A guide to walking tours in New York City

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There is so much to see and do in New York City, from famous museums and attractions to iconic food and bargain shopping. And, lucky for travelers, walking is one of the easiest ways to see this pedestrian-friendly city. Take a bite of the Big Apple on foot with our self-guided walking tours.

Each walk is designed to provide an authentic New York experience, including notable sights, iconic food and the best shopping. Most walks are so action-packed that you’ll only have to walk a few paces before passing the next landmark, making these easy walks for every type of traveler, from solo fashionistas and foodies to culture vultures and night owls to business travelers with a few hours to spare in between meetings or during a stopover.

Our New York City walking tours range from a half mile to 2.5 miles and are curated by area and interest, whether you’re looking for culture, shopping, food or art. Or mix and match with tours that seamlessly blend together for a longer adventure. So, start searching for a flight to NYC (on Cheapflights.com, of course) and pack your walking shoes — time to start this trip off on the right foot 😉

Chinatown cultural tour
Little Italy immersion
Shop ‘til you drop in SoHo
Lights, camera, action from Koreatown to Times Square
Classic New York City tour in Midtown
Do a museum crawl along ‘Museum Mile’
Enjoy beautiful Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights
Cross the Brooklyn Bridge
Lions, Tigers, and the “Real” Little Italy in the Bronx

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Chinatown cultural tour

Chinatown NYC walking tour

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Manhattan’s Chinatown is one of the largest and oldest Chinese communities in the U.S. Take the 6, J, M, N, Q, R, W or Z subway to Canal Street for a fun-filled, 1-mile meander. The streets here are congested with cars, cyclists, sidewalk vendors and pedestrians, so it’s easiest to traverse on foot. First, hydrate with an authentic bubble tea at Kung Fu Tea (234 Canal St.) across the street from the J, M, N, Q and Z subway exit. Next, walk southeast down Canal Street where vendors hawk everything from inexpensive souvenirs to fruits and veggies to knock-off purses, wallets and sunglasses. After a brief stop at the Chinatown Visitors Kiosk (at the intersection of Canal, Baxter and Walker streets), continue down Canal Street and take a right on Mott Street. There are herbal medicine shops, acupuncturists and tea shops here. If your feet are achy from walking or you just want to indulge, stop in for a foot massage at one of the many massage parlors that line this street. After the massage, take a right on Bayard Street and walk one block of Columbus Park. A stroll through the park rewards walkers with the sounds of Chinese opera performances, the clacking of mahjongg tiles and the graceful movements of tai chi. After a loop around the park, exit and take a right on Bayard Street, walk 2 blocks, and take a left on to Elizabeth Street. A visit to Chinatown isn’t complete without dim sum. Jing Fong (20 Elizabeth St.) is one of the best dim sum restaurants in the area, complete with servers pushing stainless steel carts of dumplings, steamed buns, soups and desserts. Finish the walk by exiting Jing Fong and walking northeast across Canal Street to Hester Street. Take a left on Hester Street and walk 4 blocks to Centre Street to visit the Museum of Chinese in America (215 Centre St.), an interactive museum that tells the story of Chinese immigrants in the U.S., from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to today. For added cultural immersion, combine this walk with our Little Italy immersion walk.

Little Italy immersion

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Since Italian immigrants started moving to New York in the late 1800s, the neighborhood has been infused with Italian heritage. Though much smaller than it once was, there’s plenty to see and do in the 3-block stretch of Mulberry Street, between Broome and Canal streets. Combine this half-mile walk with the Chinatown cultural tour (just walk from Centre Street to Mulberry Street) or do it separately (just take the 6, J, M, N, Q, R, W, or Z subway to Canal Street and walk southeast down Canal Street to Mulberry Street). Stop by the Shrine Church of the Most Precious Blood (109 Mulberry St.), a Catholic church that dates to the late 1800s and is home to the statue of San Gennaro, which is paraded through the streets of Little Italy each September during the San Gennaro Festival. Continue along Mulberry Street, admiring the red, green and white tenement buildings that are home to restaurants like Angelo’s of Mulberry Street (146 Mulberry St.), which has served Neapolitan fare since 1902. Visit the Italian American Museum (155 Mulberry St.) at the corner of Mulberry and Grand Street, which documents the struggles of Italian Americans and chronicles their achievements and contributions to American culture and society. Stop for a coffee and a cannoli at Ferrara (195 Grand St.), which has been a local favorite since 1892. Also on Grand Street are cheese shop Alleva Dairy (188 Grand St.), which has been making and selling Italian cheeses for more than 120 years, and Di Palo’s (200 Grand St.), a family-run shop that has been selling Italian cheese, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and pasta since 1910.  Retrace your steps back to Mulberry Street and head 1 block north to Broome Street. Stop for authentic gelato at M’O Il Gelato (178 Mulberry St.). Then, take a left out the shop back to the intersection of Mulberry and Broome streets, turn right, and walk 3-and-a-half blocks west to the Center for Italian Modern Art (421 Broome St.), a museum dedicated to promoting modern Italian art.

