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How to use the New York subway

Here in this post I will give you tips on how to use the New York subway. Read carefully, save the information and enjoy the trip!

New York Subway

Of the cities where I used the subway, New York was the one that I found the most complicated. There are many lines, many directions and many stops!

The main difference between the subway in New York and all the others I've used is that the one in New York doesn't have practical connections like the subways in the main cities of the world like Paris and Milan.

O positive point of this system is that the lines are straighter and more direct and therefore end up saving time.

already the negative point is that there is not always a direct line for short trips and you end up wasting a lot of time.

Other than that, the trains are clean, spacious and super practical (and fast!).

The stations are very different from each other: there are small, medium and large ones; dirty and clean; safe and not so safe….

NYC subway

However, understanding the New York subway is essential to enjoy the city better!

NYC subway map
NYC subway map

How to use the New York subway

To do well, you need to pay attention to a few things like:

Plan your itinerary

Don't leave it to choose the line you'll take when you're already inside the station.

Despite being located very close to each other, the stations are not interconnected.

So make sure you're using the right input. Many stations have different entrances for each direction.

The direction is announced both at the station entrance and at the turnstile door.

If you pass the turnstile in the wrong direction there are two options: either you take the train and get off at a station where there is a connection with others or get off and pay another ticket to enter in the right direction.

Remember: each line has a specific color!

How to use the New York subway

NYC subway color meanings

The lines named by numbers have straight strokes and stick to one side of the island.


On line 1 there are several stations, while lines 2 and 3 stop at fewer (faster!) stations. Choose these lines to see: Tribeca, Village, Meatpacking District, Times Square, Broadway and Lincoln Center (Columbus Circle).


On line 6 there are several stations and lines 4 and 5 stop at fewer (faster!) stations. Choose these lines to see: Lower East Side, Bowery/Noho, Union Square, Grand Central Station and the Metropolitan, Guggenheim and Whitney museums.

Lines named by letters crisscross the island and sometimes allow for line switching.


Use line C for stops: Soho, Broadway, Dakota and the Museum of Natural History. Line E starts at Ground Zero and follows A and C. Use lines A and C to:  Soho, Village, Meatpacking, Chelsea, around Times Square and Broadway


Choose lines B, D and F to see: Village, Empire State, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center/Top of the Rock. Choose line B to see: Dakota and the Museum of Natural History; and line D for (express):  west side of Central Park.


The N, Q, R and W lines come from the south and follow Broadway to Times Square. The Q (express) line goes to: Soho (Canal St.), Times Square and Central Park South. The others go to: Washington Square and Herald Square.

How to buy tickets of NYC Subway

The machines that sell the tickets are simple: First press “start” and choose English or Spanish. then choose MetroCard (free magnetic card).

You can choose between “Pay-per-ride” and “Unlimited rides”.

In"pay per ride” you charge an amount between US$ 4 and US$ 80 (with each trip your magnetic card will be debited at US$ 2.25). If the credit runs out, just recharge it again on the same machines (the place to place the card only opens after you press “Start” on the screen).

Tip: The alternative "unlimited rides” is for those who will stay for a week or will ride the subway a lot (US$ 27 and allows unlimited travel for seven consecutive days).

Important: these values may have changed since our last trip, so don't take them as a basis.

NYC Subway
NYC subway metrocard

You can use cash (maximum change of US$ 6) or credit card.

Tip: Sometimes the machine will ask for the “zip code”. Put any 5 digits and that's ok 😉

Each ticket lasts 2 hours using the same fare! 

And then, did it help a little?!

How to use the New York subway

I hope you enjoyed the tips and pay attention when taking a subway!

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