Travelling to New York with your other half? Read this article for an unforgettably romantic tour around the city.
Today we invited Athéna and Bruno, a French travel couple, to share their experience of New York from their own perspective. Better known as Mrs. A and Mr. B from their blog Les Amants Voyageurs, these passionate travel bloggers have been joint at the hip for 10 years. They are active backpackers, but also comfort lovers, leading them to always think outside the box during their travels. Now, we leave it to them to tell their story so we can learn more about the Big Apple, being guided by their advice on what to see in New York in 10 days without breaking the bank... Don't worry, we are in safe hands!
"Un jour j'irais à New York avec toi"
"Un jour j'irais à New York avec toi" is a verse taken from a very famous French song (but of course we can find countless songs dedicated to New York in many countries around the world), and like the majority, we too have been strongly influenced by the film and music industry of the United States. For us, New York was like stepping into a film, where we already felt as if we knew the city like the back of our hands.
A romantic sunset stroll with the view of the skyline was certainly one of the most magical moments of our trip. We truly have left our hearts on the streets of New York, and so we share our suggestions in the hope that you too can experience a trip as unforgettable as ours.
View of New York from the boat - Credits: @lesamantsvoyageurs
What to see / what to do in New York: our top suggestions
Let's face it, the list of things to do in New York is endless. It goes without saying that the Museums and Galleries of the city can speak for themselves, as can the Hudson Cruise and Ground Zero for example. This is why we only want to share the highlights of our trip, so as not to bombard you with too much information.
Here is our list of activities that we enjoyed the most, and also some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your stay in the city.
Times Square is a spectacular display of lights that every person should experience at least once in a lifetime. Of course it's true, it's very touristic and there are always lots of people here, but it is an absolute must-see on a trip to New York!
Top tip: we suggest visiting this spot during the evening so you can fully experience the lights at their brightest.
Times Square - Credits: @lesamantsvoyageurs
Empire State Building
Shoot up to the 86th floor and see New York spread out far and wide below you. It really is an incredibly romantic location where it's possible to see the entire city with your sweetheart. Spend your time up here to marvel in the breathtaking views, and while you're up there why not enjoy a kiss or two and pretend you're in a film ;)
Top tip: to avoid the crowds we suggest heading here early morning. Your ticket will also include a second entrance on the same evening.
The Top of the Rock
For another equally incredible view of the city, head to the top of the Rockerfeller Centre and let the scenes take your breath away. In fact, this was actually our favourite viewpoint in the city, mainly due to the fact that you also get the view of the Empire State Building from here.
Statue of Liberty
Obviously, being the famous symbol of the city many tourists flock to see it. We must say however, that if you take the Ferry over to Staten Island you get a great view of the sculpture that really is second to none. Personally we didn't visit Liberty Island, but the Ferry comes so close on its way back to the city that we were almost moved to tears by the grandiosity of this Monument.
See a Broadway Musical
Apologies if we're being cliché (it's hard not to be when exploring New York), but we definitely wanted to see a Broadyway Musical during our time here. We are very passionate music-lovers so we opted to see Chicago because the Orchestra plays on stage. For us, it was a great show, and to see such incredible live talent was a dream come true for both of us.
Top tip: some theatre houses offer discounted tickets every morning which are valid for the same evening. In reality, they are unsold tickets, but great deals can be found for highly popular shows. Just as was the case at the Ambassador, the theatre where we saw Chicago. We were outside the theatre doors at 8:30am in the morning, and by 10 when the doors finally opened there was a long queue of like-minded people behind us. In the end, we had first pick out of the available seats for that evening, and the 90 dollars we paid instead of 600 dollars was definitely worth the wait!
Lovers in New York - Credits: @lesamantsvoyageurs
A Gospel Mass in Harlem
The entire district of Harlem truly won us over. It was such a joy to walk in the footsteps of our idols as we approached Apollo Theatre. For us, we found that Harlem comes hand in hand with Gospel, the incredible mass in which we were lucky enough to enjoy an authentic experience among the local community. We were the only tourists, yet upon arrival we were welcomed as friends. Every Sunday morning, two masses are held in all the churches in the neighbourhood. Mass lasts about an hour and a half and is filled with the songs of the gospel choirs. A truly magical moment that will stay with us forever.
