What are the best neighborhoods in NYC
The 3 best areas
in New York
Arriving in New York meant for centuries that you had completely turned your life upside down. Having just crossed an ocean, you had to decide: stay or move on? If you fly to NYC today, you have smaller decisions to make: Where do you live? What's the best neighborhood, best neighborhood, best neighborhood in New York? But if you do it right, that can change your life too. Has happened to some.
- Best Area N ° 1 Midtown, Manhattan
- Best Area N ° 2 Greenwich Village, Manhattan
The charming, quirky small town
- Best Area N ° 3 Williamsburg, Brooklyn
- OH NO! Rather not
The 3 best areas in New York.
- 1 Midtown, Manhattan
- 2 Greenwich Village, Manhattan
- 3 Williamsburg, Brooklyn
- Rather not
I was on my way to my Midtown Manhattan hotel when I saw a guy on 3rd Avenue who looked like Anthony Bourdain after three or four glasses of wine and was trying to get a cab. That moment, when I was standing a few steps away from someone I admired and saw him waving to yellow cabs and not being able to stop any, taught me a lot about New York.
You may be famous - New Yorkers don't care. This is not Los Angeles. You may be rich - you still drive a taxi here. This is not Dubai. You may be one of the best travel experts in the world - every now and then you will still fail to get from A to B. Even if New York is your hometown.
Welcome to Midtown, the area of Manhattan that everyone knows and almost everyone defines a little differently. But what is certain is that when the world closes its eyes and thinks of New York, it sees Midtown. Skyscrapers like the Chrysler Building. Shopping on 5th Avenue like the girls from Sex and the City. Corporate headquarters such as NBC or Citigroup. Donald Trump - like you wouldn't believe.
The best area
from New York at:
- to make a movie
- Skyscrapers and steaming manhole covers can be seen
- Check off sights and go shopping
- Getting things called after you walk slowly
Let's face it: living in Midtown Manhattan can be a bit overwhelming too. It's expensive, loud, hectic and almost overwhelmingly impressive. But the super-central location of the district and the number of sights and possibilities is simply unbeatable. Here is just a small selection of things that are around here:
- Grand Central Terminal (I love!)
- The Empire State Building
- The Chrysler Building (the most beautiful of all skyscrapers)
- Time Square (I hate!)
- the best part of 5th avenue
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral
I especially like Midtown early in the morning. If jet lag doesn't keep you sleeping after a long flight to New York, take advantage of it. Be on the street at 5 or 6 a.m. Walking through the still empty skyscraper canyons of Midtown is such a surreal experience that you shouldn't miss it!
Quiet shift changes. Steamy manhole covers. Here and there preparatory work behind glass. And in the background a beginning sunrise, accompanied by an ever-increasing stream of women in yoga pants and with earpods, their iPhone in one hand, Starbucks coffee in the other, hastily on their way to her, rushing to their pre -work workout, training for survival in the shark tank of Midtown Manhattan.
The part of Manhattan that everyone knows and almost everyone defines differently.
One thing is certain: Midtown is what you all over the world imagine New York to be.
Practical tip for your visit to Midtown Manhattan
Yes, the Empire State Building is legendary, but the queues for visitors to the observation deck are often just insane. So I would advise that you take advantage of the jet lag you may have after the transatlantic flight and get out early enough to be at Emprie State when it unlocks ... or you just visit the Rockefeller Center observation deck ("Top of the Rocks "). It's usually less crowded, almost as high up and you can see the Empire State Building from there!
If Midtown is the part of Manhattan that everyone thinks of when they hear the word "New York" and Williamsburg is the neighborhood where trends arise, Greenwich Village (or simply "The Village") is the part of NYC where everything is a little different and is quirky.
Entering Greenwich Village means stepping out of the rigid grid system of Manhattan. Literally. The streets in the Village are not geometrically organized as in most parts of New York, which makes it immediately feel different when you walk into the neighborhood. Greenwich Village feels more like a real village, a bit old-fashioned and also kind of European.
The best area
from New York at:
- to feel like you are in a beautiful old European town.
