Last updated on April 26th, 2018
In this post, I wanted to compare Manhattan vs Brooklyn and share with you the best spots to visit in NYC. Are you team Manhattan or team Brooklyn? Please comment below!
For me, New York is the city of contrasts. I visited it 3 times and every single time I had a different experience. I visited NYC twice in winter and once in summer/autumn and had entirely different experience. If you want to read more about my personal relationship with NYC, head to this post.
Here, however, I wanted to focus on the best spots to visit in NYC and compare Manhattan vs Brooklyn. NYC is so big, that you probably need at least 2 weeks to discover the city properly, but even within these 2 weeks, you won’t be able to see even half of the museums or amazing food spots. It’s very seldom that somebody, however, travels to one place for more than 2 weeks (except for studying, of course, and working abroad), but I’ll try to make this comparison (Manhattan vs Brooklyn) as detailed as possible.
Manhattan vs Brooklyn: best spots to visit in NYC
Accommodation in Manhattan vs Brooklyn
Staying in Manhattan
If you’re a first-timer to NYC or your stay is quite short, I would recommend you staying in Manhattan rather than Brooklyn. The reason for that – the majority of landmarks is located in Manhattan. Also, the nightlife, shopping and entertainment are amazing in Manhattan. If you’re only coming for a few days, try to stay close to Penn Station, Central Park or Times Square, so you can reach many of the best spots on foot.
Looking for hotels to stay in Manhattan? Check Trip.com for the best New York City hotels!
Staying in Brooklyn
If you’re visiting relatives or friends, which leave outside Manhattan or planning to go to the beach quite often or if you’re simply on a tight budget – Brooklyn has plenty of affordable properties in nice locations!
Check the availability of the hotels in Brooklyn now!
Best spots to visit in Manhattan vs Brooklyn
Great spots to visit in Manhattan
There are so many amazing places to visit in Manhattan as well as things to do, that it would probably require a separate post. It’s some – promising to write more posts about every single destination and then finding myself with 150+ posts in the queue and 3 upcoming trips (which would also result in 5-9 new posts). But it’s okay if you generally love blogging as much as I do. Let’s come back to the best spots to visit in Manhattan though.
1. Top of the Rock
The Top of the Rock is my favourite spot to visit in Manhattan. You know why? Because it has the BEST view over Manhattan. Why the best? Cuz the iconic Empire State Building is visible from there and in my opinion, it’s the best view of the Empire State Building.
2. 9/11 Memorial
The 9/11 was probably one of the saddest events in American History and it’s terrifying that it has happened still quite recently. I was just 9 years old, but I remember these horrible footages in the news and even though I only had a very little knowledge about NYC back then, I was genuinely sad about what has happened to the city. The memorial has a great museum, which is totally worth visiting. And just a few steps away is the World Trade Center, which has the newest and the tallest observatory in NYC – One World Observatory. Also, Freedom Tower is the fourth tallest building in the world.
3. Times Square
Times Square is an iconic place and a must for all the NYC visitors. You have probably seen it in 100000+ movies and it’s just amazing to see it in person. There are plenty of shops on the Times Square, so it’s guaranteed that you’ll stay there for a while
Broadway is a great place to watch some world-famous musical. I went to see the Phantom of the Opera back in 2011 with my parents and I LOVED it. We also managed to buy half-price tickets for it in TKTS office on Times Square. All you need to do is to come there in the morning and ask for remaining tickets for the same day – and they will tell you which performances have discounted tickets for today. The same system works in London – and it’s very convenient and it’s also a great money-saving option.
5. Any of Manhattan’s museums
There are so many museums in Manhattan, that you’ll probably need the NYC city pass if you want to visit them all (it’s a good option for saving some $$$). I can’t recommend you a particular museum because it all depends on your interests and taste, but I loved the Natural History Museum and the Metropolitan Museum. I know some people also love MoMA – the Museum of Modern Art, but I was scared to go there since I really dislike modern art (and I hated all the modern art museums I ever visited). Also, some people loved Guggenheim Museum.
6. Empire State Building
If you like great city views and panoramas, then you should definitely go and visit the Sky Deck of the Empire State Building. I loved it when I first visited it – and we went there during twilight – so we saw how it got dark and the city lights got so bright and shiny. I also had an opportunity to study in the Empire State Building and attend my English classes with the best possible view ever.
7. Wall Street
Wall Street is a mecca of the wolves of the financial world. Just like Canary Wharf in London – it’s full of business-oriented people in suits rushing to a business meeting. It’s absolutely empty during the weekends, so if you want to see the buzz – you need to visit it during the week!
8. 5th Avenue shops
Who hasn’t heard of the 5th Avenue? This world-famous street has some of the most expensive and iconic department stores in the world. Saks 5th Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and plenty of designer stores are amazing and great for visiting, even if you aren’t planning to buy something from there.
9. China Town
If you want some really cheap souvenirs from NYC, head to China Town. It might look a little bit shocking to you (if you have never been to China), but it’s definitely an interesting experience. And you can have a very budget-friendly meal in one of the Chinese food places there.