Shop ‘til you drop in SoHo

Soho walking tour guide

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SoHo, the blocks south of Houston Street, are backed with bohemian boutiques nestled inside cast-iron fronted buildings. Once home to industrial warehouses and manufacturing spaces, most of the Victorian Gothic, Italianate and Neo-Grecian buildings are now artists’ lofts, shops and restaurants. Whether you combine this walk with the Chinatown Cultural tour and Little Italy immersion tour for a long, but doable, day on your feet, or opt to do it as a solo shopping trip, SoHo is best experienced on foot and accessible via the 6 subway to Spring Street. Exit, take a right onto Spring Street, and grab a slice at Lombardi’s (32 Spring St.), which claims to be the first pizzeria in the U.S. Since 1905, the coal-oven pizzas tossed here are considered to be components of the original New York slices. Refueled, take a left on Mott Street and head north to see New York City’s first cathedral, St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral (273 Mott St.). Retrace your steps on Mott Street and turn right onto Prince Street. The charming cobblestone streets in the area are flanked with chic cafes and boutique shops, making for ideal people watching and window shopping. At Broadway, take a left and walk south down to Spring Street, home to more trendy, high fashion shops. Walk west along Spring Street and take a respite from shopping by noshing on Spanish tapas at Boqueria Soho (171 Spring St.) and stopping by the famed Dominique Ansel Bakery (189 Spring St.), home of the “Cronut” (the donut-croissant hybrid craze started here). Continue west on Spring Street and take a right on Varick Street. Complete the walk with a stop at City Winery (155 Varick St.), which boasts an on-site winery and live music.

Lights, camera, action from Koreatown to Times Square

Walking from Koreatown to Times Square

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This walk takes you through 3 distinctly different neighborhoods: Koreatown, the Garment District and Times Square. Start in Koreatown, which is accessed via the B, D, F, M, N, Q, R and W subway trains to 34th Street – Herald Square. Walk south on Sixth Avenue to East 32nd Street and over to Fifth Avenue, the beginning of Koreatown. The area that stretches along 32nd Street from Sixth Avenue and  passed Broadway to Fifth Avenue is considered Koreatown. The shop fronts and high-rise buildings are filled with restaurants, bakeries, bars, grocery stores, karaoke bars and spas. After an hour-long session singing karaoke in your own private room at MK Karaoke (11 W. 32nd St.), head a few yards west to tuck into Korean barbecue at Kunjip (32 W. 32nd St.), a 24/7 eatery beloved by locals. Save room for dessert a few steps away at Grace Street (17 W. 32nd St.). Then, burn off the calories by browsing the books on offer at Koryo Books (35 W. 32nd St.). Finish the walk by relieving jet-lag or sore muscles from all your city walking at Juvenex Spa (25 W. 32nd St., 5th floor), a 24/7 spa offering the 4-part Jade Journey (a thermal sauna, steam sauna, soaking tub and baked clay sauna) along with massages, facials, scrubs and other spa services.

Before heading to the Garment District, take a visit to the top of the iconic Empire State Building (entrance is on Fifth Avenue between West 33rd and West 34th Street). The 86th and 102nd observation floors provide 360 views of New York landmarks, including Central Park, the Hudson River, East River, Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square and that Statue of Liberty. After your descent to street-level, walk on West 34th Street to Sixth Avenue into the Garment District, which runs from 34th Street to 42nd Street and from Fifth to Ninth avenues. Walk up Sixth Avenue and along the Fashion Walk of Fame, marked by bronze plaques embedded in the sidewalk along Sixth Avenue from 35th Street to 41st Street in honor of American designers. Along the way, stop to shop sample sales, sales on designer apparel (the list is updated every Monday). At 39th Street, walk 1 block west to Seventh Avenue to admire the iconic bronze statue of the garment worker and get info on the area from the Garment District Information Kiosk, which is located under a giant button.

