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New York’s must-see neighbourhoods

  • New York, United States of America (USA)

Last updated: 14 April, 2024

Waves of immigration and economic growth, particularly after the mid-19th century, saw different ethnic groups sticking together and industries forming discrete clusters, packed into the tiny island of Manhattan.

The result was a vivid jigsaw of villages or ‘neighbourhoods’, densely packed together but contrasting sharply within short distances. Some remain original, others have evolved, but all retain fascinating architectural and cultural distinctions.

Who to go with: tour operators

5

East Village

  • New York, United States of America (USA)

East Village

Experience

New York’s most vibrant neighbourhood, packed with small, cool bars and independent restaurants offering food from around the world. Vintage and consignment fashion boutiques are dotted between stores selling records, punk accessories and quirky knickknacks. Take the subway to Union Square or 2nd Avenue.

Good for age: 18+

Meatpacking District

  • New York, United States of America (USA)

Meatpacking District

Experience

A former cluster of meat processing factories that’s evolved into the hottest, swankiest neighbourhood in town. Untypically spacious, with cobbled streets and authentic heritage buildings, it’s home to super-fashionable nightlife and shopping – with all the top designers having stores here – and trendy boutique hotels. A magnet for the uber-cool, sexy and stylish. Most of the action centres around the Standard Hotel. Start there.

Good for age: 18+

Times Square

  • New York, United States of America (USA)

Times Square

Experience

A tourist trap hated by New Yorkers. See it once for the lights, especially with kids, or dart in to get discount theatre tickets, but otherwise avoid it. The streets are dark, dirty and jammed with honking taxis, bewildered package tourists and hawkers selling tat, all jostling together. The 1, 2, 3, S, N, Q, and R subway lines all stop at Times Square.

Good for age: 4+

Soho

  • New York, United States of America (USA)

Soho

Experience

One of New York’s prettiest neighbourhoods that charms with its cobbled streets and industrial buildings characterised by lattices of external fire escapes and decorative iron cladding. Now home to designer-label stores from Prada to Patagonia, and restaurants and boutique hotels frequented by celebrities. Take the subway to Spring Street (C, E), Prince Street (N, R) or Broadway Lafayette (B, D, F, M).

Good for age: 18+

West Village

  • New York, United States of America (USA)

West Village

Experience

A charm-heavy old neighbourhood of winding streets and brownstone town houses. It shelters with a mix of fancy and old-school shops, upscale boutiques and some terrific cutesy eateries, that are a delight to stumble on. Take the subway to 14th Street and walk south.

Good for age: 18+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Who to go with: organised tours

14

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

  • New York City

Embark on a walking tour with ExperienceFirst and delve into the most captivating neighborhoods of New York City in one day. Explore the Cast Iron Historic District in SoHo, admiring 19th-century architecture. In Little Italy, uncover the stories of notorious mobster John Gotti at significant mob sites. Then, immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Chinatown. This tour offers a fascinating glimpse into the early days of immigration and gang activity in NYC. With a knowledgeable guide, you'll efficiently navigate the city, making the most of your time. The noon start time leaves both the morning and evening open for other plans.

Price $39

Min age 4

Rating 4.85 / 5 [1620 ratings]

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  • New York City

Hear the stories of the people that have lived there and the histories that made these spots as special as they are. This panoramic tour takes you to a number of iconic landmarks you’ll recognize from film history’s most memorable movies.That’s out on Coney Island. Beyond getting photos that you’ll treasure for years, this is a chance to take a walk off the beaten path and experience the New York that real New Yorkers know. For a tour that takes you behind-the-scenes of some of the most interesting boroughs in New York, book your NYC Boroughs tour today and enjoy with our guided bus tour!

Price $59

Min age 0

Rating 4.44 / 5 [1416 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • New York City

ExperienceFirst presents a bus tour that spans four of New York City’s boroughs. With a local guide, learn about Harlem’s African-American history at the Apollo Theater. In the Bronx and Brooklyn, witness vibrant graffiti murals and colorful street art. Immerse yourself in downtown Flushing’s Chinatown and explore the culture of Brooklyn’s Hasidic Jewish community. This tour provides a comprehensive look at the city’s diverse boroughs, suitable for both first-time and returning visitors. Enjoy waterfront views of the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge, departing conveniently from Midtown Manhattan.

Price $79

Min age 0

Rating 4.86 / 5 [1236 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • New York City

Come explore the coolest neighborhood in NYC.  We make our way through iconic Washington Square Park and its famous arch. Learn about how the park, which movies like 'I Am Legend,' 'Searching For Bobby Fischer' and 'August Rush' were filmed at, and eat our way through town. Learn something, eat something, love everything!

Price $95

Min age 0

Rating 4.96 / 5 [1213 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • New York City

The new culinary center of the Big Apple, where food and dining trends are dispersed to the rest of the country, is Brooklyn. And with this half-day tour, you can take a big bite out of it. From old ethnic enclaves to the latest hipster 'hoods, Brooklyn's dining scene is both diverse and cutting edge. Munch pierogies in Polish-dominated Greenpoint and hip farm-to-table fare in Williamsburg. This guided eating tour of New York's coolest and tastiest borough is ideal for foodies and the people who love them.

Price $134

Min age 0

Rating 4.87 / 5 [738 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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