I don’t know for how long I wanted to do this. I had been to New York before but there was still this itching feeling to go back for a New York Christmas Holiday. I am such a sucker for Christmas Celebrations and everything that comes along with it. All I needed to make this dream reality was a last minute flight and myself!
New York Christmas Holiday and how to find cheap flights
There are other places like London or Copenhagen that are great Christmas destinations as well. Nothing can describe my excitement though when I was sitting down ready to push the button that would confirm my flight to NYC. As a German, you can always check Urlaubspiraten.de and Urlaubsguru.de. 2-3 months before departure you should check for your desired travel period. Especially for New York, they tend to have amazing all-inclusive deals featuring flights and accommodations for extremely cheap prices. Or you book way ahead and get reasonable flight prices like that. But who does actually plan that much ahead of time?
I booked my flight 2 weeks before departure and got a very, very reasonable price. Big recommendation: check Statravel.de they have amazing offers for students. Although, I am not a student anymore they had a deal for me that you couldn’t beat. Booked through delta, operated by KLM, I was able to collect miles, had the most efficient travel times leaving at 7am and a night flight on the way back, checked bag included and all of that for 450€. By the way, the aspect of not having enough time doesn’t count. I used up all my days to the max and had only a number of 4.5 days left which led to me arriving at 10 am and being at work at 2 pm. It’s all possible if you just really want it!
Getting around in NYC and the big decision where to stay
Normally, I always mention my great AirBnb experiences here and provide a link so others can enjoy it as well. Well, New York seems to be a special category. While I don’t want to dig in too much let’s just say it was very standard. And while my tolerance for cleanliness is very high I wish I’d had brought my slippers. That should sum it up. But great news, I only paid 250€ for 5 nights so I guess again it depends on your priorities.
From the airport, JFK in this case, you can chose a cab which will be around $50 fixed price one way. The second option would be to take the Airlink Shuttle which is ~$22 it’s easy especially when you’re arriving in the dark. Your third option is the cheapest of all. For a couple of days in NYC I would always recommend to get a 7-day unlimited Metro pass for $32 which enables you to use the NYC subway system as much as you need to. Of course, you can also use it for the airport ride and you only have to pay an additional $5 one way for the Airtrain.
New York Christmas Holiday Sights
This is hard to even sum up as the whole city is one big giant Christmas ball. Rolfs German Restaurant has become a famous location. Book 1-2 months (!) ahead or get there very early in the day to wait in line. Also, the Rooftop Igloos with Empire State Building view is an extremely cool location. Unfortunately, I am not the only one who thinks like that so prepare for long lines here as well. Another insider tipp would be to check out Nomo Soho. The beautiful arch is not only lit at Christmas time but it perfectly matches that New York Christmas Holiday feeling.
Obviously, Grand Central is a perfect Christmas Wonderland in the holiday season. While the terminal is as impressive as it could be all year round the Christmas decorations add a certain magic to it. I honestly walked there every night just to soak in that feeling.
A trip to Brooklyn should be on your agenda as well when visiting NYC. Your day could start with watching the sunrise turn New York’s skyline into orange golden tones from Williamsburg. There’s a great spot at Kent Ave at Bushwick Inlet Park. For the rest of the day you can enjoy different Brooklyn areas and take in the christmas magic around e.g. Dumbo Brooklyn.
THE Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center
Save the most amazing for last, the Rockefeller Center. It’s THE sight everyone knows from the movies. The area is the most magical as you walk towards it passing by Radio City and some magnificent Christmas decorations. The actual Rockefeller Area blows your mind away. There is the Rink at Rockefeller Center as well as the Saks facing the famous Christmas tree.
This ensemble creates a Christmas alley that simply sparkles with Christmas magic. I was here every night and I can recommend to avoid the weekends for your visit. If you want to get close to the tree and the Rink arrive around 8.30 am(!). If you want to take some nice pictures in the dark wait until people have left and before the tree is switched off which would be around 10.30 pm
Cafés and Healthy Clean Eating
East Harlem where I stayed has a very local vibe and some nice Cafés. The Double Dutch Espresso was recommended to me by a friend and is a real gem. No tourists, very cute and great bowls and coffee. Hu Kitchen is an amazing choice for raw clean food. I had the ‘Coconut Flour Cashew Cream Chocolate Chip Pancakes’. As delicious as it sounds. They also serve everything from lunch to various juice creations. A cute café for a stop in the afternoon that I stumbled upon would be Ceci Cela Patisserie. Amazing athmosphere, super friendly and great coffee.
A cool location which has become kind of a must visit is Pietro NoLita better known as the ‘pink café’. Also, adding to the ‘not-so-healthy’ list there are 2 gems you will have to check out. The Milk & Cream Bar is hidden in Chinatown and walking through the streets you honestly wouldn’t suspect it. They have everything from milk shakes and amazing unique ice cream. The opening hours are weird so check beforehand. Another place that has the weirdest opening hours is Gooey on the Inside Cookies. The open around 4 pm until midnight/2 am. It’s THE place to go. I’ve never had such an amazing tasty, massive yet gooey on the inside cookie in my life.
New York City Evergreens
I don’t have to tell you that you obviously have to go see the Times Square and squeeze in a Broadway Show. They have a booth at Times Square where you can get cheap rest tickets for shows, so check it out. I had an encounter at Times Square of a different kind. There was a little table set up with small colored paper pieces. After a closer look I learned that they were the pieces that will be inside the famous New Years Eve Ball at the annual Times Square Ball Drop. So my wishes written down on the paper will be part of the official act which somehow gave the meaning of my wishes for 2019 an even deeper meaning.
I also don’t have to tell you that you cannot, under no circumstances, leave NYC before having seen the Central Park. On your way to Central Park you can walk past the famous Flatiron Building.
Top of the Rock is a must as well. Get a timed ticket and don’t wait in line. You can stay up there as long as you want or get a combined ticket and return the next day. Calculate some time in for the actual way up. Sunset was at 4.30 pm so I arrived at 2.50 pm and stayed until 5.30 pm.
New York City Edgy Vibes
The High Line is a great attraction as well. Arrive early in the day and preferably on a Sunday. You will have nice sun light and not too many crowds. Afterwards, you can stroll around Greenwich Village which is a beautiful townhouse area. You can also admire some of Chinatown’s street art before treating yourself to a local Ramen soup at Totto Ramen.
While Brooklyn as mentioned earlier is a cute area for Christmas decorations there are a number of must sees around. The famous sight of Manhattan bridge in Dumbo Brooklyn is probably one of the most famous picture. And of course, your Brooklyn trip will have to include walking the Brooklyn Bridge, preferably for sunset.
New York Christmas Holiday – My very own spiritual path!
Looking back I feel like this trip had a very emotional part to it. 9 years ago our parents took my brother and me to a ‘last’ family road trip to the States. We also visited New York. Coming back now I felt a very intense feeling arising. I realized how much I had accomplished since then. I realized how proud I could be of myself for how far I’ve come. Having a great life that defines me and my personality in every step that I take. Having done a hell lot of bad ass solo travels. Having been a part of meaningful and important projects. And ultimately, having developed friendships all over the world. I think this trip opened up a different level of self-reflection. I felt that sweet little 20-year old Lisa everywhere in this big city while I was walking the streets as the woman I am now! And with every step I take I am becoming more and more the personality I am aiming to be as a citizen of this beautiful world. And I am loving every single step of it!