Empire State of Mind
If you’re visiting for the first time, the best thing to do is to make a beeline for city’s beating heart: Manhattan. The historic Empire State Building, with its Art Deco design, is a great starting point, particularly for the sensational views of the city to be enjoyed from the 102nd-floor observation deck. If you look to the north, you’ll be able to see Central Park, the huge green space that's well worth a walk around. Make friends with the squirrels before peering through the windows of the luxury stores on Fifth Avenue, which runs alongside the park.
New York is like one big film set. In addition to Central Park, Times Square is another of the city’s most famous locations, with its huge advertising screens and constant flow of people moving in every direction.
There’s plenty more to see, such as The High Line, a park created on an old raised railway track, with long sections of the platform now festooned with vegetation. It provides a fine spot to look down on the city, which stands ten metres below.
At the southern-most point of the unique park is Greenwich Village, a residential quarter where the vibe is a little more peaceful in comparison with the hubbub that characterises the rest of Manhattan. The area features smaller buildings and was once home to Bob Dylan and many other artists.
Decidedly less tranquil - but just as typical of New York - are the Little Italy and Chinatown districts, each of which has its own unique spirit.
A short distance to the south-west, the World Trade Center Memorial stands as a moving reminder of the atrocities of September 11 2001.
And of course, we couldn’t finish this list without mentioning the Statue of Liberty. Right on the southern tip of Manhattan, in Battery Park, you can take a ferry across to the symbolic monument.
The Big Apple doesn’t start and end with Manhattan, however. Brooklyn is just as important to the city - the kind of place you really have to visit at least once in your lifetime. You're advised to start your visit by walking across the huge Brooklyn Bridge, before strolling past the brownstone buildings in Brooklyn Heights and along the promenade, which offers up some stunning views of Manhattan.
Williamsburg, meanwhile, is the most fashionable and vibrant district this side of the East River, particularly at night! To the south, Park Slope is the perfect place to get a taste of the spirit of the neighbourhood, with its tree-lined roads, small restaurants and brick houses, while Prospect Park is Central Park's alter ego - it was even designed by the same team!
Last but not least, Coney Island is located on the southern-most part of the island. It’s a great place for a walk along the beach, but it’s also worth visiting the historic Luna Park, with its iconic Ferris Wheel.
A work of art...
NYC is out on its own when it comes to art and culture too. A visit to MoMA is practically compulsory, especially given that the contemporary works and installations on the show are even capable of catching the eye of those who aren’t museum fans. It’s a similar story for the Guggenheim, while the majestic Metropolitan Museum of Art features more traditional works from America, Asia and Europe. The American Museum of Natural History, meanwhile, is a dream discovery for lovers of nature and anthropology. It’s no wonder it was chosen as the set for Night at the Museum!
More than a simple souvenir
It’s not difficult to find shops that fit your perfect idea of shopping in the Big Apple, but if you’re looking for something truly original you should head to the legendary Chelsea Flea Market, open every Saturday and Sunday. It’s a great place to find modern gems and antiques alike - and was a favourite haunt of a certain Andy Warhol.
And if you get tired after trawling the dozens of stands, you can also drop into Economy Candy. Open for over 80 years, it’s a paradise for lovers of sweets and you’d be hard pushed to find another place in the world with just a wide variety on offer.
Strand Bookstore, on the other hand, is home to millions of second-hand and new books, and hosts extremely popular literary events. If reading is your thing, this is the perfect place to lose yourself in a book.
Lunch, New York-style
We’ll be honest. It’s going to be pretty tough for you to find traditional, sit-down food here. It’s much easier to do just as the New Yorkers do and opt for lunch on the go by picking up a hot dog or bagel at one of the countless street stalls in the city centre.
Bagels are a savoury bread shaped like a doughnut, filled with combinations like smoked salmon and cream cheese or bacon and cheese. Absolute Bagels, on Broadway, is the undisputed king when it comes to these delicious snacks.
Another scrumptious local speciality is New York cheesecake. But where can you eat the best? Many believe the best New York cheesecake is made at the tiny Two Little Red Hens bakery. If you prefer to try more global flavours, then Gotham West Market is the place for you. This large space offers hamburgers, noodles, tacos and ice cream under one roof!
Dusk ‘til dawn
Time for a rest? Not in the Big Apple! The nightlife here means that the city is every bit as vibrant as it is when the sun is up.
Opt for a laid-back start with a sunset cocktail at one of the many rooftop bars in Manhattan or Brooklyn, such as Bar 54, 230 Fifth or Top of the Strand. Next, why not take in some live jazz at a bar like the world-famous Blue Note or Smalls Jazz Club?
According to the locals, all the future greats pass through here at one point or another. NYC has plenty to offer if you fancy a more upbeat evening (and if you’re over the age of 21, of course). The city is home to world-class clubs such as Cielo (which has won countless awards for its mix of retro and modern), Output (the leading underground club fusing house and techno) and House of Yes (a heaven of colour, joy and transgression).
Citizens of 38 countries can enter the United States of America without a visa. It’s part of the Visa Waiver Program, which requires you to place a request via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) on the website (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov) at least 72 hours before you travel.
This authorisation is valid for two years (or until your passport expires, if this occurs sooner) and is subject to the following criteria: you must be in possession of an electronic passport expiring after the date of your journey back to your country; your journey must be motivated by tourism or business only; you must be staying in the USA for no longer than 90 days; you must be in possession of a return flight.
Please be aware that as of 24 September 2017, citizens of North Korea, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Venezuela and Yemen are subject to new restrictions. For more information on the Visa Waiver Program, on the aforementioned restrictions and on any other restrictions, please contact the US Embassy or Consulate in your country.
Despite being a seaside city at the same latitude as Naples, New York’s climate is decidedly continental. The winters are cold and long and the summers boiling hot, with rainfall distributed rather equally throughout the year. From a purely climatic point of view, then, the best times to visit the city are definitely late spring and early autumn.
That said, if you don’t mind temperatures around the zero mark, there is a truly magical feel to the city in the month of December, as it gears up for Christmas. There’s also a good chance you’ll see the Big Apple under snow - an average of 70 cm of the stuff falls every year!
Many people still avoid Harlem on account of its downtrodden reputation, but nowadays this multi-ethnic neighbourhood is safe and offers a taste of the real New York. It’s well worth a visit. Leave the guide book at home and duck into one of the bars to soak up the authentic atmosphere and enjoy one of the spontaneous jam sessions that seem to break out every five minutes.
Even if music isn’t your thing, don’t miss out on the experience of watching a show at one of the 40 or so theatres on Broadway. If you have time, take in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium. It’s the perfect way to feel like a proper New Yorker and gives you a great excuse to visit the Bronx, a district that rarely gets a mention in the standard tourist routes. If you're visiting NYC during the summer, make sure you head down to see the stunning 4th of July fireworks. In Autumn, meanwhile, it’s all about Halloween.
The city's Halloween Parade is the largest in the USA. Last but not least, in addition to the spectacular New Year celebrations, especially the Times Square Ball Drop, the best thing to do in winter is enjoy a romantic ice-skating session underneath the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center.
Welcome to New York City, the capital of the world. It doesn’t matter how modern, enchanting or dynamic other cities are, the Big Apple remains firmly at the top of the wish list of tourists from all over the world. Perhaps that’s down to the infinite array of films and television series set among its streets and in its symbolic buildings, or maybe it’s because of the unparalleled views it offers - the unmistakeable Manhattan skyline springs to mind. Quite simply, there is no place that makes you feel like you're at the centre of the world like this mass of huge skyscrapers, situated at the mouth of the Hudson River and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.