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Visiting NYC on a budget

NYC is not particularly known as a 'budget friendly' travel destination. As the city with one of the most expensive rental prices per square meter, all other prices follow the same way.

Luckily there are also a lot of budget-friendly possibilities. Together with Rebecca from @thesavvy_newyorker, we collected some affordable tips & tricks.

Visitin NYC on a budget (c) Silvie Bonne

3 budget-friendly places to eat

  • Dim Sum at Nom Wah Tea Parlor : You can order a many dim sum as you like and it's to perfect place to go with friends, so you can share the different dim sum. Prices vary between $ 4,5 and $ 5,5 per portion and if you order 3 portions a person, you'll leave with a full stomach.

  • Artichoke pizza: Artichoke pizza has 10 different locations in NYC. You can order a variety of 3 pizza styles (3 rigorous wedges) for $18. The tree slices where to much for me to finish, so these are perfect to share if you're looking for a quick bite with 2 persons.

  • Savvy New Yorker's Tip: Dumplings at 'Drunken Dumpling': This little hole in the wall restaurant is known for their modern yet authentic twist on dumplings, and is internet famous for their XL Xiao Long Bao (massive soup dumpling) and pink dumplings. Savvy New Yorker tried a pulsd app deal with a friend and got soup dumplings, pot stickers, buns and 2 drinks for $29 (regular price is $46). What a great deal for NYC!

Nom Wah Tea Parlor (c) Silvie Bonne

Artichoke Pizza (c) Silvie Bonne

Soup dumplings (c) Silvie Bonne

3 budget-friendly dessert places

  • Japanese desserts at The Little One : at The Little One you can have the most beautiful (and most Instagrammable) desserts! If you order a Kakigōri (Shaved Ice), you can ask for more spoons, so you can share your portion. Delicious!

  • Savvy New Yorker's Tip 1: Dö: Who doesn't love raw cookie dough?! This cookie dough is made out of pasteurized egg product so you can eat it raw without having to worry about any harmful bacteria- and its delicious! They have ice cream sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, milkshakes, brownies, fudge, and more! If you sign up on their website, you get 10% off your first online order.

  • Savvy New Yorker's Tip 2: Magnolia Bakery is famous for their banana pudding and has the best cupcakes in the city. You can get as little or as much as you want, but when you go you'll want to try everything! Desserts include all different cupcakes, pies, cheesecakes, muffins, cookies, brownies, and more, and prices start from $1.50 for a cookie and up.

The Little One (c) Silvie Bonne

Magnolia Bakery (c) Silvie Bonne

3 budget-friendly fun-things-to-do

  • Rowing at The Lake in Central Park: you can rent a rowboat at The Loeb Boathouse for only $15 per hour. A boat holds up to 4 people, so if you can find a party of four to go on 'a boat trip', you're not even paying $4 p/p.

  • There is always something to see and to do at Bryant Park. There a daily free classes (yoga, fencing, Tai Chi ...) free Tours (Birding Tour & Bryant Park Tour) and free events (Movie Nights, piano concerts, Broadway in Bryant Park ...). There are also a lot of affordable food kiosks (Joe Coffee Company, Le Pain Quotidien, Wafels & Dinges), so you could even stay here a whole afternoon. Our favorite place to hang out is the corner in the park where you can play board-games and the NY Public Library book corner.

  • Savvy New Yorker's Tip: Enjoy a night out at a comedy show where your cheeks will hurt from smiling and laughing too much! Comedy Cellar has many different shows, and prices range from $8 to $17 (tickets just need to be booked online at least 2 weeks in advance). Another great activity to do when the weather is nice is to visit Coney Island in Brooklyn. This great amusement park features many rides, games, street performers, boardwalk, and a free beach!

Loeb Boathouse Central Park (c) Silvie Bonne

Bryant Park (c) Silvie Bonne

Coney Island (c) Silvie Bonne

3 totally free fun-things-to-do

  • Free Art:

  • The Museum at FIT (Fashion Museum) and the Museum of the American Indian have always free entrance.

  • A lot of museums have free admission on particular days and hours, f.e. Museum at Eldridge Street has free admission on Mondays , The Frick Collection has free admission on Wednesdays from 2 pm till 6 pm, the MoMA has free admission on Fridays from 4 pm to 8 pm.

  • The Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria is a beautiful neighborhood park that supports (visual) artists in the production and presentation of public art.

  • Street art hunting at The Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn, The Welling Court Mural Project in Astoria - Queens or try to find all the 19 Eduardo Kobra Murals that are spread over the city.

  • With 1,500 galleries, NYC has the biggest concentration of art-galleries in the world. Most galleries are in Chelsea and The Lower East Side and they are all free to walk in and out. You can find my favorites in this blog post.

  • Kayaking on the Hudson River or on the East River.

  • The Downtown Boathouse at Pier 26 provides free kayaking all season long on Saturdays and Sundays.

  • The Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse at Pier 2 provides free kayaking all season long, every Saturday and Thursday.

  • Savvy New Yorker's Tip: It's sometimes nice to escape the hustle and bustle, and visiting the New York Public Library is the perfect sanctuary to escape the crowds. The library provides free resources and it is free to apply for a library card. The best library location to visit is the Bryant Park location (The Stephan A. Schwarzman building). It is beautiful and feels like Harry Potter on the upper floors.

The Museum of the American Indian (c) Silvie Bonne

Socrates Sculpture Park (c) Silvie Bonne

NY Public Library The Stephan A. Schwarzman building (c) Silvie Bonne

3 budget-friendly ways to travel in the city:

  • The MTA subway is definitely the most budget friendly and most efficient way to travel in the city. The 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard costs $32 and is a good idea, even if you are visiting for less than 7 days! Pay-per-ride cards are available starting at $5.50. With a pay-per-ride card you pay $2.75 per ride (+ $1 for your card).

  • The NYC Ferry is the most lovely way to travel on the East River while enjoying the fantastic view of the NYC skyline. The ferry can bring you to Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, to the Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria, to Wall Street, to 34th Street, to Dumbo in Brooklyn, to Governors Island, ... and even all the way to Rockaway Beach. Definitly our favorite way to travel, especially during the summer (for the welcome breeze) and during the night (for the extra impressive skyline-by-night). A ticket for a ride costs only $2,75. You can find all the routes and the schedules on

  • Savvy New Yorker's Tip: If you want a low cost ridesharing service, 'Via' charges $5 to any Manhattan neighborhood. That is a great deal if you are trying to cab for a long distance.

NYC Subway (c) Silvie Bonne

NYC Ferry (c) Silvie Bonne

NYC Streets (c) Silvie Bonne

Bonus Tip 1

Follow @thesavvy_newyorker and @bonnesilvie on Instagram to get more budget-friendly NYC tips!

Bonus Tip 2

More budget-friendly tips? Check The NYC Guide for Instagrammers! The book provides 100 scenic, impressive and Instagrammable spots in New York. More than 70 of these suggestions you can visit for free! For limited time you can save $6 when you order it on Amazon!

NYC Guide for Instagrammers (c) Silvie Bonne

All images on this site and blog are protected according to the copyrights.

Images cannot be copied, downloaded or placed on one's own website or social media without written permission from the photographer (Silvie Bonne).

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