How to get from NYC airports to Manhattan (without getting ripped off)

August 21, 2020 | Stefanie DiMartino

As a visitor of NYC, it can be confusing navigating our public transportation system (don’t even get me started with the subway)! In this article, I’m going to explain how to get from JFK airport, Newark airport, and LaGuardia airport to Manhattan. I’ve traveled through them all, and they have completely different ways to get to them. So let’s discuss the cheapest and best ways to get to and from each one. But before I begin, I want to go over a few questions I get all the time from tourists. 

Watch the video guide for visuals on how to get from each airport to the city center (without getting ripped off)

Which airport should you fly into?

The truth is that it doesn’t matter. Simply choose the airport that offers the least expensive ticket. 

Is taking a taxi to the airport the easiest way to get there?

The simple answer is “Yes”. However, it can be expensive so I only recommend doing it if you’re traveling in a group of 3 or more because then you can split the cost. For example, I recently took a taxi to JFK from Manhattan and it cost me $80. If you are traveling alone that is pricey. On the other hand, if you’re in a group of 4 then it is only $20 per person which is a pretty good price. If you’re traveling on a budget then I recommend reading my budget guide to New York here.

Sarah Funk. Photo by Jason Gonzalez-Smith

One thing to keep in mind is that you should not take a taxi to the airport during rush hour because you will be stuck in terrible traffic and potentially miss your flight. I only recommend taking a taxi to the airport if you are traveling between the hours of 10pm and 6am, or have a lot of luggage that would make it difficult to carry on public transportation. 


JFK Airport is located in Queens. 

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Travel time: 1 hour to 1.5 hours from midtown Manhattan. Note: If you are leaving for the airport between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am expect to potentially wait up to 30 minutes for the subway train. These 30 minutes are not factored into the travel time I wrote. 

Cost: $10.50

Directions: Swipe your MetroCard ($2.75 per swipe) and take the E train (blue line) to “Sutphin Blvd – Archer Av – JFK station”. From there walk three minutes then take the escalator one flight up, swipe your MetroCard to pay a flat $7.75 fee, and hop on the AirTrain that connects you with all JFK Terminals, starting with 1 and swinging around to 8. Reverse these directions to get from the airport to Manhattan.


Travel time: 45 minutes (from Penn Station)

Cost: $11.75 – 18.50 (depending on day and time)

Directions: Take the LIRR (Long Island Railroad) train from Penn Station to Jamaica (a 20-minute ride). If you’re going between 4 pm and 8 pm, you’ll pay the peak time fare of $10.75, otherwise, it’s $4 on weekends with a City Ticket (click here for info on how to buy that). Make sure to check the times the LIRR leaves before you head there. You can check them here. From there, take the escalator one flight up, swipe a MetroCard to pay a flat $7.75 fee (you can buy a MetroCard there if you do not have one), and hop on the AirTrain that connects you with all JFK Terminals, starting with 1 and swinging around to 8. 


LaGuardia airport is also located in Queens, but on the complete opposite side of the borough as JFK. 

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Travel Time: 45 minutes – 1 hour from midtown Manhattan

Cost: $2.75

Directions: Swipe your MetroCard ($2.75) and take the W to Astoria Blvd. Then walk one minute to Hoyt Av/31 St and take the M60 bus to LaGuardia airport. Make sure you pick up the transfer ticket if you have an unlimited card.


Newark Airport is located in Newark, New Jersey (a completely different state than NY, yet NYC is bordering New Jersey)! 

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Travel Time: 34 minutes from midtown Manhattan 

Cost: $15.25

Directions: Take New Jersey Transit from Penn State to Newark International Airport ($15.25) then hop on the AirTrain to arrive directly at the airport. When you buy a NJ TRANSIT or Amtrak ticket to or from Newark Liberty International Airport Station, that one ticket includes the AirTrain Newark portion, which is $7.75. The AirTrain access fee is not charged for children 11 and under.

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