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How to spend 24 hours in New York

When 24 hours is all you have, fear not – it’s amazing what you can squeeze in when you have a plan. Enjoy the best the iconic US city has to offer with our guide, just don’t forget two cardinal rules: 1) try to walk everywhere and 2) eat everything you stumble across. You’ll thank us later…

(NB: timings are estimates)

01/01/2022Updated 11/04/2023

Abraço means ‘hug’ in Portuguese and it’s easy to see why this café got its name

8am: pick up a coffee and a pastry at beloved East Village spot Abraço

Considered by some to have the best espresso in all of Manhattan, Abraço is a counter-serve spot that personifies the East Village. Word to the wise: don’t even think of asking for anything but whole milk or half and half when ordering – oat milk just isn’t the vibe. Resist the urge to leave immediately and explore the city. Instead, spend a few minutes enjoying your drink accompanied by a house-made pastry, because the ambiance here is as delicious as the menu. After all, abraço means ‘hug’ in Portuguese.

A visitor takes a shot of Time Out by Moroccan photographer Hassan Hajjaj

9am to 11am: explore Fotografiska

Staying on the East side of town, walk north for 15 blocks, taking in the Village en route, before crossing over four avenues and reaching the relatively new photography museum Fotografiska. The building is a landmarked 19th-century former church with a beautiful façade, and the exhibitions inside are worth equal attention (Andy Warhol, Sarah Moon and Anders Petersen all feature this month). Exit via the gift shop in the museum’s lobby, which offers a variety of trinkets that make for excellent souvenirs and double as beautiful home décor pieces.

The salumi and formaggi counter at Eataly (Evan Joseph)

11.30am to 1.30pm: eat everything at Eataly

Pro tip: when in New York, make it a point to always stop by Eataly in the Flatiron. This time around, walk through Madison Square Park from Fotografiska before entering the giant Italian marketplace. After bagging a few essentials (add anything by Mulino Bianco to your shopping basket), dine on delicious pasta at Il Pastaio for lunch. If Italian food’s not your thing, walk a few blocks further on to KazuNori for the best Japanese hand rolls you’ll likely ever have.

Tara Protecting from the Eight Fears at Rubin Museum of Art (Filip Wolak)

1.30pm to 3pm: see different forms of art at the Rubin Museum of Art

Although the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) are considered must-sees, there are plenty of other artistic options in The Big Apple. Change things up by visiting the Rubin Museum of Art instead, just a ten-minute walk from Eataly. Soak up the statues, paintings and collections highlighting art and culture from the Himalayas, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent – and don’t miss the permanent collection focusing on Tibetan art, it’s eye-opening. Think of this as an only-in-New-York sort of museum experience.

Little Island at Pier 55 is a park built on concrete posts in the Hudson River (Adobe Stock)

3pm to 5pm: wander around Chelsea Market and take a stroll along the High Line

This food and shopping mall in the Meatpacking District was one of the first of its kind in New York, so it certainly deserves attention. It’s cosy in here, but there’s lots to see and do: from delicious food offerings (Los Tacos! Miznon! Tings! Amy’s Bread!) to fantastic shopping opportunities (Artists & Fleas is a must-visit), Chelsea Market always offers a fun time.

On departure, we suggest one of two routes: either visit the brand new Little Island at Pier 55 – an artificial park on the Hudson River that’s visibly striking and great to see in person – or opt for a walk along the High Line, a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park created on a former New York Central Railroad line.

The bar at New York Marriott Marquis offers views over Broadway

5pm to 6.30pm: Times Square and a disco nap

If this is your first time in New York, the visual extravaganza that is Times Square can’t be missed. The Manhattan hub is a feast for the senses and the perfect place for an Insta selfie – just prepare to compete with a healthy amount of tourists for your shot.

While you’re there, take some time out after a busy day to relax in your hotel. The iconic New York Marriott Marquis is just a minute’s walk from Times Square but is a drop of serenity in the hubbub of this part of Manhattan. The revolving 360° dining room is a must, offering epic views of Broadway and the skyscraper-tipped skyline. Where better to try a New York strip steak?

The retro Motel Morris in Chelsea (Briana Balducci)

6.30pm to 7.30pm: go for dinner at Westville or Motel Morris

Sightseeing can build up an appetite, so indulge in some casual American comfort food by heading over to Westville Hell’s Kitchen, where you can savour delicious fare at affordable prices in a laidback yet buzzy atmosphere. Don’t forget to consult the speciality cocktails list as well (we like the apple and honey hot toddy).

If you fancy a bit of a walk before dinner, make the 30-minute trip to Motel Morris on 7th Avenue and 18th Street. Also offering American classics, the space is relaxed but still emblematic of the city’s culinary scene. There’s awesome service and an all-round comfortable view and aesthetic.

Yellow taxis are a New York institution (Alamy)

7.30pm: hop in a cab and catch a Broadway show

Be sure to always catch a show when you’re in town: there are so many excellent ones on offer, after all. Yes, dinner might be cut a little short, but it’ll certainly be worth it. The Theatre District is also on the West Side of town (hence our dinner spot suggestions) but do give yourself enough time to get through the hustle and bustle of the neighbourhood while trying to reach your chosen performance.

The award-winning Six on Broadway (Joan Marcus)

8-10pm to 10.30pm: curtains up on Broadway

Every single show on Broadway (and, arguably, even the ones off-Broadway) is worth catching but, topping them all is, of course, Hamilton. You’ll likely have to buy tickets for that one way in advance, so if it’s more of a last-minute show that you’re after, consider seeing Six, A Beautiful Noise or the classic, Wicked. Not in the mood for a musical? Try Leopoldstadt or Pictures from Home instead.

Speakeasy-style Bathtub Gin is hidden away in Chelsea 

10.30pm: time for a nightcap

For those wanting to stay in the area, grab a post-show drink at Tanner Smith’s (worth a visit, despite its touristy location). Alternatively, head to Bathtub Gin in Chelsea and be transported to Prohibition-era America where ‘anything goes’. Enjoy a tipple in the richly decorated 1920s-style bar or bask in a burlesque show. The speakeasy is hidden behind Stone Street coffee shop, so make sure to look for that awning specifically.

A DJ works the room at Nebula in Times Square (Kayla Segal)

11.30pm: if you must… go clubbing?

If dancing the night away sounds like just the ticket, head to Nebula: a massive new 11,000sqft multi-level space in Times Square billing itself as the biggest nightlife destination in Manhattan to open in recent years. We can’t argue with that!

Rise and shine with Sky Ting yoga

7am: work out, New York style

Sure, you’re on vacation, but New York is home to so many unique workout classes that residents swear by that missing out on the opportunity to try at least one would be a shame. Wake up early and burn off those dinner and drink calories at Barry’s Bootcamp, the Dogpound or the NW Method. More into meditation? Check out Sky Ting Yoga.

Area 9 ‘floating gallery’ at The Noguchi Museum (Nicholas Knight)

8am: grab a quick look outside of Manhattan

On your way out of New York, stop by the Noguchi Museum in Queens or the Queens Museum. The former was designed and created by famous Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi in an effort to preserve his own works. You’ll want to walk around both the two-storey, 24,000sqft indoor space and the adjacent sculpture garden.

The Queens Museum, on the other hand, is home to one of the most recognised art works in town: the Panorama of the City of New York, a 9,335sqft architectural model of the entire city that was first constructed for the 1964 World’s Fair. Just as you depart the Big Apple, you’ll literally have New York at your feet.