How to travel around New York and its neighbourhoods

If it’s your first time in New York, you’ll probably want a head start navigating its transport network. 

Whether you’re staying in the heart of Manhattan or even if you’re not, here are some of the ways to travel around New York neighbourhoods.

New York Transport

There are several ways to get around New York neighbourhoods.  Spend time walking shorter distances around Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens.  You can cycle through different neighbourhoods or on routes in parks.  If you need to get around a little quicker or travel longer distances, you have the LIRR (Long Island Railroad), the MNR (Metro-North Railroad), PATH trains and, of course, the subway.  

Each option serves a different purpose depending on where you’re coming from and going.   

New York subway

Getting around New York - RiA Vistas solo travel
New York City subway
Subway Time app - Manhattan_RiA Vistas solo travel
Subway Time app map

With 25 lines and more than 450 stations, New York’s subway system starts in the heart of Manhattan and operates 24 hours a day in the city that never sleeps.  

The network spreads from Manhattan into Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Queens.  The subway lines are organised by colour, number, and letter.  The Subway Time app is the perfect app for real-time information on departures, and it has a subway map and a section with all the lines and their corresponding numbers.  I used it a lot.

If you’re travelling through many subway stations, you should use the MetroCard. 

The card costs $1 to buy, and you can top it with the amount you require for your journeys.  

Every single ride or trip costs approximately $2.75 (at the time of writing). 

MetroCard for New York_RiA Vistas solo travel
New York MetroCard
Subway subway in New York_RiA Vistas
Barriers on the subway

You can get one free transfer from a subway train to a bus, or vice versa, but only if you do the transfer within two hours of buying the ticket.

You can pay directly with a debit card or via your smartphone wallet.

The LIRR — Long Island Railroad

Long Island Rail Road LIRR train - New York_Ri A Vistas solo traveller
The LIRR - New York
Penn Station MTA e-tix ticket_RiA Vistas
LIRR ticket to Penn Station using MTA e-tix app

The Long Island Railroad or LIRR is a train service that runs 24 hours a day and seven days a week.  The silver-bodied trains operate across more than 120 stations.  

Did you know it’s the oldest railroad network in the U.S.?

The LIRR serves Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island. The majority of trains originate or terminate at the well-known Penn Station in Manhattan or Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal.

If you’re staying outside Manhattan, you’ll probably use the LIRR at least once, if not more during your trip.  

You can purchase tickets on the go with the MTA eTIX app. To purchase tickets for the LIRR, you can try the My MTA app (previously used MTA e-tix app).  I use MyMTA when I’m in New York and it can be quicker than using the ticket machines.  You can buy tickets on-the-move.  

 

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Check out the MTA TrainTime app (iOS or Android versions). This is a must!  You can get real-time train times and platform changes. View the LIRR schedules here.

LIRR Long Island Rail Road station - New York_RiA Vistas solo tr
An station with a LIRR service

The MNR — Metro-North Railroad

The Metro-North Railroad (MNR) is a suburban network that runs between New York City and the northern suburbs of New York and Connecticut.  It also runs local services in both Manhattan and the Bronx. The MNR covers more than 100 stations.  Some of the lines also stop at the famous Grand Central Station.

To see the train times of the MNR, you should download the MNR Train Time app that is available on iOS and Android.   For more information on the app, check out the website. You can also see schedules online here.

Grand Central Station - New York_RiA Vistas solo travel
Grand Central Station, Manhattan
Metro North Railroad MNR - Grand Central Station_RiA Vistas solo
Metro North Railroad (MNR) at Grand Central Station

PATH trains

The Port Authority Trans-Hudson or the PATH Train, is a service that operates across New Jersey cities including Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark, and Harrison. It also runs in Lower and Midtown Manhattan in New York.   

PATH has six train stations across New York: 33rd St; 9th St; 23rd St; Christopher St; World Trade Center; and 14th St. 

You can find details about the stations and their schedules here.   

PATH station at 33rd Street in Manhattan_RiA Vistas
Manhattan 33rd Street PATH train station
PATH train ticket machine - New York_RiA Vistas solo travel
PATH train ticket machine at 33rd Street

There’s a dedicated PATH app called RidePATH.  It’s available for iOS and Android devices but if you don’t live in the U.S., your app store may not allow you to download it.  If you live in the U.S., then you can download it here.

PATH train ticket - New York_RiA Vistas solo travel
PATH train ticket single train ticket

To search for train schedules without the app, you could search 33rd St or any other PATH station train on Google. It’s handy for real-time train departures.

PATH train to Hoboken - New Jersey_RiA Vistas solo travel
PATH train to Hoboken, New Jersey

The bus

The bus system in and around New York is pretty reliable.   You can check the MTA website (New York’s transport provider) for up-to-date bus schedules.  Here’s an example https://new.mta.info/document/7526.

MTA bus in New York - Manhattan_RiA Vistas solo travel
New York City bus, Manhattan

A single ride (or one journey) is  about $2.75 across the bus and subway in New York. However, if you’re taking an express bus, it could cost as much as $6.50.  

NOTE – there are still some buses that do not take debit or credit cards, or allow you to use your smartphone wallet.  In that case, you’ll need to pay with coins and small bills.

USB charging point on New York bus_RiA Vistas
USB charging point - New York bus
Inside a New York City bus - Manhattan_RiA Vistas solo travel
Inside a New York City bus

I found that New York doesn’t really have a lot of travel pass options for a day across all transport like in other major cities, so travel can get costly but there’s a couple of options like the weekly subway pass which includes the buses if you plan to travel daily.  If you don’t fancy getting on public transport, you can hail a taxi or order an Uber.

I hope this helps!  

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