central Terminal is worth visiting for its beautiful Beaux-Arts design alone. The buzzing station is the perfect spot for grabbing a coffee or a snack from Grand Central Market, or you can sit down for a meal at the chic Cipriani Dolci, an offshoot of the legendary Venetian restaurant that overlooks the Terminal. If you want to dive deeper to discover the secrets of Grand Central, like a hidden tennis court and a subterranean Oyster Bar, we recommend taking an expert-guided tour.

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    5. See the city from new heights


      You can’t leave New York without taking in view of the city from above. Though there are several attractions with stunning views – Top of the Rock, One World Observatory, Empire State Building — the SUMMIT One Vanderbilt Experience is NYC’s latest and most unique attraction. You’ll find the entrance on the Grand Central Concourse. Housed in the second-tallest non-residential building and perched 93 stories above the street, this immersive art exhibit kills two birds with one stone — you get the breathtaking views of the concrete jungle from the open-air terrace and the glass-enclosed skyboxes, as well as a multi-sensory art exhibit curated by Kenzo Digital. A highlight of the exhibit is SUMMIT AIR, a two-story room layered with floor-to-ceiling mirrors that reflect the New York skyline all around you.

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    6. Evening

      Twirl through Times Square and catch a Broadway show


      End your evening in the dazzling Times Square, home of New York's theater district. So bright it can be spotted from space, take in the bright lights after catching a show at one of its 41 theaters. Broadway is every theater lover's dream come true, with long-running classics like The Lion King to the latest productions, and it attracts around 15 million theatergoers every year — be sure to book your tickets well in advance.