- engage in comedy, theater, and pizza.
- Getting to know New York subcultures.
- to take a picture of you in front of the house from the "Friends" intro.
Greenwich Village is traditionally a good ground for sub and counter cultures, is home to a vibrant gay community, off-Broadway theaters, comedy clubs and has long been the cultural center of New York City. Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Truman Capote, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Simon and Garfunkel, and The Velvet Underground are just a few of the artists who lived or worked in the Village.
Today Greenwich Village is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Manhattan and thus New York. Naturally, this drove out the artists who are not yet super-successful. It's the old gentrification story: artists make an affordable area of a city interesting, which attracts real estate developers and wealthy people and drives up prices, ultimately forcing artists to move to another area.
But the village vibe is still there, you can feel it when you walk through the small streets. It's just all cleaner, safer, and more established. With the pulsating "East Village" right next door, you can switch between the two worlds if you want!
But the streets are not the only thing that is weird here in the neighborhood.
Greenwich Village has always been New York's subculture area.
Practical tip for your visit to Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Don't be confused by the terms "Village", "West Village", "Greenwich Village", "East Village" and "Lower East Side".
- "Village" and "Greenwich Village" are the same.
- "West Village" is part of "Greenwich Village".
- "East Village" is not part of "Greenwich Village", but the neighborhood adjacent to it in the east.
- The "East Village" was part of the "Lower East Side" in the past. Today they are considered different parts of the city.
Williamsburg has had a lot of love in recent years, but not from everyone. Some also call it the neighborhood-turned "hipster apocalypse". I call it one of the best areas of New York to visit - as long as you know what you're getting into.
In the 1960s and 70s, the originally industrial district suffered from crime and unemployment. Low rents attracted artists, bon vivants, and newcomers to New York in the 1990s, making Williamsburg the birthplace of the hipster movement. This vibrant scene, combined with improving public transport connections to nearby Manhattan, made prices soar and ultimately drove parts of the artist and hipster scene to other areas of Brooklyn.
So what is Williamsburg today? A neighborhood with a view of the Manhattan skyline and a quick connection to it ... but without the crazy pace of Manhattan. An area of New York that is no longer fully dominated by the (sometimes a bit tedious) hipster movement, but still benefits from all of the great food, nightlife and handicrafts that the hipsters have established here.
The best area
from New York at:
- experimenting with food, coffee and drinks
- to buy cool vintage and 2nd hand items
- seeing the Manhattan skyline
- Fixie bikes, ironic mustaches and tattoos to be seen, in short:
- To get an insight into the hipster birthplace ;-)
Since Brooklyn became the district from which trends spread to the rest of New York City and around the world, the Williamsburg neighborhood has been one of the best places to stay in Manhattan. The L-Train will get you across the East River in 15 minutes, so don't worry about missing out on Manhattan high life. On the contrary, think about it: when you are IN Manhattan, you never see the Manhattan skyline! Williamsburg, on the other hand, offers you sunsets over skyscrapers, bridges and through street canyons.
Regardless, if you want to hang out with the cool guys and gals, Williamsburg is the best neighborhood in New York. The quarter feels lively, colorful, relatively untouristic and young. When you consider that Williamsburg is quieter than most of Manhattan and has nice access to the water, then it might not seem so bad to roll your eyes in front of a few hipsters every now and then!
Feels lively, colorful, untouristic and young.
If you want to hang out with the cool boys & girls, go to Williamsburg.
Practical tip for your visit to Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Since the tunnels of the New York Subway L-Train, which connects Brooklyn and Manhattan, will undergo extensive repairs in 2019 and 2020, there are some changes and restrictions to consider when moving around Williamsburg in this timeframe:
- On weekdays at night, between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., the L-Train is switched to an interval of 20 minutes between Manhattan and Brooklyn, so you wait longer.
- On weekends, the 20-minute intervals between Manhattan and Brooklyn even apply around the clock.
It's not certain when the L-Train will switch back to its normal schedule, but most likely not before the end of 2020. Check here or on the MTA's website for updates.
