I prefer using the subway as my primary mode of transportation when I’m in the city.
The subway is generally reliable and isn’t impacted by the biggest above ground variable, traffic. I can almost always get where I want to be faster and cheaper by taking the subway. Sure, it has its faults. Trains can be late and are super crowded during peak times, but for me it’s all part of experiencing the city like a New Yorker.
The subway system can feel intimidating to a visitor, but let me assure you I had zero experience with subways or mass transit prior to my visits to New York City.
My biggest advice? Don’t panic and be sure to ask for help! Station agents are in the booths at some stations and I’ve found passengers waiting on the platform are very willing to help. I secretly love it when somebody asks me for directions. They think I’m a real New Yorker?! The highest compliment in my book!
If you are going to be in the city for more than 3 days and you plan to use the subway to get around, I recommend purchasing a week long Unlimited Ride MetroCard. With Pay-Per-Ride tickets priced at $2.75 per ride and an Unlimited Ride MetroCard priced at $33 it would only take 6 round trips priced at $2.75 each way on the Pay-Per-Ride to be the same price as the Unlimited Ride MetroCard.
I love having the Unlimited Ride Card and knowing I can take it as often as I want without having to calculate the balance or add more funds. It’s not uncommon for me to take 6, or more, rides per day.
I encourage you to study the subway map prior to your trip to get an idea of what trains service the area closest to where you are staying, and the trains that are closest to the places you want to visit. If you can, chose a place to stay with a subway stop nearby (within a handful of blocks). This will cut down on your transportation costs and maximize your time in the city. This website is full of helpful information for visitors. http://web.mta.info/nyct/subway/howto_sub.htm
If you are going to New York City for the first time, or for the first time in a long time, it can be especially helpful to talk with an NYC expert. I will help you navigate the logistics of timing, budget, and travel party dynamics while incorporating your unique needs and interests to create a fully customized experience. This will save you time, reduce your stress and maximize your time in New York City!