Best Apps for Getting Around New York City
Whether you’re a tourist or a local, your smartphone is admittedly your best friend in New York City, and just like a friend would do, it tells you how to get from Point A to Point B without, hopefully, getting too lost.
#1 Google Maps
for driving/taking a cab, subway, walking, and biking
Google Maps is the #1 maps app I use in any city but have found it to be especially trustworthy in New York. Even though I know a lot of the subway by heart, I still check with Google Maps to see what my options are based on time and comfort.
Here’s when I use Google Maps (which is pretty much all the time):
For the subway, walking, and biking: Google Maps is fully integrated with the subway system so you can get your subway and walking directions in one place. It also includes biking directions if you’re brave enough to bike the concrete jungle (I’m not).
Before taking a cab: I check maps to see if taking a cab will actually be faster than the subway because of traffic. Sometimes, taking a subway is much faster than taking a cab because of the notorious New York traffic.
Ever been stuck in traffic in Lower East Side on a Saturday at 1AM? It’s totally unexpected at such an “odd” hour and slowly drains away the time that you could be out dancing with your friends.
In the cab: Cab drivers were born with tiny little GPS’ in their brains, but sometimes cab drivers need a little help because even the maps inside their head can’t predict a traffic jam due to an accident or construction. So I like to pull out my Google Maps and let them politely know of a less congested way to take.
No data or wifi? No problem.
Google Maps allows you to save offline maps so if you don’t have a data plan when visiting New York, you can save an offline map and still access it with GPS when out and about. Here’s how to get the map offline.
Integrated with Uber
Lately, the app has been integrating two helpful elements: how much and how long an Uber would be, and if there are any delays or constructions on the subways. The Uber feature is definitely helpful as I love using Uber whenever I can (see app #3 below), but I haven’t found the construction feature on the subways to be accurate, which leads me to the next app.
for construction work on the subways
Every weekend, the MTA works hard to keep the subways up and running for the 1.7 billion people who use it each year. However, because of the construction, that means there’s interruptions in the subway such as the 6 running express from Grand Central to Union Square meaning before you know it, the subway just passed the stop you need to get off and now you’re at 14th street— what?
Don’t worry. The MTA Weekender app tells you either by line or stop exactly where there’ll be construction and combined with Google Maps, you’ll be able to get around it with no problem.
for cabs, private cars, or rideshares
Before Uber, I had to get a cab by figuring out which side of the street I needed to be on before waving my arm around frantically and yelling at a taxi to come if there was one at all. Now, with Uber, I just open the app, call an UberX (Uber’s version of a taxi) a few minutes before I want to be picked up, and wait for the car to pull up right where I’m standing. It’s the closest thing we’ll get to a modern day genie.
Uber is integrated with Google Maps so that the driver will take the best route possible so unlike in a yellow cab like I mentioned above, you don’t need to outsmart the driver with Google ’cause he’s already on it. Also, you don’t need to fumble for your wallet and potentially leave it in the cab because Uber charges your card as soon as your ride is over.
I also love the Uber Pool feature. This allows you to potentially share your ride with another Uber user, which makes the cost of your ride cheaper and lessens the amount of emissions emitted into the air. Cheaper and greener– woohoo!
Reader’s comment: UberPool will save you a huge chunk of cash from the airport to Manhattan. Usually an Uber ride from JFK to Manhattan is $60 flat, but with UberPool plus 20% back if you have a Capital One Credit Card, a cab from the airport can cost less than $35.
Get $15 off your first Uber ride here.
for CitiBike users
Citibike is great. It costs $9.99 for the day or $100 for the year.
You are allowed to ride the bike for the first 30 minutes for free, and anytime after, it charges you extra. This is because the Citibike is supposed to be an alternative to transportation, not a source of bike rental for fun.
However, you should be able to get to where you need to in NYC in less than 30 minutes so going past the 30 minutes won’t be an issue.
Here are the best apps for getting around New York City that I’ve personally used and love:
1. Google Maps
2. MTA Weekender
Are there any apps you use that are a must for New York City that would be helpful for locals, and especially, tourists? Comment below.
Thanks for stopping by! xo.