Some travellers come to New York for the bustling city life and sightseeing adventure, while others come for the thriving art scene and lip-smacking food. Whatever your reasons may be, New York is a city that has made its way into the bucket list of many Muslim travellers.
If you finally have the chance to cross off New York from your bucket list, now is the perfect time to check out our guide. From public transportation to halal food options, this is our ultimate first timer's guide to New York!
1. When is the best time to visit
When choosing the perfect week for your New York getaway, it's best to decide which season works for you. The climate and temperature change throughout the year and early preparation will help you to decide how many clothes to pack.
- Spring (March-May): 1°C - 19°C
- Summer (June-August): 16°C - 28°C
- Autumn (September-November): 4°C - 23°C
- Winter (December-February): -3°C - 5°C
2. How to get around
The easiest way to explore New York is by taking the subway trains and buses. Besides the chance to admire the changing cityscape outside the window, it's also convenient and cost-efficient for first-time travellers.
Hop on the subway train
Taking the subway train is the fastest way to move around the city. Open 24 hours a day, you don't need to worry about commuting from one place to another after sunset. For a fuss-free commute, buy a MetroCard from any MTA Metro-North Railroad station vending machine to spend lesser time queuing for single-ride tickets. For train routes and directions, download the New York Subway MTA Map (available for free on Android and iOS).
Take the bus
Some areas in New York are more accessible via public buses. Available 24 hours a day with a standard interval of 5-15 minutes, the public buses in New York only accept exact coin change, so use a MetroCard for a convenient commute. Before you hop on the bus, check the route at the front of the bus. Otherwise, you can download the MTA Bus Time (available for free on Android and iOS) to find out when is the next bus.
3. Where to stay
Finding a place to stay in New York is fairly easy thanks to the increasing number of hostels, mid-range hotels and luxury stays. If you're new to this city, book your stay in these recommended areas in New York.
Best areas to stay in New York
- Theatre District: Budget-friendly stays that are accessible to subway trains
- Midtown: Shopping, theatre, musicals and sightseeing
- Long Island City: Value-for-money accommodations
- Lower Manhattan: Near commercial district and great for business travellers
- Upper West Side: Family-friendly hotels with nearby parks and museums
Credit: NY Moore Hostel on Instagram
New York may be one of the most expensive cities in the world, but budget hotels and backpackers hostels are abundant. The standard room rate for budget stays in New York is between USD30 and USD50 per night. Since it only provides basic facilities and bunk beds, it's more suited for solo or budget travellers. For hostels in New York, check out HI New York Hostel, NY Moore Hostel and Central Park West Hostel.
For a traveller who wants the best of cost and comfort, there are a number of mid-range hotels to stay. The average room rate for mid-range hotels in New York is between USD150 and USD280 per night. Most of them are located in the city centre, so families and couples will never be far away from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. For mid-range hotels in New York, check out Hotel de Point, Holiday Inn Express New York and Hotel Metro NYC.
There are many luxury hotels in New York for deep-pocketed travellers. With a standard room rate between USD306 and USD600 per night, you'll get the luxury of modern comfort, top-notch facilities and the cosiest bed in the city. Since most of these hotels are located in the city centre, tourist attractions will always be a short train ride away. For luxury hotels in New York, check out The Wagner Hotel, Sofitel New York, and The Langham New York.
4. Where to pray
There are many mosques and Islamic centres that are dedicated to the Muslim community in New York. To perform your daily prayers and attend Friday sermons, you can visit the Islamic Cultural Centre of New York in Third Avenue, also known as the first mosque in New York.
Alternatively, Masjid Manhattan on Cliff Street is also a good place to perform your daily congregational salah. Other mosques you can visit include Masjid Abu Bakr in Flushing, Islamic Centre at NYC in New York City, and Masjid At-Taqwa in Brooklyn.
P.S. For a glimpse of life in the Big Apple, here's what living as a hijabi in New York is really like
5. Where to eat
It may be tough to discover delicious halal food in Muslim-minority countries, but there are many Muslim-friendly eateries in New York that you can try.
Kabul Kebab House
Perfect for lunch and dinner, grab a bite at Kabul Kebab House and savour hearty Afghani food. For starters, start with a mantoo dumpling and hummus. Then, enjoy the flavours of beef tikka, chicken kabob, and lamb chops to keep you full.
