This post can help you figure out which is the best choice of transport from your arrival/departure airport into Manhattan. We cover the three major airports: JFK, Newark or LaGuardia. Below you’ll find details about using public transportation, private bus companies and ride-share services and taxi/limo services. We’ve included information about cost and travel times as well as pros and cons of each form of transportation. Lastly, we’ve thrown in tips and links to other posts with helpful information such as our Guide to Using the New York Subway and Which MetroCard to buy?
Tip: If you are considering purchasing a tourist attraction pass, City Sightseeing has a a pass that comes with a bonus free shuttle ride from your Manhattan hotel to JFK, LaGuardia or Newark Airport. It’s called the Free Style Pass Pick 7 and includes 3 days of hop-on, hop-off bus services, your choice of free entry to top attractions, a night tours, a free ferry ride and much more. They also offer single shuttle rides from all airports for as low as $18/adult with code save10.
John F. Kennedy Airport is the largest and busiest of all NYC-area airports. Located in Queens, about 15 miles from Manhattan, this airport has over seventy airlines operation out of it. It handles most international flight into the NYC area, so if you are traveling from overseas, this will likely be your destination! You have several options to get from JFK Airport to Manhattan once you arrive.
AirTrain + Subway from JFK to Manhattan
This is by far the cheapest (and surprising easy) option to get from JFK to wherever you are staying. Using a combination of the light rail AirTrain to connect with the subway system is a very easy way to reach Manhattan. (You can use this link to Google Maps and enter your destination address to get exact directions from JFK Airport.) The AirTrain circles the airport every day of the year, 24 hours a day and stops at every terminal in the airport as well as stops from which you can connect to the subway system.
After you arrive, follow the signs to the AirTrain. There are two AirTrain lines – be sure to get on the correct one that will take you to the stop you need.
Travel between airport terminals is free but to you must pay to AirTrain to the stops that connect with the subway. You will need a MetroCard to pay the AirTrain fare and also to ride the subway. MetroCard vending machines are available just before the AirTrain exits at Jamaica Station and Howard Beach. Note: If you are buying a new MetroCard, there is a $1 fee for the card. Hold onto that card! It is refillable! Here’s a short video about buying a MetroCard.
Air Train + Long Island Railroad from JFK to Manhattan
If speed is your priority then you can take the AirTrain and connect with the Long Island Railroad (LIRR), though it will cost you twice as much as using the subway. Again, in the airport follow the signs to the AirTrain and take the Jamaica Station line. There you can get on a LIRR train and go to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan. (Keep in mind when calculating the total cost, that you will likely have to pay more for a subway, bus or taxi to where you are staying.)
Shuttle Buses from JFK to Manhattan
Two companies, GoAirLink and SuperShuttle (from airport) (to airport) are ride-sharing services that have the door-to-door benefits of a taxi but are significantly cheaper. You will be assigned to a van with other passengers heading to the same general area as you. You can request GoAirLink and SuperShuttle from the Ground Transportation desk in the Baggage Claim area. You can also book online in advance.
Direct Bus from JFK to Manhattan
NYC Airporter is the official bus operator for NYC Department of Transportation. From JFK, you can find the bus just outside of the baggage pick up area at every terminal. The bus goes into Manhattan and drops passengers at at four locations:
Taxi and Private Car Service from JFK, click here to be taken to the section below.
Staying overnight at JFK
If you have a late flight and would like to have a good sleep before starting your visit to Manhattan, World Airport Codes JFK Airport Hotels lists a few of the hotels near the airport, where you could stay the night after or before your flight.
LaGuardia Airport, located in the borough of Queens is the closest airport to Midtown Manhattan (about 8 miles away). It is a small airport but some international flights arrive here. LaGuardia has two special features. Depending on your flight route, you may get absolutely breathtaking views of New York City. The other feature is that LaGuardia, built in 1939, still has its wall murals from the Depression-era made by artists hired by the Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA). As part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, the WPA public works project put millions of people across the country to work building parks and roads, and also artists to create public art works. LaGuardia’s murals are famous and lovely.
Public Bus + Subway from LaGuardia to Manhattan
This is the cheapest option. It is only $2.75! You can get to and from LaGuardia from any location in New York City entirely via public transportation, but you will most likely have to transfer between a bus and subway, depending on your destination. We highly recommend watching the above video to be familiar in advance with the airport. You can use this link to Google Maps and enter your destination address to get exact directions.
There are two ways to go by public transport: take the Q70 to the subway or the M60 to the subway.
You will need to purchase a MetroCard at the airport from the vending machines located throughout the terminals.
For more information on bus/subway transportation service from LaGuardia click here.
Shuttle Buses from LaGuardia to Manhattan
Two companies, GoAirLink and SuperShuttle (from airport) (to airport), are ride-sharing services that have the door-to-door benefits of a taxi but could be significantly cheaper, depending on the number in your group. You will be assigned to a van with other passengers heading to the same general area as you. You can request GoAirLink and SuperShuttle from the Ground Transportation desk in the Baggage Claim area. You can also book online in advance.
Direct Bus from LaGuardia to Manhattan
NYC Airporter is the official bus operator for NYC Department of Transportation. From LaGuardia, you can find the bus just outside of the baggage pick up area at every terminal. The bus goes into Manhattan and drops passengers at four locations:
Taxi and Private Car Service from LaGuardia Click here to be taken to the section below.
Newark Liberty International Airport is located in New Jersey, but many travelers prefer flying into this airport because it’s less crowded and offers direct flights from more cities. As with the other airports, there are numerous options for transportation from Newark Airport to Manhattan. Use this link to Google maps to get exact directions from Newark Airport to your destination.
