Midtown Manhattan itinerary | How to visit the heart of NYC
Visiting New York City? Can’t miss Midtown Manhattan! Getting the feeling of being only a small human in the big city is what makes New York iconic, and Midtown Manhattan has some skyscrapers that you have to see to believe. Let the greatness of Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler building impress you while enjoying the beauty of the Morgan Library and St Pauls Cathedral in between. This area has it all. The itinerary covers the highlights of the area, as well as a few cozy places to relax during your visit. The itinerary can perfectly be done in 1 day.
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If you’d take away only one thing from this post, let it be this. Start your day early (8h00 in the morning) to visit Top of the Rock. Really, being up there without crowds of tourists makes you get twice as much value out of your tickets.
After you admired the magnitude of New York skyscrapers, go via Rockefeller Plaza to Saint Patrick’s cathedral. Walk along Madison Avenue until Grand Central Terminal, go inside to visit the central hall. Next, go East briefly to see the Chrysler building. After that, head to the New York Public Library. If you need a break, Dr. Smood is close by. This makes the ideal stop to rest for a while.
Next, head to Dover Street Market for some shopping (or just admiring their artsy backdrops). Walk via Flatiron building to Inday for a healthy lunch.
We didn’t spend much time everywhere so we visited another part of the city in the afternoon, but if these are attractions that really spark your interest, you can easily spend a day on this itinerary.
Top of the Rock
When planning your city trip to NYC, you will probably find yourself eliminating attractions because they can be expensive. While most expensive attractions may not be worth the money, Top of the Rock is. I highly recommend doing this one if you want to get a good impression of the city in its entirety. This may be expensive (40 dollars per person), but the views are unbelievable.
While you might think that this might not be worth your money since it is just a viewpoint, you will be surprised by how much you get in return. The average tourist spends around an hour up there. The viewpoint has three decks, on three different floors, facing various directions.
One very important tip: go early. At 8h00 in the morning, you practically have the views to yourself. You may be accompanied by 30-40 people, but the space on the decks is so big that you don’t even notice the other tourists. A nice bonus of going early: you can walk right through the whole area that is designed to wait in line, which will still take you one full minute to complete at normal walking speed. Realizing how long you could have to wait in line if you came later on the day, makes you feel even better.
Saint Patricks Cathedral
When you come out of Rockefeller center, make sure to take a look at Saint Patricks Cathedral. It is just around the corner. Going inside isn’t really necessary. Just admire the church in the middle of Manhattan, between all the enormous buildings.
Any history fans with you? Can’t miss this museum! That being said, you don’t have to love history to love this one. There aren’t many people that wouldn’t enjoy the wonderful historic library in this museum.
While being a picture-perfect room, this library has more to it than meets the eye. Inside you can find one of the oldest bibles, and the room contains a hidden staircase. If you are lucky and there aren’t too many people, the guard loves to share some interesting facts about the place.
The museum is not only this library. It also hosts 2-3 other (rotating) exhibitions.
Where to take a break
Dr. Smood is the ideal oasis of peace and quiet in this loud and busy part of the city. Being a coffee house and lunch bar, they offer some healthy food options as well as great coffee.
If you’re in for trying something new, go for their award-winning hot chocolate. link to their website
Felix Roasting Co
I didn’t try this one out myself but found it online and was charmed by the atmosphere of the place. Reading the reviews, this place should have great coffee in a beautiful European-ish setting. Cozy cafe, perfect to start the day or take a little break.
We were so happy when we walked into this place. When roaming around in the streets near Flatiron building around noon, everything was extremely crowded with tourists and the restaurants appeared loud and cramped. This place is a true gem right in the middle of the overly crowded and touristy streets.
They sell healthy salads, some of which are warm. The atmosphere is calm and cozy, a place where you can come to rest for a minute. link to their website
This one has a few locations throughout the city, and is the ideal alternative if you love sushi but don’t trust raw fish during the hot summer days. Serving vegetarian sushi rolls, this place is a great place to take a healthy lunch break. Apparently it’s also a pretty popular take-out option among New Yorkers and it’s not hard to see why. link to their website
This rooftop bar is not unknown to a lot of Instagram users. Their creative and picture-perfect cocktails make the perfect photo in combination with a backdrop of skyscrapers. We didn’t go there, but from the photos, it appears to be a really trendy place.
Dover Street Market
The only shop on this post, but a non-skippable one. This 5-story shop full of designers loves to create cool and artsy backdrops and passages. The place does more feel like an art installation than a shop, which makes it a great variation to visiting the monuments in this region.