Halal status: Muslim-owned
Address: 42-51 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11111
Opening hours: Daily, 11am-11pm
For a taste of the East in New York, head over to Sagar Chinese where you'll be served with a fusion of Indian and Chinese flavours. It may seem strange at first, but who says you can't pair up masala beef and sweet and sour chicken together?
Halal status: All meats and ingredients are sourced from halal-certified suppliers
Address: 87-47 Homelawn Street Jamaica, NY 11432
Opening hours: Sun-Thu, 12pm-10pm; Fri, 1pm-10.30pm; Sat, 12pm-10.30pm
The Halal Guys
Credit: @thehalalguys on Instagram
Started as a hot dog cart, The Halal Guys has evolved into an international chain serving hearty Middle Eastern cuisine. Whether you're craving for sandwiches or beef gyro, you can have it here. Follow the crowd and order their famous rice platters drizzled with lip-smacking white and red sauces.
#HHWT Tip: The Halal Guys are located in various areas in New York, and you can find the outlets and opening hours here.
Halal status: All meats are sourced from halal-certified suppliers, and alcoholic beverages are not served on the premise
Address: West 53rd Street &, 6th Ave, New York, NY 10019
Opening hours: Sun-Mon, 11am - 5am; Tue, 11am - 4am; Wed, 11am-5am; Thu-Fri, 11am-5pm; Sat, 11am-2am
Adel's Famous Halal Food
For another Middle Eastern option, give Adel's Famous Halal Food a chance to impress you. Serving sandwiches, fried food and salad, you're going to love the rice platters that are served with chicken kebab, lamb chops or Italian sausages.
Halal status: All meats are sourced from halal-certified suppliers
Address: 1221 6th Ave (the corner of 49th street and 6th Ave), New York, NY 10020
Opening hours: Mon-Thu, 6pm-4am; Fri, 6pm-5am; Sat, 11am-5am; Sun, 11am-4am
Burgers by Honest Chops
Started by Honest Chops butchery, Burgers by Honest Chops pretty much speaks for itself. If you've always wanted to try American fast food, the menu consists of The Classic, Spiced Chicken and Lamb Merguez burgers alongside vegetarian options like Veggie Burger and Grilled Cheese.
Halal status: All meats are sourced from halal-certified suppliers
Address: 99 Macdougal Street, New York, NY 10012
Opening hours: Sun-Wed, 12pm-10pm; Thu-Sat, 12pm-12am
P.S. Hungry for more? Check out these delicious halal eateries that every foodie must try in New York City!
6. Where to go
With many sights and sounds to discover in New York, you'll have the best time uncovering the iconic tourist attractions, museums and art galleries.
Wander around Times Square
You might recognise Times Square from the lively New Year's Eve countdown but on the other days of the year, it comes alive with mega-sized billboards and illuminating marquees. Look out for the street buskers and mascots that'll come to say hello. Otherwise, you can simply immerse in the dynamic energy of Times Square as you walk amid the crowd.
Watch a Broadway musical
Whether it's Grease or West Side Story, there's nothing like watching a Broadway musical in New York. Head over to the Theater District and join the queue for a ticket to one of the city's showstopping performances. Some of the popular musicals are pretty popular among the locals, so it's best to book your ticket in advance.
Visit the Guggenheim Museum
Designed by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, a visit to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will offer a slice of contemporary art. Don't be surprised to see paintings by Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky and Edouard Manet.
Take a snapshot of the Statue of Liberty
Known as one of New York's most iconic landmarks, your trip would be incomplete without a snapshot of the Statue of Liberty. Visitors would need to take the ferry to Liberty Island for a great view of the neoclassical sculpture that was given by France to the United States in 1886.
Stroll around Central Park
Central Park is the perfect sightseeing spot for families and couples. Shadowed by tall trees, you can enjoy a stroll around the lake, find serenity in the garden or hop on the carousel with your kids. Remember to take lots of snapshots when you're here because the scenery is breath-taking!
P.S. Make the most of your sightseeing adventure with these amazing experiences you need to discover in New York!
Planning your first trip to the Big Apple may be overwhelming, but half of the excitement comes from discovering the things you can do and food you can eat in New York. From savouring delicious halal food to planning your sightseeing adventure, this will be the trip of a lifetime. If you're looking for inspiration, check out our 6D5N Muslim-friendly itinerary to New York!