A little bit about New York.
New York city, one of the most remarkable capitals of the World, can be a very expensive place. Obviously, the heart of the city, Manhattan, is not an exemption. But do not give up; we can enjoy this magnificent borough on a budget. If you do not have a lot of time to stay in New York or you really want to save money on accommodation, food expenses and transport, I would recommend you to visit only Manhattan. In my opinion, it is the best part of NYC and you can see the most important places and monuments of this borough on two or three days.
Free Manhattan attractions and things to do.
Manhattan is divided into Downtown Manhattan, Midtown, Upper east and west Manhattan and North Manhattan. First, I am going to talk about the Downtown, where you can see many of the fabulous monuments and places of the city. The top 1 monument to visit from the Downtown, it is the Statue of Liberty. It is placed on the Liberty Island so you can only visit it by ferry or boat. If you do not mind to take a picture of this symbol of the USA from a long distance, I recommend you to take the Staten Island ferry. It is free, open 24/7 and it will give you a beautiful sight of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. You can catch it as many times as you want, so first you can go in the morning to take photos with the natural light of the sun and come back in the evening to observe the illuminated sky buildings, the views are completely different.
I believe that the best way to visit a city is walking. It costs nothing, it allows you to be in contact with people and you can see places slower so you could discover things that you will not discover using the underground or a taxi. In the southern part of the downtown, you can see different monuments and buildings as the Charging bull, the One World Trade Center, St Paul‘s Chapel, Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, the Old port area where you can see the Brooklyn bridge, the Chinatown, and the Soho. If you are passionate about museums the National Museum of American Indian is free and on the Museum of Jewish heritage, the admission is free on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Of course, there are more places to visit but for me, these are the most important ones if we do not have a lot of time. Do not forget to lose yourself walking on the streets to enjoy the sight of the typical fire escapes on the façades, to find a little pizzeria in Little Italy and to admire the urban street art.
Secondly, let’s explore the free Midtown tour. Take a walk to see the Empire State building, the Rockefeller Center, St Patrick Cathedral or the United Nation Headquarters. Nonetheless, if you want to go up to one of these high buildings or visit some of them you would have to pay for it. The Museum of Modern art it is a must visit if you like Picasso, Dalí, Andy Warhol etc.It is free every Friday from 4 pm to 8 pm (the queue is long thus it is better to arrive soon). Hopefully, walk around Times Square has not a price. If you are seduce by all these advertising and you want to spend some money you would find tones of shops in Times Square, especially if you are looking for tourists souvenirs. Spectacles in Broadway are not cheap but you can find good deals in some websites and last minute deals.
Thirdly, we can explore Central Park and Upper East Side and Upper West Side. If you want to relax, after a long day walking, Central park it is the perfect place. You can have a picnic, rent a boat on the lack, take pictures of some of the many statues on the park, listen a musician playing an instrument or just chilling out on the grass. The fans of John Lennon can visit the monument to the singer on the park, called Strawberry fields which is not far from the place where he was murdered, the Dakota building. From the park you can see the luxurious apartments in this area. The towers of the Majestic apartments and the San Remo apartments are both extraordinary. Once you have walk around the parker and been delighted for this huge park you can continue the cultural visit. There are some interesting museums as the Solomon R.Guggenheim or the Whitney museum of American art. The huge American museum of natural history is free but they will ask you for a donation.
Where to eat?
There are thousands of place to eat in Manhattan. Nevertheless, if you really want to save money and eat local food, I will recommend you to buy some street food on a hot dog cart for example or some food in a supermarket. There are plenty of fast food restaurants and you can also find cheap good pizza in Little Italy and Chinese food in Chinatown.
Where to sleep?
As I was travelling alone, I decided to go to a well located hostel where I could meet people easily. I stayed in HI New York city hostel, which is the biggest in the Americas. It is close to a metro station and Central park and they organize activities and guided tours. I loved the architecture of the hostel and the rooms and toilets where clean. However, it will cost you between $50 to $80 per night.
Evidently, there are more options. You can find good deals in Airbnb or do couchsurfing. There a few hotels in Manhattan that have reasonable prices although you should book the room with time and it is better if you are 2 people to split the cost.