10. Little Italy
Over the last decades, the Little Italy has shrunk a lot in size (it was invaded by the China Town), but still, there are some places you might have seen in Godfather. In case you aren’t into Chinese food, head to little Italy and try amazing Italian food in one of the restaurants, where the staff will play along and imitate the Italian Mafia from the 1930s.
11. Central Park
Central Park is amazing for walking, running or just enjoying some nice weather in NYC. New York City can be really hot in summer, like boiling hot, especially if you’re walking the narrow streets of Manhattan surrounded by the tall skyscrapers, so it’s really nice to spend some part of the day in one of the parks. Central Park is one of the most famous parks in the world and it’s really lovely. It even has a zoo! Also, if you go there early in the morning, you can bump into some celebrities doing their morning running routine.
12. Hudson River Park
One of my favourite parks of New York is the Hudson River Park. I only discovered it this year, in January, when it was pretty cold in New York and I walked 30,000 steps discovering NYC on my own. I basically walked all the way from the Central Park to the Brooklyn Bridge and the big part of this route I walked in the Hudson River Park. It was really nice even in winter and I can imagine how amazing it is in Summer or Spring when the weather is warm and there is a nice breeze coming from the river. Also, the views from the Hudson Park are priceless!
13. Greenwich Village
If you want to see a very lovely park of Manhattan without skyscrapers, but with amazing 3-5 storeys buildings, the apartment of Kerry Bradshaw from Sex and the City, lovely hipster places, cute restaurants and nice designer shops, head to the Greenwich Village.
14. The Highline Park
The Highline Park is probably the most unusual spot in NYC – it was a former train line, but it was closed and transformed into a park. So in order to get to this park, you’ve got to climb some stairs and once you did it, you’ll have a great view over the streets of Meatpacking District and other districts of NYC
Best spots to visit in Brooklyn:
Brooklyn is amazing – it used to be and still is the melting pot of different cultures. Also recently, some districts in Brooklyn was transformed into very trendy hipster districts with plenty of unusual places and amazing eateries. Brooklyn might not be in your list of the top spots to visit in NYC, but it should be because some of the spots are really amazing.
1. Coney Island
If you’re heading to NYC in summer or early autumn, you will be able to swim in NYC (Yes, NYC has some great beaches). And one of the best places to go swimming in located in Brooklyn – it’s Coney Island. It has a couple of attractions as well as one of the most delicious ice creams in the world – and it’s quite easy to reach!
Brighton Beach is quite a unique place – almost everybody there speaks Russian with a special accent from Odessa (Ukraine), and the majority of the people are the Jewish immigrants from the post-USSR countries. Almost everything is written in Russian and I don’t even know if the shop assistants speak English at all. Brighton Beach has some pretty great restaurants and sushi is at least 2 times less expensive as in Manhattan. So if you want to experience something unique, head to Brighton Beach. And well, there is also a beach, of course – a very good one. And it’s really close to the Coney Island, too.
3. Brooklyn Bridge (Brooklyn side)
Brooklyn Bridge is the most famous bridge in NYC and one of the most famous bridges in the world. You can walk it from Manhattan to Brooklyn or vice versa, but prepare, that it will be very windy! Especially in winter.
4. Red Hook
From Red Hook you can see the Statue of Liberty very well – the Docks of Red Hook are probably the best viewpoint for the Statue of Liberty in the entire Brooklyn. Also, there is an amazing grocery store – Fairway Market and I was genuinely impressed by such a great choice of products from all around the world!
5. Brooklyn Museum
Well, Brooklyn might not have as many famous museums as Manhattan, but Brooklyn Museum is pretty awesome too! It has a large Egyptian collection and plenty of contemporary artworks too, so if you’re having a couple of spare hours, why not explore the Brooklyn Museum?
6. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Who doesn’t like Botanic Gardens? I love them! If you’re visiting NYC in spring, you’ll have a chance to see the Cherry Blossom and generally blossom of so many gorgeous plants. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is probably one of the most photogenic places in the whole NYC!
Williamsburg is a very cool hipster district of Brooklyn. It’s now famous for its amazing atmosphere and absolutely fabulous food places, so if you want to try some really great food and coffee – Williamsburg is the place to go!
Dumbo is a great district of Brooklyn located just after the Manhattan Bridge, between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. You’ve probably seen this district in many movies like Ones Upon a Time in America or in Gossip Girl – the Brooklyn Bridge is visible very well from there. It’s a great residential zone and a home to many NYC startups.
9. Brooklyn Heights promenade
Brooklyn Heights promenade is located very close to Manhattan, so you can see the perfect skyline of the Manhattan’s skyscrapers from there. Some of the most beautiful shots of Manhattan were taken from the Brooklyn Hights (except for the ones taken from a drone or a helicopter – nothing can be compared to that, of course).
There are of course many more amazing places to visit both in Manhattan and Brooklyn (FOOD, I didn’t even talk about food in this article), but I’ll leave it for some of my future posts. Hopefully, you liked this article about the best spots to visit in Manhattan vs Brooklyn.
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