- In general, avoid areas and neighborhoods of New York that are far from Manhattan or that are not well connected to Manhattan by transportation. Why? Manhattan is where the most interesting things for visitors can be found.
- Some of those boroughs and neighborhoods that are either too far or just not interesting to visit: almost everything in Queens (too far); Staten Island (too far and not that interesting); the southern and eastern parts of Brooklyn (such as Crowns Height, Flatbush, Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, etc.) and most of the Bronx (especially the northern areas).
- While New York is a very safe city overall these days, some neighborhoods may seem seedy to visitors: Brownsville, East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Mott Haven, Long Island City, etc.
- In Manhattan itself I would personally avoid Time Square (too strenuous, fake and turbo-commercialized), Washington Heights (not much to do) and Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village (almost all residential buildings without attraction or relevance for visitors).
New York: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How is New York structured?
- New York City (NYC) is part of the state of New York. We are only talking about New York City, the metropolitan area that is sometimes referred to as "the five boroughs".
- That's because New York City is made up of five (fairly large) boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island.
- Geographically, New York City is located on several islands as well as on the mainland of the United States (The Bronx does). The islands are surrounded by various bodies of water such as the Hudson River, the East River, and the New York Bay.
- Of the five boroughs of New York City, Manhattan is the smallest, but also the most densely populated. For outsiders, Manhattan is often synonymous with New York because of its unique skyline, its cultural and economic significance, and its prominent role in film and other media.
- In the north of the island of Manhattan lies the Bronx, the only district on the US mainland. Both Brooklyn and Queens are east of Manhattan on the larger island of Long Island. Staten Island is located south of Manhattan and is the most sparsely populated of the five boroughs.
New York City has a reputation for being a dangerous city. While that was certainly the case in the 1970s and 1980s, it is largely a thing of the past today. Today's New York City is one of the safest cities in the United States, and most areas and counties feel safe, even at night.
- Some neighborhoods like Brownsville, Crown Heights, and most parts of the Bronx have even higher crime rates, so it's best to just avoid them. Statistics suggest that areas like Midtown in Manhattan have even higher crime rates, but that's more of a statistical anomaly: While there are hundreds of thousands of people in Midtown every day, very few actually live there, most of them work or are tourists. Since the crime rate is counted "per inhabitant", this naturally leads to unusually high per-inhabitant values.
- Be careful and watch out for pickpockets in major train and subway stations, as well as very crowded places like Time Squar (why would you even go there ?!).
- If you're taking the New York subway at night, it's a good idea to get into a car that has other people in it so you don't end up alone with a madman.
- While the events of September 11th are still a major trauma to New York City, almost 20 years on, terrorism is no longer a thing to actively worry about as a visitor.
What are typical rookie mistakes in New York?
- Typical beginner mistake: Time Square is at the top of your to-do list. The place is a soulless commercial tourist hell. In my opinion.
- Get on the New York subway without checking whether it is an express or a local train (they leave from the same platforms, with the same destination). If you are unlucky it can mean that instead of driving just a few blocks, the next time you can get off in a completely different neighborhood. Or just wandering around forever instead of quickly making kilometers.
- Taking a New York taxi during rush hour or just not leaving for the airport early enough. Especially in Manhattan: if you are stuck in a traffic jam, there is hardly any escape. It can even take hours.
What is the best time to visit New York?
As you can imagine, New York is a year-round city. There is no time of year when the city feels empty or dead. However, there are better and worse months:
- If you're looking to save money (good luck in New York!) January and February could be the best months for you as prices for hotels, apartments, and hostels will be lower.
- April to June and September to early November are great months to visit New York and are among my personal favorites: mostly good weather (not too cold, not too hot - NYC is a city of extremes in terms of temperatures) and not jam-packed with Tourists. But keep an eye on the special dates on which the prices are sometimes significantly higher than usual: the weekend of the New York City Marathon, Halloween, etc.
- Of course, Christmas time in New York can be magical (especially around Rockefeller Center, Central Park, etc.), but expect crazy prices and loads of people. NYC in winter can also be freezing cold.
- Personally, I would avoid July and August when the city heats up almost tropical.
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