Tips for people visiting New York for the first time:

  • If you take a taxi from JFK to Manhattan, don't let that hell-ride put you off. Cabs in New York are old, beaten up, rattly vehicles and the roads are broken and very busy. If you can fly into Newark there is a train directly to Penn station in midtown Manhattan.
  • Cars can turn right on a red light, so if you're crossing the street and someone turns towards you, you have the right of way. Keep going.
  • Don't stop or dawdle where people are trying to walk. In London people will get silently irritated, in New York you'll be asked to move pretty directly. Don't take it personally if this happens.
  • The subway does not work like the London Underground. Lines have express and local services so be sure you're taking the right one as you might either miss your stop or spend much longer getting there than you need to.
  • Subway stations don't have unique names. There are 5 named '125th street', so be sure you're going where you think you are.
  • If you see a subway car that is either empty or far quieter than the others, there is probably a good reason. Avoid it.
  • Spend a little time learning the geography of the city. The signage in the subway often uses 'Uptown and Bronx' and 'Downtown and Brooklyn', so knowing how that relates to your journey helps you find the right train.
  • Tip in cash even when paying by card. Actually, this isn't a New York tip, this is just a tipping tip.
  • Take the Staten Island Ferry. It's free, and offers amazing views of downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn as well as the Statue of Liberty and Governers Island.
  • Take tramway to Roosevelt Island. It's not a tram, it's a cable car. It costs the same as one trip on the subway and offers really unique views of the city and the East River.
  • Go to Queens Museum to see the Panorama, but don't take the subway. Instead, take the Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station to Mets-Willets Point.
  • Do not eat in the chain restaurants around Times Square. I can appreciate the desire to visit that area of Manhattan, but it's the ultimate tourist trap. There area endless independent places to eat all over the city.
  • Go to the top of Rockefeller Centre instead of the Empire State Building. The view is better.