AirTrain + New Jersey Transit Trains
The AirTrain connects the airport to New Jersey Transit trains and Amtrak trains that travel to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan. (If you are heading Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn, you could transfer at Newark Penn Station and take the PATH trains into the city. For assistance with the subway, check out our blog posts on navigating the New York City subway and help on choosing which MetroCard to purchase.
The AirTrain operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and New Jersey Transit trains operate 21 hours a day, seven days a week. (There is no rail service between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. nightly). This means that at just about any time of day or night, this inexpensive and fast service is available to you. On weekdays, between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., at least six NJ Transit trains arrive every hour at the airport station. Between 9 p.m. and midnight, four trains arrive every hour.
After claiming your baggage, follow signs to the AirTrain station. You can purchase your train ticket from NJ Transit ticket vending machines at the AirTrain station. Board the AirTrain from your airport terminal and get off at the only stop it goes to – Newark Liberty International Airport Station. From there you can take a NJ Transit train to Penn Station. Use this helpful NJ Transit Trip Planner to see schedules.
Shuttle Buses from Newark Airport to Manhattan
Two companies, GoAirLink and SuperShuttle (from airport) (to airport), are ride-sharing services that have the door-to-door benefits of a taxi but are significantly cheaper. You will be assigned to a van with other passengers heading to the same general area as you. You can request GoAirLink and SuperShuttle from the Ground Transportation desk in the Baggage Claim area. You can also book online in advance.
Private Bus Operator from Newark Airport to Manhattan
Newark Airport Express is a bus service that operates express service between Midtown Manhattan and Newark Airport. Buses run 4 am – 1:00 am and depart every 15 minutes (every 30 minutes in the very early morning or late at night) and the trip to the airport is very quick.
Taxi and Private Car Service from Newark Click here to be taken to the section below.
Yellow taxis (also called “cabs”) are definitely the most hassle free option, but it is also the most expensive of the public transport services. Each airport has an official taxi stand where you wait in line for the next available taxi. Taxi stands are located outside of the baggage claim area. Sometimes lines are long, but lots of taxis come to the airport so your wait time shouldn’t be too long.
Note: City regulations restrict the number of passengers in a yellow taxis to 4 (or 5 in a minivan), so if you have a larger party you may need to split up into different cabs.
You should only use official yellow taxis and not accept rides from solicitors in the terminal. Many of them are operating illegally.
Taking a taxi has several pros and cons:
Pros: Super easy door-to-door transport. This is an easier option for travelers with a lot of luggage. You don’t have to think too much! If you are tired after your flight, you can take a taxi, sit back and let the taxi driver do all the thinking.
Cons: More expensive than the other public transport options listed. After tip and bridge tolls you will pay over $60 to get to Manhattan.
JFK to Manhattan by yellow taxi
LaGuardia to Manhattan by yellow tax
Taxis from LaGuardia are metered rather than flat rate. Because it is geographically closer, trips from LaGuardia Airport to Manhattan will be quite a bit cheaper than trips from JFK. You can get a taxi at the official taxi stands outside of the terminals.
Newark Airport to Manhattan by yellow tax
Taxis from Newark are metered rather than flat rate like JFK. Because Newark is geographically farther from Manhattan, the price can get quite steep, depending on where you are heading. Also, you will have to pay for tolls since the trip includes a tunnel ride.
Private Taxi (also called “Car Service”) from JFK, LaGuardia or Newark Airport to Manhattan
There are many car service companies in New York City. But not all are reliable and some aren’t licensed so are illegal! When you arrive at the airport, you may be approached by individuals who are drivers looking for customers. You should not accept a ride from these people – they may not be properly licensed. Also, never allow someone who offers to help you with your luggage take your bags. They may just walk away with them!
For safe and reliable car service, we recommend GroundLink. Guests are able to get a price quote before requesting it, so there are no surprises. They’re also incredibly dedicated to timeliness. If a driver is more than 5 minutes late in picking you up from your destination, then a $75 credit is added to your account!
TIP: Check out discount sites such as Living Social who occasionally offer discounts on private car services.
This company runs similar to Airbnb, but for luggage. They find convenient locations for travelers, such as souvenir and gift shops or convenience stores, that are open early and close late and have the capacity and the security to hold and secure your luggage. Vertoe also provides insurance up to $1000. They have locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens and they are adding locations rapidly. And if you use coupon code ‘freetoursnyc’, you will get 5% off of your storage fee. Bags cost $5.95/day (online price) and they have deals for groups. See their pricing page for more information. This is one of the cheapest options. Click here to find Vertoe locations. We also like how Vertoe users get to rate and review each of their locations.
Free Your Arms provides mobile luggage storage to travelers, tourists, and business people on the go. Rates start at $6 for an hour and $12 a day for standard bags. With their mobile van they can also pick up your luggage and drop it off at the location and destination of your choice including JFK and LGA, starting at $19.99. For more information log onto http://www.subbnb.com or call 844-448-3547 to arrange a pick up – use the promo code “freetours” for your 5% discount.
If you arrive too early to check into your hotel, or if your hotel is far outside Manhattan’s center, consider storing your luggage. Unlike other world cities, New York City is short on the number of options for storing your luggage. There are a few and in our post, Luggage Storage Options in New York City, we list seven places and share detailed information on them such as hours, costs, discounts and any other for important information about these businesses. Here’s an interactive map with all seven storage locations.
Once you have arrived, made your way from the airport to your accommodations, take a look at our free walking and food tours. We offer over 30 different NYC tours. Check out our full tour calendar below for exact walking tour offerings and dates.
These are just some of our tours
HAVE A GREAT STAY IN NEW YORK CITY!