Top tip: do not choose one of the larger churches that are perhaps recommended by travel guides. Instead, use your intuition and step foot off the beaten track towards a smaller one. Try to make it to the first service to avoid the crowds that tend to arrive later on in the day.
Basketball Match at Madison Square Garden
What a pleasure it was to witness the renowned players of the New York Knicks in action! Here we ticked all the boxes: from popcorn and foam fingers to even having our kiss projected on the big screen! It was a great show and an even greater romantic moment!
A ride on the High-Line
This old railway, renovated into a greenway along the Hudson, is 2.5 km long. We loved exploring this area, as it offered a break from the madness of the city centre, providing some tranquility and romantic views for a perfect stroll along the river.
We spent an entire day in this district of New York. Crossing the legendary Brooklyn Bridge we reached Williamsburg, a very bohemiam area, and in fact our favourite in the entire city!
Brooklyn Bridge - Credits: @lesamantsvoyageurs
Brooklyn Street Art
Both of us lovers of street art, we found no shortage of it on the streets of New York. However, the Bushwick neighbourhood of Brooklyn was by far the best place to see it. A true outdoor art gallery can be found in this urban-like district.
Top tip: There is also the possibility to take a guided tour around the area which is great for those looking to learn a bit more about Brooklyn and the history of urban art.
Romantic Activities in New York
A concert in a jazz club, a cocktail on a rooftop, a walk along the High-Line, the opportunities to spend a romantic evening in New York are relentless. However, here is a selection of our highlights where love in the air is guaranteed...
It doesn't matter what angle you view it from, the New York Skyline, to put it simply, is perfect. We know this for a fact as it came to feature as one of our many romantic daily rituals in the city. From Long Island, to Brooklyn Heights or even from the Ferry to Staten Island. Whether you see it from a rooftop, boat or bar, the view of the Skyline leaves you speechless, no matter where you are in the city.
We were in New York during the winter season, so had the chance to go ice skating in Central Park. This was certainly one of the most beautiful and romantic moments of our entire trip. We often saw squirrels running around the park, and we enjoyed spending time here so much that we actually returned three times during our stay. Whether it's sunny, rainy or snowy, Central Park really is spectacularly romantic, and we are true fans!
Winter in Central Park - Credits: @lesamantsvoyageurs
Getting around New York
We explored New York by foot, and if you take our advice, it is the best way to discover the city. But naturally, there are many other ways to get around in New York...
Travel by subway
The New York subway lines allow easy access to even the furthest places, such as Brooklyn or Long Island. All districts are accessible and it is fairly easy to work out how to get to your desired destination. We suggest investing in the Metro Card which is valid for 7 days. This allows you to travel freely around the city for a whole week for the price of only 35 dollars.
Travel by taxi
Sometimes it's nice to ride in a taxi, we'll admit! We only took it once to give our feet a rest, and it was fun to have a go inside one of these famous yellow cabs. However, more often than not, it's not the best option due to the amount of traffic there is.
Travel by bike
We wouldn't recommend this in Manhattan, but to cross the Brooklyn Bridge and visit this neighbourhood it could be a great idea, and may even help you lose some pounds on the way!
New York Cabs - Credits: @lesamantsvoyageurs
The best restaurants in New York
As eating is one of our favourite activities, here are some of our restaurant recommendations that we enjoyed the most during our trip to the city...
Dziupla in Williamsburg - a Polish restaurant in Brooklyn. We particularly enjoyed the atmosphere and the sweet and savoury crepes (or pierogies as they call them)!
Where: 194 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn
Price: 50-60 dollars per person
Miss Lily - between Soho and Greenwich Village. Caribbean cuisine and good vibes, not to mention the originality of the menu! We adored the 'goat curry'...
Where: 132 W Houston Street, New York
Price: 27 dollars for the 'goat curry' and another 13 dollars each
Tavern on Jane - a typical pub in Greenwich Village. We went back three times to taste the incredible burgers and beers!!!
