New York: Things to know

All your pre-visit and on-location info, from public transport and tipping to visas and vaccinations. It’s America, so tipping is on the agenda, but booster shots probably aren’t



Time zone

Eastern Standard Time


US dollars (USD$)

Country dialling code



Daytime temperatures of around 4C/37F in midwinter (December to February), but can go below freezing and stay there, with sharp winds and sometimes snow. Summer temperatures, at their peak in July and August, edge closer to a hot and humid 29C/85F

When to go

Visit in spring or autumn to enjoy temperate weather. In summer, the city is a little quieter, as New Yorkers exit at weekends, while the holiday period from December to early January is fun, but hectic – it’ll be harder to come by show tickets then, so if that’s a reason for visiting, early in the New Year or over July 4th weekend are better bets


Visitors from participating Visa Waiver Program countries will need a current ESTA, although some exceptions apply. Visitors from all other countries require a visa, which must be applied for in advance


None required


Type A/B


Check restaurant bills to see if a gratuity has been added – if not it should be 15%-20%, plus a dollar or two to bar staff with every drink. All hotel staff, cab drivers, hairdressers etc. will expect cash tips with their service


Dial 911 for police, fire or medical assistance, 311 for police non-emergencies

Tourist office

There are two info centres on Seventh Avenue, others at City Hall, in Chinatown and in Macy’s Herald Square

Getting there

Airlines and airports: International and domestic carriers fly to John F Kennedy Airport in Queens, and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey; LaGuardia airport in Queens mostly handles domestic US flights

Transfers: NYC Airporter shuttle buses go into central Manhattan from JFK and LaGuardia, and connect with shuttle vans onward to Times Square and midtown hotels. Newark has a similar express bus. Each airport has a taxi rank with an official flat fare (plus tolls) to any Manhattan destination, while those looking into car hire can find out more here

Getting around

Public transport: The subway and buses offer an affordable Metro Card with seven days of unlimited travel – buy it at subway stations and vending machines. Buses are slower than the subway, but less bewildering to navigate, and let you sightsee en route

Cabs: Arguably easier for visitors staying in Manhattan, especially for shorter stays. Hail them on the street when they have just their central medallion number lit up. Uber is a popular, cheaper alternative, but not as iconic…

Bikes: Citi Bikes can be found at hundreds of stations across New York and Jersey City. Riders can choose to hire a bike for 24 hours ($12 base price), 3 days ($24 base price) or annually ($169 base price)

Hotel Offers

Worldwide deals and discounts for American Express Cardmembers