Everyone has a different opinion when it comes to the best way to get around New York City and the real answer to this question is: it depends. It depends on where you are trying to go, when you are trying to go there and what is most convenient and affordable in this situation.
The four factors that come into play when it comes to choosing the right transportation are: cost, comfort, speed and experience. Experience is often forgotten, but when visiting New York City, transportation doesn’t have to just be a means of getting to one place or another, but can provide a unique experience in the process.
That said, our preference in getting around the city is none of the above. Our 3 preferred modes of transportation are Ferries (boat), Via and Lyft. Of the three options above, Subway mass transit is our preferred and you can also include the MTA bus as an additional mass transit option.
Let’s start with Ferries. When moving from one part of the city to another, close to the end of any of the boroughs, there are some great ferry options. Taking a ferry is the same rate as a subway, but provides a much better experience including both a boat ride and great views of the city. The Staten Island Ferry is actually free and includes a great view of the Statue of Liberty on your ride.
When it comes to getting around the city in cars, VIA is our preferred car sharing app. It is much more affordable, even if you've got a family of 4. You will likely stop more and have others join you in the car but this is a great way to meet some New Yorkers and only adds to the experience. Riding in a car also allows you to see more of the city out of your window, making this a better experience for visitors to the city.
If you are coming in from the airport or in an area of town that VIA is not accessible, Lyft is a great backup option where you can also choose to share a ride or have your own car, or even a luxury car or larger passenger vehicle, if needed. Lyft is generally less expensive than Uber while also paying their drivers better which often creates a better passenger experience.
With all of that said, the most efficient form of transportation is always the subway. While understanding how to navigate the subway can be complicated, Google Maps has made this much easier. Not only is the subway affordable, it’s also an experience that every visitor to New York should experience at least once. While you cannot get a view out of the Subway windows being underground, you do get an up close view of the beautiful diversity of New Yorkers and the subway system itself.
We generally recommend avoiding taxi cabs when visiting the city. They are generally more expensive, less clean and less convenient. In a pinch they can be very functional, but we prefer to avoid them when possible.
We hope this helps in finding the best ways to get around when coming to New York City. We recommend using Google Maps to help with both walking, driving and using the subway. You should also make sure to download any car sharing apps in advance such as VIA or Lyft and have your account setup with credit card information before arriving.