How to see NYC in Two Days: Perfect Itinerary for First Time Travelers

Planning your trip to New York City can be exhausting! I’m going to begin by saying that seeing all of NYC in two days is nearly impossible. I have been living here for 6 years and still haven’t seen all of New York City. But I put together a jam packed itinerary that will allow you to see most of the main tourist sights in NYC in two days!

A great way to split up your days is to divide Manhattan into two parts. One day arrange your schedule to see everything in Lower Manhattan, and the second arrange to see everything in Midtown Manhattan. You’ll cut down your travel time by huge amounts!

What you will need: a positive attitude, patience and comfortable shoes because touring can be exhausting!

How to see NYC in Two Days: Day One

Lower Manhattan

Stop 1. See the Statue of Liberty

NYC’s most iconic lady is a must see when in New York. Instead of hopping on the ferry and visiting Liberty and Ellis Island, I recommend admiring the view from Battery Park. The ferry ride, especially in the summer can take up to 4 hours round trip due to long lines to board the boat. While in Battery Park, you can explore the newly renovated Pier 11 which offers a variety restaurants and cocktail bars.

Tip: My favorite photo op of the Statue of Liberty is at the point of the Battery Park Esplanade.

Stop 2: Snap a photo with the Charging Bull

The Charging Bull is one of the most famous statues in Lower Manhattan. Take your picture with the Bull and don’t forget to touch the bronze bull for good luck!

As of March 2017 they have added another statue: Fearless Girl which is right in front of the Charging Bull.

Stop 3: Walk through Wall Street

Home to the Federal Reserve and the Stock exchange, Wall Street is a historic and iconic street to see. There are guided tours of the neighborhood that cover the history of Wall Street here, however if you are on a time budget I would skip it until your next visit in NYC.

Stop 4: Explore Oculus & Grab a Bite (and a Glass of Wine)

The Oculus is Lower Manhattan’s newest attraction. This spectacular building is a must see as it operates as the World Trade Center Transportation Hub and includes over 100 retail stores. If you plan on shopping during your trip, you may find this mall a less crowded option vs Soho or 5th Avenue.

Oculus Building

Directly south of the Oculus is the newest location of Eataly, an Italian market that has different counters offering sandwiches, coffee, gelato and wine. Just the aroma alone will make you want to shop around!

Another option for food and shopping in this neighborhood is Brookfield Place. You can get there through the underpass in Oculus. This trendy and upscale mall offers luxury shops and Hudson Eats– a large open food hall overlooking the waterfront with outdoor tables. Restaurants include the French Market Le District, Blue Ribbon Sushi, Chopt, Black Seed Bagels, Dos Toros, and many more!

Stop 5: Commemorate the 9/11 Memorial

Just outside of the Oculus you will find the 9/11 Memorial. This site honors those who lost their lives on 9/11.This is an emotional place to experience, but the city has turned it into a beautiful memorial.

9/11 Memorial in NYC

Stop 6: Taking in the Views from the World Trade Center

Take in the view from the tallest tower in NYC. Going to the top is optional, and I highly recommend purchasing tickets in advance to avoid long lines. I have been to the top of the Empire, and the Rock, but the WTC views are my favorite. Be sure to go when the clouds are minimal to get the best out of your experience. If it’s raining the visibility will be very low, so I would visit another day.

Stop 7: Take a Walk on the Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is about a 15 minute walk from the World Trade Center. The entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade is where Centre Street and Park Row meet. Walking the complete bridge after touring all  day may be too much, but you can get the gist of it by walking part way and back.

Tip: If you really want to experience to Brooklyn Bridge, I recommend starting your day walking the bridge from the Brooklyn side into the city. Then you can explore this itinerary backwards starting with the Brooklyn Bridge, then heading to Stop 6 then Stop 5, etc.

How to see NYC in Two Days: Day Two

Midtown Manhattan

Stop 1. Grand Central Station

Start your day early and head over to Grand Central Station on 42nd and Park Avenue. Take a walk inside the main terminal hub and admire the vast space and spectacular architecture. The ceiling is made up of constellation stars which a pretty sight to see. If your hungry, there are a handful of restaurants and bakeries to satisfy you. Before you go read up on 100 facts about the station to learn more about this unique stunning building.

Grand Central Station

Stop 2: St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Next walk over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral by heading up 5th or Madison Avenue until you reach 50th Street. In my opinion this is the most beautiful church in NYC. The visit inside won’t take long, but you’ll definitely get a glimpse of the stunning stain glass windows and marble interior.

Stop 3: Rockefeller Center

On the opposite side of St. Patrick’s Cathedral lies Rockefeller Center, home to the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, 30 Rock, and the famous ice skating rink. During the winter months you can experience the rink and christmas tree, but otherwise in spring/summer the area turns into an outdoor cafe. Check out my Christmas Guide to NYC if you do plan on visiting during winter, I cover the Rockefeller Tree & the Ice Rink.

Optional: Visit the Top of the Rock! If you would like to experience stunning views with the Empire State Building in your photos, I would recommend going to the Top of the Rock vs the top of the Empire State Building.

Stop 4: Times Square

Times Square is a must see when your visiting NYC for the first time! The people watching, the billboard lights, perhaps catching a Broadway show is quite magical. However, I don’t think it is necessary to stay in Times Square. After a day of bumping into people I am pretty sure you will develop the same irritation as the locals.

Tip: Check out the TKTS Booth for same day discounted Broadway Tickets.

Stop 5: Empire State Building

Depending if you went to the Top of the Rock, heading to the Empire State Building is optional. However, what is NYC without this classic NYC skyline staple! If you do choose to go to the top, I recommend buying your tickets in advance! Otherwise you will be hounded by ticket sellers on the streets who will approach you (usually a rip off). If you don’t have a ticket in advance you can always purchase them inside.

Stop 6: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

If I had to choose any museum in NYC to go to, the MET will always be my first answer! The MET is the second largest museum in the world and hosts some of the most famous art pieces. However, you will not get through the whole museum to see everything exhibit. I have been living here for six years and haven’t seen everything, but that’s okay! I would focus on 1-2 exhibits and explore the topics that interest you the most.

Also, check out the awesome gift shop on the first level! They have unique gifts with an art focus.

Stop 7: Central Park

After you had your art fix, take a stroll and relax in Central Park. I recommend walking towards the Bethesda Fountain which is one of my favorite spots in Central Park. From there you can see the stunning greenery of this massive park and if the season is right, you can rent out a row boat from the Loeb Boathouse and have a relaxing end to your busy day!

Central Park Pond


I hope you enjoyed this guide on ‘How to See NYC in Two Days’. I’d love to hear your itinerary plans while visiting NYC in the comments below! Save this pin to your NYC boards! 





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