How do you visit a big city like New York in a few days? Like for a week? Short as it may sound, but 7 days is more than enough for first timers like us.  Most of the attractions on our DIY itinerary are successfully crossed out despite my sickness. Yes, I got ill for about 2 days while in the city. Blame it with the cold and rainy weather. Well, some circumstances may happen out of control when traveling #StrugglesAreReal

It seems scary to visit an 18hour far country from UAE. Some may choose to pay the full package with a travel agency to lessen the stress of preparing a trip like what we did in Greece. But this time, we prefer to do everything on our own for simple reasons (1) we found happiness and fulfilment in preparing a DIY trip! (2) we have a limited budget that we can’t afford a package offered by agencies (3) the city transport system looks easy to navigate (4) and it’s fine to get lost as everyone speaks your language! 🙂

Here’s the day to day itinerary of our one week in New York. It’s going to be long as I will also be sharing the whole experience so be ready! :p

New York Itinerary Expenses One Week

Travel Dates:  April 30 to May 7, 2016

Day 1 – April 30

  • 18 Hours Journey Via British Airways, we travelled for 9 hours from Dubai to London (3 hours layover) then London to JFK for another 9 hours. It’s our first ever long haul flight and it’s super exhausting! Headaches, backaches, ALL kind of aches! Haha!
  • 3 Hours at JFK Airport wasted in the terminal as there are 2 queues from the plane (YES, from the PLANE DOOR) up to the main counter! Queues later on divided into like 6 when you reach a certain point.
  • 15-20 mins. AirTram Ride There was a free tram ride from the terminal up to the main station. At the main station, you need to buy a train card for $10.
  • 1 Hour Train Ride from Jamaica station to 86th Street station downtown where our hotel’s located. We transferred one time that we got the chance to buy a takeout dinner.
  • Summing it up, it’s a one day journey from Dubai to our place in New York!

DXB to NY faces and the hotel

Day 2 – May 1

  • Without caring about the jetlag and juggled body clock, on a sunny but cold weather on the first day of May we headed to our first stop: Columbus circle and eat breakfast at Wholefoods.
  • Then to Central Park and did all these cheesy things.
  • Lunch at Boathouse
  • Around 4pm we went to American Museum of Natural History AMNH to use our CityPass and watched a planet show in a big dome where I ended up almost sleeping :p
  • Went back to the hotel for a much needed nap (hello 9 hour time difference!)
  • Around 8pm we headed to Times Square to have McDonalds and of course, to take a lot of photos in this crowded busy square while freezing. I did a side shopping too as most of my clothes I brought are not enough for the 5-8 degrees weather 🙁 When I checked, it’s around 12 – 17 degrees only.

Central Park

Day 3 – May 2

  • Gloomy weather started and few rains occurred on this day 🙁 and it was super cold! But it didn’t stop us from visiting – Rockefeller Center (to upgrade our ticket), St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Grand Central Terminal and NY Public Library. We had Mcdo (3rd time!haha) for breakfast, lunch at the terminal, dinner at Café Habana.
  • All the places we visited on this day are free to visit except Rockefeller and can only be enjoyed inside its perimeter if raining. The husband magically altered the itinerary as per the weather 🙂 good job mahal!

Grand Central Terminal

Day 4 – May 3

  • Another gloomy day but thanks God it wasn’t raining! On our way to 9/11 Memorial museum, we had breakfast at Subway. The advantage of being in NY is that all restaurants and food chains are familiar! 🙂 Then headed to see Lady Liberty and Ellis Island. All of the attractions are included in our CityPass.
  • We had lunch at Fresh and Co and see the Charging Bull in Wall Street. Did I mention that we also had hotdogs on the street, hot chocolates (during the cruise to Lady Liberty), Gyros and fruits (on our way home)? need to mention these things to justify all the expenses I’d shared below.
  • After lunch, we went to the Highline Park and Chelsea Market.
  • On our way to Rockefeller Center, we made sure to pass by New York Palace! It’s on my wish list while doing the itinerary! :p Other things to see just few steps away from here are Van Gogh Ear and Atlas (in front of St.Patrick’s Cathedral). As you can see, most attractions are sitting next to each other.
  • Highlight of the day was the Top of the Rock! And miracles do happen as Mr. Sun shows up! So clearly, he’s just waiting for us! Haha :p
  • Had dinner at KFC on our way to the hotel.

from Top of the Rock

Day 5 – May 4

  • To celebrate our second wedding anniversary, we agreed to visit the restaurant featured in the timeless movie Serendipity and had the famous frozen hot chocolate! I was so happy to finally savour it! 🙂 On our way here, we also checked the Flat Iron building.
  • Headed to Times Square by 2pm to watch the Broadway show The Lion King! Happy kids! 🙂
  • We had takeout breakfast and dinner c/o Mama’s Famous Pizza.

Day 6 – May 5

  • Breakfast at Serafina, then visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) which again included in the pass. It’s free to go but it is suggested to pay the minimum donation of $25 and you need to queue.
  • We returned to the hotel after the MET as I wasn’t feeling good 🙁 Our half day was wasted but that’s fine. As what the husband said, my health is more important than his photo shoots! Haha :p

New York Itinerary Expenses one week

Day 7 – May 6

  • We’re off to another NY borough – Brooklyn. I can still hear my husband saying “We’re going to Brooklyn!” with matching rock on hand sign and sounded like a cool rapper! Haha :p
  • Here, we visited DUMBO (short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), walked the Brooklyn Bridge and check Jane’s carousel at the park. Grateful as there was a bit of sunshine while we’re in the bridge! 🙂
  • Went back to the hotel as I was still in the recovery period of my cough and cold.
  • Around 4pm we headed to the Empire State building and spend the evening.


Day 8 – May 7

  • This day is dedicated for an ultra long haul flight from NY to DXB
  • Ended our New York trip with happy hearts and sweet memories. Till me we meet again!

New York Itinerary Expenses one week

Total Cost Spent for 7 days in New York

We’ve come up with this travel expense guide since a lot of our friends/colleagues are asking about our expenses during any trip. So this was created not to brag on it, but to give you an idea of what to expect when in New York and help you in budgeting for this type of trip.

For the below category, I used spending tracker IOS app to record the exact expenses that we had. Yes, including hotdogs and water! :p

  • Transport (card & load) – AED 660 = $180 All are via train only
  • Food – AED 1347 = $367
  • Shopping – AED 833 = $227

Total Cost: AED 17531 ($4773)
AED 8765 ($2386) cost per person

Clearly state that our 8 days trip to Greece is more expensive than New York since we opt to book via travel agency. Hope this post help in any way while planning your trip to the Big A! 🙂
New York Itinerary Expenses one week