Getting There & Away: Brooklyn
Subway Seventeen lines travel to/from Brooklyn; all run through downtown. Key routes from Manhattan include the A/C, 2/3, 4/5, B/D/F, N/R/Q and L trains. The G runs only between Queens and Brooklyn, from Long Island City to south of Prospect Park.
Bus Take the B61 or B57 for Red Hook. The B62 runs from downtown Brooklyn to Williamsburg/Greenpoint.
Boat The NYC Ferry runs services to Brooklyn from Manhattan's Wall St and E 34th St, with stops including Dumbo, Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Sunset Park. Brooklyn Navy Yard will be added as a stop in summer 2019.
Taxi Apple-green Boro Taxis can pick up passengers only in Upper Manhattan and the four outer boroughs (but can drop off anywhere in NYC). Hail them on the street or request one through the Curb smartphone app.
John F Kennedy International Airport
Fifteen miles from Midtown in southeastern Queens, John F Kennedy International Airport has six working terminals, serves more than 59 million passengers annually and hosts flights coming and going from all corners of the globe. You can use the AirTrain (free within the airport) to move from one terminal to another.
The timeline is uncertain, but a massive $10 billion overhaul of the airport was approved in early 2017. Architectural and structural changes are the focus, but plans also call for a substantial upgrade of amenities and access routes via public transportation.
A yellow taxi from Manhattan to the airport will use the meter; prices (often about $60) depend on traffic. Expect the ride to take 45 to 60 minutes. From JFK, taxis charge a flat rate of $52 to any destination in Manhattan (not including tolls or tip); it can take 45 to 60 minutes for most destinations in Manhattan. To/from a destination in Brooklyn, the metered fare should be about $45 (Coney Island) to $62 (downtown Brooklyn). Note that the Williamsburg, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queensboro–59th St Bridges have no toll either way, while the Queens–Midtown Tunnel and the Hugh L Carey Tunnel (aka the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel) cost $8.50 going into Manhattan.
Fares for ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber change depending on the time of day.
Shuttles & Car Service
Shared vans, like those offered by Super Shuttle Manhattan (www.supershuttle.com), cost around $20 to $26 per person, depending on the destination. They're a good option for budget travelers and solo travelers, though be aware that you may have to wait 30 to 45 minutes for a pick-up from the airport once you check in for your ride after baggage reclaim. Car services traveling to the airport from NYC have set fares from around $50.
The NYC Express Bus (formerly called the NYC Airporter bus; www.nycairporter.com) runs to Grand Central Terminal or the Port Authority Bus Terminal from JFK between 11am and 7pm. The one-way fare is $19.
The subway is the cheapest but slowest way of reaching Manhattan. From the airport, hop on the AirTrain ($5, payable as you exit) to Sutphin Blvd-Archer Ave (Jamaica Station) to reach the E, J or Z line (or the Long Island Rail Road). To take the A line instead, ride the AirTrain to Howard Beach station. The E train to Midtown has the fewest stops. Expect the journey to take a little over an hour to Midtown.
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)
This is by far the most relaxing way to arrive in the city. From the airport, take the AirTrain ($5, as you exit) to Jamaica Station. From there, LIRR trains go frequently to Penn Station in Manhattan or to Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn (near Fort Greene, Boerum Hill and the Barclay Center). It’s about a 20-minute journey from station to station. One-way fares to either Penn Station or Atlantic Terminal cost $10.25 ($7.50 at off-peak times).
Used mainly for domestic flights, LaGuardia is smaller than JFK but only 8 miles from midtown Manhattan; it sees nearly 30 million passengers per year.
Much maligned by politicians and ordinary travelers alike, the airport is set to receive a much-needed $4 billion overhaul of its terminal facilities. Scheduled in phases from 2018 to 2021, plans call for a single, unified terminal to replace the four existing stand-alone ones, as well as an upgrade in amenities and access via public transportation.
A taxi to/from Manhattan costs about $42 for the approximately half-hour ride; it's metered, no set fare. Fares for ride-hailing apps like Lyft and Uber vary.
A car service to LaGuardia costs from around $44. The airport's website lists companies that ply this route.
The NYC Express Bus (formerly the NYC Airporter Bus; www.nycairporter.com) costs $16 and goes to/from Grand Central and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
It’s less convenient to get to LaGuardia by public transportation than the other airports. The best subway link is the 74 St-Broadway station (7 line, or the E, F, M and R lines at the connecting Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Ave station) in Queens, where you can pick up the Q70 Express Bus to the airport (about 10 minutes to the airport). Or you can catch the M60 bus from several subway stops in upper Manhattan and Harlem or from the Astoria Blvd station (Hoyt Ave at 31st St) on the N/W subway lines.
Newark Liberty International Airport
Don’t write off New Jersey when looking for airfares to New York. About the same distance from Midtown as JFK (16 miles), Newark is used by many New Yorkers (there’s some 36 million passengers annually) and is a hub for United Airlines. A $2.4 billion redevelopment of Terminal A is scheduled to be completed in 2022.