The last phase of this walk takes you through Times Square, which stretches to West 47th Street. Named for “The New York Times,” the 1 Times Square address was the newspaper’s headquarters from 1904 to 1913. Walk up Seventh Avenue and turn left on West 40th to browse the famed The Drama Book Shop (250 W. 40th St.). Continue up Seventh Avenue to West 44th Street and head 1 block west to peek inside Sardi’s (234 W.44th St.), a favorite among Broadway actors. Back on Seventh Avenue, walk north to West 47th Street. Along the way, there are plenty of places to shop for souvenirs and admire the 115,000 square feet of LED billboards and kitschy charm of roaming costumed characters (note: these folks can be aggressive and taking a photo with them is not obligatory nor do you have to pay), the Naked Cowboy (aka Robert Burck who dons a cowboy hat, underpants and a guitar), and street hawkers. If you pause at West 46th Street, you can hear Max Neuhaus’ sound installation emitted from the grate in the sidewalk. End the walk at the TKTS Discount Booth in Father Duffy Square (between Seventh Avenue, Broadway and West 47th Street) under the red staircase to save up to 50% off tickets to Broadway and off-Broadway shows. While waiting to buy tickets, be sure to take photos and people watch. Throughout Times Square, there are many pedestrian zones with tables and chairs, perfect for resting your feet and people watching. If you time your visit right – 11:57 p.m. nightly, to be exact – you will be treated to “Midnight Moment,” an art display in which more than 15 screens simultaneously shut off their advertisements and display a coordinated work of digital art until the clock strikes midnight.

Classic New York City tour in Midtown

New York City Tour in Midtown

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This 2.2-mile walk starts at Grand Central Terminal, the country’s busiest train station, which is accessible via the 4, 5, 6 and 7 trains. Stroll the colorful and lively Grand Central Market (89 E. 42nd St.) before heading out to Lexington Avenue, heading west on East 42nd St to Fifth Avenue. Walking north along Fifth Avenue is a convenient way to see some of the city’s most famous places. After a few blocks, take a rest at Rockefeller Center one block up West 50th Street. Visitors can soar to the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza (the entrance is on 50th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues) to the 67th, 69th or 70th floors for 360-degree view of the city’s skyline at Top of the Rock. Take a slight detour west to Radio City Music Hall (1260 Sixth Ave., between West 50th and West 51st streets). Since 1932, Radio City Music Hall has hosted a variety of concerts and shows. Take a tour of the storied theater with the Stage Door Tour, a 75-minute guided tour that includes a behind-the-scenes look of the Art Deco theater, history of the great stage and the chance to meet a Rockette, a member of Radio City’s famous dance troupe. Turn right on East 51st Street and head 1 block east to admire the Neo-Gothic St. Patrick’s Cathedral located on Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st streets. Walk north up Fifth Avenue to the base of Central Park, window shopping at along the way at luxury shops like the famed jeweler Tiffany & Co. flagship store and department store Bergdorf Goodman. After pausing to take in the iconic Plaza Hotel on Central Park South at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, get ready to tackle the 800-acre Central Park.

Designed in the mid-19th century by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and opened in 1858, the nation’s first public park features rolling fields, walking trails, the Central Park Zoo, a carousel and Strawberry Fields. Walk to The Pond at East 61st Street , one of 7 bodies of water in the park, to see where Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger classic “Catcher in the Rye” went in search of ducks. Head further north to East 64th Street to take a walk on the wild side at the Central Park Zoo. Walk west across the park to 65th Street for a ride on the whimsical Carousel set to calliope music. Further north between West 71st and West 74th streets is Strawberry Fields, a living memorial to John Lennon, named after The Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever.” End your tour at the highest point in the park, Belvedere Castle, a miniature castle that serves as a visitors’ center and lookout over the Great Lawn, a 55-acre lush lawn to the north, and the Ramble, a 36-acre artificial garden to the south, at the 79th Street Transverse.

Do a museum crawl along ‘Museum Mile’

Explore museums in NYC with this museum mile walking tour guide

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The area along Fifth Avenue between East 82nd and East 105th streets on Manhattan’s Upper East Side has been nicknamed “Museum Mile” for the numerous museums that call the neighborhood home. This walk can be started uptown or downtown and rests can be taken along the way at museum cafes and coffee shops. Take the 6 subway to 77th Street and walk north, or to 86th Street and walk south 4 blocks to East 82nd Street to start your tour at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Ave. at East 82nd Street). Since its founding in 1870, The Met has curated some of the most celebrated works of art in the world, from pre-history to the present. The globetrotting collection of 2 million works spans 5,000 years. Four blocks north is the Neue Galerie (1048 Fifth Ave.), which features a collection of early 20th century German and Austrian art. Continue 2 blocks north to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1071 Fifth Ave.), which has one of the most well-known collections of modern and contemporary art housed in a circular Frank Lloyd Wright-designed rotunda. Three blocks north, off Fifth Avenue, is the Cooper Hewitt (2 E. 91st St.), the Smithsonian design museum housed in the Carnegie Mansion. One street up is The Jewish Museum (1109 Fifth Ave.), an art museum dedicated to the preservation of Jewish art and culture. A bit further up on East 104th Street is a duo of museums, the Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Ave.), a museum that tells the history of New York City, and its neighbor El Museo Del Barrio (1230 Fifth Ave.), an art museum dedicated to Puerto Rican, Caribbean and Latin American art.

