Are you looking for the perfect New York itinerary for 3 days in the city?
If you’re in NYC, you’ll want to make sure you’re planning you trip down to the very last minute – you won’t want to waste a single second in this amazing city.
A lot of people who visit NYC pop here for the weekend, for 3 days and 4 nights – and although (ideally) I’d recommend spending a bit more time in the city, there is still loads you can fit in to a New York itinerary for 3 days.
My ideal New York itinerary for 3 days is below – this is how I would spend my time in the city, and if a friend or family member was visiting NYC for the first time, this New York itinerary for 3 days is what I’d send their way!
In terms of how the New York itinerary for 3 days works, I’ve given you a breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks options for each day.
You could mix and match these if you wanted (or maybe skip breakfast, or skip lunch) but the options work really well together, and they also fit really well with the activity locations too.
So anyway, take a read of my New York itinerary for 3 days, and let me know what you think! If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.
Day 1 in NYC
Breakfast: Grab a bagel
Your first breakfast in NYC should be easy, cheap and good on the go. A bagel is the perfect choice, and it’s a classic choice for New York too.
You can grab a bagel from pretty much any diner or deli in NYC, but here are some of the top rated bagel shops in the city (maybe choose the one nearest to your hotel):
Lunch: Katz Deli
Katz Deli is my top choice for lunch on day 1. Katz Deli is one of the iconic delis in NYC, there have been movies filmed there, TV shows (it was featured in Man Vs Food several times). It’s an incredible deli, and it’s a classic New York experience too!
Dinner: Jacob’s Pickles
For dinner, my absolutely FAVOURITE restaurant in NYC. Jacob’s Pickles is southern food (friend chicken, biscuits, tacos, etc) served up in a really cool, modern setting.
The portions are gigantic, the flavours are amazing, I honestly can’t say enough good things about this place.
Drinks: The Skylark
Skylark is a great bar perched above Times Square, with great views of Times Square and incredible views of the Empire State.
I love sitting up here with my husband, soaking in the views and putting the world to rights. The cocktails are great, views are great and the service is great too.
Read more about NYC hotels: 15 amazing hotels in NYC with a balcony
Morning sightseeing: Open top bus tour
In your first morning in NYC I would do a bus tour in NYC. A bus tour is a really great way to see the city and it’s a great way to see all the main sights (even if you just glimpse it down the street).
The bus tours are super educational too – you’ll learn loads about the city, it’s history and secrets tips and tricks about visiting New York.
I love the open top bus tours, they’re deifnitely the easiest and most efficient way to tick off loads of sights in the city.
There are two main bus tour operators in NYC:
- BIGBUS New York – Click here for info and tickets
- City Sightseeing Bus – Click here for info and tickets
Afternoon sightseeing: Central Park and Times Square
For the afternoon activity on day 1 of my New York itinerary for 3 days, it’s Central Park. You can jump off your bus tour near Katz Deli, enjoy some lunch, and then jump back on the bus up to Central Park.
When you get up to Central Park, get off the bus and have a walk around. Central Park is such a fun place to explore – whether you do it by yourself, or whether you join a walking tour.
Here are some Central Park tours I recommend, if you want a little guidance exploring this huge park of NYC:
- Central Park horse and carriage ride
- Central Park 2 hour walking tour
- Highlights of Central Park bike tour
- Central movie locations walking tour
Evening activity: Top of the Rock at Sunset
In the evening, I recommend heading to the Top of the Rock observation deck to watch the sun go down.
Sunset is the best time to go up to an observation deck because you get to see the city in daytime and nighttime – but you only have to pay one ticket price!
You’ll get amazing views and incredible photo opportunities too. And that’s the end of day 1 of my New York itinerary for 3 days.
You can get tickets to the Top of the Rock observation deck by clicking here.
Read more NYC recommendations: Our guide to visiting the famous floating island in NYC
Day 2 in NYC
Breakfast: Bubby’s diner
Bubby’s diner is my choice for breakfast on Day 2 of my New York itinerary for 3 days. Bubby’s is a really cool and laid back diner down in Soho / Tribeca. It’s a great place for breakfast, one of my favourite breakfasts in the city.
Lunch: La Esquina
La Esquina is a really cool lunch destination. It’s a traditional Mexican place, with delicious food. My favourite is the tacos! This place is great for lunch on a budget!
Dinner: Time Out Market
Time Out Market is such a great choice for dinner on day 2 of my New York itinerary for 3 days. Time Out Market in Brooklyn is EPIC. First of all, it’s located in one of the most scenic parts of the city, right on the river with panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline.