Where: 31 8th Avenue, New York
Price: Around 60 dollars per person
The best doughnuts in New York? The doughnuts at Dough DoughDonuts were for us the best ones we tried in the city. There are several stores dotted around Manhattan.
The best cookies in New York? How can a cookie be so crunchy on the outside yet so gooey in the centre? We never found out the answer to this question despite our interrogation at Levain Bakery. In any case, these guys really know how to do it!
The best bagels in New York? A bagel with cream cheese was our daily breakfast order before heading out to the streets of New York. We can certainly confirm the excellence of Murray's Bagels and the grand reputation it already has among locals and tourists alike.
We loved walking around this market full of shops, restaurants and cuisine from all corners of the world. There is something to tempt the taste buds of every person and it's the perfect middle-stop between the Highline and the city. We ate the whole Lobster from Lobster Place. For 27 dollars it was cooked for us on the spot and we ate it wearing plastic gloves on a paper plate - American style!
The best way to discover a place is to eat there! Chinatown is a vibrant, colourful neighbourhood with a lot of restaurant choice, all of them super-affordable. We tasted home-made noodles from Xi'An. Recommended to us by a friend that lives in New York, we were certainly not left disappointed. Beware of the spicy lamb however, as it's very very hot!
The key to eating a low-cost yet balanced meal in New York is to head to one of the many 'Delis'. These small grocery stores offer buffets full of freshly prepared dishes, usually served by weight. Costs come in at around 25 dollars for a meal for two.
Oh, and another suggestion taken directly from the cinema screen - the New York hot dogs found on many street-corners of the city. They are satisfying and only 2 dollars, making them a perfect snack stop to try another New-York classic.
"Happy Hour Menu" and "Early Bird"
Many restaurants and bars offer Happy Hour, usually from around 16:00-19:00. Discounts of up to 50% on beer and some dishes on the menu. The Early Bird menu basically works the same way. For example, if you decide to eat at 11:00 or 16:00, check the menu. This offer is available outside of regular mealtimes and certainly saved us a few dollars.
Hot Dog Street Vendor - Credits: @lesamantsvoyageurs
Where to stay in New York
Incentra Village Hotel - located in Greenwich Village, this charming boutique hotel is the true favourite of Manhattan. We loved staying in the neighbourhood of Carrie Bradshaw!
The old, two-story red brick building transports us to the world of series and films that all of us worship (thanks to Netflix!). We particularly appreciated the cosy, comfortable room which had its own little kitchen. There was a warm welcome upon arrival and we truly felt at home here.
Incentra Village Hotel
Where to sleep in New York: other suggestions
Accommodation in New York will probably be your biggest spend. To cut your costs down, here is some extra advice for you to bear in mind whilst booking your stay:
Escape Manhattan - The neighbourhoods of Brooklyn, Long Island and Bronx are easily accessible via public transport, and they are often home to cheaper accommodation options.
Harlem - Although it is arguably not as well-connected, the district is truly alive and exciting. The hotels here are cheaper than they are in Manhattan.
Book your holiday out of peak season - why not in winter? We went in January and our hotel cost us 3 times less than it would have in April!
So, there you have it! The ten days we spent in New York passed at the speed of light. We are already dreaming of our next romantic visit to the enchanting city streets we loved so much. This city never failed to fascinate us at almost every street corner we turned, and we can truly declare it a top destination to visit with your other half!
Although New York is an expensive city on the whole, with our tips and tricks to help you on your way you don't really have to spend as much money as you might have initially thought. If you're anything like us, constantly singing along to Sinatra's "New York, New York", don't wait any longer and book your trip to the Big Apple now! Trust us when we say that both romance and wonder are guaranteed!
We at HostelsClub want to thank Athéna and Bruno for their excellent advice they have generously provided here. If you're curious to know more about sleeping cheap in New York, take a look at our article on the best low-cost hostels in the city. Alternatively, if you're looking to travel solo it's not a problem as we also have an article for you too... read our advice for a solitary escape to New York!