A car service runs about $50 to $70 for the 45-minute ride from Midtown; a taxi is roughly the same. You’ll have to pay a whopping $15 to get into NYC through the Lincoln (at 42nd St) and Holland (at Canal St) Tunnels and, further north, the George Washington Bridge, though there’s no charge going back through to NJ. There are a couple of cheap tolls on New Jersey highways too, unless you ask your driver to take Hwy 1 or 9.
Subway & Train
NJ Transit (www.njtransit.com) runs a rail service (with a $5.50 AirTrain connection) between Newark airport (EWR) and New York’s Penn Station for $13 each way. The trip takes 25 minutes and runs every 20 or 30 minutes from 4:20am to about 1:40am. Hold onto your ticket, which you must show upon exiting at the airport.
The Newark Liberty Airport Express (www.newarkairportexpress.com) has a bus service between the airport and Port Authority Bus Terminal, Bryant Park and Grand Central Terminal in Midtown ($16 one way). The 45-minute ride goes every 15 minutes from 6:45am to 11:15pm and every half hour from 4:45am to 6:45am and 11:15pm to 1:15am.
Seastreak (www.seastreak.com) has daily commuter services from New Jersey to Pier 11 near Wall St and to E 35th St; there are also summer services to Sandy Hook Beach (return $46) in New Jersey. Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket (one-way/round-trip from $165/240, five to six hours) in Massachusetts are accessible from E 35th St on weekends from the end of May through to the beginning of September.
Cruise ships dock at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in Hell's Kitchen on the west side of Manhattan at several piers from W 46th to 54th Sts.
If you’re arriving in NYC by yacht, there are ports at North Cove Marina at Brookfield Place near the One World Trade Center, and at a long-term slip at the 79th St Boathouse on the Upper West Side.
For long-distance bus trips, you’ll arrive and depart from the world’s busiest bus station, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, which sees more than 65 million passengers each year. Efforts to replace the ageing and less-than-salubrious station are always on the agenda. Bus companies leaving from here include the following:
Greyhound (www.greyhound.com) Connects New York with major cities across the country. Has free wi-fi and power outlets on board.
Peter Pan Trailways (www.peterpanbus.com) Daily express services to Boston, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia.
Short Line Bus (www.shortlinebus.com) Serves northern New Jersey, upstate New York and Pennsylvania, focusing on college towns such as Ithaca; part of Coach USA.
Trailways (www.trailwaysny.com) Bus service to upstate New York, including Albany, Ithaca, Syracuse and the Adirondack Mountains, as well as Montreal, Canada.
A number of budget bus lines operate from locations on the west side of Midtown:
BoltBus Services from New York to Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore and Washington, DC. The earlier you purchase tickets, the better the deal. Notable for its free wi-fi, which occasionally actually works.
Megabus Travels from New York to Boston, Washington, DC, and Toronto, among other destinations. Free (sometimes functioning) wi-fi. Departures leave from 34th St near the Jacob K Javits Convention Center and arrivals drop off at 27th and 7th.
Vamoose Buses head to Arlington, Virginia, and Bethesda, Maryland.
Maniacally driven Chinatown buses (basically, any budget bus company operating out of a storefront in Chinatown), were once the cheapest and probably most dangerous way to travel to Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and other cities on the East Coast. After a series of deadly accidents over the past decade (including one in 2011 that killed 15 people), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration clamped down on these bus lines, some of which continued to operate illegally even after their licenses were revoked; others simply changed their names and logos. Keep in mind the risks involved in traveling with one of these cut-rate operators.
Car & Motorcycle
If you're considering traveling to NYC by car or motorcycle, be sure to have a plan for where you'll park the vehicle.
Penn Station is the oft-maligned departure point for all Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) trains, including the Acela Express services to Boston and Washington, DC (note that this express service costs twice as much as a normal fare). Fares vary, based on the day of the week and the time you want to travel. There’s no baggage-storage facility at Penn Station. A new Amtrak hub is due to open in 2020 as part of long-term renewal plans for the station, but be aware that some services are being compromised as work progresses.
Long Island Rail Road (www.mta.info/lirr) Serves more than 300,000 commuters each day, with services from Penn Station to points in Brooklyn and Queens, and on Long Island. Prices are broken down by zones. A peak-hour ride from Penn Station to Jamaica Station (en route to JFK via AirTrain) costs $10.25 if you buy it at the station (or a whopping $16 on board!).
NJ Transit (www.njtransit.com) Also operates trains from Penn Station, with services to the New Jersey suburbs and the Jersey Shore.
New Jersey PATH (www.panynj.gov/path) An option for getting into NJ’s northern points, such as Hoboken and Newark. Trains ($2.75) run from Penn Station along the length of Sixth Ave, with stops at 33rd, 23rd, 14th, 9th and Christopher Sts, as well as at the reopened World Trade Center site. Note that PATH's World Trade Center station will be closed weekends from January 2019 through December 2020.
Metro-North Railroad (www.mta.info/mnr) The last line departing from the magnificent Grand Central Terminal, it serves Connecticut, Westchester County and the Hudson Valley.