Four hours in New York: tips for time-starved travellers ??

Let’s say you have a stopover in New York. Perhaps you’ll have an afternoon or so to spare, after allowing for the time it takes to get to and from downtown Manhattan from JFK. What do you do with that precious time?

Here are some suggestions, helped by some recommendations from our community on Facebook.

Central Park

The huge, beautiful and free Central Park has so much to offer. Find maps here which include running and bike routes, self-guided walking tours – including a mile-long walk for each month of the year – and woodland tours.

You can also go fishing, rowing, play volleyball, ice-skating, skating, picnicking, re-enact scenes from movies… and much more.

The High Line

Perhaps you feel like you’ve exhausted Central Park on previous visits to NYC or on re-runs of Home Alone 2. If so, how about taking your park visit up a level? Try the High Line, a public park built on a freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. Along the route from Hudson Yards to the northern edge of Chelsea, you’ll see all sorts of contemporary artworks.

Manhattan Skyline

Can you think of a more famous city skyline than Manhattan’s?

There are several ways to appreciate the iconic view. You could take a cruise, walking tour or even a helicopter trip. Or sticking to our budget theme, see it for free by hopping on the Staten Island Ferry, which will give you a nice view of the Statue of Liberty.

Or you could head to the observation deck at the top of the Rockefeller Centre. For a sunset visit to Top of the Rock, as it’s known, expect to pay $46.

Visit the library

You don’t have to be a bookworm to take a trip to the stunning New York City Public Library. You’ll know you’re there when you see the famous marble lions out front, guarding the entrance.

Lonely Planet describes it as a ‘mini-universe of books, art and architectural flourishes’ and ‘one of NYC’s best free attractions’. It recommends you join a free guided tour, which takes in the famous Rose Main Reading Room and its impressive ceiling murals. Tours take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday, or at 2 p.m. on Sunday.


Hamilton, The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera… if you’re lucky with the timing of your brief stay in New York, and plan ahead a little, you could squeeze in a show on Broadway. This comes high on many people’s wishlists.

Take a free walking tour

Believe it not, there are many free walking tours on offer in New York, led by locals who are passionate about their city.

Sandemans offer several of these – you just need to tip the guide. Check its website , but at the time of writing, it was offering a 2.5- hour tour taking in sites including Wall Street, the 9/11 Memorial, the Stock Exchange and much more.

Grab a slice

Cheesecake, doughnuts and hot dogs are among foods commonly associated with New York. But for the time-pressed, for a singular taste of New York, it has to be a great big slice of pizza.

You could just follow your nose. But if time is ticking away, Eater NY has a map of the best places to grab a slice.

Order or top-up your FairFX USD Card before you go. Lock in a great USD rate every time you load and manage your card on the go through our mobile app.

Order a FairFX USD Card


Mariette Ferreira

Mariette Ferreira

Mariette heads up marketing at FairFX. She loves travelling, scuba diving and South Africa, but she's yet to combine all three in one.

Leave a Reply