Enjoy beautiful Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights

Explore Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights

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DoBro, or Downtown Brooklyn, has become an increasingly popular spot for locals and visitors alike. Begin the walk by taking the B, Q or R subway to DeKalb Avenue. Head to the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Fulton Street and begin your stroll west by window shopping along Fulton Street, an alfresco pedestrian mall packed with outlet shops and the newly opened City Point (445 Albee Square West), which features a movie theater and Century 21, a mega department store filled with discount designer clothes, shoes and accessories. Turn right on Court Street and enter the leafy Brooklyn Heights neighborhood. Walk west along Montague Street, which is flanked by beautiful brownstones, boutique shops and chic cafes. The street dead ends at the one-third mile-long Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which offers a picture postcard perfect view of the Manhattan skyline. Grab lunch to-go along the way and enjoy it from the benches that line the boardwalk. To the north, the promenade eventually gives way to a street called Columbia Heights. Follow this north until it turns into Everit Street and then ends on Old Fulton Street. Cross Old Fulton Road and pass under the Brooklyn Bridge. Keep going until you reach Water Street and finish the walk with a ride on Jane’s Carousel, which is north of Water Street along the East River. If you’re still feeling energetic, walk along Plymouth Street and continue into DUMBO, an artsy, industrial neighborhood whose acronym means Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass where, on weekends, the popular Brooklyn Flea, a collection of food and antique vendors, takes place on Sundays at 80 Pearl St. Want more? This walk can be combined with a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Cross the Brooklyn Bridge

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

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Arguably the most iconic walk in the Big Apple, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn (or vice versa) is a must. When it first opened in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the world’s longest suspension bridge. The iconic bridge with Gothic towers, double arches and steel cables was the first roadway to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn. From DUMBO in Brooklyn, walk up Washington Street and cross under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. If you haven’t taken the previous walk and you’re already in Brooklyn or coming from Manhattan, take the F subway to York Street, walk west on York Street, turn left on Washington Street and cross under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway turning right on Prospect Street and right again on Old Fulton Street. Before crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, stop for thin crust coal-fired pizzas at Grimaldi’s (1 Front St.) under the Brooklyn Bridge, a place singer Frank Sinatra once frequented. Save room for ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory at the corner of Old Fulton and Water Street one block towards the river. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge via the pedestrian walkway, which takes about 45 minutes. When you reach Manhattan, exit on Centre Street. Head west to Broadway and then take a right on Vesey Street. Make time to pause by the two reflecting pools at Ground Zero and 9/11 Memorial and Museum (180 Greenwich St.), which tells the story of the event of 9/11 as they happened through moving audio and video recordings, photos and artifacts, and see the views from atop One World Observatory at One World Trade Center (285 Fulton St.; enter on West Street at the corner of Vessey Street), the tallest building in the western hemisphere.

Lions, Tigers, and the “Real” Little Italy in the Bronx

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Take the BxM11 express bus from Madison Avenue (it stops between 32nd and 99th streets) uptown to the Bronx Zoo’s Bronx River entrance (Gate B, on the east side of the zoo) and visit the iconic Bronx Zoo. After getting up close and personal with nature, continue half a mile down East 187th Street and Crescent Avenue to the “real” Little Italy (hopefully, you worked up an appetite). Located on Arthur Avenue, the commercial strip in the heart of the Belmont neighborhood is home to arguably some of the best Italian food in New York. Stop for a bite at Catania’s Pizzeria and Cafe (2305 Arthur Ave.), an old school pizzeria that has been serving New York-style pizza pie since 1949. Walking north, admire the hustle and bustle of locals shopping at fish, cheese and meat markets. The Calabria Pork Store (2338 Arthur Ave.) is worth a stop to admire (and sample) the salamis hanging from the ceiling. Halfway up the block is Mario’s Restaurant (2342 Arthur Ave.), a family-run trattoria that is famous for its lobster ravioli and Neapolitan fare. Stop in at Arthur Avenue Market (2344 Arthur Ave.), a covered market with local butchers, bakers and pasta-makers, or, if you’re craving something sweet, the Madonia Brothers Bakery (2348 Arthur Ave.) for cannolis and other Italian desserts. End the walk with a pint or 2 at the Bronx Beer Hall inside the Arthur Avenue Market, which serves local craft beer.

Which walking tour will you do first? Share with us in the comments, and find that flight to New York City on Cheapflights.com.

A guide to walking tours in New York City was last modified: September 18th, 2017 by Lauren Mack
Author: Lauren Mack (285 posts)

Lauren Mack has traveled to 40 countries on five continents, including Cuba, New Zealand, Peru and Tanzania. For many years, she called China, and then Taiwan, home. Countries at the beginning of the alphabet, particularly Antarctica, Argentina and Australia are on her travel bucket list. Lauren is a multimedia travel and food journalist and explorer based in New York City.