There's something instantly familiar about New York, rousing a strange sense of deja vu. With so many movies and TV shows set in its neighbourhoods - let alone its indelible influence in art, fashion, finance and popular culture - the city and its icons are firmly entrenched in people's imaginations. It's no wonder that walking around New York feels like you're moving through a movie set. The Empire State Building, NBC studios, the iconic Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, corner hot dogs stands, old-style diners; there are endless must-sees and New York experiences on every traveller's list.

A cultural melting pot that is home to 8.2 million people, New York is the US's most populous and densely-populated city. It can be confronting at first, with snarling traffic,  notorious yellow cabs and streets overflowing with people - the city really does not sleep.

But it doesn't take long to succumb to New York's restless energy and irresistible charms.

After arriving on flights to New York, stretch your legs in the great urban refuge that is Central Park. Catch a Broadway musical or the latest off-Broadway hit or get a culture fix at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Indulge your shopping fantasies along Fifth Avenue and check out the boutiques, cafes and galleries of funky SoHo and the Meatpacking District.

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New York climate

Summer in New York is hot and humid, with average temperatures around 32 degrees Celsius. In winters it snows and temperatures hover around zero. The rainiest months are April, May and November.

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When to fly to New York

Peak season:

New York is a busy destination year round, but the peak season is the summer months (May to September) and the time around Christmas. 

Shoulder season:

Autumn heralds the beginning of New York's cultural season – there is a real buzz in the city and the theatres and performing arts scene are in full swing. The early winter months, before the Christmas season starts, can be a good time to find cheap flights to New York.

Low season:

January - March: New York winters are cold and windy, but it's not a bad time for good hotel deals.

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Getting around New York

Getting around New York City is a relative breeze. Most of Manhattan is a massive grid and the numbered streets make it easy to get your bearings. The subway is the easiest way to get around – it runs 24 hours and is fast and convenient. Above ground, there are frequent and countless buses chugging by. New York's famous yellow taxis can be hailed on the street or at taxi stands and have meters.

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New York insider information

  • Central Park is a massive urban refuge, sprawling over 341 hectares (6 per cent of Manhattan). It's a great place to walk and there are always events and activities taking place. Visit the Central Park zoo, relax in a café, catch a performance at the open-air theatre in summer or join the ice-skating in winter.
  • New York is the place to shop, as Carrie and her Sex and the City friends turned into an art form. From the world's biggest department stores and hip designer boutiques to the big brand shoppers paradise on Fifth Avenue.
  • To catch a show on Broadway check out the official Broadway website (www.livebroadway.com) and book ahead. You can get discounted same-day tickets to some of the best shows in town from the TKTS booths in Times Square and the South Street Seaport.
  • Popular Greenwich Village maintains its arty and bohemian reputation, but rents in the neighbourhood are now among the most expensive in Manhattan. Many artists and students have moved up to the recently gentrified East Village, where you'll find interesting cafes, craft shops and vegetarian restaurants.
  • For more than 12 million immigrants who arrived by ship, tiny Ellis Island in New York harbour was their first experience of America. The evocative site of the first immigration processing station is now a fascinating museum dedicated to the immigrants who helped build America. 
  • Art lovers can get an endless fix at the state's art museums and galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world's finest art museums and hosts superb exhibitions, but you can also check out the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Guggenheim museum, an important 20th century architectural landmark.
  • Stop by the historic Katz Deli on the Lower East Side, where that memorable scene from When Harry Met Sally was filmed. Most people can't resist a cheesy photo under the sign: "Where Harry met Sally...hope you have what she had!" - referring to the meal, of course.

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New York airports

There are three main airports for flights to New York:

John F Kennedy International (JFK)
La Guardia (LGA)
Newark (EWR)

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Kara Segedin
Writer, traveller, Tweeter, blogger and part-time adventurer. A kiwi living in London off to explore the world! I can never travel enough!
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