If you’re searching for the best way to get to New York City from the airport (or vice versa), then you’re in the right place. With three major airports – JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark – serving the city, there’s a handful of great options to get to NYC from the airport.
Taxis offer convenience but can be pricey (especially during peak hours). Public transit, like the subway, is reliable and will save you a lot of money, but requires connecting to the AirTrain (easier thank it sounds!) and will probably require at least one transfer. Let’s dive into the details, comparing time, cost, and comfort, to help you make the best choice for your trip to New York City from the airport.
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The 10 Best Neighborhoods +3 to Avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Getting to New York City From the Airport
(Table of Contents)
Traveling From the Airport to NYC (Table of Contents)
- Getting to New York City From the Airport
- Getting to Manhattan from JFK (John F. Kennedy International Airport)
- Getting to NYC from LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
- Getting to Manhattan from Newark International Airport (EWR)
- What’s the Best NYC Airport to Fly Into?
Local’s Thoughts: Taking a Taxi From the Airport
It’s hard to think of a better way to make your grand entrance to the Big Apple than by an iconic yellow taxi. As you (probably) know, taking a taxi is the easiest way to get to NYC from the airport, but it’s also the most expensive option.
Prior to moving to NYC, I only took taxis during work trips or when traveling in a group (to split costs). Otherwise, it was always out of budget. The price for taxis varies by airport (and time of day), so I’ll cover average costs from each airport in more detail below.
I’ve lived in NYC for 10 years now and still opt to take public transportation over a taxi, especially during rush hour. New York City’s traffic is notorious and you can easily spend 2 hours sitting in a cab weekdays between 6am to 10am and 4pm and 8pm.
When to take a taxi from the airport: If you’re traveling with a lot of luggage, with children, in a group of 3+ people or arriving after rush hour. Also, tipping the taxi driver is customary in the US, expect to tip 10-20%.
Getting to Manhattan from JFK (John F. Kennedy International Airport)
John F. Kennedy International Airport is located in Queens, about 14 miles from Midtown Manhattan. On average, getting to Manhattan from JFK will take 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on traffic.
Taking a Taxi to Manhattan from JFK Airport
There’s a flat rate in place ($70) for taxis that take passengers from JFK to anywhere in Manhattan. In fact, JFK is the only airport that offers flat rates between Manhattan and the airport. However, the flat rate is deciving because there’s a few additional fees (that can add up!).
On top of the $70 flat rate, there’s a $5 surcharge imposed during peak hours (4pm – 8pm weekdays), bringing the total fare to $75 + tolls & tip. All told, I typically pay between $100-120 when taking a taxi to from JFK to Manhattan.
Using Uber or Lyft
Much like taxis, expect an Uber or Lyft from the airport to Manhattan to take 1-1.5 hours, depending on traffic. But unlike taxis, there’s no flat rate and prices vary drastically depending on the time of day. I’ve paid as much as $160 for an Uber (before realizing there’s a flat rate from JFK) to as little as $45.
My rule of thumb is to check Uber/Lyft prices while I’m waiting on my luggage. If the price is under $80 for rideshare, I’ll opt for Uber/Lyft over taxis.
Using the Subway to Get Between JFK and Manhattan ($12)
Taking the subway from JFK to Manhattan is a very easy 2-step process:
- Step 1: Take the subway from Manhattan to Jamaica Station
- Step 2: At Jamaica Station, take the AirTrain directly to your terminal at JFK
From Manhattan, you can take the E, J, or Z subway lines to the JFK Airport station, or the A line to the Howard Beach-JFK Airport station (use Google Maps or Apple Maps to route yourself). From these stations, you”ll need to transfer to the AirTrain, which circulates around the airport terminals.
The total trip from Manhattan will take about 1-1.5 hours and cost $12 per person ($2.95 subway to Jamaica Station + $8.25 for AirTrain).
Taking the Train (LIIR) to Get to JFK From Manhattan
Taking the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Train from Manhattan to JFK Airport is even easier than taking the subway because you don’t need to make any transfers and you’ll get dropped off directly at the AirTrain. I take the LIIR Train 90% of the time when traveling to the airport from Manhattan.
You can board the LIRR at Penn Station, heading towards Jamaica Station. From Jamaica, you’ll transfer to the AirTrain, which provides direct access to all airport terminals. The trip between Penn Station and the Airport typically takes around 35 to 40 minutes.
LIRR fares range depending on the time of day, if helpful, I usually pay $15-20 (including the $8.25 AirTrain fare). The train is by far the easiest and fastest way to get to JFK Airport from Manhattan.
Getting to NYC from LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
Like JFK, LaGauardia Airport is also located in Queens but it’s so much closer (5 miles compared to 14). As such, I recommend flying into LaGauardia if you have a choice because you’ll get to Manhattan faster.
Taxis: Taxis from LaGuardia to Manhattan don’t have a flat rate, prices range between $40-$55 (depending on the time of day). The ride can be as quick as 30 minute or last longer than an hour, depending on traffic.
Uber/Lyft: Typically range between $40 – $60, depending on time of day and destination. Just like taxis, the ride can be as quick as 30 minute or upward of an hour.
Public Transportation (1.5 hours, $2.95): Even though LaGuardia is technically the closest airport to Manhattan, there is no direct subway line between Manhattan and LaGuardia. As such, you’ll need to transfer from the AirTrain to the bus before hopping on the subway. I must admit, having to take the bus adds a level of stress when getting from NYC to the airport, which is why I don’t prefer taking public transportation to (or from) LaGuardia.
Getting to New York City from LGA Using the Subway: Upon leaving the terminal, take bus Q70-SBS (which is free and runs every 10 minutes) to the subway station at Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Ave. where you can transfer to the subway to reach your destination in Manhattan.
Getting to Manhattan from Newark International Airport (EWR)
Newark International Airport is located in New Jersey, the airport is about 11 miles from the heart of Manhattan.
Taxis from Newark International Airport to Manhattan range between $50-75 (plus tolls and tip). There’s a rush hour surcharge of $5 imposed weekdays from 6am to 9am and 4pm to 7pm, and weekends between 12pm to 8pm. The ride takes about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.
Uber/Lyft will run $50- $60, depending on time of day and destination.
Public Transportation: Take the AirTrain to AirTrain Station and from there, you can catch a New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) train (or an Amtrak train) to Penn Station in Manhattan, which takes 20-30 minutes. You can easily connect to the right subway line at Penn Station to get where you need to go!
The NJ Transit fare varies depending on the time of day and the type of ticket, but it’s generally around $16 one-way, plus $8.25 for the Airtrain (here’s the schedule). Amtrak is an alternative but is typically more expensive than NJ Transit.
Take note: If you’re catching a red eye, you should know that the NJ Transit train doesn’t run between 2am and 5am.
Thoughts on Uber & Lyft
Uber and Lyft are great options and sometimes cheaper than taxis, depending on time of day. I suggest checking the rates for Uber/Lyft while waiting on your luggage before deciding which mode of transportation to take from the airport to New York City.
Thoughts on Public Transportation
Public transportation tends to be my preferred method to get to New York City from the airport because it’s the cheapest option. Thankfully, NYC has a great public transportation system! But since there’s no direct subway lines to the airport, the AirTrain is used as a connection.
What’s the Best NYC Airport to Fly Into?
If you can swing it, try flying into LaGuardia or Newark, because they’re the closest airports to New York City. JFK is the furthest removed, but has the best public transportation into the city. Honestly, my rule of thumb is going with the most affordable flight.
Map of New York City Airports