Trip to New York: the essentials to do in 36 hours

If you are a student in the United States or Europe, you have surely thought about what it must be like to travel to New York. Famous for being the largest city in the world, New York has a lot to offer on all fronts, from arts to history and culture. More than that, it’s perfectly walkable and student-friendly – most of the time.

However, planning a trip to New York can be an overwhelming experience. There is so much to see and do, day or after dark. After all, there’s a reason New York is known as the city that never sleeps. Unfortunately, this means that most of the time you won’t be able to explore all the crevices as a student on a budget.

In this, knowing the best places to visit in New York is a must, especially if you want to make the most of your time. Here are the essential things every college student should do in 36 hours for an unforgettable, quintessentially New York experience.

Trip to New York: How to spend 36 hours in the city that never sleeps


Visit Central Park for a refreshing start to your New York trip. Source: Alexis Rosenfeld/AFP

Start your day in Central Park

Central Park is one of the most famous landmarks in the world. Almost every nook and cranny has been featured in movies, TV shows, video games, books, and more, all romanticizing the park in all its glory. For this reason, Central Park should definitely be an unmissable part of your visit to New York.

However, the park is huge and impossible to cover in a day, let alone in a morning. We recommend renting a bicycle, which will allow you to cover most of the sites in the park emblematic placesfrom the Bethesda carousel and fountain to the Imagine mosaic.

If you’re short on time, book a bike rental in advance. You can do it here.

Visit the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is arguably one of the best galleries in the world. From its iconic steps that have been featured in movie scenes and red carpet premieres to its impressive collection of beautiful artwork, you’ll be mesmerized as you explore its halls after a hectic morning in Central Park.

There you will see The Met collection — which covers 490,000 works worldwide and throughout history.

Visit a viewing platform

No trip to New York is complete without visiting its must-see landmarks. Still, going through them all can take a long time, especially if you’re only in town for a short time.

The best way around this? Book a trip to an observation deck.

These can be a little pricey, but they are worth it for the view. As you make your way to the top of the building, you will be greeted by a fantastic bird’s eye view of the city in all its glory.

While the New York skyline is amazing any time of the day, the view at night is particularly unique. Booking a sunset tour is equally special for the chance to see the day slowly begin to fade as night falls.

A classic viewing platform to visit is Summit of the Rock , which has been featured in films. Another popular place is SUMMIT Vanderbilt One for a unique experience and a view of the city.

SUMMIT Vanderbilt One offers one of the most unique observation deck experiences in New York City. Credit: Spencer Platt/AFP

Watch a Broadway musical

You can’t travel to New York without watching a Broadway musical. There are plenty of exciting musicals, plays, and improv shows constantly playing in New York City, giving you plenty of options to choose from.

If you’re a student, however, your travel to New York is likely to be limited – and Broadway shows can be pricey. Consider downloading the TodayTix appwhich lets you browse Broadway shows based on discounts, sweepstakes, and deals available daily.

If you’re in the area, keep an eye out. Booth TKTS in the middle of Times Square. This kiosk often sells last-minute theater tickets at a cheaper price, giving you the chance to catch a show without breaking the bank.

If it’s still too expensive for you, visiting the TKTS booth means you can also visit Times Square which is an experience in itself. However, beware of pickpockets and getting separated from your group, as the center can be quite chaotic and overwhelming for a first-time visitor.


See Lady Liberty

Start your second day in New York with a glimpse of one of its most famous landmarks: the Statue of Liberty. The best part? You can do it for free.

Head to the edge of Manhattan where you will encounter Battery Park. There you will find the Staten Island Ferry, which runs round trips to Staten Island approximately every half hour at no charge. It loops around the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, and more, giving you the perfect opportunity to snap a quick photo while you can.

While you’re there, you can also visit important sites nearby, such as the 9/11 Memorial Pools.

Cross the Brooklyn Bridge

End your trip to New York by crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, which gives you arguably one of the best views of the city. Numerous plaques and signboards also detail the history and significance of the bridge. You will therefore have time to discover more about its importance between two shots.

If you have time to spare, we recommend venturing to Brooklyn and visiting a deli for a sandwich. These are big, meaty and stuffed just the way you like it – giving you a classic New York souvenir to cling to when you need to leave.

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