Secondly, it’s a food hall with dozens of restaurants inside to choose from. It’s such a good choice and perfect for couples or groups (because you each get to choose your own food from all the options available).
Drinks: The Standard
The ‘Top of the Standard‘ is a beautiful hotel bar, located in Chelsea area of Manhattan. It’s quite posh, so you’ll want to dress up! I love it because the vibe is sophisticated and the decor is amazing… Oh and the VIEWS! Just wow.
Morning sightseeing: Explore Wall Street & Downtown, then take the Statue of Liberty ferry
OK, it’s the morning of day 2 in my New York itinerary for 3 days. This morning you’re going to be exploring downtown NYC, and also heading out to the Statue of Liberty! The Statue of Liberty is a must-see for anyone visiting NYC, and for about $20 you get to ride over to Liberty Island on a ferry, enjoy walking around the statue of liberty and even head over to Ellis Island too.
You can book tickets for the Statue of Liberty ferry by clicking here.
Afternoon sightseeing: Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and explore DUMBO
In the afternoon you’ll be walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and exploring Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Bridge is such a cool part of NYC, and it’s one of the hippest neighbourhoods in NYC – so (trust me) you’ll need to explore it! Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is brilliant too – it’s one of the bucket-list items you just need to experience.
Evening activity: Take in the NYC skyline from Brooklyn
In the evening you’ll be eating at Time Out Market, which is nearby DUMBO and in Brooklyn. There are brilliant views from this part of Brooklyn, you can see the whole of the Manhattan skyline.
Day 3 in NYC
Breakfast: Tick Tock Diner
Tick tock diner is a great choice for you last day in NYC. It’s a traditional New York diner and it’s a lot of fun too. You’ll be able to choose from loads of diner-classics, such as bagels, pancakes, waffles, hash browns.
Lunch: 2nd Avenue Deli
This was quite a new find for me, but I just loved it at 2nd Ave Deli. It’s a traditional jewish New York deli, and the menun is epic. It’s full of delicious sandwiches, salads, meats… Just YUM. So much yum.
Dinner: Quality Meats / Rubi Rosa
OK, I’m giving two choices for dinner on your last night. If you fancy one of the best steaks in NYC then you should visit Quality Meats. Their steaks are the best I’ve ever had, and I actually dream about their menu it’s so good! On the flip side, if you fancy something a bit more casual and you want to try some epic NYC pizza, then Rubi Rosa is about as good as pizza gets. It’s soooo good! For both of these places you’ll definitely want to book tables – as they’re super busy and popular.
Drinks: Draft 55
Draft 55 is a cosy neighbourhood bar, and it’s a great place to watch some sports in the evening, and enjoy some cosy drinks with friends or family.
Morning sightseeing: Macy’s and shopping on 5th Avenue & The Vessel
Did you even go to NYC if you didn’t go shopping at least once? Even if you don’t have much of a budget, window shopping in NYC is kinda fun too. Macy’s is a good place to start (there’s some pretty cool views of the Empire State from there too) and then you can cross over to 5th Avenue and walk up past all the shops there too.
Then once you’re done shopping, head over to Hudson Yards and check out ‘The Vessel’. It’s a new sculpture / vertical park and you can climb to the top for FREE! It’s a lot of fun and there are some beautiful views from up there too.
Afternoon sightseeing: A museum / tour
Time to pack in some culture on the last afternoon! Pick a museum or an art gallery that takes your interest, and spend the afternoon having a look around it! Some of my favourites museums are:
- Metropolitan Museum of Art Skip-the-Line Ticket
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum: Priority Access Tickets
- American Museum of Natural History Tickets
- Guggenheim Museum Admission Tickets
- Madison Square Garden All Access Tour Tickets
- Radio City Stage Door Tour Ticket
Evening activity: Watch a broadway show
In the evening of your final day, treat yourself to a Broadway show! Broadway is world famous for some of the BEST musical theatre in the world, and being in NYC is the perfect opportunity to enjoy some of that! I try and watch a Broadway show every time I visit NYC, and here are some of my absolutely favourites:
- Frozen the Musical
- Mean Girls
- The Cursed Child
- The Lion King on Broadway
- Come From Away
- Moulin Rouge!
- Wicked the Musical
I hope this New York itinerary for 3 days is really helpful! If you follow this New York itinerary for 3 days you can’t go wrong – NYC is an amazing city and you’ll love it!
Here are some other blog posts I have written that you might find useful on your trip to NYC…
My ultimate travel guide for NYC
25 things for couples to do together in NYC
Bars in NYC with amazing rooftops views
Secret places to take photos in NYC
Where to find the best views of the Brooklyn Bridge