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New York. It’s a destination that’s on many a bucket list. And for good reason, because as the old adage goes – it’s a great place to visit, but who could afford to live there (yes, I know that’s not really the saying!) According to the ever-trusty Wikipedia, as of 2023, New York City is the most expensive city in the world for expatriates to live and is home to the highest number of billionaires, individuals of ultra-high net worth (greater than US$30 million), and millionaires of any city in the world.


So, Tip #1 – Wait until the exchange rate is decent, and whatever you think you might need to get the complete New York experience – double it. And be prepared to walk your feet into the ground or travel via the subway because Ubers are expensive.

That said – New York truly is an amazing city. It’s also a huge city, and we quickly learned that four full days would not be enough to see everything on my list (what a shame… I’ll have to go back!).

It’s so big that it’s had to be divided into five distinct ‘Burroughs,’ Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and The Bronx. So, before you book, decide what you want to experience, because this depends very much on where you stay. We stayed in the financial district of Manhattan, right near the Brooklyn Bridge and Wall St, so we spent a lot of time exploring that end and didn’t really venture up above mid-town, which was fine – because most of what we wanted to see was not too far away. A tip if you’re looking for decently priced accommodation in excellent locations – try

We also purchased TopView Hop-On/Off bus tickets, which were a bit expensive but made getting around at night a little safer. The ticket also gave us access to the Statue of Liberty Cruise and a 2-hour night tour that took in Brooklyn at night and provided transport when our feet gave up!

9/11 Memorial and Museum

The 9/11 Memorial honours the 2,977 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Centre bombing on February 26, 1993. It’s located at the site of the former World Trade Center complex, with twin reflecting pools that feature the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. Around the outside of the walls, each person’s name has been inscribed – a task that was years in the making to ensure no one was forgotten and names were spelled correctly.

It isn’t easy to put into words the feelings that the memorial invoked, given that this one day in history changed the course of the world forever. There’s a definite feeling of sombreness and sorrow, not just for the victims and their families but for the world, and this is reflected in the solemn mood surrounding the pools, where the large number of tourists are fittingly respectful and reflective.

Empire State Building

Around 4 million tourists per year visit this famous building and its three observation decks at levels 80, 86 and 102. You can purchase a ticket for the lower levels (80 and 86) or all three – most people don’t take the level 102 option – so it’s an excellent place to get away from the crowds and take your time to absorb the incredible views.

Entry to the elevators takes you through a history of the building, which highlights the building's construction, design and opening. The displays highlight the unsafe building practices of the day with no harnesses and builders forging the bolts on site and throwing them up to their colleagues to hammer them in. The Art Deco masterpiece was constructed in just over a year and opened to the public in 1931. It has been featured in more than 250 television series and films since the original King Kong was released in 1933, but its real appeal is that it delivers unparalleled views of the city and beyond. It was also nice to go outside and walk around the building for a 360-degree view (level 86) without being stuck behind glass.

The High Line

The High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above Manhattan’s West Side streets. It’s a hybrid public space where visitors experience nature, art, and design, and I imagine that if you live in the city, a stroll along the Highline will give you some respite from city streets and the peace nature delivers. But if I’m honest, I found it a little disappointing, as many of the garden areas were unkept and looking a little dead. On the plus side, we exited the Highline at ‘The Vessel’, a unique (if not bizarre) piece of architecture and discovered Mercado Little Spain.

Described as a veritable love letter to Spain, it is the brainchild of Michelin star-winning restauranteur and Chef José Andrés. The Mercado (or Market) area was made up of food stalls, bars and grocery stores, and we were able to pick up a delicious and authentic Spanish Paella and a beer for an energy restoring break.

Times Square and Broadway

If you’re after a sensory overload, then Times Square delivers. Make sure you see it at night and don’t fall prey to the multitude of costume-wearing sharks offering to be in a photo with you – they are very pushy and will charge you. The square is the intersection of three main streets and is one of the world’s busiest pedestrian areas. Formerly known as Longacre Square, Times Square was renamed in 1904 after The New York Times moved its headquarters to the then newly erected Times Building, now One Times Square. It is the site of the annual New Year's Eve ball drop – and is a must-see.

While you’re there, make sure you catch a Broadway show - there are dozens to choose from. We selected Aladdin at the New Amsterdam Theatre not only for what we knew would be a brilliant production (the incredible special effects that saw the magic carpet flying above the stage with Aladdin and Princess Jasmine onboard are still a mystery to me) but also for the theatre itself as it’s the oldest theatre on Broadway. Well worth a look – tickets can be purchased on the day from numerous sites, including or from ticket booths in Times Square.

Statue of Liberty

Our TopView tickets included an up-close cruise to see the Statue of Liberty (if we’d had more time, it would have been great to disembark, take a tour or visit the crown). Dedicated in 1886, Lady Liberty was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States and is recognised as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The cruise enabled us to see the statue up close and Manhattan from the water. The tour guide on board was full of interesting facts which made this well worth doing – and of course gave me a phone full of fabulous photos.


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