Do you have half a day – 12 measly hours – to spend in New York City? That is a mammoth task in a microscopic amount of time! Chances are you've flown in and have a connecting flight later in the day, or are possibly just stopping by on an East Coast tour en route to Boston or Washington DC.

When you're in the Big Apple, even if you've only got a tiny window through which to glimpse this great city, you don't want to be wasting time cooped up in a hotel room or wandering around JFK. Grab a coffee and get ready to make your half day in NYC count!

The best things in life are free

Grand Central Station

  • See Lady Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry 

  • Get artsy at MoMA or the Chelsea Galleries

  • Admire architecture at Grand Central Station / The Public Library

It may be one of the most expensive cities in the world, but there are plenty of free attractions in New York to more than make up for those hefty hotel rates. There are hundreds if not thousands of ways to enjoy NYC without even opening your billfold.

Jump on the free Staten Island commuter ferry from Whitehall Terminal at the bottom of Manhattan, and take a round trip which includes spectacular on-the-house views of the Statue of Liberty. If you want to spy Lady Liberty but don't want to stray from the mainland, head down to Battery Park instead for a scenic stroll.

While MoMA is free on Friday evenings, the galleries scattered around Chelsea are a great daytime option – not to mention the endless boutiques squeezed between that provide perfect window shopping opportunities.

As far as architecture goes, the New York Public Library and Grand Central Station offer a dramatic glimpse at 'Old New York' as it is immortalised in literature and film. Speaking of film, the Museum of the Moving Image is another Friday night freebie, and the only museum of its kind in the whole of the United States.

It actually is easy being green

Central Park, New York

  • Classic NYC experiences in Central Park 

If you've got a tight pocket of time in New York City, fighting your way through department store crowds or being bedazzled by the billboards of Times Square might just add to the chaos. Sure, New York is frenzied in the best kind of way, but it also boasts a tonne of places to keep calm and carry on sightseeing.

Make your way to Central Park (the 1, 2, 3, A, B, C, D, N, R and Q lines can easily get you there) and discover a gentler side of the city that is just as iconic and authentically "New York" as Broadway or the Brooklyn Bridge. You can hire a cycle to cover more ground faster, but don't forget to stop off for a street-cart hotdog or pretzel – you won't have to look far to find a vendor. While the view of the skyline from above is pretty hard to beat, seeing the skyscrapers rise from beyond the lush parklands is a vista you'll never forget.  

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of seeing New York on such a tight timeframe? You can always book a half day tour and leave it up to the experts!